Skip to main content

Gophers can't score at the end, lose heartbreaker to Michigan 29-26

  • Author:
  • Updated:

Michigan Wolverines 29

Minnesota Gophers 26

Interim head coach Tracy Claeys made a gutsy call with 2 seconds to go in the game, with his Gophers down by three points to Michigan and the ball on the 1/2 yard line.

Instead of trying for a short field goal that would have tied the game and sent it into overtime, he called on quarterback Mitch Leidner to sneak the ball into the end zone.

Leidner was stopped short, and the Wolverines survived with a 29-26 victory to take back the Little Brown Jug.

Up until the last couple of plays, the Gophers had momentum on their side. Michigan had scored a touchdown with about five minutes to play to take the three-point lead, but Minnesota had a solid drive going and enough time to score.

KJ May made a brilliant fourth-down catch to keep the drive alive with 1:30 left. A few plays later Drew Wolitarsky caught a 23-yard pass from Leidner and fell into the end zone.

It was initially ruled a touchdown but that call was reversed and the Gophers had the ball on the 1/2-yard line.

Minnesota had just 19 seconds left on the clock and only one timeout. Leidner took a long time to snap the ball and threw an incomplete pass, leaving just two seconds left on the clock. That's when Claeys decided to go for the win.

And after his first game as interim head coach, some are already saying those last two plays may have cost him the permanent job.

The Gophers played a heck of a game against Michigan, ranked No. 15 in the country. They outgained the Wolverines 461 yards to 296. Leidner was 16-of-32 for a career-high 317 yards. And Ryan Santoso kicked four field goals.

It was an emotional evening for the Gophers and their fans, with the sudden retirement of Gopher football coach Jerry Kill for health reasons, and the untimely death of Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders.

Tributes to both coaches were part of the pregame ceremonies.

The Gophers also unveiled new alternate uniforms for the game, with nary a trace of maroon for the Maroon and Gold.

The Gophers' schedule doesn't get any easier. After Michigan they play No. 1 Ohio State and No. 10 Iowa on the road, then will host Illinois and cross-border rival Wisconsin to finish up the season.

Next Up

Screen Shot 2022-06-25 at 7.55.28 PM

Charges: Cop feared for his life during struggle for gun with suspect

Allen Denzel Oliver-Hall has been charged with second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon.

Burnsville, Minnesota - May 2019 (2)

Shootout near Erik's Bike Shop, Lunds & Byerlys in Burnsville

Police say youths were shooting at each other on Saturday afternoon.

minnesota river

Fishermen find body floating in Minnesota River in Shakopee

The body was found upstream from Minnesota River Heritage Park.

Screen Shot 2022-06-25 at 11.01.17 AM

Woman breaks free after being kidnapped and taken to Brooklyn Park

The woman was taken by force as she arrived at her work in Plymouth.


How the fastest animal on the planet returned to MN after local extinction

The fastest animal on Earth had once vanished from Minnesota and Wisconsin.


St. Paul's new 'skate trail' brings non-traditional park to life

Gateway Park is the first of four parks to open in the Highland Bridge redevelopment.


80 mph winds, large hail possible with severe storms in MN

A severe thunderstorm watch is in effect for much of the state until 3 a.m. Saturday.


30 people evacuated as flooding hammers small town

It's assumed that at least eight inches of rain fell in Randall, with more heavy rain expected Friday night into Saturday morning.

Intersection in Rochester.

Boy dies in motorcycle crash in Rochester

Police are investigating as of Friday afternoon.