Gophers tear apart the Terrapins 34-16

Ky Thomas and Bucky Irving dominated the ground game against Maryland

Eyes+ahead%2C+quarterback+Tanner+Morgan+looks+to+pass+the+ball+during+the+Gophers+football+game+against+Bowling+Green+at+Huntington+Bank+Stadium%2C+Saturday%2C+Sept.+25.+The+Gophers+fell+to+the+Falcons%2C+14-10.

Ethan Fine

Eyes ahead, quarterback Tanner Morgan looks to pass the ball during the Gophers football game against Bowling Green at Huntington Bank Stadium, Saturday, Sept. 25. The Gophers fell to the Falcons, 14-10.

by Matthew Kennedy, Sports Reporter

On the first drive of the game, Gophers defensive lineman Nyles Pinckney forced a fumble on Terrapins quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa. The ball was recovered by defensive back Coney Durr to set up Minnesota with a favorable field position around midfield.

Yet, the Gophers’ first drive went nowhere as the offense picked up a total of two yards and a Matthew Trickett 50-yard field goal sailed wide left.

Tagovailoa followed his lost fumble by connecting with his top target wide receiver Rakim Jarrett for a 38-yard strike to set up the Terps in the red zone.

An offensive pass-interference on Terrapins running back Tayon Fleet-Davis took Maryland out of the red zone leading to a successful 47-yard field goal by Joseph Petrino. The field goal put Maryland ahead 3-0.

The Gophers answered with a 37-yard field goal conversion by Trickett to tie it at 3-3.

Running back Ky Thomas exploded on the next Gophers possession for a 38-yard gain. That was followed by a Bucky Irving rush for 21 yards. The drive was capped off by a two-yard quarterback keeper by Cole Kramer. 10-3 Gophers.

Minnesota kept hammering the ground game as Thomas soon rushed 10 yards for another Gophers score, widening their lead to 17-3.

Maryland answered through the air. Wide receiver Marcus Fleming hauled in a 43-yard bomb thrown by Tagovailoa to insert them in field goal range. Fleet-Davis soon ran in the end zone for a 13-yard score, still trailing Minnesota by 17-10.

The half ended on a blocked field goal attempt by Trickett from 38 yards. Maryland had trouble recovering the ball downfield and corralled it too late to score in the endzone as the Gophers made a touchdown-saving stop.

Thomas rushed for 101 yards in the first half and Irving totaled 69 all-purpose yards.

“I thought Kenni Burns did a really good job of knowing who’s had the hot hand on which call, on what carry and on what drive,” said Fleck. Post-game, Fleck was happy with how much Kenni Burns has matured a young running back core without Ibrahim or Potts.

Minnesota ended their first two drives in the second half with touchdown runs from Bryce Williams and Irving. A 35-yard pass from Tanner Morgan to Mike Brown-Stephens was a key play to set up the first touchdown. Another completion put Minnesota up by 31-10 with just over five minutes left in the third.

“We executed our game plan how we wanted to at this point of the game,” said offensive lineman Conner Olson, who made a program record today with his 52nd career start. “A big philosophy on our offense is body blows so around the third quarter we like to see a little bit more give on the line as we are continuing to lean on them [opposing D-Line].”

Time of possession was soon dominated by the Gophers if it wasn’t already. Their 13-play drive that took 8:36 of playtime resulted in a 45-yard field goal from Trickett that padded Minnesota’s lead 34-10.

Mark Crawford had a light workload on Saturday as the Aussie’s first punt for the Gophers didn’t come until 5 minutes left in the contest.

Fleming hauled in a garbage-time 17-yard touchdown pass from Tagovailoa with less than two minutes left in the game. A failed two-point conversion brought the final score to 34-16. Both Thomas and Irving finished with over 100 yards rushing.

Morgan was very pleased with the “dominant” performance of his offensive line. “Seeing those guys being able to execute on every single play…it was phenomenal to see.”Morgan said.

Minnesota will face Northwestern on the road next Saturday, Oct. 30 at 2:30 p.m. CST