WEST LAFAYETTE – Purdue football racked up plenty of yardage thanks in part to 10 plays of at least 15 yards, but the Boilermakers were kept off the scoreboard in the second half for the first time since October 2019 in a 20-13 loss to Minnesota on a rainy Saturday at Ross-Ade Stadium.
Purdue (3-2, 1-1 Big Ten) led 13-10 at the half, but the Gophers (3-2, 1-1 Big Ten) opened the third quarter with a 54-yard play action pass from Tanner Morgan to Mike Brown-Stephens. They scored two plays later on a four-yard rush by Trey Potts, taking a 17-13 lead they would not relinquish.
In the fourth quarter, Minnesota ran off four minutes and 37 seconds on the clock and forced Purdue to burn all three of its timeouts by gaining 39 yards on nine consecutive rushes after the Boilermakers were unable to convert on a fourth-and-four play at midfield. A 14-yard scramble up the middle of the field by quarterback Cole Kramer on third and three from the Minnesota 47-yard line was the key play of the drive. The Boilermakers finally stopped the Gophers at the 21-yard line, but Matthew Trickett connected on a 38-yard field goal to account for the final margin.
Aidan O’Connell quickly marched Purdue into Minnesota territory with four consecutive completions for 48 yards, but Tyler Nubin came up with the game-ending interception on a third-and-10 play with 47 seconds remaining in the game.
David Bell went over 2,000 receiving yards for his career on his first catch of the game, a 32-yard completion on the game’s first drive. He’s done it in only 22 career games.
O’Connell completed 34 of 52 passes for 371 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He completed passes to 11 different Boilermakers. Bell led the way with 120 yards on six receptions. Milton Wright also caught six passes for 91 yards, including a seven-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter.
Highlighted by a 19-yard run, King Doerue racked up 49 yards on his first eight carries and finished the day with a career-high 95 yards rushing. He also made five receptions for 25 yards.
The early success on the ground led to Doerue’s number being called on a fourth-and-one at the Minnesota nine-yard-line to begin the second quarter. He converted by leaping over the line. O’Connell hit Wright for a the touchdown pass two plays later to a capping a 91-yard drive, Purdue’s longest of the season and second scoring drive of 90 yards this year.
Jaylan Alexander led the defense with five tackles and two pass breakups. George Karlaftis also had five tackles and now has 4.5 tackles for loss this season. Purdue did not record a sack Saturday as the Gophers only attempted 18 passes, completing nine.
Trailing 17-13 with eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Purdue had to begin a drive from the two-yard line, its poorest starting position of the day.
But the Boilermakers quickly came to life with a pair of big plays – a 34-yard completion to Bell and a 16-yard run by Doerue.
But after a pair of incompletions at midfield, Purdue faced a fourth-and-five decision. O’Connell completed a pass to Broc Thompson but the receiver had to extend to make the catch, going down to the turf a yard short of the line to gain with 6:23 remaining.
Minnesota’s time-consuming drive followed and the Boilermakers did not get the ball back until the 1:46 mark.
Early in the fourth quarter, O’Connell connected a 25-yard pass to Wright on third and five at the Purdue 27-yard line.
The next set of downs featured a 12-yard pass to Garrett Miller on a bit of a broken play on fourth and two. It was a tough throw for O’Connell from the far hash market to the east sideline, with Miller getting his knee down in bounds just in time to maintain possession for the Boilermakers.
But Purdue was unable to convert on a third and four three plays later, followed by Mitchell Fineran missing his first field goal (from 47 yards) of the season. Fineran converted from 36 and 24 yards in the first half as part of his 9-for-9 start to the year. But both of those field goals put points on the board after the Boilermakers had drives stall out in the red zone.
Minnesota’s 51-yard pass from Morgan to Brown-Stephens led to a 42-yard field goal at the 4:49 mark of the second quarter. A blind-side block on wide receiver Daniel Jackson negated a 13-yard first down run, which would have given the Gophers the ball at the 13-yard line.
O’Connell marched the Boilermakers right back down the field to help his team regain the lead going to the locker room. O’Connell was 7-for-8 for 63 yards on the drive, connecting passes to six different receivers even though Bell was not one of them.
Miller’s 14-yard catch and run up the east sideline brought the crowd to its feet as he hurdled a would-be tackler. O’Connell hit Broc Thompson on a 19-yard completion over the middle on the following play.
Fineran made his 24-yard field goal with 12 seconds remaining in the half.
After Purdue did not concede a touchdown in last week’s win vs. Illinois, Minnesota was able to connect on a 32-yard touchdown pass from Morgan to Chris Autman-Bell. It was just the fourth play of the drive after a strip sack by Boye Mafe and fumble recovery by Val Martin at the 44-yard line.
The Boilermakers are idle this weekend and return to action Oct. 16 for a 3:30 p.m. ET road game at No. 5 Iowa.