WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — Tucker McCann had a good feeling Missouri was going to need him on Saturday night. The junior kicker was ready when the Tigers turned to him to put the game away against Purdue.
McCann kicked a 25-yard field goal as time expired to lift Missouri to a 40-37 victory over the Boilermakers.
Missouri (3-0) is off to its best start since 2015 while Purdue (0-3) faces its worst beginning of the season since 1996 when they last opened with three losses.
The Tigers turned to McCann often to help stay ahead of the Boilermakers. He was 4 of 5 on field goals, including the game-winner.
“The whole game I kind of figured it was going to be a four-quarter game,” McCann said. “That’s what they were telling us all week. A bunch of people were coming up to me saying it was going to come down to me. I kind of knew, given how close it was throughout the whole game.”
Drew Lock finished 26-of-43 passing for 375 yards with three touchdowns and an interception for Missouri. He ran for negative-10 yards and a TD.
David Blough was 39-of-55 passing and had a career-high and program record 572 yards passing for the Boilermakers. He threw three touchdown passes and an interception, and ran for 18 yards on six carries with a touchdown.
“I do think we played to win,” Purdue coach Jeff Brohm said. “I think we played aggressive. Unfortunately, I don’t think we’re a good football team right now. I think anybody who watched us play knows that. We’ve got a lot of work to do to get better.”
The Boilermakers also relied on their kicker. Spencer Evans was 3 of 4 on field goals, including a 26-yarder with 3:28 remaining to tie the game at 37.
That came at the end of a thrilling and chaotic finish after the Boilermakers came back from 17 points down in the first half and tied the game twice. They tied it 27-27 with Evans’ 29-yard field goal early in the third quarter.
“More than anything, (we) mentally stayed on track to line up and play the next snap,” Missouri coach Barry Odom said. “That’s something we’ve focused on over and over and over. No matter how good or bad the last snap is, refocus and let’s get on to the next one.”
Missouri regained the lead when Larry Rountree III broke away for a 52-yard run and Lock scored on an 8-yard TD to make it 34-27. The Tigers scored again on McCann’s 31-yard field goal to make it 37-27 with 2:30 left in the third.
Purdue still had its opportunities. After scoring at the end of an odd two-play drive in the fourth, Blough threw a pass intended for running back Markell Jones, but the ball bounced off a defender and to Hopkins, who went 74 yards to set up Blough’s 7-yard TD pass to make it 37-34 with 12:16 remaining.
Lock was later picked off by Kenneth Major, leading to Evans tying the game late.
After too many costly penalties the first two games of the season, Brohm sent a warning this week that players called for 15-yard penalties would be pulled from the game. It happened twice against Missouri. The first on center Kirk Barron late in the first quarter, but he never left the game. The other, like previous weeks, came on fourth down late in the game. Tackle Lorenzo Neal was called for roughing the passer and sent to the sideline for a play before he returned.
“We played a good football team and had a chance, but we shot ourselves in the foot,” Brohm said. “We can’t beat a good team by doing silly things and that’s what we did.”
Missouri: The Tigers’ offense continues to be dominant. They finished with 608 yards on offense and extend their regular-season winning streak to nine games in which they have scored 40 or more points.
Purdue: The Boilermakers saw another game slip away. They’ve now lost on a last-second field goal for the second time in three games.
Missouri: The Tigers open SEC play hosting No. 3 Georgia on Saturday.
Purdue: The Boilermakers host Boston College on Saturday in the first meeting between the programs.