Collins, Stewart shine as Spartans roll over Western Michigan

MSU offense puts up 365 yards in first half to get big 51-17 win over WMU

Aidan Hunt, Football Beat Reporter

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Michigan State continued their winning ways this season as they rolled over in-state opponent Western Michigan 51-17 Saturday night. 

The Spartans’ offense looked completely rejuvenated, putting up 582 yards and scoring their most points since 2015, answering calls from fans and analysts alike for some newfound energy on the offensive side of the ball.

Michigan State scored on their first three drives, allowing a quick 21-0 lead. 

Western Michigan was able to respond with a succession of short, quick passes from Jon Wassink that ended with a 14 yard touchdown pass to Giovanni Ricci late in the first quarter, which ended 21-7.

On the Spartans’ first drive of the second quarter, an underthrown pass from Brian Lewerke intended for Matt Dotson was bobbled and then intercepted by the Broncos, the first turnover of the season for Michigan State. 

Western Michigan, however, was unable to execute on the interception and kicker Thiago Kapps missed his second field goal of the night. 

On the ensuing drive, Michigan State took the ball 80 yard in just nine plays for a touchdown, including a 17 yard “Philly Special” pass from Darrell Stewart to Lewerke that set up the touchdown reception by Cody White.

Western Michigan’s following drive reached the red zone courtesy of smart passing from Wassink, but Xavier Henderson spoiled the Broncos’ hopes for another touchdown with an interception in the end zone. 

The Spartans were able to go the other way with the ball and score via a 38 yard field goal from Matt Coghlin that ended the first half 31-7 in favor of Michigan State.

Michigan State’s defense held Western Michigan to just four yards on their first drive of the second half, and Coghlin extended the Spartans’ lead with a 23 yard field goal before doing it again six minutes later with a 20 yard field goal, bringing the score to 37-7 at the end of the third quarter.

The fourth quarter began with Michigan State finishing off their drive with a string of Elijah Collins runs before La’Darius Jefferson punched in his second touchdown of the night from one yard out, bringing the score to 44-7.

Despite a 48-yard pass from Wassink to Keith Mixon Jr. that gave Western Michigan great field position, the Broncos was forced to settle for a field goal from Kapps. 

Michigan State put their back-ups in on their next drive and were forced into punting. But a botched punt return by Western Michigan was recovered by Davion Williams and the Spartans used the field position to their advantage, ending with junior Alante Thomas running into the end zone. 

Another garbage time score by the Broncos made it 51-17, which the game would finish at.

Zengyi Sun
Credit: Zengyi Sun / Red Cedar Log (IG: amazingszy)

Michigan State’s offense displayed productivity their fans hadn’t seen since the 2017 season. Lewerke finished 23-32 with 314 yards, throwing three touchdowns and one interception.

“It builds confidence in the whole team,” defensive end Kenny Willekes said. “To see those guys go out there and compete the way they did, it was really good for them.”

The offensive line looked much more complete than they had all last season, giving Lewerke and the running backs plenty of time and opportunities to make plays. 

Darrell Stewart and Collins, however, stole the show for the Spartan offense with career nights. Stewart hauled in 10 receptions for a career-high 185 yards, complete with a touchdown while Collins was able to make the most of his heavy usage against the Broncos, rushing 17 times for 192 yards.

“It’s a great start,” Collins said. “It really raised my confidence.”

Michigan State hosts Arizona State next Saturday at Spartan Stadium. 

The Spartans will be looking to avenge their 16-13 loss to Herm Edwards’ side last season in Tempe, while the Sun Devils also bring in a 2-0 record to East Lansing. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. and will be aired on Fox.

Twitter: @TheAidanHunt