Michigan State Football: Defense dominates as Spartans rout Maryland

COLLEGE PARK, MD - NOVEMBER 03: Head coach Mark Dantonio of the Michigan State Spartans looks on prior to playing against the Maryland Terrapins at Capital One Field on November 3, 2018 in College Park, Maryland. (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images)
COLLEGE PARK, MD - NOVEMBER 03: Head coach Mark Dantonio of the Michigan State Spartans looks on prior to playing against the Maryland Terrapins at Capital One Field on November 3, 2018 in College Park, Maryland. (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images) /

Michigan State football found a way to win on the road against a distracted Maryland team thanks to a dominant defensive effort.

Michigan State football has finally found its identity as a dominant defensive team who runs the ball to control the time of possession. The first half was, for the most part, uneventful but that would change in the fourth quarter as Michigan State pulled away and defeated Maryland 24-3.


As reported prior to the game Brain Lewerke started the game for Michigan State as well as defensive back Josiah Scott which came to a surprise to many Spartans. The only mainstay receiver to not play was already known which Felton Davis III. Who also was expected to not play and who did not play were both punters Tyler Hunt and Jake Hartbarger. Starting center Matt Allen also did not play and L.J. Scott in a surprise did not play in today’s game. Other Spartans who did not play were receiver Laress Nelson, cornerback Josh Butler, fullback Collin Lucas, and guard David Beedle who was out for his fourth straight game.

First drive and touchdown

After Maryland received the kickoff, Terps quarterback Kasim Hill and Maryland stalled on their first offensive drive. After the Spartans received the punt, Michigan State moved the ball into Terp territory primarily by running the ball. Lewerke did not look crisp on his passes but he connected with receiver Cody White who had come back from injury to put the Spartans in good field position to score. Connor Heyward ran for 18 yards for the touchdown and Matt Coghlin kicked the extra point.

Second drive and field goal

The Michigan State’s defense stopped the Terps again putting the Spartan offense in good field position. Lewerke ran for 22 yards to the Maryland 20-yard line to set up a Matt Coghlin 33-yard field goal.

Offense stalls but the defense steps up

Michigan State’s defense started the game forcing Maryland to punt for their first four offensive series. The Spartan defense held the Terps scoreless in the first quarter. However, in the second quarter, Maryland got on the scoreboard after the Spartan defense kept Maryland out of the end zone and the Terps settled for a Joseph Petrino 23-yard field goal.

MSU worked clock, controlled time of possession

Michigan State had the ball for 18:14, while Maryland only had the ball for 11:46. The last drive before the half had the Spartans move the ball into Terps’ territory after a costly personal foul by Maryland’s Mbi Tanyi which gave Michigan State the ball at Maryland’s 39-yard line for a new set of downs. The Spartans would punt the ball and Maryland with under 30 seconds left in the half took a knee to end the half.

At the half

As was expected, the Spartan defense played well, holding Terps’ quarterback Kasim Hill to only 35 yards passing in the first half. Michigan State’s defense also held Maryland’s run game in check by only allowing 22 yards on the ground. For the Spartan offense, they were able to run for 103 yards and a touchdown in the first half. However, Brian Lewerke was only 7-of-12 for 52 yards and no touchdowns. Cody White, coming off of injury, did have two catches going into halftime and Connor Heyward and Lewerke were able to get some first downs to move the chains in the first half.

MSU received the ball to start the second half

Connor Heyward took the kickoff to mid-field into Maryland territory. Michigan State started the drive running the ball and gaining a first down. However, the Spartan passing game continued to struggle, forcing Michigan State to punt.

Michigan State controls field position

Even though Michigan State didn’t score on its first drive of the second half, it was able to put Maryland in poor field position. The Spartan defense forced the Terps to punt and even though Brandon Sowards almost fumbled the punt return, the Spartans were able to move the ball into Maryland territory.

The Spartans scored their second touchdown

Lewerke went four for four through the air for 35 yards setting up an impressive 11-play touchdown drive. The drive ended when Connor Heyward ran for five yards down to Maryland’s 1-yard line but then he fumbled the ball which was recovered by fullback Max Rosenthal for a touchdown and Coghlin added the extra point kick.

Turnovers and more turnovers

Pay attention, after Michigan State went into the fourth quarter leading 17-3, the game got interesting for both teams. Bryce Baringer only punted the ball for eight yards, which Maryland downed at Michigan State’s 34-yard line.

However, as Maryland was driving into Spartan territory sophomore running back Javon Leake ran for one yard to the Michigan State 27-yard line but he fumbled the ball which was recovered by the Spartans. Then, on the ensuing drive, Lewerke’s pass was intercepted by Maryland’s RaVon Davis who returned it to the Michigan State’s 43-yard line. Then Maryland failed to move the ball and punted it.

When Michigan State got the ball back, Rocky Lombardi throws an interception which would be ruled a touchback after Maryland’s Byron Cowart returned it for 11 yards which resulted in him fumbling the ball that was caused by a strip by Darrell Stewart Jr. that was recovered in the end zone by the Spartans’ Matt Dotson — talk about a headache of a sequence.

Michigan State puts the game out of reach

After the touchback, Michigan State started the drive at their 20-yard line. Connor Heyward ran for 80 yards for a touchdown to put the Spartans up 24-3 with 11 minutes to go in the fourth quarter. Michigan State at this point had put the game out of reach on their way to their sixth victory of the year making them bowl eligible.

Ending the game

Maryland tried to answer on the next drive but was unsuccessful. On fourth-and-7 at the Michigan State 42-yard line, Kasim Hill pass fell incomplete resulting in a turnover on downs. The Spartans would then go three-and-out after three consecutive run plays not resulting in a first down and making Michigan State punt. The rest of the game was Michigan State and Maryland punting the ball away.


Connor Heyward had his breakout game with 15 carries for 157 yards with two touchdowns. He also had an impressive kickoff return. Brian Lewerke, on the other hand, had an underwhelming performance completing 11-of-20 passes for only 87 yards with no touchdowns and an interception.

A major concern going forward is punter Bryce Baringer who had six punts for only an average of 28.8 yards.

Next. Top 25 MSU football players of Mark Dantonio era. dark

A major positive is that the Michigan State defense looks amazing, limiting Maryland at home to only three points and to a total of only 100 yards — only 26 rushing yards. Michigan State looks to continue its winning ways as it hosts ranked Ohio State next Saturday.