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COLLEGE FOOTBALL / 1996

Purdue Put in Its Place by Denson

Nonconference: Reluctant flanker is moved to his preferred position of tailback and scores three touchdowns in Notre Dame's 35-0 victory.

September 15, 1996|From Associated Press

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — For someone with no interest in patterning himself after Notre Dame's all-purpose star players such as Tim Brown and Rocket Ismail, Autry Denson is sure playing like them.

Denson, a sophomore, rushed for two touchdowns and caught a pass for another Saturday as No. 9 Notre Dame (2-0) rolled past Purdue, 35-0. It was Denson's first three-touchdown game.

Denson was low key about his performance.

"The line did it for me," he said. "We played hard as a team and we accomplished this as a team. These are the reasons why I came to Notre Dame."

Allen Rossum returned the opening kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown to start Notre Dame's 11th consecutive victory over the Purdue (0-2) in an intrastate rivalry dating to 1896.

Denson wasn't happy when he was moved to flanker before the season began, even after Notre Dame Coach Lou Holtz promised he would still play some tailback. He said he didn't want to be like Brown and Ismail. He just wanted to run the ball.

Denson got his wish Saturday, starting at tailback in place of Robert Farmer, who fumbled three times in Notre Dame's season-opening 14-7 victory at Vanderbilt. Denson rushed for 66 yards in 15 carries and also caught three passes for 61 yards, which made Holtz happy.

"I thought he did a real nice job," Holtz said. "He's a very versatile back, very flexible. He made a lot of big plays."

The game was Holtz's 123rd at Notre Dame, breaking the record set by Knute Rockne.

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