Originally Published: December 28, 2017 6:05 a.m.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Elijah Sindelar threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Mahoungou with 1:44 remaining and Purdue capped coach Jeff Brohm’s first season in dramatic style with a 38-35 victory over Arizona in the Foster Farms Bowl on Wednesday night.
The Boilermakers (7-6) had squandered a 17-point halftime lead when Khalil Tate threw his fifth TD pass with 3:21 remaining to give the Wildcats (7-6) the lead.
But Sindelar responded with a 75-yard drive that ended with the deep throw into the end zone to Mahoungou, giving the Boilermakers their first winning record since 2011 and first bowl win over a major conference team since beating Washington in the 2002 Sun Bowl.
Sindelar threw for 396 yards and four touchdowns, with Mahoungou (118 yards) and Gregory Phillips (149) each topping the 100-yard mark and catching two TD passes.
Tate was just as good, showing he can win with his arm as well as he can with his legs that carried him to 1,353 yards rushing in the regular season. Tate threw for 302 yards and five touchdowns but his late interception to Jacob Thieneman ended the comeback attempt.
Brohm pulled out all the stops, going for it three times on fourth down, calling a couple of flea-flickers and using an innovative trick play to set up a field goal at the end of the first half that made it 31-14.
The Boilermakers took over at their 32 with 56 seconds left after Tate lost a fumble. Purdue appeared to be taking a knee on the play to run out the clock, but running back D.J. Knox was crouching hidden behind a guard. Sindelar then handed the ball to Knox, who waited an instant and then ran around left end for a 30-yard gain that helped set up the field goal.
Purdue: The Boilermakers were dynamic in the 31-point first half, showing off offensive prowess that was rarely seen on a consistent basis during the regular season. The offense stalled mostly in the second half before the winning score. The most promising drive before that ended when Markell Jones got stopped just short of the first-down marker on a fourth-down pass.
Arizona: The Boilermakers managed to keep Tate’s electric running in check, holding him to just 58 yards on 20 carries. But that opened up space for him to exploit them with downfield throws and he had a career highs in touchdown passes and yards passing.
Purdue: The Boilermakers will try to build on Brohm’s successful first season. They start with a tough conference test when they host Northwestern on Aug. 30.
Arizona: The Wildcats are excited to see what a full season with Tate at quarterback looks like. The 2018 campaign will start at home against BYU on Sept. 1.