JACK Ansell is entering his first winter break as a college footballer on a high.
The Warrnambool athlete was a key contributor in Purdue's Music City Bowl win against South Eastern Conference powerhouse Tennessee on New Years' Eve, gifting the Boilermakers their first post-season triumph in almost five years.
Ansell punted five times, averaging 41 yards, as Purdue withstood a scoring shootout to clinch the title in overtime.
The West Lafayette-based school, which is also ranked third in the United States for its basketball program, held off a plucky Tennessee to hold a 45-45 scoreline at the final whistle of quarter four.
Kicker Mitchell Fineran - Ansell's housemate and close friend - sealed victory late with a last-gasp field goal in extra time to send Boilermakers fans into raptures.
Ansell told The Standard the win was the culmination of toil through the regular season.
Impressively, Purdue saluted without its two biggest regular-season contributors in David Bell and George Karlaftis, who're both tipped to be first-round selections in April's NFL draft.
"I set a personal goal to really contribute to this game so to be able to do that was really special," he said post-game.
"You could cut the tension in the air with a knife. In front of a record Music City Bowl crowd (69,000), to go to overtime and beat a quality SEC opponent and also to see my mate Mitch kick the game winner was electric."
Ansell, who missed just one of Purdue's Big 10 fixtures due to COVID protocols, will now fly to New Jersey to ring in the new year with his girlfriend Ally.
The 23-year-old was satisfied with his performance. The former Victorian junior triple-jump champion and Warrnambool and District Cricket Association all-rounder pinned Tennessee inside its own 20-yard line three times and sent a 48-yarder as his longest punt of the evening, earning a major tick from coaching staff.
You could cut the tension in the air with a knife. In front of a record Music City Bowl crowd (69,000), to go to overtime and beat a quality SEC opponent and also to see my mate Mitch kick the game winner was electric.- Jack Ansell
"Given the pressure, the intensity and the rush (on the punter) that Tennessee brings I was happy with my performance," Ansell said.
"A great way to end a year full of learning curves. The focus for the summer is to get back under the bar in the weight room and get a strong base for a big year in 2022."
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