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Gophers close out regular season with OT loss to Wisconsin

Paul Bunyan's Axe will stay in Madison.
Coney Durr

The Minnesota Golden Gopher football team came up short in their effort to reclaim Paul Bunyan's Axe, falling to the Wisconsin Badgers in a 20-17 overtime defeat on Saturday afternoon.

The Gophers got off to a strong start after Wisconsin missed a field goal on the opening drive. After both teams exchanged unproductive drives, the Gophers got on the scoreboard with a 16-yard pass from Tanner Morgan to Cam Wiley.

That led held up until early in the second quarter when Garrett Groshek ripped off a 39-yard touchdown run that sent the Gophers and Badgers into halftime tied at 7-7.

The second half had a feel of a defensive struggle as both teams couldn't break the tie. After Badgers starting quarterback Graham Mertz left with an injury, Chase Wolf came in and hit Jack Dunn on a four-yard pass that gave Wisconsin a 14-10 lead.

After adding a field goal, the Gophers went to work on a drive that took 6:50 off the clock in the fourth quarter. On the 12th play of the drive, Tanner Morgan found Mike Brown-Stephens on a nine-yard touchdown to tie the game at 17.

Wisconsin drove down for what appeared to be the game-winning score, but Coney Durr intercepted Wolfe in the end zone late in the fourth quarter and eventually sent the game to overtime.

Minnesota got the ball first in overtime, but Anders Gelecinskyj missed a 36-yard field goal. With a score needed to win the game, Wisconsin capitalized on a Collin Larsh field goal to retain Paul Bunyan's Axe.

The Gophers finish the regular season with a 3-4 record and will await a bowl game invitation.

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