NCAA Football

           === Purdue holds off Western Michigan for bowl victory ===
 Detroit,  MI (Sports  Network)  - Caleb  TerBush and  Robert  Marve threw  for
 touchdowns,  helping Purdue  hold on for a 37-32 victory over Western Michigan
 in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.
 Raheem Mostert returned a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown, while Carson Wiggs
 kicked  three field  goals and  recovered two  onside kicks.  The Boilermakers
 (7-6)  also recovered a fumble with under two minutes left to secure a victory
 in  their first postseason appearance since the 2007 season, when they won the
 Motor City Bowl.
 It was Purdue's first bowl game under third-year head coach Danny Hope.
 "We talked about it at length since we became bowl eligible, about making sure
 that we had a winning season rather than just a successful season," Hope said.
 "There's a huge difference between 6-7 and 7-6, and there's a huge difference
 between going to a bowl and being a bowl champion, and that meant a lot to our
 football team."
 The  Boilermakers grabbed  control with a 20-point second quarter, and Western
 Michigan  (7-6) wasn't able  to catch up. The Broncos have not won a bowl game
 in five tries.
 Alex  Carder  threw for  439  yards  and three  touchdowns  for  WMU, but  was
 intercepted four times.
 "Just careless with it," Carder said. "Didn't understand that in this game,
 possession is so important, especially the way our offense works."
 Western  Michigan  grabbed the  lead thanks  to a turnover  early in the first
 quarter.  Paul  Hazel sacked  TerBush and  forced a  fumble, which the Broncos
 recovered  at  the Purdue 49.  The sack occurred on  third down and would have
 forced  Purdue  to punt anyway, but  the fumble provided Western Michigan with
 good field position.
 It  took advantage  one play later --  Carder found Jordan White for a 49-yard
 TD, and kicker John Potter rushed for a two-point conversion.
 That  began  a series of drives  and plays that provided high drama. Following
 the WMU touchdown, in chronological order:
 -  Wiggs missed  a 45-yard  field goal  and Carder  was intercepted  by Albert
 Evans,  who  returned the ball to  the Broncos' 38.  That led to a one-yard TD
 pass from Marve to Reggie Pegram on 3rd-and-goal.
 -  Wiggs recovered an on-side kick.
 -  Purdue  running back Akeem  Hunt fumbled the ball  away four plays into the
 bonus possession, but Purdue got it back when Gerald Gooden picked off Carder.
 That  led  to a  49-yard kick from  Wiggs and  a 10-8 Purdue  edge with 10 1/2
 minutes left in the half.
 -  Western Michigan drove for a touchdown. Carder hit Josh Schaffer from a
 yard away on third down.
 -  Mostert  returned the following  kickoff 99 yards  for a score, putting the
 Boilermakers back in front.
 -  Wiggs attempted an  on-side kick for a second time, and for the second time
 it  worked.  This one resulted  in Pegram's one-yard  run across the goal line
 with 4:57 to play. On the final play of the half, Wiggs connected on a 19-yard
 field goal to send Purdue into the break with a 27-15 advantage.
 Wiggs' on-side kicks were pivotal play calls, but the execution wasn't ideal.
 Hope said confidence in Wiggs led to the kicks, but added that "they were the
 two worst onside kicks I've ever seen him kick." Wiggs acknowledged as much.
 "The first one was a big time mis-hit. It was supposed to be high up in the
 air, and I haven't really hit one that badly since I started doing it.
 Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good, I guess," Wiggs said. "We were
 going to do it again if it worked, and if they didn't change their alignment.
 If they did change their alignment, we were going to kick it deep and mess up
 their return. They didn't change their alignment so we hit it again, and it
 ended up working a little better."
 The  Boilermakers  never ran  away with the  game in the  second half, but did
 enough -- offensively and defensively -- to keep Western Michigan from getting
 back into the game.
 The  Broncos opened the third quarter with a 21-yard field goal by Potter, but
 TerBush  and Gary  Bush connected on a 33-yard score midway through the period
 to make it a 34-18 contest.
 WMU  then  responded with a  lengthy touchdown  drive, capped by Tevin Drake's
 one-yard  run,  but Purdue followed  with a 26-yard  field goal by Wiggs. That
 boosted  the  Boilermakers' advantage to  37-25 a  few minutes into the fourth
 Western Michigan still looked like it had a chance to sneak out a victory late
 in the game. With 4:28 left, Chleb Ravenell caught a low five-yard pass at the
 front of the end zone, bringing the Broncos within five points.
 They  then  forced Purdue to punt,  and WMU took over  at its own 13 with more
 than two minutes left.
 However, on the second play of the Broncos' drive, Carder scrambled out of the
 backfield  and fumbled  as he was sacked.  Purdue grabbed the ball and ran out
 the rest of the clock.
                                   Game Notes
 TerBush  and Marve  combined to complete 14-of-20 passes for 177 yards...Akeem
 Shavers  ran  for  149 yards  for  Purdue,  which  totaled  265 yards  on  the
 ground...White caught 13 passes for 265 yards for WMU.
 12/27 23:02:03 ET

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