In a penalty soaked game, Purdue comes out on top of Illinois 31-24 on the road, keeping their Big Ten West Title hopes alive.
A cold, windy day in Champaign, Illinois was marred less by weather and more from a torrential downpour of yellow cloth.
Purdue and Illinois combined to commit 18 penalties for 201 yards. Illinois gave Purdue 7 first downs on penalties on their way to 12 penalties worth 121 yards.
Purdue’s defense, after a shaky start, made just enough plays late and held the nation’s leading rusher Chase Brown in check while getting a late interception to help seal a one score ball game for Coach Jeff Brohm and his Boilermakers.
But Illinois still had a chance to get the ball back down just one touchdown with more than three minutes to go, but Aidan O’Connell was able to find T. J. Sheffield for a conversion on 4th and 9 with just over 3 minutes remaining on the clock.
Purdue was able to then run the clock down to 1:05 when fifth-year senior Mitchell Fineran redeemed himself for an earlier miss kicking into the wind by knocking a 25 yard field goal through the uprights to put Purdue up two possession, 31-21 on the road at Illinois with the Big Ten West up for grabs.
With a win for Illinois, the Fighting Illini would have all but wrapped up the Big Ten West. The Boilermakers win means the Big Ten West is still plenty up for grabs for Purdue if they win out.
Aidan O’Connell bounced back from an early turnover to go 25-40 for 237 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception.
Devin Mockobee out paced Illinois’ Chase Brown, going for 106 yards on 28 carries and a touchdown. Brown did get into the end zone twice, but the Heisman hopeful was held to under 5 yards a carry and was never able to break off anything substantial against Purdue. He had 23 carries for 98 yards.
Brown did go down very late in the game as he was being tackled going out of bounds and appeared to injure his right ankle/leg. He appeared unable to put any weight on his right leg.
If pure bulk of penalties wasn’t enough for you, Purdue was also called for disconcerting signals in the third quarter. While it looked like the officials were discussing if a throw away pass by Tommy Devito after an errant snap in the fourth quarter was intentional grounding, they were actually getting ready to penalize Purdue for yelling out and mimicking the snap count. You can’t make this stuff up, folks.
Hot Start Fizzles Away
Purdue started the game picking up a big first down and getting inside Illinois’s 30 yard line, but went for it on 4th and 5 from the 26 and Aidan O’Connell’s pass to Payne Durham sailed over his head on an out route.
Devin Mockobee had a big catch early in the drive to convert a 3rd and 12. Mockobee caught the ball in the flight behind the line of scrimmage and immediately made an Illini defender miss. He then made two more defenders miss as he carved his way to pick up 14 yards.
But despite moving the ball well against one of the nation’s best defenses, Purdue came away with no points.
That Didn’t Take Long
When a defense lets Iowa’s offense move the ball downfield the week before like Purdue’s did last week, they’re probably going to get tested early.
After a run to Chase Brown on the first play of the game, Illinois took their first deep shot on their second play of the game. Tommy Devito looked left and launched a ball to Brian Hightower in one on one coverage. Hightower came down with it and Illinois had their first big strike of the game with the 32-yarder.
Another completion and three more Chase Brown runs was all Illinois needed to get on the scoreboard first. Brown’s 2 yard run up the middle gave Illinois the 7-0 lead.
Give ‘Em a Leg
Purdue was able to move the field again on Illinois and get inside Illinois’s thirty again. Payne Durham had a big reception where he leaped two defenders and bounced off a third to gain 26 yards.
This time Purdue’s offense failed to convert a long third and long at the Illini 27th. This time they attempted the 45 field goal directly into the wind.
Mitchell Fineran missed right and Purdue failed to put points on the board for the second straight possession to start the game.
Turning It Over
Purdue’s third possession started off promising with a Charlie Jones reception for a first down and then a defensive interference call on a third down to move Purdue towards mid field. Purdue’s offensive line was doing well against a dangerous Illinois front. They were giving O’Connell a lot of time, and maybe too much time.
O’Connell threw a deep ball right into the hands of a defender into the wind, but the defensive back couldn’t come down with it. A few plays later AOC dropped back and looked deep down the left sideline. He didn’t Tyler Strain sitting underneath Deion Burks‘ route and threw it right to an Illini defender again.
This time Strain was able to hold onto it and Purdue turned the ball over to Illinois at the Purdue 47.
Purdue’s defense anchored down and the offenses flipped sides of the field. Illinois had the wind in its face and Tommy Devito’s hot start turned to 4 straight incompletions and an offense unable to convert on third downs. Illinois punted the ball on three straight three and outs after a Purdue sack.
Purdue’s offense then went to the ground to get the sticks moving.
Another option run two plays later had O’Connell pitch the ball left to Mockobee who burst past a defender and got to the edge for a 26 yard carry. Inside the red zone Purdue kept handing the ball off to Mockobee and he careened into the end zone on a 6 yard carry.
Purdue tied the game 7-7 with 8:46 left int he second quarter.
Illinois responded with a 10-play drive to score their second touchdown of the game and take a 14-7 lead.
