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Big Ten: Minnesota erases hex

By Associated Press
Published September 25, 2005

MINNEAPOLIS - A familiar feeling washed over Glen Mason after his Gophers gave up a touchdown to Purdue in overtime.

"I was dreading having to go look in their eyes in the locker room and have to give them one of those talks that I've had to give too many times," the coach said. "We've kind of been snake-bitten against Purdue."

Maybe this season is going to be different for the Gophers. Saturday certainly was.

Gary Russell scored three touchdowns, the last a 3-yard run in the second overtime to lift Minnesota to a 42-35 victory that snapped a seven-game losing streak to the 11th-ranked Boilermakers.

Laurence Maroney put himself in the thick of the Heisman Trophy race with a career-high 217 yards rushing on 46 carries for the Gophers, who held on in another thrilling back-and-forth game between these rivals.

"Maybe this is payback for all those close games in the past few years," said quarterback Bryan Cupito, who threw for 271 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions. "It feels great to win this game. We finally beat Purdue! I hope people start to realize that we're a legit team."

Purdue had a chance to tie in the second overtime, but Jerod Void was stuffed on third and 1 from the 17, and Brandon Kirsch's fourth-down pass glanced off Charles Davis' hands. The Gophers charged the field in celebration of Mason's first victory over Purdue in seven tries as their coach.

Kory Sheets rushed for 101 yards for Purdue, and his 5-yard touchdown gave the Boilermakers a 35-28 lead in the first overtime.

But the Gophers came right back and tied on Cupito's 8-yard pass to Logan Payne.

The Gophers took the ball to start the second overtime, and Cupito hit Payne on a 15-yard pass to set up Russell's winning score two plays later.

It was a bit of vindication for Mason and the Gophers, who have been criticized for scheduling weak opponents in nonconference play, then folding against superior competition in the Big Ten.

That has especially been the case against the Boilermakers, who beat Minnesota 35-28 in overtime in 2001.

"I hate overtime," Mason said. "I love double overtime."

The Gophers nearly let this one slip away, too, during a wild fourth quarter.

Kirsch's 8-yard strike to Andre Chattams with 6:39 left gave the Boilermakers their first lead of the game at 21-20.

Linebacker Dan Bick returned an interception 29 yards for a touchdown on the next series to extend the lead to 28-20.

The Gophers came right back after Ben Jones kicked the ball out of bounds. They drove 65 yards in 12 plays, culminating with an 8-yard scoring pass from Cupito to Matt Spaeth. Cupito then kept the ball on an option play to the right and plunged in for the two-point conversion to tie with 1:34 left.

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