Thursday, 29 December, 2011 8:01 PM
Wins Little Caesars Pizza Bowl 37-32, Forces Seven Turnovers
Nicknamed ‘The Rabbit’ Plays in Record 50th Game for
by Lars Hjelmroth, Rolco Sports Network
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
Illinois to take on OU at MAC Championship Friday at Ford Field