The Gophers relied on the ground game to defeat Eastern Michigan 25-6 and earn a non-conference win – Twin Cities

The Gophers’ offense threw more passes in the season-opening win over Nebraska than in any other game in head coach PJ Fleck’s seven-year tenure.

They put their fist on the scale Saturday night against Eastern Michigan at Huntington Bank Stadium.

After Athan Kaliakmanis threw 44 passes in the comeback win over the Cornhuskers – the most since Mitch Leidner in 2015 – Minnesota ran the ball 56 times for 296 yards and two touchdowns in a 25-6 victory on Saturday.

True freshman tailback Darius Taylor took advantage of the expanded opportunity presented by Bryce Williams’ injury. Taylor finished the game with 33 carries, 193 yards and a touchdown.

Gophers starting tailback Sean Tyler had 17 carries for 93 yards before Taylor took over in the second half. Tyler rushed for 69 yards in the first quarter after rushing for 41 yards on 10 carries against Nebraska. The Western Michigan transfer had rushed for more than 52 yards in three Mid-American Conference games against Eastern Michigan.

The Gophers (2-0) were 20-point favorites and dominated their Mid-American Conference opponent in the third quarter, outscoring them 120-11 and 10-0. Things continued in the fourth quarter. With three sacks and one interception, the Eagles managed a total of four yards after halftime.

Kaliakmanis attempted just 15 passes and completed 10 for 117 yards. But one of his top targets, Brevyn Spann-Ford, spent more than 20 minutes in the injury tent after suffering a serious blow late in the game.

Eastern Michigan (1-1), which upset Arizona State last year, was blocked by Eli Mau, who went beyond the back of the end zone for a safety. It was the USA’s first blocked punt since 2020.

Minnesota should have scored a lot more; four drives that reached the end zone but ended with no touchdowns.

The Gophers’ offense improved over the course of the first half, but for the second straight day they had just three series before halftime.

On Saturday’s opening drive, the U came inside Eastern Michigan’s 5. The U tried on fourth-and-1, but Kaliakmanis ran barefoot and was stopped for a loss.

On the second drive, the U stalled in the red zone again, but Dragan Kesich managed a 24-yard chip shot.

On the third drive, Taylor capped a 93-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run. It was his first career college touchdown.

Eastern Michigan also improved as the half progressed. The first two drives were punished with punts, the later two drives ended with field goals and a 10-6 deficit. The Gophers relied on the ground game to defeat Eastern Michigan 25-6 and earn a non-conference win – Twin Cities

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