Gophers Pull Out Overtime Win Over Purdue
Saturday, September 24, 2005

“I hate overtime,” said Minnesota coach Glen Mason, who quickly added, “but I love double-overtime.” His Gophers had to come up with a pair of do-or-die plays to get into position to beat Purdue, 42-35, in double-overtime in the Big Ten opener for both teams.

The first of those plays was a two-point conversion, as quarterback Bryan Cupito kept on the option, to tie the game with 1:34 left in regulation time. Then, in the first overtime round, the Gophers trailed by seven and faced a fourth-and-goal at the 8 yard line. “At that point of the game, you’re rolling the dice,” said Mason. “Here it is. It’s one shot.” Cupito used that shot to hit Logan Payne over the middle for the touchdown, and Jason Giannini’s point-after tied the game and forced a second overtime.

Asked if there was confusion by his defense in allowing Payne to be open, Purdue coach Joe Tiller said, “Apparently so because we let a guy run scot-free through the middle of the formation into the end zone. Our number-one goal defensively was communication within the secondary. Then we had a miscommunication at the most critical time of the game.”

The Gophers had the first possession in the second overtime round and scored on a three-yard run by Gary Russell, then held Purdue. The Boilermakers picked up eight yards on their first play but couldn’t get the first down. The game ended after a poorly thrown but catchable pass from Brandon Kirsch skipped off Charles Davis’s hands.

The game was billed as a matchup of the Gophers offense—tops in the country in rushing—against Purdue’s defense versus the run. In their two nonconference games, the Boilermakers allowed an average of 16 yards rushing per game, and gave up only seven yards on the ground against Arizona in the previous game. Minnesota’s Laurence Maroney topped that on the game’s first play from scrimmage as he carried for 11 yards.

In all, Minnesota rushed for 301 yards, 217 by Maroney. Gary Russell added 75 yards and reached the end zone three times, twice during regulation play. Maroney carried the ball 46 times, and also had five receptions. He returned two kickoffs and even passed the ball one.

Minnesota dominated the first half but had only a 10-7 lead to show for it. Their opening drive took them to the Purdue 21, but Jason Giannini’s 38-yard field goal attempt was wide to the right. Giannini did make a 44-yard field goal later in the quarter for a 3-0 lead, and Gary Russell scored on a one-yard run early in the second quarter.

Purdue got on the board late in the half. Facing a fourth-and-two at the Minnesota 49, the Boilermakers executed a play-action pass with Kirsch finding Davis behind the Minnesota secondary. Davis veered into the end zone, and, with the conversion, Purdue was down by only three.

Minnesota relied on the pass on its first drive of the third quarter, with Cupito connecting with tight-end Matt Spaeth for 15 yards, with Maroney for 17, and again with Spaeth for 38 yards, giving Minnesota a first down at the Purdue 8. After Maroney ran for three yards, Cupito hit Russell for a five-yard touchdown reception.

Confusion by Purdue on the ensuing kickoff—a moment of indecision by Kory Sheets on whether to run the ball out of the end zone or not—left the Boilermakers with the ball on their 10. Sheets immediately made up for his misplay by taking a pitch from Kirsch, moving down the right sideline, and then cutting back and following blockers for an 88-yard run down to the Minnesota 2. Jerod Void ran the ball in on the next play, and Purdue trailed by three points.

Giannini added a 35-yard field goal to increase Minnesota’s lead to 20-14. In the fourth quarter, following a short punt, the Boilermakers drove 62 yards, starting with a defensive pass interference penalty and finishing with an eight-yard pass from Kirsch to Andre Chattams. Ben Jones’s conversion put Purdue ahead for the first time, 21-20, with 6:39 left in the fourth quarter.

The situation got worse for the Gophers on their next possession as Purdue’s Dan Bick picked off Cupito’s third-down pass and returned it 29 yards for a touchdown. Minnesota then got a break when Dave Brytus’s kickoff was out of bounds, giving Minnesota the ball at its 35 yard line. Cupito went to Ernie Wheelwright twice for a first down, Maroney picked up another 17 yards on back-to-back carries, Wheelwright took another pass, and three consecutive carries by Russell inside the Purdue 10. On second-and-goal from the eight, Cupito hit Spaeth in the back of the end zone, a completion that withstood the scrutiny of a review by the officials. Cupito then made the two-point conversion to tie the game.

Even in his jovial mood, Mason could not resist taking an unwarranted, and untrue, shot regarding Purdue’s last trip to Minnesota, when the Boilermakers won in overtime after tying the game on a field-goal as time ran out. Mason said the Gophers lost that game “because the guy running the clock didn’t know his butt from second base.”

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