Sometimes things don’t turn out as you’d hope. The Purdue football program knows that life lesson all too well.
But, the 2011 Boilermakers appear determined to make their own luck and not let bad breaks dictate their fate.
“Things didn’t go the way we wanted (them) to right away, but we stuck together as a family and we came through in the end,” said quarterback Caleb TerBush.
Purdue started the season with a thrilling 27-24 comeback win at home against Middle Tennessee. The Boilers trailed by four late in the game, but put together a three-minute drive capped off by TerBush hitting Antavian Edison on a 35-yard touchdown pass with 49-seconds to play to earn the victory.
“We got tired a little bit, but we just kept grinding and grinding and it worked out for us,” TerBush said.
Purdue’s junior quarterback is used to battling through adversity. He sat out all of last year because of academic ineligibility and started this year third on the Boilermakers depth chart.
Rob Henry was supposed to start under center for Purdue, but he suffered a season ending ACL injury and Robert Marve continues to recover from his own knee surgery a year ago. That meant, it was finally TerBush’s time to lead the team, and while no means perfect (19-33 for 219 yards, 2 TDs, INT), he performed well enough to get Purdue’s 2011 campaign started with a win.
“He had to get it done, and he got it done,” said Purdue head coach Danny Hope of TerBush. “He’s our quarterback and we are proud of him. He’ll get a lot better from this game.”
Even with TerBush’s late game heroics, Middle Tennessee still had a chance to send the game into overtime. Alan Gendreau’s 47-yard field goal attempt was blocked as time expired.
The man who got his hand on the ball was Ricardo Allen. The sophomore entered the 2011 season as one of the most highly touted cornerbacks in the Big Ten, but he made a big mistake against the Blue Raiders that costs the Boilermakers an early deficit.
Allen fumbled returning a punt in the first quarter and Middle Tennessee converted the turnover into a 7-0 lead.
“It killed me all game,” Allen said of the mistake.
“I had to make a play,” said Allen. “That was my chance and I had to take advantage of it.”
Allen and the Boilermakers are learning to take advantage of their opportunities, because they know how precious good ones are.
Just ask Ralph Bolden. Bolden was the Big Ten’s third leading rusher in 2009, but suffered a season ending knee injury prior to last year and was forced to miss the entire season.
He was back on the field, Saturday, and made the most of his return.
“It felt great just to go out there and play with my teammates,” the junior said.
Bolden rushed 17 times for 120-yards. It was the third time in his career that he eclipsed the century mark. But he was less concerned about his statistics (admitting after the game he had no idea how many yards he ran for) and more focused on the Boilermakers getting off the field with a win.
He said challenges the team has faced over the past two years, whether it was injuries, bad luck on the field, or any other hurdle, the Boilermakers are now ready to tackle all obstacles, especially a seven-point deficit in the fourth quarter.
“The game was close, but I knew we were going to come out (with the win). My teammates, last year, showed a lot of commitment and dedication to keep going and to never give up, “said Bolden. “We have a lot of leaders on this team, so in times like this, it’s a great thing to have so many leaders.”
Purdue's win over Middle Tennessee was anything but perfect, but the Boilermakers appear to be a team ready to take on adversity and make the best of it.