WEST LAFAYETTE — With the game hanging in the balance, Akeem Shavers put Purdue on his shoulders in a wild ride of the annual Oaken Bucket game.
Shavers scored three touchdowns in just over four minutes in the fourth quarter to separate Purdue from Indiana, 56-35, at a crisp Ross-Ade Stadium.
After Indiana receiver Cody Latimer scored a six-yard touchdown from a pass by Cameron Coffman to tie the score at 35, Shavers went into hyper mode.
The senior running back took a pass from Robert Marve and chugged 73 yards down the near sideline to give the Boilers a 42-35 lead. On Indiana’s next play from scrimmage, Max Charlot took a tipped pass from Coffman to give the Boilers the ball back at the Indiana 42. Five plays later, Shavers took a swing pass from Marve and slipped 26 yards to paydirt with 7:55 to go.
Purdue again ended Indiana’s drive with an interception, which Antoine Lewis grabbed after yet another tipped Coffman pass floated helplessly in the air. Lewis returned the ball 50 yards inside the Indiana five, which Shavers finished off with an airbourne exclamation point with 6:14 to go to keep the Old Oaken Bucket in West Lafayette for the second consecutive year and fourth time in five years.
“I thought we had a heckuva gameplan coming in, if we outfight them and outexecuted them, they wouldn’t be able to keep up with us,” said Purdue head coach Danny Hope. “Akeem did a great job running with the ball, and made a lot of plays with the ball in his hands.”
Purdue totaled a whopping 558 yards of offense, but Indiana was not far behind in what became a wild shoot-out with 512 yards of their own. Shavers led Purdue with 231 yards of total offense and the three touchdowns and Marve finished his last game in West Lafayette by going 20-29 for 348 yards and four touchdowns.
Antavian Edison, OJ Ross and Gary Bush all caught touchdown passes for Purdue and Rob Henry added a one-yard rushing touchdown after Crosby Wright caught a 58-yard pass from Marve that ended down at the one-yard line.
“He is playing the best football of his career,” Hope said of Marve, who is wrapping up his sixth year of college football after suffering several knee injuries. “Hats off to him for the resiliency he has shown. He has had a lot of setbacks, but he is a great football player, and this is a great way for him to end his career here.
Coffman was 31-53 for 348 yards and a touchdown pass. Stephen Houston rushed 28 times for 168 yards and had three touchdowns, all in the first half. The Hoosiers (4-8, 2-6 Big Ten) trailed 35-21 in the third quarter before tying the game on the Latimer touchdown with 12:14 to go in the game.
“Huge game, very very proud of our seniors, they did a great job and to send them out with a win, I’m very happy for them,” Hope said.
Purdue (6-6, 3-5 Big Ten) are now eligible for bowl play by picking up the sixth win.
“Any time you can get the extra practices for the young guys, it makes a difference,” Hope said. “Just to get back on track. Back to back for the program. I can’t say enough out of this senior class. They come away with back-to-back wins against Ohio State, a comeback win against Michigan, just a great class for Purdue University.”