Boilers’ big plays more than make up for miscues
By Michael Osipoff 648-3137 or email@example.com September 15, 2012 8:08PM
Purdue running back Akeem Hunt (11) scores on a 50-yards pass in front of Eastern Michigan defensive back Donald Coleman during the first half of an NCAA college football game in West Lafayette, Ind., Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Updated: October 17, 2012 6:51AM
WEST LAFAYETTE — Purdue won’t be going into its bye week flawlessly. But the Boilermakers will indeed be going into it with a decisive victory.
Their 54-16 win against overmatched Eastern Michigan on Saturday at Ross-Ade Stadium wasn’t particularly competitive, but they weren’t without hiccups in the game.
Eastern Michigan scored nine points off two Purdue turnovers, Pudge Cotton’s 28-yard touchdown return of a Caleb TerBush interception and a field goal after an O.J. Ross fumble recovered by Cotton. Sam McCartney missed two extra points, and Thomas Meadows kicked off out of bounds. Raheem Mostert dropped a kickoff out of bounds at the 1-yard line.
But the Boilermakers also made numerous big plays, as their running game exploded.
Akeem Hunt, showing serious speed, had a 56-yard touchdown run and turned a short TerBush pass into a 50-yard TD. He also had a 42-yard gain, pulled down by a horse-collar tackle for a penalty; the Boilermakers still capped that 98-yard drive — they also had drives of 99 and 95 yards— with Mostert’s 2-yard touchdown.
“I feel like if I get in the open field, I’m a free man,” said Hunt, who had 106 yards on four carries.
“Akeem Hunt certainly looked like a special player for us today,” Purdue coach Danny Hope said.
Brandon Cottom, who tore his ACL late last season, broke an 87-yard touchdown for his first career score, the fourth-longest run in program history.
“The hole opened up. … I saw it, and I just started running,” Cottom said.
“I was running as fast as I could. I was looking back to make sure that nobody was there.”
And Akeem Shavers had a 40-yard touchdown run for the game’s first points.
“We obviously have some class sprinters on our football team, and we were able to get them the ball in space,” Hope said. “We have a lot of team speed. We got the ball in our fastest playmakers’ hands throughout the course of the ballgame. That allowed us to manufacture some big plays and score a lot of points.”
In all, Purdue (2-1) rushed for 392 yards on 42 carries; Eastern Michigan (0-3) entered the game allowing 272.5 yards rushing, 118th of 120 FBS teams. The Boilermakers actually threw six straight passes to open the game, going three-and-out on each of their first two series.
Hope said they were taking what the defense gave them, before the running game kicked into high gear.
“The coaches were saying run the ball, the running backs were saying run the ball, and just the look on the O-line’s faces today was saying run the ball,” Hunt said.
TerBush, who had been ill on Friday, completed 16-of-24 passes for 158 yards and two touchdowns (including an 18-yarder to Antavian Edison after Taylor Richards blocked a punt, Purdue’s first since Frank Halliburton blocked two in a win against Northern Colorado on Sept. 6, 2008) with the interception, and ran for a TD (after a Josh Johnson interception). Purdue had 576 total yards.
“That’s a lot of offense for not playing your best game,” Hope said. “We were out of sorts a little bit at the quarterback position early, and offensively we couldn’t get it in synch or in rhythm. … The score is an impressive score, but we certainly can play a lot better than we did today.”
Purdue doesn’t have a game this coming week, before playing Marshall on Sept. 29.
“We’re a tired football team, and the open week comes at a good time for us,” Hope said. “It was important for us to go out there and win today, to remain undefeated in Ross-Ade Stadium, to beat a team that we should beat, and even though we didn’t play our best, we beat them like we were supposed to.
“Two years ago, if we would’ve gone out there against that football team, or any football team, and been out of sorts like we were on the offensive side of the ball, we may have barely eked out a win. So I was pleased that we could get off to some rough sledding early and still come away with a large margin of victory.”
Defensive tackle Kawann Short agreed the time off will be welcome for the Boilermakers.
“We have a lot of guys nicked up, so we’re going to take this week and get some rest, and do what we need to do,” the East Chicago Central graduate said.