Big plays on offense and defense were the difference for Michigan State on Saturday as the Spartans saw quarterback Connor Cook get his first touchdown of the day when he hit one of his favorite targets Josiah Price from 15-yards out with 8:48 remaining in the first quarter.
The Spartans looked to be cruising until the Falcons put together a ten play 75-yard drive ending in a touchdown by tailback Benton Washington with 1:22 left in the first quarter.
Early in the second quarter the Spartans would put together a long drive of their own ending when Cook hit Aaron Burbridge for a 28-yard touchdown with 10:40 left in the half. The rest of the half went the Spartans way as the Falcons struggled to put together a drive worth talking about.
However, Michigan State was not done as they put together another long drive going 64 yards on eight plays ending in another Cook to Burbridge touchdown pass giving the Spartans a 28-7 advantage with 28-seconds remaining in the half. A theme was starting as this would not be the last time the pair would connect on the day.
The Spartans entered the locker room with great confidence knowing they would get the ball to open the second half.
The third quarter started like the end of the second half as the Spartans would go on another long drive putting together an eight play 75 yard drive that ended in Cook hitting Burbridge for a third touchdown and following the PAT by Michael Geiger the Spartans would be up 35-7.
For Cook it would be his fourth touchdown pass of the day matching his single game career best. Burbridge would tie a school single game mark for touchdowns in a game with his third joining B.J. Cunningham who did the feat against Wisconsin.
But the Falcons showed they came to play and answered the Spartans with six play 80-yard drive catching the Spartans secondary asleep when Falcons quarterback Karste Roberts hit Jale Robinette for a 38-yard touchdown strike giving Falcon fans hope of a comeback as they trailed 35-14 with 8:38 left in the third quarter.
After stopping the Spartans the Falcons didn’t help themselves as Roberts made a wide pitch that was fumbled and landed on by Andrew Dowell putting the Spartan in great field position just short of midfield but Spartans offense went three and out allowing punter Jake Hartbarger to pin the Falcons inside the ten.
The Falcons went to work catching the Spartans secondary napping on a couple of big pass plays reaching the two yard line by the time the third quarter came to an end.
But the Spartans defense had different plans as they stood tall forcing the Falcons to a fourth and goal attempted from the three yard line. Going for it, the Falcons looked to use some misdirection that did not fool linebacker Chris Frey who made a tackle for loss ending the drive and giving the Spartans the ball on the eight yard line with 13:47 left in the game.
But the men Mark Dantonio called future heros early in the week would not go away and fought back to score one more time when fullback D.J. Johnson scored from two-yards out with 2:11 remaining in the game. But the biggest loss may happen next week in the first half as linebacker Riley Bullough was ejected from the game for targeting after posting 16 total tackles on the day.
There would be no more points in the game and the Spartans move on to host Central Michigan next Saturday at Spartan Stadium with another noon kickoff.
|Air Force Falcons at Michigan State Spartans|
|Sep 19, 2015||1ST||2ND||3RD||4TH||SCORE|
|Air Force Falcons (2-1)||7||0||7||7||21|
|#4 Michigan State Spartans (3-0)||14||14||7||0||35|
|Team Stats Comparison|
|Punt Return Yards||1||1|
|Kick Return Yards||47||13|
|3rd Down Converstion||3-8||7-14|
|4th Down Conversion||0-1||1-2|
|Red Zone Touchdowns/Field Goals||2-0||1-0|
|FIRST QUARTER SCORING||AFA||MSU|
|8:48||(MSU) Price, Josiah 15 yd pass from Cook, Connor / Geiger Kick||0||7|
|6:31||(MSU) Williamson, RJ 64 yd fumb recovery / Geiger Kick||0||14|
|1:22||(AFA) Washington, Ben 1 yd run / Oehrle Kick||7||14|
|SECOND QUARTER SCORING||AFA||MSU|
|10:40||(MSU) Burbridge, Aaron 28 yd pass from Cook / Geiger Kick||7||21|
|00:28||(MSU) Burbridge 32 yd pass from Cook / Geiger Kick||7||28|
|THIRD QUARTER SCORING||AFA||MSU|
|11:07||(MSU) Burbridge 21 yd pass from Cook / Geiger Kick||7||35|
|8:38||(AFA) Robinette, Jale 38 yd pass from Roberts, Karste / Oehrle Kick||14||35|
|FOURTH QUARTER SCORING||AFA||MSU|
|2:11||(AFA) Johnson, D.J. 2 yd run / Oehrle Kick||21||35|