Herbert Sparks Oregon Past MSU 7-6 In Redbox Bowl
Justin Herbert did just enough to keep his streak intact for consecutive games with a touchdown pass. That it turned out to be the Oregon Ducks lone score in their 7-6 win over Michigan State in the Redbox Bowl only emphasized why coach Mario Cristobal was smiling after Herbert’s decision earlier this month to bypass the NFL draft.
Herbert shook off a sluggish day and threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to Dillon Mitchell in the fourth quarter, and Oregon held on after Michigan State botched a field goal attempt for a 7-6 victory in the Redbox Bowl on Monday.
The Spartans were lined up for a 50-yard field goal attempt when quarterback Brian Lewerke, who doubles as the holder, bobbled the snap, then attempted to run before hurriedly throwing an incompletion near the sideline.
“It’s one that I have to come up with,” Lewerke said. “The ball kind of hit my hand on top of the ball. I tried to make something happen. That’s what happens.”
After Michigan State’s defense forced a three-and-out on the following possession, the Spartans took over at their own 42, but Lewerke’s long pass on 4th-and-12 was knocked down by Oregon cornerback Thomas Graham.
Lewerke completed 22 of 40 passes for 172 yards with one interception. It’s the third time in four games that Michigan State (7-6) has failed to score a touchdown.
Running back LJ Scott ran for 84 yards on 24 carries, ending his injury-riddled season with the Spartans on a high note after being limited to five games. The senior running back declined to redshirt this year and declared for the NFL draft in early December.
Matt Goghlin kicked a pair of 34-yard field goals but he also missed one from 50.
“We never got that bust-out play,” Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said. “You’re not going to win many games scoring six points.”
It was Oregon’s first bowl victory since beating Florida State in the 2015 Rose Bowl.
Michigan State: The Spartans had more than enough on defense but as has been the case all season, the offense simply couldn’t hold up its end of the bargain. Lewerke tried to get the passing game going and took several deep shots, but it was his scrambling that was most effective. The memory of the mistake on the field goal try in the fourth quarter will linger, but the Spartans’ inability to get a sustained attack on offense was what ultimately did in Dantonio’s team.
WILLEKES BREAKS LEG
Michigan State played most of the second half without defensive end Kenny Willekes, who suffered a broken left fibula in the third quarter. Willekes led the Spartans with 8 ½ sacks this season.
Michigan State: The Spartans will have to find someone to take over for Scott, who went into the day 10th in school history for rushing yards. The good news is that a majority of the starters on both sides are returning, including Lewerke. Michigan State begins 2019 with a home game against Tulsa on Aug. 31.