GAMEDAY College Football

Minnesota 62, Western Illinois 10

By DAVE CAMPBELL
AP Sports Writer

MINNEAPOLIS - Tanner Morgan passed for 287 yards and a score over 2 1/2 quarters and had one of Minnesota's seven rushing touchdowns in a 62-10 victory over Western Illinois.

Mohamed Ibrahim (23 carries for 130 yards) and Trey Potts (10 carries for 79 yards) kept their comeback from injuries going strong with two scores apiece on the ground for the Gophers (2-0), whose 679 total yards were the third most in program history.

Morgan went 14 for 18 passing without a turnover before yielding to backups Athan Kaliakmanis and Cole Kramer for the bulk of the second half. The Gophers posted their highest score in head coach P.J. Fleck's six seasons and their most since a 63-26 victory over Indiana in 2006.

Goldy Gopher's customary commitment to one pushup per point became quite the struggle after the final touchdown, a 30-yard run by reserve Preston Jelen for his first career score. The furry mascot's costume-covered arms barely squeezed out the last couple of repetitions while the students who remained in the stadium at that point boisterously cheered him on.

Morgan had his most passing yards since the late-season loss to Wisconsin in 2019. He hit fellow sixth-year standout Chris Autman-Bell five times for 118 yards and tight end Brevyn Spann-Ford for a 45-yard touchdown while crisply spreading the ball all over the field on deep posts, quick outs and of course his trademark slants.

After a quick kick by Western Illinois quarterback Nick Davenport that produced a 64-yard punt in the second quarter, Morgan went 3 for 3 for 88 yards - all to Autman-Bell - on a 96-yard scoring drive that made it 28-3.

Davenport's 33-yard pass to Naseim Brantley for the Leathernecks (0-2) with 4:26 left marked the first touchdown given up by the Gophers this year. They beat New Mexico State 38-0 last week.

The Gophers gave the Leathernecks a golden opportunity to stay close for a little bit. Michael Brown-Stephens lost a fumble after a short reception on the second snap of the game, when the ball was forced out by nose tackle Tre Henry and recovered at the Minnesota 45.

Western Illinois failed to move the chains, though, and Ogala's swing pass to Jafar Armstrong on fourth and 3 was smothered by safety Jordan Howden for a 2-yard loss.

Howden later had a diving interception among the highlights for Minnesota's defense, which limited the Leathernecks to 35 yards on 19 rushing attempts.

LEVEL UP

The Gophers, who beat Western Illinois 29-12 in 2013 in the only previous meeting, are 61-4 all-time against teams currently in the FCS. Their last such loss was to North Dakota State in 2011. Last week in Missouri Valley-Big Ten matchups, Iowa beat South Dakota State 7-3 and Wisconsin beat Illinois State 38-0.

THE TAKEAWAY

Western Illinois: Picked to finish last in their 11-team league that's perhaps the best in the FCS, the Leathernecks have started over this year under new head coach Myers Hendrickson.

Minnesota: The return of offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca after two seasons elsewhere has sparked a revival of Minnesota's passing attack that lagged in his absence and after wide receivers Tyler Johnson and Rashod Bateman departed to the NFL. Morgan struggled at times in 2021 during a difficult year marked by the death of his father, but he's been as sharp as ever in Ciarrocca's recommitment to balancing an offense that leaned awfully hard on the run last season.


