Purdue didn't have its head coach (Jeff Brohm has COVID-19) or star receiver Rondale Moore (undisclosed). But it had David Bell, and that was enough for a season-opening 24-20 win over the Iowa Hawkeyes on Saturday.
Bell caught three touchdown passes from Aidan O'Connell, including the game-winning 6-yard toss with 2:15 to play. He totaled 121 yards on 13 catches, while O'Connell, who wasn't publicly named the starting QB until game time, completed 31 of 50 passes for 282 yards, overcoming interceptions to Matt Hankins and Barrington Wade.
Iowa's sloppiness ultimately cost it. The Hawkeyes committed 10 penalties for a total of 100 yards and lost two fumbles, including Tyler Goodson's in the red zone in the first half and Mekhi Sargent's at the Purdue 28 that set up the game-winning drive in the fourth quarter.
Iowa rushed for 195 yards and got 1-yard touchdown runs in the first half from quarterback Spencer Petras and Sargent. Petras threw for 265 yards on 22-of-39 passing in his debut. He was 1-for-5 on Iowa's last drive.
2:15 4th: Purdue 24, Iowa 20
The Aidan O'Connell-to-David Bell scoring connection returned just in time for Purdue.
After Mekhi Sargent fumbled the ball away, the Boilermakers drove 72 yards on 12 plays and took the lead on O'Connell's 6-yard toss to Bell. It's the third TD of the game for both.
8:20 4th: Iowa 20, Purdue 17
J.D. Dellinger's 29-yard field goal cut the Iowa lead back to three.
Aidan O'Connell started the drive 6-for-7 for 56 yards but his last two attempts were incomplete and the Boilermakers settled for three.
One of those completions was a 2-yard loss on a screen pass thanks to Iowa's Daviyon Nixon. It was his seventh tackle of the game, including 2.5 for loss.
13:12 4th: Iowa 20, Purdue 14
Penalties hurt Iowa all day, including a hold on this drive that forced a second-and-19 from the Purdue 25. That was the Hawkeyes' ninth penalty of the game.
The Hawkeyes settled for a field goal and Keith Duncan connected from 32 yards out.
Mekhi Sargent rushed twice for 18 yards on the drive and Spencer Petras completed a pair of passes to Nico Ragaini for 27 yards.
Half: Iowa 17, Purdue 14
Keith Duncan gave the Hawkeyes the halftime lead with a 27-yard field goal as time expired in the first half.
Matt Hankins gave Iowa the ability to go in front with an interception at the Iowa 36.
The Hawkeyes used three plays to get to the Purdue 10, including 28- and 20-yard passes from Spencer Petras to Nico Ragaini.
1:40 2nd: Purdue 14, Iowa 14
Iowa's lead didn't last long.
Aidan O'Connell and David Bell connected for their second touchdown of the game to tie the score late in the first half.
It was an 11-yard TD that completed a nine-play, 75-yard drive. It was Bell's ninth catch of the first half, totaling 85 yards.
4:42 2nd: Iowa 14, Purdue 7
The start may not have been pretty, but Iowa started to exploit the Purdue defense soon after.
An 11-play, 73-yard drive resulted in the Hawkeyes' first lead when Mekhi Sargent punched in a 1-yard touchdown.
Ihmir Smith-Marsette's 15-yard reverse gave Iowa first and goal.
10:21 2nd: Purdue 7, Iowa 7
Iowa flipped field position and took advantage with a 35-yard drive to tie the score.
Daviyon Nixon dropped Aidan O'Connell for a 9-yard loss to the Purdue 2 on third down, then Charlie Jones returned the ensuing punt 25 yards to the Purdue 35.
A five-play drive followed, capped by Spencer Petras' 1-yard TD on a QB sneak.
7:07 1st: Purdue 7, Iowa 0
Both offenses got off to slow starts but Purdue QB Aidan O'Connell found his groove on the team's second drive.
He was 5 of 6 for 57 yards, including a 9-yard touchdown pass to David Bell to give the Boilermakers an early lead.
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