SOUTH BEND, Indiana (Ticker) -- For the second straight week, Notre Dame's offense failed to reach the end zone and Vontez Duff did.
Duff took back an interception 33 yards for a touchdown with 4:09 left and 24th-ranked Notre Dame also returned two fumbles for scores in a 24-17 victory over Purdue, making Tyrone Willingham a winner in his first home game as coach of the Fighting Irish.
Gerome Sapp and Lionel Bolen returned fumbles 11 seconds apart in the second quarter for Notre Dame, which squandered a 17-point lead before improving to 2-0 for the first time since 1996, Lou Holtz' last season as coach.
"We did some things well and we did some things bad today," Willingham said. "Overall I am happy with the outcome of today's game. To be 2-0 right now is a special thing and we will build on that."
With the score tied at 17-17, Purdue's Kyle Orton threw a pass that was behind Seth Morales and deflected slightly off the receiver and into the hands of Duff, who raced down the sidelines and leaped into the end zone for the go-ahead score.
It was the third touchdown in as many games for Duff, a cornerback who returned a punt for a score in last week's 22-0 win over Maryland in the Kickoff Classic. Duff took back a kickoff for a score in the 2001 season finale against Purdue.
"On our defense, all we talk about is dominating," Duff said. "We do our techniques, but all we talk about is dominating. It's all about scoring and forcing turnovers. That's what we pride ourselves on."
While Notre Dame was able to move the ball behind quarterback Carlyle Holiday last week, the Fighting Irish did its scoring on the return by Duff and five field goals by Nicholas Setta.
But Setta was shaky on Saturday, missing field goals of 42 and 38 yards in the final quarter that kept the game tied at 17-17.
Purdue (1-1) moved to the Fighting Irish 30 in the final minutes before turning the ball over on downs and losing to Notre Dame for the 15th time in 17 meetings.
"It was a well-played football game from an effort standpoint," Purdue coach Joe Tiller said. "Both football teams probably feel when they look at the tape things were a little shoddy at times."
Willingham became the first Notre Dame coach to win his first two games since Dan Devine in 1975.
Holiday completed just 7-of-22 passes for 50 yards.
"We know as an offensive team that we have to make touchdowns," Holiday said. "We have to work on some things to be a better club."
The Irish opened the scoring when safety Sapp scooped up a fumble by Montrell Lowe and raced 54 yards for a touchdown with 13:48 left in the second quarter. Sapp also returned a fumble for a score last week against Maryland.
Purdue's Deaunte Ferrell caught the ensuing kickoff and was hit by a teammate, popping the ball into the air. Bolen grabbed it and went four yards into the end zone.
"I had a nightmare all week long about them returning a punt," Tiller said. "It looked like one, but it wasn't."
Notre Dame had its first sustained drive later in the quarter, moving 67 yards in 10 plays with the help of 36-yard run by Ryan Grant. But the drive soon stalled and Notre Dame settled for a 19-yard field goal by Setta that made it 17-0.
Grant carried 21 times for 96 yards.
Orton was just 14-of-30 for 171 yards. Joey Harris of the Boilermakers carried 25 times for 109 yards sand John Standeford caught five passes for 110 yards.
The Fighting Irish allowed Purdue to get back in the game with 2:03 left in the second quarter when Anthony Chambers returned a punt 77 yards for a score.
The punt return gave the Boilermakers new life, and the defense came up with a big play in the third quarter as Holiday was stripped of the ball and Vedran Dzolovic recovered.
The Boilermakers then marched 71 yards in 10 plays, capped by a three-yard TD run by Jerod Void.
Orton completed a 42-yard pass to Standeford on Purdue's next possession, leading to a 35-yard field goal by Berin Lacevic early in the fourth quarter that tied it at 17-17.