Minnesota sophomore quarterback Tanner Morgan turned Ross-Ade Stadium into his personal passing playground on Saturday afternoon.
Morgan completed 21 of 22 passes for 396 yards and four touchdowns and the Golden Gophers held off a late rally to win 38-31 at Purdue.
Senior running back Rodney Smith added 115 yards on 22 carries and a touchdown for Minnesota (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten).
For Purdue (1-3, 0-1 Big Ten), it was an afternoon of more crushing injuries. Sophomore wide receiver Rondale Moore went down when his leg buckled running a route, and starting quarterback Elijah Sindelar went down with a shoulder injury on the same play. Sindelar had returned to action this week after sitting out Purdue’s last game against TCU.
Redshirt freshman Jack Plummer took over at quarterback for the Boilermakers, completing 23 of 41 passes for 245 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
After Purdue recovered an on-side kick down 38-24, Plummer connected with running back King Doerue on a 13-yard touchdown pass to cut Minnesota’s lead to 38-31 with 3:59 left. But the Gophers converted a key third down on a Purdue pass interference penalty and was able to run out the clock to escape with the win.
Doerue finished with 94 yards rushing, 32 yards receiving and three touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving) for the Boilermakers.
Morgan completed his first 14 pass attempts and went 16 of 17 for 298 yards and three touchdowns in the first half, lifting Minnesota to a 28-10 halftime lead.
Minnesota opened up the early 7-0 lead on a nine-play, 75-yard drive, capped by a 2-yard touchdown run from senior running back Rodney Smith. After a 21-yard field goal from Pudue kicker J.D. Dellinger cut Minnesota’s lead to 7-3, the Golden Gophers answered with a quick strike, a 70-yard touchdown pass from Morgan to receiver Chris Autman-Bell to extend Minnesota’s lead to 14-3 with 3:34 left in the first quarter.
Plummer connected with running back Zander Horvath on a 7-yard touchdown pass with 14:49 left in the second quarter, cutting Minnesota’s lead to 14-10. But Morgan threw two more touchdown passes in the second quarter - a 45-yarder to Rashod Bateman and a 3-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Johnson - to put Minnesota up by 18 at the half.
—Field Level Media