FORT COLLINS, COLO. – With 3 minutes, 11 seconds remaining in regulation, the Gophers offense took the field, trailing by four points, having produced just 13 points in the first 56-plus minutes of the game.
“I looked at the guys and said, here it is, let’s go make a play,” quarterback Mitch Leidner said.
Not a bad idea. Even the drive that would produce the touchdown that would turn the game in their favor wasn’t easy for the Gophers.
After five plays, they faced fourth-and-6 from their own 40. Leidner completed a pass to tight end Nate Wozniak for 7 yards, otherwise the Gophers would have fallen to 0-2 on the season with their fourth consecutive loss.
The Gophers faced another key play six plays later, a third-and-1 from the Colorado State 29. This time freshman running back Rodney Smith gained 7 yards.
The Gophers called timeout with 1:02 remaining. On the next play, Leidner faded back and found receiver KJ Maye sprinting past his defender down the left sideline. Leidner led him, Maye dived and cradled the pass, and the Gophers led 20-17.
Colorado State would tie the score on a last-second field goal. The Gophers would win in overtime. If not for a fourth-down conversion and the touchdown pass to Maye, the Gophers never would have made it to overtime.
On the drive, Leidner went 5-for-9 for 62 yards and ran twice for 16 yards.
“We did it when it counted and hopefully it will boost some people’s confidence and get us going,” Gophers coach Jerry Kill said.