DETROIT—Purdue forced six turnovers and recovered a pair of surprise onside kicks in a 37-32 win over Western Michigan in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl on Tuesday.
The Boilermakers (7-6) caused three fumbles and recovered two, the final one with 1:50 remaining. Ryan Russell knocked the ball away from Western Michigan quarterback Alex Carder and Bruce Gaston recovered to seal the victory.
It was a long day for Carder, who completed 31 of 57 passes for 413 yards and three touchdowns, but was intercepted four times and sacked once. Second-team All-America receiver Jordan White caught a bowl-record 13 passes for 249 yards and one touchdown.
Purdue's offensive hero was Akeem Shavers, who started in place of Ralph Bolden, out with a torn ACL. Shavers rushed for a career-best 148 yards on 22 carries. Quarterbacks Caleb TerBush completed 8 of 13 passes for 101 yards and one touchdown and Robert Marve completed 6 of 7 for 76 yards and one touchdown.
Purdue took control by scoring 17 unanswered points in the final seven minutes of the first half. Raheem Mostert started the barrage with a 99-yard kickoff return, followed by a 1-yard Reggie Pegram touchdown run, and a 19-yard field goal by Carson Wiggs.
Wiggs played an important role in the game, as the kicker executed two onside kicks and even recovered the second one himself. Wiggs also booted three field goals, the first a 49-yarder and the last a 26-yarder.
Western Michigan (7-6) drew to within one score when Carder threw a touchdown pass to Chleb Ravenell with 4:56 remaining. The Broncos defense then held the Boilermakers on downs and forced a punt. Western got the ball with 2:09 left, but coughed it up on the second play to end the hopes of winning the school's first bowl game.