WEST LAFAYETTE -- Speed matters. So does having a healthy quarterback.
Purdue had plenty of one, and not so much the other against winless Eastern Michigan.
On Saturday, it was no big deal. But there were enough offensive glitches (one interception and one fumble lost, two other fumbles recovered), even in a 54-16 victory, to give coach Danny Hope and his staff plenty of teaching points.
“Thank goodness we were able to learn our lessons and still win big,” Hope said. “That's a good thing.”
Goodness was reflected in 576 total yards, three drives of 90-yards plus and seven plays of 20 or more yards, including four of 40 or more. Running back Akeem Hunt had a 56-yard touchdown run and a 50-yard TD catch. Fellow running back Brandon Cottom had an 87-yard TD run (third longest in school history). Running back Akeem Shavers had a 40-yard TD run.
“We have players who are able to make plays that big,” quarterback Caleb TerBush said. “We have good speed across the board. They have a chance to go all the way. We look to do this against other teams.”
Not so good was the migraine that hit TerBush on Friday, and lingered into Saturday. He struggled early, including throwing an interception that was returned for a touchdown, before finishing 16-for-24 for 158 yards and two touchdowns.
“(Saturday morning) he felt better,” Hope said, “but he looked bad. He was out of sorts for a while. He did some good things, but he didn't have the rhythm.”
TerBush downplayed the headache.
“I feel good now. We got a W and scored 54 points.
“It was just a migraine. It was nothing major. It popped up; we got a win; and we move on to the next one.”
As far as the early offensive struggles, TerBush said that, “I could have played better. You learn you're your mistakes and move on.
“We had a couple communication things that threw things off. You have to have 11 people doing the right thing at the right time. We got them ironed them out and got some points.”
TerBush's interception was his third in two games this season. Last year, in 13 games, he had six.
“I tried to force one in there. I won't do that again.”
That was one of nine Purdue turnovers this season.
“We have to tighten up the grip on offense,” Hope said. “We had the ball on the ground too many times. If we don't fix it, it will come back to haunt us.
Purdue enters its bye week with a 2-1 record. It won't play again until it hosts Marshall on Sept. 29.
Eastern Michigan's first nine points (all in the second quarter) were the direct result of Boiler turnovers -- one on a 28-yard interception return for a touchdown, the other a 23-yard field goal set up by a Purdue fumble.
The Boilers gained control by scoring 20 points in the final 5:33 of the second quarter.
Backup quarterback Rob Henry took over in the fourth quarter. He was 2-for-6 for 26 yards.
The game was so lopsided that third string quarterback Austin Parker got in late in the fourth quarter for his first-ever college action.
Safety Landon Feichter, a former Bishop Dwenger standout, had an interception, his second of the season and of his career. He was part of a defense that held Eastern Michigan (0-3) to 313 total yards.
Purdue was cruising with a 13-0 lead -- thanks to Shavers' 40-yard TD run and TerBush's 18-yard scoring pass -- when turnovers briefly ripped away its momentum.
TerBush threw his third interception of the season. It was returned 28 yards for a touchdown by Pudge Cotton. Then on the next Purdue series, receiver O.J. Ross fumbled, Eastern Michigan recovered and got a field goal to make it 13-9.
It got worse for the Boilers on the ensuing kickoff, when Raheem Mostert fumbled at the 1-yard line. But TerBush hit a crucial 22-yard pass to ignite a 99-yard touchdown drive. Akeem Hunt took a short pass and bolted 50 yards for a TD to make it 20-9.
Purdue went up 27-9 a few minutes later when Cottom bolted up the middle, broke several tackles and went 87 yards for a touchdown. It capped a 95-yard drive.
Boiler cornerback Josh Johnson's interception set up TerBush's 2-yard TD run with nine seconds left in the half. The extra point was missed again to make it 33-9.
Hunt's 56-yard TD run made it 40-9 with 9:44 left in the third quarter. Mostert added a 15-yard TD run early in the fourth quarter. Danny Anthrop added a 4-yard TD run late in the fourth quarter.