By: Kate Butler
After their first loss of the season in Iowa Sept. 29, the Gophers were hoping to get back into the win column today against the Northwestern Wildcats. Unfortunately, the Gophers put their second tally of the season in the L column, losing to Northwestern 13-21. In a postgame interview, Coach Jerry Kill credited the loss to errors, “As a unit we made some really bad errors at critical times.” Today was the eighteenth homecoming game Northwestern has played at Minnesota, putting the record at 8-8-2 now for the Gophers.
Northwestern has been called opportunistic as a team, something they proved moments after the opening kick. After a Minnesota fumble, Wildcat Mark Venric rushed 26 yards to put his team on the board. The kick by Jeff Budzien was declared good and very early in the first quarter the Gophers found themselves trailing by 7. Trying for a comeback, Jordan Wettstein put up three points with a 31-yard field goal midway through the quarter. Minutes later, another “critical error”, as Kill called it, came by way of a Minnesota turnover, resulting in a two-yard touchdown by Kain Colter, plus the extra point from Budzien. “We turned the ball over twice and that’s why we lost the game,” Kill stated in a postgame interview.
MarQueis Gray came back from an ankle injury to start the game as a receiver, but found himself at QB for the second quarter when Shortell took a hit to the head. He had no problem readjusting back into his regular position, as he rushed for a 25-yard touchdown just seven seconds into the second quarter. As expected, Wettstein put up the extra point and the Gophers, along with 49,651 fans, became visibly more confident. This feeling of confidence was knocked down a short few minutes later when Venric high-stepped it into the Gopher end zone from 48 yards back, closing the half at 10-21.
The clouds in Minneapolis held off only until the second half, and as the rain came down, the Gophers offense came unglued. The seven fumbles by Minnesota did not go unnoticed by the team, as Max Shortell described in an interview after the game, “The only drive-killers were us making mistakes…We can’t have that.” Making an attempt at redemption, the Gophers opted for, and cleared, a 38-yard field goal attempt. With a score of 13-21 heading into the final quarter of play, Shortell came in, as Gray’s ankle was acting up again. The next fifteen minutes were filled with frustrating incomplete passes by Minnesota’s offense, and excellent blocking from their defense.
This game puts the Gophers at a record of 0-2 in the Big Ten. When asked how the team will come back from these two consecutive losses, Donnell Kirkwood said, “Positive attitudes and go out in practice harder than you did the week before.” Shortell echoed Kirkwood’s sentiments in a postgame interview saying, “We’ve just got to get back on track and give ourselves confidence again because we are a good team.” Hopefully the Gophers find that confidence in time for their game at Wisconsin next Saturday. Tune into KFAN 100.3fm for full coverage.
Coach Kill suffered a seizure in the locker room following the postgame media interview, learn more here.