The Minnesota Golden Gophers (9-4) ran for 249 yards in the 18-6 victory over the West Virginia Mountaineers (6-7) in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl on Tuesday night, while WVU produced just 206 yards of total attack.
Minnesota won the battle for field position in the opening kickoff after the Mountaineers backhanded Wintson Wright Jr., bringing the ball to the 13-yard line. Then the Golden Gophers held the Mountaineers three and out, and Tyler Sumpter’s 42-yard punt established their offense at the Minnesota 43-yard line.
The Golden Gophers quickly entered WVU territory and came down to the 20 after a 22-yard pass from Tanner Morgan to Dylan Wright and Ky Thomas’ 12-yard run had Minnesota inside the 10. However, the Mountaineer’s defense bowed, highlighted by a sack of Dante Stills in third and five. He set up a 25-yard field goal for Mathew Ticket, but he missed the wide on the left.
The West Virginia offense didn’t take advantage of the break and made three strikeouts and, again, Minnesota took over in midfield. Tanner Morgan slammed Dylan Wright down the middle for 36 yards and the Golden Gophers threatened to score. However, Ky Thomas fumbled for the ball three games later at six.
The Mountaineer offense got its first and first try of the game, after back-to-back carries for Tony Mathis Jr. from 10 yards. Still, the Golden Gophers’ defensive line won the battle up front, hitting quarterback Jarret Doege twice on leading plays, forcing a punt deep into their territory. West Virginia finished the first quarter with six total yards.
After taking over at their own 46, Minnesota built a 54-yard touchdown in seven games and followed it with a false field goal for the two-point conversion to take an 8-0 lead early in the second. quarter.
West Virginia responded in practice that followed, crushing 75 yards in 12 plays and topped off with a one-yard run from Jarret Doege on a bootleg and plunging towards the pylon for the touchdown. The Mountaineers attempted the two-point conversion with a lopsided gaze to the left, but failed with an incomplete pass down the middle.
With less than five minutes to play in the second quarter, Thomas took the field to the right, cut it in the middle for 50 yards to the nine-yard line. Two games later, he scored from four yards and the extra run took Minnesota’s lead to nine, 15-6.
Minnesota settled for a field goal in the middle of the third after Tanner Morgan slipped into the backfield for a seven-yard loss.
West Virginia defensive back Charles Woods knocked out Morgan near midfielder at 42. However, the offense was again limited to three and away.
The Mountaineers only played five games in the fourth quarter as Minnesota held the ball for the final eight minutes of the game, dropping a knee at the goal line in the final practice of the game to hold on to the 18-6 victory.
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