Sandra Dukes-US PRESSWIRE
Purdue will play in a bowl game for a second straight season after retaining the Old Oaken Bucket.
The Bucket is safe for another year and will be housed in the Mollenkopf. You can thank Akeem Shavers and Robert Marve for this, who extended their Boilermaker career for another game despite anything that happens over the course of the next week. I will have a second post up later tonight or early tomorrow morning dealing with the coaching situation, so let's just leave it right there for now. For the rest of this entry let's focus on this nice win that gave Purdue its first in season three-game winning streak since winning five in a row to start the 2007 season.
It was about like I expected. You had a pair of decent, but not great teams that were relatively evenly matched. In those types of games mistakes often decide the course of the game. In the first half Purdue left at least 10 points on the field when a Shavers TD was called back due to a hold and Greg Heban had an interception/fumble recovery of a pass that went off two other players before he returned it to the Purdue 16. Another Purdue "mistake" (quotes used because I didn't know that it was now a penalty if two defensive players run into each other) cost Purdue at least a chance at a field goal as a first down was called back in favor of a third and very long after offensive pass interference.
The second half, down 21-14, it seemed like Purdue played pissed off. As soon as Purdue's drum major used his connection to get on the field and hit the Big Bass drum the Boilers immediately made a 21-0 run. I want my contribution engraved on this year's P for that, by the way.
As expected with two teams with suspect defenses, it wasn't over with Purdue up 35-21. Indiana managed to tie it early in the fourth quarter thanks to a TD by Cody Latimer, but Purdue answered with another 21-0 run thanks to three Shavers touchdowns and interceptions by Antoine Lewis and Max Charlot. Those mistakes were the difference as Purdue ended IU scoring drives, took the ball away from a potent offense, and made them pay for their mistakes.
It was a much needed win as the program faces a major crossroads. You could tell the players let out a lot of pent up energy after the game, too. Getting to be on the field after the game I got to congratulate a number of players personally like Kevin Pamphile, O.J. Ross, Robert Maci, Sam McCartney, Crosby Wright, and especially Marve. There was joy in winning, but also relief that finally something went right in this difficult season.
Indiana Game Standouts:
Robert Marve - Earlier this week I wrote a lot of praise of Marve in the Senior Day entry. It was well deserved. He threw for a career high 348 yards and four touchdowns with one interception hat probably could have been ruled a fumble. After all he has been through this was the perfect way to finish his Ross-Ade career, and now he will get to start in a bowl game.
Akeem Shavers - Shaver nearly had a Bundy, but his first TD was called back. He still nearly had the rare fourth quarter Bundy and finished with 99 yards receiving, 126 rushing, and after just two years he has tied Ralph Bolden and others for 19th on the school's all-time touchdowns list with 17. His stiff-arm on his 73 yard score was a thing of beauty.
Crosby Wright - Wright was another senior who had a big play with a 58 yard catch and rumble that nearly ended up in the end zone before Rob Henry was able to push it in.
Antavian Edison - Edison would have had two touchdowns had Henry thrown in front of him instead of behind him. He added his team-high 8th TD catch of the season and now has 18 career scores and over 1,500 career receiving yards. He notably scored in his first game as a true freshman and his final game as a senior.
Frankie Williams - His early third quarter interception came at the perfect time to end another Indiana drive and I believe it set up a touchdown as well.
Brandon Cottom - I am really excited to see this young man play in the next two years, especially since he is supposed to be better next season after more healing from last year's ACL tear.
Will Lucas - Lucas was a beat on the edge with a team high nine tackles and a huge fumble recovery that set up a third quarter score.
Tommie Thomas - I am a sucker for guys that are loyal to the program. Thomas is a fifth year senior that has barely played until now. He was expected to be in the rotation at receiver this year, but a foot injury in camp kept him off the field. Today it finally paid off, as he had his first career reception in the 4th quarter. I love kids that stick with the program like this. He was recruited by Tiller and was extremely patient. He's had a great attitude (I follow him on Twitter) and is genuinely a likeable kid. A game like this was for players like him today.
So now we head into a bowl game. I don't know where it will be (likely Houston or Dallas) or who will be coaching it, but these players saw a five game losing streak and said that enough was enough. They worked hard to finish the season strong and their reward is a nice bowl trip. I couldn't be more proud of them.