No. 2 Michigan State knocks off Chippewas

EAST LANSING — The No. 2-ranked Michigan State Spartans pulled it together in the fourth quarter to dispose of the visiting Central Michigan 30-10 and remain undefeated.

The Spartans won the toss and chose to defer to the second half, giving the Chippewas the ball to open the game.

After a couple small gains on the ground, CMU quarterback, Cooper Rush found sophomore receiver Mark Chapman for 42 yards. Despite the big gain, the Chips were forced to attempt a 45-yard field goal, which was blocked by Michigan State behemoth Shilique Calhoun.

On State’s ensuing drive, quarterback Conner Cook found a wide-open Macgarrett Kings Jr. over the middle but over threw the ball, causing Kings Jr. to drive for the reception, limiting the gain to 45 yards. Michian State was able to march down inside the red zone where tailback, Madre London took a sweep up the left sideline for a 6-yard score and the Spartans led 7-0.

The Chippewas battled back on their next drive, taking the ball all the way down to the Spartan 26 thanks to three connections between Rush and junior wide receiver Anthony Rice for five, 12, and 16 yards. Another stalled drive led to another CMU field goal attempt and another blocked kick by Calhoun, who had a monster day on special teams and defense.

When the first quarter came to a close, the Spartans led 7-0.

The Spartans’ next drive would end in a successful 47-yard field goal attempt and a 10-0 lead.

After forcing Central Michigan to go three-and-out on its next opportunity, Michigan State got the ball back at its own 48 and wasted no time getting back to the end zone.

Cook hooked up with junior tight end Josiah Price for the 5-yard touchdown. With the score, Price broke the Michigan State touchdown reception record with 14 in his career.

Central Michigan could feel the potential blowout building and with its backs against the wall, responded.

With four minutes left in the first half, CMU put together a string of big plays including a 14-yard pass to junior receiver Jessie Kroll, a 27-yard pass to sophomore wide receiver Corey Willis and an 18-yard rush by sophomore running back Devon Spalding.

The drive was capped off by a 1-yard pass from Rush to Rice with just eight seconds left in the half.

Michigan State got the ball to open the second half, but the Central defense was able to stop them to take over at their own 11 down by 10.

On the first offensive play of the second half, the Chippewas’ Spalding broke free for the longest run of the game, a 42-yard gallop down the right sideline. The play helped put CMU in field goal range and this time, they were able to get it past Calhoun and through the uprights to pull within one score, 17-10.

That would be the closest the Chippewas would come.

The two teams battled throughout the rest of the third quarter and early into the fourth with no points being scored.

With just under 10 minutes to play in the game, Michigan State found the talent that had propelled them to No. 2 in the country.

Cook found junior tight end Jamal Lyles for 26-yard and sophomore running back Gerald Holmes would handle the rest. Holmes came in for the fourth quarter in relief of London.

In the final eight minutes of the game, Holmes carried the ball four times for 22 yards and the two final touchdowns, giving his team the 30-10 lead late in the fourth.

The Chippewas’ upset bid was plagued by penalties in all three phases of the game.  A false start pushed their first field goal attempt back five yards, multiple defensive penalties on key third down plays and an offside call on a punt that gave Michigan State an automatic first down.

Michigan State remains undefeated and Central Michigan falls to 1-3.

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