As the 1992 Purdue Football season started, I wondered just how good this team could be. They had Jeff Hill, Tank Adams and others returning. We were going to be starting a new quarterback in Matt Pike. We had a recruited a good fullback in Mike Alstott. We were playing the Cal Bears with their Heisman Candidate Russell White. There were a lot of questions to be answered.
Even though the rest of the season did not go as we all hoped, we got to dream for a week when we beat #17 Cal Bears 41-14.
The Boilermakers came right out of the gates swinging. On Cal's second play from scrimmage, Bear Wide Receiver Simeon fumbled the ball and Boiler Linebacker Eric Beatty recovered the ball on the Cal 40. Jeff Hill needed just 2 rushes totaling 40yards to put the Boilermakers on the scoreboard. Joe O'Leary's kick made the score 7-0.
After a 3 and out by Cal, The Boilers were on the march again but stalled on the Cal 16 yard line. Jeff Hill had 20 yards on just 2 carries but the closer Purdue got to the end zone, Jim Colletto decided to start running his favorite play, The Fullback Draw!
Joe O'Leary salvaged a 41 yard field goal out of the questionable play calling to put Purdue up 10-0.
The Purdue defense came up big once again holding the Golden Bears without a first down. Matt Pike connected on a couple of key passes to get the Boilermakers down to the 11 yard line. Guess what Coleman scored his 11 yard touchdown run on? The Fullback Draw! I guess if you call that play enough, it is going to work every once in a while.
At the end of the first quarter, Purdue was shocking the country with a 17-0 lead over Cal. To this point, Purdue had only ran 2 of 14 plays on there side of the 50 yard line.
After a 19 yard field goal by Cal made the score 17-3, Purdue was on the march again.
Jeff Hill once again led the rushing attack and Matt Pike and Ernest Calloway hooked up for three completions totaling 47 yards to put the ball on the Cal 8 yard line. Pike hit Hill on an out pattern in which he faked the Cal defender out of his jock strap to increase our lead to 24-3 with 8:15 left in the first half.
Cal Quarterback Matt Barr started to get hot and drove Cal down to the Purdue 22 yard line. He was hitting a bunch of quick out patterns that would be our downfall in not only the Toledo game, but the whole season. I truly believe that this series was what Toledo based their whole game plan on for the next week. As he was throwing a crossing pattern, the ball got batted up in the air and Boiler Linebacker Romane Batten picked the pass up and returned it all the way to the Cal 28. Arlee Connors scored on a one yard plunge into the end zone to extend the Purdue lead to 31-3. The score was significant because of the fact that it was the first play on offense for Boiler Great Mike "The A-Train" Alstott.
With only 52 seconds left until halftime, it appeared that all the scoring was over.
Ramon Batten batted a Matt Barr pass in the air and Tank Adams intercepted the tip and returned it to the Cal 30. With 9 seconds left, Colletto decided to run the ball to the middle of the field to set up an O'Leary field goal. Arlee Connors took a pitch and saw some daylight and took the ball 24 yards for a touchdown as the clock hit zero.
At halftime we are up 38-3 against a team that is ranked #17 in the polls. All kind of things are going through my head. What will we be ranked next week? Can we win the Big Ten Championship? When will Colletto stop running that Fullback Draw play?
The Boilermakers dominated every category. They lead the total yardage battle 229 to 116. Total possession was dominated by the Boilers 20:16 to 9:44. Purdue had 15 first downs to Cal's 9. All of Cal's first downs came in the air which would prove to be a thorn in Purdue's side all year long. Jeff Hill had 11 rushes for 87 yards. Matt Pike was 7-8 for 106 yards and a touchdown.
The second half was not very pretty. Whether it was a Boilermaker let down or that Cal had made adjustments, we did not click as well in the second half. In this Tiller era, we would have been mad about the non-production by the Purdue defense in the second half.
But, this was the Colletto era and I was happy as a Boilermaker fan on Slayter Hill who had just found a 12-pack of Rolling Rock.
The 3rd and 4th quarters were full of punts, a filed goal by each team, a Russell White touchdown run and a bunch of draw plays called by my favorite Purdue coach.
I guess the thing that stumped me the most was some of the play calling. We ran draw plays all day long. But, in the 4th quarter, Colletto's alter ego came out and we ran three pass plays in a row that went for incompletions. To give Colletto some slack, maybe he wanted to test some things with Pike. Since this was 1992, I was very happy to come out of the game with a win.
Purdue vs. Cal by the numbers:
*Matt Pike had a decent day in his first start. He was 10 for 17 for 144 yards and a touchdown. More impressive, he did not throw an interception.
*Jeff Hill led the Boilermakers in rushing with 99 yards on 20 carries.
*Cal's Russell White was held to 87 yards on 19 carries for 4.57 yards per carry. If you take away a 39 yard gain he had against the 2nd team defense, his average was only 2.66 yards per carry.
*We ran 13 Fullback Draws for 20 yards for an average of 1.5 yard per play. If you take away Earl Coleman's 11 yard touchdown run, the average dips to 0.75.
*Purdue gained 253 yards in the 1st half for 7.5 yards per play. They only gained 53 yards in the 2nd half for 2.3 yards per play.
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