Gophers Go to 7-1 with Win over Purdue
Saturday, October 25, 2008

A strong defensive performance propelled the Minnesota Gophers to their first win in West Lafayette, Indiana, since 1990 as they beat the Purdue Boilermakers 17-6.

Coming into the game ranked 25th in the nation, Minnesota improved its won-lost record to 7-1 (3-1 in the Big Ten) while Purdue continued its disappointing season, which is also the last for head coach Joe Tiller, who is retiring at the end of the year, by dropping to 0-4 in the Big Ten.

Adam Weber running for a first-quarter touchdown against PurdueThe Gophers announced the suspension of wide receiver Ralph Spry, for a violation of team rules, shortly before gametime, but freshman Brandon Green stepped up on Minnesota’s first possession of the game. With the Gophers facing a third-and-six from their 24, quarterback Adam Weber escaped a rush and floated a pass down the right sideline. Just inside Purdue territory, Green had cornerback Royce Adams beat, took the pass, and raced toward the end zone, finally being tripped up by Adams and going out of bounds at the Purdue 5. Two plays later, Weber, on a bootleg, made it into the end zone, and, only 1 minute, 49 seconds into the game, the Gophers had a lead they would not give up.

Purdue nearly tied the game as Aaron Valentin took a short kickoff and returned it 58 yards before finally being knocked out of bounds by his own blockers. The Boilermakers moved the ball to the Minnesota 9, helped by a late-hit penalty on Garrett Brown (one of 13 penalties that totaled 114 yards against the Gophers in the game). But a delay-of-game penalty moved Purdue back, and the Boilermakers had to settle for a 31-yard field goal by Carson Wiggs. Wiggs connected on a 40-yard field goal later in the quarter to cut the Minnesota lead to 7-6.

Purdue quarterback Curtis Painter came out of the game with an injured finger on Purdue’s first drive and was replaced by redshirt freshman Justin Siller. Painter returned in the second quarter, after Minnesota’s Joel Monroe was wide left with a 44-yard field-goal attempt. He moved the team to midfield but then had a pass over the middle to Valentin dropped and, one play later, had a pass to Joe Whitest pulled away from Whitest by Gophers cornerback Marcus Sherels. Minnesota converted the turnover into three points as Monroe hit a 41-yard field goal, and the Gophers had a 10-6 lead at halftime.

Siller started the second half for Purdue but misfired on the Boilermakers’ best shot at a touchdown. After Minnesota linebacker Deon Hightower was called for a personal foul that gave Purdue a first down at the Minnesota 30, Siller faked a Statue of Liberty and had Brandon Whittington open in the end zone. However, Siller overthrew his receiver. Three plays later, running-back Kory Sheets fumbled, and the Gophers recovered on their 18.

Neither offense could make much progress over the remainder of the third quarter and into the fourth. Weber was stopped short on a quarterback sneak on a fourth-down play at the Purdue 30. Early in the fourth quarter, Wiggs had his 41-yard field-goal attempt bounce off the left upright.

Clinging to its four-point lead, the Gophers took off after the missed field goal and, despite a sack and fumble, which Minnesota recovered, moved into Purdue territory. On a second-and-eight from the Boilermakers 48, Weber kept the ball, weaved through the line, and broke free for a 39-yard run to the 9. Weber then hit Jack Simmons in the end zone and, with Monroe’s conversion, had a 17-6 lead with 6:22 to play.

Weber completed 21 of 34 passes, with one interception, for 212 yards and was also Minnesota’s leading rusher, covering 60 yards on 13 carries. Ryan Theret led the Gophers with nine tackles and also had an interception. Lee Campbell had eight tackles.

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