Offense sputters in loss to Northwestern

Paul Hodowanic

Coming into Saturday, the Gophers had averaged 28 points per game in Big Ten play. Against Northwestern, however, they could only muster 14. 

Northwestern (7-4, 7-1) controlled the ball on the ground, and added a few big plays when needed to secure the 24-14 win over the Gophers (5-6, 2-6). Running back Isiah Bowser totaled 85 yards on 29 carries and punched in two touchdowns.  

The Gophers defense played well for most of the day, but turnovers by the offense and 4 big plays were too much to overcome. 

With the game tied 7-7 and 2:18 left in the first half, Minnesota kicked off following a Mo Ibrahim touchdown, and wide receiver Kyric McGowan returned it 39 yards to the Northwestern 45. It took Northwestern just three plays and 1:06 to score from there, with completions of 23 and 19 yards followed by a 13-yard touchdown run from Thorson. The score put the Wildcats up 13-7 going into halftime, taking the air out of the Gophers sails from the previous possession. 

In the 4th quarter, with the score still 13-7, Thorson connected with JJ Jefferson on a 68-yard pass, setting up the Wildcats at the Gopher 2-yard line. Bowser finished it off on the next play to extend the Northwestern lead to 21-7. 

Gopher quarterback Tanner Morgan struggled, throwing for 197 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Morgan was sacked four times and coughed up a fumble late in the game that secured a win for Northwestern. 

Mohamed Ibrahim ran for 98 yards and a touchdown and became the second leading rusher in Gopher freshman history, passing Marion Barber. 

Tyler Johnson continued his strong play catching 8 passes for 88 yards and a touchdown. Johnson now has 70 catches this year and surpassed the 1,000-yard mark for the season. 

Blake Cashman had totaled 20 total tackles, one sack and one pass breakup. It is the most tackles by a Gopher since they moved to TCF Bank Stadium.

The Gophers take on Wisconsin next week in their final game of the year. The Gophers need to win the game in order to play in a bowl game.