Missed PAT dooms Gophers

by Tyler Rushmeyer

Minnesota had its first victory in the Big Ten, a nail-biting triumph to reclaim the Governor’s Victory Bell from Penn State. Or so the field-charging Gophers thought.

As the team began its victory celebration, a penalty flag flew, stunning players, coaches and fans alike.

Pass interference was the call. Senior cornerback Trumaine Banks was the perpetrator.

The Nittany Lions went on to score on their first possession of overtime and needed just an extra point to seal it, something Gophers sophomore kicker Jason Giannini couldn’t do the possession before.

The final score was 28-27 and another heartbreaking loss to put in the Minnesota record books.

Coach Glen Mason said he hoped it wasn’t a questionable call that cost his team the victory.

“I thought we made the play and the game was over,” he said. “I was halfway across the field and saw the flag fly. I hope it was a blatant foul by my guy. I really do.”

Junior linebacker Mike Sherels said the game was decided by more than just the call.

“I couldn’t see it. We’re not going to sit here and blame one play or one call for us losing the game,” he said. “We had plenty of chances throughout the game to make a play and we didn’t.”

The game was a sloppy one, with neither team taking hold throughout.

The Gophers’ first possession ended with a 30-yard touchdown pass to senior tight end Matt Spaeth, the fifth time in six games Minnesota has scored a touchdown on their opening possession.

After the Gophers’ defense’s second stop of the contest, sophomore safety Dominic Jones made a costly mistake, fumbling the punt inside the 10-yard line.

Penn State quickly capitalized with senior running back Tony Hunt’s touchdown.

Orchestrating a drive early in the second quarter that saw senior Bryan Cupito complete 5-of-6 passes, the offense could not pick up one yard on two carries, ending the drive at the Penn State 14-yard line.

A botched snap and a junior linebacker John Shevlin interception gave the Gophers

the ball back with less than two minutes remaining in the first half, but they failed to run the clock out when senior running back Amir Pinnix ran out of bounds.

Penn State scored their second touchdown of the day soon after a 15-yard touchdown reception by Hunt, the first touchdown reception of his career.

The poor clock management led to a showering of boos

as the team left the field,

along with a boisterous “Fire Mason” chant from frustrated students.

The sloppy play continued in the second half, with Penn State sophomore kicker Kevin Kelly missing a 42-yard field goal attempt wide right.

The Minnesota offense finally awoke from its slumber early in the fourth quarter to even the score at 14-14 after Pinnix’s 4-yard touchdown run.

The defense failed to maintain the momentum on Penn State’s next possession though.

With the announced crowd of more than 45,000 roaring, junior quarterback Anthony Morelli completed a touchdown pass to junior fullback Matt Hahn, the first of his career.

After a Cupito sack, many of those same fans headed to the exits in true Minnesotan style, missing what would be a wild finish to the tight contest.

Minnesota stopped the Nittany Lions on three plays and called timeout with just more than four minutes to play.

A 59-yard punt put the Gophers in poor field position at their own 14 with 2:33 remaining.

The touchdown drive leveling the score was highlighted by a 42ñyard reception by senior wide receiver Logan Payne on fourth down and a 30-yard catch by senior tight end Matt Spaeth.

It ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by Pinnix to even the score at 21.

The Nittany Lions successfully ran the clock out to end the half, a lost art in Gophers territory, and the game headed into overtime.

Minnesota played offense first and capitalized on a 25-yard touchdown pass to redshirt freshman Eric Decker.

But before the cannon smoke could clear, Giannini bounced a point after attempt off the left upright, something that has become all-too familiar to Gophers fans over the past two seasons.

After the controversial pass interference call on Banks, the Penn State kick was up

and good and the Gophers were suddenly 0-3 in the Big Ten.

“We lost a couple of games where we think we could have won. A play here and play there. Same old story,” senior wide receiver Logan Payne said. “I’m sick of saying it and I think our team is sick of letting it happen.”