10/30/21 Nebraska, Omar Manning

Nebraska's Omar Manning dives into the end zone for a first-quarter touchdown against Purdue on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

The Purdue football team responded to last week’s loss against Wisconsin with a resilient 28-23 victory against Nebraska in Lincoln Saturday afternoon.

While the Cornhuskers (3-6, 1-5 Big Ten) were able to build and sustain a lead in the first half, once the Boilermakers (5-3, 3-2 Big Ten) took control with a 3-yard touchdown pass late in the third, they never looked back. Purdue out scored the Cornhuskers 14-6 in the second half, using a balance of 23 pass plays and 20 rushing plays to keep Nebraska guessing on defense.

Purdue faced a late scare with an onside kick, one that came dangerously close to being recovered by the Nebraska special teams unit. Junior tight end Payne Durham dove and secured the ball as it came loose from a Cornhusker’s arms to let Purdue take the victory formation.

The defense surrendered 237 yards in the first half, with quarterback Adrian Martinez making miracle third-down throws to keep the Huskers’ drives going. The Boilers seemed to be one step behind as Nebraska went up and down the field, allowing an average of 6.8 and 8.2 yards per play in the first and second quarters respectively.

The Purdue defense tightened up coming out of halftime after giving up 17 points in the first half. The unit only allowed one touchdown and 154 yards from scrimmage for the rest of the game.

Junior linebacker Jalen Graham took matters into his own hands to keep the team in the game. He read Martinez’s eyes, jumped a pass for an interception and took it back to the house in the second quarter to put Purdue on the board. He would go on to grab one more interception five minutes into the second half against Martinez and break up another pass.

Junior safety Cam Allen and senior safety Chris Jefferson wanted a part of the fun, getting back-to-back interceptions after the defense forced three straight three-and-outs.

The Boilers ended the night with four interceptions, the second time this year after their upset win against Iowa.

Offensively, Purdue opened the game with a balanced approach, deviating from the normal pass-happy scheme run under head coach Jeff Brohm. By the end of the game, they had run the ball 41 times for 116 yards and thrown 45 times for 233 yards.

It marked the first 100-yard rushing game since Purdue crushed UConn 49-0 on Sept. 11. It was also fifth year running back Zander Horvath’s first game back since breaking his leg in that game. While he only had 24 yards, he scored the first offensive touchdown of the game for Purdue and his energy was felt throughout the team.

Fifth year quarterback Aidan O’Connell played a safe and efficient game, completing 76% of his passes. His two second half touchdowns helped put the Boilermakers take control of the game.

Unsurprisingly, he targeted junior receiver David Bell often. Nebraska defenders kept Bell out of the endzone and avoided his big plays, but he ended the game with nine catches for 74 yards.

Junior receiver Milton Wright found a fantastic time to catch his second touchdown of the season. Trailing 14-17, O’Connell found Wright wide open in the back of the endzone for the go-ahead score.

Fifth year wideout Jackson Anthrop then dove into the endzone on the next possession for his first touchdown of the season.

The Boilermakers missed out on more points with another missed field goal in the first half as graduate transfer kicker Mitchell Fineran botched two short-yardage attempts.

In the end, it didn’t matter since Purdue still walked into Memorial Stadium and took care of business against a 7.5-point spread.

The Boilers now look ahead to next Saturday, when undefeated No. 8 Michigan State comes into town fresh off a win against No. 6 Michigan. Broadcast information is set to be released tomorrow, the Big Ten announced earlier this week.

THE GROUND GAME

The Boilermakers placed an emphasis on the ground game and rushed 41 times for 116 yards, the second game over 100 yards on the year. The total was the second-most attempts by Purdue this season, one shy of the team's season high. Zander Horvath picked up 24 yards on 11 carries with a touchdown, while Jackson Anthrop ran for a career-high 27 yards on five rushes.

PICK CITY

The Boilermakers intercepted four passes on the afternoon. Jalen Graham finished the day with two interceptions, the firsts of his career. His pick-six was Purdue's first since 2019 when Cory Trice housed an interception against Maryland. Cam Allen had his fourth interception of the year and seventh of his career, while Chris Jefferson notched his first as a Boilermaker and 14th of his career.

NOTES

• Purdue had four interceptions for the second time in three games.

• The Boilermakers are 5-5 all-time against the Cornhuskers, including the last three and four of five.

• Aidan O'Connell was 34-of-45 for 233 yards with two touchdowns, one completion shy of tying a career high

• Along with its four interceptions, the defense had 50 tackles, four tackles for loss and one sack

– Purdue Athletics contributed to this report

Recommended for you