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A Thriller for Tiller as Boilermakers Apply the Heat to Davie

September 14, 1997|From Associated Press

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The Purdue players ripped off their helmets and ran onto the field to celebrate. Their fans poured out of the stands to join them.

And Bob Davie and his Notre Dame players made that long, slow walk of defeat.

"We're embarrassed as a coaching staff, we're embarrassed as a football team," Davie said after the 28-17 loss. "If we're looking to put the blame, there's certainly enough blame for everyone. Offense, defense, kicking game. Everywhere across the board."

The Boilermakers, the Big Ten's doormat in the 1990s, outplayed No. 12 Notre Dame (1-1) in every way possible Saturday. It was the first time Purdue (1-1) beat Notre Dame in 12 years, and Joe Tiller couldn't have asked for a better first game at Ross-Ade Stadium.

Billy Dicken completed 26 of 39 passes for 352 yards, and he rushed for another 22. Edwin Watson rushed for 34 yards and two touchdowns, and safety Adrian Beasley returned a fumble for a touchdown to seal the victory.

Purdue finished with 485 yards total offense. The Irish had 457, including a career-high 293 yards for Ron Powlus, who was 31 for 43. Autry Denson rushed for 104 yards in 22 carries.

"Purdue and the Purdue family needed this win. Not just our football team, not just our seniors and not just our campus, but everyone associated with Purdue," Tiller said. "We need to believe in ourselves and feel better about ourselves. I think the whole Purdue family needed a shot in the arm. Hopefully this will let them strut their stuff."

As the buzzer sounded, Purdue's players gathered at midfield, pumping their helmets in the air as the stands emptied. Some fans climbed on the goal post, rocking and trying unsuccessfully to bring it down. The party went on and on, despite pleas for them to leave the field.

It was an ugly homecoming for Notre Dame offensive coordinator Jim Colletto, who resigned last year after six seasons as Purdue's coach. And it could have been even uglier, but Shane Ryan missed two field-goal attempts in the fourth quarter.

Purdue fans were waiting for Colletto outside the locker room, and jeered him as he spoke to reporters. "Welcome back, Jim!" one yelled. "Same old thing," another said.

But Colletto paid little attention.

"The fans got their little shots in, which was nice," he said. "But I'm glad to see [Purdue] play well. We didn't leave the cupboard bare."

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