Hill hustles through the whistle in 42-39 win

The Hoosiers were in position to score when Aaron Hill recovered a fumble.

by Jack Satzinger

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — The 2011 Gophers football pregame video featured head coach Jerry Kill yelling the words “Hustle through the whistle!” to his new team.

Those words came to fruition two years later in Minnesota’s 42-39 victory over Indiana on Saturday afternoon.

With less than a minute left in the game, senior defensive back Brock Vereen disrupted a backward pass, and senior linebacker Aaron Hill saw the football on the ground in front of him. Hill, hustling through the whistle, scooped up the ball to clinch the game.

Minnesota improved to 7-2 with the win and earned its third Big Ten win in a row.

“They say good things happen when you run to the ball,” Hill said after the game. “I saw the ball on the ground, [and the] first reaction when you don’t hear a whistle is to just pick it up and run.”

The Hoosiers had the ball on Minnesota’s 9-yard line with seconds to play and were easily in field-goal range, with a chance to tie it up. Not content with a tie, they went for more.

And it cost them.

Gophers senior wide receiver Derrick Engel said he was nervous before the play, just hoping his defense would hold Indiana to a field goal to give the offense an opportunity to score in overtime.

But overtime wasn’t needed.

“It was probably one of the longest minutes of my life,” junior running back David Cobb said after the game. “You’re crossing your fingers on every play. … [And] when the fumble goes behind him, the first thought is, ‘Was it a fumble, and can we get on it? Is the ball ours?’”

Indiana sophomore quarterback Nate Sudfeld threw a swing pass to sophomore running back Tevin Coleman, but the ball never crossed the line of scrimmage. Vereen hit Coleman, and Coleman stood there as Hill picked up the ball.

Kill recruited Coleman, but he didn’t express much interest in the program. His talent was obvious Saturday, and he rushed for more than 100 yards — including a 55-yard touchdown run at the start of the fourth quarter.

Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson was clearly disappointed after the loss. He said in a close game like that, fundamentals are very important.

“It was poor execution,” he said, “… and because of it, we lost the game.”