Scores

Final

W Illinois 12

(2-1, 0-1 away)

Minnesota 29

(3-0, 2-0 home)

Coverage: BTN

12:00 PM ET, September 14, 2013

TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN

1 2 3 4 T
WIU 6 0 6 012
MINN 0 7 8 1429

Top Performers

Passing: T. Norvell (WIU) - 162 YDS, 2 TD

Rushing: D. Cobb (MINN) - 13 CAR, 82 YDS, 2 TD

Receiving: L. Lenoir (WIU) - 5 REC, 54 YDS, 1 TD

With Jerry Kill at hospital, Minnesota tops Western Illinois

Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- With Minnesota coach Jerry Kill at a hospital after a seizure at halftime, David Cobb and Rodrick Williams each rushed for two touchdowns to lead the Gophers past Western Illinois 29-12 on Saturday afternoon.

Kill has epilepsy, and this is the fourth time in three seasons with the Gophers he's had an episode on game day. The scene of Kill writhing back and forth on the sideline is always jarring nonetheless, and the sluggish Gophers (3-0) found themselves trailing 12-7 until late in the third quarter.

But they got their running game on track in time to pull away. Cobb carried 13 times for 82 yards and Williams had 10 rushes for 46 yards. Mitch Leidner replaced the injured Philip Nelson at quarterback and ran 17 times for 64 yards.

Trenton Norvell threw two touchdown passes without a turnover for the Leathernecks (2-1), the latest FCS foe in position for an upset at Minnesota. But Norvell finished 11 for 23 for 162 yards, and Western Illinois was outgained on the ground 213 yards rushing to 68. The Gophers forced eight punts.

Minnesota's preference to use the read option as a prominent piece of the offense greater exposes the quarterbacks to injury, and Nelson limped off after a third straight punt to start the game. Leidner's first drive yielded a touchdown, the first score by the Gophers after more than 25-and-a-half minutes without, and he ran on seven of the 10 plays on that possession.

Leidner finished 7 for 8 for 105 yards passing.

The Leathernecks took the first lead on a patient drive set up by Antoine Ford's 33-yard punt return. The Gophers stuffed three straight runs at the line after first-and-goal from the 1, but Nielson boldly went for the end zone on fourth down. With a hard play-action fake, Norvell dropped back and floated a pass over the defense to wide-open tight end Mason Howington in front of the goal post on the final play of the first quarter. The 2-point conversion failed, but the confidence for Western Illinois was forged.

The Leathernecks finished 3-8 last season and were picked for ninth place out of 10 in the Missouri Valley Conference in the preseason poll, but they have a history of success. Western Illinois actually has the best all-time winning percentage of all of the state's Division I football programs, having produced nine NCAA playoff appearances since 1988 and standout NFL players like Frank Winters, Don Beebe, Bryan Cox and Rodney Harrison.

New coach Bob Nielson has an even stronger record, with two Division II national championships at Minnesota Duluth in the last five years. The MVC, too, might be the best in the FCS with five teams in the latest Top 25 rankings. Then there are the three times in six matchups with Minnesota between 2004 and 2011 that programs currently in the MVC of the past six matchups emerged victorious: North Dakota State (twice) and South Dakota.

So when the Leathernecks retook the lead at 12-7 on an 11-yard pass from Norvell to fellow freshman Lance Lenoir, the situation looked all too familiar. Ra'Shede Hageman blocked the extra point.

But Leidner played well in relief, except for one egregious mistake the Gophers were able to overcome. On the possession after WIU's go-ahead score, Leidner fumbled at the goal line when the ball was forced out by David McDaniel and recovered by Kevin Knitzel in the end zone. Knitzel tried to return it but was tackled at the 1.

Nathan Knuffman's punt netted only 17 yards, and a few plays later Cobb was crossing the plain on a short run. Logan Hutton caught the 2-point conversion pass to make it 15-12 in favor of Minnesota.

Then Gophers pulled away, setting up Cobb's second score with a twisting, acrobatic 19-yard reception by freshman tight end Maxx Williams. Earlier, Williams was the target on Leidner's first college completion, lowering his shoulder to bowl over McDaniel for a 33-yard gain that set up the first touchdown.

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Team Stat Comparison

 
WIU
MINN
1st Downs1118
Total Yards230337
Passing162124
Rushing68213
Penalties5-202-10
3rd Down Conversions4-145-11
4th Down Conversions1-11-1
Turnovers01
Possession25:3634:24

Passing Leaders

Western IllinoisC/ATTYDSAVGTDINT
Norvell11/231627.020
MinnesotaC/ATTYDSAVGTDINT
Leidner7/810513.100

Rushing Leaders

Western IllinoisCARYDSAVGTDLG
Baker7507.1029
Watson13262.009
MinnesotaCARYDSAVGTDLG
Cobb13826.3230
Leidner17643.809

Receiving Leaders

Western IllinoisRECYDSAVGTDLG
Hammonds16565.0065
Lenoir55410.8123
MinnesotaRECYDSAVGTDLG
Williams25226.0033
Engel33210.7017

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERWIUMINN
TD00:05Mason Howington 1 Yd Pass From Trenton Norvell (Two-Point Run Conversion Failed) 60
SECOND QUARTERWIUMINN
TD04:27Rodrick Williams Jr. 1 Yd Run (Chris Hawthorne Kick) 67
THIRD QUARTERWIUMINN
TD09:34Lance Lenoir 11 Yd Pass From Trenton Norvell (Pat Blocked) 127
TD01:22David Cobb 2 Yd Run (Matt Leidner Pass To Logan Hutton For Two-Point Conversion) 1215
FOURTH QUARTERWIUMINN
TD11:32David Cobb 3 Yd Run (Chris Hawthorne Kick) 1222
TD08:52Rodrick Williams Jr. 37 Yd Run (Chris Hawthorne Kick) 1229

Research Notes

Minnesota currently leads FCS Western Illinois 15-12 late in the 3rd quarter. The Gophers have been tripped up by FCS teams before, losing three times to FCS squads since 2007.
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