Jon Hoese scored three rushing touchdowns as he led the Minnesota Golden Gophers to a 24-17 win over the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders at Floyd Stadium.
Hoese carried the ball just eight times for the Golden Gophers (1-0), gaining 26 yards as the team came up with a total of 281 yards on the ground in the season opener. Duane Bennett registered a staggering 187 yards rushing on 30 attempts for a team that placed 111th in the nation last year in rushing with a mere 99.5 ypg.
Quarterback Adam Weber hit on 10-of-17 passing for Minnesota for 150 yards.
The Blue Raiders (0-1) were paced by Logan Kilgore who converted 13-of-18 for 172 yards through the air, leading to one touchdown and one interception in the setback.
Hoese pushed the Gophers out to a 14-0 lead with a one-yard TD run in the opening frame and a two-yard effort in the second.
With 4:57 remaining in the first half Middle Tennessee scored its first points on a seven-yard run by Phillip Tanner, making the score 14-7. Tanner led the Blue Raiders with 75 yards on eight rushing attempts.
Middle Tennessee closed the gap with less than a minute left in the second period when Kilgore combined with Sancho McDonald on a 22-yard scoring strike to knot the game at 14-14 at the break.
The only points of the third quarter came courtesy of a 31-yard field goal by Middle Tennessee kicker Alan Gendreau, providing the hosts with a 17-14 advantage.
Early in the fourth Minnesota’s Eric Ellestad knocked through a 20-yard field goal of his own to again tie the game, this time at 17-17.
With just over three minutes remaining in regulation Hoese struck once more for the Gophers, barreling into the end zone from a yard out to put his team ahead for good as they recorded the seven-point road win.
Minnesota finished the night with a 27-12 edge in first downs and controlled the ball for more than 45 minutes. The defeat for Middle Tennessee snapped a seven-game win streak that the school used to closed out the 2009 campaign.