UNIVERSITY PARK, PA. -- Mitch Leidner hit Drew Wolitarsky with a 9-yard touchdown pass, and Emmit Carpenter made two field goals, as the Gophers built a 13-3 lead at Penn State by halftime Saturday.
Heavy rains fell before the game but stopped in time for kickoff. That might have contributed to a lower turnout, as 106,000-seat Beaver Stadium appeared to be about 80 percent full.
Gophers linebacker Cody Poock came off the field with his right arm dangling in pain on the final play of the first quarter and did not return.
Minnesota’s defense made several big plays to frustrated Penn State’s offense in the first two quarters. Penn State’s crowd booed when coach James Franklin settled for a tying field goal with the ball at Minnesota’s 1-yard line early in the second quarter.
Gaelin Elmore had tripped up quarterback Trace McSorley with a key third down stop.
Wolitarsky’s touchdown gave the Gophers the lead with two minutes, six seconds remaining. Minnesota forced Penn State to punt and got the ball back at its own 13-yard line with 1:13 remaining. The rain resumed.
In previous years, the Gophers almost surely would have been conservative and gone to the locker room with a seven-point lead. But Rodney Smith had a good run, drawing a facemask penalty, and Claeys went for it. Carpenter rewarded him with a 35-yard kick from the right hash mark, with five seconds remaining in the half.