(WGEM) -- According to Las Vegas odds makers, Western Illinois entered Saturday's game at Minnesota as a near 30 point underdog, but for the most part they didn't play like it.
The Leathernecks held a five point lead near the end of the third quarter, before the undefeated Golden Gophers made some plays down the stretch to pull away for a 29-12 win.
It was the first loss of the season for the 'Necks, but they left TCF Bank Stadium with steady progress and plenty of respect.
Bob Nielson's team out gained Minnesota through the air, and didn't commit a single turnover, leaving a positive vibe despite not closing the deal.
"We put ourselves in a position where a play of two here may have made the difference," Nielson expressed.
"Even though the score got a little more lopsided at the end, I don't think it told the whole story of the football game and how well our guys played for three quarters."
The goal might have been a victory, but the mistakes made in the second half are something the Leathernecks try to learn from going forward.
"Now we've got to keep building on that," Nielson said.
"We're not going to be satisfied with a loss, but there's also got to be some things we can build on. "