Battered Cupito leads team to win

Matt Perkins

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Minnesota’s football team was tied 20-20 with Michigan on Saturday at Michigan Stadium with just under seven minutes remaining when panic hit.

And hit hard.

Bryan Cupito went down hard and it looked to be serious at first. It turns out he injured his shoulder and suffered a mild concussion, and was forced out of the game. He was replaced by redshirt freshman Tony Mortensen.

“He took a couple hits out there; he hurt his shoulder initially, and then he came back and had a slight concussion,” coach Glen Mason said. “I mean, he’s OK in the locker room, but he couldn’t continue to play.”

Cupito completed 11 passes for 139 yards and a touchdown, and limited his mistakes in throwing no interceptions.

Mason said he won’t know Cupito’s status for next

Saturday’s game against No. 23 Wisconsin until later in the week.

Maroney plays through pain

Junior running back Laurence Maroney carried the ball 36 times for 139 yards and a touchdown Saturday, and stayed in the game despite bruising his elbow along the way.

Maroney’s effort moved him past Chris Darkins and Marion Barber III into third place on Minnesota’s career rushing chart with 3,354 yards.

In the second quarter, Maroney fumbled the ball for the first time since last season’s contest against Iowa. It was the first fumble by a Gophers running back this season.

Defensive adjustments

Minnesota moved senior linebacker Kyle McKenzie to inside linebacker while using junior Mario Reese on the outside.

Freshman defensive back Dominic Jones also made his first start of the season, sliding over to safety in place of injured Brandon Owens. After Owens was hurt last week against Penn State, sophomore Dominique Barber took over at safety.

But it was McKenzie, playing in front of 30 family members and friends in his home state of Michigan, who led the Gophers with 13 tackles, including 10 solo. Reese added five tackles.

The switch to move McKenzie to inside linebacker seemed to work, allowing defensive coordinator David Lockwood to utilize him in the pass rush.

But it was the pleasure of winning the Jug after three straight disappointments against the Wolverines that McKenzie said made the win all the more special.

“It was emotional because seeing all the seniors we have on our team,” he said.

“The last four years, we were always that close, and we never got it. “

Rankings movement

Minnesota jumped back into the AP poll this week ranked 22nd. Next week’s opponent, Wisconsin, fell to 23rd. The Badgers lost 51-48 at Northwestern on Saturday.

Penn State jumped to No. 8 in the polls after the Nittany Lions’ 17-10 win over No. 15 Ohio State on Saturday. Penn State is now 6-0.

Injury report

Junior right tackle Joe Ainslie missed his fifth straight game with an injured right wrist. Sophomore Steve Shidell made his fifth straight start for Ainslie.

Senior strong safety Terrance Campbell missed his second game in a row with an undisclosed injury.