You don't often hear a crowd at football practice erupt into applause, but it happened Tuesday. The Gophers were winding up their second workout of the spring with a two-minute drill, and the offense stalled inside the 40, so the field-goal team came on.
What happened next hasn't occured in a Gophers game since 2007: Kicker Chris Hawthorne drilled a 54-yard field goal right down the middle, with another 5-10 yards of distance for good measure. Perhaps because the Gophers made only two kicks of longer than 40 yards last season, the 100-plus spectators couldn't contain themselves, cheering Hawthorne as the ball went through the uprights.
It's not game conditions, of course, and there was a breeze that may have added a yard or two to the kick. It's pretty meaningless, in other words. Still, even coach Jerry Kill noted that kick after practice as one of the good things his team had accomplished.
Hawthorne transferred to Minnesota from N.C. State in January.
By the way, Minnesota kickers have made six kicks from that distance or longer in school history, the last coming from Joel Monroe, a 54-yarder against Iowa in 2007. The school record is a 62-yard boot by Chip Lohmiller, also against Iowa, in 1986, the longest indoor college field goal in NCAA history.