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The Rub of the Green (2019 Pinstripe Bowl; Michigan State vs. Wake Forest)

Robert Cole/ALOST

akoiki-passport2 – by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief

 

NEW YORK — Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke cut out a lot of noise in the past two seasons — years filled with unmet expectations and loads of criticism from a passionate fan base that grew impatient with a regressing offense — to finally, once again, take in noise filled with adulation and appreciation at the end of his record-setting career.

The senior quarterback threw for 320 yards and a touchdown and added a score on the ground as a much-maligned Spartans offense did more than enough to defeat Wake Forest 27-21 in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium on Friday.

Lewerke’s performance earned him the game’s offensive MVP award, a distinction he garnered two years ago in San Diego when a nationally-ranked Spartan team defeated Washington State in the Holiday Bowl to clinch a 10-win season. More was expected from Lewerke and the team going forward, but two 7-6 seasons followed, with the struggles by the offense to score becoming a near-weekly refrain in water cooler conversations in East Lansing.

Tonight, however, Lewerke was consistent in completing 26 of his 37 passes. His performance allowed him to move past former Spartan quarterback Connor Cook as the school’s all-time leader in total yardage (9,548).

“It felt good,” said Lewerke said, who also finished his Michigan State career third in wins (22) and fourth in touchdown passes (47) and passing yards (8,293). “Obviously we just wanted to come out and get a win, to send these seniors out the right way and to send the guys coming back a little boost coming into next year.”

Michigan State’s defense provided a catalyst for its offense, with senior defensive lineman Mike Panasiuk returning an interception 14 yards for a touchdown late in the first quarter to give the Spartans their first lead at 10-7.

Just can’t say enough about our football team and our seniors, that they stayed together,” said Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio. “When you win a football game at the end of the year, when you win a bowl game which so much goes into it from a preparation standpoint, it’s a good feeling, a very positive feeling. We’ll take it from there.”

Just can’t say enough about our football team and our seniors, that they stayed together,” said Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio. “When you win a football game at the end of the year, when you win a bowl game which so much goes into it from a preparation standpoint, it’s a good feeling, a very positive feeling. We’ll take it from there.”

Panasiuk’s pick six was the first of three lead changes in the first half. Wake Forest quarterback Jamie Newman completed only two of his six passes in the second quarter, but both went for touchdowns. His 16-yard touchdown pass to Donavon Greene on third-and-11 gave the Demon Deacons a 14-10 lead with 9:14 remaining in the quarter. On their next drive, and after Lewerke gave the Spartans the lead back on an 8-yard scoring run, the Demon Deacons hit on a big play, with Newman funding tight end Jack Freudenthal down the middle for a 44-yard touchdown.

Matt Coghlin kicked a 44-yard field goal with 49 seconds left in the half to cut Michigan State’s deficit to 21-20 at halftime.

Lewerke engineered a 73-yard scoring drive to begin the third quarter, with two third-down completions keeping the drive that would turn out to produce the game-winning score alive. Lewerke found Cody White from 10 yards out with 10:11 remaining in the third quarter to give the Spartans a 27-21 lead.

From there, Michigan State’s defense took over, holding Wake Forest to just 101 yards of total offense in the second half and holding the Demon Deacons to 2-of-7 on third-down conversions and stopping both of their fourth-down tries in the final 30 minutes.

“I thought [Michigan State] played a really good football game,” said Wake Forest head coach Dave Clawson. “We came out in the first half and played really well on offense. Bottom line in the second half is we didn’t make plays on offense, and they made the plays on defense.”

Newman finished the game completing only 12 of his 17 passes for 175 yards, but did throw for three touchdowns — including on Wake Forest’s second possession, a 29-yard score to Kendall Hinton, for the first points of the game. Newman also ran for 87 yards.

*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Friday afternoon’s game, with all photos taken by ALOST senior photographer Robert Cole. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 29 pictures in total.

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Tags : College FootballMichigan State SpartansPinstripe BowlWake Forest Demon Deacons

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