WEST LAFAYETTE – Purdue has plenty of problems, and with a bye coming this week, it has plenty of time to try to correct them.
The Boilermakers committed six turnovers and 18 penalties in a 55-24 loss to Northern Illinois on Saturday at Ross-Ade Stadium.
This is a great time for a bye, first-year coach Darrell Hazell said. We need to take a look from A-Z at everything we’re doing, all the personnel we’re using right now, and we need to make some improvements.
The Huskies (4-0) gave Purdue its first 1-4 start since 2009 and became the first Mid-American Conference school to win two games against Big Ten opponents (Iowa was the other) in the same season.
Everything’s a concern right now, to be honest with you, Hazell said after his team tied the record for margin of defeat by a Big Ten team against a MAC squad and gave up more points to a MAC team than any team in Big Ten history.
It all started with Huskies quarterback Jordan Lynch, who was sensational from the start.
The dual-threat quarterback didn’t use his legs much in the first half, with only 28 yards on eight attempts. But he found a rhythm in the passing game and completed 16 of 20 throws for three scores in the first half.
Lynch finished with three passing touchdowns, a 7-yard rushing touchdown and 242 of Northern Illinois’ 402 total offensive yards.
We’ve just got to execute a lot more, do our assignments to the T, senior defensive tackle Bruce Gaston said. It doesn’t matter what caliber, whoever the quarterback is.
Purdue fifth-year senior quarterback Rob Henry, after a good start to the game, went sour. Henry was 5 for 16 in the first half with two interceptions, including one in the end zone and another as the Boilermakers drove into Huskies territory.
When asked what went wrong, Henry, who also fumbled, kept it simple.
Everything, he said.
Freshman quarterback Danny Etling came in during the next possession. The move re-energized the crowd, as did completions on Etling’s first two plays and a 47-yard field goal from kicker Paul Griggs with 8 seconds to go in the half.
That hope dwindled quickly.
Northern Illinois started the second half with a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by junior receiver Tommylee Lewis to give the Huskies a 34-10 lead, and the short spark provided by Etling gave way to reality.
That was a big play for them, Hazell said. You get them stopped on that first drive, then you’re back into the ballgame.
Etling went 2 for 7 on his next two drives and threw an interception to senior safety Jimmie Ward that he returned 62 yards for a score with 9:23 left in the third quarter.
Etling finished the game 19 of 39 with two touchdowns and two interceptions, as well as 241 passing yards.
I got to play better, the 6-foot-3 Terre Haute native said. I went in, we were down by 20, and if you look at the final score, we lost by more than 20. Obviously, I can’t play like a freshman.