Drive Chart
BUFF
MINN

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Gophers grind out 17-7 win vs. Buffalo in Fleck's debut

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) P.J. Fleck led his players in a pregame sprint out of the tunnel , with a vintage late-summer evening sky framing his first game as Minnesota's coach.

The Gophers started fast, too, with Tyler Johnson's 61-yard reception from Conor Rhoda - one of two first-quarter touchdowns.

The rest of the game was a slow drag to the finish, which was just fine with Fleck.

Johnson had 141 yards on six catches, all in the first half to match his 2016 season total, and the Gophers grinded out a 17-7 victory over Buffalo in the season opener and Fleck's debut on Thursday night.

''You better always appreciate a win,'' Fleck said, ''no matter how you get it.''

Rhoda started the game and went 12 for 21 for 176 yards, but he threw an interception in the end zone in the second quarter. Croft rushed six times for 32 yards and completed 7 of 11 passes for 63 yards. Neither quarterback stood out from the other in spring or fall practice. The tandem will remain in place for now.

''How they managed and ran the game, I was proud of them,'' said Fleck, who vowed not to make emotional decisions about who was in or out and stick to the prescribed plan for splitting playing time between the two.

Emmit Carpenter missed two of his three field-goal tries for the Gophers, but Rodney Smith and Shannon Brooks were able to find enough running room to wear down the Bulls and run out the clock. Brooks scored on a short run near the end of the first quarter.

''It was really just a stalemate up front,'' Croft said.

JOHNSON EMERGES

After playing quarterback at Minneapolis North High School, Johnson switched to wide receiver as a freshman and showed some flashes of promise. Fleck and wide receivers coach Matt Simon have raved about his progress this year.

''The kid comes to play when the lights are on,'' Rhoda said.

BULLISH

Anthony Johnson gave the Gophers secondary trouble with 11 grabs for 140 yards, including a 50-yard completion that set up his 16-yard touchdown catch from Tyree Jackson on the next play for the Bulls to tie the game late in the first quarter.

The 6-foot-7, 245-pound Jackson finished 22 for 42 for 211 yards and one interception. Khalil Hodge had 20 tackles, the most by a Buffalo player in nine years. The Bulls dropped to 0-8 in their history against Big Ten teams.

''We're all upset in the locker room,'' Jackson said. ''We didn't come here to show up and play against Minnesota. We came here to win.''

WINFIELD SHINES

The Gophers have relied heavily on their defense this decade, and that could be the case again this year despite the departure of several starters. The Gophers forced eight punts and held the Bulls to 51 yards on 22 rushes, with seven tackles, a sack, a blocked field goal and two pass breakups by safety Antoine Winfield Jr.

''Gosh, is he special,'' Fleck said.

FOR STARTERS

Fleck became the first Gophers head coach to win his first game with the program since John Gutekunst beat Bowling Green on Sept. 13, 1986. Jim Wacker (1992), Glen Mason (1997), Tim Brewster (2007), Jeff Horton (2010 interim), Jerry Kill (2011) and Tracy Claeys (2015 interim) all lost.

THE TAKEAWAY

Buffalo: After finishing 2-10 in coach Lance Leipold's second season with a freshman quarterback in Jackson, the Bulls are bound to be better this year. For a team that has produced only two winning seasons in 18 years at the FBS level, a competitive display like this can't be discounted.

''We took a big step forward as a program in what we're hoping to develop, as far as playing with a relentless type of attitude,'' Leipold said.

Minnesota: The Gophers just needed to win this game and get it out of the way, to reduce the pressure on their inexperienced quarterbacks and make sure Fleck wasn't embarrassed with a loss against a lower-tier opponent in his Big Ten debut . Starting with the blocking up front, the offense has a lot of work to do.

UP NEXT

Buffalo: The Bulls play at Army next weekend. The Black Knights are coming off an 8-5 season, their first winning record since 2010.

Minnesota: The Gophers ought to have a tougher time next weekend in their first visit to Oregon State in program history. The Beavers are 11-25 over the last three years but they played a competitive game in Minnesota last season, losing 30-23.

---

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Copyright 2017 by STATS. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS is strictly prohibited.

