Caleb TerBush and Robert Marve threw for touchdowns, helping the Purdue Boilermakers hold on for a 37-32 victory over the Western Michigan Broncos in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.
Raheem Mostert returned a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown, while Carson Wiggs kicked three field goals and recovered two onside kicks. The Boilermakers (7-6) also recovered a fumble with under two minutes left to secure a victory in their first postseason appearance since the 2007 season, when they won the Motor City Bowl.
It was Purdue's first bowl game under third-year head coach Danny Hope.
The Boilermakers grabbed control with a 20-point second quarter, and Western Michigan (7-6) wasn't able to catch up. The Broncos have not won a bowl game in four tries.
Alex Carder threw for 439 yards and three touchdowns for WMU, but was intercepted four times.
Western Michigan grabbed the lead thanks to a turnover early in the first quarter. Paul Hazel sacked TerBush and forced a fumble, which the Broncos recovered at the Purdue 49. The sack occurred on third down and would have forced Purdue to punt anyway, but the fumble provided Western Michigan with good field position.
It took advantage one play later -- Carder found Jordan White for a 49-yard TD, and kicker John Potter rushed for a two-point conversion.
That began a series of drives and plays that provided high drama. Following the WMU touchdown, in chronological order:
- Wiggs recovered an on-side kick.
- Purdue running back Akeem Hunt fumbled the ball away four plays into the bonus possession, but Purdue got it back when Gerald Gooden picked off Carder. That led to a 49-yard kick from Wiggs and a 10-8 Purdue edge with 10 1/2 minutes left in the half.
- Western Michigan drove for a touchdown. Carder hit Josh Schaffer from a yard away on third down.
- Mostert returned the following kickoff 99 yards for a score, putting the Boilermakers back in front.
- Wiggs attempted an on-side kick for a second time, and for the second time it worked. This one resulted in Pegram's one-yard run across the goal line with 4:57 to play. On the final play of the half, Wiggs connected on a 19-yard field goal to send Purdue into the break with a 27-15 advantage.
The Boilermakers never ran away with the game in the second half, but did enough -- offensively and defensively -- to keep Western Michigan from getting back into the game.