Quarterback Jim Everett, passing for 255 yards, threw to flanker Jeff Price for two touchdowns yesterday as Purdue, taking advantage of repeated Notre Dame errors, upset the No. 7-ranked Irish, 23-21, in their season opener in the Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis.
Coach Leon Burtnett called it "the biggest win I've ever been associated with at Purdue.
"Our slogan at the start of the year was, 'Tough times never last; tough people do,' " he said, referring to a 6-15-1 record his first two seasons as coach.
"The thing that hurt us was turnovers . . . fumbles and penalties," said Notre Dame Coach Gerry Faust.
The Irish scored twice in the first quarter for a 14-3 lead, but lost the ball five times on turnovers and were hurt late in the third quarter by an ineligible receiver that forced them to punt.
The Boilermakers took a 16-14 lead on Mike Rendina's third field goal, then started the clinching touchdown drive after the Irish punt. A 13-yard pass to Bruce King, his 17-yard run and a 36-yard pass to Rick Brunner put the ball at Notre Dame's 14. Everett passed to Price the next play for his second touchdown. Price's first touchdown catch, a six-yarder, came early in the second quarter.
After his second, the Irish reached Purdue's 22 but were stopped by the second interception of quarterback Steve Beuerlein.
With four minutes to go, the Irish closed to two points on a six-yard touchdown run by Allen Pinkett, his second of the game. But their final chance to win ended when Don Baldwin intercepted Beuerlein, who threw for 233 yards, a third time with just over two minutes left. The Boilermakers ran out the clock.
Everett said the Boilermakers had been "waiting a whole year for this one, after last year's (52-6) loss to Notre Dame. I don't think their defense was particularly weak, but it was pretty basic."
Purdue took a 3-0 lead on Rendina's 31-yard field goal after Notre Dame's Tim Brown fumbled the opening kickoff. Each of the next two scores came after Notre Dame penalties.
With Everett moving Purdue through the air, the Boilermakers reached Notre Dame's 17 early in the second quarter. Rendina's fourth-down field goal kick was good, but the Irish were penalized for having 12 men on the field, giving Purdue first down at the eight. Two plays later, Price got his six-yard touchdown.
The Boilermakers got the ball back with six minutes left in the half when Kevin Sumlin intercepted Beuerlein at the Irish 38, his first first miss after six straight completions.
Everett's passes to Marty Scott, Steve Griffin, and Brunner helped Purdue get to the 15. Pass interference made it first down at the two, but the drive stalled at the one and Rendina, a transfer from Florida State, kicked a fourth-down field goal of 18 yards as the half ended.