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Boilers Sparked By Nebraska Mistakes In 55-45 Halloween Win

Stan Jastrzebski

On Halloween every year, people dressed in costume do things they don't ordinarily do. So perhaps it should have been expected that several dozen people dressed as Purdue Boilermakers would deliver the first home, Big Ten Conference win of the Darrell Hazell era on October 31.

Purdue came in with one of the worst rush defenses in the Big Ten and one of the worst rush offenses, and yet they both outgained rush-happy Nebraska on the ground and allowed fewer rushing yards than the Huskers en route to a 55-45 victory.

However, it wasn't the Nebraska squad the team might have gameplanned for. First-string quarterback Tommy Armstrong didn't travel to West Lafayette because he's nursing a turf toe injury. Starting running back Terrell Newby didn't play in the second half. The Huskers' best wide receiver, De'Mornay Pierson-El, was injured in the second quarter and didn't return.

But the Boilers were the better team on both sides of the ball most of the day.

Defensive back Anthony Brown accounted for three of the four picks of Huskers QB Ryker Fyfe, who was pressed into duty upon Armstrong's injury. Fyfe threw for four touchdowns and more than 400 yards, but couldn't draw his team any closer than 21-16.

Perhaps as a result of using so many backups, the Huskers made a number of miscues that Purdue capitalized on.

A ball snapped over Fyfe's head on 3rd-and-5 from the Purdue 33 led to a fumble recovery by  Boiler linebacker Garrett Hudson (playing in place of the injured Jimmy Herman), who returned the ball 41 yards to the Nebraska 16. Fyfe had bobbled a snap on a previous third down in the drive, but managed to convert a pass to keep the drive alive. The ensuing Purdue drive after the fumble culminated in a 3-yard TD pass to Danny Anthrop, putting the Boilers up 14-3.

On another drive, a botched handoff from Fyfe to Jamal Turner resulted in an eight-yard tackle for loss inside Nebraska's 10-yard line and an eventual punt.

On the day, Purdue scored more than half its points (28) off of Nebraska turnovers -- a change quarterback David Blough noted afterward.

"We punched it in this week and that was different," Blough said, adding the team was buoyed by not having to settle for field goal attempts.

Purdue's offense also relied a little more on its quarterback -- and particularly Blough's legs. Several  designed runs led to first downs and to one big play -- a 56-yard TD run up the middle on 3rd-and-5 in the first quarter.

After the game, Blough said a quirk of Ross-Ade Stadium may have allowed him to outrun the several defenders on his tail. "I'm glad we have the scoreboard in the south end zone, because I could see [the defense] chasing me," Blough said. "Otherwise, I don't think I would have made it."

For the day, Blough tossed four TD passes and racked up 356 yards of total offense. He threw two touchdowns to DeAngelo Yancey, including an 83-yard catch-and-run in the third quarter.

"We felt like as a receiving corps we were better than their secondary," Yancey said.

Purdue must still win its remaining four games -- including tough contests at Iowa and at Northwestern -- to become bowl eligible. The Boilers (2-6, 1-3 Big Ten) face Illinois (4-4, 1-3 Big Ten) next week at home.