DETROIT – Purdue quarterback Caleb TerBush took the final snap, sprinted to the sideline and handed the football to coach Danny Hope.
“It’s a moment that we’ve been waiting for the last three years,” Hope said.
Perhaps empowered by getting a contract extension recently, Hope made the gutsy decision to go for two onside kicks in the first half and both gambles paid off for the Boilermakers in a 37-32 win over Western Michigan on Tuesday night in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.
“We were going to do a third one, but they changed the way they lined up,” Hope said. “I’m serious.”
In a game that seemed more silly than serious at times, 46,177 fans inside the home of the Detroit Lions were thoroughly entertained.
“It was a wild one, that’s for sure,” Hope said. “There’s a saying in football, ‘We’re all here because we’re not all there.’ ”
The Boilermakers (7-6) almost didn’t win despite having a double-digit lead for two-plus quarters.
Raheem Mostert returned a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown, third-string running back Reggie Pegram scored the first two TDs of his career and Carson Wiggs made two field goals to give Purdue a 27-15 lead at halftime.
Purdue had another 12-point lead early in the fourth quarter, but the Big Ten team had to hold on for the win against the Mid-American Conference Broncos (7-6).