WEST LAFAYETTE — There was no lack of key moments, highlight plays and big performances in the annual Old Oaken Bucket Game.
Purdue just fell one big play short against Indiana as the Hoosiers regained the Old Oaken Bucket with a 44-41 double-overtime win at Ross-Ade Stadium on Saturday.
The Boilermakers — as they have done all season — fought through adversity to remain competitive, overcoming a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter to force overtime.
“They hung in there when things didn’t look very good early on,” Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm said of his team. “They fought until the end, and they played hard. Unfortunately, we didn’t do enough things to win.”
There were plenty of big individual performances that led the comeback.
Walkon quarterback Aidan O’Connell threw for 408 yards and three touchdowns. Senior tight end Brycen Hopkins caught eight passes for 142 yards, two touchdowns and also had a critical catch on the 2-point conversion that forced overtime.
Freshman wide receiver David Bell had nine catches for 136 yards and one touchdown, while Zander Horvath rushed for a career-high 164 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries.
Indiana led 28-10 late in the third quarter, but Purdue started to mount a comeback. And it began quickly from that point. Purdue answered with a 75-yard scoring drive that was capped with Horvath’s 1-yard rushing touchdown, cutting Indiana’s lead to 28-17 and taking just 1:46 off the clock. O’Connell had three big completions in a row on the drive: a 19-yard pass to Bell, followed by a 19-yard pass to Jackson Anthrop and a 25-yard completion to Hopkins.
Purdue’s defense forced a missed field goal on Indiana’s next drive and capped a 9-play, 80-yard drive with another Horvath 1-yard touchdown run. The Boilermakers failed to convert the 2-point conversion, but still cut Indiana’s deficit to one possession at 28-23 with just more than nine minutes remaining in the game.
Indiana’s Charles Campbell hit a 41-yard field goal to push the lead to 31-23 with 5:08 remaining in the game.
Purdue then began the dramatics, marching 75 yards in nine plays, finishing with Bell’s 20-yard touchdown reception with 2:48 to go. Hopkins was wide open in the end zone and caught the game-tying conversion in the game.
On the game-tying drive, Horvath had a 22-yard run, Milton Wright had an 18-yard reception and Hopkins had an 11-yard reception.
Purdue (4-8 overall, 3-6 Big Ten) nearly won the game in regulation after the Boilermakers’ defense forced a three-and-out with 2:11 remaining. But Indiana’s punt rolled down the 2-yard line.
Still, the Boilermakers found a way to make things interesting. Hopkins made a crucial 19-yard catch on a third-and-11 from the 1-yard line. A roughing the passer penalty one play later added 15 more yards, while Horvath ran for gains of six and 16 yards. On a fourth down play with seven seconds left, Wright dropped a pass that could have set up a potential game-winning field goal.
In the second overtime, Purdue had the ball first and settled for a 34-yard field goal by J.D. Dellinger. Indiana would win the game on quarterback Peyton Ramsey’s 1-yard quarterback keeper for a touchdown.
The Hoosiers (8-4, 5-4) had possession first in the first overtime, with Ramsey finding Nick Westbrook open in the front corner of the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown.
Purdue was forced to score a touchdown or lose the game. And with a little good luck, the Boilermakers were able to score. On a third-and-13 from the 28-yard line, a pass to Hopkins deflected off his knees and was caught by Anthrop 15 yards downfield at the 5-yard line. And on fourth-and-goal from the 6-yard line, Hopkins caught a pass to tie the game at 38.
Indiana jumped out to a 14-0 advantage early in the second quarter and led 21-10 at halftime.
The Boilermakers found some offensive success on its third possession of the game. Horvath had two huge runs on consecutive plays — the first for 48 yards, the longest of the season for Purdue, and the second for 20 yards, which gave Purdue first-and-goal from the 8-yard line. The drive stalled from that point, resulting in a Dellinger 29-yard field goal.
Things became a little more interesting when O’Connell later found Hopkins up the seam for a 72-yard touchdown reception, cutting Indiana’s lead to 14-10.
Indiana received the ball to open the second half and started marching down the field, reaching the red zone on Whop Philyor’s 29-yard reception. Purdue’s defense, though, made a stand. Dedrick Mackey rocked Ramsey on a blitz, recording a sack for a 7-yard loss. The Hoosiers took a delay of game penalty and Derrick Barnes sacked Ramsey on the following play for a loss of three yards. Anthony Watts had a tackle for a loss on the ensuing third-and-long play, forcing an Indiana pooch punt.
Indiana’s offense would get back on the field quickly. Horvath rushed for 15 yards on Purdue’s next offensive play, but fumbled and the Hoosiers recovered at Purdue’s 35-yard line.
The Boilermakers’ defense made another stand. After allowing a first down, IU threw three straight incomplete passes. Purdue senior Navon Mosley broke up the last of those incompletions in the end zone. That forced a 43-yard field goal attempt, which Indiana missed far right.
Purdue got into Indiana territory on its ensuing drive after King Doerue’s 22-yard reception, but the drive stalled when O’Connell was stopped short on fourth-and-inches.
The Hoosiers made the turnover on downs hurt, taking a 28-10 lead on Philyor’s 37-yard touchdown reception with 3:30 remaining in the third quarter.
Barnes had a big game with 10 tackles, including 3.5 for loss and 2.5 sacks, while freshman defensive end George Karlaftis had 1.5 sacks. Both standouts finished with 7.5 sacks for the season.
Jaylan Alexander and Ben Holt both had 10 tackles, while Semisi Fakasiieki had six stops.
Hopkins finished his career ranked 21st in school history with 130 receptions and 12th with 1,945 receiving yards.
Bell finished with the season with 86 receptions for 1,035 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. He is the 12th Purdue player with 1,000 receiving yards, and the milestone now has been reached 14 times. He had 81 catches in Big Ten games, tying him with Rondale Moore for the second-most in history.
Purdue finished the season with an average home attendance of 54,021, the highest average since Joe Tiller’s final season of 2008.