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  • Associated Press Purdue wide receiver Rondale Moore holds off Vanderbilt safety Dashaun Jerkins during the second half of Saturday afternoon's game in West Lafayette. Moore had a career-best 13 receptions and 220 yards in the Boilers' win.

Sunday, September 08, 2019 1:00 am

Purdue 42, Vanderbilt 24

Boilers break through

Moore has career game; Sindelar accounts for 6 TDs

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

WEST LAFAYETTE – Purdue blew a big lead in its Week 1 loss to Nevada. Rondale Moore refused to let that happen again Saturday against Vanderbilt.

The super sophomore caught a career-high 13 passes for a career-best 220 yards, including 154 and a touchdown in the fourth quarter, and quarterback Elijah Sindelar accounted for six touchdowns as the Boilermakers beat the Commodores 42-24 in front of an announced crowd of 50,506 at the 2019 Ross-Ade Stadium opener.

“The biggest thing going into halftime (when Purdue led 14-10) was finish the game,” Moore said. “We came out (in the second half) firing on all cylinders. We made some mistakes that we can clean up, but we did a good job of finishing the game.”

After letting a 17-point lead slip against the Wolf Pack, Purdue (1-1) built an 18-point lead at 28-10 entering the fourth quarter on Saturday. That was really just the start of the day's excitement.

Vanderbilt scored early in the fourth quarter, and Purdue looked like it had put the game away on the next possession. Moore made three catches for 75 yards on that drive, which culminated in a crossing route to the New Albany native on which he used a referee as an extra blocker on the way to a 34-yard touchdown and a 35-16 lead with nine minutes left.

That should have iced the game, but Vanderbilt quarterback Riley Neal, a graduate transfer from Ball State, threw a 75-yard touchdown pass to Chris Pierce on the first play of the next series and two-point conversion made it 35-24.

It was a tense moment for Purdue, but the indomitable Moore came through again, making a terrific adjustment on a jump ball down the sideline from Sindelar, hauling the ball in and then dragging a would-be tackler 10 yards before finally going down on a 70-yard gain. Two plays later, Sindelar sneaked the ball in from a yard out and the Boilers could relax.

It was the first career 200-yard game for Moore and his ninth 100-yard performance in 15 games, already placing him fourth in Purdue history.

“His ability to adjust to balls and stutter-step and how he uses his eyes and as a defender it would really suck to have to defend him,” Purdue tight end Brycen Hopkins said. “I'm glad I'm on offense. ... I feel sorry for (defenses).”

Hopkins had a big game in his own right, catching touchdown passes of 12 and 20 yards to help Purdue build its lead. The Nashville native was facing his hometown school and finished with three catches for 41 yards.

“I got a couple friends on (Vanderbilt), I tried not rub it in their face,” he said, laughing.

The Boilermakers' offense was pass-dominant all afternoon, even when they had the lead late in the game. Purdue threw 52 times and had just 18 rushes for 31 yards.

Sindelar finished 34 of 52 for a career-high 509 yards and five passing touchdowns. He became the first Purdue quarterback since Drew Brees in 1998 to throw for 400 yards in back-to-back games.

Late in the game, however, Sindelar took a big hit and went into the medical tent. Coach Jeff Brohm said he was “dinged up” and his status going forward was unclear. Brohm said backup Jack Plummer will be ready if necessary. 

Snider graduate Lawrence Johnson started for the second straight week on Purdue's defensive line and had one tackle.

Neal went 24 for 35 for 378 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. 

Note: Prior to the game, the Boilermakers dedicated the Tyler Trent Student Gate, which replaces Gate E of the stadium, in honor of the Purdue student and superfan who died from bone cancer at the age of 20 in January. The gate features the insignia “T2” and two plaques below the facade tell his story. Trent would have turned 21 on Saturday.

dsinn@jg.net