Scores

Final

Montana State 23

(1-2, 0-2 away)

Minnesota 35

(3-0, 2-0 home)

12:00 PM ET, September 13, 2008

The Metrodome, MINNEAPOLIS, MN

1 2 3 4 T
MTST 6 7 3 723
MINN 0 21 14 035

Top Performers

Passing: A. Weber (MINN) - 201 YDS, 1 TD

Rushing: D. Eskridge (SJSU) - 24 CAR, 114 YDS, 3 TD

Receiving: E. Decker (MINN) - 9 REC, 157 YDS, 1 TD

Minnesota drops Montana State despite slow start

Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- Eric Decker had nine catches for 157 yards and a touchdown to lead Minnesota to a 35-23 victory over Montana State on Saturday.

It took a while for the sluggish Gophers (3-0) to get going, but once Adam Weber started getting the ball to Decker, the Bobcats (1-2) didn't have an answer.

Freshman DeLeon Eskridge rushed for 114 yards and three touchdowns, replacing starter Duane Bennett, who tore his ACL in last week's victory over Bowling Green. Willie VanDeSteeg added 1 1/2 sacks and a blocked field goal for the Gophers.

Demetrius Crawford returned a kick 100 yards for a score and rushed for 76 yards for Montana State, which played the Big Ten's Gophers much tougher than they did Kansas State a week ago in losing 69-10.

DeAndre Green raced right past safety Tramaine Brock on a seam pattern and was wide open when he hauled in a 32-yard scoring pass from Cody Kempt to give the Bobcats a 6-0 lead late in the first quarter.

At that point, the Bobcats had outgained Minnesota 134-21 in total yards and they held the bigger, faster Gophers to just one first down in the first quarter.

Just when Minnesota appeared to be flexing its muscle -- with a 3-yard touchdown run by Weber and another by Eskridge following an interception by Traye Simmons -- plucky Montana State pushed back.

Crawford returned the ensuing kickoff for a score -- tying a school record for the longest return set in 1954 -- to cut Minnesota's lead to 14-13.

But the Bobcats simply didn't have enough for Decker, a 6-foot-2 junior. He caught a 44-yard pass to set up his nifty 3-yard scoring catch that gave the Gophers a 21-13 lead going into halftime.

Last week against Kansas State, the Bobcats were tied with the Wildcats 7-7 with 11:23 to go in the first half. The Wildcats then scored 62 of the next 65 points to blow Montana State out of Manhattan.

This time around, they hung right in there. But two interceptions -- Kempt threw one Mark Iddins the other -- deep in their own territory led to Gophers touchdowns. Iddins finished just 2-for-10 for 26 yards while Kempt was 13-for-28 for 172 yards, two interceptions and one touchdown.

The Gophers may have suffered another big loss when offensive lineman Dom Alford went down with an injury in the third quarter. The team did not immediately announce Alford's condition, but he spent the rest of the game with a walking boot on his left foot.

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Team Stat Comparison

 
MTST
MINN
1st Downs2112
Total Yards356352
Passing218201
Rushing138151
Penalties5-278-87
3rd Down Conversions6-174-13
4th Down Conversions1-20-0
Turnovers30
Possession31:0128:59

Passing Leaders

Montana StateC/ATTYDSAVGTDINT
Kempt13/281726.112
MinnesotaC/ATTYDSAVGTDINT
Weber15/242018.410

Rushing Leaders

Montana StateCARYDSAVGTDLG
Crawford19764.0011
Palmer8324.0112
MinnesotaCARYDSAVGTDLG
Eskridge241144.8328
Decker3268.7015

Receiving Leaders

Montana StateRECYDSAVGTDLG
Green36421.3132
Toliver45914.8029
MinnesotaRECYDSAVGTDLG
Decker915717.4144
Spry2147.0011

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERMTSTMINN
TD02:41Deandre Green 32 Yd Pass From Cody Kempt (Pat Blocked) 60
SECOND QUARTERMTSTMINN
TD05:45Adam Weber 3 Yd Run (Joel Monroe Kick) 67
TD03:47Deleon Eskridge 3 Yd Run (Joel Monroe Kick) 614
TD03:33Demetrius Crawford 100 Yd Kickoff Return (Jason Cunningham Kick) 1314
TD01:23Eric Decker 3 Yd Pass From Adam Weber (Joel Monroe Kick) 1321
THIRD QUARTERMTSTMINN
FG11:13Jason Cunningham 49 Yd 1621
TD08:28Deleon Eskridge 3 Yd Run (Joel Monroe Kick) 1628
TD01:56Deleon Eskridge 1 Yd Run (Joel Monroe Kick) 1635
FOURTH QUARTERMTSTMINN
TD11:10C.J. Palmer 1 Yd Run (Jason Cunningham Kick) 2335