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Recap: Rutgers routs Michigan State in season-opener, 38-27

Nolan Bianchi
The Detroit News
Rutgers quarterback Noah Vedral scores a touchdown against Michigan State on Saturday at Michigan Stadium.

Game summary

It was supposed to be a wonderful day at Spartan Stadium, with new head coach Mel Tucker making his debut on the sidelines in green and white.

Rutgers arrived with a chip on its shoulder and spoiled everything, forcing six turnovers — and two more on downs — as the Michigan State Spartans fell to the Scarlet Knights in the season-opener, 38-27.

The win snapped a 21-game losing streak in conference play for the Scarlet Knights.

Final leaders

Passing

MSU - Rocky Lombardi: 31/44, 319 yds., 3 TD, 2 Int.

RU - Noah Verdal: 18/29, 169 yds., TD, Int.

Rushing

MSU - Jordon Simmons: 14 atts., 43 yds.

RU - Isaih Pacheco: 19 atts., 61 yds., 2 TD

Receiving

MSU - Jayden Reed: 11 recs., 128 yds., 2 TD

RU - Isaih Pacheco: 5 recs., 37 yds.

Rutgers ices win with interception

Michigan State gets it at its own 26, down 11, with 1:20 to go.

Rocky Lombardi scrambles for 6 yards on first down. He misses to Ricky White on second down and Connor Heyward on third down. The Spartans keep the drive alive with a 13-yard pass to Matt Dotson. 

After another incompletion, Lombardi is intercepted for the second time today to ice the game.

FINAL: Rutgers 38, Michigan State 27

Rutgers gives ball back to Michigan State with 1:20 left

Rutgers recovers the onside kick, and the Spartans' hopes have been effectively dashed.

Aaron Young rushes for 4 yards.

Timeout #1 Michigan State (1:46 4th)

Noah Vedral is sacked for a 10-yard loss on second down.

Timeout #2 Michigan State (1:39 4th)

Young is stopped after a 1-yard gain.

Timeout #3 Michigan State (1:33 4th)

Adam Korsak's punt is returned to the Michigan State 26.

Rutgers 38, Michigan State 27 (1:20 4th)

Michigan State makes score respectable with late touchdown

Michigan State gets it at the 35 to start. The Spartans are down 18 with 4:38 to play.

Rocky Lombardi throws complete to Ricky White on first down. He's intercepted on the next play, but there's a flag. Rutgers was offsides. That'll give Michigan State a first down.

Lombardi hits Matt Dotson for 4 yards then gets it to Jalen Nailor for 9 to the Rutgers 42.

Lombardi gets flagged for intentional grounding on the next play, bringing up second-and-20 at the Michigan State 48.

Elijah Collins catches a quick pass for 3 yards. Then it's Jayden Reed pulling in a catch, picking up 22 to the Rutgers 27.

Dotson catches a 13-yard pass, and the Spartans are in the red zone.

The Spartans pick up a pass interference on a throw near the goal line, making it first-and-goal at the 8.

Timeout #2 Rutgers (2:18 4th)

Collins rushes for 4 yards before Reed hauls in a 4-yard touchdown pass.

Rutgers 38, Michigan State 27 (1:53 4th)

Rutgers doesn't waste second chance, extends lead to 18 on Nailor's fumble

Rutgers takes over at the 19. The Scarlet Knights lead Michigan State by 11 with 10:08 to go.

Aaron Young rushes for 5 yards on first down, then gets 4 more on second down. Aron Cruickshank gets the 1 yard needed for a first down.

Isaih Pacheco rushes for 2 yards on first down. Bo Melton picks up 5 yards on a second-down reception. Vedral tries to go over the top on third down, but misses to Cruickshank.

Jalen Nailor waives for a fair catch on the punt, drops it, and it's recovered by Rutgers at the 26. The drive will continue.

Isaih Pacheco rushes for no gain on first down. Noah Vedral throws complete to Shameen Jones on second down for a 10-yard gain to move the sticks.

Pacheco rushes for 2 yards on the next play. Vedral throws a dime to Jones in the corner of the end zone for a Rutgers touchdown.

Rutgers 38, Michigan State 20 (4:38 4th)

Spartans offense crumbles in crunch time

Michigan State takes over at the 23, down 11.

Rocky Lombardi throws complete to Connor Heyward on first and second down for a total gain of 6 yards. Jayden Reed catches a 6-yard pass on third down to move the chains.

Elijah Collins is stopped for no gain on first down. Lombardi's throw to Jalen Nailor misses on second down. Lombardi's third-down pass is wacked out of his hand by Mohamed Toure and goes out of bounds incomplete.

Avery Young returns the punt 9 yards to the Rutgers 19.

