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(Thursday, August 29)
Final Score: Minnesota 51, UNLV 23
Minneapolis, MN (Sports Network) - Philip Nelson threw for one touchdown and ran for two more as the Minnesota Golden Gophers crushed the UNLV Rebels, 51-23, in non-conference action at TCF Bank Stadium.
Nelson converted 10-of-22 passes for 99 yards and was intercepted once, but also ran for a team-best 83 yards and two scores for the Golden Gophers (1-0) as they defeated UNLV (0-1) for the second time in as many seasons.
Rebels quarterback Nick Sherry was busy all night, converting 35-of-50 for 226 yards and two touchdowns, but he was sacked once and had a pair of attempts picked off, not to mention running six times for a net of just four yards in the setback.
The Rebels scored the first points of the contest when Tin Cornett reached the end zone on a 26-yard run in the first quarter, but a blocked PAT left the visitors with a 6-0 edge.
Later in the first Minnesota kicker Chris Hawthorne cut the deficit in half with a 25-yard field goal. The Gophers took the lead in the second on a 48- yard scoring run by Nelson.
UNLV responded later in the period with a 34-yard TD pass from Sherry to Devante Davis and this time converted the PAT in order to take a 13-10 advantage.
Before the end of the first half, Nelson hooked up with Maxx Williams on a 10- yard TD strike, but the hosts missed their PAT this time around, leaving them with a 16-13 advantage at the break.
The Gophers opened the second half with a thrilling 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Marcus Jones to make the score 23-13. The special teams struck again in the quarter for Minnesota as Martez Shabazz returned a blocked field goal 51 yards for a score as well.
Before the third period could end, UNLV did manage to respond with a 32-yard field goal by Nolan Kohorst to make the score 30-16.
However, with the Rebels driving deep in Minnesota territory in the fourth period, Minnesota's Briean Boddy-Calhoun stepped in front of a Sherry pass and returned it 89 yards for yet another Gopher touchdown.
On the ensuing UNLV possession, Sherry had a pass over the middle tipped and picked off by Antonio Johnson, setting up the Gophers at the 37-yard line. Eventually Nelson took it upon himself to add to the lead, crossing the goal line from five yards out to cap an eight-play drive and make the score 44-16.
Refusing to go away quietly, Sherry brought the visitors back down the field minutes later, with Taylor Barnhill taking a small bite out of the hefty deficit with a one-yard TD run.
But the Golden Gophers kept the pressure on, pushing the lead back to four touchdowns when Mitch Leidner scored on a four-yard run with just 42 seconds left on the clock.
The 51 points scored by Minnesota are the most since the squad delivered a 63-26 win over Indiana in Big Ten Conference action back in 2006.
08/29 23:43:45 ET
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