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(Saturday, September 22)
Final Score: Minnesota 17, Syracuse 10
Minneapolis, MN (Sports Network) - The Minnesota Golden Gophers survived a late rally from the Syracuse Orange to hold on to win, 17-10, at TCF Bank Stadium.
Quarterback Max Shortell played a solid game for the Golden Gophers (4-0) in relief of starting quarterback MarQueis Gray, who missed the game with a high ankle sprain. Shortell completed 16-of-30 passes for 231 yards. Donnell Kirkwood carried 28 times for 99 yards and both of Minnesota's touchdowns.
Syracuse (1-3) and quarterback Ryan Nassib, who was second in the nation in passing coming into the game, struggled to get anything going against the Gophers' defense. Nassib was efficient, completing 21-of-31 passes for 228 yards, but was intercepted twice, lost a fumble and struggled on third down plays. Receiver Alec Lemon caught nine passes for 106 yards and became Syracuse's all-time leader in receptions. He passed Shelby Hill and Scott Schwedes, who had previously shared the record with 139 catches.
Minnesota struck first on a two-yard Kirkwood touchdown run, which was set up by a third down hookup between Shortell and Devin Crawford-Tufts, which went for 40 yards.
Nassib was intercepted on his very first pass attempt of the game by Cedric Thompson, but shook it off later in the quarter to lead a 13-play scoring drive which ended with a Ross Krautman 33-yard field goal. Unfortunately for the Orange, it would be their only points until late in the fourth quarter.
The Gophers held a 7-3 halftime lead after both teams failed to score in the second period.
Kirkwood scored his second touchdown of the contest early in the third quarter as Minnesota took a 14-3 lead. Syracuse had a chance to answer, but Nassib threw his second interception of the game inside the Minnesota five yard line after a 15-play drive.
With Syracuse trailing by 14 points with just 3:20 left to play, Nassib led an 83-yard drive in just 2:34, which culminated with a Marcus Sales touchdown reception. Nassib was 6-for-6 on the drive.
The Orange's comeback effort fell short when Ryan Norton's onside kick attempt was unsuccessful, allowing Minnesota to walk away with the victory. The win allowed Minnesota to remain one of just three unbeaten teams in the Big Ten.
09/23 00:44:14 ET
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