Brees, Purdue On Scent Of Rose

Melanie Larkin, center, and her mother Laurie Tang, right, wait in line to pay for shoes they are buying on sale at Macy's in San Francisco on Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2006. AP/SF Chronicle, Deanne Fitzmaurice

All Drew Brees wanted was a second chance.

"I stepped into the huddle and told the guys this is the way it is supposed to be. We will be successful," said Brees, who teamed with a trio of receivers and carried Purdue one step closer to the Rose Bowl on Saturday.

Brees tied his career worst by throwing four interceptions, but he passed for 455 yards and three fourth-quarter touchdowns as the No. 16 Boilermakers beat No. 12 Ohio State 31-27. With two more victories, Purdue would be assured of its first trip to the Rose Bowl in 34 years.

"I didn't know it would happen like it did, but it happened, didn't it?" Brees said. "It's hard not to think about the mistakes, but I guess I redeemed myself."

The Boilermakers (7-2, 5-1 Big Ten) trailed 27-24 with just over two minutes to go after Brees' fourth interception set up a 2-yard touchdown run by Jerry Westbrooks.

But on the second play after the kickoff, Brees passed 64 yards to Seth Morales, who got behind the Ohio State defense and went in for the winning touchdown with 1:55 to go.

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  • The Buckeyes (6-2, 3-2), who had not lost to Purdue since 1988, fumbled a bad snap on their next possession, and Purdue ran out the clock as fans poured onto the field to celebrate.

    Morales had seven receptions for 115 yards, Vinny Sutherland had 10 catches for 142 yards, and Tim Stratton had a career-high 12 receptions for 100 yards.

    "It wasn't designed to go to me," Morales said of the game-winning touchdown. "Drew looked at Vinny, and he looked at Stratton, and he just came to me. You kind of talk to yourself, `Just catch the ball, just catch the ball.'

    Mike Doss, who had two of the interceptions off Brees, was the defender Morales beat for the touchdown.

    "I just blew the coverage," Doss said. "I knew they could throw for a score at any moment. I looked back at the No. 1 receiver nd they threw over the top of me. That was it.

    "Drew Brees is a great quarterback. If you intercept him four times, you'd think you would win the game."

    Ohio State led 20-10 late in the third quarter after an 83-yard punt return for a touchdown by Nate Clements. But the Boilermakers moved 73 yards on their next series, scoring on a 5-yard pass from Brees to John Standeford early in the final period.

    On Purdue's next possession, Brees connected with Sutherland on passes of 17 and 15 yards before the pair hooked up on a 19-yard TD pass for a 24-20 lead. Ohio state went three-and-out on the next series, but the Buckeyes got the ball back when Doss picked off Brees for the second time in the game, setting up Westbrooks' touchdown run.

    "We had to beat them twice," Purdue coach Joe Tiller said. "I really did think we had them on the next to last possession. But as luck would have it, we threw the interception and things didn't look too good. But our guys came back and made a big play, did what they had to do."

    Brees, the Big Ten career leader in touchdown passes and yardage, had never thrown a TD pass against Ohio State before Saturday and finished 39-for-65.

    "It was a tough way to lose a ball game. They did what they had to do to win," Ohio State coach John Cooper said. "I don't know if I have ever seen a quarterback put on a better performance than Drew Brees.

    "Obviously, he made some mistakes, but he came back, and give him credit."

    Brees was effective in the first half, repeatedly hitting Stratton for short gains. But three first-half drives were stopped by interceptions, including one that set up the Buckeyes' only first-half score, a 35-yard-field goal by Dan Stultz.

    Then, after Akin Aodele intercepted Ohio State quarterback Steve Bellisari's pass, Purdue scored its only points of the first half. Brees passed twice to Stratton, then hit A.T. Simpson for 19 yards to the Ohio State 8. Brees ran once to the 2, and Steve Ennis scored on the next play for a 7-3 lead.

    David Mitchell intercepted a pass by Brees with just over a minute to go before halftime. Bellisari was sacked twice, however, and Ohio State was forced to punt away with five seconds left, keeping Purdue's slim lead at the break.

    Stultz and Purdue's Travis Dorsch traded field goals early in the third quarter before a 1-yard TD run by the Buckeyes' Jamar Martin and Clements' long punt return.


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    • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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