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The Journal Gazette

  • Associated Press Michigan tight end Sean McKeon is tackled by Purdue linebacker T.J. McCollum during Saturday's game in West Lafayette.

Sunday, September 24, 2017 1:00 am

Michigan 28 Purdue 10

Wolverines dominate second half

Up 10-7 at half, Boilers manage just 10 yards in final 2 quarters

MICHAEL MAROT | Associated Press

WEST LAFAYETTE – No. 8 Michigan lost its starting quarterback. Backup John O'Korn and a rock-solid defense made sure the bigger goals stayed intact.

O'Korn led the offense on two time-consuming drives in the second half, Chris Evans ran for two touchdowns and the Wolverines scored the final 21 points in a 28-10 win at Purdue on Saturday.

“They can win in the late rounds,” coach Jim Harbaugh said. “That's a great thing to learn about your ballclub.”

When the Wolverines (4-0, 1 -0 Big Ten) lost Wilton Speight late in the first quarter with an undisclosed injury, they asked O'Korn, the former Houston starter, to bail them out.

He warmed up quickly, completing all five of his passes on his first series and capping it with a 12-yard TD pass to Zach Gentry for a 7-0 lead. He wound up 18 of 26 with 270 yards and one interception as one of his former coaches at Houston, Tony Levine, watched from Purdue's sideline.

“It meant a lot for me, even if I don't play the rest of the year, to be able to go out and beat my former coach,” O'Korn said.

For the next two quarters, O'Korn and the offense went nowhere.

So the Wolverines' championship-caliber defense stepped in with an incredibly stingy second-half performance to make sure their conference title hopes and playoff aspirations remained alive.

Purdue (2-2, 0-1) managed only 10 yards and one first down over the final two quarters, not nearly enough to protect a 10-7 halftime lead.

“Michigan beat us down Michigan-style,” Boilermakers coach Jeff Brohm said. “The better football team won. In the second half, they were the tougher team.”

This is the first real stumble of the season for Purdue. The fact that it happened in front of a national television audience and in front of the Boilermakers' largest home crowd for a Big Ten game in four years wasn't ideal.

Purdue's streak of non-sellouts at Ross-Ade Stadium finally ended Saturday. With an announced crowd of 60,042, it marked the first time since the 2008 season finale, former coach Joe Tiller's final home game, that no tickets were available.

It's the largest crowd to see a game at Ross-Ade since a heavily partisan Notre Dame crowd of 61,127 showed up Sept. 14, 2013.

Purdue quarterback David Blough reinjured his throwing shoulder in the fourth quarter. Brohm said he could miss the next game in two weeks. Defensive end Austin Larkin left early in the second quarter with an undisclosed injury. Jacob Thieneman and linebacker Ja'Whaun Bentley must sit out the first half against Minnesota after both were called for targeting.

Harbaugh didn't mince words when asked about President Donald Trump's comments about firing players who peacefully protest during the national anthem.

“No, I don't agree with it. That's ridiculous,” he said.