EVANSTON, Ill. -- Ailing head coach Jerry Kill watched from the coaches' box as Minnesota turned two second half turnovers into scores en route to a 20-17 Big Ten victory over Northwestern Saturday afternoon.
The Gophers (5-2, 1-2) snapped a two-game losing streak as James Manuel broke a 7-7 tie with a 24-yard third quarter interception return and Chris Hawthorne turned another Wildcat turnover into a 34-yard field goal in the fourth.
Host Northwestern (4-3, 0-3) dropped its third straight.
Kill, on indefinite leave after a series of epileptic seizures, watched Manuel picked off Wildcat quarterback Trevor Siemian with 1:22 for a go-ahead score. The Gophers made it 17-7 just 87 seconds later on Hawthorne's field goal after recovering a Wildcat fumble.
Hawthorne's 38-yard field goal with 5:24 remaining made it 20-10. Northwestern cut the deficit to 20-17 on a 10-yard touchdown strike from Siemian to Tony Jones with 2:07 remaining.
Siemian completed 25 of 46 passes for 234 yards but was picked off twice and fumbled once. Jones had eight catches for 84 yards.
Northwestern opened the scoring on Stephen Buckley's first career touchdown with 1:53 left in the first quarter. Buckley's 3-yard score capped a drive on which he had a 33-yard reception and an 11-yard run.
Minnesota tied the game at 7-7 as Nelson hit Engel hit on a 29-yard touchdown pass with 6:48 left in the first half.
Hawthorne's try for a go-ahead 44-yard field goal just before halftime sailed wide left.
Minnesota's defense shut down a promising Northwestern drive deep into Gopher territory early in the final frame. The Wildcats settled for a 35-yard Jeff Budzien field goal that cut the Gopher lead to 17-10 with 11:09 left in regulation.
After Hawthorne's second field goal, Northwestern converted on three fourth downs in a 75-yard scoring drive that culminated in Jones' 10-yard TD reception.
Kill didn't coach for the second straight game. Kill and his wife, Rebecca, drove down from Minneapolis and arrived just before the game. He reportedly addressed the Gophers at halftime.
Tracy Claeys has served as head coach in Kill's absence.
Minnesota hosts Nebraska next Saturday while Northwestern travels to Iowa.
Nike Men's Minnesota Golden Gophers Maroon/Gold Team Issue Performance PoloShop
Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher hopes quarterback Sean Maguire is ready to go full speed by the middle of June.
Graduate transfer quarterback Davis Webb has officially joined California, giving the Golden Bears an experienced option to replace No. 1 overall NFL draft pick Jared Goff.
First-year football coach Dino Babers, hired by former Syracuse AD Mark Coyle, is on the committee that will search for Coyle's replacement.
Hugh Freeze has some major holes to fill on offense with the departures of Laremy Tunsil and Laquon Treadwell, but there is Chady Kelly and good depth.
After transferring in from Montana State, Dakota Prukop has a checklist he's working from as he prepares to compete for the Oregon job.
The destination for Week 6 of the Big 12 Ultimate Road Trip is unanimous, as all three conference reporters would head to the Red River Rivalry.