Gophers Hold on for 34-31 Win over Boilermakers
November 20, 2020

The return of Rondale Moore—making 15 catches in his injury-delayed season debut—wasn’t enough for Purdue, which racked up 492 yards from scrimmage. Minnesota, coming up with third- and fourth-down conversions when needed, eked out enough on the ground and through the air to beat the Boilermakers 34-31 in another Friday night game in Minneapolis.

Jack Plummer completed 35 of 42 passes for 367 yards but his last one was too high for Moore, resulting in an intercepted by Josh Aune at the 13-yard line with 44 seconds left, finally sealing the Gophers’ victory. On the previous play, Plummer had connected with Payne Durham in the end zone, but Durham was called for pushing off Phillip Howard, putting the ball back at the Minnesota 34.

Purdue had missed a chance at a tie on its previous possession after taking over at the 31 when safety Marvin Grant sacked Seth Green on a fourth-down play with 6:16 to go. Purdue got to the 16 and brought in J. D. Dellinger for a 33-yard field goal to tie the game. However, Dellinger was wide right, and the Minnesota lead remained.

Purdue got a final chance, getting the ball back at its 39 with just over three minutes left, but the first turnover of the game for either team ended that chance.

For the Gophers, Chris Autman-Bell became Tanner Morgan’s big receiver for a game, hauling in 5 passes for 129 yards, and Rashod Bateman caught four passes for 59 yards.

Minnesota opened the game with a nice 69-yard drive that was about half Morgan passing and half Ibrahim running until Cam Wiley finished it with a six-yard run.

The teams swapped touchdowns, Moore covering much of the ground for Purdue on its first possession. Moore had three catches for 33 yards, although one was on a forward flip from Plummer to Moore on an end-around. The touchdown march ended with another end-around, this one a handoff, with Moore scoring from eight yards out.

On Minnesota’s next drive, Autman-Bell recovered from a dropped pass and got beyond cornerback Cam Allen on the next play, taking in a 42-yard pass from Morgan. On the third-and-eight that followed, Morgan hit Bateman, who ran to the Purdue 18. Three runs by Ibrahim, along with a facemask penalty on Purdue, put the Gophers ahead 14-7, a lead they never relinquished.

The defenses finally tightened up for a few series, and Purdue had to settle for a field goal midway through the second quarter. Minnesota responded with a 75-yard touchdown drive to open up an 11-point lead, and the Boilermakers tried to shave some of it away in the final two minutes.

Purdue had the ball on the 10 with 10 seconds left when Plummer lofted a pass to Moore in the left corner of the end zone. Originally ruled a touchdown, the play was changed to an incomplete pass after a review, and Dellinger then had his 27-yard field-goal attempt blocked by Micah Dew-Treadway, leaving the Gophers with a 21-10 lead at halftime.

The Boilermakers needed only two minutes to score at the start of the third quarter, Bell beating Tyler Nubin and taking in a 47-yard touchdown pass. However, Purdue couldn’t stop the Gophers, who got to the 34 yard line and faced a fourth and eight. Autman-Bell got behind Geovante Howard to take in a 33-yard pass from Morgan, and Ibrahim finished it with a one-yard run into the end zone.

The Boilermakers stuck to the ground, getting runs from Zander Horvath and Plummer to get into Minnesota territory before going back to the air with another end-around pass to Moore and two completions to Bell for a touchdown.

Early in the fourth quarter, Ibrahim ran for his third touchdown, but Brock Walker was wide on his point-after, and the Minnesota lead was at 34-24.

Purdue responded with a touchdown, and successful point-after kick, and got the ball back after Grant’s sack of Green on fourth down. But Dellinger missed a field goal that would have tied the score, and Purdue’s final possession ended with the interception by Aune.

The Gophers were reportedly missing 20 players because of coronavirus along with three staff members, including offensive line coach Brian Callahan.

With the win, the Gophers improved to 2-3, while Purdue dropped to 2-2.

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