Rudel’s Michigan St. Highs & Lows
Following are the highlights and lowlights from Penn State’s 30-27 loss to Michigan State on Saturday in a heavy snowstorm at Spartan Stadium:
Play of the game: On fourth-and-15, Payton Thorne threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Jayden Reed, pushing the Spartans’ lead to 30-20 with 5:10 remaining.
Offensive player of the game: Thorne completed 19-of-30 passes for 268 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed/scrambled eight times for 39 yards and another score.
Defensive player of the game: Michigan State linebacker Cal Haladay made a game-high 11 tackles, including 2.5 for loss, and forced a fumble.
Most telling statistic: Penn State was outrushed 183-61.
Most deceiving statistic: The Lions threw for 313 yards.
Hidden statistic: Michigan State went 9-of-18 on third down and 3-of-4 on fourth down. PSU was a combined 7-of-16.
Best run: Michigan State’s Kenneth Walker busted a 35-yarder from Sparty’s 1 in the first quarter to create breathing room.
Best pass: On third-and-12, down 14-0, Sean Clifford gunned an 18-yard completion through a tight window to Jahan Dotson. One play later, Clifford hit Dotson, who did a pylon dance for the Lions’ first score.
Worst pass: Daequan Hardy intercepted a Thorne pass and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown with 11:07 left in the third quarter, giving Penn State a 20-17 lead.
Best catch: It was a showcase of the Lions’ wideouts, but we’re picking Parker Washington’s one-handed reel-in of a 16-yarder early in the second quarter that set up PSU’s second touchdown. Also must recognize Michigan State’s Montorie Foster’s super one-handed grab of a 19-yarder over the middle in the second quarter.
Catch it, will ya: Devyn Ford dropped a pass in the fourth quarter.
Hold it, won’t ya: Keyvone Lee fumbled at midfield midway through the fourth quarter and the Nits trailing 23-20. John Lovett coughed up the kickoff return with five minutes remaining, sealing the Nits’ fate if it hadn’t been already.
Best tackle: With a 23-20 lead, Michigan State nose guard Noah Harvey stopped Lee on fourth-and-1 at the Sparty 16 in the fourth quarter.
Best block: None by PSU.
Best hit: Curtis Jacobs drilled Thorne after a short gain in the second quarter. The crowd wanted targeting but no flag.
Worst tackle: Ji’Ayir Brown missed Spartan tight end Maliq Carr, who rumbled for 40 yards to the Nits’ 20, setting up Michigan State’s first TD. Brandon Smith also whiffed in the fourth quarter, helping MSU get a first down.
Best kick: With the Lions down 14-7, Jordan Stout had a 45-yard punt check up at the MSU 7.
Worst kicks: Tough day for kickers. Stout missed a 27-yard field goal late in the first half, keeping Sparty’s lead at 17-14. He also doinked an extra point in the third quarter. MSU reserve Evan Johnson missed an XP in the third quarter, keeping the Spartans’ lead at 23-20.
Best call: On third-and-2 at the PSU 40, up 23-20 in the fourth quarter, Michigan State faked to Walker and Thorne dumped a short pass to tight end Connor Heyward — Cam’s brother and Ironhead’s son — and he rumbled for 25 yards, setting up the decisive TD.
Worst call: Still hanging in the game, down 23-20, Penn State faced third-and-1 at midfield. Though its last two short-yardage plays were blown up, they tried Lee again. The play was stuffed, he fumbled, and the Lions never recovered.
Best effort: Penn State gunner Drew Hartlaub made an all-out dive to down a punt at the Michigan State 1.
Unsung hero: Walker may be a Heisman finalist so he’s not really unsung, but he did rush for 138 yards on 30 carries.