PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) – For the fourth-ranked team in the country, Michigan State isn’t playing very well.
Freshman LJ Scott scored on a 3-yard run with 43 seconds to play and Michigan State won ugly for the second straight week with a 31-24 victory over Rutgers on Saturday night.
The win came just a week after the Spartans hung on for a 24-21 victory over a Purdue team that is struggling, and it saw them drop two spots in the poll.
This one isn’t going to help.
Scott, who did not play in the first half, also scored on a 1-yard run to help the Spartans (6-0, 2-0 Big Ten) win their 10th straight game. They overcame an impressive return by suspended Rutgers senior receiver Leonte Carroo, who caught three touchdowns.
Connor Cook completed 23 of 38 passes for a season-high 357 yards – one less than his career best – and two touchdowns. He came up with a 29-yard third-down pass to R.J. Shelton on third down on the winning 76-yard drive.
Chris Laviano and Carroo, who was reinstated Wednesday after simple assault charges were dropped from a Sept. 12 incident outside the stadium, combined on TD passes of 5, 39 and 28 for the Scarlet Knights (2-3, 0-2).
Laviano finished 15 of 24 for 208, but he capped the night by spiking the ball on fourth down, securing the Spartans win. Carroo finished with seven catches for 134 yards.
Aaron Burbridge had a season-best nine catches for 146 yards for Michigan State, which also got an 8-yard TD catch by Macgarrett Kings Jr. Scott had nine rushes for 42 and two touchdowns.
Trailing 24-14 with less than six minutes left in the third quarter, Rutgers rallied and eventually tied the game with 4:21 left in regulation in a 22-yard field goal by Kyle Federico that capped a 16-play, 91-yard drive that featured a big third-down scramble by Laviano on third-and-5 and passes of 26 yards to Carrroo and an 18-yard to Justin Goodwin on fourth down at the Spartans 44.
On the play before the field goal, Spartans cornerback Arjen Colquhoun knocked a pass out of Carroo’s hands to force the field goal.
The 10-play winning drive featured the pass to Shelton on third-and-9 from the Spartans 25. Scott also had runs of 10, 9 and 16 yards before scoring two plays later.
Carroo had closed the gap to three points with his third touchdown catch, a 28-yarder on which he was wide open.
After an error-prone first half by Michigan State, Cook steadied things in the third quarter leading them on scoring drives of 73 and 51 yards. Scott, who did not play in the first half, capped the first drive with a 1-yard run and Cook found DeAnthony Arnett from 25-yards out for a 24-14 lead with 5:46 left in the half.
This was the final game of a three-game suspension being served by Rutgers coach Kyle Flood, who was penalized for trying to influence a professor on a player’s grade.
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