Monday, June 17, 2024

No. 22 MSU cant stop Hoosier ground game in 37-28 loss

November 10, 2001
MSU senior tight end Chris Baker is taken down by Indiana junior strong safety Joe Gonzolez after a gain of 18 yards late in the third quarter of the game Saturday, November10, 2001, at Spartan Stadium.

No. 22 MSU sure does keep things interesting.

Saturday was no exception in a 37-28 loss to Indiana.

In an erratic game filled with trick plays, quick scoring drives and costly blunders, the Hoosiers forced the Spartans (5-3, 3-3 Big Ten) into a shootout.

Indiana killed MSU on the ground, rushing 489 yards. Running back Levron Williams had 259 yards, and quarterback Antwaan Randle El scampered 149 yards to become the NCAA Division I-A career rushing leader. He passed Air Force’s Dee Davis, with 3,645 yards career yards.

Randle El completed only three of his 12 passes in the game for 51 yards and ran for one touchdown.

Forty three seconds into Indiana’s (3-5, 3-3) first drive of the game, quarterback Antwaan Randle El ran 57 yards on a sneak for the game’s first score.

After an illegal procedure penalty on the Hoosiers’ kickoff team, putting MSU on its own 35-yard line, sophomore quarterback Jeff Smoker led an impressive 65-yard scoring drive.

Smoker found his receivers early, especially senior Herb Haygood and sophomore Charles Rogers.

On third down, Smoker connected with Haygood on a 14-yard pass and then found Rogers for a 31-yard bomb on the next drive.

Junior tailback T.J. Duckett, who had 98 yards rushing in the loss, completed the drive with a 17-yard touchdown run.

MSU’s defense forced the Hoosiers to punt on their next drive after two incompletions and a run for no gain by running back Levron Williams.

But Williams proved to be a nuisance to opposing tacklers throughout the day.

At the half, he had 163 yards rushing on 14 carries and two touchdowns.

With the ball back and the game locked at seven, MSU’s offense didn’t waste any time on its next possession.

After a 20-yard Duckett run on first down - putting the Spartans on the Hoosiers’ 17-yard line - and a 1-yard loss by junior fullback Dawan Moss, Smoker hooked up with Haygood for an 18-yard touchdown pass.

The Hoosiers failed to convert on their next possession and the Spartans were also unsuccessful after attempting a fake punt near the four minute mark of the first quarter.

The start of the second quarter sparked the beginning of a slew of mistakes for MSU on special teams.

Arguably the biggest mistake was a bumbled attempt by senior cornerback Duron Bryan to pick up an Indiana punt.

Bryan touched the ball after a hurried punt by Randle El but wasn’t able to hold on. It was then recovered by Indiana receiver Travis Henry at the MSU 17-yard line.

Three plays later, Williams had a 1-yard touchdown at the 2:23 mark of the second quarter to tie the game at 14.

On MSU’s next series, Smoker connected with Rogers on a 19-yard touchdown pass to cap off a seven-play, 65-yard scoring drive.

Freshman kicker Dave Rayner’s extra point attempt was delayed one play after the holder, senior punter Craig Jarrett, fumbled the ball and attempt to throw a pass for a two-point conversion.

Officials ruled Indiana pass interference on the play, moving the Spartans up two yards to set up a successful Rayner extra point to make it 21-14.

To follow suit with the Spartan’s successful drive, the Hoosiers countered with a 19-yard touchdown run by fullback Jeremi Johnson, to once again tie the game.

The Spartans went three and out on the next drive after Smoker failed to find Rogers on a deep round on third down and 16.

At the 2:25 mark of the second quarter, Indiana’s Williams ran 80-yards for a touchdown off a Randle El option pitch to give the Hoosiers a 28-21 advantage.

On their next possession, kicker Adam Braucher connected on a 31-yard field goal to give Indiana a 10-point lead with 14 seconds left in the quarter.

Smoker capped of a six-play, 66-yard drive after he found Haygood in the back of the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown pass at the 2:14 mark of the third quarter.

The Spartans had more than one chance to go ahead in the fourth quarter.

First MSU opted to fake a 41-yard field goal attempt on fourth and 12. Rayner ran the ball two yards before being forced out of bounds.

Indiana drove all the way to MSU’s 1-yard line on the ensuing drive, but Williams lost a pitch from Randle El and Thornhill picked it up to give the Spartans the ball back with 5:35 left.

Smoker hit Rogers twice to move to the 46-yard line, but he then threw a perfect pass to Indiana linebacker Herana-Daze Jones, who ran it back 15 yards.

Williams scored Indiana’s final touchdown with 2:02 left in the game on a 22-yard run.

Senior tight end Chris Baker helped Indiana get into scoring position by drawing a personal foul penalty on MSU.

And with one final chance, Smoker completed another 16-yard pass to Rogers and then chucked another interception, this time to linebacker Justin Smith. Smith ran it to MSU’s 49-yard line with 1:29 left to play.

Smoker, who sprained his left shoulder in the fourth quarter, finished hitting 20-of-30 passes for three touchdowns, 288 yards and two interceptions.

Smoker said the injury isn’t serious enough to sideline him for the Spartans’ next game, a Nov. 17 matchup at Purdue.

MSU needs one more win to become bowl eligible, and Indiana must win out its schedule.

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