Rutgers 31, Michigan State 20 (10:08 4th)

Rutgers adds field goal, extending lead to 11

Noah Vedral rushes for 3 yards on first down. Vedral gets the ball to Aron Cruickshank on second down, this time picking up 30 yards and reaching the Michigan State 47.

Isaih Pacheco rushes for 2 yards on first down. Aaron Young gets 4 yards on second down. Vedral keeps, finds the edge, and picks up 7 yards and a new set of downs on third-and-4. 

It's first down at the Michigan State 34.

Rutgers takes a holding penalty on first down, making it first-and-19.

Isaih Pacheco loses 3 yards on first down. Vedral picks up a big chunk of yards on a 16-yard completion to Pacheco on second down.

END 3RD: Rutgers 28, Michigan State 20

Vedral throws a strike to Aaron Young on third down, but he goes down inches shy of the line to gain. It appears that Rutgers will go for it.

Timeout #1 Rutgers (14:12 4th)

Vedral picks up 2 yards on the QB keeper, which is more than enough for a first down. It's first-and-10 at the Michigan State 23.

Pacheco is dropped for a 1-yard loss on first down. Vedral gets absolutely popped by Noah Harvey as he throws on second down, forcing an incompletion. Vedral loses 2 yards on the third-down quarterback keeper.

Guy Fava hits a 44-yard field goal to extend the lead to two scores.

Rutgers 31, Michigan State 20 (12:20 4th)

Michigan State turns ball over on downs after huge fumble recovery

After its second fumble recovery of the half, Michigan State takes over at the 29.

Rocky Lombardi rushes for 5 yards on first down and is flipped end over end on the tackle. Jordon Simmons is wrapped up for a 1-yard gain on first down and just 2 yards on second down.

Mel Tucker will go for it on fourth-and-2.

Simmons is stopped for a 1-yard gain. Not enough. It's Rutgers ball at the 20.

Rutgers 28, Michigan State 20 (3:31 3rd)

Michigan State grabs second turnover of half

Rutgers takes over at the 30. It leads Michigan State, 28-20 here in the third.

Isaih Pacheco rushes for 2 yards to the 32. He then catches a 1-yard pass. Noah Vedral is strip-sacked on third down by Drew Beesley, and Naquan Jones recovers for the Spartans at Michigan State's 29. What a turn of events.

Rutgers 28, Michigan State 20 (5:16 3rd)

Michigan State takes advantage of second chance, cuts Rutgers lead to 8

Michigan State's offense looks to get back on track, starting at the 12-yard-line.

Connor Heyward rushes for 3 yards on first down. Rocky Lombardi picks up 3 more yards on second down. Heyward moves the sticks with a 2-yard carry on third down.

Lombardi throws complete to Jalen Nailor for a 12-yard gain to the Spartan 35 on first down.

Elijah Collins loses 2 yards on first down. He gets a yard back on second down.

Michigan State can't convert on third down, and punts. Rutgers fumbles the punt, and it's recovered by Michigan State at the opponent's 30-yard-line.

Nailor hauls in a throw near the sideline, shakes off a defender, and dances into the end zone.

Rutgers 28, Michigan State 20 (6:30 3rd)

Spartan defense stands tall after Simmons' fumble

Noah Vedral throws incomplete on first down. He hits Bo Melton on second down, though, a 14-yard gain that'll give Rutgers a first down at the Michigan State 44.

Isaih Pacheco loses 2 yards on first down. Vedral's pass to Melton on second down is incomplete. Pacheco takes the third-down swing pass for 2 yards, and Rutgers will punt.

Adam Korsak's punt is fair caught at the 12.

Rutgers 28, Michigan State 13 (10:18 3rd)

Michigan State opens second half with fifth turnover of game

Michigan State's offense takes the field first in the second half, and will take over at the 23.

Brandon Wright is dropped for a 2-yard loss on first down. Rocky Lombardi hits Jayden Reed off play-action for a 14-yard gain. 

Matt Dotson now gets involved, hauling in a 5-yard catch. Then it's Jalen Nailor catch a pass for the Spartans, a 7-yard completion that'll give Michigan State a first down at the 49.

Jordon Simmons gets absolutely popped by Mike Tverdov for a loss of 3 on first down. Lombardi then hits Simmons. fora screen, picking up 13 to the 41.

Simmons fumbles on his next carry, and it's recovered by Rutgers. That's the fifth turnover of the day for Michigan State.

Rutgers 28, Michigan State 13 (12:23 3rd)

Michigan State adds field goal as first half expires

Michigan State takes over at the 36 with 0:36 on the clock.

