|Minnesota 20, Penn State 14|
|September 27, 2003|
|Beaver Stadium - University Park, PA|
|Kickoff Time: 12:00 p.m. EDT|
|STATECOLLEGE, Pa.; Sept.
27 -- Penn State rallied from a 14-0 deficit against unbeaten Minnesota
to within 17-14, but was not able to score in the second half, as the unbeaten
Golden Gophers escaped with a 20-14 victory Saturday in Beaver Stadium.
The game was Joe Paternos 600th as a member of the Penn State coaching staff.
The contest marked the third time this season the Nittany Lions had faced a double digit deficit in the first period, but on this day they fell just a play short of picking up a win in their Big Ten opener.
After No. 24 Minnesota grabbed the quick lead, the Nittany Lion defense held UM to just two field goals the rest of the way. The Gophers came into the game second in the nation in scoring at 46.7 ppg, scoring no fewer than 42 points in a game, but were held to less than half their season average by Penn State.
Sophomore quarterback Michael Robinson had the finest effort of his career in leading the Nittany Lion offense, taking over for injured starter Zack Mills at the start of the second quarter, trailing 14-0. Mills left the game with a sprained left knee and did not return.
Robinson guided Penn State to two second quarter touchdown drives of 79 and 80 yards and sparked the offense to a season high 419 total yards, with the Lions generating 346 of those yards with Robinson under center. In the most extensive action of his career, Robinson posted career bests in pass completions (16), attempts (27) and yards (178).
The Golden Gophers began the contest by recovering an on-side kick, and the Nittany Lions forced a punt, but then had to punt the ball back from their own seven. Starting at the PSU 43, Minnesotas Marion Barber scored on an 11-yard run for a 7-0 lead with 9:26 left in the first quarter.
On Penn States second possession, punter Jeremy Kapinos boomed a career-long 57-yard punt that was downed by a hustling Donnie Johnson at the UM 1. But, the Gophers had consecutive plays of 13, 11 and 11 yards to get out of a big hole and proceeded to march 99 yards in 12 plays, capped by a three-yard run by Laurence Maroney for a 14-0 edge with 2:26 left in the opening period.
On the Lions next possession, a career long 20-yard run by Sean McHugh and a 14-yard scramble by Mills took the ball to the UM 42, with Mills leaving the game when tackled as the first quarter ended. Robinson came in and proceeded to lead the Lions to a critical score, connecting with Austin Scott on a big 17-yard completion. Scott capped the drive with a one-yard touchdown run, following McHughs block, to make it 14-7 early in the second quarter.
The Gophers connected on a 44-yard field goal, but Penn State quickly responded. Starting at the 20, Robinson connected with Tony Johnson (15 yards), Gerald Smith (12 yds) and Donnie Johnson (16 yds) to take the ball to the UM 11. On second down, Robinson burst up the middle for a 10-yard score and the Lions were within 17-14 with 2:04 left in the half.
Penn State forced a three-and-out and Calvin Lowrys 21-yard punt return took the ball to the UM 47. A 22-yard reverse by freshman Maurice Humphrey and a nine-yard run by Robinson got the Lions to the UM 8. But, on third down, a Robinson pass was tipped and was intercepted by Minnesotas Terrance Campbell. Television replays showed the ball touched the ground before Campbell gained possession, denying the Lions an opportunity to attempt a short field goal and tie the game going into halftime.
Penn State advanced to the UM 33 on its opening drive of the third quarter, but on fourth-and-three, Robinsons pass was incomplete. The score remained 17-14 heading into the fourth quarter and early in the period Robbie Goulds 45- yard field goal attempt was wide, keeping the Gophers in the lead.
The defense forced another three-and-out, but Robinson was intercepted at the UM 49. The Gophers drove to the PSU 9, but in desperate need of a stop, Lavon Chisley sacked UM quarterback Asad Abdul-Khaliq to force a 30-yard field goal for a 20-14 UMlead with 2:21 to play.
The Lions got the ball at their own 20 and a 20-yard completion from Robinson to Ernie Terrell and 10-yard strikes to Tony Johnson and Gerald Smith, sandwiching an 11-yard run by Robinson, took the ball to the UM 15 with :25 to play. Penn State was only able to gain two yards on their four plays, as Robinson threw an interception and Austin Scott was held to two yards on a draw. On third down, Robinson lofted a fade to Matt Kranchick, who caught the ball, but was just out of the end zone. On fourth down, Robinsons pass to Smith was just out of his reach in the end zone and the Gophers prevailed.
Robinson completed passes to nine different receivers and carried the ball a career-high 12 times for 42 yards, including his 10-yard TD run, producing a career high 220 yards of total offense. The Nittany Lions produced 26 first downs for the second consecutive game and were 10 of 16 on third down conversions.
Middle linebacker Gino Capone led the Lions in tackles for the fifth consecutive game with 11 stops, including a TFL Safety Yaacov Yisrael made nine hits, with a TFL and safety Chris Harrell had eight. Linebacker Deryck Toles made seven tackles with a sack and DE Lavon Chisley had six hits with a sack. Penn State held Minnesota to season lows in rushing, passing and total offense and did not allow a play longer than 19 yards.
Notes: Five of the seven games played in the series against Minnesota have been decided by 10 points or less, including the last five....Minnesotas win made it just the fourth team to defeat a Joe Paterno led Penn State team in three straight meetings. Minnesota head coach Glen Mason becomes just the fifth coach to accomplish the feat. He joins Michigans Lloyd Carr (1997-2002), Iowas Kirk Ferentz (2000-02) and Alabamas Bill Curry (1987-89) and Bear Bryant (1975-82)...The Golden Gophers retained possession of the Governors Victory Bell...Freshman Jeremy Kapinos averaged 51.0 yards on his two punts...Ten different PSU players made catches for the first time since the Iowa game in 2000.