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December 20, 2011
Boilermaker bowl history: No. 8
As we close in on Purdue's matchup with Western Michigan in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl on Dec. 27, we count down the top bowl games in Purdue football history.
We begin today with No. 8 on our list, the 2007 Motor City Bowl against Central Michigan.
The rationale behind the ranking
This was a fun game to watch, one of the best bowl games of the 2007 holiday season. Yet, the relative low-profile nature of the victory keeps it lower on our list. Still, with all that Painter has been through as a quarterback since this date, his 546-yard performance and Chris Summers' game-winning field goal should bring a smile to the faces of the Boilermaker faithful every time it is replayed during this year's Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. And you know it will be.
Here's a copy of our game story from the contest. Check out the gallery as well.
2007 Motor City Bowl: Purdue 51, Central Michigan 48
DETROIT - He's getting tired of being reminded of it, but it wasn't much more than 13 months ago that Chris Summers couldn't be trusted to try an 18-yard game-winning field goal at Michigan State.
But Wednesday night, the kicker's dramatic 180 was made clear when Curtis Painter took a knee in the center of the field, lining Summers up for the last-second 40-yard boot that beat Central Michigan 51-48 in the Motor City Bowl in Detroit.
It was a moment of redemption and a fitting cap to a sensational comeback season as Summers' kick tilted slightly left but still split the uprights easily as the Boilermaker sideline poured onto Ford Field's turf in celebration.
The sophomore wouldn't have even seen the kick go through had he had not deviated - if only momentarily - from his season-long objective of keeping his head down on his follow-through.
"I peeked up at it just as it hit the net," said Summers, 18-of-22 on kicks this season after missing 12-of-20 last season. " I really don't think I could have hit that kick any better."
The kick, however, doesn't even appear on the abridged box score handed out immediately after the game.
"Sorry," said the Motor Bowl City representative distributing the sheets of paper. "We ran out of room."
It was understandable.
After the two teams combined to score 15 times through the 8:19 mark of the fourth quarter, there was no room for Central Michigan's final touchdown or Summers' kick.
In a game that lived up to its hype as a potential shootout, both teams' offenses burned rubber in the Motor City.
Painter threw for a record book-stuffing 546 yards on 35-of-54 passing, with three touchdowns and two interceptions, both of which deflected off wide receiver Dorien Bryant, setting up 10 Chippewa points.
Three Boilermaker receivers surpassed the 100-yard mark in receiving: Greg Orton caught nine passes for 136 yards, with a 29-yard touchdown; Dustin Keller caught seven for 150, with a 62-yard TD; and Jake Standeford snared eight balls for 112 yards and a 19-yard TD. Summers kicked two other field goals, both times after first-and-goal drives stalled out.
Painter's counterpart, Dan LeFevour, started slow, but surged back en route to throwing for four touchdowns and running for two others. He ran for 114 yards, slowing the ferocious pass rush the Boilermakers brought on him early, and threw for 292.
The Boilermakers led 34-13 at halftime, as Painter averaged nearly 23 yards per completion and Purdue gained nearly 10 yards a play, with eight going for 20 or more, in the opening 30 minutes.
"He made some throws not many quarterbacks can make," said Chippewa coach Butch Jones of Painter. "They say what separates great quarterbacks is the ability to defeat tight coverage. There were a number of times where I thought we had pretty good coverage and he happened to get the ball in there in critical situations.
"He's a great football player and I think he's got a great future ahead of him."
But as happened in the two teams' earlier meeting this season, Central Michigan mounted a second-half comeback, this one far greater, though, than the modest 22 late points they scored in September en route to a 45-22 loss in West Lafayette.
Less than a minute into the half, Antonio Brown took a harmless swing pass and zigged and zagged his way through missed tackles, eluding others, on his way to a 76-yard touchdown. It was a mere hint of what was to come.
The two teams traded scores until midway through the third quarter.
Then, after Painter's second interception off Bryant, LeFevour ran for a nine-yard TD to cut Purdue's lead to just one score, at 41-33.
Another turnover opened a door for Coach Butch Jones' team when running back Kory Sheets, who rushed for two touchdowns, fumbled inside his own 10. Central Michigan recovered and tied the game at 41-all shortly thereafter.
"We kept everybody in their seats for 60 minutes," a relieved Coach Joe Tiller quipped after the game. "I think that's a given."
Jaycen Taylor put Purdue back ahead, capping a 76-yard drive with a 13-yard touchdown run at 8:19 of the fourth. It was the longest run of the day for a Boilermaker ground game that never did much of anything, netting 41 net yards, but with three TDs.
The lead's shelf life was brief, however.
In a scenario all too familiar, Central Michigan knotted it back up on LeFevour's lob to the goal line, which Bryan Anderson caught over Terrell Vinson with just 1:09 to play.
But as it was for Summers, this was an opportunity for Painter to prove his mettle with a game on the line, something that's not gone his way very often in his career to date.
Taking possession at his own 39 with 1:04 to play and one timeout, Painter hit Bryant for 13 yards, Orton for 11, Bryant for nine and Standeford for eight before shuffling the ball to his right, taking a dive in the center of the field, calling time and giving way to Summers.
"If you'd asked me last year, I'd have been nervous (about Summers kicking)," Painter said. "But we see it every day in practice; we see the progress he's made."
Keller took a knee on the sideline and asked his teammates to lock arms and pray for the ball to go through.
"I don't know if I could have made it through that overtime," Keller joked after a physically taxing game.
Purdue primarily used a no-huddle offense in amassing 587 yards; the intent, per Tiller, was to prevent Central Michigan from substituting, in hopes of creating favorable matchups.
It was Central Michigan that seemed to have the matchup advantage in the second half, though, as the Chippewas posted 293 of their 435 yards and 35 of their points.
"It was more frustrating than exhausting," linebacker Anthony Heygood said of the up-and-down half. "They adjusted well to what we were doing."
Purdue sacked LeFevour six times, but he began exploiting that pressure by running with the ball.
This was Round 2 of a three-game mini-series between these two teams; they play again in Ross-Ade Stadium in Week 3.
That's a long way off, though, but Purdue says the off-season may be a lot more palatable now that it's won its first bowl game since '02.
"Just going into the off-season on a positive note," Painter said, "feels a lot better."
Check back each day as we count down our list to the top bowl game in Boilermaker history which will post next Tuesday morning.
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