Barber’s 167-yard day leads to anticlimactic NCAA record

Laurence Maroney and Marion Barber III did something no other duo has done.

Ben Goessling

Though the accomplishment was somewhat muted in a loss, running backs Marion Barber III and Laurence Maroney made NCAA history Saturday by becoming the first pair of running backs ever to both rush for 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons.

Barber broke 1,000 for the season on a 22-yard run in the third quarter and finished the game with 167, giving him 1,082 for the year.

Maroney tallied 156 yards and three touchdowns, finishing the regular season with 1,243 yards.

Maroney’s total is currently the seventh-best single-season mark in school history, and he could break Chris Darkins’ school record of 1,443 yards by gaining 200 in a bowl game.

Barber is currently 13th on the single-season list.

“It’s been a total team effort all year,” Barber said. “The guys up front helped us achieve it.”

Pawielski breaks leg

Coach Glen Mason said that safety John Pawielski broke his lower leg in the first half. Pawielski watched the second half from the sideline on crutches.

Defense gets a new look

Pawielski wasn’t the only regular starter absent from the defense Saturday. Three others sat for large chunks of the game, either because of injuries or performance.

Cornerback Ukee Dozier tightened up before the game and was replaced by Jamal Harris.

Linebacker Terrance Campbell also missed portions of the game with minor injuries. He still led the team in tackles, recording eight, including one for a loss, and posting a sack.

Brian Smith filled in for Campbell, registering three tackles.

And Keith Lipka was promoted over Mark Losli at defensive tackle. Lipka had four tackles, a breakup and a sack.

Turnover record missed

After setting one NCAA mark on Saturday, the Gophers missed a chance to claim another.

Minnesota entered the game having turned the ball over just six times all season – two fewer than the national mark set by Clemson in 1940 and matched by Miami (Ohio) in 1966 and Notre Dame in 2000.

But quarterback Bryan Cupito threw two first-half interceptions, and Barber finished Minnesota’s chances of tying the record when he was intercepted on a halfback pass in the second quarter.

Cupito threw another interception in the second half, giving Minnesota 10 turnovers for the season.

Lloyd takes blame

After missing a 51-yard field goal with 28 seconds left, kicker Rhys Lloyd blamed himself for the Gophers’ loss.

“I let the whole team down. I basically held the whole loss on me. I think most guys will do that,” Lloyd said. “I still have my family to go home to.”

Lloyd, who hit game-winners against Wisconsin and Iowa last season, has a career-long of 54 yards and said he had no doubts about the distance before the kick.

“I just missed it. I didn’t catch it clean. Now I have to find some way to deal with it.”

Cupito, however, defended the kicker, saying the Gophers “never should have been in that situation.

“You can’t make them all,” Cupito said. “If he has to

make a field goal in the bowl game, I have confidence he’ll do it.”