WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — For Purdue sophomores David Blough and Markell Jones, Saturday’s 24-14 come-from-behind victory against Nevada was all about redemption.
Blough threw an interception during the game’s opening series that the Wolf Pack converted into a touchdown and Jones lost two opening-half fumbles, one of which was converted into a touchdown.
But Blough threw for 300 yards and two touchdowns, and Jones had a go-ahead score in the third quarter as Purdue rallied to win.
Purdue, which turned it over four times, pulled within 14-10 late in the second quarter on Blough’s 48-yard touchdown pass to Bilal Marshall. Purdue’s defense dominated the third, limiting Nevada to 23 yards on 11 plays.
“We showed a lot of character,” said Blough, who was intercepted five times during a loss to Cincinnati on Sept. 10. “The TD pass to Marshall at the end of the first half was the play of the game. It was big for us.”
Jones’ 5-yard TD run capped a 12-play, 49-yard drive in the third quarter, and the Boilermakers (2-1) added a TD with 1:17 remaining in the fourth on Blough’s 51-yard pass to Brycen Hopkins. Jones finished with 124 yards for his third career 100-yard game.
The Boilermakers have turned the ball over 10 times, including seven interceptions for Blough, in their first three games but are 2-1 for the first time in coach Darrell Hazell’s fourth season at Purdue.
“To be down at halftime, the guys showed a lot of grit to overcome four turnovers,” Hazell said. “The defense was phenomenal in the second half, and the score before halftime gave us momentum. It lifted our sideline. At halftime, we had a lot of energy in that locker room.”
Tyler Stewart threw touchdown passes of 15 yards to Hasaan Henderson and 6 yards to James Butler for Nevada (2-2). The Wolf Pack converted the Blough interception and a Jones fumble into a 14-3 lead.
“We just couldn’t sustain drives today,” said Stewart, who completed 21 of 27 passes for 173 yards. “We were OK in spurts, but we just couldn’t sustain drives. We put up only 14 points, and that’s not enough against a team like Purdue. We knew their defensive front was pretty good. I knew there would be pressure.”
The Wolf Pack had an opportunity to pull even at 17 with 4:16 remaining in the fourth, but Brent Zuzo hooked a 27-yard field-goal attempt wide left, and Blough iced it.
“They made plays at the end when we should have,” Nevada coach Brian Polian said. “There were a lot of mistakes made in the game, and things didn’t always go well. Still, we had a chance to win the game in the end, and we didn’t do it.”
Purdue outgained Nevada 466-253.
PURDUE: The Boilermakers were sloppy offensively throughout the game, but their defense pressured Stewart throughout the day and did not allow a point during the game’s final 35:56.
NEVADA: The Wolf Pack came in featuring a strong rushing attack, averaging 208.3 yards a game, but had only 90 at halftime and lost 4 yards rushing during the third quarter when all the momentum shifted to Purdue. Including five sacks, Nevada finished with only 68 rushing yards.
PURDUE: The Boilermakers entered Saturday’s game ranked last (14th) in Big Ten rushing defense at 219 yards a game, but Nevada’s 33 rushing attempts produced only 68 net rushing yards with a long carry of 15 yards.
NEVADA: The Wolf Pack was successful on each of their first five third-down conversion attempts but was only 4 of 10 thereafter, finishing 9 of 15 while Purdue was 10 of 14.
PURDUE: Starting offensive right tackle Matt McCann sprained an ankle during practice this week and was unable to play.
PURDUE: The Boilermakers begin Big Ten play at Maryland on Oct. 1.
NEVADA: The Wolf Pack start Mountain West competition at Hawaii on Oct. 1.