The Gopher football program's drive for a bowl game took a hit Saturday afternoon at TCF Bank Stadium as they fell to Northwestern 21-13 on homecoming.
The Gophers fumbled the opening kickoff, then allowed Venrick Mark to scamper 26 yards for a touchdown. Not exactly the start the squad was looking for coming off of their loss to Iowa.
Following a Minnesota field goal, the Wildcats marched down field and scored again on a Kain Colter two yard run. The score was set up on a Gopher pass interference penalty on a third down play that would have forced a Northwestern field goal. Instead, they took advantage and punched the ball in taking a 14-3 lead.
MarQueis Gray made his return to the lineup in the first quarter catching a pass from Max Shortell for 16 yards. It was the damage he did with his legs that got the Gophers back into the game. Coming back from an ankle injury that sidelined him for three weeks, Gray orchestrated a beautiful 10 play drive that culminated in a 25 yard touchdown run to cut the Wildcat lead to 14-10.
Following a Gray interception, the Wildcats went back to work and it was Mark again, this time from 48 yard touchdown run to push the lead to 21-10. Mark rushed for 151 yards on 11 carries in the first half.
The defense held the Wildcats in the second half, but the offense couldn't take advantage and failed to move the ball after Gray exited the game with what coach Jerry Kill called a lower ankle injury in the third quarter.
The Gophers drove the field late in the fourth quarter, but on fourth and goal Shortell's pass sailed over the head of freshman wide receiver Andre McDonald.
With the loss, the Gophers fall to 4-2 on the season and 0-2 in Big 10 play. They travel to Madison next Saturday to take on the Badgers.