WEST LAFAYETTE — Purdue wasn’t going to let this one slip away.
Elijah Sindelar and Rondale Moore made sure of that in Purdue’s 42-24 win over Vanderbilt in the Boilermakers’ home opener Saturday at Ross-Ade Stadium.
Sindelar accomplished something not done at Purdue since Drew Brees, while Moore set a new personal career high for catches and receiving yards.
Vanderbilt made a few pushes in the second half, but Purdue answered each one. Often, it was Sindelar and Moore connecting for big plays.
Sindelar completed 34 of 52 passes for 509 yards and five touchdowns, becoming the first Purdue quarterback to throw for 400-plus yards in consecutive games since Brees did so in 1998. Moore caught a career-high 13 passes for a career-high 220 yards and one touchdown, with 169 of those yards coming in the second half.
“Our offense made a lot of big plays in the passing game,” Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm said. “It’s hard to pass for that many yards, especially against a good SEC defense.”
After its season-opening loss to Nevada last week, Brohm lamented not being more aggressive with play calling late in the game, as Purdue lost a double-digit lead. That wasn’t going to be a concern against Vanderbilt.
Purdue took a commanding 28-10 lead after scoring twice in the third quarter. Vanderbilt scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, but Purdue answered each one with a touchdown of its own — one on a 34-yard touchdown throw from Sindelar to Moore and the second on a 1-yard run by Sindelar.
“I don’t know how many more times we can throw,” Brohm said. “We wanted to go down being aggressive, but trust me, I’d rather have some balance and run the football. But credit to Elijah, Rondale, Brycen Hopkins and the receiving corps. We threw the ball a ton and they made a lot of tough plays. We blocked well when we had to do so against a team that knows how to rush the passer.”
Purdue tight ends had three touchdown receptions, including two by Hopkins, the reigning Mackey Award Player of the Week. Payne Durham had not just his first career reception, but also his first career touchdown catch — a 2-yard pass from Sindelar in the second quarter that put Purdue ahead for good, 14-7.
“They’ve done a great job and It’s been an emphasis to get our tight ends, especially Brycen, to get more involved,” Brohm said. “Our tight ends stepped up, made tough catches, controlled the middle of the field and made contested catches.”
Vanderbilt took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on Ke’Shawn Vaughn’s 1-yard touchdown run.
Purdue answered on its next drive, which culminated in Hopkins’ 12-yard touchdown catch. On that play, Sindelar threaded his pass between two defenders and Hopkins broke a tackle near the goal line, tying the game at seven.
Vanderbilt took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on Ke’Shawn Vaughn’s 1-yard touchdown run. But in what would become a familiar theme, Purdue answered immediately.
Purdue went 68 yards in six plays, culminating with Hopkins’ 12-yard touchdown catch. On that play, Sindelar threaded his pass between two defenders and Hopkins broke a tackle near the goal line, tying the game at seven.
Purdue’s defense forced a three-and-out midway through the second quarter and the Boilers’ offense wasted little time in taking the lead. Freshman David Bell had a 25-yard reception with two defenders on him and two plays later Moore caught a 22-yard pass, which led to Durham’s touchdown reception on the next play.
Moore’s 220 receiving yards are the third most in a single game in Purdue history, behind Chris Daniels (301 yards in 1999) and Selwyn Lymon (238 yards in 2006). His nine 100-yard receiving games are already fourth in program history.