RENO, Nevada – What a gut-punch to start the season. 

Leading by 17 points and with more than 500 total yards, Purdue was on its way to a season-opening victory. However, numerous mistakes – including five turnovers – led to a crushing loss Friday night at Nevada, which posted a 34-31 victory when freshman Brandon Talton drilled a 56-yard field goal as time expired. 

Four touchdown passes by quarterback Elijah Sindelar had the Boilermakers cruising. Five turnovers by the Boilermakers, including two on special teams and two interceptions, prevented this team from winning. 

CARMIN: Enough blame to share in Purdue’s meltdown loss at Nevada

NEVADA 34, PURDUE 31: Grading the Boilers

NEVADA 34, PURDUE 31: How they scored

“I thought Elijah did some good things early on but he reverted back to getting a little pressure and throwing off his back foot and throwing some interceptions and others that should’ve been,” Purdue coach Jeff Brohm said. He needs to stand in there strong and step up and be able to find a check-down or run through it with some force and some toughness. It’s a learning experience but it’s got to get fixed.”

The defense was solid most of the night and dealt with short field position because of the turnovers but wore down in the final quarter, allowing Nevada to score the game’s final 20 points.

Through three quarters, the Wolf Pack couldn’t crack 200 total yards and were 1 of 11 on third down but picked up the pace in the fourth quarter. They had 233 yards in the fourth quarter and converted 4 of 8 on third down. 

Sindelar completed 34 of 52 passes for a career-high 423 yards. Sindelar’s four touchdown passes went to four different receivers – Brycen Hopkins, Rondale Moore, Jackson Anthrop and David Bell.

TURNING POINT

Rondale Moore’s muffed punt. The talented superstar who usually doesn’t make poor decisions had one of those moments Friday night. After the Boilermakers had built a 31-14 lead and forced the Wolf Pack to punt, Moore attempted to pick up the rolling ball and couldn’t secure it. Although the Boilermakers held Nevada to a field goal, momentum had shifted and you know the end result. 

WHAT WENT RIGHT

The first drive was near perfect – 12 plays, 70 yards ending with a 2-yard touchdown from Sindelar to Hopkins. Moore caught five passes as Sindelar was 7-for-7. … And the last drive before halftime was just as flawless as the Boilermakers traveled 99 yards in 10 plays to lead 24-7 at halftime. … Moore moved into the top 20 in career receptions in program history. He finished with 11 catches for 124 yards and one TD. Remember, Friday was his 14th game. … The defense forced four three-and-outs in the first half. … Amad Anderson, Jr., caught four of his passes on the last two touchdown drives of the first half. … George Karlaftis was difficult for the Wolf Pack to handle. The stats don’t show it, but the freshman was extremely active and forced quarterback Carson Strong out of the pocket.

Branson Deen helped with the pass rush on third down situations lining up at defensive tackle and nose guard. … Give credit to the offensive line and the running backs – Sindelar was under minimal pressure in the first three quarters. … Linebacker Ben Holt is going to be in a lot of plays. … Cornerback Kenneth Major and Dedrick Mackey made a pair of nice open field tackles behind the line of scrimmage. … Danny Carollo, who is the holder and a backup quarterback, punted twice, including backing up the Wolf Pack to their 1-yard line in the first quarter.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Karlaftis flagged for driving quarterback Carson Strong into the ground on third down. It gave the Wolf Pack their initial first down. … Milton Wright made his first reception but fumbled near the sideline ending a drive in Nevada territory. … Two No. 4s on the field, which is a 5-yard penalty. It cost the Boilermakers 19 yards of field position when they started at their 1. Moore and Marvin Grant both were on the field during a punt return. … In the third quarter, Nevada’s punt hit Horvath and the Wolf Pack recovered. Four plays later, Nevada pulled within 24-14. … Moore tried to pick up a third-quarter punt rolling on the ground but muffed the punt and the Wolf Pack recovered. Nevada kicked a field goal to pull within 31-17 with 3:21 on the clock. … Purdue squandered a 17-point lead in the game’s final 18 minutes.

WHAT’S NEXT

Purdue welcomes Vanderbilt to Ross-Ade Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 7 at noon. The Commodores host Georgia on Saturday night.