Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Trick play vs. Hoosiers gives Coghlin first career touchdown

September 23, 2018
Redshirt freshman kicker Matt Coghlin (4) kicks a field goal during the game against Iowa on Sept. 30, 2017, at Spartan Stadium. The Spartans defeated the Hawkeyes, 17-10.
Redshirt freshman kicker Matt Coghlin (4) kicks a field goal during the game against Iowa on Sept. 30, 2017, at Spartan Stadium. The Spartans defeated the Hawkeyes, 17-10. —

BLOOMINGTON, Ind.-  With a little under five minutes left in the third quarter of Michigan State's 35-21 win over Indiana, the Spartans made an unexpected play, called “Rocks,” which featured sophomore kicker Matt Coghlin scoring his first touchdown to put his team up by 21 points. 

Last season against Penn State, Coghlin made a 34-yard field goal in the final seconds of the game. Against the Hoosiers, the sophomore caught a pass in the endzone from junior quarterback Brian Lewerke for a touchdown, after a faked field goal attempt. 

After the game Coghlin couldn't believe what he did. 

“I just kind of threw my hands up like, 'What is going on, I’m not supposed to be here,'" Coghlin said.

It was the first time this season the Spartans had attempted the play, and coach Mark Dantonio made the call during the game. 

Junior quarterback Brian Lewerke helped Coghlin be aware the ball would actually be intended for him. 

“I knew he was going to be a little caught off guard, he wasn’t expecting that to come to his side, so I just approached him as much as I could ... and he did the rest.”

Dantonio believed Saturday night's game was the perfect chance for his team to test out the trick play after working on it in practice the last few weeks. 

He knows his players aren't the only ones who need to take risks during games. 

“I felt like we had to look at some things ... and it felt like we could execute it,” Dantonio said. “I think at some point in time the head football coach needs to take chances too. You can’t put it all on the players.”

Dantonio admitted the Spartans have not only practiced the play recently,  but also before the start of the season.

Lewerke knew his coach made the right call after going through it in practice and watching it all unfold in the moment.

“We’ve been practicing with that fake with Coghlin a lot, since fall camp I think,” Lewerke said. “We knew that Indiana had the perfect look for us.”

Coghlin didn't keep the game ball from his only collegiate career touchdown, and he recalled the endzone score being his first since he was in the third grade.

With having played in high-pressure moments against Indiana this season and Penn State last year, reality still has not set in for the second year placekicker. 

“It still hasn’t hit me yet,” Coghlin said. “I'll Give it a couple of days and watch it a couple of times and be like ‘Yeah, that was me scoring a touchdown.’”

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