WEST LAFAYETTE — Purdue was missing several key players and it showed in a 34-13 loss to TCU at Ross-Ade Stadium on Saturday night.
Elijah Sindelar, the nation’s leading passer through the first two weeks, missed the game due to a concussion. Matt McCann, one of just two offensive linemen with experience prior to this season, alsowas ruled out due to an injury, as was wide receiver Jared Sparks.
On defense, Purdue was without Markus Bailey, one of the nation’s best linebackers, who suffered a season-ending knee injury earlier this week during practice.
Despite playing without key leaders on both sides of the ball, Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm expects more out of his team, playing under the lights in front of a near capacity crowd.
“I’m very thankful for the crowd that showed up,” Brohm said. “They were in full effect, every seat was taken and they were electric, but we disappointed them. It’s something that is going to hurt us and it should. We’ll see what we’re made of moving forward.
“In the last six games, we’ve had three losses of nothing good. We’ve got to go back and try to figure it out. It doesn’t matter who we have in there, who we are missing. We have to play better and it starts with me. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
Purdue (1-2) struggled stopping TCU’s rushing game, as the Horned Frogs amassed 346 yards on 58 carries. The Boilermakers defense allowed 160 rushing yards in the first half, but made several big plays in key moments to limit the damage.
George Karlaftis made two of those plays — becoming the first Purdue true freshman since Torri Williams in 2004 to have a sack and an interception in the same game.
Purdue forced a turnover on TCU’s first drive. Karlaftis had a 2-yard tackle for a loss on second down, which set up his interception off Simeon Smiley’s deflection deep in Horned Frogs’ territory.
The turnover led to a 31-yard field goal by J.D. Dellinger, which gave Purdue its only lead of the game at 3-0.
TCU (2-0) had a first-and-goal situation later in the first quarter, but Karlaftis came up with a sack on third down to force a field goal attempt, which TCU made to tie the game at three.
Purdue went three-and-out on its next possession, and TCU wasted little time in taking the lead. Darius Anderson, who rushed for 179 yards, scored on a 32-yard run and the Horned Frogs took a 10-3 lead.
Dellinger had one of Purdue’s biggest highlights with a 53-yard field goal in the second quarter, which tied for third-longest in school history. TCU answered with its own field goal and took a 13-6 lead into halftime.
Jack Plummer, a redshirt freshman, made his first career start and completed 13 of 29 passes for 181 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
“I knew this would be a tough matchup for him in his first start out of the gate,” Brohm said. “We didn’t make any breaks early on and wasn’t a good performance even by our best players, so a lot of pressure was on him. But he hung in there, and he will get better. But we have to get better around him, as well.”
Plummer threw a 54-yard touchdown pass to Amad Anderson Jr. in the fourth quarter, the first career touchdown for both players.
Purdue linebacker Ben Holt had 17 tackles to pace the defense, the most tackles in a game by a Boilermaker since Willie Fells had 20 tackles against Iowa in 1997.
Cornel Jones had 10 tackles, while Anthony Watts and Smiley both had a sack.
Purdue has an open week before hosting Minnesota on Sept. 28.