American Football Database
1956 Purdue Boilermakers football
ConferenceBig Ten Conference
1956 record3–4–2 (1–4–2 Big Ten)
Head coachJack Mollenkopf (1st season)
MVPLamar Lundy
Home stadiumRoss–Ade Stadium
← 1955
1957 →
1956 Big Ten football standings
v · d · e Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
#3/3 Iowa 5 1 0     9 1 0
#7/7 Michigan 5 2 0     7 2 0
#12/9 Minnesota 4 1 2     6 1 2
#9/10 Michigan State 4 2 0     7 2 0
#15/NR Ohio State 4 2 0     6 3 0
Northwestern 3 3 1     4 4 1
Purdue 1 4 2     3 4 2
Illinois 1 4 2     2 5 2
Wisconsin 0 4 3     1 5 3
Indiana 1 5 0     3 6 0
† – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll / Coaches' Poll

The 1956 Purdue Boilermakers football team was an American football team that represented Purdue University during the 1956 Big Ten Conference football season. In their first year under head coach Jack Mollenkopf, the Boilermakers compiled a 3–4–2 record, finished in a tie for seventh place in the Big Ten Conference with a 1–4–2 record against conference opponents, and outscored all opponents by a combined total of 139 to 122.[1][2]

Notable players on the 1956 Purdue team include quarterback Len Dawson, fullback Mel Dillard, and end Lamar Lundy.


On December 9, 1955, Purdue head coach Stu Holcomb resigned his position and signed a five-year contract as the athletic director at Northwestern.[3] Four days later, Purdue president Frederick L. Hovde announced that Holcomb's top assistant, Jack Mollenkopf, had been signed to a three-year contract as Purdue's head football coach.[4]


September 29Missouri*W 16–7
October 6at MinnesotaL 14–21
October 13at No. 18 Notre Dame*W 28–14
October 20at WisconsinNo. 17T 6–6
October 27No. 12 Iowa
  • Ross–Ade Stadium
  • West Lafayette, IN
L 20–21
November 3Illinois
T 7–7
November 10at No. 4 Michigan State
L 9–12
November 17at NorthwesternL 0–14
November 24Indiana
W 39–20
  • *Non-conference game
  • Rankings from AP Poll released prior to the game


1956 Purdue Boilermakers football team roster
Players Coaches
Pos. # Name Class
QB 16 Dawson, LenLen Dawson Sr
Pos. # Name Class
Special teams
Pos. # Name Class
Head coach
Coordinators/assistant coaches

  • (C) Team captain
  • (S) Suspended
  • (I) Ineligible
  • Injured Injured
  • Redshirt Redshirt

Game summaries


In the first game under head coach Mollenkopf, Purdue defeated Missouri, 16–7, before a crowd of 46,455 at Ross–Ade Stadium in Lafayette, Indiana. Purdue halfback Tom Fletcher rushed for 154 yards, including a 35-yard touchdown run. Purdue quarterback Len Dawson completed eight of 17 passes for 118 yards.[5]


Minnesota defeated Purdue, 21–14, before a crowd of 59,314 at Memorial Stadium in Minneapolis. Fullback Dick Borstad scored two Minnesota touchdowns on runs of 23 yards and one yard. Purdue quarterback Len Dawson completed seven of 13 passes for 102 yards and three interceptions.[6]

Notre Dame

Purdue defeated Notre Dame (ranked No. 18 in the AP Poll), 28–14, before a crowd of 58,778 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend. Purdue back Mel Dillard rushed for 142 yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries.[7]


Purdue and Wisconsin played to a 6–6 tie before a Dad's Day crowd of 53,094 at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison. Danny Lewis ran 30 yards for a Wisconsin touchdown in the first quarter, and Len Dawson threw a touchdown pass to Lamar Lundy in the second quarter. Neither team converted its extra point.[8]


Iowa (ranked No. 12 in the AP Poll) defeated Purdue, 21–20, before a crowd of 41,415 at Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette. Purdue quarterback Len Dawson threw two touchdown passes, and Mel Dillard ran for a third. Iowa also scored three touchdowns, with the difference being a missed extra point. Purdue drove into Iowa territory late in the game, but Purdue fumbled at the 25-yard line with a minute and a half remaining in the game.[9]


Illinois and Purdue played to a 7–7 tie before a homecoming crowd of 46,166 at Ross–Ade Stadium in West Lafayette.[10]

