Orton Dismantles Irish

With pinpoint precision, Purdue quarterback Kyle Orton took out his scalpel and dissected the Notre Dame defense with ease. Orton opened the game with four straight completions and rarely missed on the day as the Boilermaker defeated Notre Dame for the first time in 30 years at Notre Dame Stadium, and did it handily, 41-16.

Record-setting performances by quarterback Brady Quinn and tight end Anthony Fasano couldn't stop the Boilermaker offense on Saturday.

Quinn set the Irish single-game passing yardage mark of 432 yards, and Fasano set the single-game receiving yardage mark for a tight end of 155 yards, but it all went for not as the Irish defense couldn't stop the Boilermakers from scoring.

Orton took the opening drive and marched right down the field, completing his first four passes. A false start penalty stalled the drive, and the Boilermakers had to settle for three points, but that was about the only settling Orton and the Boilermakers had to do on the day.

The Irish offense answered with a drive of their own behind the arm of quarterback Brady Quinn. Quinn complete four passes of his own, including a 42-yard reception to tight end Anthony Fasano to the Boilermaker 12-yard line. But the Irish offense sputtered on three straight plays, and were forced to kick a field goal to tie the game, 3-3.

The Irish had to be feeling good about themselves after stopping Orton in the first Purdue possession and mustering a drive of their own.

But the Irish special teams once again gave up the big play as Purdue kick returner Jerome Brooks returned the ensuing kick 100 yards for the first touchdown of the day, and giving Purdue the 10-3 lead.

Orton led the Boilermakers on another drive early in the second quarter, before breaking down at the Irish 22-yard line, and settling for a 39-yard Ben Johnson field goal to give the Boilermakers the 13-3 lead.

The Irish offense looked to be answering the Purdue score by marching 78 yards to the Purdue two-yard line before freshman tailback Darius Walker fumbled, ending the Irish drive.

The Walker fumble was a critical play in the game as Orton led the Boilermakers on and 11-play, 97-yard drive, and put the Boilermakers up 20-3 with a 2-yard pass to Rob Ninkovich with just 1:03 left in the first half.

The Irish tried to climb back in the game early in the second half. With the Boilermakers pinned at their own three-yard line, and in a third-and-long situation, the Irish defense blitzed, leaving the Irish secondary in man coverage.

Despite considerable pressure by the Irish defense, Orton found Taylor Stubblefield streaking down the sideline for 97 yards for the Purdue touchdown.

The Stubblefield touchdown put the Boilermakers up 27-3, and was probably the final dagger in the heart of the Irish.

Orton finished 21-of-31 for 385 yards and four touchdowns on the day. The Boilermakers also rolled up 512 total yards on what many considered to be a great Irish defense.

Ironically, the Irish out-gained the Boilermakers with 536 yards of total offense, but managed just 16 points on the game, and was just 2-of-4 in red zone opportunities.

Irish head coach Tyrone Willingham said his team couldn't stop Orton on Saturday, and didn't take advantage of the chances they had on offense.

"When you allow a good offensive team to continue a drive, bad things happen," Willingham said after the loss. "On top of that, we were not able to get it done in red zone situations and put the ball across and get touchdowns."

Willingham said Orton played like he has been playing all year.

Well, one, for the most part, he's pretty accurate," Willingham said of Orton. "And we felt coming in that he had complete command of their system. And they were in position to make big plays and they made their plays.

"He was extremely accurate and he hadn't thrown an interception coming into the ballgame. And if I'm correct, he did not throw one this ballgame and that's not by accident. He does a great job."

The third-year Irish head coach said the Walker fumble and Purdue kickoff return were probably the difference in the game.

"Well you don't count on letting them out to have the big kickoff return, and that's something we have to sit down and look at and say that's not on the board," Willingham said when asked what he thought the difference in the game was.

"And we don't convert in our red zone, and we fumble when we're on top of the goal line. Now you're talking about a pretty big swing, and you have a different ball game coming into the locker room and coming out at half.

"Those were big plays and we didn't play well enough in those situations to get the job done."

The Irish offense didn't score points on Saturday, but the Irish defense also really struggled on Saturday.

We don't expect and we don't anticipate someone putting that kind of points on the board against us," Willingham said of his Irish defense. "But if we don't make the right play at the right time, this is a very talented offense and they score points."

Notre Dame (3-2) will now face an improving Stanford team. The Irish will likely see a motivated Stanford team after embarrassing the Cardinal in Stanford Stadium last season, 57-7.

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