Those Were The Days - Purdue
Once the 2010's end in a little over two months, we can start the debate whether the 1970's or 2010's were worse. So it's not often that Detlef can "Those Were The Days" a game from the 70's. But he managed to pull it off here, taking us back to the Bob Blackman era. Here's Detlef to talk about 1973.
Illinois travels to Purdue, the worst campus in the Big 10, in hopes of winning back the Cannon trophy. Last year's game gives me nightmares. A pretty good crowd, nice day, Illinois scores first and…never mind. Anyhow, this week's tale recalls when an Illinois kicker set a record and a former Illini on the other sideline fell to defeat.
October 13, 1973: Illinois hosted Purdue at Memorial Stadium in Bob Blackman's second year in charge of the Orange and Blue. Alex Agase, a former Illinois lineman from Evanston, coached Purdue. He was an All-American in 1942 and then entered the Marine Corps in World War II. He played a season at Purdue in 1943 during his training and was again named an All-American. After his discharge, he returned to Illinois in 1946 and was again named an All-American as Illinois won the Big 10 and the Rose Bowl. Agase won the Silver Football award as Big 10 MVP from the Chicago Tribune. Impressive!
Illinois entered the game at 2-2 after losses to West Virginia and Stanford. Illinois fumbled three times against Stanford which led to the loss. Further, kicker Dan Beaver struggled in the loss. But on this day, Beaver made his kicks. On a windy day, Beaver made field goals from 52, 44, 35, 34 and 32 yards. This broke the Big Ten record for field goals in a game. "Dan showed a great deal of poise and really came through under pressure," said Blackman. "We had a lot of confidence in Dan even though his previous record wasn't too good. The strange thing was that he had his poorest percentage of field goals in practice this Thursday."
The end of the game came down to a 55-yard field goal try by Purdue. However, the wind had shifted to a crosswind by this time and the kick was not close. Illinois took the win despite not playing well. Purdue outgained Illinois, 335 total yards to 240. "I'm not real happy with the way we moved the ball and I'm not sure who will be the quarterback next week." Importantly, Illinois had regained several players from injury, including running back Lonnie Perrin and offensive tackle Gerry Sullivan.
The game was not without controversy. In the fourth quarter, an Illinois punt from Phil Vierneisel touched the Purdue returner Fred Cooper. Illinois recovered and Illinois later scored the winning field goal. However, Purdue felt that Illinois interfered with the return. Agase, to his credit, took the high road. "I won't discuss the officiating or the calls. He gave the fair catch signal and the ball touched him." Blackman said that "I did see the ball hit the Purdue receiver's foot." Another strange occurrence took place after halftime. Agase went for an onside kick to start the second half but Illinois recovered which led to another Beaver field goal.
Illinois won its next two Big Ten games and stood at 4-0 in the conference, but ended up crashing and burning for a 5-6 record, 4-4 in the conference. Dan Beaver was later named as an All-American. When he returned to campus for the Illinois Renaissance celebration in 2008, he was living with his wife in the Philippines as a Christian missionary.
Sources: Daily Illini: October 16, 1973. "No One Works Harder Than Dan Beaver" by Jeff Metcalfe. "Agase Calm After Tight Loss" by Fred Eisenhammer. Wikipedia.