Rocky Lombardi throws complete to Jalen Nailor for gains of 15 and 11 yards on the first two plays of the drive, giving Michigan State a first down at the Rutgers 38.

Lombardi throws complete to Jayden Reed for a 2-yard gain, then gets it to Connor Heyward for a gain of none. Lombardi's third-down throw is incomplete.

Matt Coghlin's 54-yard field goal is short, but there is a 5-yard penalty on the defense. He'll try again from 49.

This one's good, and Michigan State cuts the deficit to two scores.

END 2ND: Rutgers 28, Michigan State 13

Rutgers takes 28-10 lead against Michigan State before halftime

Bo Melton gives Rutgers great starting field position, returning the kickoff to the Rutgers 47.

Isaih Pacheco rushes for 9 yards on first down, moving into enemy territory. He gets it again on second down, hitting the hole with speed and getting all the way to the Spartan 18 for a gain of 26.

Noah Vedral throws complete to Jovani Haskins for a 6-yard gain on first down. Aaron Young rushes to the edge, and nearly gets to the end zone. He stepped out at the 5. It's first-and-goal.

Tre Avery rushes for 2 yards on first down. Pacheco punches it in from 3 yards out to put Rutgers back up big.

Rutgers 28, Michigan State 10 (0:36 2nd)

Michigan State cuts into deficit after Brown's interception

Michigan State takes over at the Rutgers 30 after Shakur Brown's interception.

A holding penalty on first down makes it first-and-20 at the 40.

Elijah Collins loses a yard on first down. Then Michigan State is flagged for a false start, making it second-and-26. Rocky Lombardi hits Jayden Reed for a 4-yard gain, then throws to Matt Dotson for a pickup of 15.

Timeout #1 Michigan State

Mattt Coghlin's 45-yard field goal is good.

Rutgers 21, Michigan State 10 (3:18 2nd)

Michigan State reverses turnover fortune

Rutgers takes over at its own 24 after the fumble recovery.

Noah Vedral rushes for 3 yards on first down. He throws complete to Shameen Jones on second down, an 8-yard gain that'll give Michigan State a first down at the 35.

Rutgers gets flagged for holding on the next play, bringing. up first-and-20. Vedral throws complete to Isaih Pacheco hauls in a 7-yard reception on second down.

Shakur Brown picks off Noah Vedral on the next play and returns it all the way to the end zone, but there was a holding penalty on the return. Michigan State will get it at the Rutgers 30, instead.

Rutgers 21, Michigan State 7 (6:05 2nd)

Michigan State turns ball over for fourth time in first half

Michigan State takes over at the 21, down 21-7.

Jordon Simmons rushes for 7 yards on first down, 2 more on second down, and 3 yards on third down as the Spartans move the sticks.

Rocky Lombardi's first-down throw to Jayden Reed should have been another first down, but instead is straight up dropped. Connor Heyward rushes for 9 yards on second down, and moves the chains with a 4-yard run on third-and-1.

Lombardi throws incomplete to Tre Mosley on first down. Simmons rushes for 4 yards on second down, getting to the 50. A substitution infraction gives Michigan State 5 yards for free, bringing up third-and-1.

Lombardi hits Reed for a 6-yard gain, which is then supplemented by a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. It's first-and-10 at the 24.

Reed loses 8 yards on first down, then fumbles. It's recovered by Rutgers at the 24.

Rutgers 21, Michigan State 7 (4:28 2nd)

Rutgers takes 21-7 lead two plays after Michigan State's third turnover

Aaron Young loses a yard on first down after the interception. It's second-and-11 at the 24: Noah Vedral keeps, gets passed Antjuan Simmons, and gets to the end zone for a 24-yard rushing touchdown.

Rutgers 21, Michigan State 7 (11:32 2nd)

Lombardi throws first interception, third MSU turnover of game

Elijah Collins rushes for no gain on first down. Rocky Lombardi's throw to Jalen Nailor on second down is incomplete. Tre Mosley hauls in an 11-yard reception on third down, though, as Michigan State keeps the drive alive.

Jayden Reed loses 2 yard on first down, and Jordon Simmons loses another yard on second down. Somebody messed up on third down, as Rocky Lombardi throws straight to a Rutgers defender for an interception, which is returned to the Michigan State 23.

Rutgers 14, Michigan State 7 (12:18 2nd)

Rutgers offense hits wall early in second

Rutgers takes over at the 26.

Noah Vedral throws complete to Bo Melton for a 6-yard gain, bringing the first quarter to a close.

END 1ST: Rutgers 14, Michigan State 7

Isaih Pacheco loses 3 on a second-down carry, and Vedral's throw on third down is over the head of his receiver.

Adam Korsak's punt is downed at the Michigan State 21.

