Spartans quarterback Brian Lewerke threw touchdown passes on three straight drives as Michigan State overcame a poor first quarter to rout Bowling Green, 35-10.
Mark Dantonio improved to 11-0 in home openers at Spartan Stadium.
Lewerke completed 22-of-33 passes for 250 yards and three touchdowns and flashed his running ability (eight rushes, 69 yards). Two of his scoring strikes were caught by junior receiver Felton Davis III.
Spartans junior cornerback Tyson Smith (Orchard Lake St. Mary's) returned an interception for a touchdown. Smith suffered a stroke last November.
Michigan State sophomore Darrell Stewart Jr. caught six passes for 85 yards.
Spartans junior running back LJ Scott fumbled twice.
It’s the 19th straight victory in a home opener for the Spartans, which is tied for fifth longest in the nation.
The Spartans defense held Bowling Green to 212 total yards and 2-of-13 on third downs. Spartans sophomore middle linebacker Joe Bachie had a team-high 10 tackles.
Spartans safety Dowell makes an impact
Bowling Green’s offense continues to sputter and has one first down in the second half.
The Spartans lead 35-10 with 4:01 remaining.
Spartans sophomore safety David Dowell is making a presence: he delivered a crunching hit on Falcons fullback Leonard Skattebo. And on the next series, Dowell nearly intercepted a pass by Bowling Green quarterback James Morgan.
Spartans quarterback Brian Lewerke has played three straight drives after a brief appearance by senior quarterback Damion Terry, who threw back-to-back incomplete passes.
Bachie records 10th tackle
The Spartans lead 35-10 with 8:40 left in the fourth quarter.
The Bowling Green offense reached Michigan State territory for the first time since the opening quarter. Bowling Green senior Teo Redding (Michigan Collegiate, Warren) had a catch-and-run that stretched 31 yards for a first down.
But a pair of defensive stops halted the Bowling Green drive at the Spartans 42.
Spartans junior safety Khari Willis (Jackson Lumen Christi) stuffed running back Donovan Wilson for no gain on third down. And on fourth-and-3, Spartans freshman cornerback Josiah Scott and sophomore middle linebacker Joe Bachie combined to bring down receiver Datrin Guyton for a 5-yard loss.
On the drive, Scott broke up a long passing play with a backhanded swat.
Bachie has 10 tackles today.
Detroit Martin Luther King alum Posey forces fumble
Spartans junior LJ Scott has fumbled for the second time of the game — and this time, it led to a Bowling Green touchdown.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Scott was stripped of the ball by Bowling Green redshirt freshman Armani Posey (Detroit Martin Luther King). The loose football was picked up by Cameron Jeffries, who returned it 46 yards for a touchdown.
The Spartans' lead has been cut to 35-10.
The Spartans' Madre London took three straight handoffs totaling 16 yards to end the third quarter, but on the first carry of the fourth quarter, Scott fumbled.
On the first drive of the game, Scott fumbled inside the Bowling Green 2-yard line.
MSU sophomore quarterback Brian Lewerke (19-of-26 for 221 yards, three TDs) has been pulled for senior quarterback Damion Terry.
The Bowling Green offense has achieved minus-1 total yards and an interception on four drives in the second half.
Smith returns interception for touchdown
Spartans junior cornerback Tyson Smith (Orchard Lake St. Mary's) returned an interception 36 yards for a touchdown to give the Spartans a 35-3 lead with 2:24 left in the third quarter.
Smith, who suffered a stroke in November, drew a lot of attention from teammates on the scoring play.
Smith, who is a native of Southfield, intercepted a second-down pass from Bowling Green quarterback James Morgan.
Sokol finds redemption, catches TD
Spartans junior tight end Matt Sokol (Rochester Adams) found redemption from an earlier drop and caught a 13-yard touchdown pass. The Spartans lead 28-3 with 2:46 left in the third quarter.
It’s the third straight Spartans drive that’s resulted in a touchdown – all passes by sophomore quarterback Brian Lewerke.
