Purdue keeps rivalry Cannon Trophy with 31-24 upset of #21 Illinois

Aidan O’Connell


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – The Cannon is coming back to West Lafayette. Purdue went on the road Saturday afternoon and knocked off No. 21 Illinois, 31-24. The Boilermakers became bowl eligible for the fourth time in six seasons under head coach Jeff Brohm.

When Purdue (6-4, 4-3) needed it most, the defense stepped up. The Boilermakers held Illinois (7-3, 4-3) off the board on three of the final four drives in the fourth quarter, including a key interception by Kieren Douglas with 3:37 to play and Purdue up seven.

Sanoussi Kane topped all tacklers with nine on the afternoon with eight solos, one for loss and a forced fumble. The Boilermakers tallied five tackles-for-loss and a pair of sacks.

Illinois came into the game averaging 192.6 yards on the ground, led by running back Chase Brown’s 149.3 yards per game. On Saturday, the Boilermakers limited those numbers to 102 and 98, respectively. It was Brown’s first game under 100 yards rushing all season.

Purdue tight end Payne Durham had a career day with a pair of touchdown receptions, finishing the day with a team-high seven catches for 70 yards. Quarterback Aidan O’Connell threw for 237 yards on 25-of-40 passing with three touchdowns.  

Running back Devin Mockobee notched his fourth 100-yard game of the season, going for 106 yards on 28 carries and a touchdown. Purdue posted 142 yards on the ground to outgain 379-303 overall for the game.

The Boilermakers stayed within striking distance early thanks to the defense. After Illinois scored on its opening drive, Purdue’s defense forced three straight 3-and-outs, as its offense slowly found its rhythm in the second quarter.

Mockobee carried the Boilermakers into the end zone early in the second quarter. The redshirt freshman had four straight rushes for 46 yards on the drive, capped by a six-yard scamper. The Illini responded on its ensuing drive with an eight-yard rushing touchdown by Brown.

Purdue rolled off 14 unanswered points with scores on either side of the half. O’Connell pulled Purdue level at 14-14 right before halftime on a 32-yard scoring strike to Charlie Jones. The sixth-year thrower then found Payne Durham on a five-yard touch pass in the corner of the end zone to give the Boilermakers a 21-14 advantage.

Following an Illinois score late in the third, Durham put Purdue ahead for good when he muscled his way into the end zone on a 12-yard toss from O’Connell. Kicker Mitchell Fineran put the game on ice with a 25-yard field goal with 1:05 to play.  

Purdue picked up its second win against a ranked opponent and the seventh of the Brohm era. 

Purdue-Illinois rivalry trophy (courtesy rivalrytrophy.com)

Durham recorded his fifth game this year with five or more catches. The Suwanee, Ga., native posted his second multi-touchdown game of the season and the fourth of his career. With his twoscoring grabs Saturday, Durham moved into sole possession of second place for career touchdown receptions by a tight end with 19. He also moved up to ninth place on the Purdue career charts for reception.

Mockobee’s impressive redshirt freshman campaign continued with his fourth 100-yard game of the season, the most in a season by a freshman. He is one 100-yard game shy of moving into third place in single-season history at Purdue. The Booneville, Ind., native moved up several spots on the freshman charts Saturday: third with 142 carries, third with 732 rushing yards and tying for fourth with seven rushing touchdowns (Mike Northington, 1973).

• Purdue leads the all-time series with Illinois 47-45-6.
• The Boilermakers hold a 39-30-2 record in the series since the Cannon joined the series in 1943.
• Purdue is 4-2 this season in one-possession games. 
• Kane led Purdue in tackles for the fourth time this season.
• Charlie Jones scored once on four catches for 66 yards. He moved tied Dorien Bryant (2006, 2007) for seventh in single-season history with 87 catches. Jones is the 16th player in Purdue history with 1,000 yards receiving in a single-season.
• Jones also moved into a tie with Dave Young (1979), Brian Alford (1997) and DeAngelo Yancey (2016) for eighth in single-season history with 10 receiving touchdowns.
• The Boilermakers set the single-game record for first downs by penalty with seven from Illinois flags.
• Purdue and Illinois matched each other on third downs at 5-for-13. The Boilermakers also went 1-for-2 on fourth downs.
• Twenty-four of Purdue’s 31 points game in the red zone, going 4-for-4 on Saturday.

Purdue returns to Ross-Ade Stadium for the home finale against Northwestern next Saturday. Kickoff time and tv assignment will be announced later.