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Purdue's Improbable Win Built Upon Boilermakers' Shaky Legs
By Michael Bonner, Reporter
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Julie Griggs doesn't watch many of her son's kicks. Saturday was no different. So when Paul Griggs lined up for a 46-yard field goal she couldn't look. Purdue's quarterback closed his eyes too. When the reopened, the field at Kinnick Stadium was cluttered with white jerseys dancing in celebrations and black jerseys walking off the field.
If they had focused on the kick that caused the pandemonium, they would have witnessed the Paul Griggs' first game-winning field goal of his life. His last game-winning kick was an extra point in eighth grade. This one just so happened to give Purdue a 27-24 win over Iowa as time expired.
What they didn't see they made up for in celebration.
"It was a mob scene afterwards. It seemed like everyone was grabbing me. I got grabbed by a couple of the guys after the kick," Paul Griggs said. "As soon as I got away from them, I was running over toward the fans and my mom ran out of the stands and just blindsided me."
That, unlike the tradition of not watching, is not customary.
"Yeah that was a little bit different. Usually she contains herself a little more," Paul Griggs said. "She was just clinging onto me for dear life, completely hysterical."
The hysteria after the game didn't come without meaning, from the kick, to the drive leading up to it and even the key contributors throughout the game.
The kick: The Boilermakers kickers boasted a long of 46 yards on the year, but made 7 of 12 kicks, including a miss from 20 yards Saturday.
Three weeks ago Paul Griggs was on the other side of the field, watching another team celebrate a walkoff win. Against Ohio State, a 29-22 overtime loss for the Boilermakers, Griggs missed two kicks and an extra point in regulation.
"The whole season feels like a difficult struggle it seems like," Paul Griggs said. "Certainly the Ohio State game really kind of gave me a, it checked me. It really did. I thought I had started to pick it up and get better and I thought I started striking the ball better. That game really showed me there was stuff I still needed to work on.
"I'm glad that that happened. I think I'm fortunate that that happened, because, again, you can't get better until you acknowledge the things you need to grow on."
The drive: Purdue started its final drive on its own 34 yard line with 16 seconds left on the clock. At that point it looked like touchdown or bust. The first play was a 17 yard quarterback scramble from Robert Marve, who each time he plants his left foot, puts pressure on a torn anterior cruciate ligament. It's the same knee that's already been repaired twice due to torn ACLs.
"That look normal? I was moving for a second," Marve said.
The next play he fired a 20 yard strike to Antavia Edison for his 230th yard of the game. In four prior Big Ten games he amassed a total of 321 yards. His two touchdowns matched his total vs. conference opponents as well.
"My faith have never been stronger," Marve said. "What I've gone through is blessing. That's what I first want to get out there."
The star: While Marve hobbled on a torn ACL, ripped for the third time in his career, running back Ralph Bolden knows the feeling. The senior returned this season after tearing his third ACL a year ago in the season finale.
After missing the first five games this year, Bolden returned to the field for 115 rushing yards in the last four games. He gained 108 against Iowa.
"I turned into a big cheerleader," Purdue running back Akeem Shavers said. "I know he wasn't going to go down but man. I almost got in trouble for going on the field."
Three improbable scenarios, all lining up to give the Boilermakers their first Big Ten win. The most recent game was a 34-9 drubbing against Penn State, its worst conference loss of the year. It spawned rumors the school is looking for a new head coach to replace Danny Hope. All the noise was silenced, like Kinnick Stadium Saturday afternoon, at least for now.
"That's what being a Boilermaker is all about," Hope said. "Sometimes it's not so easy to be a Boilermaker. But to be a Boilermaker means you have to hang in there and keep swinging the whole time and never give up."