The Spartans drove 45 yards in eight plays. The short field was aided by Chris Frey’s sack that pinned Bowling Green at its own 1-yard line.
Sokol dropped a touchdown pass on the previous drive and buried his facemask into the Spartan Stadium turf in disbelief. His 13-yard TD catch needed a review – but the officials ruled that he crossed the goal line before his knee touched the ground.
During the drive, Lewerke converted on a third-and-10 when he tucked the ball and scrambled for a 12-yard gain. That placed the Spartans at the Bowling Green 33.
Lewerke then connected with Felton Davis III for an 8-yard gain, then senior running back Gerald Holmes (Flint) rushed 8 yards for a first down.
Frey's sack pins Bowling Green at 1-yard line
The Spartans defense continues to shine as they forced another three-and-out and lead 21-3 midway through the third quarter.
Bowling Green is 1-of-8 on third downs.
This time around, Bowling Green was flagged for an illegal formation (five men in the backfield) to negate a first down. That gave the Falcons a third-and-11 at their own 11-yard line, and Spartans senior captain Chris Frey sacked Falcons quarterback James Morgan at the 1.
It’s the first sack of the game for the Spartans.
Bowling Green punter Joseph Davison – one of the best in the FBS – had to punt from the back of his end zone, and rather quickly. The Spartans will begin their next drive at the Bowling Green 45.
Lewerke and Davis connect again
Felton Davis III used his leverage and athletic ability to catch his second touchdown of the game from quarterback Brian Lewerke to give Michigan State a 21-3 lead with 9:04 left in the second quarter.
On third-and-goal from the 8-yard line, Davis was covered admirably by Bowling Green defensive back Robert Jackson Jr., but managed to corral a pass with one hand into his chest. Touchdown.
It was a sigh of relief for the Spartans. On the previous play, Spartans junior tight end Matt Sokol (Rochester Adams) was all alone on the end zone – yet dropped a TD pass.
The Spartans drove 69 yards in 10 plays across 4:35.
Lewerke, on a third-and-16, found sophomore receiver Trishton Jackson in a tight spot across the middle for a first-down gain of 21 yards.
Two plays later, Lewerke hit redshirt freshman receiver Cam Chambers on a slant pass for a 29-yard gain to the Bowling Green 22.
On his last two drives, Lewerke is 9-of-12 for 153 yards and two touchdowns – both to Davis.
Scott, Willekes lead defense
Spartans freshman cornerback Josiah Scott broke up a third-down pass to stall Bowling Green’s opening drive of the second half.
The Spartans lead 14-3.
Spartans sophomore defensive end Kenny Willekes (Rockford) stuffed Falcons running back Josh Cleveland for a 1-yard loss on second down.
The Spartans will begin their next drive at their own 30-yard line.
First half stat leaders: Stewart Jr. shines
The Spartans lead 14-3 at the half — and two costly fumbles have kept the game close.
Thus far, Spartans sophomore Darrell Stewart Jr. has been the bright spot, recording 105 yards from scrimmage. He has two carries for 34 yards and five receptions for 71 yards.
Spartans junior running back LJ Scott has been mildly disappointing, rushing for 30 yards on 12 carries (2.5 yards per carry), including a costly fumble inside the 2-yard line on the opening drive of the game.
The Spartans defense has forced Bowling Green into a 1-of-6 output on third downs. Quarterback James Morgan is 4-of-15 for 74 yards – a majority coming on a 45-yard passing play on his opening series.
The Spartans have outgained the Falcons 267-104 – but two fumbles have kept the game close (high snap by center Brian Allen along with Scott's fumble).
Sophomore quarterback Brian Lewerke is 13-of-17 for 130 yards. More impressively: He has six carries for 58 yards.
Madre London has four rushes for 29 yards.
Spartans sophomore middle linebacker Joe Bachie has eight tackles to lead the defense.
Felton Davis III caught a 4-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Brian Lewerke to give the Spartans a 14-3 lead with 9 seconds left in the half.
The Spartans drove 85 yards in seven plays across 1:26 – aided by a personal foul in the process.
