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Offense carries Notre Dame to victory over Purdue

Sep 30, 2006 - 10:32 PM SOUTH BEND, Indiana (Ticker) -- Brady Quinn and Rhema McKnight made sure Notre Dame did not need any last-minute heroics this week.

Quinn threw a pair of touchdowns to McKnight and Darius Walker had his first 100-yard rushing game of the season to lead the 12th-ranked Fighting Irish to a 35-21 victory over Purdue in the finale of a four-game run against Big Ten Conference opponents.

The Fighting Irish (4-1) routed Penn State here three weeks ago, 41-17, but then were crushed by Michigan the following week, 47-21. They appeared on the verge of a second straight defeat after falling behind Michigan State by as many as 17 points last Saturday but scored 19 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to post a 40-37 road win.

Quinn threw five touchdowns against the Spartans and added his 12th and 13th of the campaign on Saturday against the Boilermakers as he completed 29-of-38 passes for 316 yards.

"We spent a lot of time on the nuance routes that, like I said, we have just been missing," Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis said. "And today I thought (Quinn) was pretty much on the money. I think that the extra work paid off, but also getting the running game going, that helped some too. "

McKnight, who finished with 10 receptions for 120 yards, hauled in a five-yard TD pass from Quinn in the second quarter that gave Notre Dame a 21-7 lead. The duo hooked up again in the third quarter for a 12-yard score that made it 35-14.

Purdue (4-1) had its seven-game winning streak snapped and was denied its second 5-0 start in the last three years, but not because of its offense.

"We won't play a more experienced team than the one we played today. And most likely won't play against a more talented team," Purdue coach Joe Tiller said. "But I think that from an offensive point of view, there was no secret coming into 2006, we felt like we were going to have to outscore some people. So if they score 35, we need to score 36."

The Boilermakers rolled up 492 yards against the Irish, led by Curtis Painter, who completed 23-of-46 passes for 398 yards and two touchdowns. His favorite target was Selwyn Lymon, who torched the Irish secondary for eight receptions for 238 yards and two TDs. His receiving yards are the most ever by a player against Notre Dame.

"Our coaches told us that they were going to try and cover Dorien Bryant really hard today and they challenged us to step up," Lymon said. "I was able to get a lot of one-on-one situations out of it and Curtis did a good job of seeing the field and getting me the ball. I didn't plan on having a game like this, but it feels good. It would have been nice to get the win, though."

Helping Quinn establish the passing game was Walker, who rushed for 146 yards on 31 carries and scored on a 14-yard run in the first quarter that put Notre Dame on top for good, 14-7.

"I thought it was a good day, but at the same time, there were a lot of things that I could have done better," Walker said. "There were a lot of runs that I could have made better or some times when I could have made another defender miss and taken it all the way."

Walker added nine catches for 73 yards for Notre Dame, which now will open the Pac-10 Conference portion of its schedule. The Irish host Stanford and then UCLA after a bye week.

The Irish had scored 10 first-quarter points in their first four games combined but had 14 Saturday. George West scored on an 11-yard run to open the scoring just over three minutes into the game and Walker made it 14-7 with 42 seconds left in the period.

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