GAMEDAY College Football

Purdue 28, Florida Atlantic 26

By MICHAEL MAROT
AP Sports Writer

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Austin Burton waited nearly 2 1/2 seasons to get his first Purdue start.

It turned out to be well worth the wait.

With Aidan O'Connell out with an undisclosed injury, Burton stepped in threw three touchdown passes and kept the Boilermakers in control throughout the second half and lead Purdue past Florida Atlantic 28-26 for a badly-needed victory.

"It was a century ago," Burton joked when referencing his only other college start at UCLA in 2019. "As you get older, you learn more and you have a more calm feeling so I definitely felt ready to play. You just try to make the most of it and kind of maximize the moment."

Coach Jeff Brohm said O'Connell was injured early in last week's excruciating loss at Syracuse and was listed as questionable. As the week dragged on, though, Burton said he sensed he would get the start for the Boilermakers (2-2, 0-1 Big Ten).

He was ready - right from the start. He hooked up with Charlie Jones on a 7-yard TD pass on the opening possession and on a 12-yard TD pass with 18 seconds left in the first half to give Purdue a 14-13 lead. They never trailed again.

Burton finished 21 of 29 with 166 yards and one interception while Jones, his roommate, caught nine passes for 59 yards.

"He can throw the football, he can buy some time and he can slither through the hole," Brohm said of Burton. "We just have to continue to mold this thing and make sure this package fits well."

But he wasn't perfect on a night Florida Atlantic (2-3, 1-0 Conference USA) nearly ended a 26-game losing streak to Power Five teams. Their only win came against Minnesota in September 2007 and they certainly had chances.

After Purdue took a 21-13 lead in the third quarter, the Owls converted Burton's interception into a 16-yard TD pass from N'Kosi Perry to Lajohntay Wester to make it 21-20.

When Burton answered with a 4-yard TD pass to TJ Sheffield, Perry found Walker for a 5-yard score to make it 28-26. A trick play on the 2-point conversion attempt backfired as Wester's pass was picked off in the end zone by Cam Allen.

Purdue closed it out with a fumble recovery in the final minute.

"Really happy with the way the guys competed in the ballgame," Owls coach Willie Taggart said. "But we made some mistakes that really hurt us."

THE TAKEAWAY

Florida Atlantic: The Owls played well Saturday, going toe to toe for four quarters against a bigger, faster, stronger opponent. Taggart and his squad will now focus on the Conference USA title chase and they could be a legitimate contender if they keep playing this way.

Purdue: After giving away two of their first three games in the final minute, the Boilermakers desperately needed a win. They got what they needed - though it was ugly at times. They ran the ball when they had to and pulled it out to give them some momentum heading into Big Ten play.

TOUGH BREAK

Taggart was unhappy with two calls but one in particular- an illegal block call that erased a 3-yard TD pass to Je'Quan Burton with 11:32 left in the game and wound up leading to an interception.

"Unfortunately that TD called back was a bad call and the official told me it was a bad call," Taggart said on his postgame radio show. "That's disappointing, a missed call. On the road against an opponent like that, we've got to play a clean game all game and we didn't play clean."

STAT PACK

Florida Atlantic: Perry was 18 of 30 with 230 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He also had 13 carries for 93 yards. ... Wester finished with nine receptions, 90 yards and was on the receiving end of all three scoring plays.

Purdue: Downing had 15 carries for 113 yards. The Boilermakers ran 36 times for 188 yards. ... Chris Jefferson had his second interception this year.

PLAYING SHORT-HANDED

O'Connell was just one of Purdue's missing starters. Injuries also forced running back King Doerue and receiver Broc Thompson to miss their second straight games. Linebacker-safety Jalen Graham hasn't played since the opener and offensive lineman Cam Craig also sat out Saturday.