Spartans sophomore Darrell Stewart Jr. caught a pass across the middle and athletically weaved through Bowling Green defenders to the 2-yard line. It was a 40-yard gain.
From there, the Spartans were flagged for a false start to push them back to the 7-yard line with 17 seconds left in the half. And on the next play, Bowling Green junior defensive back Fred Garth was ejected for targeting.
That moved the Spartans half the distance to the goal line, which allowed Lewerke to find Davis for their first TD connection of the season.
Earlier in the drive, Lewerke threw high for Davis, who absorbed a hard hit in the upper back from Bowling Green defensive back Marcus Milton. The play was reviewed and the referees did not issue targeting or an ejection for Milton.
Spartans force three-and-out
The Spartans have forced another three-and-out.
On third-and-7 at their own 42, Bowling Green quarterback James Morgan’s pass was dropped by Datrin Guyton.
Spartans redshirt freshman Austin Andrews was called for an illegal block in the back on the punt, which places MSU on its own 15-yard line to being its next drive in the waning minutes of the half.
Lewerke flashes ability
On third-and-1 at the Bowling Green 42, Spartans junior running back LJ Scott was dropped for a 3-yard loss to end a drive.
The Spartans lead 7-3 with 4:02 left in the second quarter.
Spartans sophomore quarterback Brian Lewerke converted a pair of third-down passes to move the chains and continues to show his running ability.
On third-and-4 at the Spartans 17, Lewerke’s unorthodox shovel pass (if you wanna call it that) found sophomore Trishton Jackson. First down.
Later, Lewerke found Darrell Stewart Jr. for a 10-yard gain. Another first down.
Then Lewerke showed his athleticism. He spun out of a sack at his own 30, rolled right, reversed left, kept his eyes downfield and scrambled for a 13-yard carry past the first-down marker near midfield.
But the drive stalled three plays later as Scott was dropped for a loss.
Jake Hartbarger’s punt resulted in a touchback. Bowling Green will begin its next drive at the 20-yard line with 4:02 left in the half.
Bowling Green 1-of-5 on third down
The Spartans have stalled yet another Bowling Green drive, highlighted by a crunching hit from senior linebacker Shane Jones, who excited the MSU faithful with a crunching tackle on running back Josh Cleveland.
The Spartans lead 7-3 with 9:39 left in the second quarter.
Bowling Green is 1-for-5 on third downs.
Bowling Green punter Joseph Davidson booted a punt 64 yards to place Michigan State 11-yard line, where the Spartans will begin their next drive with 9:39 left in the half. Davidson led the FBS with nine punts of 60 yards or more last season.
A personal foul on Bowling Green’s Trevor Roop on the kickoff placed the Falcons at their own 13-yard line to begin the drive that lasted just five plays.
London's instincts lead to Spartans TD
Spartans junior running back Madre London appeared on the stat sheet for the first time and proved to be valuable in a variety of ways.
London’s 7-yard touchdown run has given the Spartans a 7-3 lead with 11:19 left in the second quarter.
London, who made a pair of first-down carries on the drive, was also key in helping the Spartans avoiding their third turnover of the game.
On a first-and-10 at the Falcons’ 30, Bowling Green defensive lineman David Konowalski hit MSU quarterback Brian Lewerke from behind, forcing a fumble —but London was in the right place at the right time as the ball squirted to him.
That kept the drive alive – and four plays later, London scored.
The Spartans went 12 plays for 67 yards in 6:19.
Lewerke has four carries for 46 yards.
Spartans dodge a bullet
It's 3-0 Bowling Green at the end of the first quarter.
The Spartans caught a break as Bowling Green receiver Scott Miller dropped a pass inside the 5-yard line to end a drive.
Miller burned past Spartans junior safety Khari Willis (Jackson Lumen Christi) on a fourth-and-2 play from the MSU 33.
The Spartans' upperclassmen are committing uncharacteristic mistakes.
