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Tyler Nubin’s interception seals rain-soaked 20-13 victory over Purdue

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The Gophers notch their first Big Ten win of the season

NCAA Football: Minnesota at Purdue Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Tyler Nubin intercepted a pass from Purdue quarterback Aidan O’Connell with less than a minute left to seal the Golden Gophers’ 20-13 come-from-behind victory over the Boilermakers.

On the Boilermakers’ opening drive, rush end Boye Mafe forced the first turnover of the game with a strip sack of Aidan O’Connell. Defensive tackle Val Martin recovered the fumble to give the Gophers good field position. Minnesota took a 7-0 lead on a 32-yard touchdown pass from Tanner Morgan to Chris Autman-Bell. Replays showed that Autman-Bell may not have completed the catch as he fell to the ground in the end zone, but the play was not reviewed.

Purdue responded on their ensuing possession with a 36-yard field goal to cut it to 7-3 after Nyles Pinckney and Thomas Rush combined to sack quarterback Aidan O’Connell on third down. The Gophers struggled on offense after their initial scoring drive, opening the door for the Boilermakers to take the lead with a 91-yard touchdown drive capped by a seven-yard touchdown reception by Milton Wright. The drive was extended by a questionable unsportsmanlike penalty against Micah Dew-Treadway, who was flagged after colliding with a ref while entering the game as a sub.

Trailing 10-7 in the second quarter, Minnesota drove down to the Purdue 13-yard line but Daniel Jackson was flagged for a block that was deemed “too violent,” putting the offense behind the sticks. The Gophers were at least able to recover enough to tie the game with a 42-yard Matthew Trickett field goal. But the Boilermakers would take a 13-10 lead into halftime after an 11-play, 68-yard scoring drive capped by a 24-yard go-ahead field goal with seconds left in the half.

The Gophers came out of the locker room at halftime guns blazing, catching the Boilermakers’ defense off guard on a 54-yard play-action pass to Mike Brown-Stephens, the receiver’s second 50+ yard reception of the game. Two plays later, Trey Potts found the end zone for the go-ahead score, giving the Gophers a 17-13 lead. That was all the scoring Minnesota would need as their defense pitched a shutout in the second half, but the Gophers would tack on a 38-yard field goal from Matthew Trickett for good measure with 1:46 left on the game clock.

Aidan O’Connell was 33-of-51 for 357 passing yards and receivers David Bell and Milton Wright combined for 12 receptions for 211 receiving yards, but the Minnesota defense made plays when it mattered. Nyles Pinckney sacked O’Connell on third down on their first drive of the second half, taking Purdue out of field goal territory and forcing a punt. On their next possession, Jaqwondis Burns picked up his first career sack on a first down and the Boilermakers could not recover after facing 2nd & 20. Justin Walley broke up a pass in the end zone while in man coverage against Wright on third down of the next drive, forcing a 37-yard field goal attempt that Purdue missed. Walley came up big with another third down incompletion one drive later while matched up with Bell, forcing a fourth down pass that was short of the sticks for a turnover on downs. Finally, Nubin intercepted O’Connell deep in Minnesota territory in the closing minute.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention the contributions of punter Mark Crawford, who had a career game and helped Minnesota consistently win the field position battle. He averaged 51.3 yards per punt on six punts, pinning the Boilermakers inside their own 20-yard line four times.

The Gophers improve to 3-2 and now head into their bye week with a win.