WEST LAFAYETTE — After losing a heartbreaker in its season opener last week in Reno, Nev., Purdue wasn’t going to let Saturday’s game against Vanderbilt slip away.
Quarterback Elijah Sindelar tossed five touchdown passes and ran for another as the Boilermakers rolled Vanderbilt, 42-24, at Ross-Ade Stadium.
The crowd of 50,506 was the largest for a home opener since 2008 against Northern Colorado, according to Purdue Athletics.
Sindelar connected on 34 of 52 passes for 509 yards and the five scores. He was picked off once, but the performance elevated the fifth-year senior quarterback to a level not seen since Drew Brees threw for 400-plus yards in consecutive games in 1998.
Last week against Nevada, Sindelar completed an identical 34 of 52 passes for 423 yards and four touchdowns in a 34-31 loss.
All-American sophomore wideout Rondale Moore grabbed a career-high 13 passes for 220 yards and a score in a fourth quarter that pretty much sealed the win. He caught 169 of those yards in the second half.
"Our offense made a lot of big plays in the passing game," Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm said in his post-game press conference. "It's hard to pass for that many yards, especially against a good SEC defense."
Moore’s 220 yards ranked as the third most in a game in Purdue history, behind Chris Daniels (301 yards in 1999) and Selwyn Lymon (238 yards in 2006). Moore also has 14 career touchdowns (15th all-time) and 138 career catches (18th all-time) as a Boilermaker.
"My view is pretty high of Rondale, so I don't know if it can get much higher," Brohm said. "But for someone to continually come through every week, raise the bar and not be satisfied with what he's done, that's Rondale Moore. We're fortunate to have him on our team. He competes and wants to win. When we needed to make big plays in the passing game, he got open."
Purdue tight end Brycen Hopkins grabbed two touchdown passes and Payne Durham, another tight end, caught his first career pass — a 2-yard score — in the second quarter that gave the Boilers a 14-7 advantage.
"They've done a great job and It's been an emphasis to get our tight ends, especially Brycen Hopkins, to get more involved," Brohm said. "Our tight ends stepped up, made tough catches, controlled the middle of the field and made contested catches."
After a sloppy start that saw the two teams trade a pair of possessions on quick three-and-outs, Vanderbilt drew first blood with a 1-yard TD run by Ke’Shawn Vaughn in the opening quarter. The score was set up two plays earlier by a 49-yard catch by Vandy’s Kalija Lipscomb at the Purdue 4-yard-line.
But the Boilers marched 68 yards in six plays on its next series, capped by Hopkins’ 12-yard TD catch – the first points Purdue has ever scored against Vanderbilt.
In two previous meetings, Purdue suffered shutouts — a 3-0 loss in 1941 in West Lafayette and a 26-0 loss in 1942 in Nashville, Tenn.
After a 48-yard field goal from Vanderbilt kicker Ryley Guay that cut the lead to 14-10 at halftime, Purdue poured it on in the second half. Jared Sparks hauled in a 50-yard pass – his first career TD reception — and Hopkins grabbed his second score of the game — a 20-yarder — to push the Boilers’ advantage to 28-10 headed into the final quarter.
Vandy added its final points on a pair of touchdown passes from Neal — a 10-yarder to Cam Johnson and a 75-yarder to Chris Pierce. Those were countered by Moore’s 34-yard TD reception and Sindelar’s 1-yard plunge with 3:11 left.
Neal finished with 378 yards on a 24-for-35 performance with two TD passes and one interception for the Commodores, while Vaughn led the Vanderbilt ground attack with 66 yards on 17 carries and a score.
Linebacker Ben Holt led Purdue with 11 tackles, while Dedrick Mackey had nine stops to go with an interception. Anthony Watts, Markus Bailey and Derrick Barnes each had a sack.
Purdue (1-1) will host Texas Christian (1-0) on Sept. 14. Vanderbilt (0-2) will have a bye week before hosting LSU on Sept. 21.