WEST LAFAYETTE – Ricardo Allen saw it coming.
His interception with 19 seconds remaining preserved Purdue’s 20-14 win over Indiana State on Saturday afternoon. Indiana State (0-2) reached the Purdue 36-yard line in the final minute before Allen stepped in front of Mike Perish’s pass and gave Darrell Hazell his first win as Purdue’s coach.
Allen said Purdue coaches told him what Indiana State would do when the Boilermakers blitzed because the Sycamores had responded to it the same way throughout the game.
“Our coaches called it out,” he said. “They called it out and said, `Let’s go make a play.’ You’ve just got to go with what the coach is coaching, and it always turns out positive.”
Perish took the blame for the throw and gave Allen credit for making a play.
“It was a bad pass by me,” Perish said. “He made a great break on the ball, too, the cornerback did. I left the ball inside and he made a big play. It was my fault on the offensive side, and a great play by him.”
Akeem Hunt returned a kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown and ran for 82 yards on 22 carries for the Boilermakers (1-1), who won but played poorly.
“At the end of the day, we take it as a win-lose situation,” Allen said. “This is a win business and that’s what we did. We’re happy about that, but we know we’ve got strides to make.”
Perish passed for 284 yards and two touchdowns for Indiana State, an FCS team that lost to Indiana 73-35 the previous week.
Indiana State played without running back Shakir Bell, who ran for 113 yards in the opener before leaving with a bruised shoulder. The Sycamores ran for just 39 yards on 22 carries against Purdue.
The Boilermakers returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown. B.J. Knauf fielded the ball at the 2-yard line, then handed off to Hunt, who ran up the left sideline for the remaining 90 yards for the score 14 seconds into the game.
Purdue tried to keep the momentum going, but Hunt was stopped for no gain on a fourth-and-1 from the Boilermakers’ 41.
Purdue’s Paul Griggs missed a 49-yard field goal later in the quarter, one play after miscommunication on a snap cost the Boilermakers 11 yards.
Purdue’s offense finally scored with a 10-play drive that ended with an 18-yard field goal by Griggs.
Frankie Williams blocked an Indiana State punt, giving Purdue possession at the Indiana State 27-yard line. Purdue’s Rob Henry connected with Hunt on a screen pass on the first play to take the ball to the Indiana State 1-yard line, but the Boilermakers gained nothing on three straight runs. With no timeouts remaining, Purdue couldn’t get its field-goal team on the field in time, and the Boilermakers had to settle for a 10-0 lead.
Purdue ran six plays from the Indiana State 1-yard line in the first half and got three points out of them. The fans booed during both possessions, but especially after the failure to score at the end of the half.
“It was understandable,” Henry said. “We were just as disappointed that we didn’t score. There’s no excuse for that. There’s no excuse for having three plays inside the 5 and not put it in.”
Purdue’s defense picked up the slack, holding the Sycamores to 71 yards and four first downs before the break.
Knauf took a handoff 16 yards for a touchdown on a sweep, and the Boilermakers took a 17-0 lead with 5:08 left in the third quarter.
Indiana State got on the board on a fourth-and-9. Perish found George Cheeseborough deep down the right sideline to cut Purdue’s lead to 17-7 with 2:44 left in the third quarter.
Griggs made another field goal early in the fourth quarter, a 37-yarder, to give the Boilermakers a 20-7 lead.
Indiana State came right back. Perish completed a 17-yard touchdown pass to Demory Lawshe to cut Purdue’s lead to 20-14 with 9:22 to play. Lawshe caught seven passes for 62 yards.
Indiana State got the ball back with a chance to go for the lead, but the Sycamores were unable to get into scoring range after a lengthy drive and punted.
Indiana State got one more shot, taking over at the Purdue 41 with 46 seconds remaining. On the second play, Allen’s interception sealed the win for the Boilermakers.
“Obviously, we’d like to play a lot better than we did, but I told our guys in the locker room any time we can get a win, you’d better feel good about it,” Hazell said.