It took a strong second half for Minnesota to come from behind and pull away, beating Louisiana 35-24. Without super-freshman, Darius Taylor, the Gophers showed a balanced offense and an opportunistic defense to control the last two quarters of the game.
Zach Evans got his first real opportunity to run the ball for Minnesota and he took full advantage of his time. The redshirt freshman led the Gophers with 85 yards rushing on 15 carries and did score 1 touchdown. Bryce Williams and Sean Tyler combined for 100 yards and all three backs had double-digit carries to spread out the load.
Athan Kaliakmanis was very efficient, mostly showing short passes, timely rushes and two touchdown passes to Daniel Jackson. The first was from the 10-yard line to tie the game 7-7 in the first quarter. The second was the game-clincher on 4th and 2 from the Ragin’ Cajun 37.
But the 2nd half offense was mostly set up by the defense who had 2 interceptions, a turnover on downs and largely kept the Ragin’ Cajuns in check (mostly).
Trailing 14-17 at half, the Gopher offense had the ball to start the third quarter. They marched 80 yards on 11 plays to take the lead on a Zach Evans 18-yard touchdown run. Now leading 21-17, it was the defense that started to flex some muscle. They quickly stopped Louisiana on a 4th and 4, giving the ball back to the offense. That short drive lasted 2:31 and that was the longest drive (by time) that ULL had in the second half.
The offense ended up having to punt, but the defense gave them the ball back three plays later with a Tyler Nubin interception. This time the offense capitalized on the turnover, going 42 yards and scoring a touchdown from Williams.
The score at this point was 28-17 and after both teams exchanged punts, Louisiana had the ball midfield with just under 10 minutes left. On their first play, Jack Henderson picks off an errant Zeon Chriss pass to give the ball back to the Gopher offense and a chance to put the game away. Which they did on the aforementioned, game-clinching, Daniel Jackson touchdown.
The first half was not pretty, but it was a much better effort in the 2nd half to control the game and come away with an 11-point win.
Up next for the Gophers is a visit from #2 Michigan. The Little Brown Jug is on the line for the first time since the pandemic-2020 season.