(EAST LANSING) - With a youth movement clearly evident on Saturday, Michigan State
head coach John L. Smith took it a step further.
With Michigan State leading 17-7 in the fourth quarter, Smith pulled quarterback Stephen Reaves and inserted sophomore Drew Stanton into the ball game.
Stanton moved the team, not with his arm, but with his legs, once scrambling for a first down and then rambling 38 yards through the CMU secondary all the way to the 2-yard line setting up Jason Teague's 2-yard plunge to put the game out of reach.
But it was Reaves who showed a great touch and a rifle for an arm early on. On State's first possession, Reaves moved the Spartans deep into CMU territory, connecting with tight end Eric Knott for 50 yards. When the drive stalled at the CMU 5-yard line, a poor snap and hold led to a Dave Rayner miss.
Two possessions later, Reaves threw a perfect strike to wide receiver Kyle Brown, who broke free in the Central secondary on a "go" route for a 44-yard touchdown to put MSU up 7-0.
"I was waiting for Kyle (Brown) to get open," said Reaves. "I just kept standing in, the line held the defense off just long enough. He popped open, and I didn't care whether I was going to take the hit or not, I just threw it. I didn't get to see it, but I heard the crowd yell. I was pretty happy about that play."
Brown said he knew the safety wasn't going to be able to get to him in time. "The touchdown was just a read route, the safety wasn't playing me, so I just went up the seam and Stephen (Reaves) found me."
On State's next possesion, Reaves went back to work connecting with Brown twice more, but this time he had help from freshman running back Jehuu Caulcrick, who pounded the CMU defense for 23 yards in the drive.
"I'd like to think I'm the type of back who is going to run hard," Caulcrick stated. "I can be a goal line back, but my goal right now is to be well-rounded. I know I am more than just a goal line back."
The drive culminated with a Rayner field goal, giving MSU a 10-0 halftime advantage.
The Spartans offense picked up where it left off, thanks to a 52-yard kickoff return by DeAndra Cobb. With Teague and Caulcrick supply rushing yards and Reaves connected with Brown once more for a key 18 yard pass play. Caulcrick scored from 7-yards out giving MSU a lead they would never reliquish at 17-0.
But the one negative spot on a positive afternoon was MSU's run defense which had a tough time tackling Central star Jerry Seymore. With Central pinned deep inside their 20, Seymore busted a 90-yard run - tying the record for the longest run ever given up by Michigan State -to give Central their only touchdown of the afternoon. It was a play that had coach John L. Smith incensed.
"That's embarrassing," Smith said. "It's ridiculous for us to do something like that."
Seymore ended the day with 164 yards rushing, something opponents will likely take notice of in preparing for MSU.
A CMU field goal got the Chippewas their final scoring of the day before setting up Stanton's heroics.
MSU now prepares to host a resurgent Notre Dame team that upset #8 Michigan on Saturday.
--More MSU coverage later on Sunday--
Michigan State has a full blown quarterback controversy after redshirt freshman Stephen Reaves, who staked the Spartans to an early lead was replaced by sophomore Drew Staton in Michigan State's 24-7 win over Central Michigan.
"I felt good the whole time I was in there," said Reaves. "I think our offense was moving the ball well, and we put some points on the board. At times we were really clicking out there."