The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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October 26, 2013

Nelson, Gophers upset No. 25 Nebraska 34-23


They even sidestepped an ominous start, when Martinez hit Kenny Bell in stride for a 42-yard completion and Imani Cross finished the six-play drive with a short touchdown run. The Gophers went three-and-out, and the Huskers followed with a 45-yard field goal by Smith to make it 10-0.

But then the game took a forceful turn toward the home team. Leidner scored on a sneak to cap a commanding 13-play march. Nelson came in for the next possession and, on fourth-and-10 from the 33, flicked a perfect pass over the top of the defense to an outstretched Derrick Engel. He tumbled into the end zone for a 14-10 advantage, the first lead by the Gophers over the Huskers in this series since 1969.

Yes, 1969.

The Gophers had gone 11 straight matchups with the Huskers, including each of the last two years as Big Ten games, without holding a lead, let alone getting a win.

Hawthorne added a field goal after Abdullah fumbled and Cedric Thompson recovered at the Nebraska 47. Then in the third quarter, Nelson started a drive with a 21-yard pass to tight end Drew Goodger, who was open on play-action fakes all afternoon, and finished it with a sneak from the 1 to put the Gophers up 24-13.

Senior Ed Olson, bothered by ankle problems the last two seasons, was back at left tackle to lead a strong push at the line for Cobb and Nelson.

On the other side, the Huskers were missing senior right guard Spencer Long, lost for the season with a knee injury in their last game. They had a hard time keeping the Gophers out of the backfield. Martinez was off target with a lot of throws, too.

They finally found a rhythm at the end of the third quarter, fueled by a 35-yard, twisting-and-spinning run by Martinez to set up a short touchdown pass to Sam Cotton that cut Minnesota's lead to 27-20. The thousands of red-clad Nebraska fans, who filled at least one-third of the 50,000 seats, snapped to life in celebration.

The Huskers had another long drive, but Martinez's third-down pass to the corner of the end zone for Quincy Enunwa fell incomplete as the senior slipped, forcing a third field goal by Pat Smith.


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