Wednesday, February 21, 2024

SPORTS UPDATE: Gridders losing ways continue

October 19, 2002

The Spartans’ gridiron woes continued Saturday. MSU (3-4 overall, 1-2 Big Ten) was plagued by crucial penalties and allowed Minnesota (7-1, 3-1) 543 yards of total offense and 390 rushing yards in the 28-7 loss.

It was the Spartans’ third defeat in their last four games and second straight in conference play.

“We’re not a good football team right now,” MSU head coach Bobby Williams said. “Everybody’s at fault.”

MSU only had five penalties, but combined for 45 yards. A couple of penalties were declined.

Just like last week’s 44-16 blowout against Iowa, the Spartans scored on their first possession. But just like last week, they allowed the opposition to take control for the rest of the game. MSU has been outscored 72-9 since scoring first in the last two games.

Tailback David Richard was the man who put MSU on the scoreboard with a 1-yard run. But without Minnesota’s help, the score wouldn’t have occurred.

On third down, Smoker threw an interception, but it was nullified by a roughing-the-passer penalty. Smoker recovered on the next play, connecting with Rogers for a 52-gain to Minnesota’s 1-yard line. The pass set up Richard’s 1-yard run. Rogers finished the game with six catches for 96 yards, while Smoker finished 17-for 29 with 229 yards and one interception.

On Minnesota’s second possession, the Gophers rumbled 96 yards in seven plays to knot the score at seven. The drive was capped by a 45-yard bomb from quarterback Asad Abdul-Khaliq to junior wide receiver Aaron Hosack.

After MSU was forced to punt, Minnesota used 10 plays to travel 58 yards to set up a 44 yard field goal. The make put the Gophers ahead, 10-7.

Then the sloppiness began. After running back Terry Jackson II sprinted for 56 yards of his game-high 238 yards on the first play of the drive, Minnesota fumbled on the next play. Defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson pounced on the loose ball.

Penalties prevented MSU from taking advantage of the Gopher mistake.

A screen pass to running back David Richard was nullified by a 15-yard clipping penalty.

The Gophers were flagged for pass interference on the next play, but MSU still couldn’t capitalize. MSU was penalized for holding on the following play. A couple plays later, Dawan Moss fumbled on a reverse attempt.

But Minnesota couldn’t capitalize despite starting the drive on MSU’s 34-yard line. On third down, Jason Harmon picked off a Abdul-Khaliq pass.

Minnesota’s Kenny Harper put a 22-yard field goal attempt through the uprights on the Gophers’ next possession, giving them a 13-7 lead.

A halftime pep-talk didn’t jump-start the Spartans’ defense. MSU allowed Minnesota to go 79 yards in 12 plays on the second half’s first drive. Tony Patterson hauled in a 27-yard pass from Abdul- Khaliq to give Minnesota .

After using two timeouts, the Gophers’ Abdul-Khaliq connected with wide receiver Antoine Burns on the two-point conversion to give Minnesota the 21-7 lead.

On their next possession, Minnesota ran on all 10 plays. Second-string running back Thomas Tapeh went into the end zone untouched to give the Gophers a 28-7 lead.

The Spartans return to action next week when Wisconsin comes to East Lansing for a 7 p.m. kickoff.

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