MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The end of this pass-and-catch clinic put on by Purdue and Minnesota boiled down to an alleged push — followed by a game-sealing interception.
As the Boilermakers seethed, the weary Gophers were relieved after a game both teams won’t soon forget.
Josh Aune picked off Jack Plummer with 44 seconds left at the Minnesota 13-yard line after a disputed penalty on Purdue gave the beleaguered Gophers defense a big lift and preserved a 34-31 victory over the Boilermakers on Friday night.
“We had every chance to fold. We just never quit,” Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck said.
Plummer completed 35-of-42 passes for 367 yards and three scores in his first start of the season for Purdue, which took the ball with 2:01 left at its 39.
The Boilermakers, boosted by a career-high 15 receptions for 116 yards from Rondale Moore in his long-awaited return, moved in position for what they believed was a 19-yard touchdown catch by tight end Payne Durham with 52 seconds left. Durham was flagged for offensive pass interference, angering the Purdue sideline after replays revealed scant evidence of a foul.
“I think you know what I think. I didn’t like it a lot. I can’t really comment on it. It’s part of the game,” Boilermakers coach Jeff Brohm said. “We’ve got to move forward.”
As Durham approached the goal line on his corner route, he extended his arm against the chest of cornerback Phillip Howard, whose pursuit did not appear to be significantly altered by the contact. The Big Ten declined to comment on the call.
“Refs made a call, but we still had to finish the game,” Howard said.
Aune picked Plummer off on the next play.
“It was really who was going to turn the ball over first. It was so hard to get a takeaway,” said Fleck, whose defense forced just one punt, in the first quarter.
Mohamed Ibrahim, the FBS leader in rushing yards per game, scored his third touchdown of the game — and 13th of the season — early in the fourth quarter to give Minnesota a 34-24 lead before a missed extra point.
Purdue used a fourth-and-1 conversion on a drive capped by Durham’s scoring reception that cut the lead to three points with 8:31 left. The Boilermakers got the ball back quickly after Seth Green took a 3-yard loss on fourth-and-1 from their own 31. But Edward Dellinger, who had a 27-yard field goal blocked in the second quarter, pulled his 33-yarder wide right to keep Minnesota (2-3 Big Ten) in the lead.
David Bell caught eight passes for 104 yards and two touchdowns for the Boilermakers (2-2), who racked up 492 total yards. Moore took the field for the first time since injuring his hamstring against Minnesota on Sept. 28, 2019. Plummer, who started six games last season, seamlessly replaced the injured Aidan O’Connell.
Tanner Morgan produced a crisp and commanding performance marked by pinpoint throws on third downs and deep routes to Chris Autman-Bell (129 yards) and Rashod Bateman. Morgan finished 15 for 22 for 264 yards and no turnovers.
“He had an edge to him,” Fleck said.
Cam Wiley and Green added a touchdown runs, Ibrahim notched his sixth straight 100-yard game, and the Gophers had their offense back in 2019 form.
Minnesota’s defense, missing top pass rusher Boye Mafe, played with plenty of energy despite the mismatches against Bell and Moore. Micah Dew-Treadway had the blocked field goal, just after a touchdown catch by Moore was overruled by replay review because he didn’t have possession in the corner of the end zone.
“It’s one that’s going to sting, but that’s what losses should do to you,” Brohm said. “I am proud of the fact that we played until the end and showed some fight, showed some want to win.”
Moore did not take questions from reporters but apologized for being a distraction to the team this season after aggravating his hamstring injury during training camp and asking Brohm to keep it private because he believed he’d recover quickly.
“A lot of people created these narratives about myself, about this team. That’s never what I intended it to be,” Moore said.
Purdue: The return of Moore, an All-American in 2018, and the insertion of Plummer ignited the offense into a manner that ought to bode well for the rest of the season.
“When you put him back in our offense it just makes us that much more explosive on top of how good our offense already was,” Plummer said. “It’s great to be around a special player like him.”
