In football, the only time a team really needs the lead is when the clock runs out.
Purdue didn't trail Nevada at any point in the first 59:57 of the game Friday. And yet it's the Wolf Pack who've started the year 1-0.
It was the Boilermakers' first true road season opener since 2015 -- and the welcome was not warm from Nevada freshman kicker Brandon Talton, whose 56-yard field goal as time expired sealed a 34-31 comeback win.
For most of the game, Purdue seemed in control. Quarterback Elijah Sindelar, in his first start since last season's opener, completed 21 of 28 throws for 268 yards and 3 TDs in the first half. Sindelar would finish with a new career high of 423 passing yards. Sophomore standout wide receiver Rondale Moore had nine receptions for 114 yards in the first two quarters, allowing Purdue to build a 24-7 lead after 30 minutes of play.
However as the game went on the Nevada defense stiffened against Moore, allowing him only three more catches for ten yards in the second half. Sindelar found other targets, though, hitting David Bell on a flea flicker for Bell's first collegiate TD and giving the Boilers a comfortable 31-14 lead in the second half.
Thats when Nevada QB Carson Strong took over and led his team to the comeback win. Strong, in his first career start, finished with 295 yards and three touchdowns through the air. The Wolf Pack defense managed four takeaways -- two on mishandled punt returns and two on Sindelar interceptions. One of those came in the game's final minute as the 6th-year senior threw into double coverage.
Coach Jeff Brohm's Boilermakers start 0-1 for the second straight season and look to bounce back next weekend to avoid the same start as last year when they began 0-3.
That game will be the home opener at Ross-Ade Stadium, a noon kickoff against Vanderbilt.