The Gophers continued their trend of digging themselves a deep hole before making a spirited second-half comeback. Purdue became the third team to take a three-touchdown lead at halftime against the Gophers this season. The Boilermakers also became the third team forced to sweat out the second half as the Gophers came to life.
Trailing 24-3 at halftime, the Gophers traded touchdowns with Purdue in the second half, but the Boilermakers had too much of a head start and won 45-31 in the Big Ten opener.
"I'm sick of the same old story," Gophers senior linebacker John Shevlin said. "We're not giving ourselves a chance when we beat ourselves."
Minnesota (1-3) trailed 21-0 to Bowling Green in the opener and was behind Florida Atlantic 35-14 on Sept. 15.
Also, one week after committing seven turnovers in a loss at Florida Atlantic, turnovers and defensive breakdowns cost Minnesota against Purdue. The Gophers committed four turnovers in the first half, including one of the strangest fumbles on record, by Jamal Harris after a blocked field goal. The Gophers also gave up 504 total yards for the game, including 338 passing.
The defense by both teams in the second half was beyond awful. The Gophers scored touchdowns on their first four possessions of the second half, and Purdue scored touchdowns on its first three possessions.
Minnesota rang up 343 total yards and 28 points in the second half. Purdue had 282 total yards and 21 points after halftime. Each team had 81 offensive plays for the game.
Purdue quarterback Curtis Painter completed 17 of 21 passes for 199 yards and two touchdowns in the second half. Weber completed 16 of 28 passes for 207 yards and one touchdown in the second half.
Minnesota's fourth and final turnover of the first half was an all-time doozy. Leading 24-3, Purdue attempted a 44-yard field goal with 41 seconds left, but Mike Sherels blocked Chris Summers' kick.
Harris scooped up the ball and had a clear path to the end zone. Purdue holder Jared Armstrong trailed Harris by five yards and pulled up when it was obvious he couldn't catch him. But Harris inexplicably dropped the ball. It appeared he tried to switch the ball from his left to right arm. Armstrong pounced on it at the Purdue 20-yard line with 30 seconds left.
"Obviously it was huge," Minnesota coach Tim Brewster said. "It was a walk-in touchdown. He's running down the field. Unfortunately, he just dropped the football. That's all he said. He said, ‘Coach, I just dropped the football.'"
Harris did not speak to reporters after the game. Shevlin said he did not see the play and seemed shocked when told what happened by reporters.
"I guess he has to keep his ears open when coach says value the football," Shevlin said.
KEEP AN EYE ON: QB Adam Weber — The redshirt freshman overcame a disastrous first half with a solid second half to give his team a chance to win. Weber completed 16 of 28 passes for 207 yards and one touchdown after halftime.
LOOKING GOOD: The Gophers proved again that they don't quit when things aren't going their way. They trailed by 21 points at halftime for the third time in four games but still made things interesting in the second half. Their resiliency is admirable, but they can't keep putting themselves in that position.
RB Duane Bennett showed why coaches are excited about this true freshman. He rushed for 81 yards and one touchdown on seven carries in the second half.
WR Eric Decker caught seven passes for 79 yards and one touchdown. His 15-yard touchdown came on fourth-and-9 early in the fourth quarter.
STILL NEEDS WORK: The Gophers continued to hurt themselves with turnovers. One week after committing seven turnovers in a loss at Florida Atlantic, Minnesota had four first-half turnovers.
RB Amir Pinnix lost a fumble for the second consecutive game and was benched.
QB Adam Weber threw an interception to DE Cliff Avril, who returned it 43 yards for a touchdown.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We're going to play guys that value the football. That's pretty much my thoughts on that." — Minnesota coach Tim Brewster on why senior tailback Amir Pinnix did not get any more carries after losing a fumble in the second quarter.
Gophers Tired of ‘Same Old Story'
Gopher Illustrated Top Stories
4-star Green has Minnesota RootsMinnesota’s most recent offer went to 2018 guard A.J. Green of Cedar Falls, Iowa. Green is ranked as the 87th best prospect in the country and last weekend visited Minnesota…
Gopher IllustratedYesterday at 9:51 AM
Know Your Enemy: Penn StatePenn State publisher Mark Brennan of FightOnState.com breaks down the Penn State Nittany Lions, the Gophers week 5 opponent.
Gopher IllustratedYesterday at 6:54 AM
Gopher Gridiron Radio 9.28.16Derek Burns returns to join Luke and Ryan breakdown the Gophers victory over Colorado State.
Gopher IllustratedYesterday at 6:29 AM
Focus on 16-17: Bakary KonateBakary Konate started at center last winter for the Gophers as a true sophomore season. Konate gained 22 minutes of experience on average. Konate is the subject of today’s focus.
Gopher IllustratedTuesday at 1:19 PM