Rondale Moore needed one half to show what a big deal the speedy little receiver could be for Purdue.
Now the true freshman from southern Indiana, who starred at coach Jeff Brohm’s high school alma mater in Louisville (Trinity), needs to prove his record-breaking debut was no fluke.
“I knew he could be a special player,” Brohm said during Monday’s weekly news conference. “We want to make sure we don’t give him too much. I think he performed outstanding in the first half. Second half, we couldn’t get him the ball as much.”
Moore’s incredible half included a nifty 76-yard touchdown run, a 32-yard TD reception after breaking free from a defender in the secondary and two long kickoff returns. He finished with 11 catches for 109 yards and two carries for 79.
By halftime, he compiled 302 all-purpose yards — third all-time for a single game in Boilermakers’ history and just 10 yard short of Otis Armstrong’s record set in 1972 against Indiana. But Moore was virtually silent in the second half when Purdue (0-1, 0-1 Big Ten) relied heavily on its ground game and the defense pitched a shutout — negating Moore’s ability to make big plays on special teams.
The 5-foot-9, 175-pound receiver managed only 11 yards in the final 30 minutes, barely surpassing Armstrong. It was still good enough to be named the conference’s first freshman of the week award.
And now, with a date against Eastern Michigan of the Mid-American Conference coming Saturday, the Boilermakers need their new weapon to deliver an encore performance.
Other questions continue to linger.
Brohm yanked quarterback Elijah Sindelar, a former Caldwell County star, late in the first half, after he was picked off three times — each leading to Northwestern touchdowns.
David Blough played the entire second half and got the Boilermakers in position for a fourth-quarter comeback that came up short when the Wildcats (1-0, 1-0) managed to play keep away for the final 7 minutes, 57 seconds.
Sindelar and Blough are both expected to play again this weekend, though Brohm doesn’t plan on determining a starter until later this week.
“Two of the interceptions I’m extremely disappointed in. The other one, the guy made a good play. Still, you’d like to be able to see that and throw it where only we can catch it,” Brohm said, referring to Sindelar. “I think David came in, gave us a spark. Made a few more plays with his feet, savvy, moxie in there, does a decent job. Still like to be able to throw the ball up the field and see things. We just got to continue to work at it.”