Punter Michael Sleep-Dalton sent a beauty of a kick during the first quarter. Gunner Paul Lucas down it at Michigan State’s one-yard line. It looked like the Sun Devils had the Spartans in a vulnerable position, no room to breathe and with the student section erupting in noise behind them.
But the Spartans didn’t feel the pressure. Quarterback Brian Lewerke on third-and-5 stood in his end zone, Sun Devil rushers surrounding him. He seemed relaxed, he waited and found receiver Darrell Stewart for 19 yards.
The Spartans looked a step of ahead of Arizona State the rest of the drive. The Sun Devils blitzed, Michigan State had a screen drawn up. Lewerke made correct decisions on read options. Running back LJ Scott kept finding holes.
Although, MSU got to ASU’s 14-yard line for a third-and-1. The trenches were finally won by the Sun Devils. They stuffed Lewerke on third down and the Spartans lined up to go for it on fourth, ASU stuff Lewerke again. But, a flag came in for delay of game. They settled for a field goal as Matt Coghlin sent it in for the first score of the game with 13:19 left in the second quarter.
The Sun Devils came out on the next drive with a lot of up and downs. Running back Eno Benjamin started it with a swing pass for a 11 yards. The next snap then rolled past him and Wilkins that helped create a third-and-20. They ended up converting it, Wilkins found receiver Brandon Aiyuk over the middle for 23 yards.
Wilkins and company found themselves in another dilemma a few plays later on fourth-and-1. Herm Edwards had already gone for it once and converted. This time the Spartans stuffed the Devils.
Michigan State started their drive at ASU’s 49-yard line. It looked like a drive destined to score. Lewerke twice on the drive found his guy in third down to convert. First finding Davis Felton for 18 yards. Then rolling out to find Cody White for eight yards on third-and-4. The Spartans got to the six-yard line and the young ASU defense stepped up again.
On second-and-goal, Lewerke got a few Sun Devils in his face. He tossed one off his back foot attempting to get it to his tight end Matt Sokol, it went off his hands in the end zone and into starting Tillman safety Dasmond Tautalasi’s. He returned back to ASU’s 16-yard line.
Wilkins put his team to the MSU’s 39-yard line after the pick, but got nothing to show for it rather than flipping field position. ASU caused a three-and-out on the next drive.
Wilkins tried a two-minute drive to end the half, it looked promising. He went three-for-five getting to MSU’s 38-yard line. However, the last play ended in an interception. Wilkins with pressure in his face launched the ball a bit too high over on a ball for Aiyuk and the Spartans’ safety Matt Morrissey. The Spartans took a few knees and ended the half.
The Sun Devils have gained a total of 178 yards in the first half. 159 of those through the air, averaging 9.4 yards per completion. The running game is having a difficult time, 19 yards on 16 yards is usually numbers against the Michigan State defense.
The Arizona State defense has allowed 10 points through six quarters, a stat that many didn’t see coming from a young defense. More to come from Sun Devil Stadium.