MSU football sees second consecutive lackluster finish in win over Purdue, 45-31
No. 8 MSU football experienced deja vu on Saturday.
For a second consecutive week, the Spartans nearly blew a 20-plus point lead in the fourth quarter. But again, the defense came up big late with a turnover to seal the victory over Purdue, 45-31.
Purdue made the game interesting late in the fourth quarter, trimming MSU’s lead to only one touchdown with less than seven minutes to go. But junior linebacker Darien Harris took an interception to the endzone from 15 yards out to preserve the Spartan victory.
Junior quarterback Connor Cook finished 19-of-37 for 238 passing yards and three touchdowns and one pick . Senior wide receiver Tony Lippett was once again Cook’s favorite target, reeling in seven receptions for 138 yards and one touchdown.
Even more impressive was the Spartan running game, which finished with 294 yards. Senior running back Jeremy Langford led the group with 104 yards on 13 carries. Senior running back Nick Hill also had a solid afternoon, recording 72 rushing yards and two touchdowns against Purdue.
MSU’s offense looked good throughout the first half, racking up 344 total yards in the opening 30 minutes, but defensive flaws kept the game close early on.
MSU scored on its first four possessions, starting with a 39-yard touchdown connection between Cook and Lippett. The touchdown came less than four minutes into the game and was Lippett’s ninth total touchdown of the season.
Purdue would respond the following drive with a 36-yard field goal from junior kicker Paul Griggs to cut the Spartan lead to 7-3. But from there on, MSU put its foot down on the gas pedal.
The next two drives resulted in Spartan touchdowns, including a two-yard run by Hill and a two-yard pass from Cook to sophomore tight end Josiah Price. The back-to-back touchdowns put MSU up 21-3 with 11:37 left in the second quarter.
Purdue would rally, however, punching in two touchdowns opposite of one Spartan field goal to send the game 24-17 into half.
But MSU ended any doubt of an upset early into the third quarter. The Spartans used back-to-back three and outs to create back-to-back touchdowns, pushing the MSU lead to 38-17.
The first Spartan score came on a 13-yard touchdown pass from Cook to junior wide receiver Aaron Burbridge and Hill punched in a four yard rushing touchdown on the second score.
MSU appeared to be in position to finish off the Boilermakers, but a Cook interception gave Purdue life. The interception eventually led to a fourth-down, 52-yard touchdown run by senior running back Akeem Hunt to cut MSU's lead to 38-24.
Purdue continued the momentum for the following possession. The Boilermakers were able to stop junior defensive tackle Lawrence Thomas on a questionable fake punt to give Purdue great starting field position in MSU territory. The drive would result in another Hunt touchdown, this time from three yards out to make it 38-31 with 6:19 left in the game.
Hunt’s touchdown would be the closest the game would get after Harris returned an interception for a game-clinching Spartan touchdown.
MSU finished with 532 total yards compared to 340 for Purdue. MSU also won the turnover battle, forcing two Boilermaker turnovers compared to only one for MSU.
MSU returns to the field next Saturday when the Spartans travel to Memorial Stadium to take on Indiana. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m.