TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- Purdue football has always lived on the
pass. So far this year, it's the power -- including a few option
plays that keep the defense guessing.
Jerod Void carried 18 times for 107 yards, scored three
touchdowns and recovered a muffed punt return, helping the
12th-ranked Boilermakers hold off Arizona 31-24 on Saturday night.
Purdue gained 239 yards on the ground and failed to throw a
touchdown pass for the first time in 16 games. Coach Joe Tiller
scoffs at the idea of a change in the team's personality and style.
"We still play sissy ball at Purdue," he insisted.
Not on this night.
Brandon Kirsch, who passed for 140 yards and ran for 54 for the
Boilermakers (2-0), agreed that Purdue will show power more than
finesse this season.
"I think you can kind of see everything changing from the old
Purdue `basketball on grass' style to a style where we're going to
pound it, pound it and run some play option things off that," he
The Boilermakers took advantage of the muffed punt and a failed
fake punt by Arizona to score 10 decisive points in the third
Richard Kovalcheck completed 23 of 40 passes for 287 yards and
three touchdowns for the Wildcats (1-2).
After the Boilermakers took a 31-17 lead, Arizona went 80 yards
in 10 plays in a 5½-minute drive. Kovalcheck threw 9 yards to
Anthony Johnson for the touchdown that made it 31-24 with 10:50 to
play. The Wildcats' got a break when, on third-and-9 from the 24,
Kovalcheck's pass bounced off Johnson and into the hands of Brad
Wood for a first down at the 10.
Arizona went nowhere on its next possession, though, and Brian
Hickman's interception with 33 seconds left preserved the victory.
Tiller praised his defensive line, which helped hold Arizona to
23 yards rushing. He also noted that the Wildcats had pointed to
this game as one to start to make a reputation under second-year
coach Mike Stoops.
"I think this was a big game for Arizona," Tiller said, "and
when the other team sees it as a big game, you're always in for a
Void topped 100 yards for the second time this season and, with
30 rushing touchdowns, tied Perry Williams for second on Purdue's
career list. Mike Alstott had 39 from 1992-95.
"That's what he's going to do," Kirsch said of his senior
running back. "I think you might as well get used to that for the
rest of the season. I think right now he's coming out of his shell
a little bit. We've kind of had him holstered with the type of
running game we've had in the past."
Purdue, leading 21-17, was forced to punt from its end zone in
the third quarter. But Arizona's Syndric Steptoe muffed the catch
of the short punt and Void recovered at the Boilermakers 37.
"It was the only big error we made besides the penalties,"
Stoops said. "The one fumble was costly. We had the fans into the
game. We were going to have great field position at the 40. We just
mishandled the punt."
Kirsch's 46-yard pass to Kyle Ingraham put the ball on the 3,
and Void bulled in from there to give Purdue a 28-17 lead with 3:14
to go in the third.
Arizona's coaches had noticed that the ends were rushing on the
Wildcats' punts. So after the kickoff, the Wildcats tried a fake.
But the ends stayed back and the play lost three yards, giving
Purdue the ball at the Wildcats 35. Ben Jones' 47-yard field goal
boosted the lead to 31-17 with 1:26 left in the quarter.
Purdue took a 7-0 lead when Void burst up the middle for a
career-long 55-yard touchdown run with 10:09 left in the first
But Arizona took the Boilermakers' kickoff and went 80 yards in
six plays to tie it at 7-7. Kovalcheck was 4-for-4 on the drive. On
fourth-and-2 from the Purdue 34, no defenders covered Wood, and
Kovalcheck threw to the wide-open tight end for a touchdown.
The Boilermakers needed just five plays to go 83 yards and
regain the lead. Kirsch connected with Dorien Bryant on a 44-yard
play to the Arizona 28, then ran nine yards on the option to the
19. Sheets took Kirsch's pitch on the option left and four Wildcats
missed tackles on a 19-yard scoring play that put Purdue up 14-7
with 2:16 left in the first quarter.