By: Kate Butler | KFAN.com
The Gophers returned home this week to a 44-degree battle against the Nittany Lions of Penn State University. Minnesota has not won four-straight conference games in one season since 1973, making today’s 24-10 victory a huge moment in Gopher history.
Minnesota opened the game with Eric Murray recovering a Penn State fumble on their first play. Shortly after, 45-yard field goal attempt by Hawthorne with a breeze at his back was good, giving the Gophers a 3-0 lead with 13:13 to play in the opening quarter. Minnesota picked up their first touchdown on a 1-yard touchdown run as David Cobb shoved his way through a sea of Penn State players to find the end zone. The extra kick from Hawthorne put the Gophers on the board with a ten-point lead with 3:08 left in the first. Penn State answered with just over a minute left to play in the first quarter when Zwinak ran the ball six yards for a touchdown. The extra point from Sam Ficken cut the lead 10-7.
The second quarter opened with PSU trailing only by three points, but it wasn’t long until they were down by ten all over again. At 9:08 to play in the first half, Nelson, with a stutter-step, rushed right into the end zone, his 6th rushing TD of the season. The extra point from Hawthorne gave the Gophers their second 10-point lead of the game, 17-7. It took Penn State until 3:11 remained to answer, when Sam Ficken put up a 27-yard field goal. The Gophers came back with a 24-yard TD pass from Nelson to Williams, extending the lead to 14 after an extra point from Hawthorne with just 17 seconds in the half.
The third quarter was scoreless but it wasn’t without excitement. Cobb had an impressive 44-yard rush after busting loose from the pack. The punting/coverage had been on point all around today, especially when a Gopher punt pinned PSU at the 2. On the topic of punts, Peter Mortell had a career-long punt of 62-yards.
The final quarter of play opened with the Gophers leading the Nittany Lions 24-10 in front of 48,123 fans. The Gophers stood their ground throughout the rest of the game, and stopped PSU on a 4th down with a pass broken up by Wells that gave Minnesota the ball back with 9:31 to play. James Manuel recovered a fumbled snap on the 1-yard line, robbing Penn State of a touchdown opportunity. Successfully running the clock out, the Gophers won this game 24-10, their fourth B1G win in a row. Minnesota sprinted across the field to pick up the Governor’s Victory Bell at the end of today’s win on Penn State’s sidelines.
-Including Cobb’s today, twelve of the Gophers TDs have been 1-yard long this season
-Brothers Ed & Tommy Olson both started together alongside former high school teammate Mike Henry.
-David Cobb rushed for over 100 yards today for his fourth straight game, the first Gopher to do so since Amir Pinnix who had 5 straight games in 2007.
-Peter Mortell had a career-long punt of 62 yards today at The Bank.
-“Our philosophy is we’re going to be an aggressive football team but we also have to be smart.”- Head Coach Jerry Kill
-“I’m so happy for the kids because they’ve been through a lot of adversity.”- Jerry Kill on the team’s growth and today’s win
-“Defend every inch. You have to do that in football, that’s one thing I give our kids credit for.”- Coach Kill on today’s big fumble recoveries.
-“I think the biggest thing for the team is we’re having fun now, before it was more of a job. …The coaches believe in us, we trust each other as players.”-David Cobb on the difference between now and the beginning of the season.
-“I tell you what, I don’t know that I would’ve anticipated having this good of a game with the wind.”- Peter Mortell said with a chuckle.
“After it leaves my foot I just hope for the best and fortunately that was able to work for us today.”- Peter Mortell on his punting efforts today.
-“Coach Kill means so much to us. He’s that guy that e can go to off the field when we have issues. To see him come back, you know how much he loves the game. He rallies behind us just like we rally behind him.”- Peter Mortell