First it was Drew Brees to Isaac Jones.
Now we have Elijah Sindelar to Anthony Mahoungou.
That 1998 Alamo Bowl was very similar to this one. Purdue led almost the whole way, gave up the lead with some second half struggles, then needed a last minute drive with a long TD pass for the win before it was sealed on a late interception.
Yeah, we have seen this script before, and it is beautiful.
Appropriately, it was the seniors that did the job. After having just 30 receptions and no touchdowns all season Gregory Phillips had the game of his life in his final game for Purdue with 14 receptions for 149 yards and two scores. Mahoungou had some huge drops as Purdue fell apart offensively for most of the second half, but finished with 6 receptions for 118 yards and 2 TDs in his last game. They helped Sindelar get offensive MVP with 396 yards and 4 TDs.
On defense Ja’Whaun Bentley had 8 tackles, 2 for loss, and a sack as the defensive MVP. Markus Bailey, though not a senior, was awesome with 11 tackles. Gelen Robinson pressured Khalil Tate all night but could not get a well deserved sack.
And Tate was good. Purdue mostly limited him on the ground, but he ate Purdue’s safeties alive for five long TD passes. All five were at least 24 yards and mostly wide open over the middle. Appropriately, it was a safety who made the clinching play, however. It looked like Jacob Theineman would be knocked out early on, but he picked off Tate on an overthrow with just over a minute to go and that was the game. Navon Mosely also had the other turnover, forcing and recovering a fumble before halftime that not only stopped a scoring drive, but allowed Purdue to drive down and get a Spencer Evans field goal that ended up being the difference.
Oh, we also must credit D.J. Knox and Markell Jones. Knox had 101 yards and a score. Jones had 86 on the ground, coming just 14 yards short of Purdue having two 100 yard rushers in one game for the first time in 15 years.
I am sure we’ll have more tomorrow, but man, that felt good. Purdue got its 10th bowl win ever and first over a Power 5 conference team since 2002. Purdue also finishes with 7 wins and a winning record for only the second time in 10 years.
I think year one of Jeff Brohm was a success.