Purdue perseveres for 31-17 win over Minnesota
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) Markell Jones scored on a 12-yard run with 1:17 left and Elijah Sindelar rallied Purdue twice – once before a heavy storm delayed Saturday’s game and once after – to beat Minnesota 31-17.
Sindelar replaced David Blough in the first half and had the best game of his career. He finished 19 of 26 with a career-high 248 yards and one touchdown.
And he helped make Jeff Brohm’s first Big Ten win with the Boilermakers (3-2, 1-1) a memorable one.
The game was delayed for 1 hour, 28 minutes after rain and lightning moved into the area – just moments after Purdue made a 19-yard field goal to take a 16-14 lead with 9:58 left in the fourth quarter.
When play resumed, the Golden Gophers (3-2, 0-2) took more than 7 1/2 minutes off the clock and took a 17-16 lead on Emmit Carpenter’s 38-yard field goal.
It didn’t last long.
Four plays after D.J. Knox’s 44-yard kickoff return, Jones faked out a defender on a run around the right side, cut inside and jogged in for the go-ahead score.
Ja’Whaun Bentley sealed it with a 76-yard interception return with 11 seconds left.
The first weather delay at Ross-Ade Stadium since Sept. 8, 2007, wasn’t the only oddity.
Minnesota forced four turnovers in the first half and ran for 227 yards but couldn’t put the game away.
Instead, after converting their first two takeaways into touchdowns to take a 14-6 halftime lead, they stalled.
“You get four takeaways, you should win the game,” Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck said. “When your opportunity comes, you have to make plays.”
That kept Purdue in the game, and eventually the Boilermakers took advantage.
Sindelar started the second half by throwing a 22-yard TD pass to Knox to make it 14-13. He had the Boilermakers in position to take the lead late in the third, too, but kicker Spencer Evans missed a 52-yard attempt wide left.
When Sindelar got his next chance, he drove the Boilermakers to the Minnesota 2, setting up J.D. Dellinger’s short field goal.
Moments later, players and coaches were instructed to clear the field and once they were gone, fans streamed down the stadium steps and scrambled across the field and even onto the playing surface as they looked for shelter. Some made it before the deluge of rain; many were drenched.
“We found a way to get it done, and to pull it out in the end, I think is big because it shows that if you stick to it anything can happen,” Brohm said.
The victory came on the same day Purdue honored Joe Tiller, its career leader in wins. Tiller died the previous Saturday in Wyoming.
Minnesota: It seemed like the Golden Gophers were set up for a win. Shannon Brooks ran for 116 yards, Rodney Smith ran for 88 and they easily won the turnover battle. But they couldn’t close it out, and that’s something they’ll need to figure out as the season progresses.
Purdue: Athletic director Mike Bobinski wanted a tougher team this year. He’s got it. The Boilermakers have not lost back-to-back games this season, have matched their overall and conference victory totals from last season and did it Saturday by battling back after a ragged first half.
Minnesota: Host Michigan State on Oct. 14.
Purdue: Will travel to Wisconsin on Oct. 14 for its second true road game of the season.