Sept. 16, 2000
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By TOM COYNE
Associated Press Writer
SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Though Gary Godsey couldn’t run the option, he ran the Notre Dame offense well enough to help the Irish take advantage of numerous Purdue mistakes.
The Irish scored 17 points off Purdue miscues and Nick Setta kicked a 38-yard field goal as time expired to give Notre Dame a 23-21 victory over the Boilermakers (2-1) on Saturday. The loss was the 12th straight for Purdue at Notre Dame (2-1).
Godsey, a sophomore making his first start, completed 14 passes – one more than Purdue’s Drew Brees managed against Notre Dame and one more than Arnaz Battle did in Notre Dame’s first two games.
“I did? Wow, sweet,” Godsey said when told.
One of his biggest passes came late in the fourth quarter on a third-and-10 from the Notre Dame 37. He connected with Javin Hunter on a 15-yard pass to keep the drive going. Godsey, a sophomore recruited to Notre Dame as a tight end, followed that with an 11-yard pass to David Givens.
“You’ve got to give No. 14 credit. It was a limited game plan but he found a way to get us down there and get us a field goal at the end,” Irish coach Bob Davie said.
Asked what Godsey was thinking before that drive, Davie said: “I was afraid to ask him. That was one thing I didn’t want to find out.”
But Davie said Godsey is usually relaxed. “I don’t think he was rattled in that situation.”
Neither was Setta, who missed a 39-yard field goal in the third quarter.
“You kick a game-winner at Notre Dame, there’s nothing like it,” Setta said.
Shane Walton returned an interception 60 yards for a touchdown for the Irish and the Boilermakers also were hurt by a blocked punt that set up a Notre Dame touchdown and a failed fake punt that led to an Irish field goal. Purdue also had a bad snap on a third-and-10 play that led to a 17-yard loss.
Godsey was 14-of-25 for 158 yards with one interception. Brees, fourth in Heisman Trophy balloting last season, was 13-of-22 for 221 yards with one interception. He was sacked twice.
It marked the third straight time in the once lopsided rivalry that the game was decided in the final minute. Before that, Notre Dame won 11 straight against Purdue with none of the games decided by less than a touchdown.
The Irish won even though Purdue had 398 yards total offense compared to just 236 yards for Notre Dame.
Purdue attempted only 24 passes while running the ball 43 times. Purdue ran the ball more than it passed only twice last season. The most lopsided was against Indiana, when the Boilermakers ran the ball 41 times and passed only 24.
“Is that a surprise for us? Yes,” Purdue coach Joe Tiller said. “We would like to throw more, but we had success running today. As far as we’re concerned we ran the ball too much today.”
The 22 passes attempted by Brees were the fewest since his freshman season.
“I think had we thrown more, we might have won,” Brees said. “But maybe had we taken out those throwing plays that weren’t that good on my part, we could have won as well.”
The game had a strange start as Notre Dame jumped to a 14-0 lead without making a single first down. Godsey scored on a 9-yard run following a blocked punt, and Walton scored on a 60-yard interception return. The Boilermakers outgained the Irish 93-17 in the quarter.
The Boilermakers cut the lead to 14-7 early in the second quarter. Brees connected with Vinny Sutherland on a 54-yard pass to set up Montrell Lowe’s 6-yard TD run. Lowe ran for 82 yards on 20 carries.
The Irish finally got a first down on the first play after the kickoff, a 12-yard run by Julius Jones. The run was a yard more than Notre Dame had the entire first quarter. Godsey then connected with Jones on a screen pass for a 29-yard gain that helped set up a 47-yard field goal by Setta.
The Boilermakers cut the lead to 17-14 on Brees’ 19-yard TD pass to Sutherland. A 25-yard pass from Brees to Sedrick Brown helped set up that. Sutherland also caught a 22-yard scoring pass with 3:39 left in the game.
Setta had given the Irish a 20-14 lead after Purdue punter Travis Dorsch thought Sutherland had called for the fake. But Sutherland didn’t and he never turned for the pass.
“I though Vinny checked to it. I think it might have worked, but the risks are greater than the rewards. We need better communication,” Dorsch said.
The winning field goal continues the trend of last minute decisions in the game. Trailing 28-23 last year, the Irish had the ball first-and-goal at the Purdue 9 with 61 seconds left and gained 7 yards on the first play but failed to score. A year earlier, Brees was intercepted with less than two minutes to go to set up a touchdown that gave Notre Dame a 31-30 lead. Brees was intercepted again in the final minute.
Following Saturday’s victory many of the students ran onto the field to celebrate. That came a week after Nebraska fans invaded Notre Dame Stadium and bought up nearly a third of the tickets, Irish fans again made up the majority of the sellout crowd of 80,232. One fan carried a sign reading: “Welcome back sellouts.”