WEST LAFAYETTE, IN | It came down to the final drive of the game. Purdue didn’t get the stop they needed and the Irish of Notre Dame walk away with a victory, 31-24.
For Purdue, their 31-24 loss to Notre Dame might still sting but it can’t be called anything other than a victory in the grand scheme of things. They were three touchdown underdogs and for three straight quarters, Purdue was the best team on the field. They moved the chains and Rob Henry looked successful under center. These were things that Purdue struggled to do so far this season.
Henry Finds Success With Hunt
It took a couple games but Rob Henry showed why he was chosen as the leader of the team and their starting quarterback. On the first play of the game, Rob rolled out and hit Akeem Hunt for a nice seven yard pickup. On the second play of the game, Henry handed the ball of to Hunt and he picked up the first down. That pairing became a trend.
Multiple times throughout the night, Henry was pressured by the Notre Dame defensive line which wasn’t a surprise. However, Henry’s ability to deal with the pressure and even more so his ability to find the open guy which more often than not was Akeem Hunt.
On more than one occasion, Hunt bailed Purdue and Rob out by using his speed on the outside and picking up big yardage and first downs. That combination really let Purdue’s offense flourish.
Running back Akeem Hunt ended the night with only 27 rushing yards on 12 carries but had 72 receiving yards on nine catches. Quarterback [b]Rob Henry was solid and scored career highs in passing attempts, completions, and yards. Henry was 25 of 40 for 256 yards and three passing touchdowns.
Defensive Line Stuffs ND Run Game
The final stats for the Notre Dame rushing game won’t really reflect how well the defensive line and linebackers of Purdue. The Irish combined for 109 yards on 37 attempts. Most of those came in the final couple drives as they had only 48 yards heading into the 4th quarter.
The starting linebackers were great tonight as Purdue needed them to step up and give the offense a chance. Joe Gilliam and Will Lucas were making plays along the line. Gilliam made the key fumble recovery that gave Purdue new life in the middle of the 4th quarter.
Early on in the game, Notre Dame’s offense stalled and Brian Kelly seemed to force the run game a little bit. Purdue’s line was able to keep them in check and get them off the field. That really helped to spark the offense because they were given more opportunities than in any other game this season. More opportunities equated to a better chance to win the game.
Big Plays Took The Game Away
There were two really big plays of note that went against Purdue, the Rob Henry interception and the Tommy Rees 81-yard pass to Daniels down the sideline.
The Henry interception came during Notre Dame’s run in the 4th quarter. Purdue was down 24 to 17 at that point and were deep in their own territory. Purdue’s offense needed a jumpstart and that wasn’t the play they needed. It wasn’t the dagger but with only limited time left, Purdue could ill afford a mistake.
The other big play was the Rees touchdown to Daniels. After the game, Ricardo Allen took full responsibility of that play. He got beat and he tried to recover but he was too far behind. This happened right before the Henry interception and maybe was the catalyst for Purdue’s struggles in the final quarter.
However, these are things that can get cleaned up. Not often does Ricardo miss something like that and Purdue can almost expect a turnover every game. It’s a new offense and a quarterback that is basically starting his career. Purdue needed to play flawless and they didn’t but they played well enough to compete and that changes things for the future.