WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – No. 23 Northwestern knocked off Purdue, 27-20, on a rainy night at Ross-Ade stadium Saturday to continue its unbeaten start to the season.
The win takes the Wildcats to 4-0, the program’s best start in Big Ten play since 1996 when Dan and Susan Jones Family Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald was playing linebacker for the ‘Cats.
Despite the unfavorable weather conditions, Northwestern’s passing attack led the way. Senior wide receiver Ramaud Chiaokhiao-Bowman dismantled the Purdue secondary, finishing the game with eight catches for 86 yards and three touchdowns, all career-highs for the senior.
The Wildcats took a 7-0 lead on their opening drive with an 8-yard touchdown reception by Chiaokhiao-Bowman, his first since 2017. Graduate transfer quarterback Ramsey manufactured two critical plays earlier to extend that drive, finding Riley Lees on the run for 16 yards to convert a third-and-13 around midfield and drawing Purdue offsides with a hard count on fourth-and-2 in the red zone.
Ramsey had his best game yet in purple and white, throwing for 212 yards and three touchdowns.
Northwestern held Purdue scoreless until near the end of the first quarter when the Boilermakers grabbed three points on a 30-yard field goal. The Wildcats responded on the next drive with a field goal of their own as Charlie Kuhbander knocked one through from 46 yards out, the longest of his career.
Chiaokhiao-Bowman hauled in his second touchdown on an 18-yard pass from Ramsey with 3:06 to play in the first half, putting the Wildcats up 17-10, a lead they carried into halftime and didn’t relinquish the rest of the game.
The Northwestern defense shut down the Boilermakers on third downs during the first half, allowing just one conversion on eight attempts. Eku Leota made a crucial 8-yard sack on a third down early in the second quarter to force a Boilermaker punt. Purdue’s only touchdown of the first half came on a fourth-down play after Adetomiwa Adebawore stuffed Boilermaker running back King Doerue for no gain on third-and-1.
The Wildcats held Purdue to negative five rushing yards in the first half and two in the game.
The Wildcats kept the clamps on to start the second half. Northwestern forced a three-and-out on the Boilermakers’ first drive, then forced a turnover on their second. Leota made the play again, knocking the ball loose from O’Connell which Paddy Fisher recovered and returned 22 yards to Purdue’s 18-yard line.
Set up by the fumble recovery, Northwestern went back to Chiaokhiao-Bowman who brought in his third touchdown catch of the game to push Northwestern’s lead to 24-10.
The sides traded field goals before a Purdue touchdown pass brought the Boilermakers within seven points with 7:35 left to play, the only touchdown Northwestern has allowed in the second half since Nov. 23, 2015. But the Boilermakers could not score another point as Leota made another game-changing play with 2:04 to go. He sacked O’Connell on third-and-7 to bring up a fourth-and-14 for Purdue. O’Connell’s fourth-down pass went incomplete to end the Boilermakers’ last possession.
Northwestern is scheduled to face Wisconsin at home next Saturday, Nov. 21. Kick-off time is to be announced.