Scores

Final

Minnesota 35

(3-1, 1-0 Big Ten)

Northwestern 24

(2-2, 0-1 Big Ten)

12:00 PM ET, September 26, 2009

Ryan Field, EVANSTON, IL

1 2 3 4 T
MINN 7 7 7 1435
NW 3 7 14 024

Top Performers

Passing: M. Kafka (NW) - 309 YDS, 2 TD, 1 INT

Rushing: D. Bennett (MINN) - 21 CAR, 89 YDS, 3 TD

Receiving: E. Decker (MINN) - 8 REC, 84 YDS, 2 TD

Bennett's 3 TDs power Minnesota past Northwestern

Associated Press

EVANSTON, Ill. -- Duane Bennett ran for three touchdowns and Adam Weber passed for two scores to lead Minnesota to a 35-24 victory over Northwestern on Saturday.

The Golden Gophers (3-1, 1-0 Big Ten) finally held on against Northwestern (2-2, 0-1) after losing to the Wildcats in the final seconds the two previous years.

They trailed briefly, 24-21, after Northwestern's Mike Kafka hit a leaping Brendan Mitchell with a 13-yard touchdown pass in the closing seconds of the third quarter.

Minnesota started the fourth with an 83-yard scoring drive, getting a 10-yard pass from Weber to Brandon Green on third down at the Northwestern 23 before Bennett ran it in from the 4. That made it 28-24 and Minnesota hung on from there.

Any chance Northwestern had at a comeback ended when Cedric McKinley stripped Mike Kafka as he dropped back to pass with the ball on the Wildcats 17 and recovered the fumble. That led to a 1-yard TD from Weber to Eric Decker, making it an 11-point game with 1:43 left.

The Gophers' D.L. Wilhite then stripped Kafka again as he dropped back and recovered the fumble with 1:26 to play, and this time, Minnesota escaped with a tense win.

Bennett ran for 89 yards and Weber threw for 186. He was intercepted once and threw both touchdowns to Eric Decker, who caught eight passes for 84 yards.

Kafka, who set a Big Ten record for a quarterback by rushing for 217 yards against Minnesota last year, had his moments for Northwestern. He was 32 of 47 with 309 yards after setting school marks by completing his first 16 passes and 83.3 percent in all in a 37-34 loss at Syracuse last week.

Minnesota picked itself up after falling 35-21 to California in a game that was tied in the fourth quarter, regrouping against a team that had caused it plenty of misery.

Northwestern rallied from 21 down to a 49-48 double overtime win in Evanston in 2007, and last year sent Minnesota into a season-ending tailspin with a 24-17 last-second victory.

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Team Stat Comparison

 
MINN
NW
1st Downs2223
Total Yards352373
Passing186309
Rushing16664
Penalties1-143-15
3rd Down Conversions8-149-17
4th Down Conversions0-21-1
Turnovers13
Possession31:4528:15

Passing Leaders

MinnesotaC/ATTYDSAVGTDINT
Weber15/261867.221
NorthwesternC/ATTYDSAVGTDINT
Kafka32/473096.621

Rushing Leaders

MinnesotaCARYDSAVGTDLG
Bennett21894.2313
Gray5336.6018
NorthwesternCARYDSAVGTDLG
Fields9434.8117
Schmidt6203.305

Receiving Leaders

MinnesotaRECYDSAVGTDLG
Decker88410.5221
Tow-Arnett56513.0020
NorthwesternRECYDSAVGTDLG
Markshausen67011.7022
Brewer34414.7124

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERMINNNW
TD12:49Duane Bennett 1 Yd Run (Eric Ellestad Kick) 70
FG04:03Stefan Demos 26 Yd 73
SECOND QUARTERMINNNW
TD07:44Duane Bennett 3 Yd Run (Eric Ellestad Kick) 143
TD04:27Arby Fields 2 Yd Run (Stefan Demos Kick) 1410
THIRD QUARTERMINNNW
TD07:16Eric Decker 16 Yd Pass From Adam Weber (Eric Ellestad Kick) 2110
TD04:43Andrew Brewer 24 Yd Pass From Mike Kafka (Stefan Demos Kick) 2117
TD00:06Brendan Mitchell 13 Yd Pass From Mike Kafka (Stefan Demos Kick) 2124
FOURTH QUARTERMINNNW
TD08:35Duane Bennett 4 Yd Run (Eric Ellestad Kick) 2824
TD01:43Eric Decker 1 Yd Pass From Adam Weber (Eric Ellestad Kick) 3524