Purdue prevails in Detroit slugfest
By: By LARRY LAGE, AP Sports Writer
DETROIT (AP) — Curtis Painter and Dan LeFevour combined for another show.
This time, more people were watching.
Painter threw for a school-record 546 yards, three touchdown passes and set up Chris Summers’ 40-yard kick as time expired in the Motor City Bowl to give Purdue a 51-48 win over Central Michigan on Wednesday night.
“It’s a fun game to play if you’re on this end,” he said.
LeFevour threw for 292 yards and four scores and ran for 114 yards and two TDs, feeding off the energy from the pro-Chippewa crowd of 60,624.
The rowdy crowd created more noise than most Detroit Lions games in the same venue.
“The atmosphere was amazing,” said LeFevour, who completed 17-of-34 passes and ran 33 times during the loss to the Boilermakers. “As we started rolling in the second half, the crowd started getting into it more and it just got better and better.”
The 99 combined points tied the second-highest total in a bowl game that ended in regulation, trailing only the 2003 Insight Bowl where California edged Virginia Tech 52-49.
“It reminded me of some of our early games at Purdue and also of the wacky WAC,” Purdue coach Joe Tiller said. “It wasn’t my favorite game, but it was a heck of a game for the spectators.”
Purdue beat Central Michigan 45-22 at home on Sept. 15, when Painter and LeFevour combined to throw for 700-plus yards.
In the Motor City Bowl, Painter was 35-for-54 and both of his interceptions went off receiver Dorien Bryant’s hands.
“It’s big for us to get a win here after losing our last three games,” said Painter, whose passing total ranked third in a bowl game all-time. “It feels good to get all of the statistics, but the best statistic is in the win column.”
Purdue receivers Greg Orton, Jake Standeford and Dustin Keller had at least 112 yards receiving apiece during the bowl win.
Early on, Purdue (9-5) didn’t seem inspired perhaps because playing in Detroit isn’t exactly what a Big Ten team has in mind when it dreams of playing in the postseason of the college football landscape.
The Mid-American Confer-ence champion Chippewas (8-6) got the Boilermakers’ attention, though, with an interception on the third play of the game and by taking a 3-0 lead early in the contest.
Purdue then seemed to get fired up and appeared to be rolling toward a rout, leading 27-6 midway through the second quarter, 34-13 at halftime and 41-20 early in the second half of play.
The Chippewas proved they belonged on the same field with the larger school.
Their comeback started with LeFevour’s scoring pass to Bryan Anderson with 10:19 remaining in the third and the quarterback tied the game with two runs late in the quarter.
Purdue answered with Jaycen Taylor’s TD run midway through the fourth quarter and seemed to seal the win with a sack when Central Michigan had the ball with 2:15 left and no timeouts.
But LeFevour was far from finished.
He escaped a sack on the next play and got out of bounds safely.
Then, he connected on three first downs before lobbing a pass to Anderson from 19 yards out to make it 48-all with 1:09 left to play.
The sophomore finished the season with 27 passing touchdowns and 19 rushing, falling just short of joining Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow of Florida as the only players to ever have 20 of each in the same season.
Painter, who broke the Purdue passing yardage mark shared by Drew Brees and Kyle Orton during the bowl victory, was 4-for-5 for 42 yards on the winning drive.
For his overall efforts, he was honored with the game’s most valuable player award.
“It was a heck of a college football game and it might go down as one of the best bowls,” Central Michigan coach Butch Jones said. “I can’t say enough about our kids. These kids are special.
“Obviously, it didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to, but I think you saw something special out there. They fought to the bitter end.”
Jones, a former West Virginia assistant, is reportedly a candidate for the Mountaineers’ job that opened when Rich Rodriguez left to coach Michigan.
However, he did not show his hand following the loss to the Boilermakers.
“I’m not going to comment on that,” Jones said.