Purdue football is playing poorly. Shocking, I know. The Boilermakers gave up nearly 400 yards of offense to Iowa in the first half, and trail 35-7 at the break. But stats and scores are just numbers. The best way to summarize Purdue’s first half play are these two plays from their final drive:
1. Purdue decides to kneel at the half-yard line
On the play before this, the Boilermakers had allowed a 75-yard touchdown to Iowa’s Akrum Wadley. On this play, Malik Kimbrough dropped a kickoff, teammate Brian Lankford-Johnson picked it up at the 1-yard-line, brought his body into the end zone, and kneeled, apparently hoping for a touchback.
When you start at the 1-yard line, there is only one thing for you to do: run forward. There is no potential for a touchback. Touchbacks are reserved for kickoff returns that start in the end zone and do not leave the end zone. This very easily could’ve been a safety, giving Iowa the ball and two points.
Luckily, for Purdue, the refs determined the ball never went backwards into the end zone, giving Purdue the ball about a half-yard from their own goal line. (The location of the ball, not the player’s body, is the determining factor on whether something is a touchback. Here’s an example of a play that went the other way.)
2. Purdue calls a timeout to kneel
Purdue’s drive went poorly, as they often do. They got the ball to the 34-yard-line. A third-and-10 pass went two yards to bring up fourth-and-8 from the 36 with three seconds left in the half. For some reason, in this scenario, Darrell Hazell called timeout, extending the half for one more play, on which they knelt.
I have no idea why Hazell called timeout here. If he wanted the half to end, he could have simply let the half end by not calling timeout. His team was 20 yards too far to attempt a Hail Mary, and any sort of play might have ended with time on the clock, leading to a turnover on downs and giving Iowa a shot at the end zone. (This is why the kneel is so awkward — the QB had to stay on his feet until the clock expired to avoid a turnover on downs.)