WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Hudson Card threw two touchdown passes, Devin Mockobee and Dylan Downing each had TD runs and Purdue used a 21-point third-quarter scoring flurry Saturday to pull away from Illinois 44-19.
The Boilermakers (2-3, 1-1 Big Ten) snapped a two-game losing streak and gave first-year coach Ryan Walters his first home victory against his former team. Walters spent the previous two seasons as defensive coordinator of the Fighting Illini.
Illinois (2-3, 0-2) has lost four straight in the battle for The Cannon — all three in coach Bret Bielema’s tenure.
The Boilermakers turned a close game into a rout with three third-quarter touchdowns — Card’s 28-yard TD pass to Garrett Miller on the first possession of the second half, Mockobee’s 3-yard scoring run late in the third quarter and Card’s 10-yard TD pass to Deion Burks following a fourth-down stop.
It was a strange and, at times, ugly game.
Bielema won an early coach’s challenge, an overturned replay review led to a Purdue takeaway, Illinois blocked two kicks and even the scoreboard stopped working late in the first half.
But the biggest surprise might have been how quickly a close game turned into a rout.
Illinois took a 3-0 lead on the game’s first possession, it gave the lead away when quarterback Luke Altmyer fumbled in the end zone and Malik Lagnham recovered it. The extra point was blocked.
Josh McCray’s 7-yard TD run gave the Illini a 10-6 lead, but the Boilermakers answered with Downing’s 16-yard TD run, a 40-yard field goal and the big third quarter to seal the victory.
Card was 18 of 26 with 217 yards. Tyrone Tracy Jr. ran 21 times for 112 yards and scored the day’s final touchdown. Burks had five receptions for 83 yards.
Altmyer finished 16 of 25 with 202 yards and one TD. Isaiah Williams caught six passes for 113 yards.
Illinois: Last year’s loss cost Bielema and the Illini a shot at the Big Ten West title. But these were not the same teams Saturday. Illinois simply had too many miscues — nine penalties, five sacks allowed, three fumbles and 1 of 13 on third down — to stay in this one. It’s a recipe for disaster that will continue to lead to losses if the Illini can’t find some quick fixes.
Purdue: Walters waited five weeks to get his first home win, but after losing the first three at renovated Ross-Ade Stadium this will be a memorable victory. The second-half performance was Purdue’s best of the season. If the Boilermakers can build on this momentum, perhaps the defending Big Ten West champs can turn their season around.
The scoreboard clock stopped with 1:07 left in the first half, forcing referees to announce the time remaining between each snap taken until halftime. The play clock wasn’t working, either, and neither team’s late field goal appeared on the scoreboard until halftime festivities nearly ended. But Purdue got the clocks and the scoreboard up and running for the second half.
Illinois: It was a rough day for the Illini, who played without leading rusher Reggie Love III (ankle) and lost two offensive lineman Josh Gesky (right knee, right ankle) and Zy Crisler (right ankle) in the third quarter. Defensive lineman Denzel Daxon left briefly in the first half and DT Jer’Zhan Newton left twice, the second time with a shoulder injury before returning in the second half.
Purdue: Tight end Max Klare needed help to leave the field in the third quarter with what appeared to be a lower body injury. Running back Tyrone Tracy Jr., receiver Deion Burks and tight end Garrett Miller all left for short stints in the first half but each returned.
Illinois: Heads home to take on Nebraska on Friday night.
Purdue: Visits Iowa next Saturday.