DaVaris Daniels, Ricardo Allen
Updated: September 15, 2013 9:27PM
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue had a great opportunity to pull even with Notre Dame with eight minutes left Saturday.
Irish running back Amir Carlisle had just fumbled, and the Boilermakers took over at their own 44 after an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty.
That’s when Notre Dame’s defense stiffened. Cornerback Bennett Jackson was credited with a sack on first down before Purdue quarterback Rob Henry threw two incomplete passes. The Boilermakers punted and never got the ball again as the Irish escaped with 31-24 victory.
‘‘We played much more physical [on defense],’’ Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said during a teleconference Sunday. ‘‘I was very pleased with that.’’
The Irish limited Purdue to 38 rushing yards on 21 carries.
‘‘Purdue, this offense, is built to run the football,’’ Kelly said. ‘‘That’s what they wanted to do. They weren’t able to do that.”
Notre Dame held the Boilermakers to 294 total yards.
‘‘We’re still evolving,’’ Kelly said. ‘‘It takes time. Even if you’ve got guys that are veterans, we have some key positions that have some new players in it. They’re coming together. We’re playing great competition. We’re getting tested. We’re making progress. I like to make progress through winning.’’
Kelly said the Irish did a better job of communicating on defense.
‘‘Some of the basic tenets that we’re looking for defensively are starting to come together,’’ he said.
Malik Zaire tweeted he was ‘‘cleared’’ as he recovers from mononucleosis, which prompted coach Brian Kelly to respond: ‘‘Yeah, but he might be suspended for violating the rules relative to information.’’
† Kelly said linebacker Kendall Moore and safety Eilar Hardy will return to the team after not traveling to Purdue for a rules violation.