Purdue’s year one turnaround under Jeff Brohm ended in dramatic fashion.
Nobody expected the Boilermakers, winners of a combined nine games in the last four seasons, to be playing in a bowl game, but they matched up with Arizona in the Foster Farms Bowl Wednesday night and emerged with an action-packed 38-35 victory.
And it took a touchdown in the game’s final minutes to seal the deal.
Purdue, thanks in part to an awesome trick play, led 31-14 at halftime, but the Wildcats stormed back. With star quarterback Khalil Tate leading the way, Arizona cut the lead to 31-28 midway through the third and finally took its first lead since late in the first quarter on Tate’s fifth touchdown pass of the night — a 24-yard strike to Shun Brown — with 3:21 to play.
Purdue had been shutout in the second half, but needed to put together a drive to win its first bowl game since 2011. Purdue did just that — and notched the winning score on its fourth touchdown of 20-plus yards of the night.
On third-and-10 from the Arizona 38, quarterback Elijah Sindelar looked to Anthony Mahoungou in single coverage. Mahoungou had several drops earlier in the half, including one that deflected off his hands for an interception, but he fought through tight coverage and made an impressive touchdown grab.
Here’s a closer look:
Now down 38-35, Arizona still had 1:44 left on the clock but Tate, who had the best passing game of his career with 302 yards and five touchdowns, was intercepted by Purdue’s Jacob Thieneman to seal the Boilermakers victory.
The win means Purdue finishes the year with a 7-6 record — its first winning record since 2011. Arizona also finished 7-6. But with the emergence of Tate there should be some optimism for the Wildcats heading into 2018, especially after winning just three games in 2016.
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