As Purdue’s Ricardo Allen dove to intercept Indiana State’s Mike Perish’s final throw of the game on Saturday afternoon, you could feel the sense of relief come over thousands of Boilermaker fans as the team held off a fourth-quarter comeback over the Sycamores. And with Purdue (1-1) 20-14 victory over Indiana State (0-2), perhaps nobody in Ross-Ade Stadium was as happy as the team’s new chief.
“I’ll eat good tonight as opposed to last week,” said Purdue Head Coach Darrell Hazell, who got his first victory as a Boilermaker Saturday.
“You know I’ve been very fortunate to be in this business for 28 years, and there has been a lot of times when you win ugly or you lose pretty. But you learn to appreciate the wins, because it is hard to win. Obviously we made it a little bit harder than we should have, but at the end of the year, that goes in the win-column. So I am happy.”
The Boilermakers did in-fact raise the level of difficulty in this game, but it definitely didn’t look that way from the start. On the opening kick-off Purdue’s B.J. Knauf lateraled the ball to Akeem Hunt on a reverse, who took the ball the remaining 90-yards to put Purdue up 7-0. Throughout the rest of the half however the offense would struggle, getting the ball within the five-yard line twice, only getting a field-goal out of one of the possessions.
It looked as if things had changed in the third quarter, where Purdue quarterback Rob Henry (15-24, 150 yards) led the Boilermakers on a nine-play, 60-yard touchdown drive that ended with a 16-yard touchdown rush by B.J. Knauf.
From there though, the Sycamores would drive back, scoring on a 36-yard touchdown reception on a fourth and nine from George Cheeseborough, and then pulling within a score in the fourth when Mike Perish (256 yards, two TD, one INT) connected with Demory Lawshe on a 17-yard pass to make the game 20-14.
Indiana State would get two opportunities to take the lead, but on the final drive, Allen came in for the game-saving interception with 19 seconds left.
“We knew at the end of the day every time we would blitz from the boundary, they would check,” said Allen.
“So we set up the blitz, we gave them a blitz on the field from the first play, he threw the hot from there, and our coaches called it out. He told me just to make the play. You just gotta go with what the coaches coach, and it always turns out positive.”
The Boilermakers will have a tougher task in week three however, when they host the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.