Michigan State football suffered a 29-7 loss at the hands of rival No. 4 Michigan Saturday night in Ann Arbor. The Spartan defense was able to initially hold the Wolverines to field goals, but the offense failed to string together explosive plays at the right times to create scoring opportunities.
Graduate student kicker Jake Moody was responsible for the majority of Michigan’s scoring. He went 5-5 in field goals and 2-2 in extra points.
Sophomore wide receiver Keon Coleman scored MSU’s lone touchdown on a 26-yard pass from redshirt junior quarterback Payton Thorne in the first quarter. He led the Spartan receivers with 155 yards.
The Spartans started out with a promising drive with redshirt sophomore running back Jalen Berger and redshirt senior wide receiver Jayden Reed rushing for a combined 17 yards, the latter getting through thanks to a lead block from Thorne to seal the edge.
The promising drive however was quickly ended by three straight penalties that left the Spartans in too much of a hole to climb out. MSU couldn’t convert on 3rd and 29, forcing the punting unit to come into the game, which was also called for a delay of game penalty, making it four straight penalties for Michigan State on its opening drive.
Luckily for the Spartans, the Wolverines also had some miscues on their opening drive. Sophomore quarterback J.J. McCarthy completed a pass to senior wide receiver Cornelius Johnson, but fifth-year safety Xavier Henderson was on him. He forced a fumble that was recovered by redshirt senior defensive tackle Dashaun Mallory at the MSU 37 yard line.
It quickly became a 4th and 1 situation in which redshirt senior running back Elijah Collins was given the green light to punch it in. After a lengthy measurement from the referees, they ruled the Spartans had gotten the first down, but after an official review he was ruled short and the Wolverines got the ball in MSU territory.
On the ensuing possesion, McCarthy launched a 28-yard pass to sophomore running back Donovan Edwards to make it 1st and goal for the Wolverines. However, the MSU red zone defense stood strong and held Michigan to a field goal which put the Wolverines up 3-0.
Thorne took it himself on MSU's next drive, running 12 yards for the first down. Seemingly finding his groove, he then threw a 29-yard pass ahead for Coleman who was able to come up with it. Thorne then wasted no time throwing to Coleman again, this time in the end zone over two defenders for 26 yards, and he came down with it again putting the Spartans up 7-3.
The MSU defense struggled to stop explosive plays on the next drive, resulting in a Michigan touchdown. Junior running back Blake Corum rushed for a total of 25 yards on the drive, including a quick two-yard run into the end zone off a toss from McCarthy to put Michigan back on top 10-7.
MSU got a chance to take the lead back thanks to Thorne connecting with Coleman one again, but were unable to capitalize. Coleman came down with 27 and 22 yard catches, but the red zone offense was not on the same level. The Spartans failed to convert on 4th and 1 and the Wolverines got the ball back.
They were able to find their way into the red zone once again, but the Spartan defense forced them to settle for another field goal and Michigan went into the locker room at half up 13-7.
The Wolverines got the ball first to begin the second half. Propelled forward once again by MSU penalties, they quickly found themselves at the MSU 39 yard line, where the Spartan defense was able to get a stop and Moody once again hit a field goal to extend the lead by three.
Get ready to experience more déjà vu.
After MSU went three-and-out, the Wolverines quickly marched down the field but were unable to get to the end zone. Moody came back in and kicked the ball through the uprights for the fourth time to put Michigan up 19-7.
If he hadn't already, Moody earned himself player of the game honors when he hit his fifth field goal of the night shortly after.
The Spartan defense once again was able to stop the Wolverine offense on third down and Moody came out to nail the 54 yard field goal, his longest of the night and put his team up once again, 22-7.
After going three-and-out once again, the Spartans called in sixth-year punter Bryce Baringer to send it away. However, the Wolverines rushed and took him down, getting in first and goal position.
The Wolverines immediately capitalized on the error and Corum ran it in four yards to slam the door on the Spartans and run the score up 29-7.
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The Spartans remain on the road next Saturday when they travel to Illinois to take on the Illini.
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