WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — Clayton Thorson passed for a career-best 352 yards and three touchdowns, and Northwestern scored 31 second-half points Saturday on its way to a 45-17 victory against Purdue.
Thorson, who also ran for a touchdown, completed 23 of 36 passes, including five for 92 yards and two touchdowns to wide receiver Austin Carr, who tied the school single-season record with 12 TD receptions.
Austin Jackson rushed 22 times for 127 yards and a touchdown, and John Moten IV had 16 carries for 119 yards, marking the first time since Sept. 14, 2013 against Western Michigan that two Northwestern backs rushed for more than 100 yards in the same game.
Thorson’s third touchdown pass — a 42-yarder to Garrett Dickerson on the first play after an interception by linebacker Anthony Walker Jr. — gave Northwestern a 28-10 lead with 11:13 remaining in the third quarter. The Wildcats (5-5, 4-3 Big Ten) steadily pulled away.
Northwestern spotted Purdue(3-7, 1-6) a 10-0, first-quarter lead, then scored the opening half’s final 14 points to lead 14-10 through 30 minutes. Purdue lost its fifth in a row.
The Wildcats extended their lead to 21-10 on Justin Jackson’s 14-yard touchdown run, capping a seven-play, 71-yard drive.
Northwestern: Needing two victories in their final three games to become bowl eligible, the Wildcats scored touchdowns on each of their first four second-half drives and pulled away from the struggling Boilermakers. Northwestern gained 557 yards during the first three quarters.
Purdue: Playing without their two best defenders — Jake Replogle (concussion) and Ja’Whaun Bentley (leg) — the Boilermakers’ defense was no match for Northwestern’s balanced offense and fell to 0-15 in November games during the four most recent seasons.
Northwestern: The Wildcats travel to Minnesota on Nov. 19 for their final Big Ten road game.
Purdue: The Boilermakers will play host to No. 7 Wisconsin on Nov. 19 in their final Big Ten home game.