MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - It might not have been the most popular decision earlier in the week, but Gophers football coach PJ Fleck had to act on player safety to move Saturday’s Spring Game.
After the Twin Cities had several inches of snow, sleet and freezing rain Wednesday to Friday, Fleck decided to move the Spring Game indoors to Athletes Village rather than cancel it. He said the game was a reward, something the players earned for their hard work in spring camp.
The biggest problem moving it from TCF Bank Stadium was that it was closed to the public. Fleck said the Gophers will host a fan-friendly event during fall camp to make up for it. That mean only family of current players and recruits were at Saturday’s game.
Those who were there saw athletes make plays all over the field. Sophomore Rashod Bateman earned offensive MVP honors with six catches for 164 yards. His longest catch went for 62 yards on a pass from freshman Jacob Clark. Linebacker Thomas Rush earned defensive MVP honors after getting a sack, intercepting Tanner Morgan and returning it 71 yards for a touchdown.
The Maroon squad, led by Zack Annexstad, got out to an early lead and beat the Gold team 38-20. Players celebrated with the “Goldy Cup” after the game. The game signaled the end of the spring football season, and the Gophers won’t be back as a full squad together again until the start of fall camp in August.
Both Annexstad and Morgan had their good and bad moments. Morgan finished 11-of-17 passing for 139 yards, two touchdowns and the interception to Rush. Annexstad was 9-of-15 passing for 191 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Mohamed Ibrahim picked up right where he left off from the end of last season, with 10 carries for 84 yards and a touchdown. The offensive highlight of the day might have been 400-pound offensive lineman Daniel Faalele rushing for a 7-yard touchdown.
Senior receiver Tyler Johnson finished with three catches for 77 yards. Tight end Brevyn Spann-Ford had three catches for 22 yards, including touchdowns from Morgan and Cole Kramer.
Preston Jelen was the featured back for the Gold team behind Ibrahim with 16 carries for 78 yards and a touchdown.
Jordan Howden led the Gold team defense with nine tackles, while Esezi Otomewo had seven. Justus Harris and Boye Mafe each had sacks, and Mafe added an interception.
Most importantly, the Gophers didn’t incur any major injuries before they head into fall camp. Rodney Smith and Shannon Brooks did not play, but Fleck said after the game they both should be ready for the fall season.