Gophers Sail Past Colorado State, 56-24
Saturday, September 10, 2005

To listen to the coaches, one would think neither team won the September 10 game between Colorado State and Minnesota. Colorado State coach Sonny Lubick said his Rams got a “good old-fashioned butt-kicking” while Minnesota coach Glen Mason said his Gophers were “driving me crazy” with their mistakes.

However, it was Mason who was able to see the brighter side as he pointed out that the Gophers were happy to be 2-and-0 as they followed up their season-opening win at Tulsa with a 56-24 victory over the Rams.

The mistakes Mason cited were having a point-after blocked and a delay-of-game penalty, which he cited as coaching mistakes, in addition to dropped passes and two missed points-after by Jason Giannini.

Mason was happy with his starting defensive squad, which was missing Mark Losli with back spasms and had Todd Meisel filling in, but he said his “second-teamers stunk the joint up” to the point that he inserted his starters late in the game, even though the Gophers were up by 39 points at the time.

In the first half, the Gophers survived penalties and then thrived on them. The opening drive took Minnesota down to the Rams 14 yard line, where the Gophers faced a fourth-and-one. However a false start by left tackle Steve Shidell caused them to forego the attempt for a first down and instead settle for a 37-yard field goal by Giannini.

On Minnesota’s next possession, Bryan Cupito connected with Logan Payne for a 20-yard gain, only to lose three-quarters of the gain when guard Mark Setterstrom was flagged for a personal foul. The Gophers got a first down on a fourth-down sneak to midfield by Cupito, but a delay-of-game penalty followed, and Minnesota finally had to punt.

The 3-0 lead held into the second quarter, and the Gophers had another drive stall as Cupito underthrew a wide-open Jakari Wallace. However, Shane Marsh roughed Gophers punter Justin Kucek, and the Gophers extended their drive. Seven plays later, Cupito found fullback Justin Valentine alone in the end zone. Valentine made the play interesting by bobbling and batting the ball in the air before corralling it as he hit the ground for a touchdown.

The Rams came back, quickly covering most of the gridiron on a 46-yard kickoff return to midfield by George Hill with five yards tacked on because the Gophers were offside on the kickoff, followed by a 43-yard pass from Justin Holland to Kory Sperry to give the Rams a first-and-goal on the Minnesota 2. However, the Rams went backward from there and could get only a field goal from Kevin Mark to close the Minnesota lead to 10-3.

Minnesota padded its margin with two more touchdowns, although Erik Sandie blocked the first conversion attempt by Giannini, who was wide left with his next. The Rams then drove 70 yards for a touchdown with Holland connecting with Dustin Osborn on a 33-yard scoring play.

However, the Gophers held a 22-10 lead at halftime, and Laurence Maroney had racked up 103 yards rushing.

Minnesota dominated the third quarter, scoring three touchdowns, all on big plays. Backup running back Gary Russell ran 28 yards into the end zone, Cupito hit Jared Ellerson for a 54-yard touchdown, and Alex Daniels returned a punt blocked by Dominique Barber 13 yards for another score.

Russell added another touchdown run in the fourth quarter and finished with 66 yards on the ground, second to Maroney’s 133 yards. Mason said he didn’t think the Gophers had rushed that well until he saw that the team had totaled 355 yards.

In the air, Cupito was 9-for-21 in passing for 159 yards, and Tony Mortensen was 2-for-3 for 31 yards. Logan Payne topped the Gophers with three receptions as eight different Gophers caught passes.

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