8:30 PM ET, September 17, 2005
The Metrodome, MINNEAPOLIS, MN
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Everyone knows what a threat Laurence Maroney is when he takes a hand off. On Saturday night, Maroney showed Florida Atlantic that he's equally dangerous as a receiver.
Maroney rushed for 145 yards and two touchdowns, but also had three catches for 55 yards and his first career receiving touchdown, to lead Minnesota to a 46-7 romp over Florida Atlantic.
"I got hands, huh?" Maroney said. "It's something we incorporated in ... try and throw a little pass at them. Let the world know I have a little bit of hands."
The Gophers (3-0) rolled up 579 yards of offense and led 40-0 at halftime. Their power running game and physical defense were simply too much for a Florida Atlantic team in its second season in Division I-A.
"We got baptized by fire," Owls defensive end Josh Pinnick said. "With what we did on defense, this one will be real hard to stomach."
Bryan Cupito was 10-for-17 for 230 yards and two touchdowns, including a 56-yarder to Jared Ellerson in the second quarter.
After playing BCS schools Kansas and Oklahoma State tough the first two weeks of the season, the Owls (0-3) managed just 246 yards of offense and were completely outclassed against the Gophers.
Di Ivory Edgecomb scored the only touchdown for Florida Atlantic, a 1-yard run in the third quarter. He finished with 24 yards on 10 carries.
Maroney needed little time to get going against the overmatched Owls. After his first carry went for no gain, he took the second play off left tackle for 22 yards. Two plays later, Maroney burst off right end, zigged and zagged a few times and cruised, untouched, for a 38-yard touchdown run.
Maroney was back at it on the next series, catching a dump-off pass from Cupito and racing 37 yards for the score, thanks to a fantastic block by receiver Ernie Wheelwright on free safety Greg Joseph at the goal line.
"When Maroney rattled off those two touchdowns, we got unglued a little bit," Pinnick said.
Gary Russell joined in late in the first quarter when he took the handoff, ran over cornerback Willie Hughley, and raced 47 yards for a touchdown and a 20-0 lead.
It was a long night for Hughley, who also got beat by Ellerson on a post for a 56-yard touchdown in the second quarter that made the score 33-0.
Maroney capped the half with a 10-yard run, giving the Gophers points on all seven first-half possessions.
"They're just big boys who go jaw-to-jaw and tooth-to-tooth," Owls coach Howard Schnellenberger said. "That's probably the best offensive line I've seen since Nebraska's in 1983."
Russell added another touchdown in the third, this one a dazzling 30-yarder in which he broke four tackles and juked another to get to the end zone. He finished with 116 yards on 11 carries.
"There were a lot of areas I saw improvement," Gophers coach Glen Mason said. "In the first half, I thought we were pretty impressive."
It wasn't all good news for the Gophers. Jason Giannini missed two extra points and has now missed five in the last two games, and linebacker John Shevlin injured his left knee in the first quarter and did not return.
Danny Embick was 11-of-24 for 131 yards and an interception for the Owls, who have an extremely difficult nonconference schedule that includes a date with Louisville in two weeks.
Schnellenberger has taken a similar approach to building the program that he did to rebuilding Miami in the early 1980s -- play anybody, anywhere.
"Our plan was to schedule just about anyone," Schnellenberger said. "We accomplished a lot in all three games. It's given us an example of what to work toward."
The Hurricanes became national champions in 1983 under Schnellenberger, but the Gophers made it clear that the Owls still have a long way to go.
"We feel that we are ready for our conference games," Edgecomb said. "Going against more physical, higher-level teams, we feel we are where we are supposed to be. ... We are a young team and it's a big step going from I-AA to I-A."
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||6-18||6-11|
|4th Down Conversions||1-3||0-2|
|TD||13:18||LAURENCE MARONEY 38 YD RUN (JASON GIANNINI KICK)|
Drive info: 4 plays, 65 yards.
|TD||9:31||LAURENCE MARONEY 37 YD PASS FROM BRYAN CUPITO (MISSED KICK)|
Drive info: 5 plays, 58 yards.
|TD||2:59||GARY RUSSELL 47 YD RUN (JASON GIANNINI KICK)|
Drive info: 9 plays, 96 yards.
|FG||11:35||JASON GIANNINI 22 YD FG|
Drive info: 12 plays, 78 yards.
|FG||6:29||JASON GIANNINI 27 YD FG|
Drive info: 9 plays, 26 yards.
|TD||4:10||JARED ELLERSON 56 YD PASS FROM BRYAN CUPITO (JASON GIANNINI KICK)|
Drive info: 2 plays, 66 yards.
|TD||1:10||LAURENCE MARONEY 10 YD RUN (JASON GIANNINI KICK)|
Drive info: 3 plays, 43 yards.
|TD||11:29||GARY RUSSELL 30 YD RUN (MISSED KICK)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 69 yards.
|TD||1:24||D'IVORY EDGECOMB 1 YD RUN (DANIEL KENNARD KICK)|
Drive info: 14 plays, 79 yards.