For the second straight week, a game Michigan State seemed to have in hand was anything but.
Leading 38-17 at the start of the fourth, Michigan State found itself up only 38-31 with 2:59 to go in the fourth and the ball in Purdue’s hands.
Once again, it took a late stand from the defense to seal the game for the Spartans in their 45-31 win.
The Spartans led 24-17 at halftime, but came out strong in the third quarter, with a pair of touchdowns and allowing Purdue just 11 yards of offense.
But the Boilers put together a comeback with two fourth-quarter scores from running back Akeem Hunt to pull within one score.
Michigan State had a shot to end the game when it got the ball back with 6:19 to go and a drive mounted into Purdue territory, but back-to-back incompletions from Connor Cook led to a punt. Punter Mike Sadler booted the ball out of bounds at the Purdue 5, where the Boilers took over with 2:59 to go. Appleby converted a fourth-and-6 to Deangelo Yancey to the Purdue 20, but two plays later, Harris picked off Appleby.
Michigan State got in the scoring column in a familiar way as Cook connected with Tony Lippett for a 39-yard touchdown just 3:16 into the game. It was Lippett’s seventh first-quarter touchdown of his eight this season – all of which have come in the first half.
Appleby opened 4 of 4 for 55 yards on Purdue’s opening drive, which reached down the MSU 14. The Boilermakers lined up to go for it on fourth-and-2, but Appleby was flagged for a false start and they settled for a Paul Griggs 36-yard field goal.
Lippett looked like he had his second touchdown of the game on a 25-yard run after the catch on a short cross, but it was called back for an illegal pick set by Josiah Price. The Spartans got the yards right back as Lippett made a terrific catch over a defender for a 27-yard gain.
After Purdue was flagged for pass interference putting the ball at the two-yard line, Nick Hill scampered into the corner of the end zone for a 14-3 lead.
Behind the run game, the Spartans opened the second quarter with another score as Cook hit Josiah Price with a touch pass that was tipped by a Purdue defender on second-and-goal from the two. Jeremy Langford’s 31-yard run to the Purdue 3 set up the score.
Purdue came back and scored easily on a seven-play drive that covered 81 yards. The final four plays resulted in three first downs – including a 36-yard run by Keyante Green – and the fourth was a three-yard touchdown run by Akeem Hunt to pull within 21-10.
Purdue came right back with a nine-play touchdown drive, which was capped by a nine-yard pass from Appleby to B.J. Knauf, who ran just out of the reach of a diving Chris Frey for the score to pull within 24-17.
Langford put the Spartans into Purdue territory late in the half with a 28-yard run, but Geiger missed a 44-yard field goal with 28 seconds left in the half.
Aaron Burbridge keyed the Spartans’ first drive of the second half with a pair of runs and a pair of receptions, including a 13-yard touchdown on which he tapped his toe in the back of the end zone.
After a second straight Purdue three-and-out, Hill burst through a big hole created by Connor Kruse for 37 yards down to the Purdue 10. Two plays later, Hill went untouched for a four-yard score and a 38-17 lead.
Purdue converted a fourth-and-11 with a pass from Appleby to Anthrop, but Appleby bobbled the snap on the next play. Shilique Calhoun was the first to get there and Marcus Rush emerged from the scrum with the ball at the MSU 49.
Purdue safety Frankie Williams got the ball right back for the Boilers as he picked off Cook in the flat and ran it back to the Purdue 40.
Hunt broke a 52-yard touchdown run, breaking a pair of arm tackles, three players later on fourth-and-2 to make it 38-24.
MSU went three-and-out, but tried a fake punt from its 29-yard line on a direct snap to Lawrence Thomas, but he gained just one yard and was stuffed with 7:30 to play.
The Boilers ran a double reverse with Anthrop throwing into the end zone to Hunt, who was pulled down by Darian Hicks, who was flagged for pass interference.
On the next play from the MSU 2, Hunt ran it in for a score and made it 38-31 Michigan State.