May 25, 2024

Purdue’s fourth quarter rally falls short and drops to 2-4 on season

Purdue Boilermakers Football

Purdue Coach Ryan Walters glances up at the scoreboard during the fourth quarter against Iowa Saturday October 7, 2023 at Kinnick Stadium. (Lynn Harrington/stayaliveinpower5)

IOWA CITY, Ia. — The Boilermakers had a ton of momentum when they invaded Kinnick Stadium Saturday afternoon.

After all, Purdue was coming off a blowout win over Illinois, in which it scored 44 points. However, Ryan Walter’s team walked into a snakepit, because it was Iowa’s Homecoming. The 69,250 fans were turned all the way up for the defensive slugfest, and once the smoke cleared, Iowa defeated Purdue 20-14.

It was Walter’s third loss in the past four games, and now he has to pick up all the pieces and go back to the drawing board. The Boilermakers played well at times though, but they weren’t consistent enough and never led in the contest. Walters is trying to take away the positives from Purdue’s performance.

The Boilermakers led the Hawkeyes in total yards, plays, first downs and time of possession, but still lost. Points are what truly matter to Walters, but his team was held scoreless in the first and third quarter. Walters knows his squad can’t afford to keep having slow starts. Purdue did pull within six points with under three minutes left in the game, but couldn’t capitalize on its’ last possession.

“It’s frustrating, when you play a team like Iowa and you have time of possession, third downs and total yardage in your favor, usually that bodes well in terms of success,” Walters said. “I just felt like offensively we moved the ball between the 20-yard lines, but then we would stall out, and negative plays killed us.”

The Boilermakers finished with a season-low, 343 yards of total offense. Playing behind the sticks often times put quarterback Hudson Card in difficult situations. The former Texas Longhorn was picked off twice and sacked six times. Walters know that’s a recipe for disaster, especially on the road.

“It’s hard to get back on track and convert when you are behind the chains the way we were, which seemed like most of the day,” he said.

Card completed 25 of his 40 passes for 247 yards and a touchdown. He did his best to improvise and extend plays. Tight end Garrett Miller recorded a team-high, eight receptions for 71 yards. Wideout TJ Sheffield hauled in six passes for a team-high, 93 yards and a touchdown. The rushing attack was lethargic though, and Purdue finished with a mere 96 yards on the ground. The turnovers didn’t help a team that already had a slim margin for error.

“Iowa does what Iowa does, they’re good at it and they don’t make mistakes,” the 37-year old coach said. “So when you make mistakes they exploit them, and they definitely did today.”

Purdue’s defense kept the game competitive, but were on the field for a jaw-dropping, 80 plays. Defensive back Sanoussi Kane led the team with nine tackles, including eight solo and one for loss. Kane’s teammate in the secondary Dillon Thieneman added eight stops and picked off a pass. The only issue Walters had with his defense is the fact that there was a minimal pass rush, and the Boilermakers only recorded one sack.

Walters wants his players to digest this road loss and move on quickly, with Ohio State looming next week. Purdue (2-4) is currently in a four-way tie in the West standings. Meanwhile Iowa (5-1) moved up to second place. Walters just wants his players to keep improving, despite the growing pains with the offense. Right now it’s all about the little things and fundamentals. The first-year coach is still learning on the job, and will adjust on the fly as the Boilermakers navigate through the Big Ten gauntlet.

“When you play against good teams like we will for the rest of the season in this conference, you gotta play complimentary football, and capitalize on momentum swings, and we weren’t able to do that.”