The 19th-ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers (8-2, 4-2) racked up 435 rushing yards and rushed for six touchdowns as it defeated Indiana (1- 8, 0-5) in its homecoming game 55-7 on Saturday, Nov. 1 at the Metrodome. The 48-point victory was the largest Big Ten victory for Minnesota since it won by the same margin over Iowa on Nov. 11, 1949.
Minnesota's 435 rushing yards was the fourth-highest rushing total in school history. Laurence Maroney (St. Louis, Mo.) paced the Golden Gopher rushing attack with 164 yards on 18 carries. Marion Barber III (Plymouth, Minn.) racked up 107 yards in 17 carries for Minnesota, and also totaled 219 all-purpose yards for the game.
The defense gave Minnesota the early momentum when Justin Fraley (Cleveland, Ohio) sacked and forced a fumble on Indiana quarterback Graeme McFarland , which John Pawielski (Waupaca, Wis.) picked up and returned for a touchdown to give the Golden Gophers a 6-0 lead with 13:59 remaining in the first quarter.
Barber took a one-yard option toss from quarterback Asad Abdul-Khaliq (Elizabeth, N.J.) to give Minnesota a 13-0 lead with 5:44 remaining in the first quarter. The Golden Gophers opened up the lead to 20-0 on a Thomas Tapeh (St. Paul, Minn.) four-yard touchdown run with 13:05 left in the second quarter.
Indiana cut the lead to 20-7 when Chris Taylor capped off a 16-play, 69-yard drive with a three-yard touchdown run with 6:36 left in the second quarter. Minnesota answered right back with a 14-play, 80-yard touchdown drive, which was capped off by a five-yard touchdown pass from Khaliq to Ben Utecht (Hastings, Minn.) to make it 27-7 with 2:18 remaining in the second quarter.
After the Minnesota defense forced the Hoosier offense into punting after a three-and-out drive, Maroney scored on a 17-yard touchdown run with 1:23 left to give the Golden Gophers a 34-7 halftime lead. Minnesota jumped out to a 41-7 lead with 8:26 left in the third quarter on a 13-yard end-around by touchdown run by Jared Ellerson. Tapeh scored on a one-yard touchdown run with 29 seconds remaining to move the score to 48-7. The Golden Gophers ended the scoring for the game when Benji Kamrath (Mayville, Wis.) scored on a bootleg run from one-yard out to cap off a 16-play drive, which took eight minutes and 11 seconds off the clock.
Ellerson finished the game with 49 rushing yards and 37 receiving yards, along with a touchdown. Tapeh had 65 rushing yards in 14 carries, along with two touchdown. Khaliq was nine-for-13 with 66 passing yards and a touchdown pass.
The Golden Gophers are now 8-2 for the first time since the 1967 season.
Minnesota will be back in action on Saturday, Nov. 8 as it hosts Wisconsin at 11 a.m. at the Metrodome.
Minnesota 55, Indiana 7
November 1, 2003
Minnesota head coach Glen Mason
"Anytime you win a Big Ten game 55-7, you have to be happy. We had a great second half. Even though we had a sizeable lead at halftime, I felt our play in the first half left a lot to be desired. We were sloppy and not clicking on all cylinders like I would have liked. I am very pleased on the way we picked it up in the second half."
"We are really running the ball well right now. Right now, I would say we are a great running football team. The only thing we've been missing is that we haven't been getting as many big runs as I would like. Yeah, we're getting 8-9 yards a crack but we're missing that 20- plus gainer."
"It's the end of the year. Guys are starting to get tired and banged up. We need to have a great week of practice and get ready for Saturday's game. We are playing a great Wisconsin Badgers team, the team that was the first team to knock off the defending national champions."
"Indiana is in the position that we used to be here. I have been there more times than I would like to admit so I know exactly their mindset. Even though we're up 34-7, a few plays later its 34-21 and it's a ball game. That's why you have to keep playing. That is what I preached to the team at halftime."
Minnesota free safety El i Ward
On the first Minnesota touchdown.
"That was big. That's what we've been trying to do on `D' - get turnovers and score some points."
On facing Wisconsin next weekend. "We need to prove to prove to fans and media what we already know, that we can win the close games."
Minnesota defensive tackle Da rrell Reid.
"Field position hurt them. They had some long drives, but we stopped them in the red zone and when they got past the 50-yard line."
Minnesota running back Lawrence Maroney
"The last few weeks the coaches have given me a chance and I don't want to waste my chance."
"We got back on track today. We are looking forward to Wisconsin. They are a great team. It's a rivalry game, so we have to practice hard."
Minnesota quarterback Asad Abdul-Khaliq
"It feels good to be where we are right now. We need to get prepared for the next two games because they are very important. Wisconsin is a big rivalry and Iowa is always a tough team."
"We've been trying to get everyone the ball and it's been nice to spread it around so everyone touches. And today we did a good job in that. Our experience and our talent has done good things for us and hopefully we'll finish the season on a high note."
"Our preparation this week won't be any different than it has been. We just need to work hard and focus and keep up the team morale."