QB Brian Lewerke, LB Chris Frey, WR Darrell Stewart and CB Josiah Scott discuss Michigan State's victory. Matt Charboneau
East Lansing — Darrell Stewart Jr. saw the end zone and was getting ready for the celebration, the first touchdown of his career only steps away.
The Michigan State sophomore receiver came up 2 yards short in the opener last week against Bowling Green, but that was about to go out the window as he took the ball around the left end on a jet sweep and scampered toward the end zone.
And then Stewart felt the defenders close in as he crumbled to the ground, stopped short at the 1-yard line.
“Man, I guess my new nickname is going to be ‘Goal-line Stew,’” Stewart said shaking his head not long after Michigan State defeated Western Michigan, 28-14.
The Spartans capitalized a play later when quarterback Brian Lewerke scored on a 1-yard plunge, but Stewart was left lamenting his fate — and the razzing he was getting from his teammates.
“It seems like I can get to the end zone but I just can’t score the ball,” Stewart said. “I mean, the whole time I was running the ball, in my head I’m like, ‘This is going to be the big play. This is going to be the moment that changes my life.’ And slowly, as I got closer and closer I just felt my body going down to the ground and I’m like, ‘No, not again.’ Before I know it I’m stopped on the 1. It was ridiculous.
“But I’m glad I got the opportunity to make a play.”
He’s been making plenty in just the first two games for the Spartans. He led the Spartans with six catches for 85 yards in the opener and had three grabs for 33 yards against Western Michigan while running three times for 70 yards.
It’s exactly what Michigan State expected from the Houston native who had only three career receptions entering the game.
“I do think that he's making plays on the offensive side of the ball,” coach Mark Dantonio said. “He's catching the football and running with the ball. He's an exciting player. He knew he would be that when we recruited him out of Houston. He's a good player and he's just getting started, really. He's a redshirt sophomore, like most of our team it seems like. We're excited to play and we're excited for each other.”
Lewerke, in just his fourth start, has shown a rapport with Stewart. It’s a connection that both are sure will result in more big plays and, hopefully, a touchdown.
“I wanted him to score a touchdown on that long run,” Lewerke said. “He keeps getting caught at the one, but he'll get one eventually. Obviously, he's a great playmaker for us, there's a ton of different ways to get him the ball. I think we did a great job of getting him the ball today.”
And Stewart is confident, too, that score will come.
In the meantime, he’ll keep focusing on wins and leave the personal stuff for later.
“Honestly to me, touchdowns really don't matter,” Stewart said. “I just want to put the team in a good situation to get the W. The rest doesn't matter. If I get zero touchdowns for the whole season, as long as the team gets into good situations and we're winning, I mean that's why we're here. That's the whole reason why we play football. It's not to be the big guy or the star who gets all of the touchdowns.
“No, it's not about the touchdowns for me. It's about getting the team into good situations where we can win so we can all enjoy and celebrate.”