Gophers Clean Up on New Hampshire
September 8, 2012

The Minnesota Gophers achieved a level of lost respectability by easily handling a lesser foe, beating the New Hampshire Wildcats of the Colonial Athletic Association, 44-7. Minnesota had struggled to win in its first game, against the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, but the Gophers outgained the Wildcats from scrimmage, 412 to 231, and quickly eliminated any suspense regarding the outcome.

“I thought they did what they do very well, and I don’t think we executed the way we are capable of, ” said New Hampshire coach Sean McDonnell. “We had miscues, and they got to tee off on us.

Minnesota jumped ahead with a safety and a pair of one-play drives for touchdowns in the first quarter. The scoring opened when New Hampshire punter Mike MacArthur, standing on his goal line, couldn’t handle a high snap. MacArthur was able to knock the loose ball out the back of the end zone, and the Gophers took a 2-0 lead.

Troy Stoudemire took MacArthur’s free kick at his 10 and returned it into Wildcat territory before he was pulled down from behind by MacArthur, who was flagged for horse collaring Stoudemire. The 15-yard penalty put the ball at the 27 yard line. MarQueis Gray, on the first play from scrimmage, looked right and found a wide-open Isaac Fruechte for a touchdown.

The Wildcats scored late in the first quarter, and, after a touchback, the Gophers started from their 25. Gray faked a handoff to K. J. Maye, then took off up the middle and found open space in a hurry. Gray raced the distance for a 75-yard touchdown run, putting the Gophers up 16-7.

The Gophers won the pre-game toss and chose to receive, meaning they would be heading toward the open end of the field and into a 16-mile-per-hour wind. Minnesota coach Jerry Kill praised the work of punter Christian Eldred. “This is only his second game he’s ever played in college football. He was the difference in the game with field position early in the game punting into the wind. You can win games on field position.”

Gray led all rushers in the game with 109 net yards and two touchdowns, and Donnell Kirkwood added 70. The senior quarterback also completed 6 of 8 passes for 100 yards and two touchdowns.

Backup Max Shortell looked effective in completing a late drive for the final score. Shortell connected on 4 of 5 passes in leading the Gophers 86 yards. The drive included a 22-yard completion to Derrick Engel and culminated with a 6-yard toss to A. J. Barker.

Gopher Holes: Linebacker Mike Rallis wore number 51 in place of his usual 26 in memory of Gary Tinsley, who played for the Gophers through last season and died of an enlarged heart last April. “It’s really special to be able to represent Gary like this, and I just hope that I did him justice today, ” said Rallis. The Gophers will continue to honor Tinsley through the rest of the season by having a different player wear 51 in each game.

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