EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) — Clayton Thorson had a pair of touchdowns, Charlie Kuhbander hit all three of his second-half field goal attempts and Northwestern won its fifth straight with a 23-13 victory over Purdue on Saturday night.
"To win five straight in the Big Ten, with the teams we play, is pretty impressive," Thorson said. "It's been a fun stretch with these guys."
Thorson was 26 of 46 for 296 yards. He had an 11-yard TD pass to Bennett Skowronek and rushed for a 4-yard score. It was the 18th rushing touchdown of Thorson's career, tying him with Brett Basanez for third place for most by a quarterback in school history.
Skowronek had seven receptions for 117 yards. Justin Jackson was held to 46 yards on 25 carries for the Wildcats (7-3, 5-2 Big Ten).
"They basically did what we thought they were going to do, and that's load the box to do everything they could to stop Justin," Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. "We needed Clayton and the receiving corps to step up and they did."
Elijah Sindelar was 37 of 60 for 376 yards with two TDs and an interception for Purdue (4-6, 2-5). The sophomore established career highs in completions, attempts and passing yards.
Purdue was 1 for 4 on fourth down with the only conversion coming on a fake punt. The Northwestern defense came up with three stops on a fourth and short, including a fourth-and-1 from the Purdue 45 with just less than 14 minutes remaining.
"The last two weeks we talked about having our backs against the wall and that we need to win to advance and stay in it," Purdue coach Jeff Brohm said. "Last week they responded. This week we did not."
Kuhbander hit a 36-yard field goal on the ensuing drive to give the Wildcats a 23-7 edge with just under 12 minutes to go. He has 12 field goals on the season to establish a new school record for a first-year player.
Purdue: There's little question the Boilermakers are improved, but they will need to win the final two regular-season games against Iowa and Indiana to become bowl eligible. Purdue's last bowl game was the Heart of Dallas Bowl in 2013.
"We've got another opportunity," Brohm said. "Next week is going to be another tough game against a good opponent on the road."
Northwestern: The Wildcats should be favored in their final two games (Minnesota and Illinois), meaning they have a good chance of amassing nine wins after starting the season 2-3. They also could break into the Top 25 for the first time this season.
Purdue: Visits No. 25 Iowa on Saturday.
Northwestern: Hosts Minnesota on Saturday.
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