Thursday, January 01, 2009

Defense, Dierking key rivalry win

For one half, it looked like the Purdue Boilermakers would let their continually descending BCS position get into their heads and spoil the season.

But Purdue got it together in the second half, surging to a 28-14 win over arch-rival Notre Dame.

They can thank Jimmy Clausen for giving them a little help. Clausen threw two costly interceptions; one led to a touchdown, the other came in the endzone.

"Clearly, we did some things right on defense," Coach Matt Adams said. "We played a lot of zone and couldn't get a lot of pressure on Clausen. But when we did get in his face, it helped us make some big plays. That's what pressure always does."

The Fighting Irish struck first, with Clausen hitting George West for a 28-yard score.

"The linebacker (Kevin Green) almost got to that one," Clausen revealed after the game. "George wanted it more. It was a great start."

Notre Dame's stingy defense stifled the Boilermakers on their first possession of the game. After moving the ball to inside the red zone, Purdue faced a fourth and three situation. Instead of taking the field goal, Adams went for it.

"I thought we'd get a favorable match up, but the pass rush was too much. (Justin) Siller couldn't get away. Sometimes that happens when you gamble," Adams admitted.

The Irish sacked Siller and took over on downs. Notre Dame had momentum and the chance to take a double-digit lead. The opportunity never materialized; Clausen threw an interception to Purdue cornerback David Pender, who blew by Irish players for a 42-yard score. The touchdown swung the momentum, and tied the game.

"Just a poor read on Clausen's part. You know, there's no reason to be diplomatic about this. That was a (expletive) horse (expletive) decision by a spoiled little rich (expletive) who's more concerned about drinking and banging (expletives) than he is about winning (expletive) football games," Coach Krildog erupted during his postgame press conference.

"I swear to everything holy and sacred, that little (expletive) is gonna be the death of me. (Expletive, expletive, expletive)."

Notre Dame got the ball back, eating away most of the second quarter with a drive that culminated in a ten-yard touchdown pass to Duval Kamara. With 1:28 left in the first half, the Irish held a 14-7 lead. Momentum had swung yet again.

Siller rallied his team into field goal position. With 14 seconds left and the ball at the 22-yard line, Purdue took a shot at the endzone. Notre Dame's pass rush stepped up again, dropping Siller for a ten-yard loss. Purdue was forced to use its last timeout and bring out the field goal unit. Usually reliable kicker Chris Summers banged the 49-yard attempt off the left field goal post.

"I could see the look on some of (the players') faces," Adams said. "After that kick, the kids weren't in a good place. I just knew if we'd be able to get something going on our first drive in the second half, it'd be all right. That's exactly what I told them in the locker room."

Siller used favorite targets Kyle Adams and Dan Dierking to drive the ball all the way to the one-yard line. On first and goal, the Boilermakers came out in their spread formation. Siller handed off to Dierking, who ran into the endzone, relatively untouched to tie the game 14-14.

The next drive may have been a lowpoint for the Irish. While Purdue struggled to mount a pass rush, Clausen had time to pick apart the Boilermaker defense. His receivers couldn't make plays. Golden Tate dropped what looked like a sure-fire touchdown pass. Kamara let one go right through his hands. It seemed as if the Fighting Irish had bathed in "anti-stick 'em."

"I've never seen such a (expletive) display of complete (expletive). As tight as these guys are in the locker room, you'd think they'd love to catch a ball," Coach Krildog yelled. "The only balls that haven't dropped around here seem to be in the crotchal region."

The drops forced the Irish to punt, their only one of the game.

Again, Purdue used its short passing game to drive down the field. With 4:03 left to play, Siller ran the speed option left. Notre Dame lost contain on the outside, and Dierking sprinted into the endzone for a 24-yard score that made it 21-14.

"We tried to do something different," Siller said. "We always have that play in that formation, but we haven't called it a lot this year. I have to give credit to coach for shaking it up like that."

"We've been criticized for our inability to run the ball this season," Adams explained. "I don't really care about that. All I know is, when the chips were down today, we were able to find some running room."

Of course, the game wasn't over just yet. After a short kickoff gave the Irish relatively good field position, Clausen hit Kamara for a huge gain. Kamara looked like he was going to be able to outrun Purdue's defense for the game-tying score. Freshman safety Gavin Roberts brought him down from behind just inside the five-yard line. It was Roberts' only tackle.

He wasn't finished quite yet.

Notre Dame ran left for a short gain. On the next play, Clausen came under heavy pressure from the Boilermaker defense. He forced the ball over the middle, where he thought he had a wide open receiver. Instead, Roberts was in the endzone to collect his sixth interception of the season.

"You know, people always call those tackles 'touchdown-saving tackles,'" Roberts said. "I always thought that was stupid. It's not really saving anything unless you come up with a stop. In this case, I was able to come up with the stop, so it was really a 'touchdown-saving tackle.'"

Perhaps devastated by Clausen's second major miscue of the game, the Irish defense could not stop Purdue's offense. Siller and company converted several third-down situations.

"I thought we'd just get into field goal position, kick it, and let the defense do its work. We just kept finding ways to get first downs," Adams said.

With the ball inside the 15-yard line, Dierking had a key run that forced the Irish to use their last timeout. With seven seconds left, he plunged into the endzone for his third rushing touchdown of the game.

"I didn't think the situation through there," Adams explained. "We had the ball there on the one, but there wasn't enough time on the play clock to run it out entirely. If I had it to do all over again, I would've called for the kneel down."

"Oh, what a big (expletive) man he is! Here we are demoralized by another (expletive) turnover by our golden (expletive) boy quarterback, and Adams offers me tears and roses. He can go eat a (expletive)," Krildog said in disgust.

The final touchdown gave Purdue a 28-14 lead; it also meant the Boilermakers outscored the Fighting Irish 21-0 in the second half.


Dierking had nine carries for 42 yards and three touchdowns; he also added five catches for 40 yards...Siller was sacked a season-high three times...after throwing four interceptions last week, Siller completed 28 of 33 passes for 243 yards with no touchdowns or picks...Kyle Adams had another standout game, reeling in seven balls for 52 yards...Purdue was 6-8 in third down situations...Anthony Kellner caught four balls for 63 yards and nearly broke a long touchdown play...Ryan Tyson led the Boilermakers with eight tackles...Gavin Roberts' six interceptions lead the team and put him in second place in the Big Ten...Kellner leads the conference with 802 receiving yards and is tied for the Big Ten lead with nine touchdown receptions...Pender's three touchdown returns are tied for second in the NCAA...Ryan Tyson has 61 tackles, the third-best total in the Big Ten

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