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Michigan State thrives on turnovers to defeat Akron 52-0

The Spartans forced four fumbles in win to improve to 2-0.

Syndication: Lansing State Journal Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

The No. 14/11 Michigan State Spartans dominated the Akron Zips on Saturday afternoon, by a score of 52-0.

MSU took an even bigger hit in the injury department when defensive tackle Jacob Slade, wide receiver Jayden Reed, safety Angelo Grose, and quarterback Payton Thorne went out with injury for at least several plays. However, Slade and Grose were able to return in the second half, and Thorne did not miss much time at all before returning to the game.

Reed was pushed into a bucket of Gatorade before exiting the game. Thorne took a big hit after running a flea-flicker that led to his second interception of the game. He exited the game for the rest of the series, as backup Noah Kim threw his first touchdown pass of the season (and first of his career) to wide receiver Tre Mosley. Reed was on the sideline near the end of the game.

Early on, Akron and quarterback D.J. Irons were able to advance the ball down the field early, out-gaining Michigan State in yardage by the end of the first quarter. Yet, a couple of forced fumbles helped MSU out and led to its 14-0 lead.

Wide receiver T.J. Banks fumbled shortly after making a 16-yard reception (forced by Kendell Brooks). Sophomore linebacker Cal Haladay recovered the ball. Two plays into Akron’s third possession, Shocky Jacques-Louis fumbled the ball (forced by Jacoby Windmon), recovered by junior defensive tackle Maverick Hansen.

Both of Michigan State’s first quarter touchdown drives were capped off by short runs, the first being a one-yard run by Jarek Broussard. The second was a one-yard run by Jalen Berger.

Akron’s third turnover was on a backward pass that was dropped. It was recovered by senior linebacker Jacoby Windmon. The Zips ended up having some injury issues when Irons left the game and was replaced with backup, Jeff Undercuffler, Jr.

Michigan State freshman kicker Jack Stone made his first field goal of the season (and career), after missing his only attempt last week against Western Michigan, from 43 yards out. That solidified a 24-0 lead for Michigan State at halftime.

The Spartans took a 31-0 lead after backup quarterback Kim threw a zippy touchdown pass toward the side of the end zone to connect with Mosley. MSU extended its lead even further, 38-0, after yet another rushing touchdown by Berger. It was the Spartans’ first touchdown not following a turnover.

Berger put Michigan State up 45-0 after the extra point with a two-yard touchdown run.

With a little less than three minutes in the third quarter, Michigan State head coach Mel Tucker put MSU’s second-team offense in, mainly replacing Thorne with Kim at the quarterback position and running backs Broussard and Berger with senior Elijah Collins.

Thorne finished his afternoon 18-for-28 with 212 passing yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. His passer rating was 113.6.

Before the quarter even ended, Kim and Collins led the team downfield for another touchdown, putting Michigan State ahead 52-0.

Highly-touted freshman four-star quarterback Katin Houser also saw some playing time. In his first snap, he ran the ball for 13 yards on a read option for a first down. Two plays later, from second down, Houser completed a pass for two yards to fellow true freshman Jaron Glover and also threw an incompletion.

Berger led Michigan State in rushing yards with 107 yards in 17 attempts, averaging a solid 6.3 yards per attempt, and scoring three touchdowns. Despite his early exit, Reed led the team in receiving yards with six receptions for 76 yards.

Additionally, redshirt freshman defensive tackle Derrick Harmon and true freshman defensive end Zion Young each recorded their first career college sacks.

Michigan State’s victory improves the team’s record to 2-0. Next Saturday, MSU will head out to play Washington on the road. The game starts at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time and will air on ABC. Washington is also 2-0 and is coming off of a home victory against Portland State.