The University of Minnesota football team cruised to a 49-10 victory over Tulsa in its season opener at the Metrodome on Saturday night. The Golden Gophers opened up a 35-0 lead in the first half and never looked back. Minnesota will host Troy State next Saturday at the Metrodome.
After Minnesota's opening drive stalled, Tulsa drove down the field deep into Golden Gopher territory, but Golden Hurricane kicker Brad DeVault missed a 31 yard field goal.
After that, it was all Minnesota. On third and six from their own 24, Asad Abdul-Khaliq found Jared Ellerson for a 26 yard gain. Behing the rushing of Minnesota's triple threat, Terry Jackson II, Thomas Tapeh and Marion Barber III, the Golden Gophers drove down the field and Barber capped off the drive with a one yard touchdown leap.
Leading 7-0, the Golden Gophers exploded for 28 points in the second quarter. Barber scored two more touchdowns from 12 and four yards out. Abdul-Khaliq added a pair of touchdown passes to Aaron Hosack and finished the half with a Hail Mary touchdown pass to Ellerson from 48 yards out.
In the third period, Jackson made his way into the end zone from 19 yards out to make it 42-0 Minnesota.
Tulsa finished the game with a strong fourth quarter as quarterback James Killian finished off a 50 yard drive with a one yard touchdown run. Minnesota responded again as Benji Kamrath connected with Ellerson for a 20 yard score. The Golden Hurricane closed out the scoring with a 30 yard field goal by DeVault.
Abdul-Khaliq played well for Minnesota as he finished the game 13 for 17 with 204 yards and two touchdown passes. Kamrath played extensively and finished 3 for 9 for 73 yards and a touchdown pass.
With receiver Paris Hamilton sidelined for the season, Ellerson made his presence known early. He finished with seven catches for 156 yards and two touchdowns. Hosack had five catches for 51 yards, while Ben Utecht had a pair of catches for 51 yards. Utecht also saw his first action at punter and finished with three punts for a 38.0 average, including a booming 47 yarder.
Tapeh led the way on the ground for Minnesota with 16 carries for 75 yards. In addition to his three touchdowns, Barber finished with 48 yards on eight carries, while Jackson had 59 yards on eight carries. True freshman Laurence Maroney had 43 yards on 10 carries. Minnesota rushed for 254 yards on the day.
Minnesota will host Troy State next weekend at the Metrodome. Game time is 7 p.m.
Minnesota 49, Tulsa 10
August 30, 2003
Minnesota Head Coach Glen Mason
"It's hard for me to say but I'm not pleased with the 49-10 win. Obviously it was our goal to win this game and we did that. Season openers are tough because you never know how your team is going to perform. We definitely weren't perfect. But the good thing is that all of our mistakes are fixable."
"Our goal is to be a better team in week two than we were in week one. By week 11, we definitely should be a better team than we are right now."
"It's hard for college teams not playing an exhibition meaning that your first game is going to be full of mistakes. We had a lot of mistakes tonight which I guess is fine but Tulsa didn't make as many mistakes as us."
"Is was really impressed with Tulsa. Their quarterback (James Kilian) was very poised and really hung in there. He battled us the whole game. Obviously we're a stronger team than Tulsa and our talent edge over them prevailed after we made our adjustments."
"We have four running backs that are dangerous in different capacities. If you give them room, they are going to kill you. The best thing is that they all do it in a different way. It was good to see MBIII (Marion Barber) out there healthy again. I was looking at a tape of him his freshman year and comparing that with what I saw tonight, he's grown into a more complete football player and doesn't look like a little kid anymore. He was very explosive tonight."
"None of my teams here have ever kicked off better than they did tonight. The ball was high every time and really deep. I put a lot of pressure on the kickers during practice and I think they responded quite well. I felt Utecht did a great job in his first game as a punter."
"There is no doubt about it that Rhys Lloyd would be my kickoff guy. The first time I saw him kick, he didn't just kick it through the uprights, he kicked it into the baseball diamond. In a short time, this kid has shown me that he can make the tough kicks. He made a 62-yarder in practice and if he missed, the team would have to run double-conditioning the next day but he nailed it."
"I believe the stakes are overlooked in victories too often and overemphasized in losses but I try to stress to my team is that mistakes are what they are. They all have to be evaluated the same way whether it's a win or a loss because no matter what, the bottom line is that they have to be corrected."
Minnesota quarterback Asad Abdul-Khaliq
"Our running game was really clicking tonight. With the luxury of having three great running backs, it really opens up the passing game for me and makes the defense play honest. I think the success that Jared Ellerson had tonight was an effect of how successful we were running the ball."
"First games can't be perfect. But what you want to get is to look at the end result and see that you did most things right. I'm not overly excited how we played but I'm content with how we played."
Minnesota running back Thomas Tapeh
"This is a great start to our season. I think it showed all the work that a lot of us have put in this summer gearing up for what we all know is going to be a great season. The blocking was especially great tonight. As a running back, you can't ask for anything else from your offensive line than we got tonight."
"The great thing about having three good running backs on a team is that you can feed off of each other. When one of us gets tired and comes out, another is right there to pick us up. When one of us scores a touchdown, the other two are the first ones to congratulate us on the sidelines. We're all so close."
Minnesota kicker Rhys Lloyd
"I would have liked to get a couple of my kickoffs back but overall I'm really glad to be a Golden Gopher and everything worked out the way it did."
Minnesota running back Marion Barber III
"I definitely have more experience this year than last year because of Thomas (Tapeh) and Terry Jackson. They have taught me a lot, I couldn't ask for better guys to be helping me out."
"The offensive line was great today. We couldn't have run as well today if it wasn't for them. There were great holes everywhere I looked."
"Our confidence was high. The two-a-day practices really got us ready for the game and Coach Mason really had us prepared."