Scoring Summary
4th Quarter
No scoring this quarter
Field Goal 2:09
38-E.Carpenter 43 yards Field Goal is Good.
13
plays
13
yds
05:13
pos
7
17
3rd Quarter
No scoring this quarter
2nd Quarter
No scoring this quarter
1st Quarter
No scoring this quarter
Point After TD 0:43
38-E.Carpenter extra point is good.
plays
yds
pos
7
14
Touchdown 0:43
23-S.Brooks runs 1 yard for a touchdown.
11
plays
6
yds
03:47
pos
7
13
Point After TD 4:37
19-A.Mitcheson extra point is good.
plays
yds
pos
7
7
Touchdown 4:37
3-T.Jackson complete to 83-A.Johnson. 83-A.Johnson runs 16 yards for a touchdown.
4
plays
10
yds
00:58
pos
6
7
Point After TD 9:35
38-E.Carpenter extra point is good.
plays
yds
pos
0
7
Touchdown 9:35
15-C.Rhoda complete to 6-T.Johnson. 6-T.Johnson runs 61 yards for a touchdown.
3
plays
3
yds
00:15
pos
0
6
Team Stats
1st Downs 13 21
Rushing 2 10
Passing 10 10
Penalty 1 1
3rd Down Conv 5-17 6-18
4th Down Conv 0-1 1-1
Total Net Yards 259 411
Total Plays 64 83
Avg Gain 4.0 5.0
Net Yards Rushing 51 172
Rush Attempts 22 51
Avg Rush Yards 2.3 3.4
Net Yards Passing 208 239
Comp. - Att. 22-42 19-32
Yards Per Pass 5.0 7.5
Sacked - Yards Lost 1-3 0-0
Penalties - Yards 6-50 2-10
Touchdowns 1 2
Rushing TDs 0 1
Passing TDs 1 1
Other 0 0
Turnovers 2 1
Fumbles - Lost 1-1 0-0
Int. Thrown 1 1
Punts - Avg 8-43.6 6-44.7
Return Yards 32 58
Punts - Returns 1-14 2-12
Kickoffs - Returns 1-18 2-46
Int. - Returns 1-0 1-0
Kicking 1/3 3/5
Extra Points 1/1 2/2
Field Goals 0/2 1/3
Safeties 0 0
1234T
Buffalo 0-1 70007
Minnesota 1-0 1400317
208 PASS YDS 239
51 RUSH YDS 172
259 TOTAL YDS 411
Passing CP/ATT YDS TD INT
T. Jackson 3 QB
IN-GAME COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
52.4% 211 1 1 97.7
SEASON COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
52.4% 211 1 1 97.7
T. Jackson 22/42 211 1 1
Rushing ATT YDS TD LG
J. Hawkins 24 RB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
10 21 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
10 21 0
J. Hawkins 10 21 0 5
T. Jackson 3 QB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
7 17 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
7 17 0
T. Jackson 7 17 0 7
E. Reed 29 RB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
4 10 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
4 10 0
E. Reed 4 10 0 7
A. Johnson 83 WR
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
1 3 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
1 3 0
A. Johnson 1 3 0 3
Receiving REC YDS TD LG
A. Johnson 83 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
11 140 1
SEASON REC YDS TD
11 140 1
A. Johnson 11 140 1 50
J. Martinez 88 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
4 28 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
4 28 0
J. Martinez 4 28 0 14
A. Nunn 16 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
3 27 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
3 27 0
A. Nunn 3 27 0 13
T. Mabry 81 TE
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 9 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
1 9 0
T. Mabry 1 9 0 9
K. Osborn 8 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
2 9 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
2 9 0
K. Osborn 2 9 0 9
Z. Lefebvre 89 TE
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
0 0 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
0 0 0
Z. Lefebvre 0 0 0 0
J. Hawkins 24 RB
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 -2 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
1 -2 0
J. Hawkins 1 -2 0 0
Defense T-A SACK INT
C. Lewis 39 CB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
0-0 1 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
0-0 1 0.0
C. Lewis 0-0 0.0 1
Kicking FG LG XP PTS
A. Mitcheson 19 K
IN-GAME FG XP
0/2 1/1
SEASON FG XP
0/2 1/1
A. Mitcheson 0/2 0 1/1 1
Punting NO AVG IN20 LG
K. DeWeen 30 P
IN-GAME NO AVG IN20
8 43.6 0
SEASON NO AVG IN20
8 43.6 0
K. DeWeen 8 43.6 0 48
Kickoff Returns NO AVG LG TD
J. Martinez 88 WR
IN-GAME NO AVG LG TD
1 18.0 18 0
SEASON NO AVG LG TD
1 18.0 18 0
J. Martinez 1 18.0 18 0
Punt Returns NO AVG LG TD
J. Martinez 88 WR
IN-GAME NO AVG LG TD
1 14.0 14 0
SEASON NO AVG LG TD
1 14.0 14 0
J. Martinez 1 14.0 14 0
Passing CP/ATT YDS TD INT
C. Rhoda 15 QB
