Rushing attack leads Spartans to a 14-10 victory over Michigan
Last night, the Spartans knocked off No. 7 Michigan in Ann Arbor on the backs of huge running-the-ball plays and by forcing five turnovers.
The Spartans knew that if they were going to upset Michigan, they were going to have to create ways to run the ball more efficiently and win the turnover battle.
When the rain let up and the clock read 0:00 Saturday night, the Spartans did just that, and MSU won 14-10.
“Well, you know, obviously the weather was hampering everybody, and we came up with the turnovers, which is obviously big when you go 5-0 in the turnover margin,” head coach Mark Dantonio said after the game. “But every time we got a turnover, we had a penalty, which made it seems just like they were punishing both of us, so that sort of set us back. Credit to Michigan, I think they played extremely well on defense. They made some things happen.”
Entering Saturday’s contest under the lights for the first time in the rivalry's history, the Wolverines were allowing an average of 69.2 yards rushing per game, which was the lowest in the FBS. The Spartans rushed for 158 yards last night.
“We knew coming into the game, in order for us to win the game, we were going to have to run the ball,” junior running back Madre London said. “We were going to have to do better than we did last week. We did that, and we just hang our hat on running the ball, so we’re going to run the ball all the time no matter if you stop it or not. We came out there and we were blocking good and we were able to run the ball, so it was a good team win for us and a good team victory.”
Quarterback Brian Lewerke finished as the Spartans’ leading rusher for the third time this season with 15 carries for 61 yards and a touchdown, while London finished with 59 yards on the ground and senior running back Gerald Holmes recorded 27 yards.
“It feels good,” Holmes said of MSU’s ability to establish a rushing attack. “Ya’ll have seen the other games; we didn’t really get a full four in the run game. So to come out here and to do that, kind of adds motivation and kind of momentum to this game.”
The win, however, came with some adversity within the running back trio of London, Gerald Holmes and LJ Scott.
Scott, who started in two games this season, never took the field on Saturday. Dantonio said after the game that “he was just nicked up” and could have probably played, but they didn’t want to risk it.
Holmes would leave in the game in the first quarter and wouldn’t return until late in the fourth quarter after dealing with an ankle injury, leaving the reins to London for most of the game.
“It definitely was hurting,” Holmes said, “but I knew I wanted to end on the field with my brothers, so I kind of had a feel-good moment — had to suck it up and go out and ball.”