In a controversial finish, Minnesota held on to edge Purdue, 34-31, in a rare Friday night Big Ten game for the Boilermakers.
The play in question was an offensive pass interference call with less than a minute left in the game on Boilermaker sophomore tight end Payne Durham. The Boilermakers (2-2) were in a position to win the game on a 19-yard apparent touchdown pass that would have given the Boilermakes the lead.
But Durham was flagged in the end zone. As a result, the penalty pushed the Boilermakers back to the 34-yard line and in precarious field range considering that placekicker J.D. Dellinger missed two missed field goal attempts earlier in the game.
On the ensuing play, Minnesota linebacker Josh Anue intercepted a pass thrown by sophomore Jack Plummer who made his first start of the season. That interception sealed the game for the Golden Gophers.
Plummer started nine games last year before being sidelined with an injury. Junior Aiden O’Connell started every previous game this season, but did not make the trip to Minnesota with an undisclosed injury. Plummer completed 35 of 42 passes for 367 yards and three touchdowns. Anue’s interception was Purdue’s only turnover in the game.
On the positive side for Purdue fans, redshirt sophomore Rondale Moore made his long-awaited return. He was an All-American as a freshman, and played his first game Friday night after dealing with a hamstring injury.
The tandem of Moore and fellow sophomore wide receiver David Bell put on an offensive show. Moore caught 15 passes for 116 yards and had a rushing touchdown, while Bell had nine catches for 104 yards and two touchdowns.
The return of Moore helped spread the field which led to a major improvement in the running game for Purdue. The Boilermakers rushed for 125 yards total less than a week after rushing for just two yards in a loss against Northwestern.The Boilermaker offense as a whole outgained the Gophers by almost 100 yards on the night, 492 to 394.
Golden Gopher running back Mohamed Ibrahim, the Big Ten’s leading rusher, accounted for three of Minnesota’s four rushing touchdowns. He was kept well below his season average of 178 rushing yards a game with only 102 yards on the night.
It was only Purdue’s second Friday night Big Ten game and the first since a 1995 contest at Indiana. The Boilermakers will return to West Lafayette for two straight home games before closing out the season in Bloomington against the undefeated No. 9 Hoosiers.