IOWA CITY, Iowa – Purdue made No. 23 Iowa – which entered the game as a 17-point favorite – earn its victory Saturday.
But that's still not good enough for the Boilermakers.
“I think we showed some fight,” Purdue coach Jeff Brohm said. “You have to look in the mirror as a coach and work hard, dig deeper.”
Mekhi Sargent ran for a 14-yard score with 2:16 left and 23rd-ranked Iowa held off Purdue 26-20 to snap a two-game losing streak.
David Bell caught 13 passes for 197 yards and a touchdown for Purdue, which ran for just 33 yards after entering the day 129th out of 130 teams in rushing.
“We just have to worry about getting better, getting more efficient,” Brohm said.
Tyler Goodson scored his first career touchdown from a yard out and Keith Duncan kicked four field goals for the Hawkeyes (5-2, 2-2 Big Ten), who also broke a two-game skid against the Boilermakers (2-5, 1-3).
“Really happy with the level of effort and perseverance,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “Obviously we're still working on finding a better rhythm offensively.”
The Boilermakers cut it to 19-13 on J.D. Dellinger's 36-yard field goal with 2:59 left. Purdue was assessed a personal foul after squibbing the ensuing kickoff to midfield, though, and runs of 21 and 14 yards by Sargent gave the Hawkeyes the cushion they'd been looking for all day.
Jack Plummer's 1-yard TD pass to Payne Durham with 24 seconds left made Purdue the first team this season to score 20 on the Hawkeyes. But Iowa secured the onside kick and survived – and Wisconsin's stunning loss at Illinois gave an unexpected boost to the Hawkeyes' hopes in the West Division race.
Plummer finished 30 of 50 for 327 yards.
Duncan hit field goals of 30, 44, 42 and 38 yards on a wet afternoon in Iowa City. He's now 17 of 19 on the season.
“Of course, we'd rather kick extra points,” Duncan said. “But it's fun to go get some field goals.”