Gophers run to victory at Purdue

Minnesota ran for 326 yards total in Saturday’s 41-13 victory on the road.

Running back Shannon Brooks runs toward the end zone at TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 26.

Liam James Doyle, Daily File Photo

Running back Shannon Brooks runs toward the end zone at TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 26.

Ryan Falk

After getting shut out against Northwestern University, the Gophers offense went in the opposite direction on Saturday.
 
The Gophers offense looked re-energized in their 41-13 victory at Purdue University.
 
Head coach Jerry Kill said earlier in the week his team was passing too much and needed to return to running the ball.
 
Despite having an injured offensive line, Minnesota was able to do just that. The Gophers rushed 48 times for 326 yards against Purdue and only attempted 18 passes.
 
“I want to run that football and get that established, and then we can do more things throwing the football,” Kill told the radio station KFAN after the game.
 
Minnesota also got a big spark from their defense. After not having a turnover for three games, the Gophers defense had four, recovering a muffed punt return and recording three interceptions.
 
Junior defensive back Jalen Myrick had two of the teams’ three interceptions. His first set the offense up with excellent field position, and his second went for a pick six that put the Gophers up 38-6 at the end of the third quarter.
 
The Gophers offense started the game off slowly against a Purdue defense ranked 13th in scoring in the Big Ten, going three-and-out on three of the first four offensive possessions. 
 
But by the end of the first half, Minnesota scored a touchdown for the first time in 19 possessions on a one-yard sneak by redshirt junior quarterback Mitch Leidner, which put
the Gophers up 10-6 at halftime. 
 
Freshman running back Shannon Brooks turned in another strong performance and led the Gophers offense with 17 carries for 176 yards and a touchdown.
 
Brooks ran for a career-long 71 yards on a touchdown run on the second play of the second half.
 
Brooks hit the Boilermakers defense with his speed and power on the touchdown run, breaking away from tacklers to put the Gophers up 17-6.
 
“I’m a physical runner, so I really didn’t try to make a lot of moves,” Brooks told reporters Saturday. “I just try and run through people.”
 
Brooks didn’t stop running through the Purdue defense. Just two plays later, he ran through two defenders on a 25-yard run. 
 
The previously struggling Minnesota offense looked like a new team. The Gophers moved the ball at will in the second half, and Leidner connected with sophomore tight end Brandon Lingen twice for touchdowns in the third quarter.
 
The third quarter was Minnesota’s best-scoring quarter of the season. They put up 28 points, which was more than they had in any of their previous games this season.
 
Much like Brooks’ running style, the Gophers looked like they were playing angrily.
 
“We played as a team today,” Kill told the radio station KFAN after the game. “We haven’t been doing that.”
 
The Gophers defense didn’t let up either, holding Purdue to 275 yards of offense.
 
The Boilermakers would add a late touchdown in the fourth quarter to make it 41-13, but by then the Gophers had brought in their reserves.