This Michigan State team has an affinity for early fireworks.
For the second week in a row, the Spartans scored on the first play of the game, this time on a 75-yard bomb from Payton Thorne to Jayden Reed, causing the fans in Spartan Stadium to erupt for the first time in over 600 days.
The play was a flea flicker, with Kenneth Walker III flipping the ball back to Thorne after getting the handoff and pulling Youngstown State’s secondary towards the line. Thorne calmly rotated the ball in his hands and delivered a strike to Reed who was streaking past the confused safeties.
7-0 MSU, 10 seconds into the game.
Things did not change much after that first play. MSU continued to roll through the Penguins on its way to a commanding 42-14 victory, to move 2-0 in the season.
Youngstown State was outmatched as Michigan State was faster, stronger and more cohesive than them throughout the game, no matter who was on the field for MSU.
Thorne led the way for the Michigan State offense which gained 595 total yards. The Penguins defense could not stop MSU whatsoever as MSU took advantage by ripping big play after big play, averaging 10 yards per play.
Thorne had the best game of his young career, leading Michigan State on six scoring drives before sitting for the rest of the game with two minutes left in the third quarter. Thorne was 15-21 for 280 yards with four touchdowns and a rushing touchdown.
After the first score, Michigan State quickly forced a punt and marched down the field more methodically, but with the same result. Thorne kept the ball on a read option and scampered into the endzone to extend the lead to 14 halfway through the first quarter.
The defense continued to stifle Youngstown State’s offense in the first half, not allowing Quarterback Demeatric Crenshaw or running back Jaleel McLaughlin to generate any momentum or big plays. Xavier Henderson was once again the leader for the unit with five tackles, a sack and a jaw-dropping interception in the first half.
On the other side of the ball, the offense continued to roll. Thorne connected with Reed again two minutes into the second quarter on a deep post for an 85-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 21.
MSU scored two more touchdowns in the first half, both coming from the running backs. Elijah Collins saw his first action of the season screen pass from Thorne from 20 yards out before promptly suffering an injury. Walker added a touchdown late to make MSU’s lead 28 with 17 seconds before halftime.
The defense could not maintain the shutout into the half, allowing Crenshaw to scramble for a touchdown with 4 minutes left in the half to make the score 28-7 MSU before Walker scored to push the lead back to 28 at the half.
Michigan State took its foot off the gas after halftime, only scoring seven points in the second half. The coaching staff rotated the players deep on the depth chart into the game throughout the half and allowed the starters to rest.
After the teams traded touchdowns to start the 3rd quarter to make the score 42-14, the defenses took the game over and the final score of the game was 42-14. Michigan State’s second unit on offense, led by backup quarterback Anthony Russo, could not add any points despite moving the ball effectively.
The blowout allowed the young men to make an impression on fans and the coaching staff with live reps. Men like wide receiver Keon Coleman, defensive linemen Kyle King and Derrick Harmon, cornerback Charles Brantley and many others got their first playing time in the green and white.
Thorne had a career-high 5 touchdowns and Jordon Simmons rushed for a career-high 142 yards, giving Walker a well-deserved rest. Henderson - Mr. Reliable for the Spartans defense, finished with eight tackles, a sack and an interception to lead the unit.
Michigan State moves to 2-0 on the season after the convincing victory. They will look to carry the momentum to Florida next week when they take on the Miami Hurricanes on the road.
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