It all happened in a matter of 30 seconds.
Just like that Michigan State found itself trailing for the first time since its loss at Oregon on Sept. 6. But with two touchdown drives in the final 3:59 of the first half, Michigan State quickly flipped the switch and the score back in its favor on its way to a 56-17 win against Indiana on Saturday.
“We needed some things to get moving,” Cook said. “We needed a spark and we needed someone to make a play.”
The initial spark came from tight end Josiah Price, who hauled in a pass from Cook and rumbled for 67 yards to the Indiana 8, where Jeremy Langford finished the drive with a score to take the lead back for good.
“We were pretty upset with ourselves offensively because we had drives that we didn’t score on,” offensive lineman Connor Kruse said. “We brought it up and said we need to get moving. …
”Josiah’s catch for that long run was something that really boosted our morale and after that we started rolling and started rolling.”
From there, Cook led another quick touchdown drive before the half – ending with a 14-yard touchdown pass to MacGarrett Kings – and the Spartans shut out the Hoosiers to go on a 42-0 run to close the game.
“Was it 42-0? That’s pretty good,” Kruse said. “That’s awesome. The defense stopped them great and we just started being able to run the ball a lot better.”
”The fourth quarter, the way we have finished games out in the past, it shows we have a resilient team and a lot of guys that are going to keep fighting regardless of what the scoreboard says,” safety Kurtis Drummond said.
The Spartans opened Mark Dantonio’s 100th game as head coach well, with two touchdowns in their first three drives. Each time, the Hoosiers came back with points, as a 65-yard run by Coleman set up a field goal and wide receiver Shane Wynn scored on a 75-yard run on the first play after Cook hit Price for a 10-yard score to put MSU ahead 14-3.
But after the freshman Diamont, who was making his first career start, ran for a 9-yard touchdown and a 17-14 lead with 5:25 to go in the first half, the Hoosiers were shut down and had just 21 yards on 28 plays the rest of the way.
“I think we just grouped up and said it’s us giving them big gains, we aren’t in our proper gaps or making plays like we are supposed to do,” linebacker Ed Davis said. “We just told ourselves we’ve gotta make these plays and stop giving up big gains.”
That included holding to Tevin Coleman to 132 yards on 15 carries – 95 of which came on two plays.
”We’re gonna give up some explosive plays, we just can’t give up a lot of them,” Dantonio said.
On offense, the Spartans had no trouble moving the ball, posting 330 yards on the ground and 332 through the air. The 662 total yards were the highest for a Michigan State team since the 2005 team had 705 against Illinois.
Senior Jeremy Langford posted 109 yards on 21 carries, good his 11th straight game against Big Ten teams with more than 100 yards -- a streak which dates back to a 42-28 win against Indiana last year. Fellow senior Nick Hill had a career-high 178 yards, including a 76-yard yard late in the fourth.
”He’s extremely powerful, has great vision in the hole,” Dantonio said. “He sort of gets lost in there a little bit then hits the seam. Again I thought all three of our tailbacks played extremely well. I thought Delton Williams had a nice game and obviously Langford did as well.”
The Spartans scored on their first possession for the fifth time in seven games this season, as Langford broke free inside, cut out to the right and stiff-armed Tim Bennett at the 10, carrying him into the end zone for a 32-yard score and an early 7-0 lead.
After a 27-yard field goal from Indiana’s Griffin Oakes, the teams traded scores as Price put MSU up 14-3 before Wynn narrowed it to 14-10. Following Cook’s interception and Diamont’s touchdown, the Spartans scored six straight touchdowns – including four the in the second half.
The first came on a 4-yard shovel pass to R.J. Shelton after a highlight reel grab by Tony Lippett. With Cook under pressure, he rolled right before reversing field back to the left and throwing it down field to Lippett, who made a spectacular falling, over-the-shoulder grab for 41 yards.
The fourth quarter saw a touchdown run for each of the three MSU running backs as Langford has his third of the day from 12 yards out before Williams hit from 22 and Hill raced for 76 with 1:24 left.
With a 6-1 (3-0 Big Ten) record, Michigan State now will prepare to host rival Michigan next Saturday.
“We’ll talk about that game next week,” Dantonio said. “We’ll go 24 hours right now and get ready, but it’s always a great week.
”It’s a great week for college football, it’s a great week for our program and we’ve always embraced it.”