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Northwestern Must Settle for Second This Time

November 17, 1996|From Associated Press

EVANSTON, Ill. — Brian Gowins kicked a 32-yard field goal with four seconds left Saturday as Northwestern won another game in the final seconds, beating Purdue, 27-24, to clinch second place in the Big Ten.

Northwestern (9-2 overall and 7-1 in the Big Ten) won four conference home games this season by a combined nine points. The No. 13 Wildcats, last season's Big Ten champions, are headed to their second straight bowl game--probably the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla. on New Year's Day.

Purdue, trailing 24-14 after three quarters, rallied to tie the game behind the fourth-quarter passing of Rick Trefzger to Brian Alford.

The Boilermakers (3-7, 2-5) were moving again, looking as if they were on their way to a go-ahead score. But Eric Haddad fumbled with two minutes left and Barry Gardner recovered for the Wildcats at the Purdue 43.

Two runs by Darnell Autry and Steve Schnur's pass to D'Wayne Bates for eight yards gave the Wildcats a first down at the 27. Autry gained 11 yards in two carries and Gowins made his game-winning kick on first down.

Matt Stewart then intercepted a last-play desperation pass by Trefzger, and the Wildcats had yet another last-second victory.

Autry, a junior who told a Chicago newspaper this week he would consider entering the NFL draft, gained 112 yards in 28 carries. He ran for a seven-yard touchdown late in the third quarter, breaking three tackles in a burst up the middle to put Wildcats ahead 24-14.

Alford had touchdown catches of 27 and 36 yards to give him 19 for his career, the second-highest total at Purdue.

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