Sunday, May 31, 2020

Halftime Thoughts: Late Lewerke score pulls Spartans ahead at the break

November 30, 2019
Senior quarterback Brian Lewerke (14) looks at the scoreboard during the game on Nov. 30, 2019 at Spartan Stadium. The Spartans lead 13-7 against the Terrapins at halftime.
Senior quarterback Brian Lewerke (14) looks at the scoreboard during the game on Nov. 30, 2019 at Spartan Stadium. The Spartans lead 13-7 against the Terrapins at halftime. —
Photo by Sylvia Jarrus | The State News

Michigan State leads Maryland 13-7 at the end of the first half at Spartan Stadium.

With a chance to become bowl eligible for the 12th time in Mark Dantonio's tenure, the Spartans aren't making it an easy task. Brian Lewerke threw two interceptions on consecutive passes and the MSU offense, yet again, settled for field goals rather than touchdowns.

Here are some quick thoughts from halftime in East Lansing.

We've seen this before:

Stop me if you have heard this regarding Michigan State this season. Offense can't finish drives and can't convert on fourth-and-1. Michigan State's defense gives the offense ample opportunities to score points — they fail to do so and Brian Lewerke can't take care of the ball.

Not only did that sum up the last three months of Michigan State football, but all of that happened within the first 15 minutes of the Spartans' game against Maryland.

MSU trailed 7-3 through the first quarter of Saturday's game, despite crossing midfield on all four of its possessions.

The Spartans methodically moved the ball into Maryland territory on their opening possession but had to settle for a 40-yard field goal by Matt Coghlin.

Then, after an interception by Josiah Scott, the Spartans moved inside of the 5-yard line before Elijah Collins was stuffed on a fourth-and-1 carry.

MSU's defense forced another turnover when Antjuan Simmons stripped the ball from Dontay Demus and recovered it himself, but Lewerke underthrew Trenton Gillison in the end zone for an interception.

Lewerke threw another interception on the first play of MSU's next possession and Maryland quarterback Josh Jackson connected with Demus on a 44-yard touchdown two plays later to give the Terrapins a 7-3 lead.

Hey, Matt Coghlin:

In terms of any offensive positive coming from the first half, Matt Coghlin's mini resurgence could be viewed as one.

Coghlin scored seven of MSU's 13 points in the half and made two field goals for the second week in a row. The junior kicker has made six of his last seven attempts, the lone miss coming last week against Rutgers.

Getting Coghlin some confidence at the end of his rough season could be important as he enters his senior year.

Effort does not match the circumstance:

With the way Michigan State's offense played in the first half, the Spartans are very lucky to hold a lead going into the final two quarters. Brian Lewerke found the end zone from 1-yard out on a read option to give MSU a 13-7 lead late in the second quarter.

Before that, Maryland held its first lead in over a month. A whole month. MSU's offense had its same issues it's been plagued with all season, and it left tons of points on the field as a result.

The Spartans had a chance to put this game away before the halftime break. It would have made for a fun senior day that helped MSU reach bowl eligibility. Instead, it looks like the Spartans are going to have to sweat this one out.

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