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Gophers Come Back From Double Digits to Defeat Purdue 39-38

You may have seen the stat more than a few times. Jerry Kill, as coach of the Golden Gophers, had never won a game when trailing at halftime. Until today.

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

You may have seen the stat more than a few times.  Jerry Kill, as coach of the Golden Gophers, has never won a game when trailing at halftime (0-22) and he has never lost if leading or tied (22-0).  So this afternoon when Purdue took a 31-20 lead into the locker room after two quarters one could safely assume the Gophers would lose their first conference game of the year, right?  Not today.

Down 11 points at the half and having given up 31 points, the Gophers clawed their way back into the game before finally taking the lead when redshirt freshman, Ryan Santoso nailed a 52-yard field goal.  But with 4:59 remaining Purdue still had an opportunity to drive and retake the lead.

Purdue converted a huge 4th down play moving the ball to their own 40 yard line and over 2:30 remaining.  With the way their quick-strike offense had been playing this could have ended with a Boilermaker touchdown at any moment.  But on the next play Austin Appleby was intercepted by Cedric Thompson who made an outstanding break on the ball to pick it and virtually seal a Gopher win.  From there it was just a matter of David Cobb tacking on 25 yards rushing and get us to the victory formation and the win.

This afternoon was a day of big plays, lead changes, drama and more offense than we are used to seeing at TCF Bank Stadium with 901 yards of total offense and 77 total points.  Cobb rushed for 194 yards and a touchdown, that is not unusual.  Mitch Leidner completed third quarter passes of 42 to Donovahn Jones, 45 to Isaac Fruechte and 37 to KJ Maye; the last one for a touchdown.  All three were key plays on drives that resulted in much needed points.  And Purdue had two backs go for over 100 yards with Raheem Mostert getting 115 and Akeem Hunt with 98.

The game began with a big play, essentially ended with a big play and was littered with them in between.  But it was Cedric Thompson who started things and ended things to give his team the necessary boost.  On the first play of the game Purdue quarterback Austin Appleby threw a dreadful pass hitting Thompson right in the numbers.  One play later Cobb plunged in from the 2-yard line and the Gophers took a 0-7 lead with just 20 seconds off the clock.

Purdue quickly gets the ball back and on 3rd and 7 Damien Wilson intercepts Appleby's 2nd pass of the day and houses it...this was unfortunately called back because Theiran Cockran jumped offsides.  So on 3rd and 2 Purdue throws a bubble pass to Danny Anthrop who goes untouched 55-yards for touchdown.  A potential 14 point lead in the first two minutes was erased and instead a tie ballgame.

This was the story of the first half for the Gophers.  Purdue making big play after big play, converting third downs, the Gopher defense taking poor angles and missing tackles.  In the first half Purdue averaged 10 yards per play.  Plays of 55 for a touchdown, 47 for a touchdown, 31, 25 and 19 yards were sprinkled throughout.  But Tracy Claeys made his usual half-time defensive adjustments and the second half was a different story for the Purdue offense.  Take a look at these stats for the Purdue offense, this really tells the story of the game.

Purdue Offense
1st Half 2nd Half
Points 31 7
Yards 304 147
3rd Down 5/7 0/7
First Downs 13 4
Punts 0 3

If I were giving out three stars for the game they would go to Cedric Thompson, David Cobb and Tracy Claeys.

The Gophers survived what was a well executed Purdue gameplan for two quarters.  Their offense made a living off the edges of the defense and getting the ball to their playmakers out in space.  The Gopher defense eventually settled down and the offense once again made the plays when they had to be made.  An exciting game and a great atmosphere at The Bank.  Now your Golden Gophers currently sit alone atop the Big Ten West standings, though we all know greater tests await.  But 6-1 and 3-0 in the Big Ten is nothing to be ashamed of.  A confidence building, come-from-behind, double-digit-deficit win.  Not very often we've been able to say such a thing, enjoy it Gopher fans.