WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) – Cooper Rush threw two touchdown passes and Thomas Rawls ran for two more scores Saturday, giving Central Michigan a surprising 38-17 victory at Purdue.
The Chippewas (2-0) beat a Big Ten foe for the second time in three seasons and improved to 6-23 against teams currently in the conference.
Purdue (1-1) failed to get its first 2-0 start since 2007 and still hasn’t opened a season with back-to-back wins over Football Bowl Subdivision opponents since 2005.
Brandon Greer’s 57-yard interception return made it 7-0 less than 5 minutes into the game. Two minutes later, Anthony Rice broke a tackle and scored on a 65-yard catch-and-run to make it 14-0.
Purdue closed to 14-7 on Danny Etling’s 4-yard TD run, but the Chippewas took advantage of Frankie Williams’ ejection with Rawls’ 2-yard run late in the first half to make it 21-7. The Boilermakers couldn’t get closer than 21-10 the rest of the way.
Rawls ran 31 times for 155, while Rush finished 11 of 16 for 172 yards with one interception.
Receiver Titus Davis, last season’s team MVP, sat out with a sprained left knee, and punter Ron Coluzzi departed after the second series of the game with a likely concussion. Coluzzi’s absence also cost the Chippewas their placekicker and kickoff specialist.
But it didn’t matter because Central Michigan took advantage of the mistake-prone Boilermakers.
Three Purdue penalties wiped out solid returns, costing them field position. They lost Williams, their best defensive player, on a targeting penalty. They had a fourth-down conversion erased when they were called for an illegal substitution, which forced Purdue to try a 47-yard field goal that sailed wide left. And that was just in the first half.
Those problems, coupled with two interceptions, a late quarterback change, a handful of big Central Michigan offensive plays was a recipe for disaster for Purdue.
Nothing went right for the Boilers, who came away with no points after taking over at the Chippewas 47-yard line in the first half and managed only a 42-yard field goal after taking over at the Central Michigan 29 early in the second half. That made it 21-10.
But then came another big mistake – Ra’Zahn Howard was called for illegal hands to the face, a personal foul tacked onto the end of a 14-yard run by Rawls. Six plays later, Rush hooked up with Ben McCord on an 11-yard TD pass to make it 28-10 with 7:03 left in the third quarter.
Freshman Ja’Whaun Bentley gave Purdue one last chance after picking off Rush and returning the ball to the Central Michigan 23. Coach Darrell Hazell then pulled Etling, who was 17 of 32 for 126 yards with two interceptions. Backup Austin Appleby hooked up with Danny Anthrop for a touchdown pass on the next play to make it 31-17.
But the Chippewas closed it out with Rawls’ second TD run.