Scores

Final

North Dakota St 37

(3-0, 1-0 away)

Minnesota 24

(1-3, 1-2 home)

Coverage: BTN

7:00 PM ET, September 24, 2011

TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN

1 2 3 4 T
NDSU 0 28 3 637
MINN 7 7 3 724

Top Performers

Passing: B. Jensen (NDSU) - 197 YDS

Rushing: D. Kirkwood (MINN) - 10 CAR, 70 YDS, 2 TD

Receiving: R. Smith (NDSU) - 4 REC, 74 YDS

Mistakes doom Gophers in loss to North Dakota State

Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- When North Dakota State comes to Minnesota, the Bison make themselves at home.

The Gophers just keep playing the role of the far-too-gracious host.

Marcus Williams had two defensive touchdowns for North Dakota State, including a wild play at the end of the first half on Saturday, to help an FCS team pull off yet another win at Minnesota, 37-24.

"Coach outcoached me, their team outplayed us and they deserved to win the game," Gophers coach Jerry Kill said, adding: "I feel bad for our students. I feel bad for the state of Minnesota. I feel bad for our fans, and I feel bad for our kids."

Williams, a sophomore cornerback who played at Hopkins High School in the Twin Cities -- one of the dozens of Minnesotans who make up half of NDSU's roster -- returned an interception of Max Shortell's late heave 40 yards for a touchdown to seal the game.

On the final play of the first half, teammate Colten Heagle picked off MarQueis Gray's risky pass at the 18 and tossed the ball back to Williams as he was taken down near midfield. Williams raced 52 more yards to put the Bison (3-0) ahead 28-14 at the break.

"It was pretty emotional, really, being from here and going up against the home state," Williams said. "People thinking I wasn't good enough to play here, probably wasn't going to play D-I ball at all."

Donnell Kirkwood rushed 10 times for 70 yards and two touchdowns for the Gophers (1-3), but once again, it was difficult to determine which team was from the BCS conference -- and who was playing at home.

"Our players had a great deal of confidence coming in," said Bison coach Craig Bohl, whose team is 5-3 against FBS foes since moving up from Division II. "If we played well, we'd win."

NDSU scored touchdowns on drives of 65, 83 and 71 yards in the first half before the tag-team touchdown by Heagle and Williams as time expired. Minnesota's spirit disappeared, too.

"It was depleted. It was devastated. It's a different ballgame if that doesn't happen," safety Kim Royston said.

Even when the Bison finally faced their first fourth down, with 6:25 left in the third quarter, Ryan Jastram kicked a 49-yard field goal with room to spare to stretch the lead to 31-14.

D.J. McNorton rushed 13 times for 92 yards for NDSU, and Brock Jensen completed 16 of 21 passes for 197 yards -- plus 37 yards rushing and a score on six scrambles.

"NDSU's a great team. Their quarterback's a good player. But it comes down to what we do. Whatever they got, we gave to 'em, as far as I'm concerned," said Royston.

The Gophers, who gave the Bison three first downs via penalties on their first two possessions, rushed for 168 yards -- including a 10-play, 95-yard march, all on the ground, to tie the game at 14.

"The holes were there. It's not like I had to fight for anything. The first five yards were coming easy," Kirkwood said.

But the Bison played with more polish and seemed to have their game plan a step ahead of Minnesota's the entire game.

The Gophers rotated Gray and Shortell at quarterback, and they didn't have any rhythm when they needed it at the end. Shortell found tight end Eric Lair for a 20-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-7 to bring the Gophers within 31-24 with 9:05 left, but they couldn't get any momentum after that.

Gray was 5 for 12 for 53 yards passing and netted just 23 yards rushing on 13 attempts. Shortell went 4 for 8 for 71 yards. Kill said he wasn't sure yet how he'd manage that position moving forward.

"I ain't blaming nobody else, baby. That's me," Kill said. "I'm putting way too much on these kids. You'd like to be able to just hand the ball off and let 'em learn to play quarterback, but we're not in that situation right now."

For the Gophers, struggling against an FCS foe in front of their own fans is nothing new, though it's not any less humbling and frustrating for a school with an athletics department budget about five times as big as NDSU's.

Minnesota lost to South Dakota last year. The Gophers barely beat South Dakota State in a three-point game the season before that. Two weeks ago, they lost at home to New Mexico State, an FBS team but frequently one of the weakest in the NCAA's top tier.

This was the third time Minnesota had played North Dakota State in the last five years, and this game was every bit as difficult for the Gophers as the meetings in 2006 and 2007. Minnesota needed a blocked field goal as time ran out to preserve a 10-9 victory the first year and lost 27-21 to NDSU the following season.

Bison fans accounted for perhaps one-fourth of the 48,000-plus crowd, and NDSU even brought its full band.

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Team Stat Comparison

 
NDSU
MINN
1st Downs1718
Total Yards336292
Passing197124
Rushing139168
Penalties6-528-57
3rd Down Conversions6-99-14
4th Down Conversions0-01-3
Turnovers02
Possession31:2128:39

Passing Leaders

North Dakota StateC/ATTYDSAVGTDINT
Jensen16/211979.400
MinnesotaC/ATTYDSAVGTDINT
Shortell4/8718.911

Rushing Leaders

North Dakota StateCARYDSAVGTDLG
McNorton13927.1158
Jensen6376.2111
MinnesotaCARYDSAVGTDLG
Bennett13745.7023
Kirkwood10707.0230

Receiving Leaders

North Dakota StateRECYDSAVGTDLG
Smith47418.5031
McNorton33612.0017
MinnesotaRECYDSAVGTDLG
Lair24120.5121
McKnight33913.0017

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERNDSUMINN
TD08:39Donnell Kirkwood 4 Yd Run (Chris Hawthorne Kick) 07
SECOND QUARTERNDSUMINN
TD14:57Brock Jensen 1 Yd Run (Ryan Jastram Kick) 77
TD07:30Sam Ojuri 3 Yd Run (Ryan Jastram Kick) 147
TD02:11Donnell Kirkwood 30 Yd Run (Chris Hawthorne Kick) 1414
TD00:24D.J. McNorton 2 Yd Run (Ryan Jastram Kick) 2114
TD00:00Marcus Williams 52 Yd Interception Return (Ryan Jastram Kick) 2814
THIRD QUARTERNDSUMINN
FG06:25Ryan Jastram 49 Yd 3114
FG01:12Chris Hawthorne 36 Yd 3117
FOURTH QUARTERNDSUMINN
TD09:05Eric Lair 20 Yd Pass From Max Shortell (Chris Hawthorne Kick) 3124
TD02:36Marcus Williams 40 Yd Interception Return (Pat Failed) 3724