Late, late, late show in Vegas goes Gophers' way

  • Article by: PHIL MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 31, 2012 - 6:40 AM

Jordan Wettstein hit a 32-yard field goal in the third overtime after Derrick Wells' second interception of the game.

view larger photos

  

LAS VEGAS — Give them enough time, and the Gophers can fix their problems. On Thursday, it took three overtimes to get things ironed out.

MarQueis Gray overthrew John Rabe when he was wide open; Derrick Wells committed a horse-collar penalty to keep a UNLV drive alive; and Jordan Wettstein pushed a 32-yard field goal wide left, the first miss of his career.

But forget all that, because they fixed the problems when it mattered most. Gray hit Rabe with touchdown passes on back-to-back plays; Wells intercepted a pass in the end zone; and Wettstein nailed the winning kick from the exact spot as his miss, all of those heroics coming in overtime.

The result was a 30-27 victory over UNLV, the first road win in Jerry Kill's short career as Gophers coach, and a great lesson in his football team's ability to correct mistakes.

"I told the kids, that's fighting back," Kill said after he won a season opener for the first time since 2007, when he was coaching Southern Illinois. "Didn't go your way, fought back, and good things happen."

Good things did, but only after lots of bad things.

The Gophers dominated the game statistically, gaining 478 yards of offense to 275 for the Rebels while holding UNLV to only 48 yards on its first six possessions of the second half. Even the Gophers' fans had a great night, their gold shirts practically outnumbering Rebels fans among the tiny 16,031-person "crowd" at Sam Boyd Stadium.

But all the positives were overwhelmed by the Gophers' own errors for much of the night. Gray was off-target on most of his throws down the field; the Gophers committed 11 penalties for 86 yards; and their special teams had a horrible night. The Gophers punted away six possessions but averaged only 33 yards per punt; watched senior returner Troy Stoudermire fumble away a punt that helped lead to a Rebels go-ahead touchdown; and misfired on Wettstein's short field-goal try shortly before halftime.

"I'm happy with the win, but I know we've got to get better with execution," Kill said. "There were a lot of young kids that played, but there's no excuse for that. I think we're better than that, and I think we will improve. No question about that."

Despite all the mistakes, the Gophers were kept in the game by an eight-in-the-box defensive front that kept UNLV redshirt freshman quarterback Nick Sherry from getting comfortable. Sherry completed 15 of 32 passes in regulation for only 110 yards and two interceptions.

Gray wasn't much better, though, continually overthrowing his receivers. The senior quarterback was 15-for-28 for 234 yards in regulation, with one interception. His longest completion of the night, a 40-yarder to A.J. Barker, was a short pass that Barker turned into a long gain by breaking a tackle.

"I was just too anxious. We couldn't get that rhythm. Every time we got a rhythm going, we had a penalty," said Gray, who also rushed for 68 yards on 17 carries. "I was just getting too anxious with the ball. That's something I have to pick up week in and week out, starting this week with New Hampshire preparations."

Thursday's game had been remarkably lackluster before the fourth quarter, living up to the matchup between teams that combined for five victories last season. The Gophers punted three times in the first half, and three more in the second, and scored only once, a 16-yard touchdown run by tailback James Gillum midway through the second quarter.

They allowed a field goal by UNLV kicker Nolan Kohorst in the first quarter, a drive set up by Gray's interception, then handed the Rebels a third-quarter touchdown on Stoudermire's muffed punt, giving UNLV the ball on the Gophers 33-yard line. The sixth-year senior cornerback compounded the mistake by committing a pass interference penalty on the next play, and UNLV scored on a 1-yard run by junior tailback Tim Cornett -- who collected 127 rushing yards on 25 carries -- four plays later.

But Wettstein converted a pair of scoring drives in the fourth quarter with field goals, and when Kohorst matched him with 2:46 to play to tie the score 13-13, the game headed to overtime for the third time in the Gophers' past six season-openers.

Both teams scored a touchdown on their first possession of overtime. The Rebels, going first, sent Cornett around around the left corner, and after breaking a tackle, he raced past the Gophers defense from 18 yards out, just managing to get the ball inside the pylon as he reached the end zone.

The Gophers answered with a 10-yard pass across the middle from Gray to Rabe. The tight end caught his second touchdown pass -- matching his career total -- on the very next play, breaking wide open for a 25-yard scoring strike from Gray that looked like it might hold up for the victory.

"When I turned my head around, no one was around me, I'm just [thinking], 'catch the ball, catch the ball,' " Rabe said. "It was perfect."

The Rebels got to the Gophers 6-yard line on their turn, and on fourth down, Sherry scrambled out of a near-sack and found sophomore receiver Devante Davis open in the left corner for the tying score.

That sent the game to a third, and decisive, overtime. With the ball on the Gophers 11, Sherry looked for Davis across the middle, and Wells, a sophomore safety, anticipated the play.

"We were in Cover-3, I just broke back on the ball and he threw it. I don't think he saw me," Wells said. And what's he thinking then? "Pick six," Wells said with a laugh.

He was pulled down at midfield, but the Gophers needed only a field goal to win. They ran three plays to advance to the 16, then sent Wettstein in for the winner. He kicked it, then raced down the field ahead of a pack of teammates intent on tackling him in celebration.