On third-and-7, Michigan State senior Chris Frey jumped offsides to give Bowling Green two shots at moving the chains. After an incomplete pass, Bowling Green quarterback James Morgan looked down the sideline to Miller, an all-MAC receiver who caught 10 touchdowns a year ago, but the ball slipped through his bread basket with 2:38 left in the first quarter.
Spartans junior LJ Scott fumbled to end a drive inside the Bowling Green 2-yard line on the opening drive. Senior Brian Allen delivered a high snap to lead to another fumble.
Allen's high snap leads to fumble
On third-and-3 at the Bowling Green 44, a high snap by all-Big Ten center Brian Allen could not be handled by quarterback Brian Lewerke and Bowling Green recovered.
The Falcons have the ball at the Michigan State 41-yard line.
That's two fumbles in the opening quarter for the Spartans.
The drive started with back-to-back carries by Lewerke and LJ Scott to move the chains. Lewerke then connected with tight end Matt Sokol for an 8-yard gain, to bring up the third-and-3 situation.
But Allen's high snap went off the hands of Lewerke, and it was recovered by Bowling Green's David Konowalski.
Solid defense by Bachie, Willekes
Back-to-back solid defensive plays by Spartans sophomore middle linebacker Joe Bachie and sophomore defensive end Kenny Willekes placed Bowling Green into a third-and-10 situation at their own 9-yard line.
But Bowling Green quarterback James Morgan found all-MAC receiver Scott Miller for a first-down gain.
A few plays later, on third down, Bowling Green receiver Datrin Guyton burned past Spartans sophomore cornerback Justin Layne by a healthy distance – but he was overthrown to end the drive.
Bowling Green punted. The Spartans will start their next drive at their own 38-yard line.
Bowling Green leads 3-0.
Bachie stuffed a first-down carry by Bowling Green's Josh Cleveland, and Willekes showed blanket coverage on a screen pass out of the backfield to set up the third-down situation.
Lewerke overthrows Davis on third down
The Spartans' second drive was quick: Three-and-out.
Spartans sophomore quarterback Brian Lewerke overthrew Felton Davis on third-and-3.
Turnover leads to Bowling Green field goal
Bowling Green struck fear into the hearts of Spartans fans with a deep passing play as James Morgan hit Datrin Guyton for a 45-yard gain to the Michigan State 24-yard line.
The Spartans defense held, however, forcing an incompletion on third down. Jake Suder’s 36-yard field goal sailed through the uprights for a 3-0 Bowling Green lead with 9:36 left in the first quarter.
Spartans coach Mark Dantonio stressed the importance of turnovers in the pregame radio show on WJR 760 AM — and it's showed already.
LJ Scott fumbles on third-and-goal
Sophomore quarterback Brian Lewerke scrambled out of the pocket and weaved through the middle of the field for a 22-yard gain to excite Spartan Stadium.
Two plays later, Darrell Stewart Jr. took an end-around for a 28-yard gain to place Michigan State at the Bowling Green 12-yard line.
But on third-and-goal, Spartans junior running back LJ Scott took a handoff, absorbed a hit from Antonyo Sotolongo and fumbled.
Bowling Green linebacker Brandon Harris returned the fumble 27 yards.
New look Spartans win the toss
The new-look Spartans are set to kick off the 2017 campaign, trying to forget a 3-9 campaign from a year ago.
Spartans sophomore quarterback Brian Lewerke will face a Bowling Green defense that gave up 464.2 yards per game in the MAC last season.
Michigan State co-offensive coordinator Dave Warner said Lewerke is the most athletic quarterback the Spartans have had since arriving as a staff in 2007, according to Detroit News writer Matt Charboneau.
The Spartans have won 18 straight home openers, which is the sixth-longest streak in the nation.
Mark Dantonio has never lost a homer opener inside Spartan Stadium: He’s 10-0.
The Spartans have won the coin toss and will receive the opening kickoff.
MICHIGAN STATE VS. BOWLING GREEN
When: Saturday, noon
Where: Spartan Stadium, East Lansing
TV / radio: ESPNU / WJR 760
Records: Season opener for both teams
Line: Michigan State by 17