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November 24, 2012
Robert Marve, a self-proclaimed "motor mouth," seemed at a loss for words.
He'd just had likely his best collegiate game, throwing for a career-high 348 yards and four touchdowns to help Purdue beat Indiana, 56-35, and he wasn't sure how to accurately describe what had just happened.
"I don't know how to say it - and maybe people take this the wrong way - I feel blessed to no measure," he said, shaking his head.
When the Boilermakers had their backs against the wall, a phrase Marve used often, in the final weeks of the season, it was the sixth-year senior playing who revived them.
It was Marve running full speed - did he really run that fast with an ACL? - after his interception streak came to an end on a crazy, tip-drill type play inside the red zone to chase down Indiana's Greg Haben and prevent an immediate score. Marve ran about 70 yards.
It was Marve cocking back his mighty right arm and drilling pinpoint passes in the third and fourth quarters - he completed 12 of 13 in that span for 267 yards - that sparked the offense in a shootout.
It was Marve rejoicing with teammates afterward in the melee before taking a break to race down the sideline and give as many high-fives as possible to fans only to come back, bang the Drum five times and then join the fray again.
Even though he got help - Akeem Shavers was brilliant, Crosby Wright and Kurt Freytag were big-time in key spots - it was Marve's vindication, his reward, his triumph.
And, yet, he would hardly admit he'd never played better.
He was upset that his streak without throwing an interception, which reached 139, was snapped.
He was upset that he missed some throws in the first half, he said.
"I've got to look at the film," he said when asked whether it was his best game. "But maybe one of the better games I've had."
He smiled slyly then.
He has to know what he's meant to the team during this final stretch.
On Saturday, he became the first Purdue quarterback to throw for more than 300 yards in a game since Joey Elliott did it in 2009.
On Saturday, his 20-of-29 day pushed his season completion percentage to 66 percent. That's the best total in Purdue's history for a single season - Mark Herrmann's was .658, Marve's is .662.
His 348 passing yards was the third best in the history of the series behind Kyle Orton (522 in 2004) and Curtis Painter (448 '08).
So even though Marve wasn't quick to admit how special he was Saturday and for Purdue toward the end of the season, others were.
"Man, what a warrior," he called Marve, again, after the game. "He really is. He's a big-time warrior. What a privlege to get to coach a young man like that. And to watch him grow and develop not only as a player but as a person is very rewarding to me and our staff. I'm very, very proud of Robert Marve."
- Stacy Clardie
The difference this week, however, might have been that the takeaways made a difference on the scoreboard. Purdue turned each into points, 28 all told.
"Coach (Greg Burns) said we needed get 10 (interceptions)," cornerback Josh Johnson said. "He said (IU) would throw it up. E missed out on some opportunity but we came up with three or four and it resulted in the offense getting back the ball. They were scoring and on a roll; they said to keep getting the ball back for them and that's what we did."
It hadn't been that way recently. Purdue hadn't scored off a turnover since Michigan, way back in the Big Ten opener. Granted, the defense had gone three straight games prior to Illinois without generating a takeaway.
The turnovers helped Purdue rally in the second half after a lackluster first.
"We stopped shooting ourselves in the foot," Marve said. "It was frustrating as heck. But we looked at ourselves in the mirror at the half and said 'Look, we left 28 points on the board in the first half, we need to get those 28 back."
- Kyle Charters
Following a minor knee injury - it appeared - to Akeem Hunt, Mostert took up his usual kick return duties. He had three returns for 82 yards, including a long of 59.
• Running back Ralph Bolden warmed up Saturday but did not play. He injured a hamstring in the second half against Illinois last week.
Also, tight end Gabe Holmes (ribs) and defensive tackle Brandon Taylor (high ankle) did not participate.
• There were no bowl reps at the game. A representative from the Meineke Car Care Bowl requested a credential but was unable to make the trip, Purdue associate director for athletic communications Tom Schott said.
• The 91 combined points is the most in the 115 games of the series. Marve became the first Boilermaker quarterback since Joey Elliott to throw four touchdown passes in a game. Elliott did it in Purdue's 38-21 win in Bloomington in 2009. Marve's passing total was the best since Elliott threw for 373 yards in a losing effort on Senior Day against Michigan State in 2009.
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