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FINAL: Second straight win for Michigan State, defeats Rutgers 27-21

November 12, 2022
<p>A referee stands in the middle of the offense and defense as the Spartans and Scarlet Knights prepare to play on Nov. 12, 2022.</p>

A referee stands in the middle of the offense and defense as the Spartans and Scarlet Knights prepare to play on Nov. 12, 2022.

Photo by Olivia Hans | The State News

Michigan State football is one game closer to bowl eligibility. The Spartans defeated the Rutgers Scarlet Knights 27-21 Saturday in East Lansing thanks to solid offensive performances from both the run and the pass game.

Redshirt junior quarterback Payton Thorne threw for 256 yards and two touchdowns, while Rutgers sophomore quarterback Gavin Wimsatt threw for 235 yards and two touchdowns.

Sixth-year punter Bryce Baringer continued to prove why he’s the best in the nation. He nailed a 64-yard punt, which is no record for the veteran punter, but still gave his team a solid defensive position throughout the game. 

The Spartans had a promising opening drive and started with a solid field position after freshman wide receiver Germie Bernard returned the initial kickoff for 32 yards. The run and pass game then worked together to pick up some extra yardage before being stopped at the Rutgers 38-yard line.

After another promising drive that didn’t result in scoring play, the Spartans got the ball back and the third time was a charm as Thorne connected with fifth-year tight end Daniel Barker, making strides down the field.

The Spartans finally got the scoring started on that same drive when Thorne lofted a pass to a wide-open Barker who ran into the center of the end zone untouched. The extra point by junior kicker Ben Patton was good, giving MSU a 7-0 lead with just over a minute to play in the first quarter.

The MSU defense was able to hold off the Rutgers offense for the entirety of the first quarter, but the Scarlet Knights found holes in the second. They relied on the rushing offense to get them down the field before Wimsatt eventually finished off the drive with an 18-yard touchdown pass to junior running back Aaron Young to tie things up at 7-7 with just under six minutes to play in the first half.

MSU took back the lead with just over two minutes to play in the first half. Thorne found redshirt senior wide receiver Jayden Reed who was able to slow down and make an excellent grab to advance the Spartans 35 yards. 

Thorne then found redshirt sophomore tight end Maliq Carr in the end zone as he quickly turned and lept into the air to come down the ball. However, it was locked out of his hands on the way down and his defender was called for pass interference, giving the Spartans the ball on the two-yard line. 

The team handed off the ball to redshirt sophomore running back Jalen Berger to punch it in, putting the Spartans up 14-7 before halftime. 

The Spartans opened the second half with some explosive plays. Thorne found Reed once again for a 25-yard catch before handing off the ball to Berger on the next play, who then ran for 22 yards.

Coming off a solid performance against Illinois, Berger continued his success against the Scarlet Knights. He finished the day with 83 rushing yards, 15 receiving yards and a touchdown.

Thorne once again found Reed in the center of the end zone to finish the drive. He snuck the ball in between two defenders to complete the 25-yard pass and make it a two-possession game and put the Spartans up 21-7.

The Scarlet Knights had an answer this time. 

They were able to utilize the run and the pass to convert on third down to get down the field quickly. On the second attempt, senior tight end Johnny Langan forced his way through the MSU defensive line for the one-yard rush to make it a one-possession game once again.

Rutgers managed to get within field goal range on its next drive, but the kick was blocked by redshirt senior defensive tackle Jacob Slade and recovered by sixth-year cornerback Ameer Speed who took off towards the end zone before fumbling, but redshirt senior linebacker Ben VanSumeren recovered it. 

At the end of the drive, it was MSU attempting the field goal attempt this time, something the Spartans have struggled with this season. Patton sailed it through the uprights from 34 yards, hitting just the third field goal of the season.

When the defense took the field for the next drive, senior cornerback Chester Kimbrough took a scary hit to the head in a helmet-to-helmet collision that left him down on the field for a few minutes. He was able to walk off the field on his own but did not return to the game. 

Patton seemed to have found his groove after hitting an extra point and a 34-yard field goal, because he then nailed a season-long 48-yard field goal to put MSU up 27-14.

The Scarlet Knights scored one last touchdown in the final minute of play in a drive that covered 75 yards. Wimsatt threw a 31-yard pass to senior wide receiver Shameen Jones to cut the deficit and make the score 27-21, but MSU was able to maintain possession for the rest of the game and come away with the win.

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The Spartans remain home next Saturday to take on the Indiana Hoosiers before traveling to Happy Valley to end the season on the road against the Penn State Nittany Lions.

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