The Minnesota Golden Gopher football team was down a combined total of 25 players and coaches for Friday's game against the Purdue Boilermakers on Friday night but found a way to hold on to earn a 34-31 win at TCF Bank Stadium.
The Gophers came into the game shorthanded after several players and coaches either tested positive for COVID-19, were deemed high-risk contacts or dealt with injuries prior to kickoff.
Despite the shorthanded roster, the Gophers had control for most of the game. Cam Wiley scored on a six-yard run in the first half, but Purdue answered with an eight-yard run by Rondell Moore. The Gophers regained the lead later in the first quarter when Mohamed Ibrahim scored his first touchdown of the night on a one-yard plunge.
The rest of the first half went back-and-forth as Purdue added a 32-yard field goal from J.D. Dellinger but the Gophers extended their lead on a three-yard touchdown run by Seth Green to go into the locker room up 21-10.
The Gophers' 11-point lead took a hit when David Bell hauled in a 47-yard touchdown reception from Jack Plummer. Minnesota answered with Ibrahim's second one-yard touchdown of the night to hold serve before Bell caught his second touchdown of the night, a nine-yard connection with Plummer, to bring the lead to 28-24 heading into the fourth quarter.
In the final frame, the Gophers scored again on Ibrahim's third touchdown of the night from five yards out, but Brock Walker missed the extra point to keep Minnesota's advantage at 34-24.
Purdue rallied with Plummer finding Payne Durham for a six-yard touchdown to bring the Boilermakers within a field goal. On the ensuing drive, P.J. Fleck rolled the dice on a fourth-and-two only to see Seth Green get stuffed and hand the ball back to Purdue.
The Gopher defense held strong, however, and forced a 33-yard miss from Dellinger that allowed Minnesota to hold onto a 34-31 lead. After the Boilermakers got a stop, a last-ditch drive drove Purdue into striking distance, but a Plummer throw into the end zone came up incomplete and helped the Gophers seal the victory.
The Gophers improved to 2-3 with the win and will travel to No. 10 Wisconsin on Nov. 28.