The Journal Gazette
Saturday, September 18, 2021 6:30 pm

No. 12 Notre Dame tops Purdue, 27-13, in rivalry renewal

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

SOUTH BEND – Notre Dame is making a habit of this.

The No. 12 Irish survived for the third consecutive week, defeating Purdue 27-13 at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday in the renewal of a rivalry that began in 1896 and was last played in 2014. The Irish took home the Shillelagh Trophy with the win, their eighth straight in the series since 2008.

Purdue did not make it easy on the Irish, leaving the outcome in doubt until deep in the second half. Notre Dame (3-0) did not put the victory away until running back Kyren Williams shed three tackles and zig-zagged his way to a 51-yard touchdown run with six minutes left in the fourth quarter. The Boilermakers (2-1) lost for the first time this season and has not started 3-0 since 2007.

The victory was Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly's 105th triumph in 12 years as Irish coach, tying him with Knute Rockne for the most in program history. When asked about the potential of equaling the legendary coach this week, Kelly talked about being proud of the consistent culture he and his staff have created at Notre Dame.

  • Notre Dame extended its home winning streak to 26 games, the program's longest since 1950, and its winning streak over unranked opponents to 35.
  • Purdue struggled to run the ball without top back Zander Horvath, a Mishawaka native. Backups King Doerue and Dylan Downing combined for just 59 yards rushing and Notre Dame held the Boilermakers to just 2.3 yards per carry. Of Purdue's 57 rushing yards, 31 came on a Doerue scamper in the third quarter. 
  • Notre Dame mostly avoided the big plays that plagued it in the first two games, outside of the 31-yard run for Doerue and a 32-yard pass from Jack Plummer to David Bell on the next play. The Irish gave up 4.4 yards per play and hit Plummer seven times. 
  • The Irish passing attack struggled in the first halfQuarterback Jack Coan was inaccurate, missing multiple open receivers, including one play when he overthrew Kevin Austin streaking down the sideline from a clean pocket. A good throw would have given the Irish a touchdown. In the second half, however, Coan saw Avery Davis behind the defense on a deep cross and hit him with a perfect throw for a 62-yard touchdown, Notre Dame's biggest play of the game, to make it 17-6.
  • Davis had one of the best games of his Irish career. On five targets, he had five catches for 120 yards and the score. It was his first career 100-yard receiving performance. 
  • Bell, one of the most prolific playmakers in the Big Ten the last two-plus seasons, left the game in the fourth quarter after taking a huge hit from Irish safety Kyle Hamilton. Bell was down on the field for several minutes before getting carted off. He appeared to get in the cart under his own power. 
  • Notre Dame's offensive line continued to struggle, especially in the first half. The Irish were on their third-string left tackle, Tosh Baker, because the top two players on the depth chart, Blake Fisher and Michael Carmody were out with injuries. The Irish committed four false starts, but pass protection was better – marginally – in the second half. 
  • Snider graduate Lawrence Johnson, starting at nose tackle for the Boilermakers, had three tackles, including a sack, the first of his college career. 
  • Purdue defensive end George Karlaftis, whom Kelly called arguably the best pass-rusher in college football earlier this week, had just two tackles, though 1 1/2 were for loss. The Irish tried to slow him down by chipping him with a running back.
  • Purdue went to backup quarterback Aidan O'Connell in the fourth quarter, hoping for a spark. Plummer went 25 for 36 for 187 yards and a touchdown. The Boilermakers have played multiple quarterbacks outside of garbage time in all five of coach Jeff Brohm's seasons at the helm. O'Connell threw an interception to Hamilton in the end zone in the final minutes that ended any Purdue comeback hopes.
  • Hamilton, a preseason All-American had 10 tackles, his third interception of the season and a two pass breakups. He made several big stops in the open field, including a takedown from behind on a fourth-and-1 reverse that led to a turnover on downs.
  • Purdue scored a touchdown on a 2-yard pass from Plummer to Milton Wright on a fade midway through the third quarter to make it 17-13.
  • Notre Dame would not let Purdue's marching band bring its big drum into the stadium, the first time the drum has not been in an opposing stadium since 1979. In response, Purdue's band did a drum formation at halftime. 
  • Notre Dame is back in action in Week 4 when the Irish travel to Soldier Field in Chicago to take on No. 18 Wisconsin (1-1). The game, which will kick off at noon and will be broadcast on Fox, is part of the Shamrock Series. The Boilermakers host Illinois (1-3) next week at 3:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.

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