Austin Appleby threw three first-half touchdown passes for the Boilermakers (3-5, 1-3), but he was only 4 for 10 for 18 yards in the second half. Raheem Mostert rushed for 115 yards on five carries and Akeem Hunt added 98 yards on 17 attempts, but Purdue’s bid to spoil the 100th homecoming at Minnesota fell just short.
David Cobb rushed for 194 yards and a touchdown and Ryan Santoso kicked a 52-yard field goal with 4:59 left to cap Minnesota’s comeback on Saturday, giving the Gophers a 39-38 victory over Purdue and their first 3-0 start in Big Ten play since 1990.
For all the strides the Gophers have made under defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys, they were exploited often by Purdue’s speed. The four touchdown drives by the Boilermakers in the first half covered an average of 74 yards. Gabe Holmes and DeAngelo Yancey caught passes for scores, and Mostert put Purdue in front for the first time at 21-20 with a 42-yard burst.
Then Mostert, who was overtaken by Akeem Hunt as the featured runner last month after fumbling in a game against Southern Illinois, tore through the Minnesota front again midway through the third quarter. His 69-yard gain set up a touchdown run by Appleby that stretch the lead to 38-29, another remarkable response by a Boilermakers team that went 1-11 in coach Darrell Hazell’s first season.
Since Appleby took over for fellow sophomore Danny Etling, though, the offense has been significantly better in leading Hazell to his first Big Ten win at Illinois and giving Michigan State a scare last week. Purdue finally had to punt after halftime, and after a three-and-out Leidner zipped a crisp pass to K.J. Maye on a corner route for a 37-yard completion that Maye punctuated with a somersault into the end zone to bring the Gophers back within two points.
In the second quarter, Cobb lost a fumble that appeared to occur after his arm hit the ground, but the officials disagreed. Then Appleby’s pass three plays later to Anthrop was ruled incomplete. The call stood, and Purdue kicked a short field goal for a 24-20 lead.
Cedric Thompson had two interceptions for Minnesota (6-1, 3-0), including a diving pickoff of Appleby with 2:28 remaining to seal it.