WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The Eastern Kentucky University football team entered the fourth quarter if its season opener down just 10 points at Purdue University. However, the Boilermakers managed to pull away to win 45-24 at Ross-Ade Stadium on Saturday.
The Colonels will play their home-opener on Thursday against Pikeville. The Bears are coached by former EKU quarterback Allan Holland. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Roy Kidd Stadium.
Purdue took control early of the season opener with two touchdowns in the first five minutes of the game and led 21-0 with three and a half minutes left in the first quarter. The second Boilermaker score was set up by a 17-yard interception return to the EKU 23 yard line. The third touchdown was the result of a 78-yard interception return.
Bennie Coney engineered an eight-play, 72-yard drive that took just 3:31 and got Eastern on the board. He got it started with a 26-yard completion to Devin Borders and ended it with a 10-yard scoring pass over the middle to Dan Crimmins. Sixty-four of the 72 yards were through the air. Neiko Creamer converted the two-point conversion to make it 21-8 with less than a minute left in the first quarter.
EKU continued to inch closer in the second quarter. Lucas Williams hit a 35-yard field goal with 10:04 left in the first half. On the Boilermakers’ ensuing possession, newcomer Nigel Bethel picked off a pass in Purdue territory.
Coney let the ground game do the work this time on an eight-play, 47-yard touchdown drive. Freshman Daryl McClesky Jr. gained eight yards after a 14-yard pass from Coney to freshman James Smith Jr. Newcomer Henry Enyenihi had an eight-yard run. Sophomore Ethan Thomas wrapped it up with a 10-yard touchdown run around the right side. The extra-point got the visitors within 10, 28-18.
Purdue drove to the EKU 27 yard line and attempted a 44-yard field goal as time expired in the second quarter. The kick was wide left.
Eastern Kentucky out-gained the Boilermakers 123 to 85 on the ground in the first half.
The Colonel defense held Purdue off the scoreboard in the third quarter, but the offense couldn’t put together a scoring drive to close the gap.
After the Boilermakers scored 17 straight points in the fourth quarter, redshirt sophomore Tyler Swafford drove Eastern to a late touchdown. On fourth-and-two, Swafford kept the drive alive with a five-yard pass to Borders. Following another completion to Borders, Swafford hooked up with Ryan Markush for 26 yards. He finished off the scoring drive with a two-yard touchdown toss to Cameron Fogle.
Purdue got the ground game going in the second half, churning out 176 yards after totaling just 85 in the first half.
Thomas finished with 60 yards on 17 carries. Coney completed 13-of-23 for 158 yards. Borders caught seven passes for a team-high 77 yards.