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Purdue Football Hangs Tough Against Michigan State In Loss

Stan Jastrzebski

It may not be a cliche to say Purdue's football team has often resembled a broken record this season. In fact, they've often been exactly like a vinyl album that's been snapped in two: they play well initially, but come up silent after half a go-round.

But remember what happens if the turntable keeps moving: eventually the record makes noise again.

Just when it seemed eighth-ranked Michigan State was ready to run away (literally) from the Boilermakers Saturday, the home team shrugged off its typical second half swoon and showed resilience that wasn't evident earlier in the season.

Despite trailing 21-3 four minutes into the second quarter, the home team fought back to trail by just a touchdown at the half.

But Purdue was unable to force a Michigan State punt until there was a minute left in the third quarter, even though they did not lack for opportunities to stop the Spartans. Defensive backs Frankie Williams and Leroy Clark both dropped interception attempts near the end zone and a ball tipped by a Purdue defensive back in the end zone landed in the hands of MSU tight end Josiah Price for a score.

However, even good teams can try to beat themselves. With Purdue down three touchdowns, MSU QB Connor Cook tossed a ball into Williams' waiting arms. Williams' third interception of the year led to a 52-yard Akeem Hunt TD run.

On their next drive, the Spartans appeared ready to punt from inside their own 30, but a punt fake and run on fourth down was stuffed by the Boilermakers, giving them the ball at the visitors' 30-yard line.

That shone the light once more on probably the brightest spot for the home team. Lafayette Central Catholic product Danny Anthrop caught a career-high nine balls for 133 yards. Anthrop also threw a pass following the fake punt that resulted in a Michigan State pass interference penalty in the end zone and an Akeem Hunt touchdown one play later, bringing Purdue back within a touchdown, 38-31.

Sophomore quarterback Austin Appleby, making his second start of the season, played well in the first half, but lost a fumble and tossed a costly interception deep in his own territory to salt the game away for the Spartans. Forced to start a drive from his own 5-yard line with three minutes to play, Appleby was sacked by Michigan State linebacker Ed Davis and his desperation heave fell to defensive back Darien Harris' arms, who ran the ball back untouched for a score.

Michigan State's rushing offense and the seeming ease of the MSU passing attack allowed the Spartans to score on six of their first seven drives (and to attempt a field goal on the other) and keep Purdue on its heels most of the day. The visitors tallied 294 yards on the ground and QB Connor Cook efficiently tossed three TD passes.

The Boilermakers (3-4, 1-2 in the Big Ten) go to Minnesota (4-2, 1-1) next week.

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