The defense held on to defeat the offense, 33-28, in the second jersey scrimmage of preseason camp Friday at Spartan Stadium. The scrimmage, which utilized a modified scoring system, was 124 plays long (including special teams) and lasted two hours under sunny skies and temperatures near 70.
Junior linebacker Darien Harris recorded six tackles, including a 2-yard loss, and had an interception and a pass break-up to help lead the defense, which fell in the first scrimmage last Saturday, 47-30. Sophomore cornerback Jermaine Edmondson and freshman cornerback Montae Nicholson led the team with seven tackles apiece, and both recorded a pass break-up as well.
Sophomore linebacker Riley Bullough collected six tackles, including a 1-yard loss, while sophomore safeties Demetrious Cox and Mark Meyers each had five stops. Red-shirt freshman linebacker Jon Reschke tallied five tackles, including a 5-yard loss, and junior defensive end Shilique Calhoun had four stops with a 6-yard loss.
Junior quarterback Connor Cook completed 14-of-28 passes for 175 yards and one interception against the first-team defense. Playing against the second-team defense, sophomore Tyler O'Connor was 5-of-9 passing for 65 yards and one touchdown, while red-shirt freshman Damion Terry was 6-of-7 for 105 yards and two TDs.
Senior Nick Hill paced the rushing attack with 43 yards on 10 carries, including a 2-yard touchdown run. Red-shirt freshman Gerald Holmes had 11 carries for 40 yards.
Eighteen different receivers caught at least one pass, including Tony Lippett (3 catches for 24 yards), AJ Troup (2 for 29) and Aaron Burbridge (2 for 26).
On special teams, sophomore Michael Geiger was an impressive 6-for-6 on field-goal attempts, including a 43-yarder. Sophomore Kevin Cronin was equally as accurate, going 3-for-3 including a 45-yarder.
The defense was spotted 27 points in the scrimmage, which used a modified scoring system.
On the second series, O'Connor directed an 11-play, 75-yard drive, capped by a 7-yard touchdown pass to DeAnthony Arnett in the back of the end zone. Holmes collected 20 rushing yards on five carries and had a 32-yard reception to account for 52 all-purpose yards on the scoring drive.
Two series later, the defense added three points to its scoring total after Harris recorded an interception off Cook on a deflected pass.
The offense cut its deficit to 30-14 on the next series as Terry led an 11-play, 75-yard scoring march, which was finished off on a 16-yard touchdown pass to Monty Madaris, who broke an attempted tackle at the 7.
The defense bounced back by keeping the offense off the scoreboard for the next three possessions.
Down 33-14, the offense rallied with touchdowns on back-to-back series to make it 33-28. The first-team offense, led by Cook, scored its first touchdown of the day on a 12-play, 75-yard drive, capped by a 2-yard touchdown run by Hill. Terry then followed with a 33-yard TD strike to red-shirt freshman tight end Dylan Chmura.
On the last series of the scrimmage, Cook drove the offense 53 yards on six plays to set up a first-and-10 from the 23-yard line. The defense held on, however, as Cook fired four-straight incompletions to end the scrimmage. Three of Cook's final four passes were broken up, including the decisive fourth-down play, which was deflected by RJ Williamson.
Michigan State will return to practice Saturday morning.
Second Preseason Scrimmage Recap
Time elapsed: 2:05 (124 total plays)
Passing: Connor Cook 14-of-28 for 175 yards and one interception; Damion Terry 6-of-7 for 105 yards and two touchdowns (16 yards to Monty Madaris; 33 yards to Dylan Chmura); Tyler O'Connor 5-of-9 passing for 65 yards and one touchdown (7 yards to DeAnthony Arnett).
Rushing: Nick Hill 10-43 including a 2-yard touchdown; Gerald Holmes 11-40.
Receiving: Tony Lippett 3-24; AJ Troup 2-29; Aaron Burbridge 2-26.
Defensive leaders (solos-assists-total): Jermaine Edmondson 5-2-7 including a pass break-up; Montae Nicholson 0-7-7 including a pass break-up; Darien Harris 2-4-6 including a 2-yard loss, interception and pass break-up; Riley Bullough 2-4-6 including a 1-yard loss; Demetrious Cox 1-4-5; Mark Meyers 0-5-5; Jon Reschke 1-4-5 including a 5-yard loss; Shilique Calhoun 1-3-4 including a 6-yard loss.
Mark Dantonio Post-Scrimmage Quotes:
"It was a hard-hitting scrimmage. The first-team defense performed pretty solid and limited the number of big plays. The defense tackled pretty well and guys made plays on the ball down the field.
"Jon Reschke made some plays, and Riley Bullough was solid as well. Both of those guys play with a lot of enthusiasm and up-tempo. They're both pushing (for playing time), and they're both going to play. It's sort of a linebacker group by committee right now, which is a positive thing because they're young players. They're good athletes, who play with a lot of emotion.
"I was impressed with Damion Terry and Tyler O'Connor. They both played very, very well and continue to have great preseason camps. (The back-up quarterback situation) has been a positive. Offensively, we also ran the ball well at the point of attack. At running back, we held (Jeremy) Langford out, but really worked the other three guys: (Gerald) Holmes, (Madre) London and (Nick) Hill.
"We came out here a little bit flat initially, but competition has a way of heating things up. It was a very competitive scrimmage, especially at the end. During the two-minute drive, it came down to the last play of the scrimmage, and that's how we like it. Win or lose on the last play, it creates a little more enthusiasm and competitiveness.
"Overall, the execution was better. It will be interesting to go back and look at the film because you always see something, but it was a great scrimmage. We got out of it what we wanted.
"In Week 3, we'll shift our focus a little bit. We'll work a little bit more toward our first game (against Jacksonville State). We won't go ‘live' quite as much, but we'll have contact at least one time next week."
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