Jonathan Taylor’s 321-yard performance leads Badgers’ comeback in triple-overtime victory at Purdue
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — In a season as unpredictable as any in recent memory, the University of Wisconsin’s final play at Ross-Ade Stadium on Saturday couldn’t have ended in a more expected fashion.
Heisman Trophy candidate Jonathan Taylor, already over 300 yards rushing, took an outside zone handoff before cutting hard up field. Once he plowed through defensive end Giovanni Reviere and into open space, Purdue didn’t stand a chance at bringing the 221-pound back to the ground.
“The first guy almost never makes the tackle,” left guard Michael Deiter said. “Watching him do what he does, it’s unreal to see.”
Taylor’s 17-yard touchdown run in triple overtime ignited a wild, bench-clearing celebration, providing UW (7-4, 5-3) with a monumental high point in a season defined only by its failures before Saturday.
The sophomore running back finished with 321 yards and three touchdowns on 33 carries in the Badgers’ 47-44 win, the third-highest single-game total in UW history.
“I didn’t even know until the end of the game,” Taylor said. “Once overtime hit, you’re in a totally different zone.”
Taylor gained 247 of his yards after halftime, helping the Badgers overcome a 14-point deficit in the final 7 minutes to force overtime.
Purdue wide receiver Rondale Moore began the first overtime period by slithering his way to a 15-yard touchdown before a 12-yard run from Taylor tied the game again.
UW running back Garrett Groshek then dove into the end zone from 4 yards out to hand the Badgers a 41-34 lead. Boilermakers quarterback David Blough found Isaac Zico for a 25-yard score the very next play.
On the first possession of triple overtime, UW’s defense forced Purdue (5-6, 4-4) into a 41-yard field goal. Taylor began the ensuing Badgers drive with an 8-yard gain before his walk-off, 17-yard score.
“Our offense was clicking,” safety Eric Burrell said. “Once it’s clicking, it’s hard to stop it.”
UW’s offense hadn’t clicked in a number of weeks before scoring 35 points over the final seven minutes of regulation and overtime Saturday, and its inconsistencies continued to shine through as Purdue built a 27-13 lead in the fourth quarter.
The Boilermakers initially broke the game open on a 46-yard touchdown pass from Blough to Moore with 0:57 left in the third quarter that handed Purdue a 24-13 lead. Moore got loose by bursting past cornerback Rachad Wildgoose at the line of scrimmage and breaking a tackle from Burrell after the catch.
Purdue added a field goal with 9:57 remaining to make the score 27-13, but wide receiver Danny Davis’ two fourth-quarter touchdowns sparked a comeback.
His first, a fade route from the 5-yard line, ended with Davis elevating over cornerback Antonio Blackmon, snatching the ball with one hand and narrowly remaining in bounds. The second came on an 18-yard pass from Jack Coan with 2:51 remaining that tied the game at 27.
“Those were phenomenal catches,” wide receiver A.J. Taylor said. “It gives everybody a sense of hope. We knew we were still in the game, but that just steals the momentum.”
UW didn’t make Davis available to the media following the game. He hasn’t spoken since a criminal complaint became public in August alleging Davis took photos of two women during an incident in April. The incident led to the suspension of teammate Quintez Cephus, who’s awaiting trail on sexual assault charges.
Jonathan Taylor kicked his day into gear when he began the second half with an 80-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 10.
The Badgers added a short field goal after driving 68 yards, taking their first lead of the game at 13-10, but Purdue answered right away to regain the advantage on Markell Jones’ 12-yard touchdown run.
UW then stalled on its next two possessions, allowing the Boilermakers to extend their lead on Moore’s 46-yard score and a 20-yard field goal.
That 20-yard field goal was a result of the Badgers stopping Purdue twice on the 1-yard line to prevent the Boilermakers from taking a three-score advantage with less than 10 minutes remaining. They also held Purdue to a field goal at the end of the first half after the Boilermakers faced a first-and-goal at the 2.
“Those were huge,” UW coach Paul Chryst said. “At 24-13… a field goal is a lot different than a touchdown there.”
Coan, filling in for starter Alex Hornibrook (concussion), completed 16-of-24 passes for 160 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions, a bounce-back effort in his third career start after struggling last week in a loss at Penn State.
Blough and Purdue’s passing game tested UW’s secondary all night. The senior finished 31 of 48 for 386 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. Moore, who entered Saturday leading the Big Ten with 82 receptions, caught nine passes for 114 yards and two scores.