Monday, September 03, 2001

Purdue 19, UC 14

Penalty spoils late drive toward go-ahead score

By Bill Koch
Enquirer contributor

        The University of Cincinnati Bearcats proved once again Sunday that they can line up with a quality team from the Big Ten and be competitive. They showed they could handle a sellout crowd and create a big-time college football atmosphere.

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Fans cheer as LaDaris Vann outruns Purdue's Ralph Turner for a 20-yard TD.
(AP photo)
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        Now if they can just figure out how to get 11 men on the field for the biggest play of the game, they might be on to something.

        In the most crucial play of perhaps the biggest football game in the school's history, the Bearcats grappled with the most basic element of the game — placing the proper number of players on the field.

        UC was down to its last play, positioned on Purdue's 32-yard line, facing fourth down and 15, and trailing by five. As quarterback Adam Hoover called his signals, the strangest thing happened. Running back Ray Jackson came running onto the field in a desperate attempt to get set before the ball was snapped.

        He didn't make it.

        Hoover completed a 26-yard pass to LaDaris Vann that would have put the Bearcats on the Purdue 6, well in position to win the game. But the play was called back, the officials citing Jackson for not being set when the ball was snapped. The actual penalty was for an illegal shift.

        “The first thought that came into my head,” said UC defensive back LaVar Glover, who watched from the sideline, “was, "You've got to be kidding.'”

On the last play of the game, Purdue DB Stuart Schweigert outjumps UC's Tye Keith in the end zone for an interception.
(AP photo)
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        Glover's frustrated disbelief was understandable. On a day that began with so many superlatives for the UC foot ball program, the Bearcats walked off the field shouldering one of the program's most disappointing defeats, losing to Purdue, 19-14, before 35,097 fans, the largest crowd in Nippert Stadium history.

        Just like that, 59 minutes of hard-fought football — if sloppy — went for naught. And a wonderful opportunity for the program slipped away.

        “The last penalty was the most devastating,” said UC coach Rick Minter. “That was a coaching error. We have to take full responsibility for that. It was after a timeout. We have to make sure we have 11 players on the field. We would have been better off to leave 10 men out there.”

        UC had one timeout left and could have used it to stop play and regroup. But Hoover said he didn't see Jackson running onto the field until it was too late and Minter said everything happened too quickly for the UC coaches to call time.

        “It was a blunder,” Minter said. “It really was.”

        The Bearcats would get one more chance. This time, they managed to place the proper number of players on the field and Hoover heaved the ball into the end zone toward Tye Keith. But Purdue's Steve Schweigert outfought Keith for the ball and came down with an interception.

Demarcus Billings sacks Purdue QB Brandon Hance.
(Ernest Coleman photo)
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        UC played almost the entire game using a no-huddle offense and spreading the field with four, sometimes five wide receivers. Hoover, a senior making only the third start of his career, completed 21 of 35 passes for 220 yards and two touchdowns, but was intercepted three times.

        UC committed 12 penalties for 97 yards, but Purdue was sloppy too, with 11 penalties for 105 yards.

        The Boilermakers took the opening kickoff and drove 85 yards in seven plays, helped immensely by two personal fouls. The Bearcats came right back to assemble a 9-play, 67-yard drive of their own to tie the score, 7-7, on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Hoover to Vann.

        Except for the turnovers, the Bearcats outplayed the Boilermakers, outgaining them 307 yards to 270 and limiting redshirt freshman quarterback Brandon Hance to 117 yards passing in his debut as a starter.

LaVar Glover tackles Montrell Lowe.
(Ernest Coleman photo)
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        "We played a good football team,” said Purdue coach Joe Tiller. “They're going to win a lot of games.”

        UC appeared on the verge of an upset when it gained possession for its last drive after Glover batted away a Hance pass on third down, forcing the Boilermakers to punt. The Bearcats then received a break in the form of a pass-interference penalty on Purdue's Ashante Woodyard that kept the final drive alive. But that only served to set up the UC sideline for one last unfathomable goof.

        “It really wasn't the scheme or the skill that outclassed us today,” Minter said. “It was ourselves.”

        Purdue ....... 7 6 6 0—19
        Cincinnati ....... 7 0 7 0—14

        First Quarter
        Pur—Hance 1 run (Dorsch kick), 12:24.
        UC—Vann 20 pass from Hoover (Ruffin kick), 8:28.
        Second Quarter

        Pur—FG Dorsch 25, 11:40.
        Pur—FG Dorsch 39, 1:59.
        Third Quarter
        Pur—Harris 16 run (pass failed), 7:45.
        UC—Vann 17 pass from Hoover (Ruffin kick), 2:44.

        PUR CIN
        First downs ....... 14   18
        Rushes-yards ....... 38-153  35-220
        Passing ....... 117   220
        Comp-Att-Int ....... 14-25-0  21-36-3
        Return Yards ....... 107   83
        Punts-Avg. ....... 9-41   9-40
        Fumbles-Lost ....... 2-1   0-0
        Penalties-Yards ....... 11-105   12-97
        Time of Possession ....... 27:22   32:38

        RUSHING—Purdue, Harris 7-81, Lowe 13-69, Brown 6-16, Hance 11-(-10). UC, McCleskey 13-51, Jackson 13-35, Wize 1-2, Hoover 8-(-1).
        PASSING—Purdue, Hance 14-25-0-117. UC, Hoover 21-35-3-220, Vann 0-1-0-0.
        RECEIVING—Purdue, Stubblefield 6-54, Stratton 3-29, Morales 2-13, Standeford 1-10, Lowe 1-7, Harris 1-4. UC, Vann 9-102, McCleskey 4-21, Jackson 3-38, Keith 2-38, Olinger 1-9, Wize 1-6, Holly 1-6.


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