WEST LAFAYETTE – Junior Peyton Ramsey didn’t begin the year as Indiana’s starting quarterback.
But Ramsey ended the regular season with a play that will live on in the lore of the Old Oaken Bucket rivalry.
Ramsey’s 1-yard touchdown plunge lifted the Hoosiers to a 44-41 overtime win over Purdue at Ross-Ade Stadium in a wild game filled with momentum-changing plays and missed chances on both sides.
Teammates charged in from the sideline and dog-piled Ramsey after he scored to secure IU winning back the Bucket after losing two in a row in a series that dates back to 1891.
“Those are the kind of things that you dream about, making big plays in big games,” Ramsey said.
It was just the second overtime game in the history of the series. Indiana also won the last overtime affair, beating Purdue 34-31 in 2010.
The win catapulted Indiana (8-4, 5-4 Big Ten) to its first eight-win season since 1993. Inside an emotional locker room, third-year IU coach Tom Allen was near tears in his opening address to reporters, thanking athletic director Fred Glass and school president Michael McRobbie, “for taking a chance on a small-town kid from this great state of Indiana.”
“I wanted it so bad for our university, our alumni, for all the people that support us and invested in this program,” Allen said.
Indiana appeared in control, taking a 28-10 lead when Ramsey connected with a wide-open Whop Philyor on a 37-yard TD pass with 3:30 left in the third quarter. But Purdue stormed back, tying the score at 31 on a 20-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Aidan O’Connell to freshman receiver David Bell, and a 2-point conversion from O’Connell to tight end Brycen Hopkins, with 2:48 left.
“That’s how rivalry games are supposed to be,” Philyor said. “It’s supposed to come down to the wire. It’s not supposed to be a blowout. It feels good, being on the other side, winning.”
There were some anxious moments late in regulation when Purdue was driving to set up a game-winning field goal. But on a fourth-and-7 with 12 seconds left from IU’s 40-yard line, O’Connell fired a pass to the 30-yard line that freshman receiver Milton Wright was unable to catch, turning the ball over on downs. Indiana sophomore cornerback Reese Taylor, making his first career start, laid a good hit on Wright as the ball came in, contributing to the incompletion.
In overtime, Indiana had possession first, and Ramsey found senior receiver Nick Westbrook on a 14-yard TD pass to put the Hoosiers up 38-31. But Purdue answered. Indiana had a chance to end the game on a fourth-and-goal from the 6-yard line, but O’Connell found Hopkins wide open for a 6-yard TD catch, tying the score at 38.
Purdue’s next offensive drive stalled at Indiana’s 17-yard line, and the Boilermakers settled for a 34-yard J.D. Dellinger field goal to go up 41-38. That set the stage for Ramsey’s heroics. On third-and-10 from the 15, Ramsey found tight end Peyton Hendershot for a 14-yard catch and run over the middle down to the 1-yard line. Ramsey then got the offense lined up quickly to set up the game-winning sneak.
“Just tried to tempo,” Ramsey said. “We’ve been good on quarterback sneak this year. Just trying to rush up to the line and punch one in.”
Ramsey, who began the season backing up redshirt freshman Michael Penix Jr., recorded his third 300-yard passing game of the season, completing 23 of 39 passes for 337 yards with three passing TDs and two rushing TDs.
“I love that man to the death of me,” Westbrook said. “One of my favorite dudes on the team. He shows so much grit and fight and determination. You just can’t help but rally around him.”
Indiana began the game by establishing the run against a Purdue run defense that ranked 13th in the Big Ten (193.2 yards allowed per game). The Hoosiers ran the ball on their first eight plays on a 12-play, 91-yard touchdown drive that was capped by an 8-yard touchdown pass to Philyor.
With sophomore Stevie Scott III out, IU turned to freshman running back Sampson James, who tallied 22 carries for 118 yards and a TD before leaving in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury.
Indiana went up 14-0 on a 1-yard TD run by Ramsey. But Purdue rallied back, cutting IU’s lead to 14-10 on a 20-yard Dellinger field goal and a 72-yard TD pass play from O’Connell to Hopkins.
James scored on a 3-yard touchdown run with 3:20 left in the half to put Indiana up 21-10. Both teams had chances to add points before the end of the half, but IU senior kicker Logan Justus missed a 43-yard field goal attempt, while Dellinger missed a 39-yard attempt at the end of the first half, keeping the score 21-10 at halftime.
Justus, who entered the game 14-of-14 on field goal attempts, later missed a 40-yard attempt in the third quarter and a 26-yard attempt early in the fourth quarter. That forced Allen to turn to redshirt freshman kicker Charles Campbell with 5:08 left in the fourth quarter and Indiana clinging to a 28-23 lead. After a delay of game penalty backed up the field goal attempt 5 yards, Campbell still connected on a 41-yard kick to put the Hoosiers up 31-23 with 5:08 remaining.
“He had a rough day,” Allen said of Justus. “Once he missed the third one, I made the decision to go with Charles. Almost did with the third one but felt like he could make that one and get his confidence. Just one of those days. You gotta be able to work through it. I was trying to help him work through it, but it didn’t happen for him.”
O’Connell passed for 408 yards and three touchdowns for Purdue, and sophomore Zander Horvath rushed for a career-high 164 yards and two TDs. But it wasn’t enough for Purdue (4-8, 3-5) to avoid its fourth home loss of the season.
For Indiana’s upperclassmen, the win was sweet after being a part of back-to-back season-ending losses to Purdue.
“So much has been put into this,” Westbrook said. “Us as seniors, we’ve had it twice, had it taken away from us twice. We really wanted it back. I just love everyone on this team for doing everything they could to get this win.”