"Any time you get the opportunity to win a game, you feel good about it," Kill said of his 1-0 Gophers. "Doesn't matter how it gets done."

  • 2012 SEASON OPENER GOPHERS 30, UNLV 27 (3 OT)

    Up next: 11 a.m. Sept. 8 vs. New Hampshire • TCF Bank Stadium • TV: Big Ten Network (100.3-FM, 1130-AM)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Toronto - LP: D. Hutchison 2 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Tanaka 5
Washington - WP: S. Strasburg 2 FINAL
Miami - LP: N. Eovaldi 1
NY Mets - WP: J. deGrom 10 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: E. Santana 2
Boston - WP: J. Kelly 3 FINAL
Baltimore - LP: M. Gonzalez 2
Milwaukee - LP: W. Peralta 0 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: V. Worley 1
Chicago WSox - WP: J. Danks 10 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: N. Karns 5
Cleveland - WP: C. Kluber 7 FINAL
Minnesota - LP: A. Swarzak 2
Detroit - LP: R. Porcello 2 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: J. Guthrie 5
Seattle - LP: H. Iwakuma 3 FINAL
Houston - WP: C. McHugh 8
Los Angeles - WP: C. Perez 8 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Turner 5
Texas - WP: S. Tolleson 2 FINAL
LA Angels - LP: H. Street 1
Philadelphia - LP: M. Gonzalez 6 FINAL
Oakland - WP: S. Doolittle 8
San Francisco - LP: R. Vogelsong 2 FINAL
San Diego - WP: I. Kennedy 8
Arizona - LP: W. Miley 3 FINAL
Colorado - WP: C. Bergman 8
Cincinnati 3 Top 8th Inning
St. Louis 2
San Diego 22 FINAL
Buffalo 10
Dallas 34 FINAL
St. Louis 31
Washington 34 FINAL
Philadelphia 37
Houston 17 FINAL
NY Giants 30
Minnesota 9 FINAL
New Orleans 20
Tennessee 7 FINAL
Cincinnati 33
Baltimore 23 FINAL
Cleveland 21
Green Bay 7 FINAL
Detroit 19
Indianapolis 44 FINAL
Jacksonville 17
Oakland 9 FINAL
New England 16
San Francisco 14 FINAL
Arizona 23
Denver 20 FINAL
Seattle 26
Kansas City 34 FINAL
Miami 15
Pittsburgh 16 3rd Qtr 11:02
Carolina 3
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Columbus 4 FINAL
Carolina 3
Buffalo 0 FINAL
Washington 1
St. Louis 3 FINAL
Columbus 4
Calgary 1 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Edmonton 0 3rd Prd :08
Calgary 1
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Rice 42
Troy 0 FINAL
(12) Georgia 66
Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(9) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 17 FINAL
(19) Wisconsin 68
Maryland 34 FINAL
Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
Hawaii 12 FINAL
Colorado 21
Marshall 48 FINAL
Akron 17
North Carolina 41 FINAL
(23) East Carolina 70
Army 21 FINAL
Wake Forest 24
Virginia 33 FINAL
(20) BYU 41
(6) Texas A&M 58 FINAL
SMU 6
Rutgers 31 FINAL
Navy 24
Central Mich 10 FINAL
Kansas 24
Utah 26 FINAL
Michigan 10
Florida 21 FINAL
(3) Alabama 42
Louisville 34 FINAL
FIU 3
Fla Atlantic 19 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Indiana 31 FINAL
Missouri 27
San Jose St 7 FINAL
Minnesota 24
Texas State 35 FINAL
Illinois 42
Massachusetts 7 FINAL
Penn State 48
Georgia State 14 FINAL
Washington 45
Appalachian St 20 FINAL
Southern Miss 21
(14) Miss State 34 FINAL
(17) LSU 29
Northern Ill 14 FINAL
Arkansas 52
Middle Tennessee 17 FINAL
Memphis 36
Utah State 14 FINAL
Arkansas State 21
Miami-Ohio 24 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Idaho 24 FINAL
Ohio U 36
Ball State 23 FINAL
Toledo 34
(13) So Carolina 48 FINAL
Vanderbilt 34
(4) Oklahoma 45 FINAL
West Virginia 33
Ga Southern 28 FINAL
South Alabama 6
UNLV 14 FINAL
Houston 47
Miami-Florida 31 FINAL
(21) Nebraska 41
New Mexico 38 FINAL
New Mexico St 35
Clemson 17 FINAL
(1) Florida State 23
California 45 FINAL
Arizona 49
San Diego St 7 FINAL
Oregon State 28
(2) Oregon 38 FINAL
Washington St 31
Louisiana 9 FINAL
Boise State 34
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(24) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(11) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(25) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(12) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(9) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
NC State
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(22) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(13) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
North Carolina 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Clemson
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(17) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Duke 9/27/14 6:30 PM
Miami-Florida
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(8) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(21) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(18) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Chivas USA 0 FINAL
Toronto FC 3
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 23 FINAL
Hamilton 25
Calgary 15 FINAL
Montreal 31
Ottawa 32 FINAL
Saskatchewan 35
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan TBA
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern TBA
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 am
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings and Gophers do this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close