Wide receiver TJ Jones, right, is congratulated by tight end Kyle Rudolph after Jones scored on a 5-yard touchdown reception in last week's Michigan game. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Irish Take Season Opener 23-12 Over Purdue

Sept. 4, 2010

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NOTRE DAME, Ind. (AP)Dayne Crist threw for 205 yards and a touchdown in his first start, Armando Allen ran for a score and Notre Dame’s defense was solid Saturday in a 23-12 win over Purdue that gave coach Brian Kelly a victory in his Fighting Irish debut.

Kelly came to South Bend after a successful run at Cincinnati where he led the Bearcats to 12-0 regular season a year ago. His goal was to win immediately and that’s what he did in his first game on a windy, sunny day at Notre Dame Stadium.

Of course, most Notre Dame coaches win their first game. Kelly’s victory gives Notre Dame coaches a 26-3 record in their debuts, dating back to 1896. The only three to lose in their first games coaching the Irish were Frank E. Hering in 1896 (4-0 loss to Chicago Physicians and Surgeons), Elmer Layden in 1934 (a 7-6 setback to Texas) and Lou Holtz in 1986 (a 24-23 defeat by Michigan.

Notre Dame led 20-3 after three quarters before Purdue rallied behind transfer quarterback Robert Marve, who got the Boilermakers back in the game with a 23-yard TD run early in the final period but was penalized for celebrating with a somersault.

David Ruffer kicked three field goals for the Irish, including a 37-yarder with 4:30 left to restore the lead to 11.

Marve’s 23-yard TD run on a fourth-and-1 with 11:55 left got the Boilermakers back in the game at 20-12. But the transfer from Miami did a somersault as he was hitting the end zone, resulting in an unsportsmanlike penalty for celebrating and hurting Purdue’s field position.

Purdue had to kick off from the 15 after the penalty on Marve and Notre Dame Cierre Wood made a nice 38-return to the Boilermakers 41 before fumbling with Irish teammate Zeke Motta pouncing on the ball.

But the Boilermakers dug in and forced a punt and took over at their own 12 with 9:47 remaining. They were set back by a pair of penalties and after a long pass to Justin Siller fell incomplete, the Boilermakers punted out of their own end zone.

Notre Dame then moved in for Ruffer’s third field goal of the game to restore control.

Marve, who was sacked four times and intercepted twice, completed 31 of 42 passes for 220 yards. Crist was 19 of 26, solid but far from spectacular running Kelly’s fast-paced spread offense. Purdue’s talented wideout Keith Smith made 12 catches for 80 yards.

On the first play of the final quarter with Notre Dame ahead 20-3, Marve’s fourth-and-1 pass from the Notre Dame 5 was tipped and intercepted by nose guard Ian Williams. But Purdue star defensive end Ryan Kerrigan and Charlton Williams then dropped Allen in the end zone for a safety.

After the free kick, the Boilermakers drove in for the score with Marve using a nice fake to break free on his 23-yard run.

Crist’s 5-yard TD pass to freshman TJ Jones early in the third came just a little over two minutes after Allen picked his way on a 38-yard punt return to the Purdue 30. The score put the Irish up 20-3.

The Irish twice appeared ready to tack on another score and increase the lead.

Ian Williams sacked Marve, he fumbled and Kapron Lewis-Moore picked up the ball and ran to the end zone. It was initially ruled a touchdown, but after a review, officials determined Marve was down before the fumble, allowing Purdue to keep possession and punt it away.

After Crist hooked up with Floyd on a 34-yard pass, he hit the usually sure-handed Floyd again as he slanted toward the end zone. But Floyd was hit by Will Lucas at the 2, fumbled and Logan Link recovered for Purdue to cut off another Irish scoring threat.

Then the Irish took off behind the running of Wood, who had dashes of 16, 15 and 15 yards. Allen broke through – with Kerrigan on the bench – and raced to the end zone from 22 yards out for the score with 2:01 left in the opening period.