WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Dan Dierking rushed for 102 yards and two touchdowns to help Purdue beat Western Illinois 31-21 on Saturday in its home opener.
Keith Smith caught six passes for 43 yards, but Purdue's top receiver left the game in the fourth quarter with an injured right knee.
Robert Marve threw for 171 yards, one touchdown and one interception for the Boilermakers (1-1), who bounced back from last week's loss at Notre Dame. It was Marve's first win as Purdue's quarterback after transferring from Miami (Fla.).
Western Illinois, a member of the Football Championship Subdivision, was tied with Purdue at 7 before the Boilermakers scored 10 points in the final 18 seconds of the first half.
Smith caught 91 passes for 1,100 yards last season and was Marve's top target with 12 catches against Notre Dame in the season opener. After leaving the game, he returned to the sideline on crutches with his right knee wrapped.
Ryan Kerrigan dominated for Purdue. The defensive end had career highs with 12 tackles and four tackles for loss. He had a sack and forced a fumble.
Western Illinois caught the first break of the game when Tyler West intercepted a pass by Marve and returned it to the Purdue 42. Five plays later, Ray scored from the 1-yard line to give Western Illinois a 7-0 lead.
Marve came back on the next possession. Justin Siller turned a quick screen into a 25-yard touchdown reception and Marve's first touchdown pass at Purdue.
Dierking scored on a 1-yard run with 18 seconds left in the second quarter, and Purdue took a 14-7 lead. Western Illinois' Todd Speight fumbled the kickoff, and Purdue's Josh Johnson recovered at the Leathernecks' 21. Carson Wiggs kicked a 36-yard field goal to give the Boilermakers a 17-7 halftime lead.
Purdue added to its lead late in the third quarter. A roughing the kicker penalty against Western Illinois, followed by an offsides penalty, put the Boilermakers deep in the Leathernecks' territory. Dierking ripped off a 27-yard run, then followed it with a 5-yard touchdown run to put the Boilermakers up 24-7 with 3:11 left in the period.
Western Illinois went for it on a fourth-and-1 from its 47 early in the fourth quarter, but Bruce Gaston and Max Charlot hit Ray for a 2-yard loss. It took Western Illinois about 19 minutes to get a first down in the second half.
Western's Bryce Flowers scored on a 14-yard run with 4:31 remaining to cut Purdue's lead to 24-14. The Leathernecks tried an onside kick, but Purdue recovered.
On Purdue's second play, Al-Terek McBurse ran up the middle and saw nothing. He bounced outside, and Western Illinois' Ryan Demming swung him around close to the ground. McBurse fell on top of Demming, then regained his balance and sprinted for a 40-yard touchdown run to give the Boilermakers a 31-14 lead. The play was reviewed, but the call of a touchdown stood. McBurse finished with 81 yards on five carries.
Western Illinois closed the scoring with a 10-yard pass from Barr to Charles Chestnut with 1:22 to play.
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