WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — Dan Dierking ran for a career-high 126 yards, quarterback Rob Henry accounted for four touchdowns, and Purdue beat Minnesota 28-17 on Saturday.
Henry passed for 163 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 57 yards and three scores for the Boilermakers (4-2, 2-0 Big Ten). Purdue matched its best conference start since 2004 heading into a showdown at Ohio State next Saturday.
It was Minnesota’s sixth straight loss, adding to the pressure on coach Tim Brewster. Reports circulated before the game that he could be fired if the Golden Gophers (1-6, 0-3) lost on Saturday. A Minnesota spokesman said the school had no comment and said athletic director Joel Maturi would not be available to the media.
Adam Weber completed just 20 of 45 passes for 214 yards, and Da’Jon McKnight caught six passes for 123 yards for Minnesota.
Purdue rushed for 230 yards. Its five straight games with more than 200 yards on the ground is the school’s longest streak since 1973.
The Boilermakers wore throwback uniforms to honor the team Drew Brees led to the 2001 Rose Bowl.
Purdue’s first scoring drive was highlighted by a winding, weaving, tackle-breaking 42-yard run by Dierking. Henry finished the drive when he faked to Dierking, then kept the ball for a 4-yard touchdown run to give the Boilermakers a 7-0 lead.
Henry scored another touchdown in the second quarter on a 1-yard run to increase Purdue’s lead to 14-0. The Boilermakers might have had a larger advantage at halftime, but normally accurate kicker Carson Wiggs missed an 18-yard field-goal attempt with 36 seconds left in the half.
Henry’s biggest play might have come in the third quarter. He threw an interception to Minnesota linebacker Gary Tinsley, then hustled 50 yards down the field to try and make a tackle. Tinsley saw Henry coming as he neared the goal line and extended the ball to try to score before contact, but he lost control right before Henry delivered a solid hit. The ball hit the pylon on the goal line and went out of bounds for a touchback, giving Purdue the ball at its 20-yard line.
Purdue took advantage. Henry found Antavian Edison in the middle of the field on a third-and-6, and Edison spun out of a tackle, shook another defender and scored from 20 yards out to make it 21-0.
A touchdown pass from Weber to DeLeon Eskridge was called back, and the Golden Gophers were forced to settle for a field goal, making it a 21-3 game with 5 minutes left in the third quarter.
Minnesota finally reached the end zone when Weber threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Bryant Allen. The Gophers failed on a two-point conversion, and Purdue led 21-9 with 12:17 to play.
Purdue came right back and scored on the next possession. Henry ran for 13 yards on a fourth-and-1 play at the Minnesota 40. Four plays later, Henry ran 3 yards for his third rushing touchdown to give the Boilermakers a 28-9 lead.
Weber threw a 31-yard TD pass to McKnight, and MarQueis Gray caught the 2-point conversion pass from Weber to cut Purdue’s lead to 28-17 with 3 minutes to play.
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