Joe Christensen covered Major League Baseball for 15 years, including three seasons at the Baltimore Sun and eight at the Star Tribune, before switching to the college football beat. He’s a Faribault, Minn., native who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1996. He covered Jim Wacker’s Gophers for the Minnesota Daily and also wrote about USC, UCLA and the Rose Bowl for the Riverside Press-Enterprise before getting this chance to cover football again.
Email Joe to talk about the Gophers.
MarQueis Gray is back. Too bad he's only the second-most effective ground-gainer on the field.
Northwestern tailback Venric Mark has battered the Gophers' defense in the same manner that Iowa's Mark Weisman did two weeks ago, and the result is a 21-10 Northwestern lead over Minnesota at halftime.
Mark scored his first touchdown just 11 seconds into the game on a 27-yard run (after Gopher kick returner Lamonte Edwards fumbled the opening kickoff), set up Kain Colter's 2-yard touchdown plunge on the next drive with a 47-yard run, then ran untouched on a 48-yard scoring romp in the second quarter, finishing the half with 151 yards on only 11 carries, just short of Weisman's 165-yard first half for Iowa.
Max Shortell started the game as Minnesota's quarterback, and led a 76-yard drive on the Gophers' first possession that ended with a 31-yard field goal by Jordan Wettstein. Gray surprised the Wildcats by lining up at wide receiver during that drive, gaining 16 yards on a sideline pass.
But when Shortell suffered a minor injury on the second drive, Gray took over, and played the rest of the half. He did more than that, too: The senior quarterback energized the Gophers' offense with his running ability, including a 25-yard scoring run that briefly pulled Minnesota within three points.
The half ended with steady rain falling, sending many fans among the two-thirds-full stadium crowd heading for cover.
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