Purdue QB lights it up in comeback

Michael Marot
The Associated Press
Purdue quarterback David Blough gets a lift from teammates after making a touchdown catch at Illinois on Saturday, a game in which he also threw for 377 yards and three touchdowns in a 46-7 victory. [Holly Hart/The Associated Press]

Purdue quarterback David Blough never lost his faith.

While being whisked away in an ambulance with a gruesome ankle injury last November, he kept telling himself he would make it back. When Blough did limited work at spring practice, he insisted his quick recovery would help him reclaim the starting job. And when he was eventually beaten out by Elijah Sindelar in August, he kept preparing for his next big chance.

The Boilermakers' fifth-year senior has become the team's inspirational role model heading into Saturday night's Big Ten matchup against second-ranked Ohio State.

Since replacing the injured Sindelar in Week 3, Blough has thrived by doing everything coach Jeff Brohm could ask — throwing passes, eliminating turnovers, even catching a touchdown pass.

"What a difference a year makes! Thank you God!" the devoutly religious Blough posted on Twitter after Saturday's 46-7 victory over Illinois.

The moment could not have been any sweeter for Blough. He was hoisted by his teammates after catching a 7-yard scoring pass from receiver Jared Sparks and he left the field carrying the Purdue Cannon, rekindling images of Joe Namath's Super Bowl celebration.

Eleven months earlier, Blough dislocated his right ankle against the Illini, missed Purdue's final four games and began the laborious process of rehabbing.

Sindelar, who finished last season by leading the Boilermakers to three straight wins on a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, won the preseason battle. He was benched after throwing three interceptions in the first half of Purdue's opener against Northwestern, and Blough officially reclaimed the starting spot when Brohm announced that Sindelar had an undisclosed injury before a Week 3 matchup against Missouri.

Blough has played lights out since.

In a 40-37 loss to the Tigers, he threw for 572 yards and finished with 590 yards of total offense — breaking Curtis Painter's single-game school record for yards passing and the Big Ten's single-game mark for total offense.

Since then, Blough has led the Boilermakers (3-3, 2-1) to three straight wins and gotten them back in position to potentially challenge No. 23 Wisconsin for the West Division title.

In the last four games, he has completed 110 of 181 passes (60.8 percent) with 1,573 yards, 10 touchdowns and two interceptions. He also has rushed for two scores and became the first Purdue quarterback to catch a TD pass since Brandon Hance in 2001.

"That was probably the best pass throw all day," Blough joked on Saturday. "Jared Sparks made a great throw with the safety bearing down on him."

Brohm said on Monday that he still believes in Sindelar but wants him to be "fully healed" before putting him back on the field. Besides, why make a change with Blough playing so well?

Blough isn't concerned with anything but continuing to play the way he always knew he could.

"We fought back," Blough said. "You keep going, you keep swinging."

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