EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – For a second straight week, Michigan State’s football team made a few jaws drop, and yet again, it all began on the first play from scrimmage. Except for this time, the Spartans decided to air it out rather than put it in the hands of their speedy junior running back Kenneth Walker III.
The play started with a handoff to Walker, but the Spartans got creative and used a flea-flicker to fool the Penguins. After receiving the handoff, Walker tossed it back to Payton Thorne, who connected with junior wide receiver Jayden Reed for a 75-yard touchdown to give MSU the early 7-0 lead.
“First thing I said was ‘Coach Tuck is crazy,'” MSU senior safety, Xavier Henderson said. “I saw them practicing the play, but I didn’t think they were going to come out with it on the first play of the game.”
“The plan was to come out and attack and be aggressive. The opponents change, but the standard does not,” MSU football coach, Mel Tucker said.
It was just the beginning for the duo who would later make some history on their next connection. With 12:52 remaining in the second quarter Thorne hit Reed in stride and he hauled it in for an 85-yard touchdown. A career-long play for both players to extend MSU’s lead 21-0.
Thorne and Reed have known each other since middle school and were teammates at Naperville Central High School. So, games like this are ones the two have been dreaming about for quite some time.
“The dreaming probably started my sophomore year, when he started getting offers, and you kind of realize this is real, that we’re going to be playing at the next level,” Thorne said. “It’s pretty cool how things have ended up, it’s crazy how things have ended up, and a day like today is pretty cool.”
“We’ve done that, throwing those kinds of plays, many times,” Reed said. “It’s a very exciting moment getting back out there with him. It’s always exciting for me. I’m proud of him, with how far he’s come. He’s become a much better player and a much better leader. It’s just great watching him grow as a player. So, I’m excited for the rest of the season, and I don’t plan on those being the last two plays.”
Junior running back Elijah Collins also experienced a first in a Spartan uniform. Not even two minutes later Thorne found Collins for a 20-yard touchdown and it was the first touchdown reception of his MSU career. It was quite a series for Collins as well. He had a hand in every play of the four-play drive with three carries for 32 yards and one catch for 20 yards resulting in the touchdown to give MSU a 28-0 lead.
Youngstown State would find the end zone with 4:10 to play before the half. Demeatric Crenshaw did the honors. A 6-yard rushing touchdown to get the Penguins on the board, but Walker III made sure to match it. Literally.
With 17 seconds on the clock before halftime Walker would not be denied, bulldozing his way past the goal line for the 6-yard touchdown and the Spartans would head into the locker room up 35-7 at the half.
Thorne’s fourth and final passing touchdown would come towards the end of the third quarter. A 16-yard toss to Jalen Nailor for a 42-14 MSU lead. Thorne was 15-21 for 280 yards. He also had one rushing touchdown to cap off a five-touchdown day to lift MSU to victory, 42-14. Additionally, MSU put up a total of 595 yards of total offense in the win.
Michigan State improves to 2-0. The Spartans travel to Miami next Saturday to take on the Hurricanes at 12 noon.