WEST LAFAYETTE –Notre Dame needed about 4 ½ minutes to avert disaster against Purdue on Saturday night.
The No. 21 Irish scored three touchdowns early in the fourth and held on to defeat Purdue 31-24 in Rose-Ade Stadium.
Notre Dame (2-1), which tied the game at 17 just 13 seconds into the fourth quarter, took its first lead of the game when Tommy Rees hit DaVaris Daniels for an 82-yard touchdown pass – which had to stand up to a review – with 12:40 to play. Cornerback Bennett Jackson returned an interception 34 yards 90 seconds later to put the Irish ahead 31-17.
Purdue (1-2) answered Notre Dame's 14 quick points with a seven-play, 75-yard scoring drive, but the Boilermakers never got any closer than seven points after Justin Sinz's touchdown catch, even after Purdue recovered an Amir Carlisle fumble on Notre Dame's 41 with 8:10 to play.
The Irish forced a three-and-out by the Boilers after Carlisle's fumble, and closed the game behind running back Cam McDaniel, who carried the ball 10 times on Notre Dame's 13-play, 61-yard drive that put things out of reach for Purdue.
Rees threw for 309 yards with two touchdown passes to Daniels, who had 8 catches for 167 yards. McDaniel ran for 56 yards and a score.
Rob Henry threw for 256 yards with three touchdowns and an interception, and Akeem Hunt had nine catches for 72 yards with a TD and ran for 22 yards.
Notre Dame pulled into a 17-point tie with Purdue 13 seconds into the final quarter.
Daniels came down with a 9-yard touchdown catch on third-and-goal to end a drive that started in the third quarter.
The Irish then got the defensive stop it needed, forcing the Boilers to punt from their 44 after five plays.
And then, Rees and Daniels picked the perfect time to set career bests for a throw and a reception. With Purdue loading the box with eight defenders and Notre Dame on its 18, Rees hit Daniels down the right side line after he beat cornerback Ricardo Allen.
Daniels then raced in for the touchdown and a 24-17 lead with 12:40 to play.
Notre Dame struck again 1 ½ minutes later as cornerback Bennett Jackson intercepted Rob Henry's pass at Purdue's 34 and ran in for the touchdown to give the Irish a 31-17 lead with 11:18 to play.
Purdue responded with a touchdown throw from Henry to Justin Sinz from nine yards out to cut Notre Dame's lead to 31-24 with 8:16 to play. But the Boilermakers could not get back on top.