This was not the start the Purdue football team was hoping for, but the Boilermakers will take it. Danny Hope’s squad survived a season opening scare at home sneaking past Middle Tennessee, 27-24.
“We are going to have to get better as a football team, obviously,” said Hope. “In the long run, this is probably better for us, to have to come from behind and win, to be backed into a corner and have to come out swinging, that was probably more important for our football team today than to come out here and play really well and beat Middle Tennessee by a significant margin.”
Purdue trailed for the majority of the game, but finally took the lead with 49-seconds to play. Quarterback Caleb TerBush hooked up with Antavian Edison on the 35-yard game-winning score.
“I wouldn’t want to win any other way,” said Edison. “We came tighter as a team, coming from behind like that. I think that’s just the way we needed to open up the season.”
The Blue Raiders had a chance to send the game into overtime, but Purdue cornerback Ricardo Allen blocked Alan Gendreau’s 47-yard field goal attempt as time expired.
The block made up for Allen fumbling a punt in the first quarter that resulted in the Blue Raiders taking an early 7-0 lead. Middle Tennessee’s Logan Kilgore connected with Malcolm Beyah from 26-yards out. It was one of two scoring throws on the day for the Blue Raiders signal caller who was 26-41 for 316 yards in the losing effort.
Purdue trailed 24-17 after Middle Tennessee’s Benny Cunningham scored on a two-yard run with 9:26 left in the fourth quarter.
The Boilermakers trimmed the deficit to four when preseason All-American kicker Carson Wiggs connected on his second field goal of the day, leaving the door open for Purdue to take the lead when TerBush found Edison.
“We all knew what we had to do,” said TerBush. “It’s good to know that we can just hustle up, no huddle, get up to the line and get plays in and have them work. It was good to know that and gives us confidence down the road when we need that two minute drive to win the game like we did.”
Purdue used two quarterbacks Saturday afternoon. Sean Robinson came in briefly in the third quarter, but TerBush took most of the snaps. In his first career start, the junior went 19-33 for 219 yards.
“He had to get it done, and he got it done,” said Purdue head coach Danny Hope of TerBush. “He’s our quarterback and we are proud of him. He’ll get a lot better from this game.”
The win snaps a six game losing streak for the Boilermakers who ended the 2010 season with a half-dozen losses in a row, including three straight inside Ross-Ade Stadium.
“This win means a lot. With us trying to get to a bowl this season, we need all the W’s we can get,” said Edison.
Purdue (1-0) goes on the road to Rice next week.
Middle Tennessee (0-1) will look for its first win at home against Georgia Tech.