Recap: Spartans shock Penn State on last-minute TD

By Connor Muldowney
The Detroit News
La'Darius Jefferson celebrates with Brian Lewerke after a Michigan State touchdown in the first half.

No one expected Michigan State (4-2, 2-1 Big Ten) to have much of a shot in Happy Valley on Saturday, but the Spartans went on the road in true Mark Dantonio fashion and shocked the Nittany Lions, 21-17.

In a game where Brian Lewerke looked off, the offense made the plays on the final drive to pull ahead. Lewerke hit Felton Davis III with just 19 seconds left to take the lead and Penn State (4-2, 1-2) couldn't make magic happen on the final drive.

Michigan State gets Michigan next weekend in East Lansing.

Trace McSorley can't get job done

With just 13 seconds left, Trace McSorley and the Penn State offense couldn't pull off the comeback. Michigan State shocks the Big Ten with a win.

MSU takes lead with 19 seconds left

Michigan State started its final drive at the 24 and it was able to get past midfield with a couple of passes to Connor Heyward and Laress Nelson. The latter caught another pass on a quick slant for a first down. Felton Davis III caught the go-ahead touchdown pass with 19 seconds left.

Penn State punts again

Penn State got the punt in their own territory at the 28 and the Spartans forced a third down after spending two timeouts. The Nittany Lions were unable to get the first down on a Trace McSorley designed run as he went out of bounds, too. Penn State punts again.

MSU offense can't come up big

In the biggest drive of the game, the Spartans began at their own 23. Brian Lewerke hit Felton Davis III for a first down past the 35-yard-line to keep things going on third down. A few plays later, the Spartans faced another third down but Lewerke was sacked and they were forced to punt.

Spartans force crucial punt

Penn State got the ball back after the failed MSU fake field goal on fourth down and faced a third-and-10 in their own territory but Trace McSorley faced heavy pressure and couldn't find an open receiver, throwing the ball away. Michigan State would get the ball back again.

Fake field goal dooms MSU

On a third-and-10, Felton Davis III made an incredible juggling catch on the sideline for a big first down. Brian Lewerke then found La'Darius Jefferson out of the backfield for another first down. Showing he can run a little bit, too, Jefferson found a hole and rushed 27 yards for a first down. A big third-and-long faced the Spartans in Penn State territory but the Spartans came a few yards short.

Matt Coghlin lined up for a field goal but the Spartans pulled a fake and the pass couldn't be completed to Raequan Williams -- not a typo.

Penn State regains lead late

KJ Hamler got the Nittany Lions' drive going with a toe-tapping first-down catch. Three plays later, Trace McSorley let it loose, tossing it to the end zone, but overthrowing his receiver. Not long after, McSorley converted on third down with a 21-yard pass. The Spartans held strong on a first-and-goal scenario, making Penn State fight for yards and the Nittany Lions settled for a field goal.

MSU punts to start fourth

Michigan State got the ball back at its own 20 and in the final play of the third quarter, Weston Bridges fumbled the ball, but recovered, avoiding disaster.

To start the fourth, the Spartans couldn't find anything through the air, forcing a punt.

PSU misses field goal

The Penn State offense got good field position yet again and it looked like the Spartans forced another turnover, but a questionable cough-up by Miles Sanders was not reviewed. Trace McSorley took advantage, hitting his receiver and tight end for two consecutive first downs into Michigan State territory.

Penn State's Jake Pinegar then missed a 36-yard field goal.

MSU goes three-and-out

After getting the ball back, the Spartans couldn't capitalize on a chance to take the lead, going three-and-out again.

Spartan defense showing life

Trace McSorley rushed for a first down on the first play of Penn State's drive -- the coverage was the reason for his scramble. On an ensuing third-and-3, McSorley overthrew DeAndre Thompkins, forcing another punt.

Felton Davis III ties things up

The Spartans took over after Penn State's turnover on downs and a strong run by La'Darius Jefferson set up third-and-2. A quarterback keep fell short of the first down but a defensive holding gave Michigan State a first down.

Matt Sokol took advantage, catching a pass and taking it to Penn State's 20-yard line and then Felton Davis III caught a Brian Lewerke pass for a ruled touchdown. The Spartans tied things up 14-14 with an extra point.

Penn State turns it back over

Getting the ball deep in MSU territory, Penn State had a shot to really put the game out of reach. Trace McSorley couldn't convert on third down and the Nittany Lions went for it on fourth and the senior quarterback fell in the backfield, turning it back over.

Lewerke intercepted for first time

Cam Chambers caught a first-down pass to get to the Michigan State 36 but a poor pass to Felton Davis III and run for loss of yards by Connor Heyward led to a third-and-12. Lewerke then hit Laress Nelson for 16 yards and the Spartans first third-down conversion since the opening drive of the first quarter.

Davis III, too, caught a pass for a Spartan first down on a roll-out by Lewerke. A dropped pass by Cam Chambers was tipped into the air and intercepted by Penn State.

Slow start for Penn State

Penn State received to start the second half, but immediately went three-and-out, giving the ball back to Michigan State

Brian Lewerke can't get anything going

Michigan State got the ball with good field position and less than a minute left in the half, but the offense continued to struggle. The Spartans went three-and-out yet again leading to halftime as Brian Lewerke's rough day continued.

MSU stands strong again

A tremendous punt pinned Penn State at its own 2-yard-line. The Spartans forced another three-and-out, getting the ball back with good field position.

