College football: Gophers come from behind to top Purdue
Marcus R. Fuller St. Paul Pioneer Press MINNEAPOLIS -- When Jerry Kill walked into the locker room Saturday with his Minnesota Gophers trailing Purdue 31-20 at halftime, he claimed to have no idea his team had never won when trailing at halftime....
Marcus R. Fuller
St. Paul Pioneer Press
MINNEAPOLIS - When Jerry Kill walked into the locker room Saturday with his Minnesota Gophers trailing Purdue 31-20 at halftime, he claimed to have no idea his team had never won when trailing at halftime.
His players weren’t thinking about that, either.
So Minnesota’s fourth-year coach kept his cool. Didn’t scream. Didn’t curse anyone out, even though the defense in particular probably deserved it for playing embarrassing football.
“When I walked into the locker room, I said, ‘Hey, men, this is going to define who you are,’ ” Kill said after a 39-38 comeback win at TCF Bank Stadium. “ ‘Can you fight back from adversity? Can you fight back from some tough things? You’re going to do it your whole life? We’re going to find out what kind of team we are.’ ”
Redshirt freshman Ryan Santoso missed an extra-point kick and got stopped on a two-point conversion run, but his 52-yard field goal with 4:59 remaining in the fourth quarter gave the Gophers the win and vault them to the top of the Big Ten West Division.
That might have been the play of the game offensively. Defensively, senior safety Cedric Thompson pulled off a diving interception on Austin Appleby during Northwestern’s final possession to seal Minnesota’s first win under Kill when losing at halftime.
Kill’s Gophers teams had been 0-22 when down at the half and 22-0 when leading or tied.
Those stats no longer define his team.
A 31-20 halftime deficit against Purdue (3-5, 1-3) wasn’t going to keep the Gophers (6-1) from becoming bowl eligible for the third straight season and giving the crowd of 51,241, the third-largest in stadium history, an impressive homecoming win.
Combined with Iowa’s loss to Maryland, Minnesota took sole possession of first place in the West with a 3-0 conference start, its first since 1990. If they win at Illinois, they would be 4-0 for the first time since they tied for the Big Ten championship in 1967.
“I don’t read too much into that because of the stretch that we’ve got to go down to,” Kill said, referring to a final four-game stretch of Iowa, Ohio State, Nebraska and Wisconsin. “I told our kids and took it off (Seattle Seahawks coach) Pete Carroll a little bit, ‘You want to be successful? You’re playing in a championship game every week, and that’s how you’ve got to approach it.’ And that’s not my quote; that’s what he said last year when they won the Super Bowl.”
Gophers quarterback Mitch Leidner recorded 249 total yards and three touchdowns, including a 37-yard touchdown pass to K.J. Maye to cut Purdue’s lead to 38-36 late in the third quarter. That drive started with a lost fumble call on Leidner that was overturned.
The Gophers were outgained 451-450 in total yards, including Purdue’s 298 yards rushing, but Minnesota senior running back David Cobb had 35 carries for 194 yards and a touchdown.
Cobb was fired up after Thompson was knocked out of the game briefly in the fourth quarter on a hit by Purdue’s Danny Anthrop that resulted in a personal foul penalty on Anthrop. Gophers linebacker Damien Wilson, Cobb’s cousin, was called for an unsportsmanlike penalty on the play for pushing Anthrop, which extended the drive.
“To take a shot like that, to see one of your players out there like that, you have to bow your neck a little bit and come back,” Cobb said.
Minnesota responded with a fourth-down stop when Damarius Travis forced a fumble on Appleby to turn the ball over on downs with 8:26 remaining in the quarter.
Minnesota 39, Purdue 38
Purdue 14 17 7 0- 38
Minnesota 14 6 16 3- 39
MINN-D.Cobb 2 yard rush (Santoso kick), 14:40.
PUR-Anthrop 55 yard pass from A.Appleby (P.Griggs kick), 13:00.
MINN-Mx.Williams 4 yard pass from Mi.Leidner (Santoso kick), 6:23.
PUR-Gb.Holmes 13 yard pass from A.Appleby (P.Griggs kick), 2:37.
MINN-D.Kirkwood 3 yard rush(Kick failed), 12:40.
PUR-Mostert 42 yard rush (P.Griggs kick), 9:01.
PUR-P.Griggs 26 yard field goal, 7:22.
PUR-De.Yancey 8 yard pass from A.Appleby (P.Griggs kick), 1:24.
MINN-Mi.Leidner 6 yard rush(Kick failed), 12:03.
MINN-Santoso 20 yard field goal, 7:10.
PUR-A.Appleby 1 yard rush (P.Griggs kick), 6:03.
MINN-KJ.Maye 37 yard pass from Mi.Leidner (Santoso kick), 1:13.
MINN-Santoso 52 yard field goal, 4:59.
First Downs 17 22
Rushes-Yards 35-298 52-285
Passing 153 165
Sacked-Yds Lost 0-0 0-0
Comp-Att-Int 16-26-2 9-18-0
Return Yards 140 162
Punts 3-42.0 4-47.0
Fumbles-Lost 2-0 2-1
Penalties-Yards 7-55 7-66
Time of Possession 28:13 31:47
RUSHING-PUR, Mostert 5-115, Ak.Hunt 17-98, A.Appleby 10-79, Anthrop 2-7. MINN, D.Cobb 35-194, Mi.Leidner 13-84, D.Kirkwood 3-8.
PASSING-PUR, A.Appleby 16-26-2-153. MINN, Mi.Leidner 9-18-0-165.
RECEIVING-PUR, Ak.Hunt 5-24, Anthrop 4-67, Sinz 2-20, Mostert 2-19, Gb.Holmes 1-13, De.Yancey 1-8, Jurasevich 1-2. MINN, Mx.Williams 3-22, Wolitarsky 2-19, Fruechte 1-45, Dn.Jones 1-42, KJ.Maye 1-37, D.Cobb 1-0.