Notre Dame tailback Randy Kinder has been waiting three years to prove he can make the big-time plays. On Saturday, he got his chance.
Notre Dame had just finished blowing a 15-point lead when Kinder broke free for a 52-yard touchdown run that gave the 25th-ranked Fighting Irish a 35-28 victory over Purdue.
“It was the perfect situation and great to be in that situation,” Kinder said. “It’s great that everything just really came together today.”
Purdue (1-1) had a chance to tie the game when running back Mike Alstott rushed 34 yards to the Irish 13 with 1:13 to go. But Purdue ran out of downs, turning the ball over when Rick Trefzger’s pass to Edwin Watson on fourth down came up two yards short with 52 seconds left.
Coach Lou Holtz got his 200th college victory, making him the 15th coach to reach that milestone.
“I did not know how we were going to respond in coming back (this) weekend, especially playing on the road,” he said. “We just had a very good offensive day.
“I told the football team I hadn’t thought about it (or) talked about it. I’m glad it came at Notre Dame.”
Saturday’s win was the first for the Irish since Nov. 19, 1994, when they beat Air Force.
“After the game we were really, really happy for him and we let him know it,” Kinder said. “He deserved it a long time ago.”
Notre Dame’s fourth-quarter collapse brought back memories of last weekend, when the Irish were embarrassed by Northwestern in their home opener. Notre Dame (1-1) gave up two touchdowns in less than 2 minutes in the fourth quarter.
“This win was huge,” Powlus said. “We needed a win and we needed it now. An 0-2 start would have really hurt us.”
Watson’s 13-yard run brought Purdue within 28-20 with 11:31 to play. After the kickoff, Powlus’ pass to Derrick Mayes was picked off by Derrick Brown, who scampered 54 yards for a touchdown.
Trefzger’s pass to tailback Corey Rogers on the conversion tied it 28-28.
“I really messed up at the end,” Trefzger said. “The defense gave us the ball and we didn’t do it. The team played great, we have nothing to be ashamed of.”
Notre Dame holds a 44-21-2 advantage in its series with Purdue, and the Boilermakers haven’t won since 1985. But Purdue coach Jim Colletto said he is proud of the way his team played Saturday, even if the outcome wasn’t what he had hoped for.
“We didn’t expect to be 1-1 at this stage of the season, so we have a shot at a real good season,” he said.