Having appeared to have seized the game's momentum midway through the fourth quarter, the Boilermakers were faced with a fourth-and-2 from the Rocket 4 and opted to kick a field goal.
Carson Wiggs' second field goal of the day cut Purdue's deficit to 24-20 with just over eight minutes remaining in the game.
Coach Danny Hope said he decided not to go for it because of how much time was left on the clock.
"Eight minutes is a lot of time," Hope explained. "We had a bunch of time-outs. I didn't have any question about the call. What I didn't want to do was walk away with nothing. I felt like we needed something positive to happen.
"I don't have any question about the call. I'm sure you guys (the media) will, but looking back on it, I would do (it) the same way again."
If the Rockets didn't feel like they had regained the momentum after holding Purdue out of the end zone when the hosts had a second-and-one at the Toledo 3 and had to settle for three, the visitors felt like they definitely were back in control after returning the ensuing kickoff 50 yards to the Boilermaker 47. The return set up the game-clinching touchdown, giving Purdue a loss to a Mid-American Conference team for the second straight season.
Hope said the timing of the special team's breakdown was terrible.
"We cover down the field, make good plays and do good things, but about once a game that snake rears its ugly head and somebody gets a big return on us," Hope said.
Earlier in the game, however, Hope opted to try and convert a fourth-down situation in the first quarter. Initially he sent the punt team out, but after a time-out Hope decided to try and pick up the first down.
Keith Carlos ran right, but was stuffed by the Toledo front and the Rockets took over on downs at their 47.
It was a decision that in Hope's words he "screwed up on."
"I should've (had them) line up real fast and run a play. Then I called for the punt team to go out there, looked at it and thought, 'We're not going to play on our heels. We need to get some momentum,'" Hope said. "I didn't think it was all that long of a distance to go. That was a poor decision on my part.
"If I had to do it over again, I would've gone ahead and punted it or kept the offense out there and went for it on fourth down without having that big delay in there. That played in their hands. That was poor coaching on my part."
Kerrigan Ties The Record
When Purdue needed a big play, it turned to defensive end Ryan Kerrigan.
The senior came up with a big fourth-quarter sack, forced Toledo quarterback Austin Dantin to fumble and ended up recovered the fumble after quite a scrum.
It was Kerrigan's 12th career forced fumble, tying him for the school lead with James Looney (1977-80) and leaving him one short of the Big Ten record, which Illinois' Simeon Rice (1992-95) and Iowa's Bob Sanders (2000-03) share.
Kerrigan credits his knack for jarring the ball loose to the emphasis paid on that part of the game during Purdue practices.
"We really work on stripping the ball out and tomahawking the quarterback's arm whenever we come around to get a sack," Kerrigan said. "We feel like it's not enough just to get the sack, but to force a fumble and give you a chance to get the ball back, too."
Kerrigan also has 43 tackles for loss, tied for eighth all-time (with Jim Schwantz, 1988-91) in Boilermaker annals. He also has 25.5 career sacks (fifth in Purdue history).
Injuries, Injuries And Even More Injuries
The Boilermakers have just been decimated this season with injuries.
With Robert Marve re-injuring his left knee, which he originally hurt last week against Ball State, in the first quarter, the Boilermakers have now seen their No. 1 quarterback, running back and wide receiver all go down with knee injuries. Keith Smith is lost for the season with a torn ACL and MCL, while Ralph Bolden continues to rehab after tearing his ACL in the spring.
After the Toledo game, Hope said he didn't know what the status of Marve's knee injury was saying that he would have to wait for more tests before reaching a conclusion.
Marve wasn't the only Boilermaker hurt against the Rockets.
Receiver Justin Siller appeared to hurt his left foot or ankle after he made a fourth-quarter catch. The injury was of the non-contact variety. Hope said afterwards he didn't think Siller's injury was too serious.
Center Peters Drey also suffered a leg injury but afterwards he said he would be OK as well.
Running back Keith Carlos saw his first action of the season after returning to practice earlier in the week.
You'll recall he was sidelined throughout training camp with a stress fracture.
On his first snap, Carlos lined up at his old position, but then was put in the backfield. Carlos responded with a 14-yard carry on his first rush.
Carlos averaged just under six yards on his seven carries.
"It felt amazing," said Carlos when asked what it was like to see game action. "I'd been out a while and to be back out there to help my team I felt like I did alright."
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