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Minnesota 53, Iowa St. 29

September 14, 1997

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ Glen Mason got his first win at Minnesota in his first home game, and for that he can thank Tutu Atwell.

Atwell set a school record with two kickoff returns for touchdowns, set up another TD with a long punt return and added an 8-yard TD catch as the Golden Gophers rallied to beat Iowa State 53-29 Saturday night.

Despite Atwell’s electrifying night, Minnesota (1-1) still needed Thomas Hamner’s 34-yard TD run, his second score of the game, with 12:48 remaining to take the lead for good.

The Gophers then added 17 points in the final 10:41, including Atwell’s TD catch with 2:13 remaining, taking advantage of three Iowa State turnovers. That sent the Cyclones (0-3) to their 10th straight defeat, a losing streak surpassed in school history only by a 16-game skid during the 1929-30 seasons.

Iowa State, which lost 56-10 at Wyoming last week, also has lost 27 straight on the road since a 23-22 victory at Missouri on Nov. 2, 1991.

Atwell, who also had a 90-yard punt return TD wiped out by a penalty, set a school record with 225 yards in kickoff returns, topping the 223 by John Lewis against San Jose State in 1992. He finished with 349 all-purpose yards.

Ed Williams caught two TD passes for the Cyclones, including a 45-yarder that put Iowa State up 29-28 with 56 seconds left in the third quarter.

But Minnesota’s offense, which was atrocious in the season-opening 17-3 loss at Hawaii and sputtered through three quarters Saturday, then put together its best drive of the season. The Gophers moved 65 yards in nine plays for Hamner’s go-ahead touchdown.

The sophomore, who lost his starting job to freshman Antoine Henderson, took an option pitch from Cory Sauter and ran virtually untouched down the sideline. He followed with a 2-point conversion on the same play, and Minnesota’s defense took over from there.

The Gophers had three consecutive sacks on Iowa State’s next possession, two by Jon Michels.

Jon Michels tied a school record with three of Minnesota’s six sacks. The Gophers have nine sacks in their first two games, one more than they had all last season.

Atwell, a senior, made his first mark on the game after Iowa State’s first possession, returning a punt 40 yards to the 21. Four plays later, Hamner scored on a 9-yard run for a 7-0 lead.

After the second of Jamie Kohl’s three field goals made it 7-6 _ and on his next chance after the 90-yard punt return was nullified _ Atwell took the kickoff up the middle, eluded three tacklers near the Minnesota 40 and outran Mike Brantley for an 89-yard score and a 14-6 lead.

Iowa State rallied to take a 22-21 lead on Tyrone Watley’s 80-yard catch-and-run early in the third quarter, but Atwell answered with his second TD return.

He took the ball at the 7 and burst untouched up the middle, easily running past the kicker Kohl to make it 28-22 with 3:29 left in the third.

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