Live Michigan State blog: MSU goes up late, wins 28-13

Al Willman
The Detroit News

Michigan State, which got off to a slow start against Furman on Friday, picked up the pace in the second half on the way to a 28-13 win in the opener for both teams.

Tyler O'Connor, in his first game as the starter for the Spartans, went 13-of-18 for 190 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. L.J. Scott had 20 carries for 105 yards and a touchdown, while Monty Madaris had five catches for 85 yards.

For Furman, P.J. Blazejowski was 15-of-30 for 123 yards and an interception. The Paladins got their touchdown on a 6-yard run from Antonio Wilcox (three carries, 10 yards). They also got a pair of field goals from Jon Croft Hollingsworth (20, 23).

The Spartans led 14-3 at the half, scoring on their first drive (1-yard run from Scott), and not again until O'Connor found Felton Davis on a 13-yard touchdown.

Michigan State plays at Notre Dame next Saturday. Kickoff is set for 7:30.

Spartans hold lead

The Spartans forced Furman to turn the ball over on downs late in the fourth quarter. After Furman picked up a first down early in the drive, it stalled still in Furman territory. Michigan State takes over at the Furman 41-yard line with a 28-13 lead.

Spartans cushion lead

Michigan State padded its lead in the fourth quarter on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Tyler O'Connor to Jamal Lyles. The Spartans went 60 yards in 12 plays, and managed to overcome their 10th penalty (for 120 total yards) in the process. Michigan State now leads Furman 28-13.

MSU, Furman trade INTs

The Spartans committed their second turnover in three second half drives. Two plays after committing the ninth penalty (for 110 yards), on third-and-16, Tyler O'Connor was picked off. On the first pass of the ensuing drive, P.J. Blazejowski was intercepted by Andrew Dowell. Michigan State takes over at its own 40, up 21-6 in the fourth quarter.

Furman chips away at MSU lead

Furman chipped away at the MSU lead on a 6-yard touchdown run from Antonio Wilcox. Furman marched on the Spartans, going 73 yards in 11 plays, and picking up a crucial fourth down conversion in the red zone. Early in the fourth quarter, the MSU offense takes the field with a 21-13 lead.

MSU adds to lead

The Michigan State offense might finally have found its stride. Tyler O'Connor connected with Josiah Price on a 21-yard touchdown, two plays after O'Connor found Monty Madaris for a gain of 31, taking the Spartans to the red zone. Late in the third quarter, Michigan State has a 21-6 lead over Furman.

O'Connor is 11-of-13 for 167 yards and two touchdowns.

Furman makes 23-yard FG

Furman took advantage of the MSU turnover, again backing the Spartans up to their goal line. However, Furman — which took four shots at the end zone during the drive, and got a pass interference flag on one — settled for a 23-yard field goal from Jon Croft Hollingsworth — who missed from 57 on its last drive. The Spartans, just over midway through the third quarter, lead 14-6.

MSU fumbles quickly

On its first offensive play of the half, Michigan State turned the ball over — on a fumble from Darrell Stewart. Furman takes over at the MSU 35-yard line, down 14-3.

Furman stalls, misses FG

Michigan State's defense was a little sluggish to start the second half. After two costly penalties — a defensive pass interference flag, and one for a late hit that turned a fourth down into a fresh set of downs — put Furman into Michigan State territory, the Spartan defense clamped down, forcing a 57-yard field goal attempt from Jon Croft Hollingsworth, that was no good. The Spartans take their first possession of the second half, ahead 14-3.

Halftime: MSU 14, Furman 3

Michigan State got off to a bit of a slow start in the first half, but took a 14-3 lead into the break.

Furman got on the board late in the half, on a 20-yard field goal from Jon Croft Hollingsworth. The Michigan State defense was backed up to its own goal line, after Furman had a first-and-goal from the MSU 3-yard line. Furman marched 72 yards in 13 plays, taking advantage of several holes in the MSU defense.

Tyler O'Connor finished the half 8-of-13 for 109 yards and a touchdown.

The MSU rushing attack is led by L.J. Scott, who has 12 carries for 61 yards and a touchdown. Felton Davis (40 yards, touchdown) and Monty Madaris (43 yards) each have three catches for the Spartans.

