MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Tanner Morgan passed for 302 yards and three touchdowns in his first career start, including the tiebreaking 67-yard scoring toss to Rashod Bateman with 1:34 remaining that gave Minnesota a 38-31 victory on a rainy Friday night after Indiana rallied with 22 straight fourth-quarter points.
Morgan, a redshirt freshman who replaced injured true freshman Zack Annexstad, completed 17 of 24 attempts for the Gophers (4-4, 1-4 Big Ten).
After Peyton Ramsey capped a third fourth-quarter touchdown drive for the Hoosiers (4-5, 1-5) with a 2-point conversion pass to Donavan Hale, the teams traded punts.
When Minnesota regained possession, Morgan dropped back on the first play and hit Bateman in stride on a go route up the hashmark. Indiana took over at its 25, but Ramsey fumbled it and Minnesota ran out the clock.
Ramsey went 29 for 44 for 232 yards, two scores and two interceptions. He ran eight times for 57 yards, and Stevie Scott had 18 carries for 96 yards and a touchdown.
With Annexstad held out with ankle and abdominal injuries, Morgan looked like a seasoned senior with an array of crisply thrown slant and post patterns while leading the Gophers on first-half touchdown drives of 77, 75 and 99 yards. Tyler Johnson caught two scoring passes and finished with 102 yards on five receptions, before leaving in the second half with an apparent injury.
Lost a little in the shuffle of the wild finish was the season debut for Minnesota running back Shannon Brooks, who tore his ACL in a winter workout. Brooks, who had 154 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries before hobbling off with another injury, was about to cross the goal line again with the Gophers leading 31-9 late in the third quarter after true freshman Jordan Howden picked off Ramsey. But Brooks lost his second fumble of the game, one of four Minnesota turnovers, and the Hoosiers recovered it at the 2.
While Ramsey and Scott helped spark the Indiana rally, Morgan lost his touch over a series of six possessions that ended in three punts, two fumbles and an interception to give Indiana space and time to tie it.
Indiana: While the late flourish was an admirable response to their flat first three quarters, the Hoosiers are headed for another losing record in coach Tom Allen’s second season. For a program that has only one winning finish and three bowl game appearances in the last 23 years, this was simply the kind of contest they needed to win. Heck, they were even slight favorites on the road, by 2½ points. Now, postseason play has become an improbable goal with a trip to fifth-ranked Michigan looming on Nov. 17 and the finale against surging rival Purdue.
Minnesota: Setting aside the sudden lapse that turned a romp into a touch-and-go finish, the Gophers emerged with an important feel-good, confidence-building win after a series of troubling performances in conference play. The number of injuries to key players has become an increasing concern, but the remaining two victories needed for bowl-game eligibility are attainable with a trip to struggling Illinois followed by consecutive home games against Purdue and Northwestern.
Indiana: Hosts Maryland on Nov. 10.
Minnesota: Plays at Illinois on Nov. 3.
(© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)