MSU's Lewerke shakes off hit, puts on MVP-worthy show

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News
Brian Lewerke threw for 213 yards, rushed for 73 and had three touchdowns in Thursday's 42-17 Holiday Bowl win over Washington State.

San Diego — Brian Lewerke was back in front of his friends and family on Thursday night, and he wasn’t about the let them leave disappointed.

The Michigan State quarterback and Phoenix native had a large cheering section on hand at SDCCU Stadium for the Holiday Bowl and he made the most of it, throwing for 213 yards and three touchdowns, running for 73 yards and being named the offensive MVP in Michigan State’s 42-17 victory over Washington State.

“This was good being close to home,” Lewerke said. “I had a lot of family members here and to be able to get a bowl win in Southern California is awesome.”

It took some time for Lewerke and the Michigan State offense to get rolling as its first two drives produced nothing and Lewerke was 0-for-4 passing. But things took off from there as the Spartans scored 35 straight points.

“It might have been rust, maybe not playing for a month. But I think one of the biggest things was we adjusted our play calls to what they were giving us, tried to run the ball better, pass the ball better,” Lewerke said. “Overall, I felt things started clicking because we got a little more comfortable with ourselves and what was being called out there.”

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Lewerke finished 13-for-21 passing but looked like he was knocked out of the game in the third quarter.

On second-and-1 from the Washington State 5, Lewerke ran for three yards and took a big hit. He stayed on the ground then left the game as backup and fifth-year senior Damion Terry came in and scored on a 5-yard run. Lewerke said the hit the head was tough, but he also felt pain in his knee.

“First of all, it is awesome he was able to go in and get a touchdown in the last game,” Lewerke said of Terry. “So happy for him. That's awesome that he handled that. I'm glad that he was able to do that.

“Took a pretty big hit and it was more my knee, I was hobbling around and they made me lay down and looked at it, looked at my head and my knee and said I was fine. So, I was able to go back out there and push ahead.”

Unforgettable ending

As big of a night as it was for Lewerke, it was just as sweet for Terry, who has had his share of ups and downs in his career.

But Terry couldn’t have asked for more than to win his final game and score a touchdown.

“Oh no, not at all,” Terry said when asked if he could have scripted it better. “I told everyone, you can even bet me. I didn’t think I was gonna even play today, let alone score a touchdown. It was amazing. I’m glad Brian is OK but I got up and was ready to go.”

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And once Terry knew the play on second-and-goal from the Washington State 5  an option play  there was no chance he was giving it up.

“I ran that play before and I told the running back, ‘I’m not pitching it. I’m going to score,’” Terry said. “The rest is history

“It was like a relief. It felt so good to hear all my teammates say how happy they were for me, that means the world to me. Their support and how they were rallying around me on sideline means everything to me and I’ll never forget that.”

Extra points

Michigan State wide receiver Cody White scored twice and had three catches for 41 yards.

In the process, he set the program record for most receiving yards by a freshman with 490.

“It was a great feeling for me,” White said, “just to be able to represent for Michigan State.”

… Michigan State’s 21 points in the second quarter matched the most in a quarter of a bowl game. The Spartans scored 21 in the fourth quarter of the 2014 Cotton Bowl against Baylor.

… The 16-play scoring drive that lasted 9:24 in the second quarter was the longest scoring drive by time in a bowl game for the Spartans and the 16 plays matched a bowl record.

… Senior linebacker Chris Frey was named defensive MVP. He had six tackles and a fumble recovery.