Evanston, IL (SportsNetwork.com) - David Cobb rushed for 103 yards on 20 carries to help lead the Minnesota Golden Gophers to a 20-17 win over the Northwestern Wildcats in a Big Ten Conference showdown at Ryan Field.
Philip Nelson completed 8-of-11 passes for 112 yards and a touchdown for Minnesota (5-2, 1-2 Big Ten), which snapped a two-game losing streak. Derrick Engel tallied two receptions for 42 yards and was on the receiving end of Nelson's touchdown pass.
For Northwestern (4-3, 0-3), which has lost three straight since entering league play, Trevor Siemian was 25-of-46 for 234 yards and a touchdown, but he was hindered by a pair of interceptions, with one going the other way for a Minnesota touchdown. Tony Jones led all receivers with eight catches and 84 yards, including a fourth-quarter touchdown, and Stephen Buckley rushed nine times for 58 yards and a score
The first score of the contest came late in the first quarter, as Buckley capped off a seven-play, 72-yard drive for the Wildcats with a three-yard touchdown run.
The Gophers tied things up midway through the second quarter when Nelson hooked up with Engel on a 29-yard touchdown pass. Minnesota had an opportunity to take the lead at the end of the half, but Chris Hawthorne missed a 44-yard field goal attempt.
Minnesota gained momentum late in the third quarter on a huge defensive play when James Manuel intercepted a Siemian pass and returned it 24 yards for a touchdown.
The teams traded field goals early in the fourth quarter -- Hawthorne made a 34-yarder for Minnesota and Jeff Budzien connected from 35 yards out -- making the score 17-10 in favor of Minnesota.
The Gophers made it a two-score contest with 5:24 remaining when Hawthorne drilled a 38-yard field goal. Northwestern responded with a 14-play, 75-yard drive, capped off by a 10-yard touchdown pass from Siemian to Jones.
Minnesota got the ball back with just over two minutes left and was able to run the clock out to earn the victory. Nelson made the clinching first down by gaining seven yards on a 3rd-and-6 with 1:18 remaining.
The Gophers had more than 35 minutes of possession despite going just 4-of-13 on third down.
Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill, who began an indefinite leave of absence on Oct. 10 to deal with health issues, returned from an epilepsy clinic in Michigan earlier this week and watched the game from a private box. He will continue treatment at his Minneapolis home, and there's still no timetable for his return to the sideline.