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Boilers roll in season opener, 48-6, over EKU

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Season openers haven’t been the most reassuring games for Purdue’s football team over the past couple of years.

But, the Boilers were all business to start the 2012 campaign, Saturday, easily handling Eastern Kentucky 48-6.

“We’re a much better football team than we were this time last year.  Even though we made some mistakes, I still think we have great potential as a football team” said Purdue head coach Danny Hope. 

In 2010, The Boilermakers lost their opener 23-12 at Notre Dame and then narrowly escaped with a win in their first game of last season at home against a heavy underdog, Middle Tennessee.

Against EKU, Robert Marve and the Purdue defense ensured there would be no opening weekend letdown.

“We did see how explosive we can be,” said Marve. 

Marve, who started at quarterback because Caleb TerBush was suspended for the game for violating team rules, rebounded from an opening drive interception to throw for a career-high 295-yards and three touchdowns.

“I was pretty upset about the pick,” said Marve.  “It’s something that happens in the game.  You don’t see it too much at practice but it happened.  But, (I’ve) been through a lot, so I just stayed positive with it and knew I needed to bounce back, so it all worked out.”

The senior quarterback’s first touchdown came on a four yard strike to Gary Bush.  EKU blocked the extra point, one of four blocked kicks in the game.

On the Colonel’s ensuing possession, safety Landon Feichter picked off Jared McClain and returned it 34-yards to give the Boilers a 13-0 edge.  The interception and touchdown were both firsts for Feichter who also had two tackles.

“I was a free player on that play and I was kind of just running  the slant, the quarterback looked over there, and (Josh Johnson) luckily popped it up and it just landed right in my arms,” said the safety.  “From there I don’t even know what happened; I was just trying not to fall.

Kurt Freytag joined Feichter in finding the endzone for the first time in his career.  The junior from Carmel scored on a seven yard run to extend the Purdue lead to 20-0. 

EKU eventually found pay dirt on a 30-yard dash by Matt Denham, but the Boilers added two more scores before halftime, a 13-yard touchdown from Marve to Antavian Edison (7 rec, 58 yds) and an eight-yard run by Akeem Shavers (11 carries, 76 yds) to go up 34-6 at the break.

“We got the ball into our playmakers hands and that’s all you can ask for,” said Shavers.  “We had a great camp. That really went well.  We just took that momentum and ran with it and it showed today.”

Marve added his third scoring toss late in the third quarter, an eight yard pass to tight end Gabe Holmes (4 rec, 43 yds).   Justin Sinz (2 rec, 27 yds) scored Purdue’s final touchdown hauling in a 15-yard pass from Rob Henry (7-9, 77 yds, TD, INT).

Purdue outgained the Colonels  547-190 and picked up 33 first downs compared to just 10 for EKU. 

The Boilers defense stymied Colonels’ quarterback Jared McClain who was just 8-22 for 85 yards and threw two interceptions.

Purdue also was only penalized three times for 15 yards.  Hope emphasized cleaning up penalties throughout training camp.

While the Boilers were dominant, they weren’t perfect.

They turned the ball over five times and had both an extra point and punt blocked.

“That’s usually a game where you come out and make mistakes, in the first game, and we made some mistakes, but we did a good job as far as the penalties go,” said Hope.  “We made some mistakes in specials teams.  In some ways that may be good for us to bring some awareness to where we are actually at.”

Purdue (1-0) will get a tougher test next week when they travel to South Bend to take on rival Notre Dame.  The Irish beat Navy 50-10 in their opener which was played in Dublin, Ireland.   

Marve knows his team can’t rest on its first week’s success if the Boilers plan to continue their winning ways.

“We saw Notre Dame play earlier today.  We can’t beat them, they have a great team, turning the ball over consistently,” he said.  “We’ve got to do that, keep the explosion on offense, and the D shutting them down, and we have a shot.”