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Associated Press, Published October 19 2013

Kill watches as Gophers beat Northwestern on the road

EVANSTON, Ill. – Minnesota coach Jerry Kill may be on a health-related leave but he wasn’t about be stuck at home Saturday.

So Kill hopped in a car with his wife, Rebecca, at the wheel and arrived at Northwestern’s Ryan Field in time to give his Golden Gopher team an unexpected lift.

With the third-year coach watching from the coaches’ box, Minnesota rallied in the second half to upend the host Wildcats 20-17.

“If the coach can make the effort to get here and drive, we can dig a little bit deeper and play just a little bit harder,” acting Gophers coach Tracy Claeys said. “It would be special to be able to finish it off. I’m so proud of them that they did that against a good football team.”

Kill, sidelined indefinitely as he deals with recent series of epileptic seizures, addressed his players at halftime and after the game.

“We saw him at halftime and it was shocker,” linebacker James Manuel said. “And then at the end of the game it was a special moment for the team, as a whole, hearing him speak. Having his presence there just really gave us a tremendous boost going into the second half.”

The Gophers (5-2, 1-2) turned two second-half turnovers into scores as they snapped a two-game losing streak en route to their first Big Ten win.

Manuel broke a 7-7 tie with a 24-yard third-quarter interception return and Chris Hawthorne turned another Wildcat turnover into a 34-yard field goal in the fourth.

Kill watched Manuel pick off Wildcats quarterback Trevor Siemian with 1 minute 22 seconds for a go-ahead score. The Gophers made it 17-7 just 87 seconds later on Hawthorne’s field goal after recovering a Wildcats fumble.

Hawthorne’s 38-yard field goal with 5:24 remaining made it 20-10. Northwestern cut the deficit to 20-17 on a 10-yard touchdown strike from Siemian to Tony Jones with 2:07 remaining.

Minnesota 0 7 7 6 – 20

Northwestern 7 0 0 10 – 17

First Quarter

NU – Buckley 3 run (Budzien kick), 1:53.

Second Quarter

Minn – Engel 29 pass from Nelson (Hawthorne kick), 6:48.

Third Quarter

Minn – Manuel 24 interception return (Hawthorne kick), 1:22.

Fourth Quarter

Minn – FG Hawthorne 34, 14:55.

NU – FG Budzien 35, 11:09.

Minn – FG Hawthorne 38, 5:24.

NU – T.Jones 10 pass from Siemian (Budzien kick), 2:07.

A – 36,587.

Minn NU

First downs 16 20

Rushes-yards 49-176 26-94

Passing 123 234

Comp-Att-Int 9-14-0 25-46-2

Return Yards 39 16

Punts-Avg. 7-44.7 6-35.5

Fumbles-Lost 1-0 1-1

Penalties-Yards 9-89 5-40

Time of Possession 35:15 24:45

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING: Minnesota, Cobb 20-103, Mi.Leidner 7-27, Nelson 9-26,

Kirkwood 10-26, Harbison 1-(minus 2), Team 2-(minus 4). Northwestern,

Buckley 9-58, Green 9-34, T.Jones 1-11, Trumpy 3-4,

Siemian 4-(minus 13).

PASSING: Minnesota, Nelson 8-11-0-112, Mi.Leidner 1-3-0-11.

Northwestern, Siemian 25-46-2-234.

RECEIVING: Minnesota, Engel 2-42, Wolitarsky 2-28, Henry 2-21,

Cobb 1-21, Fruechte 1-8, Kirkwood 1-3. Northwestern, T.Jones 8-84,

C.Jones 5-53, Trumpy 4-25, Vitale 3-13, Dickerson 2-28, Lawrence 1-16,

Green 1-8, K.Prater 1-7.