Friday’s college football: Minnesota beats Indiana on late TD pass

Associated Press
Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan throws during Friday night's win over Indiana.

Minneapolis — Tanner Morgan was undeterred by the rough fourth quarter for Minnesota that featured 22 straight points by Indiana to tie the game.

If losing the quarterback competition in fall camp didn't faze him, this tight situation wasn't going to.

Morgan passed for 302 yards and three touchdowns in his first career start, including the tiebreaking 67-yard scoring toss to Rashod Bateman with 1:34 remaining that gave the Gophers a 38-31 victory over the Hoosiers on a rainy Friday night.

"We just continue to respond each and every time," Morgan said. "Obviously in the second half there's things that we didn't do so hot, didn't do so well, but we found a way to finish."

Morgan, a redshirt freshman who replaced injured true freshman Zack Annexstad, completed 17 of 24 attempts for the Gophers (4-4, 1-4 Big Ten).

After Peyton Ramsey capped a third fourth-quarter touchdown drive for the Hoosiers (4-5, 1-5) with a 2-point conversion pass to Donavan Hale, the teams traded punts.

When Minnesota regained possession the second time, Morgan dropped back on the first play and hit Bateman in stride after the true freshman used a double move to turn a slant pattern into a go route up the hash. Morgan had thrived on crisply thrown slants and posts all game, and Hoosiers redshirt freshman safety Juwan Burgess bit on the fake slant before watching Bateman blow by him.

"I felt good about the call, to be able to just sit there and take away what they'd hurt us on up to that point," Hoosiers coach Tom Allen said.

Then Ramsey lost a fumble on a sack by Carter Coughlin on the first play after that for Indiana, and Minnesota ran out the clock.

"I'm very proud of the way the guys played," said Gophers linebacker Blake Cashman, whose stop in the backfield of Scott on third-and-1 forced a punt right before the winning score. "We know that in those situations we need to be able to keep our foot on the gas and finish the game out in a better way."

Ramsey went 29 for 44 for 232 yards, two scores and two interceptions. He ran eight times for 57 yards, and Stevie Scott had 18 carries for 96 yards and a touchdown. Ramsey hit Hale for a 43-yard score and Ty Fryfogle for a 37-yard touchdown plus the 2-point conversion during the surge.

With Annexstad held out with ankle and abdominal injuries, Morgan looked like a seasoned senior while leading the Gophers on first-half touchdown drives of 77, 75 and 99 yards. Tyler Johnson caught two scoring passes and finished with 102 yards on five receptions, before departing in the fourth quarter with an injury.

"I'm really proud of this performance," coach P.J. Fleck said. "Zack's not healthy. I want healthy people out there that can run our offense, and that's one reason why we didn't play him today. They're both capable."

Lost a little in the shuffle of the wild finish was the season debut for Minnesota running back Shannon Brooks, who tore his ACL in a winter workout. Brooks, who had 154 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries before hobbling off with an injury to his other leg, was about to cross the goal line again with the Gophers leading 31-9 late in the third quarter after true freshman Jordan Howden picked off Ramsey.

But Brooks lost his second fumble of the game, one of four Minnesota turnovers, and the Hoosiers recovered it at the 2. While Ramsey and Scott helped spark the Indiana rally, Morgan lost his touch over a series of six possessions that ended in three punts, two fumbles and an interception to give Indiana time to tie it.

Brooks was suspended for the previous game after an arrest on suspicion of assault that has yet to produce any charges. Fleck's plan is to limit him to four games this season to preserve his redshirt. Joining Rodney Smith, Bryce Williams and Mohamed Ibrahim, Brooks became the fourth different running back with a 100-yard game this season to set a program record.

Top 25

No. 23 Utah 41, (at) UCLA 10: Zack Moss and Utah rushed their way to another big Pac-12 win.

Moss gained a career-high 211 yards on the ground and scored three touchdowns, helping the Utes roll.

Britain Covey had 132 all-purpose yards and threw a touchdown pass for the Utes (6-2, 4-2), who won their fourth consecutive game. Armand Shyne ran for a touchdown and Matt Gay kicked two field goals.

Utah leads the Pac-12 South by one game over Southern California and holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Trojans with three conference games remaining. The Utes are the only team from the South that has not played in the conference title game.

Utah scored 28 straight points after falling behind 7-3 in the first quarter. Covey threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to tight end Cole Fotheringham off a reverse to make it 10-7 midway through the second quarter, and Moss had 1-yard touchdown runs in the second and third quarter.

Shyne's 2-yard touchdown run made it 31-7 after Julian Blackmon picked off Wilton Speight, the former Michigan quarterback who started for UCLA the first time since suffering a back injury in the season opener against Cincinnati.

Joshua Kelley ran for 90 yards and a touchdown, but the Bruins (2-6, 2-3) were unable to get their third straight win. Speight was 20 of 40 for 164 yards passing with two interceptions.