COLLEGE FOOTBALL RECAP

Marshall rallies to beat Purdue 41-31

The Sports Xchange

September 06, 2015 at 7:04 pm.

Sep 6, 2015; Huntington, WV, USA; Marshall Thundering Herd defensive back Keith Baxter (5) intercepts a pass late in the fourth quarter against the Purdue Boilermakers at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. Marshall won the game 41-31. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 6, 2015; Huntington, WV, USA; Marshall Thundering Herd defensive back Keith Baxter (5) intercepts a pass late in the fourth quarter against the Purdue Boilermakers at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. Marshall won the game 41-31. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Safety Tiquan Lang returned a pair of interceptions for touchdowns and running back Devon Johnson provided the go-ahead score with 2:50 remaining as the Marshall Thundering Herd defeated the Purdue Boilermakers 41-31 on Sunday before a record crowd of 38,791 at Joan C. Edwards Stadium in Huntington, W.Va.

Lang’s second return — a 55-yarder with 1:20 left — sealed the Thundering Herd’s first victory in six tries against the Big Ten while hosting a member of that conference for the first time. Quarterback Michael Birdsong was 23-of-36 for 234 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, Johnson rushed for 89 yards on 11 carries and tight end Ryan Yuracheck caught a touchdown pass for Marshall (1-0).

Austin Appleby — the Boilermakers’ fifth different quarterback to start the last five seasons — was 31-of-48 for 270 yards with a touchdown and four interceptions and added a rushing score. Sophomore running back D.J. Knox ran for 102 yards and a touchdown and freshman running back Markell Jones added 72 yards and a score for Purdue (0-1), which has lost seven straight non-conference road games.

After Lang scored his first career touchdown with a 30-yard interception return, the Boilermakers immediately answered when Knox capped an 11-play, 75-yard drive with a 4-yard touchdown run. The Thundering Herd scored the next 10 points, including Birdsong’s 20-yard touchdown pass to Johnson, before Appleby’s 9-yard touchdown pass to tight end Danny Anthrop late in the first quarter and Appleby’s 1-yard touchdown run in the second gave the Boilermakers a 21-17 halftime lead.

The teams traded touchdowns to begin third quarter with Jones bursting up the middle for a 36-yard score to cap a nine-play, 70-yard drive and restore Purdue’s four-point lead. The remainder of the third quarter was mistake-filled with the quarterbacks trading interceptions in a span of three plays, Boilermakers kicker Paul Griggs missing a 44-yard attempt off the left upright and Johnson fumbling at the end of a 33-yard run on the next play.

Purdue took a 31-27 lead on Griggs’ 22-yard field goal with 10:14 left before Marshall went 84 yards on 11 plays with Johnson’s touchdown giving the Thundering Herd their first lead since the second quarter. Purdue faced a third-and-10 from the Marshall 40 when Appleby’s pass sailed into the arms of Lang, who raced down the left sideline for the clinching score.