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Rossum’s 99-Yard Return Helps Irish to 35-0 Victory

Autry Denson scored three times for the Irish

By Mike Day
The Observer

SOUTH BEND, Ind –Notre Dame delivered a stirring message to its critics on Saturday: Pack your bags and get out of town.

Facing an avalanche of criticism after an uninspiring performance in the season operner against Vanderbilt, the Irish answered in resounding fashion, stomping the Purdue Boilermakers, 35-0, on a cold and rainy day at Notre Dame Stadium.

“I thought we played very well today overall,” said Irish Head Coach Lou Holtz. “Purdue came out and played well. They made some nice throws. Our defense played especially well today.”

Eager to set the tone early, the Irish more than accomplished that on the opening kickoff. Kick returner Allen Rossum burst out of the gates, galloping 99 yards for the game’s first touchdown.

“The way it worked out, I’ve never had that happen before,” said Holtz. “But it was a good start.”

After the teams exchanged punts, Irish quarterback Ron Powlus orchestrated a 13-play, 92-yard drive that the Boilermakers could never recover from. Powlus, who completed 19 of 32 passes for 238 yards and a touchdown, found tight end Peter Chryplewicz wide open to set Notre Dame up at the 12-yard line.

Tailback Autry Denson, starting in place of the injured Randy Kinder, scored on the next play to up the lead to 14-0.

The line did it for me,” said Denson. “They made great blocks so that I could have huge holes to run through. We played hard as a team and we accomplished this as a team. These are the reasons why I came to Notre Dame (a good offensive line also the family spirit and unity of the team). We have worked hard this week to carry on our role for the season.”

The Irish defense stopped Purdue. The Boilermakers managed just 26 yards on 13 carries in the first half.

I thought we had a pretty good game plan going in,” said Purdue quarterback Billy Dicken. “We were moving the ball well in the first half, but we stopped ourselves with penalities a few times.”

Things would only get worse for the Boilermakers. Powlus and the Irish continued to control the clock, holding the football for over 10 minutes in the second quarter. The senior completed a key third-down pass to Chryplewicz at the Notre Dame 31 to keep the drive alive with less then four minutes in the half.

On the next play, Powlus found Denson wide open in the flat and Denson scampered for 34 yards down the sideline. Five plays later, Irish fullback Marc Edwards dove over the pile from one yard out to extend the lead to 21-0.

We’ve had a good run so far this season,” said Powlus. “We’re showing that we can be diverse and mix things up to keep other teams on their toes.”

The Boilermakers enjoyed some success throwing the ball in the second quarter, but were unable to get any points on the board. Boilermaker kicker Vince Arnce badly missed a 35-yard field goal attempt. It turned out to be the best scoring opportunity Purdue would get against the Irish.

Notre Dame forced a punt with 43 seconds left in the half to create one last scoring opportunity. This time, the Boilermakers helped the Irish down the field with a defensive holding penalty and a 15-yard personal foul.

Denson collected his second of three touchdowns on the day with two seconds remaining in the half. The sophomore tailback streaked across the middle and snatched a Powlus 10-yard pass before reversing his field and dancing into the end zone.

The story of the game was success on third down. The Irish were successful on nine of 14 opportunities, while the Boilermakers converted on just two of 13 chances.

Purdue’s offense was even more anemic in the second half. The Boilermakers’ first two drives of the half stalled after four players, and Dicken completed just five of 13 passes in the second half.

“They are a good defensive team,” said Purdue Head Coach Jim Colleto. “Their defense from last year is a year stronger. They are a physical bunch of guys.”

For the game, the Irish outgained the Boilermakers, 459 yards to 203 and compiled 28 first downs compared to Purdue’s 13.

Notre Dame capped the scoring with 4:20 remaining in the third quarter. Denson chalked up his third touchdown of the game on a two-yard scamper into the corner of the end zone.

Notre Dame Stadium, in the midest of a 22,000-seat addition, appeared empty with the top level of seats not yet ready for use.

In addition, the sloppy playing conditions took their toll in the fourth quarter as neither team was able to move the ball down the field. The Purdue-Notre Dame rivalry has been characterized by poor weather over the last several years.

“I don’t care what the forecast is, it rains every time we play Purdue,” said Holtz. “I can’t remember the last time it didn’t rain when we played Purdue.”

Scoring Summary

At: Notre Dame Stadium
Date: Sept. 14. 1996
Att: 59,075
Purdue 0 0 0 0 -- 0Notre Dame (9) 14 14 7 0 -- 35First QuarterND -- TD, Allen Rossum, 99 kickoff return, (Jim Sanson kick)ND -- TD, Autry Denson, 12 run, (Jim Sanson kick)Second QuarterND -- TD, Marc Edwards, 1 run, (Jim Sanson kick)ND -- TD, Autry Denson, 10 pass from Ron Powlus, (Jim Sanson kick)Third QuarterND -- TD, Autry Denson, 2 run, (Jim Sanson kick)Fourth QuarterNo scoring Team Statistics Purdue Notre Dame First downs 13 28 Rushed-yards 26-44 43-215 Passing yards 159 244 Sacked-yards lost 6-37 1-3 Return yards 18 20 Passes 14-31-0 20-34-1 Punts 10-39.5 3-44.0 Fumbles-lost 0-0 3-2 Penalties-yards 10-87 1-13 Time of possession 25:32 34:28 Individual Statistics RUSHING: Notre Dame--Denson 15-66, Farmer 7-40, Edwards 9-37, Jackson3-24, Mosley 2-19, Spencer 2-13, Powlus 2-12, Goodspeed 2-8,Cooper 1-minus 4.Purdue-Watson 15-50, Matthews 3-19, Dicken 8-minus 25.PASSING:Notre Dame-Powlus 19-32-1-238, Jackson 1-2-0-6.Purdue-Dicken 14-31-0-159. RECEIVING: Notre Dame-Chryplewicz 5-52, M Johnson 4-75,Denson 3-61, Nelson 2-17, Carreta 1-11, Cooper 1-9, Champion1-8, Mosley 1-6, Stephens 1-6, Spencer 1-minus 1.Purdue-Tillman 5-66, Alford 4-36, Olivadotti 3-41, L. Johnson 2-16.