Amid the disappointment and shock from a second-half meltdown, Gophers football coach Tim Brewster did not second-guess himself over a gutsy call. Given the exact same scenario, Brewster insisted he would go for a two-point conversion again.
"I would do it again tonight, tomorrow and the next day," he said.
The game never should have reached that critical moment, but Brewster's decision to go for a two-point conversion and the victory in the second overtime failed, thus completing a maddening collapse in a 49-48 loss at Northwestern.
On the game-deciding play, Adam Weber rolled right, couldn't find an open receiver and was hit as he attempted to throw a pass to Eric Decker in the end zone.
"It's heartbreaking," senior center Tony Brinkhaus said. "It looked like we were going to get one there. We just weren't able to put them away."
Said Brewster, who turned 47 Saturday: "This is hard. It's hard to think about where to start. When you pour your heart and soul into something and come up short at the end of it, I can't even tell you how bad it hurts."
The Gophers (1-6, 0-4 Big Ten) suffered their fifth consecutive loss despite leading 35-14 with 6 minutes and 18 seconds left in the third quarter. Northwestern turned two Weber interceptions into touchdowns, the Gophers made critical mistakes on offense and the Wildcats went 73 yards in the final two minutes of regulation to force overtime.
Both teams scored touchdowns in the first session. Northwestern scored on a 6-yard run by Brandon Roberson in the second overtime. The Gophers scored on Weber's 3-yard touchdown run, setting up the two-point attempt.
Brewster signaled for two immediately after Weber's touchdown. He said he told his players before the overtime session that he would make that call if they scored.
"Our football team deserved to win," Brewster said. "That's why I went for two. I felt 100 percent that we would get the two. We had a good play called. Northwestern did a nice job defending the play."
Brewster's players said it was the right decision.
"I think the way the game had gone and the way the season has gone for us I think it was definitely the right decision," Brinkhaus said.
Said Weber: "It is the right call. No matter how you look at it, it's the right call to make. It's a good play. We just didn't execute. It's one of things where they made a play and we didn't execute. Live and die I guess."
The Gophers finished with 580 total yards while Northwestern had 589. They combined for 169 plays.
Weber completed 25 of 38 passes for 341 yards and five touchdowns with two interceptions. He also rushed for 89 yards and one touchdown on 13 carries.
His 430 total yards and five touchdown passes both ranked second in school history.
Northwestern quarterback C.J. Bacher completed 41 of 58 passes for 470 yards and four touchdowns, including three after halftime.
GAME BALL GOES TO: QB Adam Weber — The redshirt freshman finished with 430 total yards (341 passing, 89 rushing), five touchdowns passes and one rushing touchdown.
KEEP AN EYE ON: WR Ernie Wheelwright — The talented senior is starting to finally fulfill his potential. He had the best game of his career against Northwestern with seven catches for 116 yards and three touchdowns, including a diving 21-yard touchdown grab with two seconds left in the first half.
LOOKING GOOD: Sophomore tailback Jay Thomas got the start because of injuries and rushed for 100 yards on 22 carries.
Junior LB Deon Hightower played his first game at middle linebacker in place of Mike Sherels, who was sidelined because of a hamstring injury. Hightower tied his career high with 10 tackles, including two for loss. He also forced a fumble.
SS Dominique Barber continues to be a bright spot on an otherwise bad defense. Barber collected a team-high 11 tackles with a fumble recovery and two pass breakups. He also made two touchdown-saving tackles.
STILL NEEDS WORK: The Gophers were ranked last nationally in pass defense going into the game and that won't change after they allowed 470 passing yards by C.J. Bacher.
QB Adam Weber threw two more interceptions, increasing his season total to 14. Northwestern converted both turnovers into a touchdowns to start the comeback.
DE Willie VanDeSteeg did not start for the first time in 19 games and played sparingly because of a shoulder injury and did not record a tackle.
ROSTER REPORT: Linebacker Mike Sherels (hamstring), true freshman tailback Duane Bennett (ankle) and senior cornerback Desi Steib (leg) did not play.
Senior tailback Amir Pinnix, who already is battling a turf toe injury, pulled a quad on a 37-yard run on the first play of the second half.
Safety Duran Cooley was on crutches after the game after getting injured while covering a kickoff.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I don't know what happened in the second half. "They came back and we couldn't get the couple of stops that we needed. We had opportunities to end the game and didn't." — Gophers defensive tackle Eric Small on his team blowing a 21-point lead in the second half.
Brewster, Players Won't Second-Guess Decision
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