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Penalty-plagued Vanderbilt can’t overcome Purdue

Vanderbilt drops to 0-2 with a 42-24 loss to the Boilermakers.

Vanderbilt v Purdue Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

The Vanderbilt Commodores ended Saturday’s game against the Purdue Boilermakers with 491 yards of total offense. But the Commodores could not overcome 12 penalties for 100 yards — most of which seemed to either extend Purdue drives or kill Vanderbilt scoring chances. And they couldn’t overcome Purdue’s Rondale Moore in a 42-24 loss to the Boilermakers, dropping Vanderbilt’s season record to 0-2.

The game opened with the Commodores and Boilermakers trading three-and-outs for the first five minutes of the game. It appeared as though Vanderbilt might make it five consecutive three-and-outs between the teams when it faced third-and-13 on its next drive, but Riley Neal hit Jared Pinkney for 18 yards and a first down. With new confidence, Neal then took a deep shot and connected with Kalija Lipscomb for a 49-yard pass play. Two plays later, Ke’Shawn Vaughn cashed in a one-yard run for Vanderbilt’s first touchdown of the season and a 7-0 Commodore lead.

Purdue struck back quickly, however, with a 7-play, 71-yard drive capped by Elijah Sindelar finding Brycen Hopkins for a 12-yard touchdown pass to even the score at 7. And then, the penalties started.

On Vanderbilt’s next drive, a big run by Ke’Shawn Vaughn had the Commodores in business near the Purdue 50. But after getting the ball into Boilermaker territory, a holding penalty by Jared Pinkney caused the drive to stall and forced a Vanderbilt punt. On Purdue’s next drive, an offsides penalty and a holding penalty extended Purdue’s drive, though the Boilermakers ultimately missed a 42-yard field goal. Following a quick three-and-out for the offense, Purdue needed just four plays to take a 14-7 lead on a 2-yard touchdown pass from Sindelar to Payne Durham.

The Commodores’ next drive likewise got stalled by penalties: a 16-yard Vaughn run down to the Purdue 16 got called back by a holding penalty on Saige Young, followed by a questionable unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Young that turned a red-zone first down into a 2nd-and-33. Ke’Shawn Vaughn got some of that back with an 11-yard run, but another false start gave the Commodores a 3rd-and-27 — which they nearly converted with a 26-yard pass to Jared Pinkney, but another false start on 4th-and-1 forced Vanderbilt to kick a field goal, which Ryley Guay sneaked through the uprights to cut the Boilermaker lead to 14-10. That was where things stood as the teams went to halftime, in spite of a completed Hail Mary to end the half as Chris Pierce was tackled three yards shy of the end zone.

Coming out of the half, Purdue promptly put together an eight-play, 77-yard drive capped by a 50-yard touchdown pass to Jared Sparks — and also extended by an offsides penalty on third down, because of course it was. With the Commodores trailing 21-10, Riley Neal threw an awful interception on the next drive, bailed out only by Tae Daley collecting an interception on an equally awful pass with Purdue threatening on the ensuing drive.

Following the interception, Derek Mason inserted Deuce Wallace for the next series — an experiment that lasted only briefly, with the Commodores gaining a first down on a pass interference penalty before punting. Purdue went 85 yards in eight plays, again extended by a penalty (this time a targeting foul on Randall Haynie that led to his ejection from the game), to extend its lead to 28-10.

Riley Neal came back on the next possession and Vanderbilt had some success, but turned the ball over on downs on a 4th and 1 at the Purdue 15. Vanderbilt got some hope back when the defense forced a three-and-out on the Boilers’ next drive, followed by a 22-yard punt to give the Commodores the ball back at the Purdue 45. Five plays later, Vanderbilt cashed in with Neal finding Cam Johnson for a 10-yard touchdown pass to cut Purdue’s lead to 28-16 (but the Commodores were denied on a two-point conversion attempt.)

But the brief glimmer of hope did not last, as Purdue put the game on ice with Sindelar finding star receiver Rondale Moore on 3rd-and-14 for a 34-yard touchdown pass (helped out by a referee setting a pick), giving the Boilermakers a 35-16 lead with 9:27 left in the fourth quarter. Vanderbilt responded quickly with a 75-yard catch and run by Chris Pierce, followed by a two-point conversion pass to Kalija Lipscomb, cutting the Purdue lead to 35-24 with 9:16 left.

But the Vanderbilt defense couldn’t get the stop it needed — thanks in part to a questionable non-intentional grounding call in the Purdue end zone on the next possession. Elijah Sindelar, after a bad snap, threw the ball out of the end zone and it didn’t appear to cross the line of scrimmage — but the officiating crew ruled that it wasn’t intentional grounding (and thus a safety.) That led to the Boilers completing a 7-play, 89-yard drive to extend the lead to 42-24.

That ended up being the final score, as Vanderbilt’s last two drives of the game couldn’t get anything going. Riley Neal finished the game 24-of-34 passing for 378 yards and three touchdowns, with one interception; Kalija Lipscomb had 8 catches for 98 yards. Ke’Shawn Vaughn had a disappointing day with just 56 yards on 17 carries, but the real problem was a defense that allowed Purdue to rack up 540 yards of total offense.

Vanderbilt has a bye week next before LSU comes to town on September 21, time and TV coverage to be announced.