A little weather delay — and even a long one — didn’t stop Virginia Tech from hanging with Purdue in Lane Stadium on Saturday. A scoreless second half did, however.
The Boilermakers got a fourth-quarter touchdown run by quarterback Hudson Card to pull out a 24-17 road win against the Hokies in a game that took eight hours and 35 minutes to complete.
Virginia Tech (1-1) overcame a 17-point deficit and what appeared to be a serious ankle injury to receiver Ali Jennings, but the one-dimensional Hokies couldn’t get anything going in the second half, going scoreless in the final two quarters.
Tech couldn’t run the ball. Including three sacks, it finished with 11 yards on the ground, its fifth-worst rushing effort since 1987. Worse yet, it lost Jennings to an ankle injury after he got rolled up on in the first quarter by Jaylin Lane, his teammate. He was carted off the field during a weather delay and had a boot on his left foot.
Meanwhile, Purdue (1-1) did just enough offensively to pull it out. Card was 23-for-34 passing for 248 yards. He went 3-for-3 on third downs during a crucial fourth-quarter drive that went 74 yards.
Included in that was a third-and-11 checkdown to running back Devin Mockobee that went for 12 yards to the Hokies’ 2. Card kept to the left for a touchdown run on the next play to break a 17-all tie with eight minutes left.
The Hokies couldn’t muster any points after that, even with a quarterback change. Grant Wells was 16-for-33 with two touchdowns and two picks but was hobbled on a low late-hit penalty just before halftime.
After five straight scoreless drives in the second half, Tech finally made a switch to backup Kyron Drones, who took over at the Hokies’ 9-yard line with 2:30 left trailing by a touchdown.
He completed his first pass for 26 yards to tight end Dae’Quan Wright, drew a late-hit penalty and ran for 13 yards on a draw to get to the Purdue 42. Four straight incompletions followed, however, and the Boilermakers ran out the clock.
The way the game started, it didn’t seem like it would come close to finishing. After a 23-minute weather delay to start, Purdue went up 7-0 on a Mockobee touchdown run just three-and-a-half minutes in. Mockobee ran for 95 yards in the game.
A second lightning delay occurred with 5:50 left in the first quarter, with a torrential downpour, intermittent lightning and storm cells in the area leading to what turned out to be a five-hour, 27-minute pause before play resumed at 6:15 p.m.
Once play began again, the Boilermakers extended their lead to 10-0 early in the second quarter on a 43-yard field goal by Ben Freehill.
Things got worse for the Hokies on the next drive, with Wells picked off by Purdue safety Cam Allen after Lane cut off a slant route. Two plays later, Boilermakers tailback Tyron Tracy Jr. scored on a 21-yard run to make it 17-0.
The Hokies finally answered midway through the second quarter. Wells hit an open Bhayshul Tuten on a fourth-and-4 swing pass. Tuten got free up the sideline, shook a tackle and spun out of another, twisting his way into the end zone for a touchdown to pull the Hokies within 17-7.
After coming up inches short on a third-down pass on the ensuing drive, Purdue went for it from its own 34. Card got stuffed on a keeper by Keli Lawson and Mansoor Delane for a critical turnover on downs that set up a 41-yard field goal by John Love to make it 17-10.
Tech tied it up at 17 just before halftime after an eight-play, 70-yard drive that ended when Wells connected with Lane on a 2-yard touchdown pass with 10 seconds remaining.
Box Score: Purdue 24, Virginia Tech 17