Minnesota’s Antoine Winfield Jr. spoiled Fresno State’s bid for a Power 5 win for a second straight year Saturday at Bulldog Stadium.
And the loss left the Bulldogs at 0-2 for the first time since 2014 despite giving Power 5 teams Southern California and Minnesota all they could handle.
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“It is going to be a long two weeks not having another opportunity to play next week, I can tell you that,” said Bulldogs coach Jeff Tedford. “But we are going to go back and practice as we always do.
“I love these kids. I have a lot of confidence in these kids and these coaches. We are going to stick together. There is a lot of good football left to be played this season. There is a good football team in that locker room. Like I said, I have a lot of trust and a lot of confidence in how we are going to respond as far as our work ethic and I look forward to another opportunity to play again.”
Winfield Picks Off Reyna Pass to End Game
Winfield intercepted a pass from Jorge Reyna in the end zone in the second overtime to preserve Minnesota’s 38-35 come-from-behind victory. It was his second game-sealing interception in as many years against the Bulldogs.
“It was very similar. It was like deja vu. I remember seeing the quarterback throw the ball again and I was able to make a quick speed turn and I was able to make the play,” Winfield said. “I’m sure they probably hate me right now.”
Tedford’s Words to Reyna
“Like I told him, there is a lot of football left,” Tedford said. “He is going to have a lot more opportunities. He is crushed by what happened, obviously. But, not one play was a difference in that game. There was a lot of plays to be made out there. It is a team effort. We win as a team and we lose as a team. … We are going to stick together as a family and we are going to go back to work.”
Morgan Rallies Minnesota
The Golden Gophers (2-0) tied the game twice late with Tanner Morgan throwing a 20-yard TD pass to Chris Autman-Bell on fourth down in the final minute of regulation and Morgan then scoring on a 4-yard keeper in the first overtime.
Michael Lantz then made a 37-yard field goal for the Gophers on the opening possession of the second overtime before Winfield intercepted Jorge Reyna’s pass to Cam Sutton.
“When that ball was floating in the air, I saw (Winfield) breaking on it and we all knew what was going to happen,” Morgan said. “He’s a big-time player and he made a big-time play in a big-time situation.”
This was the second straight week Fresno State lost on a late interception in the end zone, with Reyna throwing one last week in the 31-23 loss at Southern California.
‘A Little Too Much Air on the Ball’
“It was there,” Tedford said. “A little too much air on the ball but I don’t think there was anything wrong with the call. We just didn’t execute it the way we need to. Just something we saved for this game if we got into that situation.”
The overtime followed a roller-coaster fourth quarter that started with Minnesota tying the game on Mohamed Ibrahim’s 1-yard run early in the quarter. Fresno State went back ahead on Reyna’s 2-yard run with 5:58 remaining following a muffed punt by Demetrius Douglas.
“Like I told (Jorge Reyna), there is a lot of football left. He is going to have a lot more opportunities. He is crushed by what happened, obviously. But, not one play was a difference in that game.” — Bulldogs coach Jeff Tedford
But the Gophers weren’t done, surviving two fumbles on the drive to tie the game at 28-all with 46 seconds remaining on Morgan’s pass to Autman-Bell.
“We just ran a quick slant and go,” coach P.J. Fleck said. “That was our only shot. He hadn’t had a touchdown yet in a year and a half and here it is. It couldn’t have come at a better time.”
The teams then traded touchdowns in the first overtime with Reyna throwing a 5-yard TD pass to Ronnie Rivers a play after a roughing the passer penalty extended the Fresno State drive.
Morgan then answered with a 4-yard keeper that tied the game at 35.
Morgan threw for 234 yards and two touchdowns. Ibrahim and Rodney Smith ran for scores for the Gophers.
Reyna completed 24 of 35 passes for 288 yards and three TD passes.
“At the end, I thought the crowd was awesome. I thought it was an electric football environment and everybody was into it,” Tedford said. “I am sorry it didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to for our fans and for our team, for the university and everybody involved.”
Fresno State hosts Sacramento State on Sept. 21.
(Associated Press and gobulldogs.com contributed to this report.)