Recap: MSU finishes 31-20 victory over feisty CMU

By Matt Schoch
Special to The Detroit News
Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke and his teammates celebrate a second touchdown during Saturday's game against Central Michigan.

Late conversions ice MSU victory against Central Michigan

The Spartans converted a late fourth down and ran out the clock, earning a 31-20 victory against Central Michigan the afternoon in East Lansing.

Michigan State moves to 3-1 with the win and Central Michigan is now 1-4.

A lot of positives for CMU coach John Bonamego who head back into Mid-American Conference play next week at Buffalo.

Michigan State plays at Northwestern.

Michigan State 31, Central Michigan 20, final

Lewerke to the rescue for two crucial third-down conversions

Seventeen straight points from CMU forced Mark Dantonio to put Brian Lewerke back in at quarterback for Michigan State.

His athletic play on a 3rd-and-5 found Connor Heyward for a crucial first down.

He then scrambled for a first down on 3rd-and-4, effectively securing a win.

Michigan State 31, Central Michigan 20; 1:54 4th

More trickery from Chippewas makes it a game late vs. MSU

Tony Poljan, the former CMU starting quarterback, caught a touchdown — from a running back.

Jonathan Ward took a pitch pass from Tommy Lazzaro and threw it to Poljan, who was wide open for the 29-yard touchdown.

That’s 17 straight points for CMU who appear to have a comfortable cover, and maybe more…

Michigan State 31, Central Michigan 20; 6:44 4th

Lewerke pulled with MSU in control against Chippewas

Redshirt freshman Rocky Lombardi is in at quarterback for Michigan State and went three-and-out on his first drive.

CMU takes over at their own 31.

It appears MSU coach Mark Dantonio is giving Brian Lewerke the rest of the afternoon off with the game likely in hand.

Michigan State 31, Central Michigan 13; 9:50 4th

Onside kick sets up another CMU score

Central Michigan recovered an onside kick as George Douglas made the recovery after a crucial Troy Hairston hit.

That set up Ryan Tice for his second field goal, a 40-yarder. Central Michigan has now scored 10 straight points.

Michigan State 31, Central Michigan 13; 12:08 4th

CMU strikes back after 31 unanswered points

Central Michigan quarterback Tommy Lazzaro found redshirt freshman Julian Hicks for a 10-yard touchdown on a slant pattern.

The score broke up a 31-point run by Michigan State.

Michigan State 31, Central Michigan 10; 13:29 4th

WR Cody White will not return for MSU

The Chippewas are driving deep in MSU territory as the third quarter comes to an end.

According to the FS1 telecast, injured wide receiver Cody White will not return for MSU, adding to the injury concerns for Mark Dantonio’s team. He was hurt late in the second quarter after an incompletion in the end zone.

The Spartans are already without senior running back LJ Scott (ankle) for the second straight game.

Another note: The last time MSU had four rushing touchdowns was the Cotton Bowl in 2015, a dramatic 42-41 win against Baylor.

Michigan State 31, Central Michigan 3; 15:00 4th

MSU rout is on after Jefferson's first career TD

After another CMU three-and-out, MSU freshman La’Darius Jefferson (Muskegon) scored his first career touchdown from 2 yards out.

During the drive, Michigan State completed a flea flicker from Lewerke-to-Laress Nelson, matching an earlier CMU flea flicker.

CMU recovered an MSU fumble on the drive but it was ruled the ball was out of bounds before the recovery. MSU ran a play before a review was initiated, although it appears they may have caught a break.

Keep an eye on the 29 1/2-point spread the rest of the way.

Michigan State 31, Central Michigan 3; 4:18 3rd

Spartans in total control after third rushing TD

The Spartans opened the second half with a scoring drive capped by a 2-yard touchdown from Connor Heyward.

Felton Davis had a 37-yard catch-and-run to the 1-yard line.

Worst news for MSU is wide receiver Cody White might’ve gotten hurt late in the first half. He went to the locker room after getting his in the left arm.

Michigan State 24, Central Michigan 3; 10:24 3rd

Halftime leaders

Passing: CMU -- Tommy Lazzaro, 10-19, 77 yards, 2, INTs; MSU -- Brian Lewerke, 9-16, 80 yards, INT

Rushing: CMU -- Team, 9 carries, 5 yards; MSU -- La'Darius Jefferson, 8 carries, 42 yards

Receiving: CMU -- Brandon Childress, 2 receptions, 39 yards; MSU -- Cody White, 2 receptions, 40 yards

Spartans go to halftime with 17-3 lead

That’s it for the half as a Kenny Willekes sack hinders any chance of a CMU score on the final drive.

Michigan State 17, Central Michigan 3; halftime

MSU pads lead with 33-yard field goal

Michigan State has to settle for a field goal on the 2-minute drill, and Matt Coghlin nails the 33-yarder.

Michigan State 17, Central Michigan 3; 0:29 2nd

Layne gets INT as Spartans have chance to surge

Justin Layne gets MSU its second interception of Tommy Lazzaro, and the Spartans have a chance to take a commanding halftime lead. MSU ball on the CMU 34.

