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Boilers Suffer First Loss of Season Against the Irish

Casey Abbett

  In its first matchup against cross-state rival Notre Dame since 2014, the Purdue football team fared no better Saturday afternoon in South Bend than in its previous game in Indianapolis seven years ago.

No. 12 Notre Dame (3-0) was in command through most of the game in its  27-13 win over the Boilermakers (2-1). Purdue, which has lost its last seven games against Notre Dame, has been looking for its first win against the Irish since 2007. 

Purdue opened the game's scoring on a 34-yard field goal by Mitchell Fineran after moving downfield on its first possession.  But the Fighting Irish answered on a 39-yard touchdown reception by Kyren Williams early in the second quarter. That put the Irish in front for good. 

The Boilermaker offense struggled throughout the day. After entering the game averaging 481 yards of total offense, The Boilers mustered just 348 against the Irish, mostly in the second half when the game was out of reach. 

With the loss of starting running back Zander Horvath to a leg injury earlier in the week, the Purdue rushing attack struggled mightily with only 57 yards on the ground among five ball carriers. 

That made Purdue essentially a one dimensional team offensively. The Purdue quarterbacks played under pressure all afternoon against the Irish defense. The Irish registered three sacks on the day and forced eight quarterback hurries. 

Starting quarterback Jack Plummer, a junior, was pulled late in the fourth quarter after multiple drives stalled. Plummer finished 25 for 36 totalling 187 yards and one touchdown. 

He was replaced with redshirt junior Aiden O’Connell, who started three games last year. O’Connell fared no better, throwing two interceptions on his two drives.

A scary moment for Boilermaker fans came in the fourth quarter as 2020 All-Big Ten wide receiver David Bell was carted off the field. Knocked unconscious by Irish defender Kyle Hamilton, Bell was trying to make a first down catch across the middle of the field. 

The lone bright spot for Purdue was on the defensive side. The unit totaled four sacks and seven total tackles for a loss.

Purdue’s next game will be Saturday against the Fighting Illini at home to open up Big Ten play.

Casey Abbett is a senior at Purdue from LaCrosse, Indiana, and has been been interning as a sports reporter for WBAA since his freshman year.