- Associated Press - Saturday, September 26, 2015

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The Ohio Bobcats led the Minnesota Gophers for 14 of 15 minutes in the fourth quarter.

But the last minute unraveled the Bobcats’ bid for an upset as a game-tying, 53-yard field goal by Josiah Yazdani was wiped out by a delay of game penalty with 7 seconds remaining, and the Gophers escaped with a 27-24 victory over Ohio on Saturday.

Bobcats coach Frank Solich, 71, claimed that’s the first time he’s seen a delay of game call on a late-game field goal attempt. Gophers coach Jerry Kill admitted it was a first for him, too.

“The thing that bothers me on that type of play,” Solich said. “Is that the ball gets snapped, so apparently the center doesn’t hear the whistle, either. But somehow you’re expecting the kicker to hear it when he’s concentrating on the snap. The crowd is very, very loud. He’s following through to what, he thinks, is maybe the game-winning kick.”

Instead of attempting a 58-yarder after Yazdani, Bobcats quarterback Derrius Vick’s Hail Mary pass with the clock expiring was batted down.

“That was my fault, and I should’ve went for it at 58,” Solich said. “Because the (53-yard) ball carried enough to give him a shot at the end.”

Shannon Brooks rushed for 82 yards and two touchdowns - the last a 3-yard plunge with 30 second remaining - to lift Minnesota. Embattled quarterback Mitch Leidner led the 78-yard game-winning drive after Minnesota (3-1) fell behind 24-20 with 2:26 to play after Yazdani’s 41-yard field goal.

Vick, on an injured ankle, led another Mid-America Conference opponent that pushed the Gophers to the brink. He completed 17 of 27 passes for 194 yards and two touchdowns and A.J. Ouellette rushed for 59 yards and another score for Ohio (3-1).

The Bobcats came out attacking the Gophers’ strengths - their pass defense. Vick utilized his big receivers on the outside for long passes down the field. On their fourth play from scrimmage, Vick hit Keith Heitzman for a 38-yard completion, and three plays later he found Papi White for a 39-yard touchdown to open the scoring.

Two drives later, Vick found Sebastian Smith for three receptions and 56 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown to go ahead 14-7 in the second quarter.

The Bobcats had three pass plays of at least 30 yards, a first against the Gophers defense since 2013.

“I read all week how touted a defense this was,” Solich said. “And they are a very good defense. But we found ways to move it on the ground and we found ways to make some explosive plays. That gives us the capability, I think, of doing that in the future.”

After two fumbles slipped away from the Bobcats by Gophers punt returner Craig James, a third one in the fourth quarter bounced their way. Heitzman scooped it up and returned it 23 yards deep into Gopher territory before Ouellette plowed through the line on his way to an 11-yard touchdown run for a 21-17 lead just 21 seconds into the fourth quarter.

But the Bobcats fell short of their first win over a power conference opponent since 2012.

They did so with banged up bodies, including Vick, and a handful of linebackers. Starting linebackers Jovon Johnson and Quentin Poling were forced to leave the game. And backup Chad Moore broke his thumb, and returned in a cast for “some snaps,” according to Solich.

“This is the type of game that sets a tone for us,” senior safety Devin Jones said. “I think the display of commitment, how hard we played to the very end, I think anybody watching this game will think, ‘These boys can play.’”

___

AP College Football website: www.collegefootball.ap.org


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