Michigan State football kicked off week five of the college football season on Saturday afternoon, welcoming Central Michigan to Spartan Stadium. MSU came into this game ranked No.21, looking to build on a 35-21 victory over the Indiana Hoosiers in Bloomington last week. Meanwhile the Chippewas tried get their season back on track after a 1-3 start.
The Chips struck first with a 40-yard field goal early in the first quarter. For the Michigan State offense, points did come quickly, as they struggled to get the offense going. The Spartans wouldn’t score until their fourth drive after the first three ended with two punts and a red zone interception by CMU’s Sean Bunting .
MSU would find its rhythm in the second quarter starting with a three yard rushing touchdown by quarterback Brian Lewerke. Seven minutes later Lewerke would scramble for another rushing score, capping off a six play 46-yard drive to put the Spartans up 14-3. With the offense finding its footing and the defense holding the Chips to just one third down conversion, the Spartans took a 17-3 lead into the locker-room.
Coming out of the half the Spartan offense kept rolling with an eight-play 58-yard scoring drive ending with running back Connor Hayward in the end zone. After a brief CMU procession the Spartans went on another long drive that saw La’Darius Jefferson score his first career touchdown on a two-yard rush.
Central Michigan showed signs of life late in the third quarter going into the final stanza. The Chips went on a 13 play, 75-yard drive to score their first touchdown of the game on a 13-yard pass to wide receiver Julian Hicks from quarterback Tommy Lazzaro. CMU then pulled out some trickery with an onside kick that ultimately resulted in another 40-yard field goal for the Chips. Later CMU ran a halfback pass trick play which saw running back Jonathan Ward connect with quarterback Tony Poljan for a 29-yard touchdown.
Despite the late game surge Michigan State held on to win 31-20, improving to 3-1 on the year.
“Nothing ever easy, but that’s football,” MSU head coach Mark Dantonio said. “Credit Central and their play calling...what they tried to do, they stayed on it.”
“I like our attitude. Every football team is a work in progress but we’ll come and we’ll compete.”
Next week the Spartans get back into Big Ten play with a Homecoming game against Northwestern. The Wildcats are coming off a loss at home to the University of Michigan. Central Michigan now falls to 1-4 and sits at the bottom of the MAC West. They look to rebound next week at home vs Buffalo.