New year, same result as the Golden Gophers (8-5) lost to the Missouri Tigers (11-3) 33-17 in the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida Thursday afternoon.
The Gophers haven't won a bowl game since defeating Alabama in the 2004 Music City Bowl.
Missouri has 23 wins the past two seasons, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. It was Minnesota's first New Year's Day bowl game in more than 50 years.
Minnesota jumped out to an early 7-0 lead in the first quarter on a 20-yard rushing touchdown by seldomly used junior tailback Roderick Williams Jr. The burst came after the Gophers intercepted Missouri quarterback Maty Mauk for the second time in as many drives. It was Williams' only carry of the game.
The 16th-ranked Tigers, the runner-up in the SEC, failed to score until Andrew Baggett connected on a 21-yard field goal midway through the second quarter. Missouri took a 10-7 lead into the half after a 25-yard touchdown pass from Mauk to wide receiver Bud Sasser. Another 33-yard field goal from Baggett gave the Tigers a 13-7 lead early in the third quarter.
The play of the game, maybe the year for the Gophers, took place a couple of minutes later when Gophers quarterback Mitch Leidner hit tight end Maxx Williams on a 54-yard touchdown, giving Minnesota a 14-13 lead. Williams, a former quarterback for Waconia High School, hurdled two defenders before reaching the end zone.
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Twitter erupted with excited after Williams scored. The Star Tribune gathered some of the best reactions to the impressive play.
It's been reported that Williams, a redshirt sophomore, will enter the NFL Draft. He didn't confirm the report after the game, only saying he would make a decision soon.
Williams' highlight reel touchdown was as close to victory the Gophers would come. Just two minutes later Mauk barreled over Gophers safety Derrick Wells at the goal line for an 18-yard rushing touchdown. Wells suffered a concussion on the play and didn't return. Missouri added a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter – a 78-yard run by Russell Hansbrough and a seven-yard strike from Mauk to Sasser for the final nails in Minnesota's coffin.
Minnesota's team MVP, David Cobb, finished with 81 yards on 21 carries and no touchdowns. Leidner was 21-of-31 for 258 yards and one touchdown. Williams caught seven passes for 98 yards and a touchdown.
For Missouri, Hansbrough rushed for 114 yards, finishing second on his team behind Marcus Murphy, who ripped off 158 yards on 12 carries. Missouri rushed for 337 yards to the Gophers' 106.