The Gophers made several big defensive plays during the first two quarters Saturday and took a 12-0 halftime lead over Northwestern at TCF Bank Stadium.

Emmit Carpenter missed his first extra point of the season, but hit field goals from 19 and 42 yards.

The Gophers defense had two takeaways on strip sacks by Blake Cashman and Steven Richardson. They also made Northwestern turn the ball over on downs, when Jack Lynn made a great play to get to Wildcats running back Justin Jackson on fourth-and-1.

For the half, Minnesota had eight tackles for a loss, including four sacks. The Gophers outgained Northwestern 200-145. Both teams were 1-for-7 on third down.

The Gophers got the ball first and drove 80 yards in seven plays for a touchdown. Shannon Brooks burst free for a 32-yard gain, Mitch Leidner hit Rashad Still with a 19-yard pass, and Rodney Smith had a 16-yard run. Smith finished the drive with a big cut at the line, bouncing to the left for a 5-yard score.

But Carpenter missed the extra point wide right – his first missed extra point in 38 attempts this season.

The Gophers went three-and-out on their next three drives, and Leidner threw an interception early in the second quarter. But the next time Minnesota had the ball, Leidner hit Still for a 62-yard gain down the sideline. A 6-yard run by Smith gave the Gophers a second-and-goal from the Northwestern 2. But Smith got stuffed for no gain and 1 yard on his next two carries.

On fourth-and-goal from the 1, Gophers coach Tracy Claeys went for the points, and Carpenter made the 19-yard field goal.