EAST LANSING, Mich. – Purdue kept it close against Michigan State – and that alone was a step in the right direction for the young Boilermakers.
But were they ever much of a threat to upset the Spartans? Thats debatable.
I think were making strides, but obviously were not making enough plays to get the ball into the end zone, Purdue coach Darrell Hazell said. We havent been able to finish drives all season long and that was the case again today.
Denicos Allen returned a fumble 45 yards for a touchdown, and Michigan States offense finally added an insurance score in the fourth quarter of a 14-0 win over Purdue on Saturday. The Spartans didnt make it past the Purdue 32-yard line until the fourth, when receiver Tony Lippett threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Andrew Gleichert on a trick play.
Purdue (1-6, 0-3 Big Ten Conference) was more competitive after being routed by Wisconsin and Nebraska in its first two conference games, but Paul Griggs missed two field goals, and the Boilermakers never came close to the end zone.
I feel like were really working hard to overcome mistakes. We shot ourselves in the foot too many times, quarterback Danny Etling said. For me personally, I did it a few too many times for this team and Ive got to keep playing better in that aspect. I know Im going to, and I know everyone is going to keep escalating their talent, and were going to keep getting better each game.
Michigan State (6-1, 3-0) remains atop the Legends Division. The Spartans entered with the nations top-ranked defense, and Allen opened the scoring in the second quarter with Michigan States fifth defensive touchdown of the season. Max Bullough hit Etling, the ball popped free, and Allen scooped it up and scored easily.
I saw myself on the screen – I kind of glanced up to see if anybody was behind me, because I didnt want to look back, Allen said. I saw there was a lot of space behind me.
Purdue converted a fourth down thanks to a penalty, which gave the Boilermakers the ball at the Michigan State 34 with 9 seconds left in the second quarter. That was as far into opposing territory as either team advanced the ball in the first half, but Griggs was short on a 51-yard field goal attempt.
Griggs also came up short from 41 yards in the third quarter, and Michigan State scored again in the fourth. Connor Cook completed a pass to Macgarrett Kings for 25 yards on third-and-12, and a 26-yard catch-and-run by Josiah Price put the ball at the Purdue 7.
Two plays later, Lippett took the ball on what at first looked like an end-around, but he threw to an open Gleichert for a touchdown.
Were seeing a lot of improvement but its still not good enough, Purdue defensive back Ricardo Allen said. Its never going to be good until you get the win. Until youre one point more than the other team, its not going to be good enough.
Cook went 13 of 25 for 107 yards, although at one point he had only 17 yards on eight completions. Etling was 14 of 25 for 160 yards, but he also threw a crucial interception in the end zone in the first quarter, after Purdue had reached the Michigan State 37 with a fourth-down conversion.
Jeremy Langford had 131 yards on 24 carries for Michigan State. Purdues Brandon Cottom, a 256-pound running back who had barely carried the ball at all this season, had 39 yards on 12 attempts. But he was shaken up in the third quarter.
While the Spartans were sputtering offensively, punter Mike Sadler gave them a lift, landing three punts inside the 10-yard line. That didnt make Purdues task any easier.
At the end of the day, a loss is a loss to me, Ricardo Allen said. I dont take a loss any different. It is because you worked so hard, but a loss is a loss.