Purdue caught up in the storm
T sounded like rain.
Big crowds in big games at Aloha Stadium make a sound that feels like a flood is going to come.
Fumbles. Touchdowns. Interceptions. One final score. One final stop.
"Oh, yeah!" someone said. Amidst the chaos, you could somehow hear that individual voice.
It sounded like a storm. It was a storm again, at long last.
PURDUE SCORED TOO early. You knew it. I knew it. The American people knew it.
But you take points when you can get them, in a game like this, against a team like this. And so instead of running the final 6:50 off the clock Purdue went deep, scored. One play.
"It's not really something we think about," Purdue quarterback Curtis Painter would say. "We needed to score points and get after them."
"We knew that was great for us because we knew how fast we could score," Colt Brennan would say.
BRENNAN HAS HIS moment now. He needed one. He hadn't had a moment. Oh, he'd made great plays and had great stats, and scrambled, and he'd even thrown up, spectacularly. Right through his face mask, right onto the field.
But he hadn't had a moment. Not yet. Hadn't won a game he shouldn't have, hadn't had a miracle in a game's final minutes. He'd thrown an interception at Alabama. At Boise, he'd fumbled.
In the huddle, on that last drive, they looked to him.
"Just all business, pretty much," he said.
THE LEVEL OF play. Well, that was the question, wasn't it? How would Hawaii do against a higher class of opponent?
Yes, you would have to say UH would have a shot at finishing fifth in the Big Ten.
Purdue, a middle-of-the-pack Big Ten team which had come in with eight wins, but none of them against a foe with a winning record, shook off an early case of jet lag and gave you an idea of the kind of good life Hawaii is living in this new-look WAC. Yes, Virginia, this was no Utah State.
That D-line that had brutalized foes? Well, this O-line was "the best one we went against," defensive end Mel Purcell would say. By far.
"You gotta expect that," Nate Ilaoa said. "Football fans know the Big Ten is a big-time conference and they're going to get top-pick people."
DEFENSE WON IT. All game long Purdue had gone up and down the field. The Boilermakers made nine third-down conversions. Nine! This was the Big Ten. This was how it was going to go.
But then, the fourth quarter. The final minutes. Miracles. Interceptions. Blaze Soares got a key sack. The place shook. It was defense time again. Defense. Even after having given up 35 points, defense won this game.
And then they dumped the ice bucket over June Jones' head.
And then "Hawaii 5-0" played.
At the end, linebacker Tyson Kafentzis kneeled on the ground, exhausted, and flexed a muscle.
Or maybe he was just checking his elbow.
Either way, it looked just right.