For Furman, P.J. Blazejowski is 9-of-18 for 74 yards. Darius Morehead has eight carries for 38 yards.

Spartans end drought

The Michigan State offense ended its drought, scoring on a 13-yard touchdown pass from Tyler O'Connor to Felton Davis, which occurred exactly 23 minutes (game clock) after MSU's touchdown in the first quarter. The Spartans marched 57 yards in eight plays, and the drive featured the first collegiate catch for Donnie Corley (Detroit King) — an 11-yard completion. The Spartans are ahead 14-0 late in the second quarter.

O'Connor is currently 8-of-13 for 109 yards and a touchdown.

MSU defense playing well

The Michigan State defense, which started the drive at the Furman 9-yard line, continued its strong play by forcing another three-and-out. After the Spartans fielded the ensuing punt at the Furman 49, a 10-yard holding flag backed them up to their own 43, where the drive will start — MSU still leads 7-0.

MSU offense inconsistent early

Michigan State’s offense is very much a Jekyll-and-Hyde prospect so far. Quarterback Tyler O’Connor found Monty Madaris for 23 yards, on a well-executed play-action pass. O’Connor, however, was sacked on third-and-17, forcing another punt from Jake Hartbarger — which was downed at the Furman 9-yard line. Despite the inconsistency, the Spartans remain up 7-0.

It appears as though Madaris may be O’Connor’s go-to receiver, catching three of O’Connor’s five completions, for 43 yards.

Spartan defense holds fast

Michigan State's defense kept Furman bottled up in its own territory on the Spartans' first defensive series of the second quarter. Furman managed 24 yards on five plays, but was forced to punt after Bryan Bullough made a key stop on third-and-one. The Michigan State offense, which has had trouble gaining momentum since the first drive of the game, takes over still leading 7-0.

MSU offense stalls again

Michigan State had a pair of long passes on the drive from Tyler O’Connor — 16 yards to Felton Davis and 15 to Madre London — however its drive stalled again, and the Spartans were forced to punt. Jake Hartbarger sent a 38-yard punt to the Furman 8-yard line, where it was downed. On MSU's first defensive series of the second quarter, the Spartans remain ahead 7-0.

MSU defense keeps game scoreless

For as much momentum as the Michigan State offense lacks, its defense is making up for it — holding Furman to 11 total yards in three drives. The Spartans held Furman to another long fourth down, and lead 7-0 as the offense takes the field for presumably its final drive of the first quarter.

Geiger misses 43-yard FG try

Michigan State's offense has had trouble gaining momentum after scoring on the first drive of the game. Despite marching into Furman territory, the Spartans left points on the field. After Donnie Corley (Detroit King) was unable to pick up a first down, Michael Geiger attempted a 43-yard field goal, which went wide left. The Spartans, late in the first quarter, are still ahead 7-0.

Furman stalls, MSU still up 7-0

After picking up a first down on an 11-yard run from Darius Morehead, Furman's offense stalled well inside its own territory. A 34-yard punt, returned for 13 yards by R.J. Shelton will start the Spartans at the Furman 47-yard line, up 7-0.

MSU goes three-and-out, up 7-0

The Michigan State offense looked a little rougher on its second drive, going three-and-out. A 58-yard punt from Jake Hartbarger pinned Furman at its own 14-yard line. The Spartans maintain a 7-0 lead with the defense coming back on the field.

Spartans force three-and-out

The Michigan State defense made an early impact, forcing Furman to go three-and-out. With 9:30 left in the first, the Spartans remain ahead 7-0.

Spartans take early 7-0 lead

Set up by a 32-yard run from R.J. Shelton — to the left — and 21 from L.J. Scott — to the right — MSU needed only four plays to get to the Furman 11-yard line. From there, the Spartans needed three more to score their first touchdown of the year — a 1-yard run from Scott. With 11:19 left in the first, the Spartans lead 7-0.

Tyler O'Connor Era set to begin at Michigan State

We're about 15 minutes from Michigan State's opener against Furman.

While many bigger schools use games against lower-tier schools, Matt Charboneau writes that the Spartans are solely focused on this week, and not Notre Dame.

This is also the start of the Tyler O'Connor Era, but some eyes are on MSU's freshmen, which may make an early impact .

One thing is certain, college football season is underway in Michigan.