Penn St. 23, Purdue 18
Silas Redd ran for 131 yards and a touchdown and Penn State took advantage of Purdue's special teams miscues to hold on Saturday for a 23-18 win.
Akeem Shavers had a 1-yard touchdown run with 8:08 left but Purdue was stopped on a 2-point conversion attempt to keep the deficit at 20-18. A missed field goal and extra-point attempt earlier in the game also haunted Purdue (3-3, 1-1 Big Ten) on a windy afternoon.
Chaz Powell returned the ensuing kickoff 92 yards to the 3, but an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty pushed Penn State (6-1, 3-0) back, and the Nittany Lions settled for field goal with 6:24 left and a five-point lead.
Nate Stupar's interception of a tipped pass at the Purdue 19 with 1:59 left finally sealed the game for Penn State.
The homecoming weekend crowd breathed a collective sigh of relief following an otherwise uncharacteristically porous performance for the defense. Behind a strong running game, Purdue gashed Penn State for 344 yards - roughly 90 more than the Nittany Lions' season average entering the day.
Coach Joe Paterno's worries of a letdown following an emotional 13-3 win last week over Iowa nearly came true. Still recovering from an injured right shoulder and pelvis suffered after getting bowled over in practice Aug. 7, Paterno coached from the press box.
Besides Redd (28 carries), the two-quarterback offense moved the ball sporadically, while the defense came up with three interceptions to hold off the Boilermakers.
Anthony Fera's 69-yard punt to the 2 put Purdue in a tough spot for a potential game-winning drive with 2:36 left. Forced to go for it on fourth down, a tipped pass from Caleb TerBush was snagged by Stupar for the linebacker's second pick of the day.
TerBush finished 12 of 25 passing for 162 yards with two interceptions, while Ralph Bolden led the Boilermakers' ground game with 97 yards for 13 carries. Shavers added 54 yards on 13 carries.
The former pass-happy school has found success this season with a run-first mentality. It was nearly enough to give Coach Danny Hope's crew its first victory over the Nittany Lions since a 20-13 win in 2004.
Good call by Hope, too, to run the ball given winds at Beaver Stadium that had hot dog and candy wrappers swirling all over the field all day.
But the Boilermakers couldn't contain Penn State's own running game. Redd scored from 9 yards out with 2:37 in the third on a bruising run, backing over a defender and bowling him over at the goal line for the touchdown.
Devon Still and the Nittany Lions front line turned up the heat in the red zone to hold Purdue to two first-half field goals by Carson Wiggs, who otherwise struggled on the afternoon. He missed a 44-yard field goal, and his extra-point attempt following O.J. Ross' 14-yard touchdown catch banged off the right upright with 4:02 in the third quarter.
Under pressure, Purdue's other quarterback, Robert Marve threw a wobbly pass intercepted by Stupar - his first pick - and returned 24 yards with 14 seconds left in the first half, helping to set up Fera's 29-yard field goal for a 10-6 lead.
Fera hit again from 29 following Powell's long return in the fourth quarter.