Fighting Illini splash through rain for 24-6 win at Purdue
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — Dre Brown ran for a career high 131 yards and Tony Adams returned an interception for a touchdown to help Illinois slosh through the rain Saturday for a 24-6 victory at Purdue.
The Fighting Illini (4-4, 2-3 Big Ten) won their second straight game and claimed the Cannon Trophy for the first time since 2015.
Purdue (2-6, 1-4) has lost two in a row and five of its last six, putting their postseason hopes in peril.
It sure wasn’t easy for the offenses in a steady storm with puddles forming around the end zones and sidelines.
The Boilermakers gained only 271 total yards — 99 coming on a fourth-quarter drive for their only points.
Illinois quarterback Brandon Peters scored on a 1-yard TD run late in the first half but was just 3 of 6 with 26 yards through the air.
“Part of being a good football team is being able to put something behind you and move on,” Illini coach Lovie Smith said. “Today it was about running the football.”
They made just enough plays to take control and never allowed the Boilermakers to challenge.
After McCourt missed a 32-yard field goal, Brown again got Illinois into scoring position and Peters’ 1-yard plunge gave the Illini a 17-0 halftime cushion.
Stanley Green’s 29-yard fumble return led to Reggie Corbin’s 20-yard TD run for a 24-0 lead.
“It was hard to pass the ball in those elements so if you can’t run the ball, you’re not going to win the game,” Boilermakers coach Jeff Brohm said. “And we couldn’t run it.”
Purdue finally avoided its first shutout in nearly six years when backup quarterback Aidan O’Connell threw an 11-yard TD pass to Payne Durham.
Jack Plummer was 8 of 20 with 71 yards one interception for the Boilermakers.
Illinois: Coach Lovie Smith insisted the Fighting Illini were on the verge of a breakthrough before playing No. 6 Wisconsin last week. Now they’ve got a signature win — and momentum. Saturday’s victory was Illinois’ first road win since Oct. 15, 2016 at Rutgers — and Smith’s first back-to-back conference wins in his four-year tenure.
Purdue: The Boilermakers came into this season with high hopes. But a flurry of injuries derailed their season, and now they must win their final four just to become bowl eligible.
Illinois: The Illini have scored three defensive touchdowns this season. … Peters only threw four passes in the first half with the one completion — 17 yards to Donny Navarro. … Corbin ran 12 times for 47 yards and moved into 12th place on the school’s career rushing list with 2,211.
Purdue: Zac Collins had seven punts in the first half and finished with eight. … The Boilermakers had 44 carries for 135 yards, a 3.1 average. King Doerue had 15 carries for 37 yards. … Freshman receiver David Bell caught five passes for 18 yards and Bryce Hopkins had five receptions for 45 yards before leaving in the fourth quarter with what appeared to be an injured right arm.
Illinois: Will try to make it three straight when Rutgers comes to town next Saturday.
Purdue: Is seeking its second straight win over Nebraska when the Cornhuskers visit next Saturday.