Michigan State 14, Central Michigan 3; 1:58 2nd

Lewerke runs to give Spartans 14-3 lead

This time, quarterback Brian Lewerke ran left from 5 yards out to give Michigan State a 14-3 lead. It was his second rushing touchdown of the game.

Cody White found the soft spot in the CMU secondary for a 24-yard reception to set up the score.

With LJ Scott out, true freshman La’Darius Jefferson (Muskegon) has been the feature back.

Michigan State 14, Central Michigan 3; 2:23 2nd

Central offense can't get it going again

Another three-and-out for Lazzaro and the Chippewas, their third in six drives.

MSU ball at the CMU 46 after a poor punt by Jack Sheldon.

Michigan State 7, Central Michigan 3; 5:15 2nd

Spartans can't capitalize on calls, punt away to CMU

Michigan State gets two pass interference calls — one of the shaky variety — but still has to punt it away.

Central takes over at its own 14.

Michigan State 7, Central Michigan 3; 6:04 2nd

No response from CMU after MSU TD

Central can’t respond to Lewerke’s touchdown, as a first down from a Lazzaro scramble on the first play was all they could gain. Punt gives MSU the ball back on its own 32.

Michigan State 7, Central Michigan 3; 9:13 2nd

Lewerke in from 3 yards to give MSU the lead

Brian Lewerke ran around the right end after a play fake for a 3-yard touchdown to give Michigan State its first lead.

Michigan State 7, Central Michigan 3; 10:57 2nd

Dowell gets the interception for the Spartans

Michigan State’s David Dowell gets the interception on a bad overthrow.

He made up for a pass interference penalty he had earlier in the CMU drive.

The Central Michigan drive featured a wild 3rd-and-7 conversion when Tommy Lazzaro hit Drayton Law on a dangerous pass across the middle into double coverage.

Michigan State takes over at the CMU 35.

Central Michigan 3, Michigan State 0; 13:00 2nd

Chippewas lead after one quarter, 3-0

One quarter down for the Chippewas, who are trying to pull an upset of the No. 21 Spartans.

Michigan State will start the second quarter with a 3rd-and-10 from its own 42.

Central Michigan 3, Michigan State 0; 15:00 2nd

Central Michigan punts it back to MSU

Central can’t capitalize on the interception and punts it away to Michigan State on a three-and-out. The Spartans take over at the 22.

Central Michigan 3, Michigan State 0; 1:49 1st

Chippewas intercept Lewerke in end zone

Sean Bunting intercepted Brian Lewerke in the end zone after the Spartans 

True freshman La'Darius Jefferson had three carries for 26 yards on the drive.

Central Michigan 3, Michigan State 0; 3:39 1st

Central can't add to its lead

Three-and-out for the Chippewas.

Central ran on 3rd-and-6 against the nation's run defense with predictable results.

Michigan State regains possession on its own 37.

Central Michigan 3, Michigan State 0; 8:44 1st

Spartans stall on opening drive

Michigan State got one first down on the running of Connor Heyward, but punted to the Chippewas, who will take over at their own 14-yard line.

Central Michigan 3, Michigan State 0; 9:58 1st

Razzle dazzle from the Chippewas

Tommy Lazzaro hit Brandon Childress for a 35-yard gain on a flea flicker on the game's first play from scrimmage.

However, CMU then settled for a 40-yard field goal by Ryan Tice.

Central Michigan 3, Michigan State 0; 13:09 1st

Central will start with the ball

The Spartans won the coin toss and will defer to the second half.

The Chippewas will receive the opening kickoff.

RB LJ Scott out once again

Michigan State will be without LJ Scott for the second straight week because of his ankle injury, according to the Fox Sports 1 pre-game show.

Our Matt Charboneau is also reporting that WR Darrell Stewart Jr. is out, as well as offensive guard Kevin Jarvis and WR Cam Chambers.

The skinny

Michigan State and Central Michigan are putting conference play on hold for an in-state showdown Saturday.

The No. 21 Spartans (2-1) and Chippewas (1-3), each fresh off a victory last week, square off at Spartan Stadium. Kickoff is at noon.

Michigan State opened Big Ten play last week with a 35-21 victory at Indiana, while Central Michigan notched its first victory of the season — 17-5 over Maine — to bounce back from a loss to Northern Illinois to open Mid-American Conference play.

Though Michigan State is a heavy favorite, Central Michigan owns three victories in this series, which spans just 10 games — all coming in East Lansing (1991, 1992, and 2009).

The Spartans bring the nation's top-ranked run defense into the game (32.7 yards allowed on the ground per game), while CMU ranks 111th in the country in rushing offense. That might put the onus on CMU quarterback Tommy Lazzaro, coming off his first career start, to move the ball through the air.

Follow along here for live updates.

CMU at No. 21 MSU

Kickoff: Noon Saturday, Spartan Stadium, East Lansing

TV: FS1/760

Records: Central Michigan 1-3, Michigan State 2-1

Line: Michigan State by 29 1/2

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