For a half, Purdue was welcomed back into the world of major college football.
After a hilariously bad first play that resulted in Markell Jones throwing an interception, and and equally inept first defensive play that saw Tommy Armstrong moonwalk into the endzone unmolested I assumed the route was on. Then a funny thing happened on the way to the blowout...it didn’t happen. Purdue ran a stunningly competent attack, incorporating the short, mid and long range passing attack to great effect. DeAngelo Yancey and Bilal Marshal caught everything within their area code, with Yancey contributing 2 touchdowns, including an 88 yard reception sprung by an excellent Cameron Posey block.
Even more surprising, the defense controlled the line of scrimmage, even without Boilermaker hero Jake Replogle. Gelen Robinson and Evan Panfil played like men possessed and fresh faced defensive tackles Eddy Wilson and Lorenzo Neal clogged the middle, often times pushing back the center of the Nebraska line into the lap of Armstrong and the Nebraska running backs. Purdue linebackers cleaned up ball carriers and the secondary made numerous big plays, including a textbook scoop and slam by Leroy Clark.
Purdue played like a team with nothing to lose and Gerard Parker coached like a man looking to impress his new employer (at least in this function), and took a 14-10 lead into the half.
Unfortunately, Purdue couldn’t sustain their inspired effort into the second half. Nebraska, with the help of some questionable calls, seized control of the game. Blough somewhat regressed with his accuracy, and Purdue couldn’t dictate the game with their passing game they way they did in the first half. Nebraska took the lead at the 7:45 mark of the 3rd quarter and never relinquished the lead. It was a some what expected let down, but the Boilermakers fought to the bitter end. It was a disappointing end to an inspired effort, but it gave me hope moving forward.
Purdue went on the road and played toe to toe with the #8 team in the nation while starting a redshirt freshman reserve guard at left tackle, and without the heart and soul of the defensive line in Jake Replogle. The effort wasn’t enough, but is was more than I expected. I’ll certainly be interested in watching how this season ends, and hopefully this performance motivated a few people to check out the Boilers live and in person when they take on the Nittany Lions next Saturday.