Michigan State

Michigan State (ranked No. 4 in the AP Poll) defeated Purdue, 12–9, before a crowd of 56,431 at Macklin Stadium in East Lansing. Purdue was a three touchdown underdog without Len Dawson but scored on a touchdown run by Mel Dillard and a safety triggered by Fletcher tackling Martin in the end zone. Michigan State scored two touchdowns, a 27-yard pass from Jim Ninowski to Harold Dukes, and a fumble recovery by Tony Kolodziej in Purdue's end zone.[11]


Northwestern defeated Purdue, 14–0, before a crowd of 32,000 at Dyche Stadium in Evanston. Northwestern recovered five of seven Purdue fumbles and intercepted three passes. Four of the fumbles were recovered by Al Viola. After the game, Edward Prell wrote in the Chicago Tribune that Northwestern had in 1956 been "brought back to life by its new 33 year old coach, Ara Parseghian."[12]


In the annual battle for the Old Oaken Bucket, Purdue defeated Indiana, 39–20, at Ross-Ade Stadium in Lafayette, Indiana. In his final college game, Purdue quarterback Len Dawson threw two touchdown passes, both caught by end Lamar Lundy. Mel Dillard rushed for 130 yards and three touchdowns in the game and a conference high 873 yards for the season. The game proved to be a battle for last place in the conference, with Purdue finishing in ninth place and Indiana in tenth and last place.[13]

Awards and statistics

Purdue fullback Mel Dillard was recognized by both the Associated Press and the United Press as a first-team player on the 1956 All-Big Ten Conference football team.[14][15]

Purdue players led the Big Ten in rushing yards, total offense, and passing yards. Dillard led the conference with 873 rushing yards and 902 yards of total offense.[16] Quarterback Len Dawson led the conference with 856 passing yards.[16] Lamar Lundy ranked fifth in the Big Ten with 248 receiving yards.[16]

1957 NFL Draft

The following Purdue players were among the first 100 picks in the 1957 NFL Draft:[17]

Name Position Team Round Overall pick
Len Dawson Quarterback Purdue 1 5
Lamar Lundy End Purdue 4 47


  1. "Purdue Yearly Results (1955-1959)". College Football Data Warehouse. David DeLassus. Retrieved December 8, 2015.
  2. "1956 Purdue Boilermakers Schedule and Results". SR/College Football. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved December 6, 2015.
  3. Edward Prell (December 10, 1955). "Holcomb Accepts N.U. Challenge: New Director of Athletics Quits Purdue". Chicago Tribune: p. 3-1. open access
  4. Bob Collins (December 13, 1956). "Mollenkopf Asks Stu's Staff to Stay". The Indianapolis Star: p. 27. open access
  5. "Purdue Beats Missouri, 16–7". Chicago Tribune: p. 2-1. September 30, 1956. open access
  6. "Gopher Defense Halts Late Purdue Bid, 21–14". Chicago Tribune: pp. 2–1, 2–8. October 7, 1956. open access
  7. Jeb Cadou Jr. (October 14, 1956). "Purdue Wallops Irish: Wins, 28–14 By Ripping Foe's Line". The Indianapolis Star: p. 21. open access
  8. Charles Bartlett (October 21, 1956). "Badgers, Purdue Miss Kick, Tie, 6–6: 8 Fumbles Mar Peculiar Game". Chicago Tribune: p. 2-1.
  9. Bill Bryson (October 28, 1956). "It's No. 5: Iowa 21, Purdue 20!". The Des Moines Register: p. 1S. open access
  10. Charles Bartlett; Howard Barry (November 4, 1956). "Illinois Ties, 7–7: Boilermakers Avert Loss in Final Period". Chicago Tribune: pp. 2–1, 2–3. open access
  11. Tommy Devine (November 11, 1956). "It's a 'Steal' for Sputtering Spartans, 12–9: MSU Is Outplayed All the Way". Detroit Free Press: p. 1C. open access
  12. Edward Prell (November 18, 1956). "N.U., Notre Dame Triump; Wildcats Hop on 5 Purdue Fumbles, 14–0". Chicago Tribune: p. 2-1. open access
  13. Jep Cadou Jr. (November 25, 1956). "Purdue Explodes, Buries Hoosiers, 39 To 20: Score 3 Times in 3rd Period". The Indianapolis Star: p. 4-1. open access
  14. "Hawk Trio On All Big Ten". The Spencer Daily Reporter: p. 4. November 30, 1956.,3709370.
  15. "Mel Dillard on All-Big Ten Team; Iowa Puts Men in Four Positions". Alexandria (IN) Times-Tribune: p. 3. November 30, 1956. open access
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 "1956 Big Ten Conference Year Summary". SR/College Football. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved January 9, 2017.
  17. "1957 NFL Draft: Full Draft". National Football League. Retrieved January 4, 2017.