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Leading 16-10 at the start of the fourth quarter against Illinois, junior quarterback David Blough was in the midst of leading the Boilermakers on a long drive that began deep in Purdue territory. On first-and-10 at the Illinois 12-yard line, Blough tucked the ball and rushed for four yards where he was met by a host of Fighting Illini defenders. During the play, Blough suffered a horrific season-ending ankle injury that called for a pause in play to get him carted off the field. Enter sophomore quarterback Elijah Sindelar. Facing a third-and-one from the Illinois 3-yard line, Sindelar went under center to take the snap ...
... as he received the ball, he rolled out to his right looking to pass. Finding his first option covered, he thought about tucking the ball and running, but at the last second spied an open receiver in junior tight end Cole Herdman. Sindelar lofted the ball to Herdman in the back of the end zone for the touchdown to put the Boilermakers up 22-10. As Blough was being placed in an ambulance to be taken to the hospital, he watched the play unfold and triumphantly threw his hands in the air upon its conclusion.
So Says Elijah
"Emotions were high, one of my best friends went down, and the team was hurting. I knew we needed to score to gain momentum and kick start the train so we would continue to fight for David and not fall apart. Before the play, I saw that the end was going to crash so I knew I would get the edge on my rollout. When I first got out there, Brycen (Hopkins) was my first read, but he was covered and I saw I had a wide open lane to run to the end zone, but as soon as I started to tuck the ball and run I saw Cole running in the back of the end zone wide open. So I threw it to him, I just needed to make sure I gave him a nice easy pass. After the play I kept thinking, 'That's for you David, we have your back.' Later on, I saw the picture of David holding his arms up (like the touchdown signal) as he was being put in the ambulance, and it was really cool to see."
So Says Cole
"Like Elijah said, it was right after David got hurt. Everyone was a little emotional, and we wanted to score for him. It was a simple play-action play to the right and I was wide open in the back of the end zone. It was really special to be able to make that play for David and the guys. After the game, seeing the picture of David in the ambulance throwing his hands up was pretty awesome, too."
What it Meant
With the loss of Blough, Sindelar would take over as the primary signal-caller for the rest of the season. The pass was one of only two he attempted and completed over the final 12 minutes of the game. For Herdman, it was his lone reception of the game, but it extended his streak to 25 consecutive games with a catch. Purdue retained possession of the Cannon trophy for a second straight year and ended a three-game slide with a 29-10 win.