WEST LAFAYETTE — The weather wasn’t any good in Purdue’s game against visiting Illinois on Saturday.
And neither was the final outcome. Illinois held a big edge in rushing yards over Purdue in a 24-6 rain-soaked win.
Add in a pair of Purdue turnovers — one leading directly to a touchdown — and that was too much for the Boilermakers to overcome at Ross-Ade Stadium.
The game was played in a consistent rain that never relented, which hampered both teams to efficiently use their passing game. That put a lot of pressure on each team’s running attack.
And it also didn’t play into the strengths of Purdue — a pass-heavy offense that had seen the emergence of true freshman wide receiver David Bell in recent weeks.
Illinois rushed for 242 yards, while Purdue gained 135 yards on the ground.
The first five combined possessions of the game resulted in a punt. Purdue freshman George Karlaftis had a sack — his sixth of the season — to end the Fighting Illini’s opening drive.
Illinois (4-4 overall, 2-3 Big Ten) took a 3-0 lead in the first quarter on James McCourt’s 38-yard field goal, capping a 7-play scoring drive that were all running plays. Illini running back Dre Brown rushed for a 44-yard gain on the first play of the drive, which helped set up the field goal.
Purdue’s defense stood strong on the next Illini drive, forcing a quick punt. But Blake Hayes’ 64-yard punt was downed at Purdue’s 1-yard line. That flipping of field position would quickly become key.
Purdue quarterback Jack Plummer rushed for six yards on first down to give the Boilermakers some breathing room. Then a quick 5-yard pass to Bell gave Purdue a first-down and slight momentum.
But two plays later Plummer threw an interception that Tony Adams returned for 13 yards for a touchdown.
Purdue (2-6, 1-4) used two quarterbacks in the game. Plummer finished 8 of 20 passing for 71 yards and one interception. He also had a fumble that helped set up Illinois running back Reggie Corbin’s 20-yard touchdown run three plays later that put the Illini up 24-0.
Aidan O’Connell was 7 of 13 passing for 65 yards and one touchdown, leading the Boilermakers on their only scoring drive.
And it was an impressive one, beginning at Purdue’s own 1-yard line. O’Connell led the offense down the field for a 13-play, 99-yard touchdown drive.
From the 1-yard line, O’Connell had a 14-yard swing pass to Jackson Anthrop for a first down. Anthrop rushed for 5 yards and O’Connell found Bell for a 7-yard gain for a first down.
Zander Horvath had a 19-yard run, followed by runs of 5 and 2 yards. On a third-down play near midfield, O’Connell kept the drive alive with a 20-yard reception to tight end Brycen Hopkins. O’Connell and Hopkins hooked up for a 14-yard gain two plays later.
Three plays later, O’Connell found Payne Durham for an 11-yard touchdown pass. On the conversion, O’Connell threw a swing pass to Horvath, but he was stopped short of the goal line.
Illinois recovered the ensuing onside kick to dash any slight comeback hopes for Purdue.
The Illini took a 17-0 lead into halftime, capping a 63-yard drive with quarterback Brandon Peters’ 1-yard touchdown run. Illinois had running plays of 10, 4, 21, 25 and 2 yards to set up Peters’ score.
Purdue’s defense was led by Ben Holt’s 12 tackles, including 1.5 tackles for a loss. Semi Fakasiieki had seven tackles, while Cam Allen and Karlaftis each had six tackles. Karlaftis finished with two tackles for a loss.
Horvath rushed nine times for 57 yards, while King Doerue carried 15 times for 37 yards. Hopkins had five catches for 45 yards, while Bell had five receptions for 18 yards.
Peters passed just six times for 26 yards, but the Illini’s rushing production made up for any passing deficiency. Brown finished with 131 yards on 18 carries, while Ravon Bonner added 48 yards and Corbin had 47 yards.
Purdue hosts Nebraska at noon Nov. 2.