WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — Purdue’s Markell Jones showed Saturday he’s pretty good at dancing in the rain.
Especially when he uses the wet conditions to make defenders miss.
The junior faked out a Minnesota defender, darted inside and sprinted 12 yards for the go-ahead score with 1:17 left to help Purdue complete a second-half rally for a 31-17 victory over Minnesota following an 88-minute weather delay.
“That was the play that I should have made before the delay because I had the corner in that same position, but he tackled me and forced us to kick the field goal,” Jones said. “I wasn’t going to let him tackle me that time. I don’t even know what type of celebration I did. I just kind of went crazy and almost injured myself celebrating.”
Fortunately, the injury-prone Jones managed to stay healthy on one of the oddest days in program history.
Just moments after Jones thought he should have scored and the Boilermakers (3-2, 1-1 Big Ten) made a 19-yard field goal to take their first lead since the opening minutes, heavy rain and lightning moved into the area of Ross-Ade Stadium area. Before the skies darkened, the rain began or either team could line up for the kickoff, the refs sent both teams to their respective locker rooms with 9:58 left in the fourth quarter.
Once the players and coaches were gone, fans started streaming down the stadium steps and scrambled across the stadium grass and even between the sidelines to find shelter. Some made it before the deluge of rain; many were drenched.
After a discussion between Purdue officials and the refs, the game resumed 1-hour, 28-minutes later, though few fans stuck around to watch the shootout or the end of the five-hour marathon.
“Is it Monday night or is still Saturday?” coach Jeff Brohm joked after picking up his first Big Ten win.
Minnesota (3-2, 0-2), which forced four first-half turnovers but only led 14-6, made the most of its second chance.
The Golden Gophers (3-2, 0-2) took more than 7½ minutes off the clock as they drove for Emmit Carpenter’s 38-yard field goal and a 17-16 lead with 2:26 to go.
“To be in that weather delay and have them rally like they did, and us come out and really drive in six minutes all the way down the field and hit the field goal, you’re up 17-16 with 1:40 to go …” Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck.
It lead didn’t last long.
Four plays after D.J. Knox’s 44-yard kickoff return, Jones juked a defender on a right-side sweep and scored for the first time this season. The two-point conversion made it 24-17, and Ja’Whaun Bentley’s 76-yard interception return for a TD sealed it.
“We had a plan coming out from the rain delay, but Minnesota kind of messed that up and kicked a field goal,” Brohm said. “It’s not always perfect, but I think we have a group of guys who are going to find a way to win.”
Purdue honored former coach Joe Tiller, the school’s career wins leader, throughout the game. Tiller died in Wyoming last weekend.
The Boilermakers wore a helmet sticker with headphones, his trademark moustache and the word Joe. They held a moment of silence for Tiller and the victims of the Las Vegas shooting before the national anthem. Tiller’s son, Michael, accepted a commemorative football and at halftime, a three-minute highlight video played on the stadium’s video board.
“As I told our team after the game, this is for coach Tiller,” Brohm said. “This is how he taught us to play the game and we’re happy to win this on the day we honor him.”
Minnesota: The Golden Gophers seemed to have the perfect script. Shannon Brooks ran for 116 yards, Rodney Smith added 88 and they easily won the turnover battle. Now they have to find a way to close out games.
Purdue: The Boilermakers have not lost back-to-back games this year, have matched their overall and conference victory totals from last season and rallied Saturday from a ragged first half.
Minnesota: Conor Rhoda was 11 of 25 with 101 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. The Gophers converted 3 of 4 fourth-down attempts but were just 5 of 17 on third downs. Thomas Barber had 10 tackles, one fumble recovery and ½ sack.
Purdue: Elijah Sindelar was 19 of 26 with a career-high 248 yards and one touchdown after replacing David Blough in the first half. Jones had 12 carries for 52 yards. The weather delay was the first in West Lafayette since Sept. 8, 2007.
Minnesota: Host Michigan State on Oct. 14.
Purdue: Will travel to Wisconsin on Oct. 14 for its second true road game of the season.
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