Gophers stumble early, wilt late in 20-10 loss to Purdue
Minnesota suffers 1st loss of the season in its homecoming game
MINNEAPOLIS — Plenty of the statistics surrounding the Gophers’ 4-0 start seemed too good to be true or would end in only a matter of time.
Two vanished on the opening drives of Homecoming against Purdue on Saturday: its offense went three-and-out and its starting defense gave up its first touchdown.
Both were season firsts and foreshadowing in the No. 21 Gophers’ 20-10 upset loss to the Boilermakers at Huntington Bank Stadium.
After playing near-perfect football in September, Minnesota’s mistakes and mishaps multiplied Saturday.
Quickly in a 7-0 hole, quarterback Tanner Morgan had a pass tipped and intercepted on the second drive. On the third drive, P.J. Fleck’s decision to go for it on fourth-and-1 from their own 29-yard line backfired and Purdue tackled on a field goal for a 10-0 lead in the first quarter.
Minnesota missed its own field goal, made a field goal and trailed 10-3 at the half after Michael Brown-Stephens had a surefire touchdown go off his hands for a Purdue interception.
“Couldn’t have played worse,” Fleck said on KFXN-FM at halftime.
The Gophers tied the score 10-10 in the third quarter, but wilted with 10 points allowed in the final five minutes.
Missed tackles aided both of Purdue’s touchdown drives, with middle linebacker Mariano Sori-Marin calling it “the biggest thing.”
The Gophers sure missed star tailback Mo Ibrahim (out with a lower-leg injury). With him, they were averaging nearly 300 yards per game on the ground, which was No. 2 in the nation. Without him, they didn’t manage 50.
Purdue took a 13-10 lead with a 25-yard field goal with five minutes left in the game. Minnesota was forced to punt and Boilermakers running back Devin Mockobee broke free for a 68-yard gain and then had a 2-yard touchdown run.
Tanner Morgan threw an interception to seal the game for Minnesota (4-1, 1-1 Big Ten). Purdue (3-2, 2-1) won its first of seven games at The Bank.
Minnesota responded in the third quarter, forcing Purdue into a three-and-out and then put together an eight-play, 52-yard touchdown drive. With Mo Ibrahim not playing, Bryce Williams scored from 1-yard out.
After that opening drive of the game, Minnesota’s defense stepped up with three takeaways in the first half. Jordan Howden had an interception; Tyler Nubin added a pick and a forced fumble; and Jalen Logan-Redding received the fumble.
After giving up 68 yards on the game's opening drive, Minnesota gave up 91 over the next six drives until intermission.
The Gophers had a chance to tie the score just before half, but Morgan’s pass bounced off Michael Brown Stephens chest and was intercepted by Cam Allen.
Boilermakers quarterback Aidan O’Connell returned after missing their win over Florida Atlantic with a reported rib injury. He completed 27 of 40 passes for 199 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions.
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