Minnesota loses to Penn State in OT

The Gophers gave up a 25-yard touchdown to lose 29-26 Saturday.

Penn State running back Saquon Barkley wrapped up by Minnesota linebacker Jack Lynn and defensive back Damarius Travis during the game at Beaver Stadium on Oct. 1, 2016.

Photo courtesy of Max Petrosky

Penn State running back Saquon Barkley wrapped up by Minnesota linebacker Jack Lynn and defensive back Damarius Travis during the game at Beaver Stadium on Oct. 1, 2016.

by Jack White

Minnesota lost to Penn State 29-26 on the road in overtime Saturday after sophomore Saquon Barkley broke through two Minnesota defenders to score a 25-yard touchdown run that secured the Governor’s Victory Bell trophy.

“We played a hell of a game except for the third quarter,” head coach Tracy Claeys told reporters after the game. “We didn’t lose that game at the end. We lost that game in the third quarter.”

The game was nothing short of suspenseful in the fourth quarter.

Penn State led by a touchdown before Minnesota scored ten unanswered points, including a 37-yard touchdown run from sophomore running back Shannon Brooks. The Nittany Lions fired back right before the fourth quarter ended to bring themselves within field-goal range.

Claeys iced the Nittany Lions’ kicker, but senior kicker Tyler Davis remained composed. Davis hit a 40-yard field goal with two seconds remaining in the fourth quarter to send the game into overtime.

Minnesota called upon its kicker for the fourth time in the game in overtime. Redshirt sophomore Emmit Carpenter answered again for the Gophers.

Carpenter made the kick to give Minnesota the lead before Barkley’s touchdown run. Carpenter’s four field goals and two extra points accounted for more than half of the Gophers’ scoring on the day.

Redshirt senior quarterback Mitch Leidner threw an interception for the second consecutive game. Leidner finished with 241 yards in the passing game, along with two sacks.

“We just struggled a little bit getting offense rolling, and then they made some plays on offense as well,” Leidner said following the game.

Redshirt junior wide receiver Brian Smith had his best game of the year. He had career-highs in receptions and receiving yards with seven catches and 101 yards.

“He did a nice job,” Claeys said. “He dropped a couple tonight early on in the game, and we couldn’t get anything going. We’ve been catching a few of those balls. I need to see film to see what’s going on in the trenches.”

Redshirt sophomore running back Rodney Smith contributed his share in the close loss, totaling 143 yards. Brooks added 102 on the ground to go with his rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Minnesota had 228 total rushing yards to Penn State’s 136.

Even though Barkley scored on the game-winning run, redshirt sophomore quarterback Trace McSorely was the biggest offensive contributor for the Nittany Lions. McSorely threw for 335 yards with no turnovers on the day. He was also the team’s leading rusher with 73 yards and a rushing touchdown.

Minnesota’s trophy case is now empty after the loss of the Governor’s Victory Bell. They return home to attempt to reclaim one of those trophies in a rivalry game against Iowa next Saturday at 11 a.m.

“The atmosphere was great,” Leidner told reporters. “It was a lot of fun. It was very quiet at some points, and at other points, it got real loud. Third quarter was very loud, but I enjoyed it. I wish we could have walked out of here with a W, but I enjoyed the experience.”