— Purdue Football (@BoilerFootball) December 11, 2017
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Running back Markell Jones’ 12-yard touchdown run with 1:17 left put the Boilermakers up 24-17 over visiting Minnesota, but it was linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley who iced the 31-17 victory in fine fashion. Trailing by seven points, the Golden Gophers drove the ball down to the Purdue 27-yard line. Facing a fourth-and-five with 23 seconds remaining in the game, Minnesota quarterback Conor Rhoda dropped back looking to extend the drive and continue the comeback effort …
… Bentley dropped into coverage and followed Rhoda’s eyes. As the Gopher QB released the pass, Bentley jumped the route, making a leaping, athletic interception. Had the senior just dropped to the ground, the game would have been over, but Bentley wanted more. Starting at Purdue’s 24-yard line, Bentley tore down the field 76 yards, out racing numerous Minnesota players along the way, for a game-sealing touchdown.
So Says Ja’Whaun
“Minnesota began to make some plays, getting them in decent field position to try to tie the game up, so we knew we had to make a pivotal play. We were in man coverage with hole-droppers to get into passing lanes to affect the QBs’ vision. I was able to be in the right place at the right time and catch the interception. From that point on, I️ had to score. With so much green grass in front of me there was no way I️ could resist icing the game.”
What it Meant
Purdue overcame a late Minnesota rally and Mother Nature to give head coach Jeff Brohm his first Big Ten victory. The game was delayed for 88 minutes due to thunderstorms, and when play resumed, Minnesota marched down the field on a 62-yard drive that took more than seven minutes off the clock to retake the lead 17-16 on a 38-yard field goal. Bentley’s interception thwarted a potential game-tying score by the Gophers and capped off an exciting final two minutes of the contest.