-- Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) October 9, 2016
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Freshman kicker J.D. Dellinger hit a 28-yard field goal in overtime Saturday to lead Purdue to a 34-31 road win over Illinois.
Purdue (3-2, 1-1 Big Ten) battered Illinois with a run game that piled up 231 yards, and relied on the run and a turnover to get the win in overtime.
Illinois took the ball first but sophomore quarterback Chayce Crouch, coming off the bench for the injured Wes Lunt, fumbled and Purdue safety Leroy Clark recovered.
From there running back Richie Worship moved the ball 15 yards on three carries to set up Dellinger. The kicker had been 2-5 on field goals this season.
"It was awesome," Dellinger said. "I never felt that feeling before."
Purdue coach Darrel Hazell, who earlier in week acknowledged the pressure he and his players feel as rumors about his job security circulate, said the win was a big lift for the Boilermakers.
"People don't understand how hard it is to win football games, all the pieces have to fit together and you need a break every once in a while," he said. "It's a culmination of all those things in that very split second that comes rushing at you."
Illinois (1-4, 0-2) kicker Chase McLaughlin had a chance to win the game on the final play of regulation but his 41-yard attempt clanged squarely off the right upright. McLaughlin made three field goals, including one from 47 yards, and had been a perfect 8-8 on the year.
"We just kept shooting ourselves in the foot," a red-eyed Illinois center Joe Spencer said, noting that Illinois had 12 penalties for 125 yards. "What happened happened. Chayce came in, played his heart out. I just told him, hell of a job, because that was a hell of a job. We didn't win. And that's football."
In his first start, freshman running back Brian Lankford-Johnson led the Boilermakers with 18 carries for 127 yards and a touchdown. He started in place of the injured Markell Jones, who did not play.
Crouch, a sophomore, carried the ball 17 times for 137 yards and two touchdowns.
Lunt was knocked out of the game in the second quarter on a big hit by linebacker Danny Ezechukwu, who was flagged for roughing the passer. Illinois coach Lovie Smith said immediately after the game that he only knows Lunt's injury is a concern.
With the win, the Boilermakers gained possession of the Cannon for the ninth time in the last 12 meetings with Illinois.
Purdue: The Boilermakers are out of the Big Ten West cellar and, a week after taking a 50-7 beating at Maryland, suddenly have a winning record and are halfway to bowl eligibility. But their run defense was still a problem. A week after giving up 400 yards to Maryland, Purdue saw an Illinois team that has at times struggled to move the ball on the ground run for 315 yards.
Illinois: It isn't clear yet just how long Lunt will be out, but the Illini got a pretty good look at what their offense is likely to be if he misses any time. Crouch does not throw the ball deep very well and struggled to connect with his receivers even on short passes. But he ran for more yards Saturday, a lot more, than Lunt has in his college career. Illinois is still in search of its first Big Ten win, and its first win since the opener against Murray State.
Purdue: The Boilermakers host Iowa next Saturday, the first Big Ten home game on their schedule.
Illinois: The Illini make their first trip to Rutgers since the Scarlet Knights joined the Big Ten and just the third meeting between the schools. The last game, in New Jersey, was a 33-0 Rutgers win in 2006