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Purdue University

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Purdue falls flat as Hazell era opens

Bearcat error sets up Boilers’ lone score

Associated Press
Purdue’s Rob Henry fumbles as he is sacked by Cincinnati’s Silverberry Mouhon in the first half Saturday in Cincinnati.

– Purdue football coach Darrell Hazell preached discipline and execution leading up to the Boilermakers’ game against Cincinnati on Saturday.

He got neither.

The Bearcats had 425 yards of offense, held Purdue to 226 yards, won the turnover battle four to three and shellacked the Boilermakers 42-7 at Nippert Stadium.

“Sometimes those things kind of snowball,” the first-year coach said. “You hit a brick wall, you can’t get it fixed.”

The lone Purdue touchdown came courtesy of punter Cody Webster in the second quarter.

Webster booted a 73-yard punt over the head of the Cincinnati return man, who bobbled the attempted catch. The Boilermakers fell on it, setting up an 8-yard quarterback keeper from Rob Henry for the score.

Other than that, Purdue looked hapless.

At halftime, the Boilermakers (0-1) had converted two of their seven third-down tries and allowed Cincinnati (1-0) to get a fresh set of downs on five of seven. The offense was stagnant, the defense was tired and the Bearcats had already nearly doubled up Purdue in offense, with a 175-90 advantage.

Cincinnati quarterback Munchie Legaux was 13-of-20 passing for 145 yards, two interceptions and a score, and he ran six times for 55 yards and a touchdown. With 3:26 left in the first half, the senior took a designed run on second and short for 32 yards to put his team in scoring position.

Then, with 17 seconds left in the half, Legaux tossed a touchdown to tight end Blake Annen to give Cincinnati a 14-7 advantage.

“That was a big swinging point for them,” Hazell said. “They did a good job, and at that point in time, we needed to get off the field defensively and hold them.”

Purdue took a knee to end the half. It had stopped Cincinnati twice – on an interception and one punt.

The defensive inefficiency continued in the third quarter.

The Boilermakers gave up consecutive third-down conversions, including a 40-yard pass from Legaux to wideout Max Morrison on third-and-9 from the Cincinnati 44.

Then came third-and-goal, and another conversion for the Bearcats. Running back Ralph David Abernathy avoided a pair of tackles and ran in to make it 21-7 with 8:44 left in the third.

Cincinnati was 9 of 15 on third-down conversions and converted three of four fourth-down attempts.

“We were doing decent on first and second down, and then on third down they’d get just enough to move the sticks or maybe go for it on fourth down,” junior defensive end Ryan Russell said. “It’s definitely deflating.”

Henry threw three straight incompletions on the following drive, forcing a punt. As soon as Purdue got the ball back, he made another mistake.

The fifth-year senior overthrew his man and was picked off by Adrian Witty, who took the interception 41 yards to make it 28-7. It was his second interception of the day.

“It was frustrating out there,” said Henry, who finished 18 for 35 with 161 passing yards. “Just trying to stay positive and trying to stay poised was difficult, especially after making some of the throws that I made.”

From there, as Hazell said, it snowballed. There were missed assignments, turnovers, penalties and myriad other mistakes.

Not the start Hazell wanted. But this team isn’t as bad as it looked, either, he said. “Obviously, we didn’t play that well in a lot of phases,” he said. “But there’s enough good players in our locker room to get the thing turned around.”

Note: Hazell said senior cornerback Ricardo Allen suffered a high ankle sprain during the game.

smorrison@jg.net

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