Rutgers 14, Michigan State 7 (14:19 2nd)

Michigan State cuts lead in half on 50-yard touchdown pass

Jordon Simmons rushes for 8 yards on first down and 5 on second down to give Michigan State a first down at the 27.

Jalen Nailor is the intended receiver on first down, but the pass falls incomplete. Michigan State goes back to Simmons and doesn't regret it: He picks up 14 and a new set of downs at the Michigan State 41.

Simmons is stopped after 1 yard on the next play. A 17-yard gain is wiped out by a personal foul on Jayden Reed, bringing up second-and-16. Connor Heyward gets 4 yards. He then gets 11 more on third down, bringing up fourth-and-1.

Lombardi throws to Reed in the flat, he makes a man miss, and the Spartans have cut the lead in half on a 50-yard touchdown pass.

Rutgers 14, Michigan State 7 (0:23 1st)

Rutgers goes three-and-out 

Aron Cruickshank is stuffed for no gain on first down. Aaron Young loses 3 on second down. Cruickshank catches the third-down throw, but he's stopped for no gain.

The punt is downed at Michigan State's 14.

Rutgers 14, Michigan State 0 (3:34 1st)

Michigan State's offense continues to disappoint early in 2020

Michigan State takes over at its own 49 after a big return by Jayden Reed.

Elijah Collins rushes for 2 yards on first down. Rocky Lombardi gets 7 with his legs on second down. Collins suffers a 2-yard loss on third-and-1, but the Spartans will go for it.

Collins is stuffed after a 1-yard gain. Turnover on downs.

Rutgers 14, Michigan State 0 (5:18 1st)

Rutgers takes 14-0 lead halfway through first quarter

Isaih Pacheco is dropped for a 2-yard loss on first down after the fumble. It's second-and-goal at the 3. Noah Vedral's pass to the end zone is over the head of his receiver. A throw to the end zone is incomplete, but Shakur Brown is called for pass interference.

It's first-and-goal at the 2.

Pacheco gets a yard on first down. Johnny Langan, now in at quarterback for Rutgers, takes the quarterback keeper for a 1-yard touchdown.

Rutgers 14, Michigan State 0 (6:57 1st)

Lombardi turns ball over again

Michigan State will take over at the 16.

Connor Heyward is dropped for a loss of 5 on first down, and gets only a yard back on second down. Rocky Lombardi is stripped on his dropback, and the ball is recovered by Rutgers at the 1.

Rutgers 7, Michigan State 0 (8:26 1st)

Rutgers goes three-and-out after fumble recovery

Rutgers takes over at the Michigan State 44 after the fumble recovery.

Noah Vedral throws incomplete to Aron Cruickshank on first down. Isaih Pacheco gets a yard on second down, and just 2 on third down. The Spartans will escape the drive unscathed, as Rutgers' punt team takes the field.

The punt is downed at the 16.

Rutgers 7, Michigan State 0 (9:37)

Michigan State turns ball over on first play from scrimmage

Rocky Lombardi is the starter for Michigan State, as the offense takes the field for the first time this season.

Lombardi throws complete to Jayden Reed, who immediately fumbles. It's recovered Avery Young at the Michigan 44.

Rutgers 7, Michigan State 0 (11:10 1st)

Rutgers takes 7-0 lead on opening drive

Rutgers will get the ball first, taking over at the 25 after a touchback.

Isaih Pacheco rushes for 8 yards on a first-down carry. Noah Vedral's throw on second down misses the mark. Rutgers picks up a first down after Vedral gets the ball to Pacheco in the flat, an 11-yard gain.

Aaron Young gets a yard on first down. An offsides penalty on the Spartans makes it second-and-4. Young is dropped for a 2-yard loss on second down. Vedral scrambles and throws it up to Bo Melton for a 25-yard gain that'll put the Scarlet Knights at Michigan State's 28.

Pacheco gets 4 yards on a first-down carry. Vedral throws incomplete on second down. Vedral converts on third down with a 12-yard completion to Aron Cruickshank, making it first-and-10 at the 12.

Pacheco puts Rutgers on the board with a 12-yard touchdown run.

Rutgers 7, Michigan State 0 (11:19 1st)

Pregame

Michigan State kicks off its 2020 season with a noon home game against Rutgers on Saturday. You can follow the action here with live updates throughout the game by Nolan Bianchi of The Detroit News.

Michigan State head coach Mel Tucker directs his players before the start of the first game of the season against Rutgers, at Spartan Stadium, in East Lansing, October 24, 2020.

Rutgers at Michigan State

Kickoff: Noon Saturday, Spartan Stadium, East Lansing

TV/radio: Big Ten Network/760

Line: Michigan State by 13

Elijah Collins

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