Sometimes, the most desperate team wins. Tonight certainly was a battle of desperation between the Minnesota Gophers and the Boilermakers of Purdue. Both teams entered tonight’s game with matching 0-3 records in the Big 10, something that acted as a driving force for every player on the field. The Golden Gophers used their desperation as motivation and pulled out a 44-28 win in the end.
Prior to the game, Coach Kill described his team as being hungry for a win today, a hunger that was apparent from the opening kick. A short 3:32 into the game the Gophers found themselves trailing by seven, a situation they’re not unfamiliar with lately. They didn’t stay down long, as a few minutes later Derrick Engel scored his first career touchdown after true-freshman Philip Nelson launched a 34-yard pass right into his hands. The Gophers weren’t done yet, moments later Rodrick Williams wrapped the first quarter with a 4-yard touchdown run. This marked the first lead Minnesota has had in a Big 10 game all season.
The Gophers came out hard, fast and determined in the second quarter, beginning with a 38-yard pass from Nelson, the on-fire freshman, to A.J. Barker for a quick touchdown within the first minute of play. A short time later, the pair put their team on the board again with a 63-yard touchdown pass from Nelson to Barker.
Jordan Wettstein put up a collective six more points before the half was over, with both 40-yard and 35-yard field goal attempts. Closing the half with a score of 34-7, which meant the Gophers scored an astounding 31 points in just over fifteen minutes.
The second half opened with a mind-blowing interception by Minnesota CB, Michael Carter. After he plucked a pass from Purdue’s Caleb TerBush out of thin air, Carter ran for a 43-yard interception return straight into the end zone. Not only did this put the Gophers up 41-7, but it marked the first turnover Minnesota has forced in Big 10 play all season.
While it proved to be a poor punting night for Purdue, Wettstein couldn’t help but show-off his precision every time his foot touched the ball. Executing his longest kick of the season at 44 yards, Wettstein put his team ahead 44-7. This was answered minutes later with two back-to-back touchdowns from the Boilermakers to end the third quarter.
As Coach Jerry Kill stated in a post-game interview, “We dragged a little bit in the third and fourth quarters, but in the end we got the W.” Only seven points were scored in the last quarter of the game, as Purdue freshman Danny Anthrop clinched his first career touchdown. With under a minute left to play, the Gophers took a knee and the game was over.
Tonight the Minnesota Golden Gophers left TCF Bank Stadium with their first Big 10 victory of the season. Next Saturday, they will take on Michigan at home in Minneapolis in hopes of becoming one win closer to being a part of a bowl game this year. The rest of Minnesota will agree with Kill, who expressed, “I am excited about our future”.