Minnesota escapes with controversial win over Purdue

Josh Aune’s interception with 44 seconds left in the game, one play after a controversial penalty denied Purdue a go-ahead touchdown, enabled Minnesota to hold on for a 34-31 win Friday night in Minneapolis.

Boilermakers tight end Payne Durham appeared to catch a 19-yard scoring strike from Jack Plummer but was flagged for offensive pass interference despite replays showing minimal contact. Plummer then forced a pass over the middle into multiple defenders that Aune hauled in, sealing the victory for the Golden Gophers (2-3, 2-3 Big Ten).

Purdue (2-2, 2-2) fell 2 despite a great game from Plummer, who replaced injured starter Aidan O’Connell and completed 35 of 42 passes for 367 yards with three touchdowns and the one interception.

Minnesota running back Mohamed Ibrahim rushed 25 times for 102 yards and three touchdowns, giving him 13 TDs in five games. Quarterback Tanner Morgan was efficient, hitting on 15 of 22 attempts for 264 yards.

Purdue also had a touchdown overturned just before halftime on a replay review and missed two field-goal attempts, including a 33-yard try by J.D. Dellinger with 4:08 left in the game that would have tied the score.

Although Minnesota played without 20 players and three assistant coaches because of injury or COVID-19-related situations, the Gophers controlled most of the first half. They started the game with a 69-yard touchdown drive, capped by Cam Wiley’s 6-yard run.

After Rondale Moore’s 8-yard touchdown run on a jet sweep pulled Purdue into a 7-7 tie, the Golden Gophers marched 93 yards, cashing in on Ibrahim’s 1-yard plunge with 1:09 left in the first quarter.

Dellinger’s 32-yard field goal with 8:05 remaining in the second quarter drew the Boilermakers within 14-10, but Minnesota drove for nearly six minutes and took a 21-10 lead to intermission on a 3-yard touchdown run out of the wildcat formation by running back Seth Green.

Purdue used Plummer’s connection with David Bell to rally in the third quarter. They sandwiched 47- and 9-yard scoring strikes around Ibrahim’s second 1-yard touchdown run, making the score 28-24 going to the fourth period.