Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Rogers sets career record for receiving touchdowns

November 11, 2002
Junior wide receiver Charles Rogers runs the ball past Indiana’s strong saftey A.C. Carter on Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, Ind. Rogers set the MSU record for most touchdowns during the Spartans 56-21 win over the Hoosiers. —

As the Spartans rolled over the Indiana Hoosiers 56-21, junior wide receiver Charles Rogers returned to his early season form that shattered records and had many whispering Heisman.

On Saturday, the 6-4, 205-pounder compiled 168 yards of total offense with two touchdowns on just seven touches. His two receiving touchdowns gave him 25 for his career and the all-time MSU record.

Entering the game, Rogers was one shy of Kirk Gibson’s 24 career receiving touchdowns (1975-78).

“He’s unbelievable,” sophomore quarterback Damon Dowdell said. “He’s a playmaker.”

Rogers’ spectacular play helped MSU (4-6 overall, 2-4 Big Ten) snap its four-game losing streak. But the midseason lull already did its damage, and most likely cost Rogers any chance at the Heisman Trophy.

But the junior still has his eyes fixed on the Biletnikoff Award. The award goes to the nation’s most outstanding receiver, and Rogers’ performance on Saturday certainly helped his claim.

“I still feel like I got a great shot at getting it,” Rogers said. “It’d be very important. Not just for me, but I think it’d be important for the team as well just to have a player from Michigan State bring home some hardware.”

Just in its ninth year, the Biletnikoff has never been awarded to a Spartan. But if Rogers can perform like he did against the Hoosiers (3-7, 1-5) in the final two regular season final two games, that could change.

And with interim head coach Morris Watts at the helm, it appears MSU is prepared to find new ways to get Rogers involved.

Rogers’ first touch of the game was a 16-yard first-down catch that helped the Spartans march to a 7-0 lead. But it was his second touch, a 41-yard reverse that took everyone by surprise.

Then on MSU’s next possession, Watts again called on Rogers for something different, a wide receiver screen. The junior took it for 12 yards and later capped the drive with a 36-yard circus catch for a touchdown, which tied Gibson for the record.

“Seeing the way he plays on the field just makes your jaw drop sometimes,” senior right guard Paul Harker said. “The catches he makes seem so impossible.

“It’s a wonderful feeling to know that I’ll tell my kids or family members that I got to play with an athlete like that.”

All told, Rogers ran two reverses for 66 yards and caught five passes for 102 yards and two touchdowns. The second, which broke the record, came on a 21-yarder in the third quarter to put MSU up 49-7.

The ways Watts got Rogers involved in the game may have been different, but the results spoke for themselves. And Rogers isn’t complaining.

“That helps a lot. It’s a jump-start,” he said. “I got involved in the game kind of early and I felt like the offense kind of fed off my play.”

Rogers declined to discuss MSU’s past struggles, instead opting to focus on the positives of Saturday’s game and what that means for the Spartans future. But before fans will let the past go, those positives - 492 yards of total offense and 56 points - will need to become a mainstay.

“As long as we execute, play our game and everybody does their job it’ll be good for us,” Rogers said. “We are moving in the right direction.”

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