Scoring Summary
First Quarter WestIlMinn
Minn TD 6:39 Mohamed Ibrahim 1 yd run (Matthew Trickett kick) 0 7
Minn TD 3:48 Trey Potts 15 yd run (Matthew Trickett kick) 0 14
WestIl FG 1:10 Mason Laramie 47 yd FG 3 14
Second Quarter WestIlMinn
Minn TD 10:05 Tanner Morgan 1 yd run (Matthew Trickett kick) 3 21
Minn TD 5:01 Trey Potts 2 yd run (Matthew Trickett kick) 3 28
Minn FG 1:02 Matthew Trickett 34 yd FG 3 31
Third Quarter WestIlMinn
Minn TD 10:45 Mohamed Ibrahim 1 yd run (Matthew Trickett kick) 3 38
Minn TD 9:07 Brevyn Spann-Ford 45 yd pass from Tanner Morgan (Matthew Trickett kick) 3 45
Minn TD 1:28 Athan Kaliakmanis 1 yd run (Matthew Trickett kick) 3 52
Fourth Quarter WestIlMinn
Minn FG 10:24 Matthew Trickett 46 yd FG 3 55
Minn TD 6:23 Preston Jelen 30 yd run (Matthew Trickett kick) 3 62
WestIl TD 4:26 Naseim Brantley 33 yd pass from Nick Davenport (Mason Laramie kick) 10 62
Team Stats
  Western Illinois Minnesota
First downs 8 35
  Rushing 1 16
  Passing 6 15
  Penalty 1 4
3rd Down Efficiency 1-13, 8% 6-11, 55%
4th down efficiency 0-2, 0% 1-1, 100%
Rushes-Yards 19-35 52-307
Passing Yards 159 372
Return Yards 50 23
Completions-Attempts-Int 16-32-1 18-25-0
Sacks-Yards Lost 1--14 0-0
Punts 8 1
Punts-Average 42.8 46
Fumbles Lost 0-0 1-1
Penalties - Yards 9-63 3-28
Time of Possession 20:47 39:13
Western Illinois Passing
Player Cmp Att Yds TDs Int
N. Davenport 8 15 125 1 0
H. Ogala 8 17 34 0 1
Minnesota Passing
Player Cmp Att Yds TDs Int
T. Morgan 14 18 287 1 0
A. Kaliakmanis 3 3 67 0 0
C. Kramer 1 4 18 0 0
Western Illinois Rushing
Player Carries Yds Avg TDs
H. Ogala 2 17 8.5 0
L. Choquette 4 16 4.0 0
N. Davenport 5 4 0.8 0
J. Parker 2 4 2.0 0
J. Jackson 1 0 0.0 0
J. Armstrong 2 -2 -1.0 0
E. Collins 3 -4 -1.3 0
Minnesota Rushing
Player Carries Yds Avg TDs
M. Ibrahim 23 130 5.7 2
T. Potts 10 79 7.9 2
B. Williams 8 51 6.4 0
P. Jelen 2 32 16.0 1
C. Kramer 1 5 5.0 0
T. Morgan 2 4 2.0 1
J. Nubin 2 3 1.5 0
M. Grand 3 2 0.7 0
A. Kaliakmanis 1 1 1.0 1
Western Illinois Receiving
Player Rec Yds Avg TDs
J. Armstrong 5 72 14.4 0
N. Brantley 3 50 16.7 1
D. McKinney 1 23 23.0 0
J. Jackson 2 9 4.5 0
E. Collins 2 8 4.0 0
J. Parker 1 4 4.0 0
L. Choquette 1 1 1.0 0
H. Ogala 1 -8 -8.0 0
Minnesota Receiving
Player Rec Yds Avg TDs
C. Autman-Bell 5 118 23.6 0
C. Geary 3 65 21.7 0
B. Spann-Ford 3 64 21.3 1
M. Brown-Stephens 3 55 18.3 0
L. Brockington 1 36 36.0 0
D. Wright 1 20 20.0 0
B. Williams 1 9 9.0 0
M. Ibrahim 1 5 5.0 0
Western Illinois Interceptions
Player Int Yards
Minnesota Interceptions
Player Int Yards
J. Howden 1 0
Western Illinois Punting
Player Punts Yards Avg
J. Beulke 7 278 39.7
N. Davenport 1 64 64.0
Minnesota Punting
Player Punts Yards Avg
M. Crawford 1 46 46.0
Western Illinois Punt Returns
Player Ret Yards Average
Minnesota Punt Returns
Player Ret Yards Average
Western Illinois Kick Returns
Player Ret Yards Average
J. Parker 2 50 25.0
Minnesota Kick Returns
Player Ret Yards Average
Q. Redding 1 23 23.0
Western Illinois Missed FG
Player Length
Minnesota Missed FG
Player Length




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