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#18 Purdue Sneaks By Gophers

Minnesota coach Glen Mason got booed at home, first for playing it safe and then for risking it all.

The Golden Gophers fell to No. 18 Purdue 33-28 Saturday after Mason chose to run out the final two minutes of the first half and then try an onside kick with nearly three minutes left in regulation.

"I was just trying to get in at halftime. The last thing I wanted to do was give Purdue the ball back with time on the clock," Mason said. "They're too good. I heard everybody booing. I don't care."

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  • And he also didn't care about the catcalls from the miffed Metrodome crowd when he went for an onside kick with 2:43 remaining after the Golden Gophers had cut Purdue's lead to 33-28.

    "I didn't want to take a chance of not getting the ball back," he said.

    Not only was the air attack working for Purdue, but the Boilermakers' ground game was equally effective.

    Brees completed 28 of 41 passes for 283 yards and two touchdowns and gained 51 yards on seven rushes, a total diminished when he fell to one knee thrice in the waning seconds of the game.

    "I bet they were expecting us to air it out because that's what we did the past two years," said Brees who needed just three quarters to amass 522 yards passing and six touchdowns in a 56-21 rout of the Golden Gophers last season.

    "They were giving us the running game," Brees said. "We'll take it."

    Mason said it was a pick-your-poison kind of day.

    "They spread you out and there's only certain ways you can line up," he said. "If you overplay, he runs the quarterback draw on you. If you put too many guys inside, he'll beat you on the deep one. If you play them honest and try to cover the whole thing, they run that little out route."

    Brees brought the Boilermakers (6-3, 3-3 Big Ten) back every time Minnesota pulled within striking range.

    The Gophers (5-3, 2-3) who lost their third straight close conference game at home, broke free for hree fourth-quarter touchdowns, the last on Ron Johnson's leaping 12-yard catch with 2:43 left.

    But Purdue tight end Tim Stratton recovered the onside kick and Brees made sure that Minnesota didn't get another chance, moving the Boilermakers inside the 10 before running out the clock.

    Brees's 8-yard TD toss to Randall Lane with 5:22 left made it 33-21 after Thomas Hamner's 60-yard romp had pulled the Gophers within five.

    Freshman Montrell Lowe's 2-yard dive put the Boilermakers up 19-7 and capped a 77-yard drive in which Brees scrambled for 10 yards and ran for 20 on two draws.

    "They were giving it to us," Brees said. "They were trying to put a whole lot of guys out in coverage, so we took advantage of that."

    After Billy Cockerham's 1-yard keeper pulled Minnesota to 19-14 with 14 minutes left, the Boilermakers needed just six plays to respond. Brees hit Vinny Sutherland with a 51-yard pass and Lowe, who ran 28 times for 127 yards, took it in from the 1 for a 26-14 lead.

    Then came Hamner's longest career run, an untouched 60-yard scamper that put the exclamation point on his fifth straight 100-yard rushing day, which broke Paul Giel's school record of four straight in 1951.

    Hamner finished with 166 yards on 20 rushes.

    The Boilermakers took the opening possession 83 yards for a touchdown but led just 10-7 at halftime. Chris Daniels had 13 catches for 101 yards, nearly half of that yardage coming on the opening drive.

    Minnesota committed two costly turnovers in the second quarter, including Cockerham's interception at midfield 2:46 before halftime. After the Gophers held and got the ball back with two minutes left, Mason chose to run out the clock rather than risk another interception.

    Mason, who spent last week watching film of Brees nearly ending Penn State's unbeaten season and shot at the national title, was content to play it safe. "I was willing to go into halftime with that score right there," he said.

    Cockerham didn't mind.

    "You really don't want to give that offense the ball back," he said.

    And that's why they tried the onside kick 90 minutes later.

    ©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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