October 27, 2018 / 8:16 PM / a year ago

Lombardi leads Michigan State past Purdue in first start

Making his first career start, freshman Rocky Lombardi completed 26 of 46 passes for 318 yards and two touchdowns to lead Michigan State to a 23-13 win Saturday against Purdue in East Lansing, Mich.

A week certainly made a big difference for both teams.

Michigan State (5-3, 3-2 Big Ten) entered the game decimated by injuries and coming off a 21-7 loss to archival Michigan last week that saw the Spartans only amass 94 yards of total offense.

It was a different story Saturday against Purdue (4-4, 3-2), which made national headlines by routing previously unbeaten Ohio State last week.

The Spartans played without starting quarterback Brian Lewerke, who had a shoulder injury, but Lombardi and the defense picked up the slack.

Michigan State outgained Purdue, 426-339, and limited the Boilermakers to just 62 yards rushing.

After the teams traded field goals for most of the first half, Michigan State took a 13-6 lead with 56 seconds remaining until halftime on an 11-yard touchdown pass from Lombardi to Darrell Stewart Jr. The scoring play capped off an 87-yard drive that took nine plays and just 1:26.

Michigan State took a 16-6 lead with 3:08 remaining in the third quarter on a 34-yard field goal by Matt Coghlin, but Purdue responded.

The Boilermakers marched 74 yards in seven plays and cut Michigan State’s lead to 16-13 on a 1-yard touchdown run by Terry Wright with 35 seconds left in the third quarter.

Purdue had a chance to tie the game with 3:42 remaining, but a 41-yard field goal attempt by Spencer Evans was blocked.

Michigan State got two first downs on its ensuing possession before freshman Jalen Nailor scored on a 48-yard touchdown pass from Lombardi with 1:58 left to give the Spartans a 23-13 lead. Nailor took a flip from Lombardi in the backfield, which counted as a pass, reversed field and found nothing but open space in front of him.

David Blough was 29-of-49 for 277 yards and three interceptions for Purdue.

—Field Level Media

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