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September 8, 2012
Ricardo Allen and Ryan Russell seemed dumbfounded.
They'd just watched Caleb TerBush's Hail Mary get intercepted in the last second, and the clock expire on Purdue's intentions of an upset, and they couldn't leave the field.
As players were streaming into the tunnel, Allen was propped up on the trainer's table, legs dangling, alternating blank stares with slumping his head down. Russell could only stand and shake his head.
Did that just happen?
Did their Boilermakers force a late turnover in Notre Dame territory, respond with a game-tying touchdown pass and extra point and then allow the Irish to march 55 yards and kick a game-winning 27-yard field goal with seven seconds left for a 20-17 victory?
But, then, they broke their silence.
And they vowed this: The heart-wrenching, opportunity-not-seized feeling wouldn't happen again.
"This is our loss for the season," Allen said afterward, relaying his conversation with Russell. "If we were going to mess up, this is going to be our mess-up. We're not slipping on nobody else.
"I feel like we started feeling a little good about ourselves. We know we've got a good defense and we know we have an offense that can score, but if we don't come out and play full speed every time, this is what's going to happen."
But this result, though heartbreaking, is far better than Purdue (1-1) has managed in Notre Dame Stadium since its last victory in 2004. And it's far better than the 38-10 debacle that was 2011.
Danny Hope has been preaching that this is his best team at Purdue, and the Boilermakers truly felt they could come in and steal a victory from No. 22 Notre Dame.
And they were so close.
"I was really proud of our effort," Hope said. "We were only a few plays away from knocking off a really good football team at their home place. Certainly we're disappointed with the loss. Disappointment is an emotion, and we'll get over that. We have nothing to be discouraged about. Discouragement is a state of mind.
"I'm really encouraged about our effort, encouraged about the way we came to play."
TerBush's 15-yard touchdown pass to Antavian Edison and the ensuing extra point tied the game with 2:12 left and then Purdue turned it over to its defense.
The unit already had smothered Notre Dame's rushing game, limiting it to less than two yards per carry, and had been pretty successful against first-year starting QB Everett Golson, sacking him five times.
But it marched onto the field for the final drive without Allen, who had tweaked his ankle on the series before, and with Tommy Rees running the offense instead of Golson.
And Purdue's defense couldn't get key stops.
Rees completed passes on third-and-six near midfield and then third-and-10 to move to the 20-yard line with just over one minute to play.
"It's kind of upsetting at times because we know we should have held them," Josh Johnson said.
After that final third-down conversion, Notre Dame (2-0) simply ran out the clock and set up for Kyle Brindza's field goal.
Purdue's Raheem Mostert had a 23-yard kickoff return to set up the offense at midfield for a final last-ditch play. With one second left, Purdue lined up with trips right and kept Akeem Shavers in the backfield and Crosby Wright in at the line to block.
TerBush's final pass was well over his receivers' heads and intercepted.
TerBush was in the game for the final drive because Purdue was dealt another injury at quarterback.
After Johnson's forced fumble and recovery gave the ball back to Purdue inside Notre Dame's 15-yard line with 3:24 left, Marve took a shotgun snap but couldn't get the ball away. He got smothered by two Notre Dame players. Marve's left knee appeared to get bent awkwardly, knocking him out of the game and giving TerBush a chance on second-and-23 from the 28.
After a complete pass and then an incompletion to bring up fourth-and-11 on the 15, TerBush zipped a pass over the middle to Edison for the touchdown. Sam McCartney's extra point tied the game with 2:12 left.
And Purdue left South Bend disappointed.
"It wasn't good enough (to compete)," said Kawann Short, who had two sacks. "But in the coaches' eyes, this is a way better team than last year. Last year the game wouldn't have been this close. Comparing it from last year to this year, it's a whole different team and the mindset is different. Guys are mad. They're keeping their heads up, but right now, we know we could beat those guys. If we play them again, we think we could do it. There's no doubt in our minds, we didn't let up, we just came up short in a couple things."
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