(0-1, 0-1 away)

Minnesota 51

(1-0, 1-0 home)

Coverage: BTN

7:00 PM ET, August 29, 2013

TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN

1 2 3 4 T
UNLV 6 7 3 723
MINN 3 13 14 2151

Top Performers

Passing: N. Sherry (UNLV) - 226 YDS, 2 TD, 2 INT

Rushing: P. Nelson (MINN) - 12 CAR, 83 YDS, 2 TD

Receiving: D. Davis (UNLV) - 7 REC, 77 YDS, 1 TD

Minnesota races past UNLV 51-23 in season opener

Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota's Marcus Jones returned the second half kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown and the Gophers pulled away for a 51-23 victory over UNLV on Thursday, the 23rd loss in a row on the road for the Rebels.

Minnesota, which scored twice on special teams, turned a tight game into a romp without any scoring by the offense for the first 23-plus minutes after the intermission. Ra'Shede Hageman blocked a field goal that Martez Shabazz picked up and raced for a 78-yard touchdown in the third quarter, and Briean Boddy-Calhoun scored on an 89-yard interception return in the fourth.

UNLV's Tim Cornett rushed 20 times for 80 yards, including a 26-yard touchdown run to cap a commanding opening drive for the Rebels. Shaquille Murray-Lawrence gained 108 yards on four carries for UNLV, which last won away from Las Vegas was Oct. 24, 2009, at New Mexico.

Philip Nelson ran for two touchdowns for Minnesota, including a 48-yard sprint in the second quarter. His best throw of the night was to freshman tight end Maxx Williams at the edge of the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown pass with 18 seconds left in the first half. That score gave the Gophers the lead for good.

Nelson, though, was off the mark a lot. He went 10 for 22 for 99 yards and an interception and also fumbled on second-and-goal at the 1-yard line late in the second quarter. He recovered, but after an overthrow left the Gophers settling for a field goal. Backup Mitch Leidner relieved him late and ran for a score of his own.

For the most part, the Rebels had the better sophomore quarterback. Nick Sherry, who finished 35 for 50 for 226 yards, threw across his body on fourth down for a 34-yard touchdown pass to Devante Davis that put UNLV ahead 13-10 with 5:04 left in the first half. He added a short scoring toss in the closing minutes.

But Sherry, who was picked off three times by the Gophers last year, threw two interceptions in the fourth, the first of which went right to Boddy-Calhoun, one of two new starting cornerbacks for Minnesota.

Taking the Gophers to triple overtime in a 30-27 loss last season in the opener in Las Vegas certainly gave the Rebels some confidence, even though they won only two games in 2012, their third year under coach Bobby Hauck. Their strong start here didn't last, though, after a kickoff-time temperature of 92 degrees that felt more like Nevada than Minnesota in late August. Six misting fans on each sideline helped keep the players cool, and a strong student-section showing yielded a crowd of 44,208.

The last time the Gophers scored this many points was 63 in 2006 for a win over Indiana at the Metrodome.

Roland Johnson also blocked an extra point for Minnesota on a tough night for UNLV kicker Nolan Kohorst, who also missed a 49-yard field goal. Kohorst made a 32-yarder after Sherry's throw to the near corner of the end zone went in and out of the hands of Jerry Rice Jr., the son of the Pro Football Hall of Fame wide receiver.

One negative for the Gophers was running back Donnell Kirkwood, who limped off with an injury to his right ankle after totaling only 30 yards on 11 carries.


Team Stat Comparison

1st Downs2117
Total Yards419320
3rd Down Conversions6-188-14
4th Down Conversions4-41-1

Passing Leaders


Rushing Leaders


Receiving Leaders


Scoring Summary

TD09:48Tim Cornett 26 Yd Run (Pat Blocked) 60
FG02:39Chris Hawthorne 25 Yd 63
TD13:45Philip Nelson 48 Yd Run (Chris Hawthorne Kick) 610
TD05:04Devante Davis 34 Yd Pass From Nick Sherry (Nolan Kohorst Kick) 1310
TD00:18Maxx Williams 10 Yd Pass From Philip Nelson (Pat Failed) 1316
TD14:48Marcus Jones 98 Yd Kickoff Return (Chris Hawthorne Kick) 1323
TD07:36Martez Shabazz 51 Yd Return Of Blocked Field Goal (Chris Hawthorne Kick) 1330
FG03:52Nolan Kohorst 32 Yd 1630
TD10:41Briean Boddy-Calhoun 89 Yd Interception Return (Chris Hawthorne Kick) 1637
TD06:37Philip Nelson 5 Yd Run (Chris Hawthorne Kick) 1644
TD04:12Taylor Barnhill 1 Yd Pass From Nick Sherry (Nolan Kohorst Kick) 2344
TD00:42Mitch Leidner 4 Yd Run (Chris Hawthorne Kick) 2351

Research Notes

Marcus Jones returned the opening kickoff of the 2nd half 98 yards for a touchdown Thursday, only the 5th kickoff return touchdown for Minnesota in the last 10 seasons. It was the longest kickoff return for Minnesota since Dominic Jones returned one 99 yards for a touchdown on September 6, 2006.

ESPN Stats & Information