West Lafayette, Ind — As IU head coach Tom Allen yelled “LEO” into the camera following his on field interview, junior wide receiver Whop Philyor jumped on his back for a piggyback ride towards the corner of the field as IU football celebrated its 44-41 victory over Purdue with the Old Oaken Bucket alongside the Hoosier faithful who came to cheer them on.
A week ago, Philyor walked off the field in jacket and sweatpants — after not playing against Michigan due to a concussion — itching to get back on the field against rival Purdue and bring the Old Oaken Bucket back to Bloomington.
“It felt great being out there with my guys,” Philyor said. “That’s why we practice every day of every week, to play with each other. I’m just happy to play with my boys. Actually, I’m honored to play with my boys.”
In a cold and rainy game that limited the passing attack at times, IU relied on Philyor out on the field as he consistently made big plays for the Hoosiers with his speed and agility.
“We knew the weather was going to be rough,” Allen said. “The winds, the rains and all that stuff it creates obviously makes it challenging in the throw game.”
Late in the third quarter, Philyor gave a little shimmy at the line-of-scrimmage and then exploded downfield as he showed off his speed, torching the Boilermakers’ defense on a go-route for a 37-yard touchdown reception.
As soon as Philyor crossed the goal line, his celebration began as he ran around the field blowing an imaginary train whistle before slowing down to allow his teammates to catch up with him on the sideline.
“Oh yeah,” Philyor said laughing about the celebration. “We’re the real trains.”
If anyone was concerned it would take Philyor some time to get back into the flow of things after missing a week due to the concussion, he immediately put all those worries to bed. He comfortably stepped back into the number-one receiving role, catching the opening touchdown for the Hoosiers.
Philyor quickly reminded everyone what the IU offense was missing against Michigan last week as he caught eight passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns in his return.
Like he’s been all season, Philyor served at IU’s security blanket in the passing game. Whenever the Hoosiers needed a big play through the air, junior quarterback Peyton Ramsey knew where he was supposed to throw the ball and Philyor made sure to get open for him.
“I thought we did a great job,” Allen said. “We stuttered a little bit at times in the second half, but I thought we had a good plan and executed well.”
For the past two seasons, Philyor has had to watch the Boilermakers spill onto the field as they celebrated putting another “P” on the Old Oaken Bucket’s chain. Now, it’s his turn to celebrate.
“We just happy that its back in Bloomington,” Philyor said. “Hopefully it’s there for the rest of time.”
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