The Legend of Max Shortell
September 15, 2012

Chapter two in what is becoming the legend of Max Shortell was revealed on Saturday, September 15, when the sophomore quarterback led the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers from a 10-7 deficit to a 28- 25 victory over the Western Michigan Broncos.

Called on to replace the injured MarQuis Gray late in the first half of the game, Shortell quickly passed the Gophers to a 21-10 lead, one that was never relinquished. Upon entering the game, Shortell threw a pair of touchdown passes to junior wide receiver A. J. Barker. Then, in the second half, Shortell answered a Western Michigan touchdown when he found roommate Drew Goodger open in the end zone for a nine- yard completion giving Minnesota a 28-17 advantage. Goodger and Shortell both hail from the Kansas City suburb of Shawnee Mission, Kan. A third Shawnee Mission native, Alex carder, is the starting Western Michigan quarterback.

Gopher fans recall that, under similar circumstances, Shortell replaced Gray against Southern California in Los Angeles last year and nearly led Minnesota to an upset win over the Trojans. The Shortell bubble burst in a 58-0 drubbing of the Gophers at Michigan on October 1, 2011. Gray took over and has started every Minnesota game at quarterback since then. Against Western Michigan, Gray gave the Gophers a 7-3 lead with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Barker in the first quarter before suffering a high ankle sprain and being carted off the field. Gray could be lost to the squad for a month.

“Max was ready for the opportunity presented to him,” said Minnesota’s head coach Jerry Kill after the game. ”We were able to open up the game by throwing the football more than we would have with Gray. When Max entered the game, he didn’t have time to think. He just let ‘er rip.

“We don’t win this game without Max. We faced plenty of adversity [against Western Michigan]. But were given plenty of opportunity, too. It was gratifying to see what Max did when given the chance.”

Shortell finished with 10 completions in 17 attempts for 188 total yards. His longest completion was a 53-yard touchdown pass to Barker. The Gophers finished with 397 total yards to 374 for the Broncos. Minnesota running back Donnell Kirkwood had 110 net yards running the ball.

“We needed someone like Donnell to step up,” Kill recalled. ”He got us out of tough field position when we needed it. He ran hard.”

For Western Michigan, Carder passed the ball 44 times with 24 completions and 209 yards. He was operating behind an offensive lilne that averaged more than 300 pounds per man, unusuall large for a Mid- American Conference (MAC) team. Bronco running back Dareyon Chance carried the ball 29 times for 144 net yards. Western Michigan’s roster is sprinkled with Floridians like Chance, all recruited by head coach Bill Cubit.

Few realilze that Western Michigan has been playing organized football since 1906 and is a charter member of the MAC, which was formed in 1947. The Broncos have participated in five bowl games, the last being the 2011 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. In the Pizza Bowl, the Broncos narrowly lost to Purdue, 37-32. In that game, Carder passed for 439 net yards.

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