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Minnesota beats Eastern Illinois 42-20 in opener

Created: 08/28/2014 9:51 PM KAALtv.com

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Mitch Leidner ran for two scores and threw a touchdown pass to Donovahn Jones, leading Minnesota to a season-opening 42-20 victory over Eastern Illinois on Thursday night.

Leidner finished 9 for 17 with 144 yards, David Cobb carried 14 times for 78 yards and the defense delivered a punishing performance to overwhelm the Panthers, a perennial FCS power facing the Gophers for the first time.

Jalen Whitlow, a transfer from Kentucky, went 14 for 23 passing for 110 yards and rushed 19 times for 92 yards. He had an interception, though, and took two sacks on a mistake-marred night for the Panthers.

Eric Murray blocked a punt near the goal line for the Gophers that Logan Hutton grabbed for a three-touchdown lead.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Minnesota quarterback Mitch Leidner (7) drops back for a pass against Eastern Illinois during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game in Minneapolis Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014.
AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt