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