Game 2: Purdue wins home opener against Vanderbilt

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Purdue quarterback Elijah Singular and speedy sophomore Rondale Moore know how to stuff a stat sheet, and the dynamic duo was at it again on Saturday in a 42-24 win over Vanderbilt. 

Sindelar threw for 509 yards and five touchdowns and ran for another score in the Boilermakers' home opener. Moore had 13 receptions for 220 yards, and both were career highs for the New Albany, Ind., native.

"My view is pretty high of Rondale, so I don't know if it can get much higher," Purdue coach Jeff Brohm said. "But for someone to continually come through every week and raise the bar and not be satisfied, that's Rondale Moore. He was tremendous.

"Our offense made a lot of big plays in the passing game. It's hard to pass for that many yards, especially against a good SEC defense."

It was a special night for Purdue tight end Brycen Hopkins, too. The Nashville, Tenn., native  caught two touchdown passes from Singular against his hometown team,

"That's probably the best game I've seen Elijah throw the rock," Hopkins said. "He was zipping it in there when he needed to, he was putting air under it when he needed to. He knows what he's doing and I put my trust in him."

Getting the ball to the tight ends has been a point of emphasis, and the results are showing it.

"They've done a great job and It's been an emphasis to get our tight ends, especially Brycen, to get more involved," Brohm said. "Our tight ends stepped up, made tough catches, controlled the middle of the field and made contested catches."

The Boilermakers (1-1) bounced back nicely from their season-opening heartbreaker at Nevada, where they lost 34-31 on a last-second 56-yard field goal. Against Vandy, they scored quickly after taking the second-half kickoff to take a 21-10 edge. Jared Sparks got wide open and scored on a 50-yard TD pass from Sindelar when a Vanderbilt defender fell down while trying to cover Sparks. 

Singular's day was special for the Boilermakers. Some notable numbers include:

  • He was the first Purdue quarterback with five or more touchdown passes and 500 yards in a game since Kyle Orton against Indiana (522 yards, 6 TDs) on Nov. 20, 2004. 
  • His 509 yards passing are tied for the sixth-most in Purdue history. 
  • Sindelar's 942 yards passing are the most in the season's first two games in school history.
  • He became the first player since Drew Brees in Oct. 1998 (vs. Minnesota and Wisconsin) to throw for 400 yards in consecutive games. 
  • He became the first Purdue quarterback with consecutive games of 4-plus touchdown passes since Curtis Painter in Sept. 2007 (Eastern Illinois and Toledo). 
  • Singular became the first player with at least 30 completions in consecutive games since Brandon Kirsch in Oct. 2005 (vs. Northwestern and Iowa). 
  • His 9 passing touchdowns in the first two games of the season are tied for the second most by a Big Ten quarterback since 2000 (Curtis Painter with 10 in 2007, Ohio State's  Dwayne Haskins with 9 in 2018 and Orton with 9 in 2004). 

For Vanderbilt, quarterback Riley Neal, a fifth-year graduate transfer from Ball State, threw for 378 yards and two touchdowns.  

Purdue played a much cleaner game after turning the ball over five times in the season-opening loss to Nevada. Purdue had just one turnover against Vanderbilt.

The running game is still a concern for the Boilermakers, who managed just 31 yards on 18 carries. Purdue had just 7 yards on nine carries until the final play of third quarter.

"We've got to find a way to run the ball more and we're aware of that," Brohm said. "It seemed like every time we handed it off, we got minus four (yards)."

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