Boilers Take the Cannon Back Home
If you didn't watch Purdue's game v. Illinois this afternoon, you're not alone. Last week's game v. Maryland took the wind out of much of Purdue's fanbase...so I think Hazell and his boys felt like it was them against the world today in Champaign. Whatever they did to prepare, it worked...kinda.
Purdue's running offense looked sharp all day. The bigs up front made space for Lankford-Johnson, Worship and Blough. The trio averaged around 6 yards/carry. Lankford-Johnson left the game early, but still managed to rush for 127 yards on 18 carries with a TD. Worship finished the game strong with tough runs up the gut...the thunder and lightning combo was really used the 'right' way as the play calling generally played to their strengths and kept the Illini front on their heels. Worship 60 yards on 13 carries with a TD...Blough joined the party with 7 rushes for 36 yards.
Blough entered today as the qb with the second-most yards/game in the league and fell off of his pace a bit. He finished with 220 yards, but wasn't slinging it around at a video game rate...just 22/35 with a TD and pick. In the second half specifically, he missed a few wide open receivers, but made a couple difficult throws to keep drives alive.
One big loss of the day was the somewhat gruesome injury to Domo Young. I haven't read anything official yet, but it looked like he broke his fibula on a routine play across the middle. Young looked like the best receiver in the stable as he caught about everything thrown his way. In less than three quarters, he had 6 receptions for 59 yards. After Young, 7 players caught passes from Blough...and Blough even caught one from Marshall for an 8 yard gain.
An interestingwrinkle that might be developing is the use of Kimbrough a bit more...he had a TD on three receptions...DeAngelo Yancey also had three.
It felt like the game was over when Eddy Wilson had a pair of bone-headed penalties on one play- roughing the QB and unsportsmanlike conduct. A play or two later, Illinois scored their final TD of the day, followed by a two point conversion that seemed too easy. With that, Purdue needed a TD to tie the game...three minutes later, Worship scored the game-tying TD.
A few drives later, the game felt chippier...and it was. Illinois' Phillips was ejected for targeting after a cheap shot on Blough who threw an int just a play later. Illinois drove 24 yards and was in great position to put the game away with a field goal; then Coach Haze worked some magic.
Illinois' kicker, McLaughlin, had hit 8-straight FGs...so a 41 yarder almost looked like a gimme. At this point, it really felt like the game was over. Hazell called a TO to ice him...and another...and finally a final TO. Lovie Smith looked almost confused as the barrage of timeouts rained down. THEN, McLaughlin missed the fieldgoal, as it doinked high off of the right upright...Our Boilers would get an overtime test for the first time of the 2016 season.
In OT, Gelen Robinson forced Illinois QB, Crouch to fumble during a run. Crouch, who had a great day on the ground- 137 yards and 2 TDs, confused Purdue's front after Lunt went out with an injury. Crouch was also effective enough through the air, going 10/14 without a pick...mostly dinking and dunking Purdue's defense.
Crouch's turnover was costly...a few plays after the fumble, Dellinger hit the game-winning 28 yard field goal. He was 2/2 on the day.
Good guys 34...Illini 31. Ballgame.
Purdue overcame Markell Jones not traveling to Champaign and Bentley not playing...Lankford-Johnson getting dinged up and Young sustaining a season-ending injury to take the cannon back to West Lafayette.
Purdue's offense looked much stronger than last week v. Maryland, the defense struggled to make tackles when they needed to...BUT, they weren't gashed like last week, generally. There was one big run due to a break down, but Purdue struggled to contain Crouch more than anything as they didn't really key on him as a runner.
Navon Mosely had to make waaaaaay too many tackles, but was pretty sure-tackling when Illinois would get into the third level of the defense. He finished with 13 tackles...Clark had 11.
Make no mistake, Purdue beat a pretty lousy team in the now 1-4 Illini. But I didn't think they'd win this one in the wake of last week's lambasting at the hands of the mediocre Terps from Maryland. Chances are, you didn't either, if you're a Purdue fan. In my straw poll among pals that root for Purdue, I could only find one who thought the good guys would win the game (atta boy, Ron).
3-2 doesn't sound too shabby...especially since I didn't think they'd win more than 3. We'll see if I can be proven wrong again as the grinding Iowa Hawkeyes are welcomed to Purdue for homecoming (not sure if I understand that scheduling). Who knows...it might be fun; today sure was.