Notre Dame will breathe a sigh of relief after narrowly escaping with a win against unfancied Purdue.
The Irish were eventually able to settle in and capture the win over the Purdue Boilermakers after being soundly outplayed in first half.
Purdue came out fired up with a lot of energy and was able to drive the ball down the field and score on the first possession of the game. It was looking like the Irish defense was in for another long night but their play tightened up as the game went on.
Tommy Rees led Notre Dame out to a strong second half start stringing together a nice drive capped off with a Cam McDaniel rushing touchdown to tie the game at ten a piece. Purdue remained tough and didn't let their instate rival get too confident as they immediately responded with a touchdown drive of their own putting the Boilermakers back up seven.
The third quarter began to tick away as the Irish remained down a touchdown and time was beginning to become a factor.
Despite his team entering the fourth quarter without the lead, Coach Kelly explained he wasn’t really feeling the pressure saying, "I was never worried in the sense there was a panic. I felt really confident that we were going to win the football game. We just needed to settle down a little bit."
Notre Dame finally began taking control over the game in the fourth quarter largely due to the play of Tommy Rees and DaVaris Daniels. Rees found Daniels for a short nine-yard touchdown early on in the fourth to tie up the game. The Irish defense would next come up big and force a Purdue punt. Starting at their own 18-yard line, Rees dropped back and again found Daniels who managed to tiptoe the sideline and stay in-bounds on his way to an 82-yard touchdown. Looking back on the play, Daniels explained, "The hairs on the back of my neck kind of stood up when I got close and I saw the hash marks. I was just trying to make a play and trying to get as far away from the sideline as possible at the time."
Tommy Rees finished with 309-yards through the air with DaVaris Daniels accounting for 167 alone.
The Irish defense now had to come up big and protect Notre Dame’s first lead of the night. After a couple quick plays, Purdue quarterback Rob Henry dropped back to throw and Notre Dame cornerback Bennett Jackson jumped the route, intercepted the pass and returned it for a touchdown.
Notre Dame now led 31-17 but weren’t completely out of the woods yet. Purdue again drove down the field and converted a fourth down pass for a touchdown cutting the deficit to just a touchdown with still a lot of game to play. Notre Dame was still in the drivers seat but quickly found themselves in trouble again after Amir Carlisle fumbled on the first play of the drive. Purdue now had the ball and a chance to tie it up.
Now with the game on the line it was again the Notre Dame defense coming up big when it mattered most. The defense forced a quick three-and-out giving Notre Dame the ball back.
Brian Kelly began running out the clock relying on Cam McDaniels to finish the game. Purdue never got the ball again and Rees took a knee to end the game. The Irish showed perseverance in the come back but shouldn’t have gotten behind in the first place. Notre Dame will have to continue to get better if they don’t want to come up short again against their tougher matchups this season.