- Associated Press - Saturday, November 7, 2015

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) - It appeared Purdue might be positioned to win back-to-back Big Ten games for the first time during coach Darrell Hazell’s three seasons with the Boilermakers.

Purdue was coming off a 55-45 victory against Nebraska, had beaten Illinois last season in Champaign and was facing an Illini team that had lost three in a row.

Appearances, however, can be deceiving. Illinois compiled 595 yards of offense, including 382 rushing yards, in a dominating 48-14 victory against the Boilermakers on Saturday.

Purdue (2-7, 1-4) has allowed an average of 43.8 points in home losses to Virginia Tech, Bowling Green, Minnesota and Illinois and is 6-27 under Hazell, including 2-19 in Big Ten games.

The Boilermakers entered ranked last in Big Ten rushing defense, and it showed in this lopsided loss to an opponent that entered ranked last in Big Ten rushing at 114.6 yards a game.

“I thought we’d execute better in all phases,” Hazell said. “We did not. We never got into any offensive rhythm, especially early. On defense, we gave up too many big plays. Our energy level had to be higher.

“When you don’t play at that high energy level, you try to find out why. It’s a mystery sometimes. That’s the question we ask ourselves, ‘why aren’t we sharp energy-wise?’ “

Wes Lunt threw three first-half touchdown passes, and Illinois snapped its three-game losing streak, getting 180 rushing yards and two touchdowns from Ke’Shawn Vaughn and 133 from Josh Ferguson, who returned to action from a shoulder injury.

Illinois (5-4, 2-3), which had scored 33 total points in consecutive losses to Iowa, Wisconsin and Penn State, drove 76, 58 and 72 yards for touchdowns during the opening 30 minutes, running 44 plays for 295 yards and 17 first downs before halftime.

Purdue gained only 25 yards in the first quarter on homecoming and finished the opening half with 39 plays for 105 yards. For the day, Purdue gained 263 yards.

“It’s a frustrating experience,” Purdue defensive tackle Jake Replogle said. “I think defensively, we weren’t ready to play. I think people were getting outside their gaps, and people were setting themselves up in a foxhole.”

Purdue senior wide receiver Danny Anthrop said the offense provided no help.

“I think what hurt us were all those early three and outs,” Anthrop said. “We gave the defense bad field position, which is tough to come back from. We can’t do that to them. It falls on everybody.”

The Illini took a 7-0 lead with 11:41 remaining in the first half on Lunt’s 32-yard touchdown pass to Malik Turner, capping a five-play, 76-yard drive that included a 29-yard Vaughn run to the Purdue 42.

Lunt completed 19 of 33 passes for 169 yards and the three TDs.

Illinois increased its lead to 10-0 with 4:48 to go in the first quarter on Taylor Zalewski’s 46-yard field goal. That scoring drive included Ferguson’s 17-yard run to the Purdue 28.

Through one quarter, Illinois gained 142 yards.

Zalewski’s 34-yard field goal with 8:42 remaining in the second quarter extended the lead to 13-0. The drive was kept alive when Purdue free safety Robert Gregory was called for pass interference on a fourth-down play from the Boilermaker 28.

Illini safety Taylor Barton’s interception of Purdue quarterback David Blough at the Illinois 42 set up a five-play, 58-yard touchdown drive that gave the Illini a 20-0 lead. A personal foul face mask penalty against Boilermaker linebacker Jimmy Herman moved the ball to the Purdue 23. Two plays later, Lunt threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Ferguson.

Purdue countered with its only opening half score, driving 71 yards in 16 plays with Blough running 3 yards for a touchdown with 57 seconds left in the half.

Lunt then capped his active first half with a 20-yard touchdown pass to Desmond Cain with 14 seconds remaining in the half. Vaughn’s 31-yard run to the Purdue 38 set up the score. That Illini drive covered 72 yards in seven plays.

Lunt finished the first half 17 of 29 for 156 yards and no interceptions. Ferguson and Vaughn each rushed for 72 yards during the opening half.

“That probably is one of the most complete wins since I have been here,” Illinois coach Bill Cubit said. “Offensively and defensively it was clean. We had no turnovers, and you certainly can tell the difference when Fergie is in there. It’s a little bit different offense when he is in there.”

Blough, the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week, was 11 of 19 for 42 yards in an opening half in which his longest completion was for 9 yards. He finished 29 of 47 for 174 yards with two interceptions.

Illinois’ lead swelled to 34-7 with 2:30 left in the third quarter on Vaughn’s 6-yard touchdown run, capping an 11-play, 81-yard drive. Ferguson had rushes of 33, 19 and 10 yards in that drive.

Vaughn ran 78 yards for a touchdown with 1:41 to play in the third quarter, scoring on the first play from scrimmage after a Purdue punt, increasing the advantage to 41-7.

Blough’s 25-yard touchdown pass to DeAngelo Yancey with 10:42 remaining in the game sliced the deficit to 41-14. Frankie Williams’ 51-yard punt return to the Illini 25 set up the Boilermakers’ second touchdown.

Illinois running back Kendrick Foster ran 18 yards for the game’s final score with 1:47 to play.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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