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Rogers amazes, ties two records

September 23, 2002
Junior wide receive Charles Rogers goes up to catch a pass by junior quarterback Jeff Smoker for 35 yards while Notre Dame cornerback Vontez Duff tries to stop him after Thomas Wright's interception Saturday at Spartan Stadium. The Spartan's lost 21-17. —

Amazing. That’s the only way to describe Charles Rogers.

As a team, the Spartans (2-2) fell four points short against then-No. 12 Notre Dame (4-0) on Saturday. But the 6-foot-4, 205-pound junior wide receiver did nothing less than amaze 75,182 fans at Spartan Stadium and countless others watching on television.

He finished the game with seven catches for 175 yards and two touchdowns. It was his second tally, a 21-yard snag, which put MSU up 17-14 and left even his own teammates in awe.

With MSU deep in Notre Dame territory, facing fourth-and-11 with less than two minutes left on the clock, the Fighting Irish double-teamed Rogers. Seeing that, junior quarterback Jeff Smoker threw the ball high enough so only his man could make the play - and that’s just what Rogers did, leaping up and over both defenders to make the catch, then somehow managing to get his left foot in-bounds before falling out of the back of the end zone.

“I don’t think anybody else in college football can make that catch,” freshman tailback David Richard said. “He’s just amazing”

What was more amazing about the catch is that earlier that same drive, Rogers left the game with an injury.

“We think it might be bruised ribs,” Spartan head coach Bobby Williams said after the game. “We don’t know right now.”

Regardless, Rogers returned to the game three plays later and gave MSU a chance to win. It wasn’t until after the game that the Heisman Trophy candidate left to seek further evaluation of his ribs.

The Spartans ultimately fell short, 21-17, but not because of a lack of effort on Rogers’ part.

Rogers tied Big Ten and NCAA records with his first touchdown, a 38-yarder that got MSU rolling in the fourth quarter.

It was his 13th consecutive game with a touchdown, tying Michigan’s Desmond Howard, who set the Big Ten record from 1990-91. It also marked Rogers’ 12th consecutive regular-season game with a touchdown, tying him with Marshall’s Randy Moss (1997), Pacific’s Aaron Turner (1990-91) and Howard for the NCAA honor.

His 175 yards were the most ever by an MSU receiver against the Irish, eclipsing Gene Washington’s previous high of 150 in 1964. It was also Rogers’ 16th consecutive game with a catch, and he extended his MSU record with his eighth straight 100-yard game.

It appears that every game, Rogers is drawing closer to becoming MSU’s first-ever Heisman Trophy winner. But while Heisman voters love gaudy numbers and stockpiles of records, they also love winning.

“It’s good to have the record, but getting a win today would certainly have been more important,” Rogers said. “We’re 2-2, but we’re a much better team than that.”

Notre Dame head coach Tyrone Willingham said he was happy with the Irish’s coverage on Rogers. But he added that it didn’t seem to matter at times.

“I go back to his first catch, where (Irish cornerback) Vontez (Duff) was doing a great job,” Willingham said. “I mean he was all up into him and (Rogers) just reached over his back and took it like he wasn’t even there.”

All told, Rogers totaled 52.3 percent of the Spartans’ offense. And in doing so he passed Mark Ingram (1,944 yards), Eugene Byrd (2,082 yards) and Gari Scott (2,095 yards) to move into fifth place on MSU’s career receiving yards chart with 2,104 yards. His two touchdowns gave him 20 for his career, tying him with Plaxico Burress and Andre Rison for second place in the Spartan record books for career-receiving touchdowns. He needs just four more to tie Kirk Gibson for the all-time lead.

“I don’t know what to expect from him anymore,” senior left guard Paul Harker said. “He just does so many unbelievable things.

“All I can say is we’re very fortunate to have a player of this caliber on our team.”


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