SOUTH BEND, Ind. — It was an uncharacteristic afternoon for the Purdue offense. The team was smothered in the running game, and junior quarterback Jack Plummer threw for a season-low 187 yards with only one touchdown.
The Boilermakers were unable to capitalize on favorable field position from what started as an excellent defensive performance in the first half. In the end, it was No. 12 Notre Dame that made the big plays when it counted, resulting in a 27-13 loss for Purdue on the road Saturday.
“We kept it close for a while. I thought our guys played hard, gave great effort to the very end,” Purdue coach Jeff Brohm said after the game. “Our defense played very well in the first half and kept us in the game.”
The Boilermakers’ defensive unit started the game with a fire underneath them, forcing two three-and-outs in the first three Fighting Irish drives. Purdue cashed in on a 34-yard field goal on its first possession following a 10-play, 32-yard drive that started in opposing territory.
But after taking an early, first-quarter lead, Purdue couldn’t muster another score in the first half. Even after getting the ball at the Notre Dame 43-yard line, the team left the field empty.
On fourth-and-one, Brohm dialed up a sweep to junior wide receiver Milton Wright. He was halted for no gain on the play, and Notre Dame scored a touchdown six plays later to take its first lead of the game.
Fighting Irish quarterback Jack Coan, a graduate transfer from Wisconsin, wasn’t extremely accurate against the Boilermakers, completing just 15 of his 31 passes. But those throws went for 223 yards and two scores.
The first was a scoring pass to junior running back Kyren Williams, which split two Purdue defenders and left 33 yards of open grass ahead.
Notre Dame would connect on a field goal after the touchdown to take a 10-3 halftime lead. Purdue had plenty of opportunities to potentially take a lead heading into the third quarter, but the offense struggled to find a consistent rhythm.
“I mean, we knew what we were going to get into,” Purdue redshirt fifth-year wide receiver Jackson Anthrop said. “They're a physical team, they like to do different things, they're very exotic.
“They like to change the coverages on you a little bit just to try to confuse you. You know, it was a tough game. just how it is every road game, every football game. I thought we battled. There were times where we should have capitalized, but we didn't. And I think that was kind of the result of where we were at.”
Purdue opened the third quarter with a long drive that ended in another field goal. And while the Boilermakers were putting the football through the uprights, the Fighting Irish were finding pay dirt.
They responded with a 62-yard touchdown throw from Coan to wide receiver Avery Davis, who blazed past Purdue senior safety Chris Jefferson. But for the first time all game, the Boilermakers punched back on its next possession while being down 17-6.
Plummer executed a six-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that was kickstarted by a 31-yard scamper by junior running back King Doerue. Junior wide receiver David Bell followed with a 32-yard reception despite being interfered with on the play.
Purdue capped off the series with a two-yard touchdown pass to Wright, who found the end zone for the first time this season. It brought the game within one possession, but the Boilermakers couldn’t score for the rest of the game.
Bell recorded seven catches for 64 yards, but he was taken off the field in the fourth quarter after taking a frightening hit that left him down on the Notre Dame turf.
Plummer was taken out of the game in favor of fifth-year senior Aidan O’Connell in the fourth quarter. With a new signal-caller at the helm, Purdue was intercepted on each of its final two drives.
The team ended the game with 348 yards of total offense, and Anthrop led the way with 90 receiving yards on seven catches. The Fighting Irish scored 10 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, thrusting the dagger into the heart of the Boilermakers on a 51-yard touchdown by Williams.
Notre Dame compiled 343 yards of its own, with all three of its touchdowns coming on explosive plays, and Purdue’s offense simply couldn’t go blow-for-blow. The Boilermakers are 2-1 heading into Big Ten play next week.
“Give Notre Dame credit, they outplayed us,” Brohm said. “We’ve got a lot of things to work on to find ways to improve and get better. But I do like the fact that our guys played hard until the end.”
- PURDUE-NOTRE DAME LIVE BLOG: The Purdue Boilermakers hit the road for the second straight week Saturday against the No. 12 Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana. You can find all the latest updates in real time in our live blog. CLICK HERE