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Gophers avoid upset with 28-21 win over South Dakota State

Gophers need fourth quarter comeback for season-opening victory.
Credit: KARE

MINNEAPOLIS — Mohamed Ibrahim plunged up the middle for a 1-yard touchdown run with 5:39 remaining and the Minnesota Gophers avoided an upset with a 28-21 win at home against FCS South Dakota State on Thursday night.

Winston DeLattiboudere recovered a fumbled exchange between South Dakota State quarterback J'Bore Gibbs and running back Pierre Strong with the Jackrabbits holding a 21-20 lead in the fourth quarter. Minnesota capped a five-play, 34-yard drive with Ibrahim's touchdown to pull ahead and extend the nation's longest winning streak of nonconference games at 16 in a row.

Tanner Morgan was 13-of-18 passing for 176 yards, one touchdown and one interception for the Gophers, who also narrowly escaped with a 16-13 win over South Dakota State in 2009. Rashod Bateman had five catches for 132 yards, including a one-handed, 42-yard touchdown pass from Morgan in the first half.   

In his first start for the Jackrabbits in replacing Taryn Christion, the program's all-time leading passer, Gibbs was 13 of 26 for 193 yards passing and a touchdown and he added another touchdown rushing. But the redshirt freshman threw an interception that was returned 43 yards for a touchdown by Chris Williamson.


South Dakota State: The Jackrabbits - ranked third and fourth, respectively, in the two major preseason FCS polls - were looking to be the latest FCS team to post a win over an FBS team. Nicholls State was the last FCS team to beat a Power 5 conference team when it beat Kansas last season. North Dakota State was the last FCS team to beat a Big Ten opponent when it handed No. 13 Iowa a loss in 2016. Mistakes ultimately proved the difference. South Dakota State had the fumbled handoff and the interception returned for a touchdown. It also had a kickoff return for a touchdown nullified due to a penalty.

Minnesota: The Gophers can exhale. This was not the start Minnesota fans likely envisioned, another lackluster performance against a neighboring school. But the Gophers come away with a win. The defense will need examining after giving up 367 yards. And Minnesota will need more from its running game that accounted for 132 yards on Thursday.


South Dakota State: Four straight home games await the Jackrabbits, who will host LIU on Sept. 7.

Minnesota: The Gophers will go on the road to face Fresno State next week.