Minnesota suffered its first loss of the P.J. Fleck era when Terrapins running back Ty Johnson burst through a hole up the middle for a 34-yard touchdown run for the decisive points with 1 minute, 10 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Maryland’s winning TD came on an eight-play, 74-yard march after the Gophers had tied the score 24-24 on an 80-yard drive capped by Shannon Brooks’ 1-yard TD run.
Through the nonconference season, the Gophers had been mostly sharp, but Saturday’s loss was a product of several mistakes. One of Conor Rhoda’s two interceptions came with Minnesota at the Terrapins 15-yard-line, and Emmit Carpenter missed a 42-yard field goal. Those two miscues, among others, saw two scoring opportunities go awry.
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Stats trend downward
• The Gophers entered the game ranking first in scoring defense (8.0 points allowed per game); now it is 11th (13.8).
• The Gophers were first in rushing defense (59 yards allowed per game); after surrendering 262, they are 26th (109.8).
• The Gophers’ time of possession ranked second (36:44); it now is eighth (34:29).
Moore, Johnson frolic
The Gophers lost their best player in the secondary, safety Antoine Winfield Jr., to a hamstring injury in the first quarter. That absence helped Maryland’s top playmakers, Johnson and receiver DJ Moore, run loose. Johnson rushed 18 times for 130 yards, while Moore had 149 all-purpose yards, 90 yards receiving and one TD on eight receptions. On the winning drive, Moore had three catches for 22 yards.
Up next at Purdue
2:30 p.m. Saturday, Ross-Ade Stadium, ESPN2
The Boilermakers, who went 9-39 in four seasons with Darrell Hazell (now the Vikings receivers coach) as coach, have been one of the surprise stories of the Big Ten under first-year coach Jeff Brohm. Purdue (2-2, 0-1 Big Ten) has been competitive in its two losses — 35-28 to then-No. 16 Louisville in the opener and 28-10 Michigan in a game the Wolverines led 14-10 entering the fourth quarter.
Starting quarterback David Blough has battled a shoulder sprain since training camp, so the Boilermakers’ bye last week gave him a chance to heal.
The Gophers caught a break in the Purdue-Michigan game when Boilermakers linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley and safety Jacob Thieneman were ejected for targeting and must serve first-half suspensions against Minnesota. Bentley leads Purdue in tackles and Thieneman is tied for fourth.