Curtis Painter will start at quarterback against Ohio State next weekend, Coach Joe Tiller said Saturday after Purdue lost 20-6 to Penn State, but only after watching backup Joey Elliott lead the Boilermakers to their only scoring drive against the Nittany Lions.
"He gives us the best chance to be successful," Tiller said, "and Curtis did some good things. The reason we (made the change) was to give us a little kickstart. That's not uncommon; it's something you do as a coach. We'll go back and go with our veteran."
While Painter's holding on to his starting job, it doesn't appear as if placekicker Chris Summers can say the same, though he'll continue to punt for the Boilermakers.
Painter was pulled after throwing an ugly interception near the end of the third quarter, ending a day in which he completed 13-of-22 passes for 112 yards, with the offense being held off the scoreboard.
Tiller - his team below .500 for the first time since 2005 - was critical of Painter, though. After noting that Elliott recognized coverages during his time on the field, Tiller said, in an apparent dig at Painter's interception, "That's a lot better than floating (the ball) out there for anybody who wants it."
Elliott drove Purdue 82 yards in 14 plays, completing 3-of-5 passes for 46 yards, running for 11 more. Kory Sheets' one-yard touchdown run was the Boilermakers' first offensive touchdown against the Nittany Lions in more than 11 quarters.
"When the coaches pulled Painter," Sheets said, "they were just doing something to get us going."
Purdue was held scoreless while Painter was in the game, but had its opportunities.
"We were horrible," Sheets said. "We got into the red zone a bunch of times and only came out with six points. We have to do a whole lot better than that. That's unacceptable.
"With the weapons we have, we have to start utilizing them and stepping up and making plays."
In a script that's become all too familiar, Purdue simply couldn't come away with points when it reached striking distance.
After Summers missed field goals of 45 and 36 yards in the first half - ending two solid offensive possessions with disappointment - and missed the PAT following Purdue's lone touchdown, Tiller said he's making a change.
"I don't think (there will be competition)," Tiller said, when asked if the job was up for grabs this week. "I think (freshman Carson Wiggs) will be kicking for us from now on.
"I'm not going to stand there and watch that. We've got a strong-legged young guy (in Wiggs) and we're gonna give him a chance. Let's go."
Penn State outgained Purdue 422-241 in total offense, but didn't come away with as many points as it could have.
Neither team scored in the first quarter, as the Boilermakers uncharacteristically held the ball for 10-and-a-half minutes offensively.
But after Summers' first miss swung momentum in the Lions' favor - Purdue stalled after reaching the visitors' 23 - Penn State drove 72 yards and scored from a yard out on fourth down to draw first blood.
The Lions led 10-0 at halftime after Purdue held them to a field goal from the Boilermaker 6.
The game may have for all intents and purposes been over at the eight-minute mark of the third, when Penn State hit a 23-yard completion on third-and-17 from Purdue's 27, setting up a four-yard TD run one play later.
"That's a play we have to make," safety Torri Williams said of the third-down pass.
Penn State capped its scoring with a 20-yard field goal with a little more than 13 minutes to play. The Boilermaker defense held from its own 3-yard line after Painter's interception gave the Lions the ball at Purdue's 30.
While the Boilermakers stiffened once Penn State got into scoring territory, big plays hurt Purdue between the 20s. The Nittany Lions broke off seemingly countless double-digit-yard runs en route to rushing for 202 yards.
"That definitely killed us," defensive end Ryan Kerrigan said. "Once they'd get in the red zone, we held them a couple times, but if it wasn't for big plays, they never would have gotten into the red zone."
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