Purdue quarterback Caleb TerBush took the final snap, sprinted to the sideline and handed the football to Coach Danny Hope.
Perhaps empowered by getting a contract extension recently, Hope made the gutsy decision to go for two onside kicks in the first half and both gambles paid off for the Boilermakers in a 37-32 win over Western Michigan on Tuesday at Detroit in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.
Raheem Mostert returned a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown, third-string running back Reggie Pegram scored the first two TDs of his career and Carson Wiggs made two field goals to give the Boilermakers a 27-15 lead at halftime.
Wiggs also recovered one of his onside kicks.
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Purdue (7-6) had a 12-point lead early in the fourth quarter, but the Big Ten team had to hold on for the win against the Mid-American Conference program.
The Broncos (7-6) got the ball with a chance to go ahead, but their comeback hopes ended when quarterback Alex Carder fumbled for his fifth turnover with just under 2 minutes left. The Boilermakers played in a bowl for the first time since 2007, when they beat Central Michigan — also in Detroit.
Western Michigan fell to 0-5 in post-season play.
Purdue's Akeem Shavers ran for a career-high 148 yards on 22 carries, filling in for the injured Ralph Bolden, and was named the game's MVP.
Around the nation
South Carolina: Coach Steve Spurrier called Lorenzo Ward on Tuesday morning with a late Christmas present, telling Ward he was no longer South Carolina's interim defensive boss, a title he had held in the six days since Ellis Johnson left to become Southern Miss's head coach, but instead the Gamecocks' full-time defensive coordinator.
"It's a blessing that Coach Spurrier feels the way he does about me," Ward said. "I am excited about it."
Spurrier informed the team of the news Tuesday afternoon after the players and coaches had arrived in Orlando, Fla., to begin preparation for Monday's Capital One Bowl. The players congratulated Ward with chest bumps and playful shoves following a brief workout in a hotel ballroom, Ward said.
Nebraska: Offensive lineman Andrew Rodriguez has been ruled out of the Capital One Bowl because of a sprained foot.
Clemson: Receiver DeAndre Hopkins is recovering from a concussion after a car wreck on the way to meet his teammates for a trip to Florida for the Orange Bowl. Coach Dabo Swinney did not know if Hopkins, Clemson's second-leading receiver, would be able to play in the Jan. 4 bowl game against West Virginia.
Florida: Running back Jeff Demps missed the team's first Gator Bowl practice Tuesday at Jacksonville University to attend to a personal matter, Coach Will Muschamp said. Second on the team with 539 yards rushing and a team-high six touchdowns, Demps is expected to join the Gators on Wednesday.