Dominant second half carries Rutgers past Purdue
Shameen Jones caught two touchdown passes and Rutgers outscored Purdue by 17 points the second half to win 37-30 on Saturday in West Lafayette, Ind.
The Scarlet Knights (2-4, 2-4 Big Ten) — playing reserves Artur Sitkowski and Johnny Langan at quarterback in place of game-time scratch Noah Vedral — rolled off the game’s last 17 points to rally from a 10-point deficit. Vedral appeared to be in discomfort while throwing pregame, but there was no announcement with details of an injury.
Rutgers’ decisive spurt began after Purdue took a 30-20 lead on Jack Plummer’s 18-yard touchdown pass to David Bell early in the third quarter. On the ensuing kickoff, Aron Cruickshank went 100 yards for the answering score.
Cruickshank’s touchdown was the second consecutive long score for the Scarlet Knights. Langan opened the second half with a 62-yard touchdown pass to Kay’Ron Adams.
Langan completed all four of his passes for 95 yards, and he led Rutgers with 95 rushing yards. The Scarlet Knights effectively sealed the win when, on fourth-and-1, Langan rushed up the middle to convert a first down and allow the Rutgers to run down the clock.
The Boilermakers ran a total of three offensive plays — a three-and-out — over the game’s final 18-plus minutes. Rutgers used an 18-play drive to set up a 28-yard Valentino Ambrosio field goal with 7:09 left, and the Scarlet Knights’ final drive used up the last 5:26.
Sitkowski finished 18 of 27 for 141 yards, and he threw a pair of 14-yard scores to Jones in the first quarter.
The win is Rutgers’ second on the road this season, along with a 38-27 defeat of Michigan State on Oct. 24. The Scarlet Knights won one Big Ten road game in the previous four seasons combined.
Purdue (2-3, 2-3) moved the ball at will through the first two quarters and change, riding a combination of Plummer’s passing and the all-around play of running back Zander Horvath. Horvath rushed for 101 yards and a touchdown and caught four passes for 61 yards.
Plummer went 20 of 35 for 237 yards with two touchdowns — a 1-yarder to Payne Durham started the day’s scoring — and rushed for a third score.
Plummer threw one interception, but it came at a critical juncture.
After Cruickshank’s touchdown return, the Boilermakers were pushing into Rutgers territory when Mohamed Toure jumped a route and made the pick. Toure’s interception set the stage for the go-ahead drive, capped with a 1-yard Aaron Young touchdown run.
Young’s score put the Scarlet Knights on top 34-30, and they led the rest of the way.
–Field Level Media