The Purdue football team lost its opening game Friday at Nevada 34-31 on a last-second field goal after being outscored 27-7 in the second half.
The Boilermakers (0-1), a 10.5 point favorite, had five turnovers that cost them the game.
Sophomore wide receiver Rondale Moore and senior quarterback Elijah Sindelar controlled the game in the first half. Moore had eight catches for 112 yards and one touchdown at the break.
However, the All-America candidate was held to three catches and just 10 yards in the second half.
Sindelar finished the game 34 for 52 for 423 yards and four touchdowns, but he threw two interceptions that allowed Nevada (1-0) to get back into the game.
Moore had four receptions on the first drive, leading Purdue down the field. Sindelar was able to connect with senior tight end Brycen Hopkins for a touchdown to cap off the drive.
“On the offensive side of the ball, we moved the ball pretty well and had some yards,” head coach Jeff Brohm said in a press conference Monday. “We weren’t great in the running game. I don’t know if we’re going to be great at the point of attack at some positions, but we’ve got to get better at that. We have to establish that, take a little bit of pressure off the passing game.”
Defensively, the Boilermakers came out dominant early, only giving up three total yards in Nevada’s first two drives. Junior defensive end Derrick Barnes was even able to come up with a sack on the one-yard line.
Purdue quickly marched up the field on its second drive but was unable to score a touchdown in the red zone and instead had to settle for a field goal. Those 3 points gave the Boilers a 10-0 lead.
The defense once again came up big, quickly retiring the Wolf Pack’s drive. Purdue was unable to capitalize, though, as freshman wide receiver Milton Wright fumbled a reception, resulting in a turnover.
Nevada was not able to score until around the four-minute mark. Freshman quarterback Carson Strong threw a dime to receiver Dominic Christian for the touchdown.
Sindelar quickly responded on the next drive. He threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Jackson Anthrop, on a signature Brohm trick play. Purdue took a 17-7 lead with about two minutes remaining in the half.
The Boilers got a quick three and out from their defense, setting the offense up for a two-minute drill. Sindelar once again took command and capped off another drive with another touchdown throw, this time to Moore to end the first half.
Defensively, Purdue continued to manhandle Nevada at the start of the second half. The Wolf Pack was only able to move the chains one time before punting the ball back to the Boilers. Purdue’s defensive line was able to consistently put pressure on Nevada’s quarterback, rushing all of his decisions.
Purdue was unable to score on their next drive, and Nevada began to gain momentum. The Wolf Pack recovered a fumble after a botched punt recovery, scoring immediately after on a spectacular grab from wide receiver Elijah Cooks.
Sindelar quickly put out the fire, throwing a 49-yard bomb to freshman wide receiver David Bell on a flea flicker for a touchdown. That score gave Purdue a 31-14 lead over Nevada.
The Wolf Pack was unable to score the next drive, but another special teams fumble lead to a Nevada field goal.
A turnover sent Purdue’s defense back onto the field, but they were able to hold up again and force a punt.
Although the Boilers held a lead for most of the game, the team had four turnovers in the first three quarters, which came back to bite them late in the fourth quarter. Nevada put together a touchdown drive, making it a one-possession game.
“We have to fix the mistakes we made and be men about it,” Brohm said. “As coaches, with myself on down, we’ve got to coach better and make sure that we can get our guys to play efficient, hard-nosed football the entire game.”
Purdue was unable to score the next drive, giving Nevada the chance to tie up the game with three minutes remaining. Nevada began to storm up the field, making play after play to extend the drive and chew up the clock in the process.
The defense came up big again with sophomore defensive back Kenneth Major producing a near interception to stop a Nevada touchdown that would have tied up the game. Major was also targeted the very next possession and interrupted another touchdown to keep the Boilermaker lead alive. He went down with an injury and Nevada scored the very next play, tying the game at 31.
The turnover bug bit Purdue again as Sindelar threw an interception trying to squeeze the ball to Bell. Nevada stormed into field goal position and made a 56-yard kick to win.