Carter, Nelson Lead Gophers Over Purdue

MINNEAPOLIS – In their 44-28 victory over Purdue, the Gophers were led by a true freshman on offense and an experienced senior defensively. Both Philip Nelson and Michael Carter had career games to help the Maroon and Gold improve to 5-3 on the year and 1-3 in the Big Ten.

After a promising debut at Wisconsin, freshman Philip Nelson earned his second start of his young career against Purdue. The Mankato (Minn.) native made the most of it, throwing for an impressive 246 yards and three touchdowns while not turning the ball over.

"I thought he played outstanding," said Jerry Kill. "We were able to move the chains and score touchdowns, and he was accurate with the deep ball."

The long plays were essential for Nelson as he completed touchdown passes of 34, 38, and 63 yards to go with a 33-yard strike to MarQueis Gray.

"Throughout our preparation we noticed that Purdue, their corners, liked to bite on some short game stuff so we definitely put in some double routes and we caught them jumping early so we kept going to it," said Nelson.

Boilermaker head coach Danny Hope felt the big plays were the reason Minnesota was able to build an insurmountable lead.

"We bit on the slant-and-go in the secondary," he said. "They made a huge play out of it. We bit on a post corner and they made a huge play of it. Next thing you know, we were far behind."

Along with the deep balls, Nelson remained calm and poised throughout the game.

"[Nelson] showed a lot of character, a lot of poise, and a lot of confidence," said Gray. "He was out there having fun today."

Along with an explosive offensive performance, the Gophers avoided a shootout thanks to the play of their defense, led by cornerback Michael Carter. The senior recorded six tackles, an interception for a touchdown, and a school-record six pass breakups.

The highlight of the game for Carter was on Purdue's first drive of the second half, he broke up three passes before taking an interception 43 yards for a score, putting the Gophers up 41-7.

"This is my 30th year of coaching and I don't know if I've ever seen a corner have things go like that," said Kill. "They kept throwing over there and [Carter] jumped it and made a big play."

Carter felt like his production was due to preparation during the week.

"I will take it back to game planning with coach (Jay) Sawvel and coach (Tracy) Claeys working on route concepts and different situations," said Carter. "I took advantage of that and I felt that I was in the zone."

The senior defensive back was happy to be targeted by the Boilermakers.

"It really doesn't matter," Carter said. "I like the ball thrown my so I can make a play."

With leadership coming from both veterans and youngsters, the Gophers made it look easy Saturday, picking up their first conference victory and leaving them just one win shy of bowl eligibility.

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