COLLEGE FOOTBALL RECAP

Minnesota snaps seven-game bowl losing streak

The Sports Xchange

December 28, 2015 at 6:17 pm.

Dec 28, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Minnesota Golden Gophers quarterback Mitch Leidner (7) rushes for a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Central Michigan Chippewas at Ford Field. Minnesota won 21-14. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 28, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Minnesota Golden Gophers quarterback Mitch Leidner (7) rushes for a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Central Michigan Chippewas at Ford Field. Minnesota won 21-14. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

DETROIT – Mitch Leidner passed for a touchdown and rushed 13 yards for the go-ahead score as Minnesota snapped a seven-game bowl losing streak by defeating Central Michigan 21-14 in the Quick Lane Bowl on Monday at Ford Field.

The junior quarterback completed 24 of 30 passes for 223 yards while freshman receiver KJ Maye, who had eight receptions for 67 yards, caught Leidner’s touchdown throw as well as a two-point conversion.

The Gophers (6-7), who lost five of their last six regular-season games, were one of three 5-7 teams selected to fill bowl games. The other postseason teams with losing records – San Jose State and Nebraska – also won their games.

Freshman running Romello Ross gained 100 rushing yards and scored on a 13-yard run for the Chippewas (7-6). Junior quarterback Cooper Rush passed for a season-low 145 yards and was intercepted in the late going.

Ryan Santoso extended Minnesota’s three-point halftime lead with a 42-yard field goal midway through the third quarter. The Chippewas couldn’t get anything going in the quarter, as 12 offensive plays netted minus three yards.

Following a fourth-down stop by its defense, Central Michigan found some offensive rhythm and took a 14-13 lead with 11:08 left. Ross finished off the four-play, 56-yard drive with his 13-yard scoring run, as he twisted, turned and powered his way for the final five yards.

The Gophers responded with a methodical 13-play, 74-yard drive, capped by Leidner’s 13-yard scoring run. He faked a handoff and burst through a hole up the middle to give Minnesota the lead, then found Maye for a two-point conversion to make it 21-14 with 4:26 remaining.

Rush was picked off by senior cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun with 2:10 left. The Gophers then ran out all but the last 13 seconds of the clock.

Santoso’s 22-yard field goal gave the Gophers an early lead. Rush scored on the first play of the second quarter, a 1-yard quarterback sneak, to complete an 82-yard Chippewas drive.

Minnesota moved back in front with 12:43 remaining in the second quarter on Leidner’s 11-yard scoring pass to Maye. Its 10-7 lead held up the rest of the half.

NOTES: Minnesota’s last postseason victory came in 2004, when it edged Alabama 20-16 in the Music City Bowl. … Gophers QB Mitch Leidner surpassed 5,000 career passing yards during the second quarter. … The Chippewas are 3-6 all-time in bowl games, with two of those victories coming at Ford Field. They lost a 49-48 thriller to Western Kentucky in the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl last season. … Minnesota won the only previous meeting between the schools, 30-10 at the Metrodome in 1987. … Central Michigan is 6-24 all-time against Big Ten opponents.