MINNEAPOLIS (AP)Treyson Potts picked up for Minnesota where injured star Mo Ibrahim left off, rushing for 178 yards and two touchdowns in his first career start to help fend off Miami of Ohio 31-26 on Saturday.
Tanner Morgan connected with Dylan Wright and Daniel Jackson on scoring passes in the second quarter as the Gophers (1-1) took a 21-3 lead into halftime, before Redhawks (0-2) outgained them 128-15 in total yards in the third quarter to make a game of it down the stretch.
After Brett Gabbert threw to Jack Sorenson for a 23-yard touchdown that cut Minnesota’s lead to one point with 12:32 to go, freshman Bucky Irving bobbled the kickoff before returning it 43 yards. Potts took five straight handoffs to gain the remaining 53 yards and give the Gophers a cushion.
Tyler Nubin intercepted Gabbert’s third-down pass on the next drive to set up a 50-yard field goal by Matthew Trickett to make it 31-20.
Nubin broke up Gabbert’s fourth-down throw from the Minnesota 48, but the Redhawks kept the ball on a roughing-the-passer penalty on Rashad Cheney Jr. and scored on the next play when Mac Hippenhammer snagged Gabbert’s 33-yard toss in tight coverage in the end zone. The 2-point conversion play failed with 3:43 to go.
The Redhawks had two timeouts, but the Gophers had Potts and their experienced, imposing offensive line. Potts had five consecutive carries to drain the clock, finishing off the Redhawks with an 11-yard run on third-and-4 near midfield with 1:28 left.
Gabbert, the Freshman of the Year in the Mid-American Conference in 2019, missed the season-opening loss to seventh-ranked Cincinnati with an injury. The younger brother of former NFL quarterback Blaine Gabbert went 14 for 28 for 201 yards and carried six times for a team-leading 27 yards. A.J. Mayer, who struggled in his place last week, took a handful of snaps and scored on a short run in the third quarter. Graham Nicholson made field goals of 45 and 46 yards.
Morgan was 8 for 17 for 112 yards and no turnovers for the Gophers, who made Ibrahim their honorary captain. The 2020 Big Ten Running Back of the Year rolled himself out to midfield for the pregame coin flip on a scooter to support his surgically repaired lower left leg that was in a bright green cast nine days after his season ended on an ill-fated plant of his foot on the turf.
Miami: The Redhawks, who won the MAC in 2019, fell to 12-49-2 all-time against Big Ten teams. Their last such win was in 2003 against Northwestern.
Minnesota: Wright has given the Gophers a trusty target in his first year with the program after transferring from Texas A&M. Their top returning receiver, Chris Autman-Bell, missed his second straight game with a leg injury and ought to make Morgan more potent throwing the ball as the season progresses. The passing attack is going to have to be more consistent for the Gophers to win in the Big Ten, no matter how good Potts and his blockers might be.
Miami plays its home opener next Saturday against FCS foe Long Island.
Minnesota visits Colorado next Saturday. The Gophers have never beaten the Buffaloes, with their most recent of three matchups coming in 1992. They haven’t faced a Pac-12 team since a 48-14 victory at Oregon State in 2016 that was the second game of coach P.J. Fleck’s tenure.
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