Turns out, the defense was the difference in Saturday's shootout.
Caleb TerBush threw four touchdowns, the Boilermakers returned two interceptions for scores and the defense finally stopped the Thundering Herd's second-half rally late to allow Purdue to hold on for a 51-41 victory.
It was a remarkable day -- for both teams.
They combined for 179 plays and 977 yards on a record-breaking day.
TerBush was 27 of 37 for 294 yards with four TDs, three to Gary Bush, and one interception in Purdue's final non-conference tune up.
Marshall (2-3) quarterback Rakeem Cato was 45 of 68 for 439 yards and five touchdowns, three to Gator Hoskins. It was the highest number of completions and attempts ever against Purdue (3-1), breaking the marks set by Illinois' Jack Trudeau back in 1985. Receiver Tommy Shuler caught 19 passes for 200 yards, breaking the school's single-game record for receptions (15) set most recently by Josh Davis in 2004.
That much should have been expected from two high-scoring offenses.
But the surprises came on defense.
During a quick second-quarter flurry, Cato threw three picks and Purdue turned each into touchdowns including a 39-yard return from Ricardo Allen and a 76-yard return from Josh Johnson. Allen's fourth career TD off an interception gave him the school record, breaking a three-way tie with Mike Rose and Rod Woodson. And when Johnson scored five plays later, it marked the first time in school history which the Boilermakers scored twice on interception returns in the same game.
When the flurry ended, the Boilermakers led 42-14, but Marshall didn't go away.
Cato opened the second half with a 28-yard TD pass to Hoskins to make it 42-21. Then the Thundering Herd blocked Cody Webster's punt and linebacker Derek Mitchell ran it back 35 yards for a TD. That cut the lead to 42-28 with 6:09 left in the third quarter.
After Purdue regained its composure on a 16-play drive that ended with a 34-yard field goal, Cato led the Thundering Herd on a nine-play, 77-yard drive, hooking up with Hoskins for a 1-yard TD pass, Hoskins' third score of the day, to get Marshall within 45-35 with 12:53 to play.
Purdue appeared to seal the game with Bush's final score, a 7-yard TD reception, but the extra point was blocked, keeping Marshall within 16.
The Thundering Herd answered with a 15-yard TD pass to Craig Wilkins with 3:47 to go, making it 51-41, but the Purdue defense stiffened and Marshall couldn't get any closer.
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