After a 48-10 win over New Mexico State last Saturday, the Gophers knew that Fresno State was going to provide a bigger challenge. That challenge became even greater when star offensive player Rodney Smith left the game with a leg injury and didn’t return. Instead of getting down and worrying about Smith’s injury, Seth Green and Bryce Williams stepped up and helped the Gophers run away to a 21-14 win. Zack Annexstad showed poise once again both on the field and on the sideline, and Emmit Carpenter made two huge field goals in the victory.
“We went through a lot of adversity, showed a lot of resolve, and this young team continues to mature and grow up in front of our eyes,” P.J. Fleck said after the game. “I’ve been proud of a lot of football teams in my career as a head coach and I can only think of one other time I was this proud of a group. This was a very special win for us tonight.”
1: Just one carry by Rodney Smith in the Gophers win over Fresno State. Smith exited the game in the first quarter after an 11-yard catch and was helped off by two athletic trainers. Smith didn’t return to the game.
53: The 53-yard field goal by Emmit Carpenter near the end of the first half helped give the Gophers a 10-0 lead. Carpenter tied his career high with the kick, also making a 53-yarder in 2016 against Purdue. Carpenter went over 200 career points with his 50-yard field goal in the second half.
299: After putting up 79 points and 486 yards of total offense in their first game, Fresno State was held to just 299 yards, including just 104 in the first half (58 rushing, 46 passing) by the Gophers defense.
“I felt like we kept controlling the game,” Fleck said. I didn’t feel like there was any need to take big shots because I thought our defense played so well. I think our defense is only accountable for seven of the points, which is tremendous for going against a team that put up 79 points last week.”
4: After just two games, Seth Green has four touchdowns out of the Wildcat formation. Green also threw a 2-pt conversion completion to Ko Kieft after his second touchdown run of the night.
90: Rushing yards by Bryce Williams on 25 carries. The freshman from Sarasota, Florida handled the bulk of the work on the ground after Rodney Smith’s injury.
“They run a lot of wildcat,” Fresno State head coach Jeff Tedford said after the game. “They kind of stayed on schedule to where they stayed in short yard situations and their big physical offensive line. It was effective to keep the change moving.”
8: True freshman Terell Smith has eight total tackles (7 solo) and added a first-half interception in the win over the Bulldogs. Smith had one tackle for loss and one breakup on the night. The interception was the first one of Smith’s career.
36:41: Time of possession for the Gophers tonight, thanks in large part to Minnesota being able to extend drives. Annexstad’s play of the game was a scramble where he avoided two Fresno State lineman and made an accurate throw to Tyler Johnson. Johnson hauled in one of his six catches and allowed the Gophers to run more time off the clock.
78: Yards for true freshman Rashod Bateman, leading the team. Bateman and Annexstad hooked up for one pass of 25 yards while many of Bateman’s catches came in crucial situations for the Gophers.
“I was really proud of all of us as a team,” Seth Green said. “Coach was talking about us turning that corner and leading each other, especially with Rodney (Smith being injured), I felt like a lot of the older guys were leading the younger guys to give them that extra boost and confidence to know that they can do it and they can go out there and compete. That’s what you saw tonight, all of us executing and playing for each other.”
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