This time, offense powers Notre Dame escape

After a late-game loss at Michigan, Notre Dame bounces back with its second consecutive last-gasp win over a Big Ten opponent.

No Armando Allen. No Michael Floyd. No Jimmy Clausen, for much of the game.

No problem? Not exactly. But the University of Notre Dame football team escaped Saturday night with a 24-21 victory over host Purdue University, and the Irish will surely take it.

Clausen rallied the visitors on their final, game-winning drive at Ross-Ade Stadium, finding 6-foot-6 tight end Kyle Rudolph from the 3 yard line on fourth and goal with 25 seconds to go.

"The team has changed," Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis said of his 3-1 squad, which preserved a 33-30 home win last week over Michigan State with a late interception. "This team didn't get frazzled.

Notre Dame sophomore Dayne Crist subbed much of the night for Clausen, who is hobbled by turf toe but started the contest. Running back Allen and receiver Floyd, two key offensive weapons, sat out with injuries.

Receiver Golden Tate did a little bit of everything to help make up for those losses, running for 55 yards and catching five passes for 57 more.

"It was exciting to know that the team was depending on me," Tate said. "I look forward to it."

The Irish led 17-7 at the half and after a scoreless third period. That's when Purdue got its offense going, striking quickly on a 3-yard touchdown pass from Joey Elliott to Keith Smith, and taking the lead with 3:41 to go when Elliott connected with Jaycen Taylor on a 38-yard touchdown pass. Elliott play-faked to running back Taylor, who ended up all alone down the left sideline after an obvious defensive breakdown by Notre Dame.

Purdue stormed out of the gate with a eight-play, 80-yard touchdown drive. Elliott hit Aaron Valentin from the 36 to send the Irish reeling.

Notre Dame running back Jonas Gray and a timely Purdue pass interference penalty led to the first points for the Irish. Gray caught a Clausen screen for 23 yards and ran twice for nine more before they settled for a 34-yard Nick Tausch field goal.

The Irish were just getting started. Crist gave Notre Dame an immediate spark as he directed two quick touchdown drives. He rushed for 16 yards on his first play from scrimmage, and Robert Hughes powered the rest of the series, rushing for 20, 8, 7, and a 2-yard TD plunge.

After a Purdue punt, freshman Theo Riddick ran for 24 yards, and Tate ran for 13 yards, and a play later raced around the right edge to score from 14 yards out.

The Irish built their lead behind a ground-based game that featured plenty of the direct-snap wildcat formation.

Notre Dame drove again late in the first half, but Clausen threw his first interception of the year on an end-zone try.

Smith had 11 catches for 136 yards for Purdue. Hughes led Notre Dame with 68 rushing yards on 15 carries. Top Stories