Sophomore kicker saves the day on homecoming

After scoring 21 of the game’s first 24 points in the first quarter, it looked like the Minnesota Gophers would roll to victory over the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in the homecoming game 2016 on the University of Minnesota campus.

Rutgers would score 21 of the next 24 games, capped off by an interception returned 55 yards for the touchdown by freshman defensive back Damon Hayes at the 6:29 mark of the third quarter.  The Scarlet Knights missed the extra point, leaving the Scarlet Knights a point down 24-23.

Not to be out done, Minnesota’s underclassmen, Sophomore Rodney Smith, returned the ensuing kickoff 94 yards to put the Gophers up by eight points.

Rutgers scored a touchdown early in the fourth quarter and looked to go up by one when they tried for two instead of kicking the extra point to tie the game.  They failed and Minnesota led 31-29.  With just over four minutes left, Rutgers kicked a field goal to go up by one point 32-31.

The Gophers were driving down the field late in the game when the Gophers found themselves in the red zone with no timeouts and 10 seconds on the clock.  Sophomore kicker Emmit Carpenter entered the game to attempt a 28 yard field goal to win the game.  After Rutgers coach Chris Ash called a timeout just before the snap, the teams reset at the line of scrimmage.  Carpenter’s kick went up, just missing the outstretched arm of Rutgers’ Carlton Agudosi and through the uprights to win the game.

As Gophers Nate Wozniak and Tyler Moore picked Carpenter off the turf, the Minnesota sideline and stands cheered as they exhaled a sigh of relief at dodging a bullet, escaping with a win over a team that, coming into the game, was thought of as in rebuilding mode.

With the win the Gophers improve to 2-2 in Big Ten conference play, 5-2 on the year.  Minnesota will travel to Illinois before hosting Purdue on November 5, 2016.

Photos by Rick Corwine and Matt Blewett

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