Purdue running back Markell Jones ended the last three games of his junior year by playing some of the best football he’s played all season, including the 21 carries in his first-ever bowl game.

The former Columbus East standout rushed for 86 yards with two receptions for four yards to help the Boilermakers beat Arizona 38-35 in the Foster Farms Bowl on Wednesday.

Jones got off to a slow start to the season after getting injured in the first quarter of the season opener against Louisville. That injury sidelined him until the fifth game against Minnesota.

He received limited carries for much of the season, but started to turn it on when it mattered most to help Purdue get to, and win its first bowl game since 2011.

His 74 yards on 14 carries against Iowa helped Purdue beat the Hawkeyes, 25-15.

That win set up an Old Oaken Bucket showdown for a bowl berth against Indiana University. Jones had never beat IU in a bucket game until he exploded for a career-high 217 yards on 31 carries to beat the Hoosiers, 31-24, and propel them to the Foster Farms Bowl.

Jones said before the bowl game that competing in the Foster Farms game would be a great opportunity for the Boilermakers to show what they could do. They wasted no time, jumping out to an early 17-point lead by halftime before holding off the Wildcats’ comeback.

Jones ended the season with a team-high 566 yards on 113 carries and a touchdown. He racked up 377 yards in the final three games, which was 188 yards more than his previous seven games combined. Jones also finished with 13 receptions for 54 yards on the season.

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Frank Bonner is a sports writer for The Republic. He can be reached at fbonner@therepublic.com or 812-379-5632.