The Minnesota Golden Gophers had every chance to give up and throw in the towel, but they overcame several issues that historically doom the squad.
The Gophers historically haven't dealt with in game issues very well in recent seasons.
That changed Saturday at Ryan Field where the Gophers defeated the Northwestern Wildcats 20-17.
Head coach Jerry Kill and defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys were not in their usual game day locations. The team got no points at the end of the first half, despite starting at midfield with over a minute and a half remaining.
Then in the second half, highly questionable penalties took a touchdown off the board and kept a drive alive for the Wildcats.
The Gophers (5-2 overall, 1-2 conference) took their first lead of the game moments after an offensive pass interference penalty took an Isaac Fruechte 30-yard touchdown catch on fourth down off the board. On the first play the Wildcats ran following a punt, James Manuel intercepted Trevor Siemian and ran 24 yards for the score.
Siemian turned the ball over on the following play when he was sacked and stripped by Theiren Cockran. Cockran also recovered the fumble. The Gophers offense marched down the field for a field goal to take a 10-point lead.
After the two teams traded field goals, the Wildcats (4-3, 0-3) got to within a field goal on a long, lengthy drive that included three fourth down conversions. However, the first fourth down conversion was successful because of a bad defensive pass interference call on Eric Murray.
The Gophers recovered the ensuing onside kick and were able keep the ball and run out the clock.
Players of the Game
Offense - Philip Nelson. The quarterback completed 8-of-11 passes for 112 yards and a touchdown.
Defense - Ra'Shede Hageman. The defensive tackle recorded an interception, knocked down three passes and had one tackle.
Minnesota….…..0 7 7 6 - 20
Northwestern…..7 0 0 10 - 17
NW - Buckley 3 run (Budzien kick).
MINN - Engel 29 pass from Nelson (Hawthorne kick).
MINN - Manuel 24 interception return (Hawthorne kick).
MINN - Hawthorne 34 kick.
NW - Budzien 35 kick.
MINN - Hawthorne 38 kick.
NW - T. Jones 10 pass from Siemian (Budzien kick).