Scoring Summary
First Quarter FlaAtlPurdue
Purdue TD 9:48 Charlie Jones 7 yd pass from Austin Burton (Mitchell Fineran kick) 0 7
Second Quarter FlaAtlPurdue
FlaAtl FG 13:51 Morgan Suarez 27 yd FG 3 7
FlaAtl TD 5:46 LaJohntay Wester 13 yd pass from N'Kosi Perry (Morgan Suarez kick) 10 7
FlaAtl FG 1:23 Morgan Suarez 39 yd FG 13 7
Purdue TD 0:18 Charlie Jones 12 yd pass from Austin Burton (Mitchell Fineran kick) 13 14
Third Quarter FlaAtlPurdue
Purdue TD 10:49 Dylan Downing 2 yd run (Mitchell Fineran kick) 13 21
FlaAtl TD 4:35 LaJohntay Wester 16 yd pass from N'Kosi Perry (Morgan Suarez kick) 20 21
Fourth Quarter FlaAtlPurdue
Purdue TD 8:01 TJ Sheffield 4 yd pass from Austin Burton (Mitchell Fineran kick) 20 28
FlaAtl TD 5:21 LaJohntay Wester 5 yd pass from N'Kosi Perry (failed 2pt pass) 26 28
Team Stats
  Florida Atlantic Purdue
First downs 21 21
  Rushing 10 9
  Passing 8 8
  Penalty 3 4
3rd Down Efficiency 5-16, 31% 3-12, 25%
4th down efficiency 1-2, 50% 1-2, 50%
Rushes-Yards 43-189 36-188
Passing Yards 230 166
Return Yards 20 219
Completions-Attempts-Int 18-30-1 22-31-1
Sacks-Yards Lost 0-0 1--6
Punts 4 3
Punts-Average 42.8 55.3
Fumbles Lost 2-1 2-1
Penalties - Yards 6-77 5-55
Time of Possession 29:27 30:33
Florida Atlantic Passing
Player Cmp Att Yds TDs Int
N. Perry 18 30 230 3 1
Purdue Passing
Player Cmp Att Yds TDs Int
A. Burton 21 29 166 3 1
M. Alaimo 1 2 0 0 0
Florida Atlantic Rushing
Player Carries Yds Avg TDs
N. Perry 13 93 7.2 0
L. McCammon III 15 39 2.6 0
Z. Mobley 9 28 3.1 0
J. Ford 5 22 4.4 0
L. Wester 1 7 7.0 0
Purdue Rushing
Player Carries Yds Avg TDs
D. Downing 15 113 7.5 1
D. Mockobee 6 37 6.2 0
K. Lewis 4 22 5.5 0
A. Burton 8 15 1.9 0
M. Alaimo 1 7 7.0 0
Florida Atlantic Receiving
Player Rec Yds Avg TDs
L. Wester 9 90 10.0 3
J. Burton 2 49 24.5 0
J. Edrine 1 39 39.0 0
A. Evans 1 24 24.0 0
J. Ford 1 14 14.0 0
T. Johnson 3 10 3.3 0
Z. Mobley 1 4 4.0 0
Purdue Receiving
Player Rec Yds Avg TDs
C. Jones 9 59 6.6 2
D. Mockobee 4 59 14.8 0
T. Sheffield 2 22 11.0 1
P. Durham 4 17 4.3 0
T. Tracy 3 9 3.0 0
Florida Atlantic Interceptions
Player Int Yards
D. Toombs II 1 13
Purdue Interceptions
Player Int Yards
C. Jefferson 1 55
Florida Atlantic Punting
Player Punts Yards Avg
R. Thompson 4 171 42.8
Purdue Punting
Player Punts Yards Avg
J. Ansell 3 166 55.3
Florida Atlantic Punt Returns
Player Ret Yards Average
L. Wester 1 7 7.0
Purdue Punt Returns
Player Ret Yards Average
C. Jones 3 49 16.3
Florida Atlantic Kick Returns
Player Ret Yards Average
Purdue Kick Returns
Player Ret Yards Average
D. Burks 3 80 26.7
C. Jones 2 35 17.5
Florida Atlantic Missed FG
Player Length
Purdue Missed FG
Player Length
M. Fineran 47




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