CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WLFI) - Purdue's football team kept their bowl eligibility alive with a 20-17 win over Illinois on Saturday in Champaign.
"They work and they want to win, they want to have fun and they want to be successful," said Purdue head coach Danny Hope. "I think all of those things have been very obvious. These guys have paid a heck of a price and been very co committed, they pay the price to win," said Hope.
The Boilers recovered three fumbles in the first half. However, Purdue did not convert any of those turnovers in to points. After two made field goals by Sam McCartney, Purdue led 6-3 at halftime.
Purdue's offense found its rhythm in the second half. In the third quarter, Robert Marve connected with Akeem Hunt on a 63 yard touchdown pass. Purdue took a 13-3 lead but each time the Boilers scored, Illinois had an answer.
After Illinois pulled within three 13-10, Purdue's Ralph Bolden ripped off a 63 yard run. He injured his hamstring on the run and did not return to the game. The Boilers capitalized off of Bolden's big run as Akeem Shavers capped off the drive with a six yard touchdown run. Purdue led 20-10.
"We are just thankful that we are winning, we are getting out here and having fun," said senior running back Akeem Shavers. "That five game losing streak kind of hit us hard so it just feels good to be winning and being able to play the game that we love," said Shavers.
Illinois pulled within three again with 3:28 left in the fourth quarter as Nathan Scheelhaase scored on a two yard touchdown run.
Purdue recovered the onside kick and was able to run out the clock to pick up the victory.
"We knew it was going to be a tough road coming up, said senior quarterback Robert Marve. "Scratch, fight, and win. When your back is against the wall like I keep saying you have to keep swinging," said Marve.
The Boilers improve to 5-6 on the season. They will play host to Indiana next Saturday at noon. If Purdue can get the win over the Hoosiers, they will become bowl eligible.
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