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Garrett Shrader hit Oronde Gadsden II for a 25-yard touchdown pass with seven seconds left to lead Syracuse to a 32-29 victory over Purdue on Saturday.
That touchdown throw capped a wild fourth quarter of dramatic head changes. Syracuse led 10-9 after three quarters and edged the Boilermakers 22-20 in the final period. The Orange improved to 3-0, their best start since 2018. Purdue fell to 1-2.
Aidan O’Connell’s 12-yard touchdown pass to tight end Payne Durham with 51 seconds left in the fourth quarter gave the Boilermakers a 29-25 advantage and appeared to seal it for Purdue.
O’Connell, who completed 38 of 54 passes for 415 yards and three touchdowns, threw two scores in the fourth quarter to save the Boilermakers from a 10-point deficit. Charlie Jones caught 11 passes for 188 yards and a score.
But before those heroics from O’Connell, Syracuse scored two touchdowns in nine seconds and led 25-15 midway through the fourth quarter.
A 46-yard touchdown pass from Shrader to Gadsden at fourth-and-one gave Syracuse an 18-15 advantage after Shrader ran for a 2-point conversion. That touchdown happened with 8:17 left in the game.
On Purdue’s next possession, SU’s Jatius Geer wrapped O’Connell as the Purdue quarterback attempted a pass. The ball wavered through the hands of orange defensive end Caleb Okechukwu, who traveled 17 yards into the end zone.
Syracuse led 25-15 at the time, but O’Connell joined favorite receiver Jones for a 55-yard score that put the Boilermakers up 25-22 with 6:41 left in the game. A 41-yard field goal miss by Mitchell Fineran with 2:54 left could have tied the game.
The teams had only met once before, when in 2004 Purdue beat Orange 51-0 at Ross-Ade Stadium.
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Purdue: The Boilermakers were without running back King Doerue, who is nursing a calf injury. Doerue rushed for 68 yards on 18 attempts with three touchdowns in Purdue’s first two games. Without him, the Boilermakers struggled to get things done on the ground, but generally got plenty in the air from O’Connell. The Purdue quarterback had plenty of time in the first half and threw for 175 yards on 21 of 27 attempts. Syracuse applied more pressure on him in the second half, but O’Connell still managed to throw deep.
Syracuse: Shrader was one of the nation’s most accurate passers in his first two games this season (38-48, .792), but Purdue applied sustained pressure early on, forcing Shrader to scramble and especially to abandon an air attack. He completed 4 of 10 passes for just 35 yards in the first half. He was much more effective in the second half, completing 9 of 19 passes for 146 yards and three touchdowns. Purdue locked in Syracuse running back Sean Tucker, who rushed 18 times for 42 yards.
Purdue hosts Florida Atlantic on Saturday night.
Syracuse continues its four-game homestand against foe ACC Virginia on Friday night.