Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
A couple early turnovers threatened to bring a repeat of last year’s 30-7 loss to TCU, but the Minnesota Golden Gophers weathered the storm before a fourth quarter rally came up short in a 23-17 loss Thursday night.
TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin was largely as advertised, with 338 yards of total offense (92 rushing) and a touchdown passing and rushing. But the Gophers limited him to less than six yards per completion, and a 19-yard touchdown on the ground was the early Heisman Trophy candidate’s longest run of the night.
Minnesota quarterback Mitch Leidner was routinely off the mark throwing the ball, and he finished 19-for-35 for 197 yards along with 23 rushing yards. But the junior signal caller did throw a clutch touchdown to wide receiver KJ Maye to make it a one-score game late in the fourth quarter, which kept the Gophers’ upset hopes alive until the Horned Frogs recovered the ensuing onside kick.
Maye led the Gophers with four receptions for 73 yards, including a 36-yard reception off a flea-flicker in the first half.
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The offensive star of the game for Minnesota was running back Rodney Smith. The redshirt freshman ran with decisiveness and burst on his way to 88 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries Thursday night. Rodrick Williams started the game at tailback for the Gophers, but after an early fumble deep in TCU territory he was not a big factor.
Eric Murray caused a fumble and grabbed an interception against TCU, as he had a hand in both turnovers the Gophers forced in the game. The senior cornerback is surely on the radar of NFL scouts, and it will be worth watching his progress as a pro prospect all season long.
Up next for the Gophers is a road trip to take on Colorado State on Saturday Sept. 12.
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