Rondale Moore Says Hello; Boilers Fall to Northwestern In Opener
(Feature image: @costidakis)
It was Rondale Moore Night at Ross-Ade Stadium tonight – it’ just didn’t say it on your ticket.
The true freshman receiver who was the crown jewel of this Jeff Brohm recruiting class did not disappoint in his first collegiate game. After an early drop on a pass thrown behind him, Moore went off. He scored two touchdowns and approached 300 all-purpose yards – all in the first half.
Purdue came out firing with Elijah Sindelar starting at quarterback, and it was hard to argue against him starting after the finish he put up last season. However, Sindelar made a few bad decisions that resulted in interceptions. The first one involved a Northwestern receiver dragging Zico to the ground before the ball got there, which set up the INT nicely for the Cats, but regardless, Elijah three three picks and they weren’t all that defensible – they were kind of bad decisions. Hey, it’s early, everybody gets it, but it’s a conference game and with David Blough ready and waiting, Coach Brohm went to the senior for the final series of the first half.
The Boilermakers had fallen behind 14-0 and it was looking a little bleak early on. But we were once again reminded to never doubt a Brohm squad, as the Boilers fired back with their Rondale Moore-shaped cannon and before we knew it, it was all tied up at 14. And was somehow still the first quarter.
Sindelar’s three interceptions all resulted in Northwestern touchdowns, which is a hard thing to overcome. At halftime, Purdue was now down by two touchdowns for the second time, 31-17.
I’m not sure what Coach Holt said to the defense at halftime, but they grew up quickly for (most of) the second half.
In that second half, Northwestern’s possessions went like this: punt, punt, punt, punt, turnover on downs, end of game.
Purdue started touchdown (by DJ Knox), punt, FG, punt, punt.
However, with under three minutes to go, Purdue was once again holding Northwestern on third down. The whistle blew and Lorenzo Neal decided he had a little extra energy and decided to slam Jeremy Larkin to the turf. Personal foul, 15 yards, automatic first down, game over. What a craptastic way to finish a game.
The upshot here is that Purdue played well enough to win, but some very poor decisions did them in – it’s the story of football. If you make fewer mistakes, turnovers and penalties, you’re likely to win. In this case, even if you don’t score a point in the second half.
Purdue had more yards (472-401) and more first downs (by one) and didn’t allow much through the air (235 combined yards from Thorson and Green, no TD passes). Northwestern had all four TDs on the ground as they averaged 4.0 yards per carry for a total of 166 yards.
As you likely saw on twitter, Rondale Moore set a single-game all-purpose yards record for Purdue.
He was quieter in the second half – perhaps he and Blough don’t have the chemistry he does with Sindelar? – but it’s enough to make a Purdue fan giddy thinking about several seasons with this guy. He’s a legit superstar in the making and we’re lucky to have him. Which brings us to our nominee for Tweet of the Night:
Folks, it's early, but Purdue's new strategy of recruiting players who are very good at football seems to be paying off for them— Matt Brown (@MattSBN) August 31, 2018
We talked leading up to this game about how while there was a lot of anticipation, hype and excitement about potentially winning this game, all was certainly not lost if they were to lose the game. I know I’ve said this before, but part of whether you can swallow a loss was how your team looked in terms of preparedness and resolve. Purdue looked solid tonight. Falling behind in the fashion they did would have absolutely sunk the previous recent iterations of Purdue. However, this gang has a focus those did not and they fought hard. In the end, a few poor decisions did them in – the three picks were all poor, under pressure decisions by Sindelar and the personal foul by Neal late was the kind of undisciplined stuff we got used to seeing under Coaches Hazell and Hope.
While a 31-27 loss to a team coming off a ten-win season with one of their all-time best QBs under center for the majority of the game isn’t atrocious by any means, it does feel like a missed opportunity. We were asked on twitter recently if Jeff Brohm had a signature win yet. It doesn’t feel to me like he really does yet, but the chances will be there in the coming weeks.
Next up is Eastern Michigan next Saturday at noon.