Saturday's Big Ten: Injury-plagued Purdue scores late, beats Nebraska

Jim Johnson
Associated Press
Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez (2) falls to his knees after failing to pick up a first down.

West Lafayette, Ind. — David Bell scored the go-ahead touchdown from 9 yards out with 1:08 to play, and Purdue beat Nebraska 31-27 on Saturday.

The Boilermakers (3-6, 2-4 Big Ten) took the lead for good after starting quarterback Jack Plummer left the game with a right ankle injury — the latest player to be sidelined on a team plagued by injuries.

Head coach Jeff Brohm said Purdue will likely be without Plummer for the remainder of the season after he needed help off the field following a run-play injury with 7:55 remaining. Plummer finished 25-of-34 passing with 242 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, and he rushed 61 yards on 12 carries.

The Boilermakers lost quarterback Elijah Sindelar (broken left collarbone) and All-American receiver Rondale Moore (left hamstring) four games ago and have lost three games since, making Saturday’s win that much better.

“It was a big win for our team today,” Brohm said. “It has been rough at times this year. If you want to win, it’s not supposed to be a whole lot of fun. We’ve made mistakes this year. We’ve been hard on our guys and quite demanding a bit. But you have to back off and allow these guys to play and make mistakes.”

Four plays after Plummer’s injury, King Doerue scored on a 7-yard touchdown run to give Purdue a 24-20 lead with 6:50 to go in a back-and-forth fourth quarter. Doerue finished with 71 yards rushing on 15 carries and had 31 yards on five receptions, including a 3-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter.

Adrian Martinez was 22 of 39 for 247 yards passing and an interception for the Cornhuskers (4-5, 2-4), who have lost four of their last five games and two straight to the Boilermakers. Martinez rushed for 58 yards on 12 carries and scored twice.

More Big Ten games

(At) Illinois 38, Rutgers 10: Three defensive takeaways, including a pick-6, and timely offense carried red-hot Illinois. Dele Harding had 12 tackles and an interception return for a touchdown late in the game to lead Illinois (5-4, 3-3 Big Ten Conference).

Brandon Peters was 6-of-11 passing for 120 yards and one touchdown. Dre Brown carried eight times for 31 yards and two touchdowns. Josh Imatorbhebhe had three receptions for 56 yards and a score.

Johnny Langan was 5-of-10 passing for 86 yards and a touchdown for Rutgers (2-7, 0-6). He also threw one interception. Aaron Young carried the ball 12 times for 67 yards to lead the Scarlet Knights. Mohamed Jabbie had three receptions for 64 yards and Rutgers’ only touchdown,

The Illinois defense was a force all afternoon, The Illini led the nation in fumble recoveries, was second in forced fumbles and second in turnovers gained coming into the game and did nothing but pad those numbers.

The game was tied 10-10 at the half, but Peters unleashed a 54-yard scamper midway through the third quarter to the Rutgers’ 2-yard line to set up a 2-yard touchdown run by Brown. On the next Rutgers possession, Nate Hobbs recovered a Langan fumble and ran it 32 yards for a touchdown to put Illinois up 24-10.

Harding forced a fumble with 4:48 left in the third quarter and Illinois scored on the next play, a 52-yard touchdown pass to Imatorbhebhe. Early in the fourth quarter, Harding picked off a Langan pass and ran it back 54 yards for a touchdown.

(At) Indiana 34, Northwestern 3: Stevie Scott III ran for two touchdowns and caught a third. Indiana (7-2, 4-2 Big Ten) has won four straight – its longest streak in conference play since 1993.

They did it despite losing starting quarterback Michael Penix Jr. with yet another injury in the first half. Peyton Ramsey was 7 of 10 with 108 yards and one TD to help Indiana lock up its first seven-win season since 2007.

Northwestern (1-7, 0-6) has lost six straight overall and has failed to top the 10-point mark in four consecutive games. It’s the longest skid for the Wildcats since a seven-game losing streak in 2013.

They had won five straight and nine of the previous 10 in this series.

But this one was downright ugly.

Quarterback Aidan Smith fumbled after a 22-yard run on Northwestern’s first offensive play and Indiana capitalized seven plays later with Scott’s 2-yard TD run for a 10-0 lead. Scott had 26 carries for 116 yards.

After the Wildcats settled for a 25-yard field goal and the defense forced a punt, they gave it away again on a fumble at the Northwestern 18. This time, the Hoosiers scored on the fourth play – Penix’s 1-yard plunge to make it 17-3.

Northwestern helped set up Scott’s second 2-yard TD run with two pass interference penalties in the end zone – its third and fourth of the half. Indiana scored all three of its first-half TDs after pass interference calls to take a 24-3 halftime lead.

And it didn’t get any better in the second half.

Scott scored on a 20-yard TD reception in the third quarter and the Hoosiers added a field goal early in the fourth. Northwestern suffered its second-most lopsided loss of the season.