It wasn’t pretty, but Minnesota was good enough in a 17-3 win over Illinois on Saturday. In a battle of sluggish offenses, Minnesota running back Donnell Kirkwood did most of the work, rushing for 152 yards and two touchdowns. Kirkwood’s 3-yard run in the third quarter broke a 3-3 tie. He scored on a 12-yard run late in the fourth quarter to clinch the victory, giving his team its fourth straight win at Illinois.
Minnesota held Illinois to three total yards during the third quarter and the Golden Gophers now lead 10-3. Minnesota held the Fighting Illini to one yard on the ground during the quarter.
Minnesota’s Donnell Kirkwood ran for 73 yards in the quarter, and the two teams are tied 3-3 at the end of the second. The Golden Gophers tied things up at three when a 10-play, 75-yard drive ended after Jordan Wettstein made a 20-yard field goal. Minnesota’s drive was keyed by Kirkwood’s 48-yard run.
Fans were treated to more punts than points in the first quarter, and Illinois leads 3-0 at the end of the first quarter. The teams’ stale offenses boomed a total of four punts in the quarter. The Fighting Illini scored when Nick Immekus kicked a 19-yard field goal to cap a nine-play, 89-yard drive, giving Illinois the game’s first lead.
Minnesota’s defense shut down American University, as the Golden Gophers defeated the Eagles 72-36 on Friday at Williams Arena in Minneapolis. Minnesota (1-0) held American (0-1) to 24 percent shooting from the field.
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On tonight’s episode of “The Journey 2012″ presented by Best Buy at 7:30 p.m. ET, our crew continues to chronicle the Big Ten football season while telling the stories of Iowa linebacker Anthony Hitchens, Illinois cornerback Terry Hawthorne, and Minnesota’s Connor Cosgrove, who is battling leukemia.