EAST LANSING, MI – Michigan State ran out of the Spartan Stadium tunnel Friday night determined to start the new season strong after posting a 5-7 record in 2022. They accomplished just that, handling business against Central Michigan by a score of 31-7.
The answer to the long-awaited quarterback question was revealed when Noah Kim made his way out for MSU’s opening offensive possession. The redshirt junior finished 18 of 31 through the air for 279 yards and two touchdown passes.
Redshirt sophomore Nathan Carter busted open for a 31-yard carry on the first play from scrimmage. Four snaps later, the Spartans elected to go for it on 4th and 1. The Chippewa defense came up with a big early stop, denying Carter from picking up the first down.
Central Michigan immediately responded on offense, marching right down to the MSU 5-yard line. Derrick Harmon’s unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on fourth and 18 gifted the Chips a first and goal. Despite CMU’s second chance at a touchdown, the Michigan State defense got the crowd back into it by forcing a turnover on downs.
Noah Kim, who had never started a game prior to tonight, looked shaky in the first quarter, completing only one of five passes for a less than ideal -2 yards. He looked a bit rattled again to start the second quarter, throwing another inaccurate pass on a third down and manageable.
But, the MSU defense kept holding their ground and the Central Michigan offense was halted once more when a tackle from Spartan DB Armorion Smith forced a three and out.
After a poor punt, MSU took over on the CMU 46-yard line. Noah Kim got the drive going, tossing a 23-yard pass to Tre Mosley. Kim attempted to find Mosley again on third and 17, but they were unable to connect this time. The scoreless tie was finally broken when Jonathan Kim nailed a 47-yard field goal, putting Michigan State ahead 3-0.
A roughing the passer call on MSU’s following drive set up the Spartans on the CMU 39. Mel Tucker was feeling gutsy and decided to go for it on fourth and 1 for the second time. The Chippewas dug deep and picked up a pivotal defensive stop in the final minutes of the first half.
Central Michigan’s offense finally capitalized with a rapid three-play, 70-yard drive to take a 7-3 lead and silence Spartan Stadium.
The Spartans answered right back with offensive fireworks of their own to close out the first half. Noah Kim completed passes of 32 and 33 yards both to wide receiver Jaron Glover. These connections seemed to increase Kim’s confidence and they also put MSU within 2 yards of the endzone. Nathan Carter capped off the drive with a 2-yard rush, giving the Spartans a 10-7 lead at the half.
Cal Haladay forced the first turnover of the game several minutes into the second half by snatching an interception that ended a promising CMU possession.
With five and a half minutes left in the third quarter, Michigan State began a choppy – but productive – drive. It began with three consecutive plays of four yards, two of which were carries from Jalen Berger. The possession concluded with a Berger touchdown rush to put the Spartans up 17-7.
Michigan State played inspired defense in the third, holding the Chippewas scoreless. Sacks from Aaron Brule and Jacoby Windmon ignited a much needed fire in the green and white striped-out crowd.
The game was blown open early in the fourth after Noah Kim found Christian Fitzpatrick for a 72-yard reception. This was followed by a tremendous one-handed grab in the endzone by sophomore wide receiver Tyrell Henry. The Spartan lead extended to 24-7 just a minute and a half into the final quarter.
Kim hurled his second touchdown pass of the night roughly four minutes later to tight end Maliq Carr, putting the game out of reach for CMU.
Mel Tucker and the Spartans picked up a solid win to start the 2023 campaign after last season’s rough outing.
Michigan State will host Richmond next Saturday at 3:30 p.m, the second of four consecutive home games at Spartan Stadium.