Weber’s best day not enough to get win

The redshirt freshman threw for 341 yards and five touchdowns.

by Nick Gerhardt

Adam Weber played the best game of his college career, yet it still wasn’t enough for Minnesota to earn its first Big Ten victory.

Weber completed 25 of 38 pass attempts for 341 yards and five touchdowns. He ran for 89 yards with another touchdown. He guided them to a 35-14 lead halfway through the third quarter, but still it wasn’t enough.

Quote of the Game

“I told our team that I am proud of their effort. As was the case this season, we haven’t played well but we play with tremendous heart. My conviction to fixing this is unbelievably strong. We’re going to win games sooner or later, more often than not. That’s just a tremendous resolve that I have.”
ñ Coach Tim Brewster

The entire game came down to the pass he didn’t complete: a two-point conversion to win the game for the Gophers.

Heading into the matchup with Northwestern, fans expected a shootout.

The Wildcats got the critical stop on the two-point conversion when the pressure forced Weber to hurry a throw and fired an incomplete pass to sophomore receiver Eric Decker.

For 3 1/2 quarters it seemed as though Minnesota had shown the effort necessary to win a Big Ten game. But time and time again the defense could not stop the Northwestern attack.

Defining Moment

On fourth-and-goal with just 12 seconds remaining, Northwestern’s Junior quarterback C.J. Bachér found junior receiver Eric Peterman in the right corner of the end zone to tie the game at 35 and send it into overtime.

With 12 seconds remaining in regulation the Wildcats’ quarterback C.J. Bachér found wide receiver Eric Peterman for a 4-yard touchdown on fourth down to tie the game at 35-35 and send the game to overtime.

In overtime Weber guided the Gophers to a touchdown on third and 6 from the 21-yard line when he found receiver Ernie Wheelwright in the far side of the end zone.

Northwestern got the ball and the Minnesota defense held them to another fourth and 4 from the 19-yard line. This time Bachér threw a desperation heave off his back foot to receiver Ross Lane to tie the game at 42-42.

Player of the Game

C.J. Bachér
No. 18 junior quarterback
ï To follow up his player-of-the-week honors, Bachér completed 41 of 58 passes for a total of 470 yards and four touchdowns to lead Northwestern to their homecoming victory.

In the second overtime the Gophers elected to defend, and the Wildcats gave the ball to running back Brandon Roberson from 6 yards out after a short drive to grab a 49-42 lead.

Weber responded on the next possession and froze the entire Northwestern defense when he faked a pitch to tailback and ran the ball into the end zone to make the game 49-48.

A difficult decision ensued – go for two and the win or move on to the third overtime.

Coach Tim Brewster had decided before that possession that the Gophers would make their last stand on that series and made the dramatic decision to go for the two-point conversion to win the game.

Weber, from the shotgun had three receivers to his right and rolled out looking for his go-to guy Decker, but the pass fell incomplete and Minnesota walked away from another devastating overtime loss.

This loss stung more because the Gophers dominated play most of the game.

“This is hard. It’s absolutely gut-wrenching,” Brewster said after the game.

Unbelievably gut-wrenching, but alarmingly commonplace this season where the Gophers have played well enough to win, but have had crucial plays turn against them.

Entering into the tilt with Northwestern, turnovers plagued the team, specifically with Weber throwing interceptions.

On Saturday Weber did not commit a turnover in the first half and looked like a well-polished quarterback making the right decisions.

As the second half opened so did the turnovers. Weber threw two picks in the third quarter and both led to points for Northwestern.

Although both turnovers led to touchdowns, the Minnesota defense failed to stop the Wildcats, who had their backs against the wall.

The first interception was returned to the Gopher 8-yard line where the Wildcats and Bachér needed one play to score when Lane caught an 8-yard pass from Bachér on a slant route to make the game 35-21 heading into the fourth quarter.

Northwestern went from life support to a lively pulse when Corey Wootton intercepted another Weber pass at the Minnesota 47-yard line.

On the ensuing drive Minnesota jumped offside on a fourth and 1 at the Gopher 24-yard line. Later on that series Northwestern faced a fourth and three from the 6-yard line and Bachér took a quarterback keeper to the end zone to draw the game to 35-28 with 10 minutes to play in the fourth quarter.

With Weber’s day appearing wasted in vain his defense could not simply get a stop, which led to Brewster making a difficult decision in the second overtime.

The decision to try for the two-point conversion raised questions, but many coaches would do the exact same thing when put in that position.

“I could see myself making the same decision Tim made on the road, especially the way the game was going. You have to make decisions like that, to try and give your young men an opportunity to win the game,” Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald said.

Brewster wanted to win this game extremely badly, and his desire showed with his decision to push the issue and secure the win with the two-point conversion.

“My team deserved to win, and that’s why I went for two. I felt 100 percent that we’d get the two. I’ll do it again, tonight, tomorrow, the next day,” he said with conviction.

Senior running back Amir Pinnix expressed similar sentiment when it came to the question of whether to try for two points.

“Coach Brewster was in the position where we had to go for that two-point conversion. I don’t blame him for making the call. It was the right call, we just didn’t execute,” Pinnix said.

The fatigue and desperation showed on the face of Brewster after the game as he spoke to the media.

“We pour our heart and soul into this effort and to come out short at the end of it, I can’t even tell you how bad it hurts,” Brewster said.