MSU offense lacking confidence

A bad kick return set Michigan State up with bad field position and Brian Lewerke just seemed off, throwing two quick incompletions. On third-and-10, he couldn't find anyone open down the field but a holding penalty on Penn State bailed out the offense.

Lewerke hit Laress Nelson for a first down to keep the drive going at their own 39. After another Brandon Sowards drop on a sure first down, Lewerke rushed for a first down on a scramble inside Penn State territory.

The drive stalled yet again as Michigan State was forced into another punt.

Penn State strikes back

Penn State took over at its own 36 after the punt. Finding no one open down field on third-and-4, Trace McSorley ran up the middle for a first down. Penn State got into Michigan State territory at the 48 on the next play. A delayed handoff to Miles Sanders was taken 48 yards for a touchdown as the run defense continued to struggle. Penn State led 14-7.

Field position battle continues

The Michigan State defense has momentum, but the offense can't follow suit. The Spartans went three-and-out yet again as Brian Lewerke couldn't find Brandon Sowards on third down. Once again, Tyler Hunt punts.

MSU defense steps up again

DeAndre Thompkins had a strong punt return to Penn State's own 46. Miles Sanders picked up 12 yards on two plays following a first-and-15, but a designed run by Trace McSorley came up just short as the Nittany Lions were forced to punt for a third straight time.

Spartans go three-and-out

The Spartans tried to get the run going on first down with a 4-yard run by Connor Heyward, but the next two plays went nowhere and the Spartans were forced to give he ball right back to Penn State.

MSU forces another three-and-out

Michigan State's defense seemed to feed off the offensive spark, forcing a three-and-out by the Nittany Lions.

Trick plays spark MSU offense

Michigan State was flagged for a block in the back on the punt, so it started at its own 19. Brian Lewerke finally flashed his running ability, rushing for a first down on the opening play of the drive. Dropped passes continued to plague the Spartans as Brandon Sowards dropped a first-down catch.

However, a classic fake punt by Mark Dantonio picked up the first down as Connor Heyward took the direct snap past midfield to the Penn State 40. Pulling even more tricks out of the bag, Connor Heyward took a handoff and rolled out to his right, hitting Cam Chambers down at the 1-yard-line to end the quarter.

La'Darius Jefferson couldn't punch the ball in on the next two runs as he fumbled on second down, but luckily recovered. Michigan State was bailed out yet again after failing to score from one yard out thanks to a dead-ball penalty by Penn State. Jefferson finally scored on the next play, tying the game at 7-7.

Spartans force first three-and-out

Penn State caught a break after fumbling the ball on a first-down catch as the referees ruled forward progress was stopped. Two plays later, Trace McSorley was sacked basically at the line of scrimmage after some nice pressure by the Spartans.

MSU gets first down, nothing more

The Spartans started at their own 25 after a touchback and after a first-down catch by Felton Davis III, the offense couldn't get much going. Brian Lewerke nearly hit Davis III down the sideline for a big gain, but he had a rare drop on second down to set up third-and-long. Cam Chambers, too, dropped the ball on third down to set up another punt.

Penn State strikes first

Starting at their own 6, Penn State picked up six yards on first down as Trace McSorley became the school's all-time leading passer.

A couple of plays later, Miles Sanders took a carry up the middle for 78 yards, the longest run surrendered by the Spartans this season. The next play, McSorley hit KJ Hamler in the end zone for a touchdown with just over five minutes left in the first quarter.

Matt Dotson gets first catch, offense still struggles

Following the Penn State fumble, Brian Lewerke hit tight end Matt Dotson for 18 yards on first down to get the ball near midfield. A 5-yard run was essentially wiped out with a 3-yard loss on the next play, both by La'Darius Jefferson. Lewerke overthrew Brandon Sowards on third-and-8 and Tyler Hunt was forced to punt.

Trace McSorley coughs up ball

Penn State got the ball at its own 25-yard-line after a touchback on a Spartan punt. Two runs on first and second down set up a third-and-6 for the Nittany Lions as Trace McSorley found KJ Hamler for a big first down.

The Spartans caught a break from the driving Nittany Lions, forcing a McSorley fumble and taking over at their own 31.

Michigan State receives, drive fizzles out

After losing the toss, Michigan State was forced to receive to open the game. A run for no-gain on first down by Connor Heyward was par for the course, but he added an eight-yard run after a first-down catch by Cam Chambers.

The drive, however, fizzled out in Penn State territory thanks to a couple of incompletions from Brian Lewerke.


Michigan State will be without running back LJ Scott for the fourth straight game Saturday against Penn State as the senior remains out with an ankle injury.

He’s gone through warm-ups the previous three games, but Scott did not make the trip with the Spartans to Happy Valley.

Junior wide receiver Darrell Stewart Jr. is also out after playing sparingly last week with an ankle problem. He was hurt two weeks before at Indiana and missed the Central Michigan game. Freshman wide receiver Jalen Nailor will also miss his third straight game with an undisclosed injury.

Sophomore guard Kevin Jarvis (ankle) will his third consecutive game.

Michigan State at Penn State

Michigan State travels to Penn State for a Big Ten East Division showdown on Saturday, with kickoff set for 3:30 p.m. Follow the action here with live updates throughout the game by Connor Muldowney of The Detroit News.

Kickoff: 3:30 Saturday, Beaver Stadium, State College, Pa.

TV/radio: BTN/760

Records: Michigan State 3-2, 1-1 Big Ten; Penn State 4-1, 1-1

Line: Penn State by 13.5

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