Boilermakers bumble in 42-7 loss at Cincinnati

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

CINCINNATI The five fumbles? The pulling guard running over the quarterback? The running backs going everywhere except to the ball? The overthrown pass returned for a touchdown?

Purdue's debut with a new offense was so bad that it was hard to pick a low point.

The Boilermakers took their worst opening loss in 17 years on Saturday, getting dominated by Cincinnati 42-7. Munchie Legaux regained his job as the Bearcats' starting quarterback and had a solid showing, throwing for a touchdown and running for another.

But it was Purdue's offense that really stood out, and for all the wrong reasons.

"It was a rough start," new coach Darrell Hazell said. "We didn't execute in all phases. We understand there is a lot to be done."

Purdue (0-1) got a whole new offense under Hazell, who came from Kent State to try to get the Boilermakers moving up in the Big Ten. The first time out, the offense couldn't get out of its own way.

It was Purdue's worst season opener since a 52-14 loss at Michigan State in 1996.

The Boilermakers had false-start penalties and a delay of game. Fifth-year quarterback Rob Henry got run over by a pulling guard, causing a fumble. One time, Henry turned to hand the ball off and there was no one there with open arms. Another time, he fumbled the snap and had to fall on it.

Then there was his severe overthrow to Shane Mikesky that Adrian Witty ran back 41 yards for a touchdown that made it 28-7 midway through the third quarter.

Oops.

"I didn't play anywhere close where I need to play," said Henry, who was 18 of 35 for 161 yards with two interceptions. "We had a lot of communication problems, like coach said. I take responsibility for that.

"This offense isn't easy. We just have to prepare more. It's up to the players to execute. When you play the way we did, it's frustrating. Trying to stay poised is difficult especially with some of the throws I made."

The Bearcats (1-0) weren't sure what to expect from Purdue in its first game in the new offense. There were a lot of surprises — for both teams.

"A lot of things they ran were not even close to what we prepared for," Cincinnati coach Tommy Tuberville said. "We were able to adjust on the run."

Legaux's dual-threat performance highlighted a game featuring two new coaches and a new league — Cincinnati (1-0) in the American Athletic Conference. The Bearcats celebrated all the newness by introducing all-white uniforms and helmets for their first time on the field under Tuberville, who came from Texas Tech to replace Butch Jones.

Legaux was back at quarterback because incumbent Brendon Kay has been limited by a sore passing shoulder. Given a second chance, he played one of his best games before a crowd of 36,007, the biggest ever at Nippert Stadium.

The senior was 13 of 20 for 146 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He also ran six times for 55 yards and a touchdown.

The Louisiana quarterback with the distinctive nickname and dreadlocks looked a lot different this time. The dreadlocks are gone. So was his penchant for missing open receivers and forcing throws. His first pass was tipped and intercepted, but things got much better from there.

The dual-threat quarterback picked his spots to run and completed a lot of short throws that prolonged drives. He went 10 yards on a draw for Cincinnati's first touchdown, then led a 75-yard drive that closed the half and gave Cincinnati the lead. He ran 32 yards on another keeper, and threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to tight end Blake Annen with 17 seconds left in the half for a 14-7 lead.

Early in the third quarter, he completed the type of pass he often missed last season. He hit Max Morrison in stride on a crossing route, setting up a 40-yard gain. Ralph David Abernathy IV spun out of Ryan Watson's tackle attempt and went the final 3 yards for a 21-7 lead.

Legaux lost his job to Kay midway through last season because of his low completion percentage and his penchant for interceptions. Kay was the incumbent starter until his passing shoulder acted up during camp, giving Legaux another chance to start.

Kay got into the game late in the third quarter for a series that ended with Hosey Williams bouncing outside on a fourth-and-1 play and going 30 yards for a touchdown that made it 35-7 early in the fourth quarter.


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