Friday, September 29, 2006

Purdue Flashback | by Jay

Since our '66 championship team is being honored this week, I thought I'd dig up some stuff on the Purdue game from that year, an exciting matchup between two highly-ranked teams.

The first game of the season for either team, ND was ranked #6 and Purdue #8. The Irish started an untested sophomore quarterback in Terry Hanratty, while the Boilermakers returned veteran Bob Griese, who had led Purdue on a game-winning drive against ND the year before.

In '66, however, it was the upstart Irish who were victorious, 26-14. As the Chicago Tribune gushed:

Under the intermittent brilliance of scattered Indian summer clouds, Terry Hanratty, an 18-year-old finance major, and his 19-year-old sophomore classmate, Jim Seymour, rewrote the record book and the pre-season ratings by trouncing Purdue, 26 to 14, in two of the most spectacular debuts since Red Grange exploded on the intercollegiate football firmament.

The tall, muscular Hanratty, operating behind a line that was almost fanatical in its zeal to protect him, threw touchdown passes of 84, 39, and 7 yards to the [even] taller Seymour, and completed 16 of 24 attempts for 304 yards. Seymour gathered in 13 of those attempts for 276 yards, both records for receiving in the 79-year history of Notre Dame football.
Purdue got close in the fourth quarter. Griese engineered a 4th quarter TD drive (and kicked the extra point himself) to bring the game to 20-14, and the Boilermakers were beginning another drive when Alan Page smashed across the line and into Griese, forcing a fumble that the Irish recovered on the Purdue 12. This set up ND's final touchdown. Purdue never mounted a serious threat through the final 10 minutes, hindered by an interception on one drive, and a devious ND student section on the last.
...the Notre Dame student body beat [Griese] out of a final chance when it chanted off the seconds to end-of-game. Both teams accepted the erroneous count and headed for the locker rooms. Referee R.E. Meyer tried to call back the squads, but no one responded. Meyer finally signalled time in and, surrounded by fans but no ball players, stood over the ball until the final seconds had expired.

The Purdue coach [Jack Mollenkopf] explained the comic sequence at the end of the game when fans poured onto the field with [time] remaining and the players of both teams heading for the tunnel.

"Ara said to me, 'What do you want to do, call them back for one more play?' I said, 'Hell, let's don't bother.'"
Ara was exhilarated by the win.
"I think we just beat a darned good football team, gentlemen. I feel wonderful about it because Purdue is so dangerous...

"Stop Griese. That was our objective today. We tried to zone him most of the time because if he gets you man-for-man he'll kill you. Above all, we just tried like the dickens not to give Griese any cheap touchdowns."

Parseghian was as effervescent as the carbonated beverage in his hand as he discussed the play of Hanratty and his sophomore battery mate, Jim Seymour.

"It's easy to see why I'm not a very good poker player," exclaimed Ara. "I didn't make any secret of the fact that Hanratty is great. I couldn't hide my enthusiasm for him. And Seymour? He can go get 'em, can't he?"
Here are a couple of great videos from the game, care of TJND88 (also linked up in the BGS Video Vault).

First off is Nick Eddy's kickoff return for a touchdown in the first quarter. Keep an eye on the blocking scheme on that return -- one Irish player, at the moment of the kick, fires out and basically chop blocks one of the middle cover guys. Then the two up guys for the Irish on each side cross each other and pick off the gunners. Eddy follows a convoy right up the middle of the field. Old school.

Second is a Hanratty-to-Seymour montage from the game. Check out a fired-up Ara dashing into the end zone to congratulate Seymour on that last TD catch.

And if that's not enough, has an excellent season highlight video of the 1966 National Champs.