IN-GAME COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
60% 176 1 1 140.4
SEASON COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
60% 176 1 1 140.4
C. Rhoda 12/20 176 1 1
D. Croft 11 QB
IN-GAME COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
58.3% 63 0 0 102.4
SEASON COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
58.3% 63 0 0 102.4
D. Croft 7/12 63 0 0
Rushing ATT YDS TD LG
R. Smith 1 RB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
23 76 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
23 76 0
R. Smith 23 76 0 10
S. Brooks 23 RB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
18 69 1
SEASON ATT YDS TD
18 69 1
S. Brooks 18 69 1 16
D. Croft 11 QB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
6 32 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
6 32 0
D. Croft 6 32 0 9
Receiving REC YDS TD LG
T. Johnson 6 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
6 141 1
SEASON REC YDS TD
6 141 1
T. Johnson 6 141 1 61
D. Douglas 82 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
6 36 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
6 36 0
D. Douglas 6 36 0 14
E. Carter 9 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 23 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
1 23 0
E. Carter 1 23 0 23
B. Lingen 86 TE
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
2 19 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
2 19 0
B. Lingen 2 19 0 13
P. Howard 25 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 8 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
1 8 0
P. Howard 1 8 0 8
S. Brooks 23 RB
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 5 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
1 5 0
S. Brooks 1 5 0 5
N. Wozniak 80 TE
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 5 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
1 5 0
N. Wozniak 1 5 0 5
R. Smith 1 RB
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 2 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
1 2 0
R. Smith 1 2 0 2
R. Still 88 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
0 0 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
0 0 0
R. Still 0 0 0 0
Defense T-A SACK INT
A. Winfield Jr. 11 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 1.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 1.0
A. Winfield Jr. 1-0 1.0 0
Ja. Huff 2 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
0-0 1 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
0-0 1 0.0
Ja. Huff 0-0 0.0 1
Kicking FG LG XP PTS
E. Carpenter 38 K
IN-GAME FG XP
1/3 2/2
SEASON FG XP
1/3 2/2
E. Carpenter 1/3 43 2/2 5
Punting NO AVG IN20 LG
R. Santoso 18 P
IN-GAME NO AVG IN20
6 44.7 3
SEASON NO AVG IN20
6 44.7 3
R. Santoso 6 44.7 3 55
Kickoff Returns NO AVG LG TD
S. Brooks 23 RB
IN-GAME NO AVG LG TD
2 23.0 31 0
SEASON NO AVG LG TD
2 23.0 31 0
S. Brooks 2 23.0 31 0
Punt Returns NO AVG LG TD
A. Shenault 34 DB
IN-GAME NO AVG LG TD
2 6.0 12 0
SEASON NO AVG LG TD
2 6.0 12 0
A. Shenault 2 6.0 12 0
1st POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
15:00 BUFF 25 1:10 4 -4 Punt
11:45 BUFF 13 1:43 3 6 Punt
9:35 BUFF 25 2:31 12 -2 FG Miss
5:35 BUFF 32 0:58 4 10 TD
2nd POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
15:00 BUFF 37 0:52 4 -1 Punt
11:00 BUFF 32 3:36 12 52 FG Miss
1:34 BUFF 20 1:18 3 8 Punt
3rd POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
13:14 BUFF 35 0:46 4 1 FUMBLE
10:19 BUFF 11 3:15 8 26 INT
3:09 BUFF 8 1:50 4 16 Punt
4th POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
11:34 BUFF 20 1:22 3 1 Punt
8:29 BUFF 20 0:54 4 14 Punt
2:01 BUFF 22 0:27 4 5
1st POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
13:43 MINN 33 1:50 4 20 Punt
9:50 MINN 39 0:15 3 3 TD
6:59 MINN 24 1:14 3 4 Punt
4:30 MINN 36 3:47 11 6 TD
2nd POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
13:58 MINN 28 2:53 8 40 FG Miss
7:18 MINN 16 5:39 13 84 INT
0:10 MINN 24 0:00 1 -2 End of quarter
3rd POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
15:00 MINN 19 1:40 5 12 Punt
12:18 MINN 21 1:48 5 21 Punt
6:54 MINN 37 3:39 7 20 Punt
4th POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
15:00 BUFF 50 3:21 9 -30 FG Miss
10:04 MINN 41 1:26 3 4 Punt
7:22 MINN 22 5:13 13 13 FG
1:31 BUFF 27 1:01 3 -3 End of game