Everything tonight turned on one play. With 9:14 left Purdue led 31-17 and Brennan Thieneman intercepted a tipped pass on 3rd and 9, returning it to the Wisconsin 32 yard line. That should have ended the game. Purdue would have worked some clock and likely kicked a field goal to make it a three-possession game with about 6 minutes left.
Then an orange flag fluttered to the turf. Navon Mosley was whistled for a very, very, very soft pass interference. I say soft because we saw our own receiver get tackled with the ball in the air way back in the season opener and the play wasn’t called, resulting in an interception. Mosley had contact, but not nearly enough for it to be called pass interference based on that call back in late August. The officials did not see it that way, however. The interception was called back, and from that point forward Purdue’s defense completely collapsed.
This one hurts. We haven’t had this good of a chance to in our streak of futility against the Badgers in a very long time and the game should have been over at that point. Even if we probably should have tried to punch it in instead of settling for a pair of Spencer Evans 20-yard field goals, the interception should have ended it. We would have had the ball in Wisconsin territory with a two-possession lead and 9 minutes left. It felt like a backbreaker, and you could tell the officials questioned the call because they conferenced for a long time before settling on it.
It was called, however, and everything went against Purdue from that point forward. Jonathan Taylor went from very good to completely unstoppable. Jack Coan, who struggled to throw the ball all day, completed two touchdown passes to Danny Davis III as he was falling out of bounds. We had another questionable call go against us late in the fourth quarter when a reception was overturned. Even with a final chance to drive for a field goal after forcing a punt inside the 10 Connor Allen boomed a 50 yard kick after only averaging 34 yards on his previous 5 punts.
Once we got to the overtimes we knew we were not going to stop Taylor. He ran for 61 yards and 2 touchdowns on 5 carries in the overtimes. We probably should have gone for two at the end of the second overtime because we would have at least had a chance to end the game in our favor with one play. Purdue’s offense got touchdowns from moore and Isaac Zico, but we were completely unable to stop them.
This is a demoralizing loss because things were going so well before the pick that wasn’t. Rondale Moore had made a magical play again and showed why is such a special player. David Blough was playing mostly mistake-free football in his final game at Purdue. Even after Taylor tied it on the first play of the second half we dominated the game until that interception hat wasn’t. We were the better team by a wide margin for 51 minutes. Unfortunately, football is 60 minutes. We collapsed. Wisconsin had one unstoppable player and we dared him to beat us by himself. He did.
Now, after all the momentum in the middle of the season with winning five games in six it comes down to the Bucket for a bowl game with Indiana, just like last year. The winner will go to the postseason. The loser will sit at home at 5-7 after a hot stretch, but a host of close losses. It especially stings for Purdue because we finish the year 3-4 at home, but three of the four losses were decided on the game’s final play. It would be an extremely cruel way to miss a bowl game, made all the worse if Jeff Brohm leaves.
Can Purdue shake it off? Can it avoid the Brohm distractions? It appeared to tonight before completely falling apart defensively. It is incredibly frustrating to be this close, especially against a team that has been a bully to us for 15 years.
This begins one of the most important weeks in Purdue football history.