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Ed Duren Interception a Gopher Classic

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October 5, 2018

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When Minnesota renews its football rivalry against Iowa tomorrow at TCF Bank Stadium at least a few former Golden Gophers will think back to October 15, 1966. On that date Ed Duren, a husky defensive lineman, had the thrill of his career when he intercepted an Iowa pass and ran 95-yards for a fourth quarter touchdown in Minnesota’s 17-0 win at old Memorial Stadium.

Duren, 72, died last week in the Twin Cities of complications from diabetes. A visitation was held Monday in St. Paul, and a number of his teammates were at the mortuary including Jim Carter, who encountered Leon Trawick. “We were teasing and laughing about that run,” Carter told Sports Headliners.

Anyone who saw the play recalls it with affection. Duren was built stoutly at about 6-1, 240-pounds. He was on the field to plug holes at the line of scrimmage, not run a near 100-yard race. But that’s exactly what he got an opportunity to do when teammate Ezell Jones tipped an Iowa pass by Ed Podolak.

The football popped up in the air and Duren grabbed it at the Minnesota five-yard line. The big fella headed for the end zone, lumbering at a slow pace while observers wondered if he might drop to the ground from exhaustion. “It took him a day and a half,” Carter joked.

Carter remembered that a couple of faster teammates ran alongside the plodding lineman and wanted him to hand off the football. “It (the return) took forever. I got a kick out of it,” Carter said.

The 1966 team had a mediocre 4-5-1 record but bigger things were ahead the next year. Duren’s senior season of 1967 produced a Big Ten championship for the Gophers when they tied Indiana and Purdue for first place. He was named to the Big Ten’s all-conference second team defense.

Duren’s interception run is the second longest in Minnesota history, after Gary Hohman’s 99-yarder in 1969. Duren’s signature moment meant a lot to him, as did the 1967 Big Ten title and the championship ring commemorating the achievement. Just days before his death Minnesota-based Jostens replaced the original championship ring that had been stolen from him.

Al Nuness played a role in that kindness. Nuness, now retired, worked for Jostens for more than 20 years and was a friend of Duren’s dating back to the 1960s at Minnesota. “That’s kudos to Jostens to turn that around (in a short period),” Nuness said.

Nuness was a Gophers basketball player when Duren was in school. Players from the two sports lived in the same campus dormitory. “It (the interception) was one of those things we all laughed about together in the dorm,” Nuness said.

To this day folks are still chuckling and remembering Ed with fondness.

Worth Noting

Tom Sakal

Prayers to my friend Tom Sakal, captain of the 1967 Gophers, who is battling cancer. He  has been a winner all his life—with the Gophers, in the Vietnam war, as an insurance executive and husband to wife Rosemary.

The Minnesota and Iowa teams that play tomorrow at TCF Bank Stadium have identical 3-1 overall and 0-1 Big Ten Conference records. The Gophers lead the all-time series 62-47-2 but results this century have been poor. Iowa has won five of the last six games. Since the 2000 season the Gophers have five wins in the series.

Among the many intriguing freshmen prospects on the Gophers’ roster is 6-9, 400-pound offensive lineman Daniel Faalele, who is likely to be redshirted. “He’s just an incredibly strong guy,” coach P.J. Fleck said. “He’s only got to get stronger, which is scary.”

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said junior safety Amani Hooker from Minneapolis wasn’t highly pursued by other Big Ten schools when he was at Park Center High School. Hooker, though, has impressed as a Hawkeye starter and certainly would look valuable in a Gopher uniform Saturday with safety Antoine Winfield Jr., Minnesota’s best player, out for the season after foot surgery.

Minnesota likely will use walk-on freshman Jordan Howden as Winfield’s replacement in the starting lineup against Iowa. He struggled filling in for Winfield two weeks ago against Maryland. The Las Vegas native excelled in prep football and track in Las Vegas where he finished fourth in the state 100 meters with a time of 11.21.

Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen has at least 100 receiving yards in each of the team’s first four games this season. He needs 100 receiving yards at Philadelphia on Sunday to become the third player in NFL history with at least 100 receiving yards in each of his team’s first five games to start a season.

Results of a study on collisions by birds with the exterior glass at U.S. Bank Stadium are expected next spring. The Vikings, Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, Audubon Society and professional researchers are involved with the two-seasons study.

Twenty-five Vikings games have been played at U.S. Bank Stadium since the facility opened and for 13 of those dates the massive pivoting doors that bring outside air into the building have been open.

The Wild can probably play with any NHL team if a core of key players stays healthy. Problem is Mikael Granlund, Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise, Jared Spurgeon and Eric Staal all have histories with injuries.

Thehockeywriters.com is among those who don’t see a successful season for the Wild, predicting a sixth place finish in the seven-team Central Division. An article by Larry Fisher on Tuesday said Suter won’t be the same player after his severe ankle injury, Koivu and Staal “will start showing their age,” and Devan Dubnyk’s “days as a top-10 goalie or even a top-20 goalie are numbered.”

The Twin Cities-based WCHA office reports 12 alumni from member schools are on NHL opening week rosters including three Minnesota natives, David Backes (Robbinsdale) from the Bruins, Casey Nelson (Stillwater) from the Sabres and Tyler Pitlick (Minneapolis) from the Stars.

Former Gophers All-American Conner McHugh is training in the breaststroke for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Brother Max is a Gopher freshman and a possible Olympian someday in the breaststroke.

Simone Kolander, the former Gophers All-American soccer player and daughter of ex-Minnesota basketball standout Chad Kolander, is one of 25 interns working in the U Athletic Department.

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David Shama

David Shama is a former sports editor and columnist with local publications. His writing and reporting experiences include covering the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Gophers. Shama’s career experiences also include sports marketing. He is the former Marketing Director of the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL. He is also the former Marketing Director of the United States Tennis Association’s Northern Section. A native of Minneapolis, Shama has been part of the community his entire life. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota where he majored in journalism. He also has a Master’s degree in education from the University of St. Thomas. He was a member of the Governor’s NBA’s Task Force to help create interest in bringing pro basketball to town in the 1980s.

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