Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Purdue slips pass Buckeyes

A hostile environment of more than 100,000 fans greeted the Purdue Boilermakers at Ohio State's famed Horseshoe.

Despite the screaming and yelling, the chest-bumping and the fast start, the crowd couldn't propel the fifth-ranked Buckeyes to a win over fourth-ranked Purdue. Three costly turnovers were just too much to overcome.

"That was one heck of a loud and noisy crowd," Purdue Coach Matt Adams said. "They were fired up and raring to go. We were really out of sync to start the game."

Ohio State got the ball first and struck on a 52-yard touchdown pass from Antonio Henton to Ray Small. The quick strike ended up being Ohio State's only lead, though the team would remain close.

"A lot of adversity today," Adams said. "Especially after we lost Joey Elliott. Although I'm not sure I didn't hear some of our fans cheer after that one."

Elliott hurt his elbow while rolling to his left. He hit wide receiver Aaron Valentine for a first down. After several agonizing moments on the turf Elliott rose to his feet and tried to throw some warm up passes.

"I tried to see if I could get loose enough to continue," Elliott said. "It just wasn't working. Coach could see that. I think that's why he told me to go hit the showers. In fact, those may have been the first words out of his mouth when he came onto the field."

"It, uh...just didn't look good from my angle," Adams said. "I thought Joey should go, um, hit the shower because I thought he got dinged pretty good."

Redshirt Justin Siller entered the game in relief of Elliott. After finding success on a couple of option plays, Siller turned it over inside the Buckeyes' ten-yard line with a bad pitch.

"That was tough. We've practiced that play a lot and it was disappointing to see Justin pitch it instead of taking it up field. Really, there wasn't much there," Adams said.

Purdue's defense forced a stop two plays later, when defensive tackle Mike Neal sacked Henton. He recovered the fumble himself and bumbled his way into the endzone for a 13-yard score.

"If a stuffed turkey could run, that's what it would look like," Adams said, smiling. "Seriously, that play turned the entire game. Without Neal's big play, I don't know what happens there."

"That's Thanksgiving dinner for a lineman, man," Neil boasted. "The sack is the turkey, the fumble is the dressing, the recovery is the mashed potatoes, and the touchdown is the gravy. Gravy, let it pour!"

The defensive touchdown turned the tide. After evening the score at 7-7, Purdue stopped Ohio State near midfield on a fake punt. It didn't take Siller long to show off his powerful arm. He hit Anthony Kellner for a 32-yard touchdown. The pass was a bullet.

"My hands still hurt from that," Kellner said, shaking out his hands. "I mean, wow. Justin's got a cannon."

Seemingly in control, Purdue let the Buckeyes draw a little bit closer, with Aaron Pettrey connecting on a 36-yard field goal with five seconds left in the first half.

"They're an explosive offense," Adams said. "They're fast, they're disciplined, and since they're Ohio State, I take it they're well compensated, too."

Purdue opened the second half with a long drive that stalled at the 19-yard line. The Boilers settled for a 36-yard field goal from Chris Summers and a 17-10 lead.

Again, the Buckeyes drove down the field and again, Purdue's defense kept them out of the endzone. Pettrey's 44-yard field goal made it 17-13. Ohio State never drew any closer.

"Really proud of the defensive effort," Adams said. "We gave up some yards, but beat 'em back when it mattered most."

Purdue added a touchdown in the fourth quarter from Siller to Waynelle Gravesande. A late 33-yard field goal from Summers capped the scoring.

Purdue (4-1) plays Michigan State at home. The game is at Ross-Aide stadium and will be broadcast on ESPN8, the Ocho.


Siller finished 17-25 for 180 yards and two touchdowns in his relief role; he also carried six times for 15 yards...Anthony Kellner continues to thrive, pulling in seven catches for 94 yards and a touchdown...Dan Dierking didn't find much running room, but caught five passes for 41 yards...Luke Campbell was more active in the offense, pulling in three balls for 49 yards...David Pender led the team with ten tackles...linebacker Kevin Green finished with an impressive stat line: six tackles, two tackles for loss, a sack, and an interception

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