Gophers offense thought it scored on crucial goal-line play

  • Article by: PHIL MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 14, 2011 - 6:37 AM

The Gophers' fourth-down, goal-line play Saturday -- the one that could have tied the score against New Mexico State and completely changed the final seven minutes, and perhaps the outcome -- came up short.

Gophers freshman running back Lamonte Edwards

Not to get too technical with the football terminology, but Lamonte Edwards on Tuesday verbally diagrammed the Gophers' fourth-down, goal-line play on Saturday, the one that could have tied the score against New Mexico State and completely changed the final seven minutes, and perhaps the outcome.

"Basically," Edwards explained, "the play was get the ball and run."

Well, run 6 more inches, as it turned out. Edwards took a handoff from MarQueis Gray at about the 5-yard line on fourth-and-1 and tried to follow the center and two guards as they bulled toward the end zone. What did the redshirt freshman see as he received the ball?

"Not much, to be honest," Edwards said. "But it was a play where I wasn't supposed to see much. I get behind my linemen and just push the ball in."

But the line's first step forward was about as far as they got. Edwards pushed center Ryan Wynn and tried to force his way for another step or two, but nobody budged.

"I reached out, and personally, I think I was in," he said. "But that's just my opinion."

And one not shared by officials, who never clearly saw the ball break the plane of the end zone, and judged that Edwards had fallen 6 inches short.

New Mexico State, ahead 28-21 at the time, took possession and embarked on a 12-play drive that ate up more than five minutes of the clock and ultimately foiled the Gophers' hopes for their first victory of the season.

"We felt like we could turn around, hand it to a big back and get a yard," offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover said. "We thought we did, but you don't want to leave that up for chance. But we felt good about the call."

So did the offensive line, which was shocked by the play's failure.

"The goal-line play hurt a lot. There's nothing better as an offensive linemen [to run that play] -- it's just will," Wynn said. "From the field, it appeared we got some good push, but the hole just collapsed right away. I'm still confused how we didn't score. That play stunk."

And what would Edwards do, if he had to do it again?

"Looking back, I probably would have dove or something," he said. "There wasn't much there. Just run harder next time, lower my pad level and get in there."

Etc.

• Coach Jerry Kill has spoken to defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys each day since his seizure, but he hasn't watched the video of Saturday's game.

"He would if he could," Claeys said. "I think [Kill's wife] Rebecca would get rid of me if I took video up there for him to watch."

• For the first time since spring practice, Kill's famous "Minnesota Lophers" jerseys were in evidence Tuesday, with three players wearing the brown shirts that read "I let my teammates down" on the back in pink letters.

• Gray said the cramping that recurred Saturday is a result of his excessive sweating, but trainers believe they can control it from now on. Cooler weather figures to help as well.

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