EVANSTON, ILL. – Gophers coach Jerry Kill just couldn't bear to watch from home.
Kill had his wife, Rebecca, drive him from their home in Minneapolis to today's game at Northwestern. Kill, who is on an official leave of absence to treat his epilepsy, is watching from the press box coaching booth, though he is said not to be giving instructions.
He did address the team at halftime, a team spokesman said.
Mitch Leidner started at quarterback for the Gophers, but after four first-quarter punts, they gave Philip Nelson another chance.
Nelson immediately drove the Gophers down the field, hitting Derrick Engel with a game-tying, 29-yard touchdown pass.
Nelson remained on the game, and the Gophers were poised to take the lead, but Chris Hawthorne missed a 44-yard field goal as time expired on the first half, with the score still tied 7-7.
Northwestern played without two of its best offensive players, as quarterback Kain Colter and Venric Mark were both out with ankle injuries.
Northwestern capitalized on some shoddy tackling by the Gophers to take a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter on a 72-yard drive.
The Gophers appeared to have Northwestern receiver Tony Jones stopped short of a first down early in the drive, but Cedric Thompson and Derrick Wells missed the tackle.
Thompson missed another tackle on the next play, as Stephen Buckley broke free for a 33-yard run. Buckley capped the drive with a three-yard touchdown run.
Ra’Shede Hageman had a pass break up and an interception, highlighting the Gophers’ defensive efforts in the first half.