Minnesota: After getting blown out by Michigan and Iowa in their first two home games, the short-handed Gophers needed this kind of confidence boost. They were missing 22 players either for injuries or COVID-19 protocols, plus three staff members who were confirmed to have tested positive for the virus. Ibrahim left in the fourth quarter with an injury, and cornerback Jordan Howden departed with an injury in the third quarter.
Purdue: Hosts Rutgers on Nov. 28.
Minnesota: Visits Wisconsin on Nov. 28.
louisville 30, syracuse 0
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Having familiar faces back on defense made a big difference for Louisville.
So did protecting the ball after coughing it up early.
Malik Cunningham accounted for two touchdowns to offset three first-half turnovers, and Louisville held Syracuse to a season-low 137 yards with three takeaways for a 30-0 victory on Friday night.
The Cardinals (3-6, 2-6 Atlantic Coast Conference) recorded their first FBS shutout since September 2013 against FIU (72-0) and first against a Power Five opponent since North Carolina in 2004 (34-0). It was also their fewest yards allowed since holding FCS-member Murray State to 80 in 2017.
Louisville’s defensive effort was sorely needed after a coronavirus outbreak depleted that unit before meeting Virginia Tech and resulted in a postponement of the next game at Virginia. Even better, the Cardinals sustained it the whole game.
“I didn’t know how they were going to play tonight,” Louisville coach Scott Satterfield said, “but based off what they did this week, I thought they were going to play well.
“To come out and shut out a team, tremendous job. They created turnovers, were great on third down.”
It was also needed to offset a turnover-prone start by both teams.
All of the turnovers occurred before the break, though Cunningham’s two interceptions around a fumble in Syracuse territory weren’t as costly. That’s because the Cardinals’ replenished defense created just as many opportunities, two of which the offense converted into 10 points for a 13-0 lead in the second quarter.
Cunningham added a 4-yard TD run with 29 seconds remaining in the half before connecting with Tutu Atwell for a 19-yard score midway through the third. The junior quarterback settled down to finish 19-of-28 passing for 219 yards as the Cardinals gained 413 to end a two-game losing streak.
“Some of those things I’ve just got to eat and throw away,” Cunningham said of the turnovers. “I just got to protect the football from here on out.”
Jalen Mitchell rushed 11 times for 46 yards with a 2-yard TD while Maurice Burkley had 56 yards on 10 carries for Louisville, which ran 79 plays to Syracuse’s 41.
Syracuse (1-8, 1-7) never got going in losing its sixth consecutive game and being shut out for the first time since 2014 against Clemson (54-0). The Orange managed just seven first downs, was 1 of 10 on third downs and ran seven plays in Louisville territory.
Freshman JaCobian Morgan completed 5-of-12 passes for 40 yards in his second start before being leaving the game in the third quarter after a hard hit and fumble while being sacked. The ground game managed just 92 yards.
“Those guys got twice as many plays as us, our defense was out there twice as many times,” Orange coach Dino Babers said. “It gets to be disappointing, obviously, not being able to produce on one side of the ball. It gets extremely frustrating.”
Syracuse: The Orange had the ball for just 18:14, crossed midfield just three times and turned it over on downs one of those times to set up Louisville’s second TD. For a while they appeared headed for a program-low yardage in ACC play. Their defense was physical at times and even recorded four sacks, but generally struggled to stop the Cardinals from driving.
Louisville: The Cardinals entered the game with three turnovers in both of the previous two games and didn’t help themselves with early generosity. Cunningham eventually settled down, and the rushing game generated 134 yards to provide balance. The defense was clearly happy being back at full strength, delivering several hard hits.
Syracuse hosts North Carolina State in its home finale on Nov. 28.
Louisville hosts Wake Forest on Nov. 28 in a game rescheduled from Dec. 5 by the ACC. The Cardinals will have a bye before finishing the season on Dec. 12 at Boston College.