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Gophers Fall Apart Late, Lose to Northwestern 29-28

(Sports Network) – Stefan Demos made up for a botched extra point by connecting on a game-winning 27-yard field goal late in the final quarter as the Northwestern Wildcats remained undefeated as they defeated the Minnesota Golden Gophers, 29-28, in a Big Ten Conference battle at TCF Bank Stadium.

Northwestern (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten) was led by quarterback Dan Persa who threw for 309 yards and two touchdowns on 23-of-30 passing for the Wildcats. Persa also ran for 99 yards on 18 carries in the win.

Eric Lair caught three passes for 75 yards and two for touchdowns in the loss for Minnesota (1-4, 0-1). Adam Weber threw for 194 yards with two touchdowns and one interception for the hosts.

The Wildcats scored on their first drive of the game as Persa connected on a 45-yard touchdown pass to Tony Jones, capping a 67-yard drive that took just four plays as Northwestern held the early lead, 7-0.

The Gophers answered shortly thereafter when Duane Bennett caught a 38-yard completion from Adam Weber for a touchdown, knotting the score at 7-7.

Northwestern running back Mike Trumpy darted for 12-yard score midway through the opening quarter as the Wildcats now held a 14-7 advantage.

The score remained that way into the second quarter until Minnesota posted the first of its two scores before the half. The first came as Bennett hooked up with Lair for an eight-yard touchdown pass. Then, with under a minute remaining in the first half, DeLeon Eskridge scampered for a four-yard score as the Gophers marched into the intermission with a 21-14 lead.

Northwestern took the first possession of the second half on an 11-play, 80- yard drive, capped off by a one-yard touchdown run by Jacob Schmidt. Demos missed the extra point however, and the Wildcats were left trailing, 21-20.

The score remained that way until early in the fourth quarter when Lair caught his second touchdown of the day, this time from 25 yards out, providing the Golden Gophers with a 28-20 edge.

The Wildcats battled back on a 25-yard touchdown pass from Persa to Jeremy Ebert. Northwestern decided to attempt a two-point conversion for the tie but Persa’s pass fell incomplete.

With 2:07 remaining in the game, Demos nailed the 27-yard field goal to give Northwestern the 29-28 lead.

Minnesota was unable to get into field goal range to give the Golden Gophers a chance for the win. Adam Weber threw an interception on 4th and 11 at the Wildcats’ 40-yard line to put an end the exciting affair.

Northwestern made good on an impressive 8-of-11 on third down in the contest, while limiting the Gophers to just 3-of-11 in such situations.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.