Blog: McKnight, Stoudermire have career days in loss

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McKnight Has Career Day in Loss
By Michael Molde

MINNEAPOLIS -- Wide receiver Da'Jon McKnight had a career-best effort in Minnesota's 28-21 loss to New Mexico State on Saturday, catching nine passes for 146 yards and a touchdown. But it was difficult to focus on any individual accomplishments after what took place late in the fourth quarter.
Go Gophers! McKnight
Go Gophers!
Da'Jon McKnight had a career-high 9 catches for 146 yards Saturday.
Go Gophers!

With 0:20 remaining in the loss to the Aggies, Gophers head coach Jerry Kill collapsed on the sideline from what doctors described as a reoccurrence of a seizure disorder. He was immediately attended to by medical personnel. Team doctor Pat Smith said his vital signs were normal as he was transported by ambulance to a local hospital for further observation.

Following a lengthy delay while Kill was being treated on the sideline, the Gophers took the field for a 4th and 10 from NMSU's 25 yard line. But Minnesota's final pass attempt was batted down to allow the Aggies to win their first game in seven tries against a Big Ten opponent.

"It was hard going back out there," McKnight said. "But we knew we had to go out there and finish the game. We knew (Coach) Kill would want us to go out there and score and win the game. We tried to give it our all to go out there and score."

It was the fourth career 100-yard receiving game for McKnight, a 6-3 senior from Dallas, Texas (Skyline HS). He had five receptions for 74 yards in the first half, and added four balls for 72 yards and a four-yard scoring strike from junior quarterback MarQueis Gray with 11:47 remaining in the game to pull the Gophers within seven points.

McKnight, who was limited to four catches for 48 yards in the season-opening loss at nationally-ranked Southern California, helped Minnesota come close to rallying from a pair of 14-point deficits, but the Gophers fell just short at the end.

The Gophers threw for 238 yards in the loss, with Gray completing 16-of-32 passes for 211 yards and two TDs, and true freshman Max Shortell completing two-of-seven passes for 27 yards when Gray was being treated for cramps early in the second half.

Stoudermire sets Big Ten return record
Go Gophers! Stoudermire
Go Gophers!
Troy Stoudermire set the Big Ten record for career return yards Saturday.
Go Gophers!

By Justine Buerkle

MINNEAPOLIS - With a 22-yard kickoff return to open the second half, Troy Stoudermire broke the Big Ten Conference career record for kick return yardage. The Golden Gopher senior surpassed the 3,025-yard mark set by Wisconsin's David Gilreath. With Minnesota falling to New Mexico State, 28-21, and head coach Jerry Kill leaving the game with a medical issue, this record-breaking performance provided a bright spot on a tough day for the Gophers.

After starting today's game at 3,001, Stoudermire's career total now stands at 3,066 kick return yards. He is only the second player in conference history to reach the 3,000-yard milestone. In today's game, he returned three kicks, the longest one being a 24-yarder after he had already broken the record. He added an interception in the second quarter.

During his Minnesota career, Stoudermire has switched positions between receiver and cornerback a few times. Through these changes, however, his role as a kick returner has remained consistent since the very first game of his freshman season. In the Gophers' 2008 season opener, Stoudermire returned two kicks for a total of 74 yards. By the end of the season, he had broken Minnesota's single-season records for returns (42) and return yards (1,083) and become the Big Ten's season-leading kick returner.

Stoudermire's sophomore year totals were as impressive as the previous year's. He returned 43 kicks for 1,057 yards while contributing as a wide receiver, as he had for most of his freshman year. During his junior year, he played primarily at cornerback, where he is starting this year. Stoudermire recorded 789 kick return yards as a junior.

He came into his senior year 97 yards shy of the record, and cut that amount to 26 after the opener against USC. With at least 10 games left for the Gophers in the 2011-12 season, Stoudermire will have plenty of chances to extend his Big Ten record. Stoudermire may even have a chance at the NCAA record. Current Tulsa Hurricanes senior Damaris Johnson holds the FBS record now with 3,417 yards, but he has been suspended indefinitely.

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