Final Five Critical To Spartan Victory

It was the most intense five minutes that Spartan fans had to endure but was even more gut-wrenching for the players involved. "It's a great confidence builder for our defense," said Saint-Dic. "Sometimes you need the offense to help out the defense or the defense to help out the offense and today it was our day."

In Michigan State's first big test of the season against Pittsburgh, the last five minutes proved to be the most eventful and tense time, and ultimately decided the game for the Spartans.

After Jehuu Caulcrick was stopped on a fourth-and-one with 4:04 remaining, Pitt took over on downs only trailing 14-13 while having all 68,000 fans in the stadium on the edge of their seats.

That's when Jonal Saint-Dic made the play of the game on the very next snap, as he stripped Pitt's T.J. Porter of the ball which teammate Ogembi Nwagbuo recovered on the Pittsburgh 24-yard line.

"All I was thinking was, I've got to make a big play, and that is what it's all about, making big plays," said Saint-Dic. "Once you get in the quarterback's head, then it makes it a lot easier."

Kicker Brett Swenson extended the Spartan lead to 17-13 with a 23-yard field goal and set up a final minute showdown between the MSU defense and the Pittsburgh offense, trying to pull ahead with a late score.

Pitt started their drive from their own 31-yard-line with 2:47 left in the game.

Saint-Dic forced another fumble, this time on freshman Panther quarterback Kevan Smith, who recovered the loose ball himself.

Smith and the Panthers looked to be on their last breath, facing a 4th-and-18 with 35 seconds left, but the true freshman connected with Marcel Pestano for 26 yards and a first down at the MSU 31-yard line.

With the Panthers threatening deep in Spartan territory, the MSU defense stepped up with a huge play.

Captain Kaleb Thornhill broke through on a blitz and sacked Smith for a loss of nine yards, but more importantly, with Pittsburgh out of timeouts, kept the clock running down under ten seconds left.

After spiking the ball, Pittsburgh was down to their last play of the game, throwing up a deep prayer into the end zone that was knocked down by Rod Jenrette.

In stopping Pitt on their last drive of the game, the MSU defense showed their fight and toughness on the field in the closing minutes, something that Coach Mark Dantonio was impressed with.

"There was a sense in the locker room at halftime that we had a dogfight on our hands, but we persevered through it and that's what we have to do," said Dantonio.

A key player in the final minutes, Saint-Dic finished the game with two forced fumbles, one sack, five tackles and three hurries. His first forced fumble led to an MSU field goal to increase his team's lead.

"At the end of the game, that's when he (Saint-Dic) likes to shine," said Nwagbuo. "He has always been the best pass rusher, but as coach tells us, it will come down to us and we came up big today."

It was the most intense five minutes that Spartan fans had to endure but was even more gut-wrenching for the players involved. "It's a great confidence builder for our defense," said Saint-Dic. "Sometimes you need the offense to help out the defense or the defense to help out the offense and today it was our day. Pitt was a big step for us and for our defense, we just had to keep going and grinding in there and we grinded it out today."

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