The Spartans started out the game with a bang, going up 10-0 five minutes into the game. They took the opening kickoff and went down for a 44 yard field goal by Dan Conroy. The defense then forced a punt with a three and out, in which Keshawn Martin returned it 43 yards to set up a 9 yard touchdown run by Le’Veon Bell. MSU dominated up front on both sides of the ball, forcing the quarterback into quick throws on defense and by opening up holes for Edwin Baker on offense. Florida Atlantic University responded though with a 76 yard drive to cut the Spartans’ lead to 3 at the end of the 1st quarter. The defense played well early and was able to stuff the run, but MSU could not stop them on third down, as the Owls went 3-3 on the drive.
The defense was stout in the 2nd quarter, stopping FAU on all three of their drives. MSU did not blitz much, using just the front four to put pressure on Owls QB Jeff Van Camp. The Spartans completely took the run game away along with the pass, but the struggles still continued in coverage. On one drive, both Chris Norman and Chris L Rucker were called for pass interference penalties. Luckily, neither call hurt the Spartans as they stopped the Owls and forced them to punt. The offense looked good, continuing to pound the ball with Baker and Bell. They combined for 82 yards on 10 carries and 1 touchdown in the first half. The scoring for the Spartans came on another field goal from Conroy (41 yards) and a Kirk Cousins 30 yard touchdown pass to WR B.J. Cunningham. On the play, Cousins showed off his great touch and accuracy, as he dropped a dime right over the hand of an outstretched FAU defender in the end zone.
The second half began with the Spartans leading 20-7 and FAU receiving the ball. The defense came up with a huge stop on third down to get ball back for the offense. On the first play from scrimmage, Baker took the ball off left tackle, broke two tackles and raced down the sideline for an 80 yard touchdown run. This run put him over the 100 yard mark for the second straight game. FAU came out on the next series and put together a solid 80 yard touchdown drive that was aided by a Spartan pass interference call and two 4th down conversions. Keshawn Martin took the ensuing kickoff back 44 yards and then caught a 45 yard pass down to the FAU 5 yard line. The Spartans were stopped on two run plays and then on third down, Cousins threw an interception in the end zone. It was a bad pass, but the Owl defensive back made a great play and baited him into the throw. From here, the defense caused a fumble and the Spartans were able to convert it into three points on a 50 yard field goal by Conroy. The scoring was finished off by the Owls, as they forced a fumble by Bell and drove down to the Spartans 2 yard line and kicked a field goal with 3 minutes left. Final Score: MSU 30 FAU 17
A few bright spots for the Spartans were on special teams, in which Dan Conroy was 3-3 on field goal attempts (41, 44, and 50). I do not want to speak too soon, but he is making the loss of Brett Swenson seem very unimportant at this point in the season. Keshawn Martin was also outstanding with a 45 yard punt return, a 44 yard kickoff return and a 45 yard pass reception. He is a great weapon to have in terms of field position and I look for him to get more touches in the coming weeks based on what he can do with the ball in his hands. The one glaring statistic was that of third down conversions for MSU. The defense had trouble stopping the Owls on third down (7-14), especially in long yardage situations. They also gave up two fourth down conversions to allow drives to continue for FAU. The offense was not any better, in which at one point in the game, they were 1-7 on third down. This must change as the season goes on and the schedule gets tougher. All in all, it was a victory for the Spartans and they are 2-0 with Notre Dame coming to East Lansing next week.
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Written by David Lesmeister