Purdue bounces back with 28-26 victory over Florida Atlantic

Sep 24, 2022, 9:01 AM | Updated: 9:22 pm
Purdue wide receiver Charlie Jones, front, is tackled during a punt return during an NCAA college f...

Purdue wide receiver Charlie Jones, front, is tackled during a punt return during an NCAA college football game against Florida Atlantic, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, in West Lafayette, Ind. (Alex Martin/Journal & Courier via AP)

(Alex Martin/Journal & Courier via AP)

              Purdue tight end Payne Durham, top, is tackled by Florida Atlantic safety Armani-Eli Adams (30) during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, in West Lafayette, Ind. (Alex Martin/Journal & Courier via AP)
            
              Purdue wide receiver Charlie Jones (15) celebrates after getting a first down against Florida Atlantic during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, in West Lafayette, Ind. (Alex Martin/Journal & Courier via AP)
            
              Florida Atlantic wide receiver LaJohntay Wester (1) catches a pass for a touchdown against Purdue during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, in West Lafayette, Ind. (Alex Martin/Journal & Courier via AP)
            
              Purdue safety Cam Allen (10) intercepts a conversion-attempt during an NCAA college football game against Florida Atlantic, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, in West Lafayette, Ind. (Alex Martin/Journal & Courier via AP)
            
              Purdue safety Cam Allen (10) celebrates after intercepting a Florida Atlantic pass during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, in West Lafayette, Ind. (Alex Martin/Journal & Courier via AP)
            
              Purdue President Mitch Daniels does pushups after Purdue scored against Florida Atlantic during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, in West Lafayette, Ind. (Alex Martin/Journal & Courier via AP)
            
              Florida Atlantic quarterback N'Kosi Perry (7) hands the ball off to running back Larry McCammon (3) during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, in West Lafayette, Ind. (Alex Martin/Journal & Courier via AP)
            
              Purdue wide receiver Charlie Jones (15) catches a pass during the team's NCAA college football game against Florida Atlantic, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, in West Lafayette, Ind. (Alex Martin/Journal & Courier via AP)
            
              Purdue wide receiver Charlie Jones (15) catches a pass against Florida Atlantic during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, in West Lafayette, Ind. (Alex Martin/Journal & Courier via AP)
            
              Florida Atlantic wide receiver LaJohntay Wester (1) catches a pass for a touchdown against Purdue during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, in West Lafayette, Ind. (Alex Martin/Journal & Courier via AP)
            
              Florida Atlantic wide receiver LaJohntay Wester, left is tackled by Purdue safety Cam Allen, right, during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, in West Lafayette, Ind. (Alex Martin/Journal & Courier via AP)
            
              Purdue quarterback Aidan O'Connell stands along the sideline during the team's NCAA college football game against Florida Atlantic, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, in West Lafayette, Ind. (Alex Martin/Journal & Courier via AP)
            
              Purdue wide receiver Charlie Jones, front, is tackled during a punt return during an NCAA college football game against Florida Atlantic, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, in West Lafayette, Ind. (Alex Martin/Journal & Courier via AP)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — Austin Burton waited nearly 2 1/2 seasons to get his first Purdue start.

It turned out to be well worth the wait.

With Aidan O’Connell out with an undisclosed injury, Burton stepped in threw three touchdown passes and kept the Boilermakers in control throughout the second half and lead Purdue past Florida Atlantic 28-26 for a badly-needed victory Saturday.

“It was a century ago,” Burton joked when referencing his only other college start at UCLA in 2019. “As you get older, you learn more and you have a more calm feeling so I definitely felt ready to play. You just try to make the most of it and kind of maximize the moment.”

Coach Jeff Brohm said O’Connell was injured early in last week’s excruciating loss at Syracuse and was listed as questionable. As the week dragged on, though, Burton said he sensed he would get the start for the Boilermakers (2-2, 0-1 Big Ten).

He was ready — right from the start. He hooked up with Charlie Jones on a 7-yard TD pass on the opening possession and on a 12-yard TD pass with 18 seconds left in the first half to give Purdue a 14-13 lead. They never trailed again.

Burton finished 21 of 29 with 166 yards and one interception while Jones, his roommate, caught nine passes for 59 yards.

“He can throw the football, he can buy some time and he can slither through the hole,” Brohm said of Burton. “We just have to continue to mold this thing and make sure this package fits well.”

But he wasn’t perfect on a night Florida Atlantic (2-3, 1-0 Conference USA) nearly ended a 26-game losing streak to Power Five teams. Their only win came against Minnesota in September 2007 and they certainly had chances.

After Purdue took a 21-13 lead in the third quarter, the Owls converted Burton’s interception into a 16-yard TD pass from N’Kosi Perry to Lajohntay Wester to make it 21-20.

When Burton answered with a 4-yard TD pass to TJ Sheffield, Perry found Walker for a 5-yard score to make it 28-26. A trick play on the 2-point conversion attempt backfired as Wester’s pass was picked off in the end zone by Cam Allen.

Purdue closed it out with a fumble recovery in the final minute.

“Really happy with the way the guys competed in the ballgame,” Owls coach Willie Taggart said. “But we made some mistakes that really hurt us.”

THE TAKEAWAY

Florida Atlantic: The Owls played well Saturday, going toe to toe for four quarters against a bigger, faster, stronger opponent. Taggart and his squad will now focus on the Conference USA title chase and they could be a legitimate contender if they keep playing this way.

Purdue: After giving away two of their first three games in the final minute, the Boilermakers desperately needed a win. They got what they needed — though it was ugly at times. They ran the ball when they had to and pulled it out to give them some momentum heading into Big Ten play.

TOUGH BREAK

Taggart was unhappy with two calls but one in particular– an illegal block call that erased a 3-yard TD pass to Je’Quan Burton with 11:32 left in the game and wound up leading to an interception.

“Unfortunately that TD called back was a bad call and the official told me it was a bad call,” Taggart said on his postgame radio show. “That’s disappointing, a missed call. On the road against an opponent like that, we’ve got to play a clean game all game and we didn’t play clean.”

STAT PACK

Florida Atlantic: Perry was 18 of 30 with 230 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He also had 13 carries for 93 yards. … Wester finished with nine receptions, 90 yards and was on the receiving end of all three scoring plays.

Purdue: Downing had 15 carries for 113 yards. The Boilermakers ran 36 times for 188 yards. … Chris Jefferson had his second interception this year.

PLAYING SHORT-HANDED

O’Connell was just one of Purdue’s missing starters. Injuries also forced running back King Doerue and receiver Broc Thompson to miss their second straight games. Linebacker-safety Jalen Graham hasn’t played since the opener and offensive lineman Cam Craig also sat out Saturday.

UP NEXT

Florida Atlantic: Takes next week off before visiting North Texas on Oct. 1.

Purdue: Heads to Minnesota next Saturday in a potentially key West Division contest.

___

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Purdue bounces back with 28-26 victory over Florida Atlantic