While the offenses of both clubs were on full display throughout the game, including record-setting numbers from Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato, Purdue’s defense made several key plays that proved vital in the grand scheme of the high octane contest.
Cato had himself quite an afternoon for the Thundering Herd, passing for 439 yards on 45 of 68 attempts, which broke the record for passing attempts by a Boilermaker opponent. Cato finished with five touchdown passes and three interceptions, and sent 19 passes for 200 yards to receiver Tommy Shuler, who set the standard for FBS receptions this year.
Gator Hoskins had four catches for 42 yards and three touchdown catches for Marshall (2-3), which had given up 51 points to Rice last week in an overtime win and 69 points to West Virginia in the season opener.
Purdue (3-1), on the other hand, made hay on both sides of the ball. Boiler quarterback Caleb TerBush had a very efficient day, going 27-37 for 294 yards and four touchdowns. Three of those touchdowns went to Gary Bush, who caught seven balls for 83 yards. Antavian Edison led Purdue with 99 yards receiving while OJ Ross led the team with nine catches.
Akeem Shavers rushed 25 times for 73 yards and a touchdown for Purdue.
It was the Purdue defense that changed the tide of the game in the second quarter. After Bush scored on a 35-yard touchdown pass to give Purdue a 21-14 lead, the Boiler defense intercepted Cato on three consecutive possessions, two of which were returned for touchdowns by Ricardo Allen (39 yards) and Josh Johnson (74 yards) to break the game open.
Purdue’s Kawann Short blocked a field goal try in the first quarter and the Boiler defense also stuffed Marshall on a two-point attempt late in the fourth quarter that kept the Herd two possessions behind.
In all, the two teams combined for 179 snaps, 56 first downs and 977 yards of offense. Marshall had 534 yards from scrimmage while Purdue had 443 yards.
“There are a lot of things we still to work on,” Purdue head coach Danny Hope said. “This is a hard outfit to prepare for. Their quarterback is exceptional. There is a lot of merit to all his billing, look at how he played. He is very hard to contain.”
Hope continued, “A lot of good things, TerBush played really good in the first half, defense kept up when they needed to. We thought we would play 22 defenders in the first quarter. Rotate a lot of guys in. Great collective effort for our whole football team. One of our team goals is go undefeated at Ross-Ade Stadium. We are still undefeated, so I am happy with that.”