NEW YORK (AP) — Brian Lewerke threw for 320 yards and a touchdown and ran for a score in Michigan State’s 27-21 victory over Wake Forest on Friday night in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium.
Lewerke threw a 10-yard pass to wide receiver Cody White in the third quarter to put the Spartans (7-6) ahead 27-21 and they survived down the stretch to give embattled coach Mark Dantonio his sixth bowl victory.
Wake Forest (8-5) missed a chance to win nine games for just the third time in program history.
Michigan State tried to give away the game twice in the fourth, the first time on Lewerke’s shovel pass to tight end Trenton Gillison inside the 10 that was stripped and recovered by linebacker Ja’Cquez Williams at the 6.
The Deamon Deacons failed to score on the drive, and handed Michigan State another chance to seal the victory. Again, the Spartans couldn’t put it away when Matt Coghlin was wide left on a 28-yard field goal attempt with 3:03 left Wake Forest’s last chance ended on an incomplete pass on its own 16.
White finished with 97 yards receiving and Elijah Collins had 96 yards rushing.
Dantonio said he would play mutliple QBs to give the program a better feel for what it had on the depth chart to work with next season. But Michigan State stuck with Lewerke, in his fifth-year and making his 38th career start, and he responded in the clutch when he connected with White. Lewerke passed Connor Cook (9,403) to become Michigan State’s career leader in total offense and was the bowl MVP.
Jamie Newman did all his damage for the Demon Deacons in the first half, throwing three touchdown passes for a 21-20 halftime lead. Newman, the MVP of last season’s Birmingham Bowl, hit Kendall Hinton with a 29-yard scoring strike on Wake Forest’s opening drive and wide receiver Donavon Greene made a sensational one-handed scoring catch early in the second quarter for a 14-10 lead.
Newman connected with Jack Fruedenthal on a 44-yard play that again gave Wake Forest the lead, 21-17.
Newman failed to get enough lift on an early pass attempt that was swatted by Jacub Panasiuk at the line and caught by his brother, Michigan State defensive tackle Mike Panasiuk who rumbled 14 yards for a touchdown and a 10-7 lead. Panasiuk’s measurements look a little like this: height, 6-foot-4; weight, 300 pounds; unkempt beard length, oh, let’s say 4 to 6 inches. His scruff, usually a no-no at Yankee Stadium, was on full display after he yanked off his helmet in celebration for his first career touchdown and was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Lewerke had an 8-yard TD run and Matt Coghlin kicked 23- and 44-yard field goals for the Spartans in the first half.
Wake Forest: Snapped a three-season bowl winning streak.
Michigan State: Michigan State finished the decade 92-40, a successful standard even as the program eked out 7-6 records in two straight seasons.
THE YANKEE KICKER
Wake Forest punter Dom Maggio tried to give the Demon Deacons a jolt with a 46.8 average on six punts.
VOTE OF CONFIDENCE
Michigan State President Samuel Stanley, just five months on the job, gave a vote of confidence to Dantonio. Dantonio’s 114 wins are the most in MSU history.
“I think coach Dantonio has really an incredible track record,” Stanley said. “He’s the winningest coach in MSU history. So I am pleased with the direction of the program overall. The season was not what we hoped for last year, there’s no question, but I think he is the right person to continue.”
WARM UP ACT
Football in New York in December? Bundle up! Not quite. Traditionally one of the coldest bowls on the schedule, it was a downright balmy 54 degrees at kickoff and temps remained in the lows 50s for the duration, much to the delight of the 36,895 fans at Yankee Stadium.