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Undefeated dreams end as mistakes doom Gophers in Iowa

Iowa scored a touchdown on three straight drives to start the game.

Minnesota's undefeated season is no more after losing 23-19 to the Iowa Hawkeyes. 

Mistakes and missed tackles were the theme of the day for the Gophers, who trailed 20-3 in the second quarter before storming back to at least give themselves a chance to win at Kinnick Stadium for the first time since 1999. 

In addition to the loss, quarterback Tanner Morgan was injured on the final drive. Details about his injury are uncertain, but he did walk off the field under his own power. 

A field goal put Iowa up 23-13 with 7:13 left in the fourth quarter, with Minnesota responding with a Rodney Smith 1-yard touchdown with 3:27 left. But Brock Walker missed the extra point, making it a four-point deficit, 23-19. 

Prior to the touchdown, the Gophers had it first-and-goal at the one-yard line when they were forced to call a timeout, leaving them with one as Iowa got the ball back with 3:26 go after recovering an onside kick at Minnesota's 47-yard line. 

Facing a third-and-four with just over two minutes remaining, the Gophers came up with a huge sack to force a punt, giving the offense the ball back at the 20-yard line with 1:52 left on the clock. 

Here's how Minnesota's chance at a game-winning drive unfolded: 

  • 1st-and-10: Tanner Morgan sacked for a 3-yard loss. 
  • 2nd-and-13: Morgan sacked for an 8-yard loss. 
  • 3rd-and-21: Cole Kramer pass to Rashod Bateman incomplete. 
  • 4th-and-21: Kramer's pass deep left intercepted. 

The Hawkeyes scorched Minnesota's defense with touchdowns on three straight drives to open the game to take a 20-6 halftime lead. 

Minnesota cut the deficit to seven on a 28-yard touchdown pass from Morgan to Tyler Johnson on the opening drive of the third quarter, bringing the Gophers to within a score, 20-13. 

A critical moment in the game came late in the third quarter on a 4th-and-4 for the Gophers deep in Iowa territory. Morgan's pass was dropped by Johnson, who took a late hit from an Iowa safety that resulted in an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. 

But instead of the penalty giving Minnesota a 1st-and-goal situation with a chance to tie the game, they ended up with a turnover on downs because head coach P.J. Fleck was also flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for running onto the field. 

Win or lose, the break after the first quarter was the best moment of the game as both teams and fans waved to patients at the Children's Hospital that looks down on the stadium. 

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