WEST LAFAYETTE — Purdue sophomore receiver Rondale Moore wasn’t completely satisfied after a career-record day that included 13 catches for 220 yards and a touchdown against Vanderbilt.
“I had some mistakes,” Moore said. “I dropped a few balls. I’ve got to come back and practice and clean that up. I think we have to get better as a team and get ready for TCU.”
Moore’s ninth career game with more than 100 yards received proved to be the catalyst in Purdue’s 42-24 win over the Commodores on Saturday at Ross-Ade Stadium.
Moore was at his best when it mattered most, making five catches for 156 yards on a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown drives. Catches of 20 and 21 yards by Moore in the fourth quarter set up a 34-yard touchdown catch from quarterback Elijah Sindelar. On the catch, Moore cut across the middle of the field between the 20- and 15-yard lines and used an official to pick off a Vanderbilt defender.
Asked after the game if it was deliberate, Moore didn’t completely cop to it.
“It’s crazy you say that because I actually said that to Elijah after we came off the field, the official was in the way, so he kind of agreed,” Moore said.
Moore added a 70-yard catch on another fourth-quarter touchdown drive, using his speed to get past Vanderbilt’s secondary on a long throw downfield from Sindelar.
“We got some cover one,” Moore said. “I was just trying to do my job and Elijah happened to find me. So it all worked out.”
Purdue senior tight end Brycen Hopkins said he remains in awe of what Moore can do on a football field.
“I don’t know how he does some of the stuff he does,” Hopkins said. “When I came back to the sideline I honestly asked him how do you keep doing that. I don’t understand it. I really don’t understand but he’s a great player and I’m glad to have in on my team.”
For Moore, it was an emotional day. He wore a towel on right hand during postgame interviews in tribute to Tyler Trent, who was honored by having the student gate named after him before the game. Moore said he developed a friendship with Trent, texting him every day before he died last Jan. 1 at 20 of bone cancer.
“He’s a fighter and the definition of the winner,” Moore said.
Moore said he had 21 family members in the stands, including his mother, to watch another one of his big games. Asked how he intended to celebrate Saturday night, the New Albany native said, “Just get something to eat, watch more games. Just chill.”
It was an up-and-down day for Vanderbilt quarterback Riley Neal in his return to his home state. Bell, a Ball State transfer from Yorktown, was benched for a series but still finished the game completing 24 of 35 passes for 378 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.
Neal was sacked three times as Purdue’s defense pressured him throughout the game. Senior linebacker Markus Bailey, junior defensive end Derrick Barnes and junior defensive tackle Anthony Watts each had one sack.
Vandy player ejected
Vanderbilt junior defensive back Randall Haynie was ejected for targeting on a helmet-to-helmet hit on Moore in the third quarter.
It was a rough day overall for penalties for Vanderbilt, which was flagged 13 times for 100 yards. In comparison, Purdue had 8 penalties for 63 yards.
After losing the turnover margin 5-0 against Nevada, Purdue did a better job taking care of the ball against Vanderbilt, finishing the game with an even 1-1 turnover ratio.
Sindelar did have one interception on an ill-advised shovel pass attempt, his third interception of the season. But considering Sindelar attempted 52 passes, Purdue coach Jeff Brohm felt he made good decisions.
“When you throw it that many times you are going to have a few,” Brohm said. “I just wish it would be something where he was forcing the ball and not just doing something that’s not very smart.”
Brohm moved co-defensive coordinator Nick Holt back to the field after he was in the press box during last week’s loss to Nevada. “As we evaluated last week’s performance there was some advantages to being upstairs, but I think in the end probably Nick’s strength is his fire and his passion for football and his ability to get around the team and motivate them on the field,” Brohm said. … Hopkins, a Nashville native, had a big day against his hometown team with three catches for 41 yards and two touchdowns against Vanderbilt. “I’m sorry for them,” Hopkins said. “I’m sure there are some Vanderbilt fans, I used to be a Vanderbilt fan but it feels good beating a hometown team like that. They’re a good team and they have some really good players.”