Brett Bielema’s Fighting Illini almost responded immediately when he drew up a trick play where an end around led to the ball back in the hands of his quarter Devito who had a streaking Tip Reiman behind the defense up the right sideline. The throw was perfectly placed but Reiman let it bounce off his fingertips and it looked like Purdue’s defense might have dodged a bullet.
Purdue looked like it was going to hold Illinois to a field goal when Devito dropped back on 3rd and 7 from Purdue’s 20 yard line. He ran through his progression and couldn’t find anyone open, but Purdue lost containment, and he was able to run to his right for 12 yards and a first down. Chase Brown punched it in from 8 yards out on a run to the left on the next play.
AOC Deep Strike
Brohm’s defense stopped Illinois with just under two minutes left in the first half.
Aidan O’Connell then set his sights on his favorite target, Charlie Jones, who had been quiet going into the drive. O’Connell found Jones for 16 yards on the right side line to move to the Illinois 47.
It looked like O’Connell then forced a ball towards Jones and Illinois was going to have their second interception when Devon Witherspoon went to the ground with the ball in his hand, but the official threw a flag and Illinois was called for a questionable defensive pass interference call.
It was enough of an opening for O’Connell who fired his best throw of the game, a laser to Charlie Jones forty yards downfield and two yards into the end zone with just inches to spare over the defender’s outstretched hands. The 32 yard touchdown pass gave Purdue their second touchdown and the ensuing extra point tied the game 14-14 with 1:40 before the half.
Tied at Half, Purdue 14, Illinois 14
Aiden O’Connell was 14-23 for 140 yards and 1 touchdown and 1 interception in the first half.
Tommy Devito was 7-12 for 92 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions.
Both running backs had success in the first half.
Brawl at Halftime
Both teams have their sights on the Big Ten Championship game and the teams were testy on the field during and between plays. Both teams had to be broken up as a large skirmish between the two sides occurred around the 20 yard line. Both sides were able to be separated without further altercations or incitement.
T. J. Sheffield got lose on a double move on the left side. He hit the out and up to get past the corner and O’Connell delivered the pass perfectly before the safety could come over and help. The 34 yard pass set up Purdue at the Illinois 4 yard line.
A run shut down left by Mockobee and a thrown away pass on second down by O’Connell set up Purdue with a difficult third and goal from the 5 yard line. Purdue left O’Connell in the backfield with five wide and Purdue’s offensive line once again gave O’Connell time.
O’Connell went through his progressions before being flushed left where he saw his big tight end Payne Durham with a defender clearly right in front of him. But Durham is 6’5″ inches and O’Connell put it only where his tight end could go up and get it. Durham was able to grab the ball with both hands and bring his right foot down just in bounds.
O’Connell’s second TD pass gave Purdue its first lead of the game, 21-14.
After Purdue’s most complete drive of the game, Illinois responded with an 11 play 60 yard drive that wasn’t without its drama.
For the second time, a costly interception was called back with a defensive interference penalty. Tommy Devito looked to go deep, but under threw it to one on one coverage and it looked like Jamari Brown made a play on it. Brown intercepted the pass but the official flagged him for putting his hand on the Illinois receiver who looked to already be falling down and unaware of where the ball was.
Illinois made the most of the second chance. They drove down to the one yard line where Purdue looked to make a defensive stand. They stuffed a run with Chase Brown, and a sneak from Devito. On third down, Illinois’s Alex Palczewski committed a false start and Illinois had third and goal from the 5 yard line.
Two unsportsmanlike penalties on Purdue after the extra point would give Illinois the kick off at Purdue’s 35 yard line.
The Flag War
After defenses traded punts in the first half, both offenses started to roll in the second half and Purdue’s fourth touchdown gave them a 28-21 lead. That’s the most points the excellent Illinois defense had given up all season.
Illinois was called for two more pass interferences in the drive to help Purdue get into the red zone again.
More Flags and a Big Sack
For a moment it looked like Chase Brown was going to tie the game up all on his own. Brown took a hand off right and there was a giant hole for him to run through and no Boilermakers in his way. His 20 plus yard run was one of the first big plays of the game for the Heisman hopeful as Purdue had held the running back mostly in check.
This time it was Illinois’ own blockers holding Brown in check when another Illinois penalty would bring the run back.
A few plays later and Purdue’s defense made Illinois pay again. Tommy Devito tried to avoid the rush but instead just kept moving backwards down the field. By the time Khordae Sydnor wrapped up Devito for the sack, Devito had lost 18 yards. Another holding penalty later and Illinois would be attempting to convert a 3rd and 38 down 28-21 with 7 minutes left in the game.
Purdue Holds Off Illinois
Illinois couldn’t get out of their own way the rest of way. They committed 12 penalties for 121 yards and couldn’t match Purdue’s final touchdown. Purdue’s defense did a good job holding Brown from making big plays and Tommy Devito completed just 18-32 passes and his first interception off a deflected pass sealed the game for the Boilermakers.
Payne Durham ended the game with 7 receptions and 70 yards. He caught both second half touchdown passes.
T. J. Sheffield had his best game of the season, catching 6 and going for 72 yards.
Charlie Jones had 4 catches for 66 yards, including a touchdown to end the first half.
Sanoussi Kane had 9 tackles. O. C. Brothers had 8 tackles. Kieren Douglas had an interception.