Stanton, Spartans ugly in 49-14 blowout loss

``We didn't execute on offense and it falls on my shoulders. I made too many mistakes.'' --Michigan State quarterback Drew Stanton

EAST LANSING - In his worst performance as the Michigan State starting quarterback, Drew Stanton committed four turnovers, including a fumble that was returned 86 yards by Wildcats defensive lineman Demetrius Eaton for a touchdown as Northwestern throughly routed the Michigan State Spartans 49-14.

Brett Basanez threw for 331 yards, ran for two touchdowns and threw for two more in throughly thrashing the Spartans.

The unheralded Wildcats defense that came into the contest ranked 116th of 117 Division I A teams, stifled the Spartans spread offense and took advantage of Stanton's mistakes.

The Spartans appeared flat and listless in losing their third straight game, eliminating themselves from the Big Ten race and dropping themselves out of the top-25 rankings, while the Wildcats suddenly stamped themselves as Big Ten contenders.

``We still have a chance to send the seniors out as winners and make a bowl game," said a subdued MSU head coach John L. Smith. ``That's what we have to shoot for."

The Spartans seemed to be suffering the effects of back-to-back weeks of heartaches. After losing to crosstown rival Michigan two weeks ago when they couldn't make a field goal, they had Big Ten favorite Ohio State beaten until a coaching snafu led to a blocked field goal that the Buckeyes returned for a momentum crushing touchdown. Smith admitted the coaching staff's errors cost the team the game.

Stanton (20-of-38 for 234 and 1 TD) took the blame for this costly loss that could lead to MSU missing a bowl game for the second consecutive season.

``We didn't execute on offense and it falls on my shoulders,'' Stanton said. ``I made too many mistakes.''

Stanton gave the Spartans a brief 7-0 when he hit Kerry Reed, starting in place of the injured Matt Trannon, from 15-yards out, but the Wildcats scored 49 unanswered points in the rout.

Spartans kicker John Goss missed two more field goals(47 and 38) and Smith announced at halftime that he would not go back to Goss instead going to "the kids", likely freshman kicker Matt Haughey who kicked an extra point following Jehuu Caulcrick's one-yard plunge.

Freshman running back Javon Ringer was the lone bright spot for the Spartans rushing for 104 yards on 18 carries. Michigan State will try to pick up the pieces when they travel to Bloomington next week for a game against 4-3 Indiana.

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