Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Michigan State loses kicking battle to Nebraska in final road game

November 17, 2018
Junior quarterback Brian Lewerke (14) pushes for a first down during the game against Ohio State Nov. 10, 2018.
Junior quarterback Brian Lewerke (14) pushes for a first down during the game against Ohio State Nov. 10, 2018. —
Photo by Matt Schmucker | The State News

Michigan State placekicker Matt Coghlin and Nebraska kicker Barret Pickering would be the only players on their respective teams put points on the scoreboard in a Saturday afternoon game dominated by field goals. 

Barret won the duel, however, and the Cornhuskers beat the Spartans 9-6, dropping the Spartans to 6-5 overall, 4-4 in the Big Ten and MSU's road record for the season to 3-2. 

MSU had just 18 rushing attempts in its 20-point loss to Ohio State last week, and surpassed that number during the first quarter against Nebraska. Halfway through the fourth quarter, sophomore running back Connor Heyward would lead the Spartans with 20 carries for 78 yards, and Michigan State outrushed the Cornhuskers 143-103 for the game.   

The Spartans were the first on the board after Coghlin connected on a 34-yard field goal with 7:43 left to go in the first quarter. He would go 1-2 in the first half on his field goal attempts. 

Redshirt freshman Rocky Lombardi got the start at quarterback, but failed to complete a pass in the Cornhuskers endzone. He failed to connect on a couple of would-be touchdown passes to sophomore tight end Matt Dotson right before halftime, and was intercepted by Nebraska defensive back Antonio Reed on the Conhusker's 1-yard, and MSU was forced to go into halftime with a 3-0 lead. 

Lombardi finished 15-of-41 for 146 yards along with the redzone pick. He ran the ball nine times for 53 yards. 

Coghlin made his second field goal from the 26 yards out early in the fourth quarter, as the Spartans continued to struggle to get into the endzone. 

The Cornhuskers would finally get on the board halfway through the fourth quarter after Pickering made a 36-yard field goal to make it to 6-3. 

With a little over 10 minutes left, Lombardi felt the pressure from the Cornhuskers’ defense and was sacked, causing him to fumble the ball and Nebraska to recover the ball on MSU’s 20-yard line. 

Junior cornerback Justin Layne helped the Spartans hold serve and Nebraska went on to tie the game 6-6 with another field goal, after failing to get the first touchdown of the game for either team.

Several minutes later Pickering made a career-long 47-yard field goal to give his team a three-point lead with 5:13 left to go, in what was essentially the game-winning kick for Nebraska. 

Michigan State will conclude its regular season next week at Spartan Stadium against Rutgers.

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