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<< Sports >>

NCAA College Football News

Thursday, 29 December, 2011 8:01 PM

Purdue Wins Little Caesars Pizza Bowl 37-32, Forces Seven Turnovers

Zajac, Nicknamed ‘The Rabbit’ Plays in Record 50th Game for WMU

Photo by Lars Hjelmroth, Rolco Sports Network

Western Michigan linebacker #47 Mitch Zajac and defensive end # 99 Paul Hazel can't catch Purdue runningback #24 Akeem Shavers in the 2011 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. Purdue beat WMU 37-32 and both teams finished the season at 7-6.

 

by Raymond Rolak
AmericaJR.com Web Team

 

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DETROIT -- The Ford Field attendance was announced at 44,400 and the noise level showcased that there were probably way more folks than that. It was the sizzle along with the steak that kept the turnout interested as Purdue won their second Little Caesars Pizza Bowl by beating Western Michigan 37-32.

Outstanding individual plays and the addition of both schools marching bands kept the crowd spirited and entertained throughout the game. Mistakes forced by Purdue’s defense never allowed Western Michigan a chance to catch up. WMU had seven turnovers.

Purdue head coach Danny Hope said after the game, “I’m really proud of our football team for making it happen, for getting us here to this great bowl event. 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. 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.”

WMU struck first and had a nifty two point conversion but Purdue freshman Raheem Mostert returned a 99 yard kickoff in the first-half for a score and then Boilermaker senior kicker Carson Wiggs recovered his own onside kick. These were back-breaking plays that WMU couldn’t recover from.

Purdue junior running back Akeem Shavers, filling in for the injured Ralph Bolden, rushed for 149 yards on 22 carries and Reggie Pegram scored the first two touchdowns of his career. They went into halftime leading 27-15. Purdue had a season high 265 yards on the ground. Shavers was named game MVP and Purdue linebacker Joe Holland was name Outstanding Lineman of the game.

The Boilermakers’ fourth touchdown of the game came on a 33-yard TD pass from Caleb TerBush to Gary Bush in the third quarter. Wiggs added three field goals for the winners. Defensive end Gerald Gooden had two interceptions while Albert Evans and Taylor Richards each had a pick. The Boilermaker defense also recovered three Broncos’ fumbles.

Senior Jordan White was spectacular for WMU, even when doubled teamed. He wound up with a WMU record 265 yards on 13 receptions. Sophomore Josh Schaffer had two strips that he also recovered for the WMU highlight reel.

The Broncos had a chance to win with less than two minutes left but quarterback Alex Carder fumbled while being sacked.

With the victory, Purdue finishes the season 7-6, its first winning season since 2007. That same year they beat Central Michigan here at the LCPB on the last play of the game. WMU also ended the year at 7-6. “Two onside kicks really hurt us,” Western Michigan head coach Bill Cubit said. “We never got a break on defense in the first half.”

Purdue flanker and Detroit native son Justin Siller had a 99 total day with 55 rushing yards on five carries and five receptions for 44 yards. Siller had an outstanding high school career at Orchard Lake St. Mary’s as a quarterback. WMU senior kicker John Potter added to his career record for tackles by a kicker at 36. Linebacker Mitch Zajac from Holt, Michigan, Paul Hazel and Ben Armer all played in their 50th career game for Western Michigan.


WMU won the other ‘Bowling Match’

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- College Bowl Games are rewards for excellence and the festivities include community outreach and entertainment. On Christmas Day evening, besides the pizza and trimmings dinner, the Western Michigan and Purdue players participated in a different bowling outing. It was at the world famous Thunderbowl Bowling Center. The location has 90 lanes with arcades galore and the event provided some relaxation, diversion and spirited sporting competition. There was even a four man team Purdue-WMU bowl-off.

WMU won 558-430 with a four-member squad of Darevon Chance, Keith Dixson, James Kristof and Drew Nowak. Kristof opened with four straight strikes for the Bronco’s and it became a rout. The night was spirited and provided good natured sportsmanship that former University of Michigan football coach Lloyd Carr had talked about to both teams at a Christmas Day dinner.

Related Story: N. Illinois to take on OU at MAC Championship Friday at Ford Field

 

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