The Minnesota Golden Gophers notched their first win of the season, prevailing against the Miami (Ohio) RedHawks, 31-26, in a non-conference game that was far too close for comfort.
After the Gophers took a 21-3 lead into the locker room at halftime, the RedHawks scored 17 unanswered points in the second half. Minnesota finally woke up once their lead had dwindled to a single point in the fourth quarter, scoring on a 21-yard touchdown run by Trey Potts to end their drought. Tyler Nubin nabbed an interception on the RedHawks’ ensuing possession, setting up a 50-yard field goal by Matthew Trickett to wrestle away the momentum and make it 31-20.
Miami (Ohio) managed to strike back late in the fourth quarter after a questionable roughing the passer penalty on Rashad Cheney gave the RedHawks a fresh set of downs, which they used to score on a 33-yard touchdown pass from Brett Gabbert to former Penn State wide receiver Mac Hippenhammer. Their two-point conversion attempt failed and Potts was able to ice the game for Minnesota, ending the game with five straight carries to run out the clock.
Potts finished the game with 34 carries for 178 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
On the RedHawks’ opening drive of the game, Brett Gabbert attempted a quarterback sneak on 3rd & 1 from his own 44-yard line but fumbled the snap. The Gophers recovered, setting up Tanner Morgan and co. with good field position for their first offensive possession of the game. Trey Potts, Minnesota’s newly-minted starting running back, proceeded to lead the Gophers down the field, churning out 31 yards on six carries behind the Minnesota Movers. He capped the drive with a four-yard touchdown plunge to give the Gophers the early 7-0 lead.
Miami (Ohio) cut the lead to 7-3 with a 46-yard field goal in the opening minute of the second quarter. On the ensuing possession for Minnesota, Morgan put the team on his back, opening the drive with a ridiculous throw down the sideline that turned into a ridiculous catch by Dylan Wright for a gain of 31 yards. The drive ended with another Morgan-to-Wright connection, as the pair extended the Gophers’ lead to 14-3 with a 25-yard touchdown pass on 3rd & 11.
The RedHawks continued to have problems matching up with Wright on Minnesota’s next offensive possession. Morgan opened the drive with a deep pass attempt down the sideline to Wright, who was in one-on-one coverage. Wright had a step on Miami (Ohio) cornerback Cedric Boswell, got dragged down by Boswell, and drew the pass interference penalty to get the Gophers across midfield. Later in the drive, on 3rd & 11 from the RedHawks’ 18, Wright and Boswell were once again matched up in coverage. Morgan went right at them and Boswell once again drew a pass interference penalty to give the Gophers a fresh set of downs.
Minnesota capitalized, with Morgan finding Daniel Jackson for a six-yard touchdown pass on third down to make it 21-3, the lead the Gophers would take into halftime. Defensively, the Minnesota defense limited the RedHawks to 20 yards of offense in the first half.
The Gophers stumbled coming out of halftime, squandering the opening possession with a pair of incompletions and a sack on third down. Mark Crawford’s 42-yard punt gave the RedHawks the best starting field possession of the day at their own 41-yard line. Miami (Ohio) took advantage, putting together their first touchdown drive of the game to cut the deficit down to 21-10. The drive turned on a third down play at the Minnesota 27, when back-up quarterback A.J. Mayer connected with Jack Sorenson for 26 yards to put the RedHawks at the goal line.
Miami (Ohio) added on a 45-yard field goal late in the third quarter to make it 21-13. After holding Minnesota to a three-and-out on defense, the RedHawks scored on a 23-yard touchdown pass from Gabbert to Sorenson to cut the deficit to 21-20.
The story of the second half, aside from the Gophers’ struggles on defense, was Minnesota’s complete lack of a passing game. Tanner Morgan did not complete a pass in the second half and Dylan Wright was sidelined late in the game after getting popped on a third down play.