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Performer Mayyadda singing at the University of Minnesota Juneteenth Celebration “We Are The Noise: The Echoes of Our Ancestors” captured on Saturday, June 15.
Best photos of June '24
Published June 23, 2024

Minnesota Gophers football pulls off comeback at Kinnick Stadium

The Gophers trailed 10-3 heading into halftime and out-scored the Hawkeyes 9-0 in the second half to win.
PJ+Fleck+looks+at+the+crowd+in+the+Huntington+Bank+stands+before+leading+Gophers+football+out+onto+the+field+before+they+play+the+Michigan+Wolverines+on+Oct.+7%2C+2023.
Image by Amaya Battle
PJ Fleck looks at the crowd in the Huntington Bank stands before leading Gophers football out onto the field before they play the Michigan Wolverines on Oct. 7, 2023.

Minnesota Gophers football beat the Iowa Hawkeyes 12-10 on Saturday at Kinnick Stadium for the first time since 1999. The Gophers defense excelled in the second half, allowing just 12 offensive yards and forcing two turnovers.

Freshman running back Darius Taylor made his first appearance on the field after missing two weeks with an injury while linebacker Cody Lindenberg was sidelined again,still yet to play a snap this season.

Gophers head coach P.J. Fleck, during a postgame press conference with NBC, said he is proud of the team’s resilience and fight.

“We’ve had so much adversity throughout the year,” Fleck said. “Playing so many young players, not only the inexperience, the resolve of this football team is inspiring … Floyd is coming home baby.”

The game began with an 18-yard completion from Iowa quarterback Deacon Hill to receiver Diante Vines. A surprising start from Iowa considering they threw the ball 17 times last week and the wind was blowing at 23 miles per hour.

Vines went up to grab one of Hill’s passes on the drive for 36 yards to convert on a third-and-14, making it first-and-goal at Minnesota’s 10-yard line. Defensive back Tyler Nubin made a great read on the ball and disrupted the next pass on third down, resulting in an Iowa 3-0 lead from a 23-yard field goal.

Minnesota uncharacteristically started with a deep shot to fifth-year receiver Corey Crooms Jr. that fell incomplete. The offense went three-and-out with two incompletions and a false start, losing yardage on the drive.

Iowa took their next possession to third-and-one on their next drive, but Minnesota held them down and forced the Hawkeyes’ first punt from Tory Taylor. The two teams would exchange punts once more until Gophers kicker Dragan Kesich broke the stalemate with a field goal, evening the score at three a piece.

Minnesota’s defense stood firm once again, forcing a third straight three-and-out for Iowa. However, the offense could not do anything with the ball after regaining possession and punted it back.

Hill, looking for a deep shot, was stripped by Gophers linebacker Devon Williams. Nubin recovered the fumble, giving Minnesota the ball at their 32-yard line.

After using their final timeout in the first half, Minnesota failed to convert on a key third-and-three after Taylor was stopped short from the first down marker. Kesich jogged back onto the field to kick but pulled the field goal far to the right, keeping the score tied at 3.

Back on defense, the Gophers make a stop on third-and-four, but a facemask penalty committed by defensive lineman Danny Striggow gives Iowa a first down. Minnesota was called for three straight penalties on the drive, leading to first-and-goal from the three-yard line. It took an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the Gophers to give Hill just enough to punch it in for a touchdown, the only touchdown of the game.

The first half concluded with Kaliakmanis going three for eight on pass attempts for eight yards, another tough week for the Gophers quarterback after going 5 for 15 for 52 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions against Michigan.

Running back Zach Evans was Minnesota’s yardage leader in the first half with 10 carries for 44 yards. He was not able to put weight on his leg after his last carry and left for the remainder of the game.

Minnesota came back from halftime firing as Kaliakmanis connected with his go-to target this season, receiver Daniel Jackson, for 20 yards.

Shortly after, Taylor was then handed the ball on five straight plays, picking up two first downs one through the air and the other on the ground. The push on the ground was not enough to reach the red zone. Minnesota settled for a 44-yard field goal from Kesich, making the score a 10-6 Iowa lead.

Late into the third quarter, Nubin made a game changing strip sack on Hill. Williams then returned the favor by recovering the fumble.

Hill, during the postgame press conference, took accountability for the turnovers that led to Minnesota starting multiple drives inside of Iowa territory.

“Inexcusable, I got to hold onto the ball whether a guy is hitting me or not,” Hill said. “That one is on me, no one else. I got to eat that one.”

After the fumble, the Gophers’ offensive drive concluded with Kaliakmanis overthrowing Jackson on third-and-nine and Kesich then making a field goal, moving the score to 10-9.

On their next offensive drive, the Gophers ran a makeshift running back screen to Taylor on third-and-10 to the outside. He toe-tapped down the sideline for 11 yards, picking up the first down.

Kaliakmanis could not keep the drive alive after failing to move the chains on the next set of downs. He skipped a pass to an open Jackson on third-and-six, causing Minnesota to punt. On the punt, Nubin was called for kick catch interference, a 15-yard penalty that resulted in Iowa starting their drive on their 24-yard line.

The Gophers defense stood strong yet again, forcing Iowa’s sixth three-and-out.

Down by one point, Kaliakmanis made his way downfield. He hit Jackson on a 39-yard gain into Iowa territory to the 17-yard line. With that catch, Jackson became the first receiver all season that eclipsed 100 receiving yards in a game versus the Hawkeyes.

Iowa’s staunch red zone defense continued to prevail and stalled the Gophers offense. Kesich drilled a 31-yard field goal and put Minnesota ahead 12-10.

Following the field goal, Gophers defensive lineman Jalen Logan-Redding got through the offensive line and sacked Hill for an eight-yard loss. Hill’s pass fell incomplete on third down, forcing the Hawkeyes into their seventh and final three-and-out.

Fleck told the media postgame the specific strategy was making Hill beat them through the air.

“We were just getting to him with four,” Fleck said. “We blitzed a few more times in the second half, which I think that’s what really helped us. We wanted to make sure that [Hill] had to beat us.”

The Gophers held Iowa to just 57 yards of offense after the first drive of the game.

The Hawkeyes put together a seven-play, 27-yard drive before punting it back to Minnesota. The Gophers ran it twice, making Iowa use two timeouts, but an incompletion allowed Iowa to keep their last.

With under two minutes left in the game, Minnesota punted the ball away to Iowa returner Cooper DeJean. He took the return back for a touchdown to take the lead but was called back because DeJean raised and waved his arm to alert his teammate to stay away from the bouncing punt. The motion was deemed by the refs as an invalid fair catch. Due to the ruling, the ball was dead when touched by DeJean, who was at the 46-yard line.

Kirk Ferentz, Iowa’s head coach, told the media during the postgame press conference the explanation he received from the officials was hard to stomach.

“First of all, I don’t know how to coach our guys because we cover that pregame with the officials each and every time about fair catch procedure,” Ferentz said.

The Hawkeyes coach voiced his frustration with how the entire game was officiated, mentioning there were various calls he did not agree with – another being the targeting on the kickoff.

In the ensuing drive, Minnesota’s pass rush got after Hill and got it to third-and-17. Gophers defensive back Justin Walley intercepted Hill’s pass to seal the Gophers’ first win against the Hawkeyes at Kinnick Stadium in this century.

The Minnesota Gophers hoisted Floyd of Rosedale for the first time since 2015. P.J. Fleck’s first win against Iowa as the head coach of Minnesota puts the Gophers at a 4-3 record.

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