Live blog: Gophers football at Middle Tennessee State

by Josh Katzenstein

And the score is final: Gophers 24, MTSU 17. Gophers played fairly well on the whole, but special teams and the passing game certainly need work before Big Ten play begins. Duane Bennett had a MONSTER game, rushing 187 yards on 30 carries, both career highs. Fullback Jon Hoese scored all three of the Gophers touchdowns on runs of two yards or less. The glaring number to question is time of possession in the game, which the Gophers won 45:34 to 14:26. Generally, when a team has the ball three times as much as the other, it wins by more than seven. MTSU is out of timeouts and the Gophers have the ball inside the MTSU 10 with less than 1:00 remaining. It looks like the Gophers will start the year 1-0. The Blue Raiders’ second turnover came at the most inopportune time as the MTSU fumbled the ensuing kickoff. The Gophers recovered at the MTSU 28, with a seven-point lead and less than three minutes remaining. After 10 minutes of impotence on both sides, the Gophers finally break the tie with a one-yard touchdown from Hoese, his third of the game. Gophers lead 24-17 after Ellestad’s PAT. Hoese, a senior captain, entered the game with three career rushing touchdowns. The scoring drive was made possible by Duane Bennett, who looks the part of an elusive back. With 3:09 remaining, Bennett already has 165 rushing yards on 26 carries. The mark is a career high for the junior who had never eclipsed 100 yards rushing in a game. His previous high was 92 yards against Northern Illinois in 2008. Ellestad improves his kicking percentage from 0 to 33 as his 20-yard field goal ties the the game at 17-17. The Gophers have nearly the entire fourth quarter to make something happened. Since the two touchdowns, they have struggled on offense especially through the air. Weber is 7-for-14 for 129 yards. The receivers have also struggled. Bennett, though, has been a bright spot. So far, he has 21 carries for 126 yards. Gophers catch a break at the 5:48 mark in the third quarter. MTSU receiver Malcolm Beyah dropped a sure first down on 3rd and 6, forcing the Blue Raiders to punt. ALTHOUGH, the special teams domination continued for MTSU, who downed the punt inside the Gophers’ one-yard line. Expect the Gophers to continue running as long as the score stays within reach. It’s still 17-14. Junior linebacker Gary Tinsley just got burned by Tanner, who started the third quarter with a 51-yard run. Luckily for the Gophers, Keanon Cooper did not give up on the play and chased Tanner down at the Gophers’ 17-yard line. The drive stalled after senior cornerback Ryan Collado sacked Kilgore for a loss of 11. The Blue Raiders settled for a field goal, taking a 17-14 lead. First of all, if you’re reading that the Gophers are tied 14-14 with Middle Tennessee State do NOT be surprised. MTSU is a good team that went 10-3 last season and won the New Orleans Bowl. The Blue Raiders are predicted by many to win the Sun Belt conference this season. Some basic stats from the first half: Total Yards: Minn-198, MTSU-207 Passing Yards: Minn-62, MTSU-134 Rushing Yards: Minn-136, MTSU-73 And the most intriguing… TIME OF POSSESSION: Minn-21:12, MTSU-8:48 The Gophers dominated time of possession, but had nothing to show for it. MTSU will likely try to score quickly when they start with the ball in the second half. They have all the momentum right now. One nice thing about watching this game from my basement in Dinkytown is that I can change the channel after the half comes to a close. We tuned to the Vikings-Broncos preseason game just in time to see Tim Tebow STAND UP Vikings rookie Everson Griffen. I have a feeling he will send the tape to Kyle Orton with a note saying, “This is how you tackle someone.” Tie game. Yes, tie game. Logan Kilgore threw the 22-yard touchdown to a diving Sancho McDonald. The extra point makes it 14-14. The Blue Raiders touchdown drive covered 77 yards in just 44 seconds. They appear to have realized that this young Gophers defense might not be ready for a fast-paced game. Ellestad misses another field goal wide left, this time from 40 yards. The Gophers could not move the ball after Troy Stoudermire returned a kick 47 yards to the MTSU 38. And there goes the shutout. MTSU running back Phillip Tanner scores on a seven-yard score to close the Gophers’ lead to 14-7. The score capped a 78-yard drive that took just one minute, 52 seconds. The camera man in this game is really struggling. He bites on every fake, reverse or misdirection. Good thing he’s not playing defense. Speaking of defense, the Gophers’ is finally being tested by MTSU. The Blue Raiders only gained 33 yards in the first quarter, but are matriculating the ball down the field with relative ease currently. Kicker Eric Ellestad missed a 39-yard field goal on the Gophers last drive. They’re still up 14-0. Up 14-0, Gophers go for it on fourth down on the Blue Raiders 40 with Hoese, who barely, BARELY moves the chains. Also, freshman Donnell Kirkwood looked pretty good with his first few carries. He’s gone for 27 yards on four carries on this drive. Hoese scores again, this time two yards. The Gophers seem pretty committed to play hard-nosed football in this game. Quarterback Adam Weber has completed just one of his five passes, a 24-yard play to tight end Eric Lair after some scrambling. By the way, this blog is coming to you from my basement, not Murfreesboro, Tenn.

Sorry, folks. The posting of this blog was delayed due to technical difficulties. As we stand now, the Gophers lead 7-0 after the first quarter of play.

Minnesota’s running game was the highlight of the first quarter, gaining 99 yards on 16 carries among three players.

The score came from a one-yard run by fullback Jon Hoese after a defensive pass interference kept the drive alive.