Monday, December 28, 2015

Minnesota Golden Gophers: 2015 Quick Lane Bowl Champions



DETROIT – The Gophers didn’t care that they got there with a 5-7 record. They just wanted their seven-game bowl losing streak to end.

On Monday, it finally did, as Minnesota came from behind in the fourth quarter for a 21-14 victory before an announced crowd of 34,217 at the Quick Lane Bowl at Ford Field.

After stopping the Gophers on fourth down near mid-field, Central Michigan took a 14-13 lead with 11:08 remaining, but the Gophers went back in front with a 13-play, 76-yard touchdown drive.

On third-and-3 from the 13-yard line, quarterback Mitch Leidner kept the ball on the read option and rumbled into the end zone.

With a five-point lead, the Gophers went for two. On what looked like a broken play, Leidner dodged a tackler and fired to the back of the end zone, where KJ Maye made the catch.

Central Michigan (7-6) drove to the Minnesota 42-yard line on the ensuing drive, but Cooper Rush threw a pass as he was about to be sacked on third down, and Briean Boddy-Calhoun made a one-handed interception.

The Gophers (6-7) held on for their first bowl win since they defeated Alabama in the 2004 Music City Bowl. They had been 0-3 in bowl games under former coach Jerry Kill, who served as an honorary captain for this game.

Rush came in averaging 308.6 passing yards per game with a 67.2 completion rate, but against the Gophers, he completed just 15 of 29 passes for 145 yards.

Leidner, who is scheduled to have left foot surgery after the team returns to Minnesota, played the whole game, even though the Gophers had talked about using freshman backup Demry Croft.

Leidner completed 24 of 30 passes for 223 yards, with a touchdown and an interception.

In his final game for the Gophers, senior KJ Maye had eight catches for 67 yards and a touchdown.

Maye and fellow senior Rodrick Williams dumped a water jug over coach Tracy Claeys after time expired, and the Gophers celebrated with the 1,400 Minnesota fans who bought tickets for the game.
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