Fans who don’t follow Purdue closely might not know the name Anthony Mahoungou but after the wideout’s performance in the Foster Farms Bowl, safe to say he’ll be talked about for quite a while by fans of the Boilermakers. That’s because the senior from Paris — yes, as in France — wrestled in the game-winning touchdown with just under two minutes left to cap off a wild second half for both sides and give Purdue (7-6) a 38-35 victory over Arizona (7-6).
Mahoungou, who finished the night with six catches for 118 yards and a pair of scores, prevented what would have been a heck of a collapse for an offense that put up 31 points in the first half but was held scoreless after leaving the locker room right up until he crossed the goal line. Fellow senior Gregory Phillips added his own bit of aerobatics into the end zone with one of his two touchdown catches and formed a pretty good opposite number to his teammate with a game-high 149 yards.
While there were stretches in the third and fourth quarter where the offense wasn’t quite clicking on the rare trip to the West Coast for the Boilermakers, quarterback Elijah Sindelar threw for 396 yards with four touchdowns and just one interception on 53 attempts — none bigger than that final one down the field.
Those heroics spoiled an improbable rally on the part of Arizona, which was close to pitching a second half shutout and had scored 21 unanswered to take the lead in the fourth quarter. Wildcats quarterback Khalil Tate had only 58 yards rushing but was terrific through the air to spark the team when they needed it. The electric dual-threat finished his first postseason outing with 302 yards passing and five touchdowns of at least 24 yards — but did toss an interception on the team’s final drive to seal the loss.
In what was a key reason the team lost though, Rich Rodriguez‘ squad never could get things going consistently in the run game and had only 128 yards rushing. That will be quite the disappointment to the fans back in Tucson as the team looked like they had turned the corner in October but limped to the finish of the 2017 season with four losses in their past five games.
Trending in the other direction would be the winners in the Bay Area as Purdue completed a remarkable rebuild in record time under first year coach Jeff Brohm. The Boilermakers not only won a bowl game for the first time in six years but closed the year strongly with their fourth win in their last five outings. Both teams have plenty to look forward to in 2018 but there was certainly a lot more for the Big Ten side to remember after pretty fun finish from the Bay Area.