Michigan State uses big plays to beat Northwestern

EVANSTON, Ill. — Kenneth Walker III had a Spartan debut to remember as Michigan State opened the 2021 season with a 38-21 victory at Northwestern on Friday night at Ryan Field.

Walker, a junior transfer running back from Wake Forest, rushed for a career-high 264 yards – the seventh-highest total in MSU history — and scored a career-high four touchdowns to lead the Spartans. It marked the most rushing yards by a Spartan in a debut wearing the Green and White.

Overall, MSU racked up 511 yards of total offense, including 326 on the ground.

Payton Thorne made his second career start on 15-of-25 passes for 185 yards and one touchdown to get his first win as the starting quarterback. Thorne’s favorite target was Jayden Reed, who hauled in five catches for 64 yards.

Senior safety Xavier Henderson led the Spartan defense with nine tackles, including two for losses and a sack, while sophomore safety Angelo Grose also had nine stops for the Spartans.

Walker was at it right from the beginning. On the first play from scrimmage, the Arlington, Tennessee, native took his first handoff as a Spartan and raced 75 yards for a touchdown, quickly putting MSU on top.

After Northwestern missed a field goal on its first series, the Spartans put together a 10-play, 74-yard drive, capped by Walker’s second TD of the game on a 3-yard run to take a 14-0 lead midway through the opening quarter.

The Spartans increased their lead to 21-0 on their first series of the second quarter, marching 66 yards on just four plays, finished off by a 14-yard screen pass from Thorne to Jordon Simmons.

Northwestern got on the board late in the half on a fourth-and-goal play where Hunter Johnson found Trey Pugh in the end zone for a 1-yard pass.

Walker scored his third rushing touchdown, a 5-yard burst into the corner of the end zone, at the 7:06 mark in the third quarter to give MSU a 28-7 advantage.

Northwestern responded with a 16-play, 69-yard touchdown drive that took 7:52 off the clock and trimmed the Spartan lead to 28-14.

Matt Coghlin’s 37-yard field goal put the Spartans on top, 31-14, but the Wildcats scored another touchdown with 2:27 left in the game to make it a 10-point game.

That’s when Walker put the game out of reach. After MSU recovered an onside kick, Walker carried the ball three more times — for 4 yards, 30, and then 6 for his fourth and final touchdown of the game with 57 seconds left.

Michigan State returns to action at noon Saturday at Spartan Stadium against Youngstown State.


Berrien County

Local league to register voters on National Voter Registration Day


DAR to host rededication


Niles Housing Commission moves to make improvements, stabilize funding into the future


Dowagiac police investigating Saturday night shooting

Cass County

Van Buren/Cass District Health Department confirms COVID-19 associated death of a student in Van Buren County

Cass County

Cassopolis man gets probation for drunk driving

Cass County

South Bend man resentenced in 1997 Union murder case


Army veteran talks his experience in Afghanistan


Local farm markets ready for fall season


Mason’s Pumpkins preparing for second-annual Harvest Festival


DUS, teachers continue contract talks


Dowagiac Area History Museum fundraiser raises $40,000


Wolverine Pipeline, area organizations partner to lend veteran a helping hand


Cassopolis woman opens vintage, antique store downtown

Brandywine Education

Tickets on sale for Brandywine Hall of Fame induction ceremony


New tech students race marbles to raise money for essential workers

Berrien County

MGCF awards $121,182 in grants to Berrien, Cass counties

Berrien County

Berrien County reports lower COVID-19 cases in schools following mask mandate

Berrien County

Berrien County amends transportation funding requests


Dowagiac man found guilty of drunk driving

Cass County

Underground Railroad Society of Cass County wins Michigan Humanities Council 2021 Outstanding Humanities Organization Award


Dowagiac Police Log: Sept. 17-22


Ontwa Township/Edwardsburg Police Log: Sept. 13-20


Boutique yoga, wellness studio opens in Edwardsburg