The Gophers get under the Leathernecks skin in second half, win decisively

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Running back David Cobb breaks throug an opening in the Gopher's 29-12 win over the Western Illinois Leathernecks on Sept. 14, 2013 at TCF Bank Stadium. Photo Credit: Matt Blewett/The Minnesota Sports Report

The Minnesota Golden Gophers hosted the Western Illinois Leathernecks on a perfect fall morning on September 14, 2013.  The chilly, crisp autumn air made for a pleasant pre-game warm-up as the teams prepared for the 11:00 a.m. kickoff.

The Gophers offense forgot to show up for the first quarter and a half of this game.  They not advance the ball past the Western Illinois 46 yard line until midway through the second quarter when quarterback Mitch Leidner hit Maxx Williams for a 33 yard gain.  The play brought the Gophers 26 yards from a touchdown.  Seven running plays later Rodrick Williams Jr. plowed through the Leatherneck goal line defense for a one yard touchdown run.

The Gophers and Leathernecks traded punts on the teams’ first two possessions of the second half.  Leatherneck quarterback, Trenton Norvell, wasted little time on his second possession of the half, taking only three plays to drive 80 yards for the score, including a 65 yard bomb to Kyle Hammonds.  The Leathernecks led 12-7.  Minnesota’s field goal blocking unit came up strong blocking the extra point but the stadium was stunned.

With their coach missing from the sidelines after he was taken off the field at halftime suffering from seizures, the Gophers struggled in their first drive but rallied together after the Leathernecks’ touchdown.

Backup quarterback settled into his role with five minutes left in the third quarter. With a short field, starting on the Leathernecks’ 25 yard line, David Cobb ran for 12 yards, Leidner rushed for six and completed a seven yard pass to Derrick Engel to score a touchdown.  The two-point conversion was good putting the Gophers up 15-12.

The Gophers would score touchdowns on their next two series running the score up to 29-12.  The two plays that defined the Gopher performance in the second half came at about the 11:30 mark of the game when KJ Maye fielded a punt and returned the ball 26 yards to the Western Illinois 37 yard line.  On the next play Rodrick Williams Jr. ran the ball the rest of the way for a 37 yard touchdown for the final score of the game.

The game ended 29-12 with a dominant second half by the Gophers both offensively and defensively.  Minnesota will host San Jose State on September 21.  Stay tuned for photos and coverage of that game as well as updates on Coach Kill’s health as we hear them.

The Minnesota Sports Report will be covering both the Gopher Football game as well as the Minnesota Vikings home opener, the final home opener in the Metrodome.  Don’t miss the photos and stories from next week’s action.