Gophers cap 2022 with a Pinstripe Bowl win over Syracuse – The Minnesota Daily

Star Gophers running back Mohamed Ibrahim broke five program records in Thursday’s win.

Ethan Fine

Running back Mohamed Ibrahim and QB Tanner Morgan played crucial roles in the Gophers’ bowl game win over Syracuse.

Thursday was a fitting swan song for two longtime gopher football icons, Mohamed Ibrahim and Tanner Morgan. Sixth-year QB Morgan replaced injured redshirt freshman Athan Kaliakmanis, who threw 7-9 for 80 yards through 1.25 quarters.

“The thing I keep coming back to is gratitude,” Morgan said of his last game for Minnesota. “I’m thankful for every teammate I’ve had. I’m thankful for every coach I’ve had.”

The first quarter was all defense as neither team earned gold on the goalscoring list. Both teams rushed for a meager 2.5 (Minnesota) and 2.8 (Syracuse) yards per carry, with the Gophers doubling the Syracuse Orange’s possession time by 10 minutes to five.

Kaliakmanis led the Minnesota offense to the Syracuse 16 to end the fourth on a high note. Kaliakmanis completed the longest pass of his short-lived bowl game, 21 yards to Daniel Jackson, who would be a constant force in the Bronx on Thursday.

The drive ended early in the second quarter when Ibrahim ran for a four-yard touchdown. This would be Ibrahim’s 20th touchdown that season and would break the single-season Minnesota program record held by Garry Russell. He previously surpassed David Cobb’s single-season rushing yards record (1,626) and finished the day with 1,665 in the 2022 season.

He later broke the career rushing yards record held by Darrell Thompson in Minnesota and finished his Gophers career with 4,668 grounded yards. Additionally, Ibrahim broke Cobb’s single-season carry record with 320 (over 314) and broke the single-season points record with 120.

“Step by step,” said Ibrahim on his return trip from his injury at the end of the 2021 season. “Don’t rush things, don’t look at the finish line… that’s been my mindset all season.”

Ibrahim finished the day on 16 carries for 71 yards and a touchdown. Morgan said he believes Ibrahim’s number 24 should retire.

At 10:41 in the second second after handing a 12-yard completion to Le’Meke Brockington, Kaliakmanis would be low-hit after the throw and would have to be helped off the field to enter Morgan, who saw no play time had since November 5 in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Morgan would finish the drive in style, throwing a perfectly placed ball 20 yards to Jackson. That would be Morgan’s first touchdown since Sept. 24 at Michigan State.

Syracuse continued their goal struggles while Cody Lindenberg kept the orange at bay all day … or until he left with a leg injury in the fourth quarter. Lindenberg scored a total of 11 duels.

“Doubtful for next week,” head coach PJ Fleck bluffed about Kaliakmanis and Lindenberg’s injuries. “You will be fine. I can’t say they are minor (injuries) but they are not major. If it was a normal season, maybe a couple of weeks. So that’s definitely a blessing.”

The Cuse would end the half with their first successful offensive possession of the game, with Garrett Shrader passing 4/4 for 85 yards and running in for a 1-yard touchdown, all under 55 seconds.

After scoring a field goal to close the Gophers’ lead to 14-10, true freshman defenseman Coleman Bryson took Shrader’s pass for a 70-yard return home. This was Bryson’s first career start and he finished with 8 tackles, a PBU that resulted in Player of the Match.

“Unreal,” Bryson said. “Actually, I looked at the screen because I couldn’t believe it.”

Another Orange Field goal would go through the posts, but Quentin Redding returned Minnesota’s momentum for his longest kick return in 2022 at 72 yards. That would take a 25-yard touchdown from Morgan, again Jackson, this time on a Screen Pass. The Gophers extended their lead to 28-13.

The fourth quarter was relatively quiet but featured some gems like Darius Green, who intercepted a faulty Shrader pass and cemented a positive day for the Minnesota defenders future as Michael “Flip” Dixon recently entered the transfer portal.

Shrader would manage to bring the score down to one point with 2:30 points remaining, but it was a little too late as the Gophers would roll to their sixth straight bowl win and the clock would expire on the final possession of the game, thanks to a Syracuse penalty on a 3rd and 2, giving Minnesota a first down with less than a minute to go.

“It was a hard-fought game on both sides,” said Fleck. “It could have gone either way. I’m just glad it went the way it went for us. We couldn’t have asked for a better week, one of the greatest bowl experiences I’ve ever had.”

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