Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Darrell Stewart Jr. emerging as Lewerke's top target

Junior wide receiver Darrel Stewart Jr. (25) puts his hands to his head after dropping a pass during the game against Purdue on Oct. 27, 2018 at Spartan Stadium. The Spartans lead the Boilermakers 13-6 at half.
Junior wide receiver Darrel Stewart Jr. (25) puts his hands to his head after dropping a pass during the game against Purdue on Oct. 27, 2018 at Spartan Stadium. The Spartans lead the Boilermakers 13-6 at half. —
Photo by CJ Weiss | The State News

Written by Amanda Poole

No. 19 Michigan State dominated Saturday night against Western Michigan. The Broncos fell short offensively as the Spartans took advantage of each possession, outscoring them 51-17.  The Spartans not only proved their offense could get their act together, but the game also shined a light on key players that stepped up to get the job done.

“We don’t have any pixie dust,” MSU Head Coach Mark Dantonio said. “It’s about guys getting on their guy and winning their individual battles.”

One veteran in particular shined the brightest: Darrell Stewart Jr. The 6-foot-2-inch receiver earned one touchdown, 10 catches for 185 receiving yards, while also completing a 17-yard pass to quarterback Brian Lewerke.

“It was an amazing feeling just seeing Coach (Dantonio) happy,” Stewart said.

Dantonio said the solid offensive play was due to a certain “rhythm.” That rhythm stemmed from Lewerke’s and Stewart’s connection on the field. 

Lewerke was able to find Stewart since the first snap. A 33-yard pass to Stewart, followed by a combined 41 rushing yards from Elijah Collins, and an eventual touchdown pass to Matt Dotson, ignited Michigan State’s fast-paced offense. 

“It was an amazing feeling being able to connect with Brian like that on the first drive,” Stewart said. “It’s (been) a long time coming.”

The upbeat tempo MSU’s offense kept was something Stewart felt comfortable with. Comparing it to sitting in a “lazy boy,” Spartan fans can expect the future offense to work towards the fluidity and quickness they saw tonight. 

Veteran linebacker Joe Bachie expressed his respect for the contagious gameplay at kickoff, “It’s just awesome to see your offense come out and they’re rolling, three for three on their first three drives three drives, 21 points on the board.”

Spartan defense had some room to breathe, now that the offensive success is under the limelight. After Stewart set the example of separation and speed, other seasoned receivers like Cody White and Matt Dotson guided the momentum throughout the game.

Stewart’s ability to take on challenges and see them as opportunities for growth originates in his childhood.

“Growing up playing football at a young age, I’ve been given challenges,” Stewart said.  “I’m happy that [Dantonio] challenged us ... to be better players.”

Stewart has always played an important role throughout his time as a Spartan. Last year he ended the season with 48 receptions for 413 yards in 11 games played. But this being his last year makes the hunger heavier.

“Now that we did it this week, we’ve got to do it next week, then the next week,” Stewart said. “Never get too high and never get too low. There’s a lot more games. We’re starving. It’s gonna be week by week. You can’t eat an elephant whole, you have to eat it piece by piece.”

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