September 18, 1998
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - BOILERMAKERS SHOOT DOWN THE OWLS: Despite surrendering more total yards (393 to 332), rushing yards (321 to 82), running fewer plays (85 to 54) and holding the ball for less than one-third of the game (19:11), the Purdue Boilermakers earned their first victory of the season with a 21-19 triumph over the Rice Owls. Playing their home-opener in front of 42,563 fans in Ross-Ade Stadium, the Boilers twice surrendered leads of 11 points to the Owls, who's 321 yards on the ground were the most since they gained 384 against New Mexico last season (five games).
After a 23-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Chad Richardson to wideout Jason Blackwell with 3:58 remaining brought the Owls within two points at 21-19, Richardson's pass for Blackwell for the two-point conversion was broken-up by Purdue defensive back Michael Hawthorne.
"The line got in on the rush and the quarterback (Richardson) threw the ball sidearm," said Hawthorne. "I was just trying to break it up."
"The six years we went against the wishbone out west, we were 6-for-6," said Purdue coach Joe Tiller. "I'm not really sorry or sad to see this offense go and not be on our schedule again. We have come a long way at Purdue to come off the field and be disappointed with a win. Our guys don't think they had a very good performance."
LANE HAS CAREER DAY: Junior college transfer Randall Lane had a career day hauling in seven passes for 99 yards, including the game-winning nine-yard strike from Drew Brees late in the third quarter. Lane had 14 touchdowns at Los Angeles Valley Junior College the last two years.
BREES COOL UNDER PRESSURE: Sophomore quarterback Drew Brees continued from where he left off against USC, completing 20-of-31 passes for 250 yards and two touchdown passes in the victory over Rice. In the two games against the Trojans and the Owls, Brees has connected on 50-of-81 passes for 498 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions. The sophomore from Austin (TX) also rushed for a score from three yards out early in the first quarter, his third career rushing touchdown. He also reached paydirt via the ground last season in wins both at Illinois and Indiana. For his efforts, Brees was selected Purdue's Player-of-the Game by ESPN.
COLVIN COMES UP BIG: Rosevelt Colvin recorded his second career blocked kick on Rice's 43-yard field goal attempt in the second quarter. Last season, Colvin blocked a field goal in the Boilers' loss at Iowa. The preseason All-Big Ten pick also registered four tackles and two sacks for six yards against the Owls.
FELLS' LEADS BOILERS DEFENSE: For the second game in a row, linebacker Willie Fells led the Boilermakers in total tackles. The junior from Palatka (FL) totaled 15 tackles, including six solo stops. Two weeks ago against USC, Fells paced the Boilers with 13 tackles, including 11 solos. Fells led the Boilers a year ago with 131 stops (third in the Big Ten) en route to earning all-conference honorable mention honors.
BOTTS LOST FOR THE SEASON: Sophomore defensive tackle Brent Botts was lost for the season when the Cincinnati (OH)-native suffered a broken right ankle in the first quarter of Saturday's game against Rice.