Minnesota’s game was all about offense Saturday, scoring 58 points and gaining 593 yards, in a 30-point victory over visiting Indiana State.
The Gophers led the Sycamores by just one touchdown after the first quarter in Saturday’s game. After that, Minnesota went on to produce a huge offensive output, with their most points in a game since 2006, for a final score of 58-28 at TCF Bank Stadium.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve gotten out to that good of an offensive start,” said head coach Tracy Claeys. “[Quarterback Mitch Leidner] threw the ball well and found the open receivers and so [I’m] very pleased offensively with how we played.”
Leidner had one of his best career games to date, throwing 295 yards and four touchdowns. Junior running back Kobe McCrary also had a stellar performance, running for 176 yards and two touchdowns.
After several false start penalties to open up the game, the Gophers drove down the field to take a 7-0 lead. The Sycamores came right back and scored on an 85-yard drive. The drive included a pass that hit off two different players before it was caught by the Sycamores’ Clayton Smith.
But it was all Minnesota after Indiana State’s first score. Redshirt sophomore Rodney Smith scored his third touchdown of the year on a 1-yard run in the first quarter.
Minnesota added to the lead when Leidner connected with Drew Wolitarsky in the second quarter to bring the score to 21-7.
Leidner added another touchdown pass before the half — this time to freshman Tyler Johnson. The touchdown was Johnson’s first of his collegiate career.
“[The] guys did a good job of running routes and getting open, and I think that when you are running routes at that depth, it gives the O-line a good idea of how long they have to hold their blocks for,” Leidner said. “I thought they did a great job of protecting for that.”
Junior Kobe McCrary also scored his first touchdown for the Gophers on a six-yard run to make it 35-7. Minnesota added a field goal to take a 38-7 lead heading into the second half.
Leidner added another touchdown pass in the second half. He tied a career high in passing touchdowns with four on the day.
He also excelled at spreading the ball around in the passing game. Leidner completed passes to nine different players on the day.
“We had a bad taste in our mouth after last week,” Leidner said. “We felt like we could have done some things better and to come out this week in practice and prepare extremely hard, I thought was huge and it really carried over into the game.”
Wolitarsky earned career highs in receiving yards with 125 and touchdown receptions with two.
“Most of those things are done in practice, so when the game comes, it becomes second nature,” Wolitarsky said. “It’s something that you’re used to and it’s something you’ve been practicing. I think that’s what it comes down to.”
McCrary had the final score of the day for the Gophers — a 50-yard touchdown to make the score 58-21. Indiana State scored one more touchdown but Minnesota held on from there.
“There were a lot of … kids getting their first touchdowns,” Claeys said. “[Offensively, we did] some things I’m real pleased with.”
Although Minnesota’s offense had a banner day, the defense gave up more than 20 points for the second consecutive week. Indiana State quarterbacks threw four touchdown passes with zero interceptions, and outscored Minnesota in the second half.
The Gophers also struggled to limit penalties. The Gophers committed 10 penalties for 85 yards against the Sycamores. Four occurred from false starts, and two others were personal fouls.
The Gophers finished with 292 rushing yards and 301 passing yards, totaling the sixth-most yards in school history.
“They kept getting points and didn’t quite get touchdowns but we’re getting to the point now where we get around the 30 yard-line, we’re getting points,” Claeys said. “Defensively we could have played better in the second half.”