SI Vault
Gary Ronberg
October 09, 1967
Notre Dame tries its first big step toward defending its national title, only to get knocked on its Golden Dome by a Purdue sophomore quarterback and a fast-handed marvel named "Nursey" Keyes who can play the game all day
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
October 09, 1967

Purdue Does A No. 1 Job Against No. 1

Notre Dame tries its first big step toward defending its national title, only to get knocked on its Golden Dome by a Purdue sophomore quarterback and a fast-handed marvel named "Nursey" Keyes who can play the game all day

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2 3 4

It is 14-7, Purdue, and for the first time the Boilermakers have the momentum. Keyes rides the kickoff into the Notre Dame end zone. Hanratty, back to pass from his 20, is intercepted again at midfield and, when the Purdue offense stalls, Dick Berg punts out of bounds on the Notre Dame six. The Irish grind out a first down, and then Hanratty, rolling to his right, whips a beautiful pass downfield, where Kunz makes a diving catch on the Purdue 38. Bleier gets five, and although Hanratty fails to hit Seymour on second down he has seen Fullback Ron Dushney slip across the middle without being covered. Two plays later, on fourth and five, Hanratty calls for the same pattern, hitting Dushney over the middle for an Irish first down at the Purdue 22. On third and 10 he lays the ball right in Seymour's hands at the 10, but Keyes jolts Seymour and the pass is incomplete. On fourth down Hanratty finds Dushney across the middle again for a first down at the Purdue nine. Three plays later Bleier scores, and the extra point ties the game 14-14.

One thing, however, has become clear: Purdue has taken away the Irish running game. Notre Dame does not have a breakaway back, and it shows. Purdue has closed off the weak Irish sweeps and has sealed off the inside, too. "First, the outside; then the inside," says Mollenkopf later. Now Purdue is playing a four-man front line almost exclusively. It is actually daring Hanratty, perhaps college football's best passer, to throw the football.

Shortly before the end of the third quarter Phipps starts the Boilermakers moving from their 36-yard line. On third down he arches a spiral toward the left sideline, and Keyes, racing stride for stride with Mike Burgener, makes a fine catch good for 44 yards. On the first play of the fourth quarter Phipps scrambles for seven yards to the Notre Dame 16, where he is faced with a fourth-and-three situation. Again there is no thought of a field goal by a team in excellent position. Instead, wisely gambling that it needs a touchdown, Purdue calls on Keyes. Phipps pitches back to Keyes, who follows Williams' fine block around left end for the first down. The Irish call time, and Keyes tells Phipps that he can get free in the right flat. Phipps promptly steps back, waits for Keyes to get a stride on his defender, then throws to him as he races wide open at the goal line. Purdue leads, 21-14.

Once more the Irish fight back. Hanratty, his shirt stained and his socks sagging about his ankles, drives Notre Dame 76 yards in eight plays, finishing with a 27-yard touchdown pass to Snow. The kick ties the game again, 21-21.

Phipps now starts Purdue toward the winning score. From his 36 he runs for nine yards, and when Notre Dame is penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct Purdue is in excellent shape—first and 10 at the Irish 31. Two plays fail, however, and it is third and 10. The Boilermakers line up with Beirne split left and Keyes wide to the right. Phipps goes back to pass, and Beirne and Keyes break toward the sidelines. As the Notre Dame secondary spreads and the linebackers rush Phipps, Purdue's Bob Baltzell slips out of the backfield and curls across the center. All the Irish eyes are on Keyes. Phipps throws to Baltzell at the 10, and Baltzell cuts away from Tom Schoen and Mike Burgener for the touchdown. Purdue leads 28-21 with 10 minutes to go.

There is still ample time for Notre Dame, and Hanratty knows it. He passes to Kunz for nine, runs for five and then completes a pass to Seymour for 14. It is only the second pass Seymour has caught in the second half. Hanratty passes to Snow for 16 more, sweeping the Irish to a first down on Purdue's 19.

Notre Dame is sure to score. Will Ara go for the tie or the win? The very prospect of the situation arising is too ironic to bear. Tie another one for the Gipper?

On first down Hanratty is rushed, but he gets off a strong, high pass to Snow that just flicks off the end's hands as he leaps at the goal line. On second down Hanratty is hard pressed. Rolling to his left, he throws to Seymour, who is slanting into the end zone ahead of Keyes. By now Keyes is moving as if his legs are lead. The ball is there—but inches out of the reach of the sprawling Seymour. Third down and Hanratty is forced to run. He loses a yard. Fourth and 11 at the Purdue 20. Hanratty goes back to pass again, but everybody is covered except Kunz, who catches the ball at the 14—five yards short of the first down.

Purdue cannot move and punts to the Notre Dame 38. With 1:39 left, Hanratty fades back to throw his 63rd pass, 26 more than any Notre Dame quarterback has ever thrown in one game. In desperation he goes long to Seymour. The pass is weak. Seymour cannot get back to it, but the ubiquitous Leroy Keyes can. He intercepts, and a moment later the game is over. Pandemonium.

Parseghian takes a long, tired look at the scoreboard and starts across the field. Mollenkopf moves toward him, then stops and kicks at a divot. He does not know what he is going to say. And then they are walking off the field together. Good game. Excellent game.

Continue Story
1 2 3 4