Cardinals Upend Boilermakers In Surprise Slug Fest
INDIANAPOLIS -- A new chapter of Purdue Boilermaker football started on a sour, but reassuring note Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium, as the untested Boilers took the #16 Louisville Cardinals down to the wire in a 35-28 loss.
With projected starter David Blough returning from missing two weeks of camp due to injury, new head coach Jeff Brohm decided to go with sophomore quarterback Elijah Sindelar.
"Going through camp it was a close competition," Brohm said. "But unfortunately David missed a little over two weeks of practice. So we felt that Elijah deserved the opportunity to start."
The Cardinals elected to start with the ball first after winning the toss. Louisville quickly drove to the Purdue 5-yard-line, but stalled when Jackson fumbled thanks to Purdue's Danny Ezechukwe. The 5th-year defensive end returned the ball to their own 37.
They would go three-and-out, but the Purdue defense came up big again holding Louisville three-and-out forcing them to punt. What helped Purdue at this juncture was a partial block of the punt setting up the Boilermakers at the Louisville 36. After a personal foul cost the Cardinals 10-yards, Sindelar found Jackson Anthrop in the back of the end zone to put Purdue up 7-0 early.
"Our defense really kept us in the game that first half," Brohm said after the game. "They found some great ways to get some turnover as they were going into score."
Louisville's offense anchored by their Heisman trophy winning quarterback started to hum after that. Lamar Jackson would drive the Cardinals 64-yards on eight plays for a touchdown pass to tight end Jordan Davis.
Tied at 7-7, the Boilers would look to keep their offensive fortune going, but it would not as the Cardinal defense stifled Sindelar's efforts to put a drive together to answer. After a punt, the Cardinals drove again to the Purdue 13-yard-line, where the Purdue defense came in clutch again holding Louisville to a 23-yard field goal.
The ensuing kickoff spelled trouble for Purdue with Markell Jones making an ill-advised decision to pick of a ball that was heading out of bounds. That was followed by a fumble recovered by Louisville at the Purdue 15.
Up against a wall, the Boilermakers defense saved the day yet again. An a carry by Louisville RB Jeremy Smith, MLB Ja'Whaun Bentley plowed into the Cardinal running back forcing a fumble which was picked up by Purdue's Markus Bentley setting up the Purdue offense at the 20.
This is when junior quarterback David Blough, fresh of his rest from injury, Blough would engineer a drive to the Louisville 43.
"Elijah did some good things. The plan was for David to come in for two series in the 2nd quarter and then David did some good things," Brohm added.
Unfortunately, a blocked field goal attempt from 53-yards out by J.D Dellinger would foil the next drive.
Not to worry. Enter the Purdue defense who would force yet another Louisville three-and-out.
The Cardinals had dominated time of possession to this point, but with Blough now at QB, Purdue found new life on offense. The next drive saw Purdue get into a rhythm with Blough completing three straight passes and junior running back D.J. Knox getting some good carries. Ten plays later, Purdue found themselves 8-yards from the end zone. Blough found his running back Richie Worship for a touchdown to put the Boilers back ahead 14-10, a lead that they would take to halftime.
Purdue was forced to punt on their second half opening possession which in turn set up another field goal for Louisville pulling it back to a 14-13 Boilermaker lead. After another punt, Louisville looked to take the lead from their 24-yard-line. That effort was quickly squashed when Markel Bentley would lay a monster hit on Cards WR Jaylen Smith, which forced yet another fumble which Purdue would recover.
That set up a touchdown pass from David Blough to Brycen Hopkins to make it 21-13. Louisville would answer with a long drive capped off by Reggie Bonnafon who pounded in a touchdown from 8-yards out. A failed 2-point-conversion set the score at 21-19 in favor of Purdue.
Things began to unravel for Purdue when Blough threw a second interception, this to Louisville linebacker Stacy Thomas, who ran that back 61-yard to the end zone. Now down 25-21. Purdue returned to Elijah Sindelar at quarterback who drove Purdue 67 yards and found Anthrop in the end zone to take the lead back 28-25.
Blough finished the night having competed 18 of his 26 passes for 175 yards, and two touchdowns to go along with those two interceptions.
"When we had some control we turned the ball over three times so obviously that's what killed us," Brohm said on the late game woes. "But I'm proud of our effort and I liked our fight. We made a game of it against the Heisman Trophy winner."
Purdue still could not get a permanent answer for Lamar Jackson, who by the end of the night would accrue 485 yards of total offense by himself. Jackson took the Cardinals 75 yards for the game winning touchdown pass to Dez Fitpatrick.
Purdue will now gear up for their home-opener this coming Friday against Ohio University out of the MAC.
(PHOTO: Andy Lyons/Getty Images)