Michigan State loses a heartbreaker

In the second overtime of Saturday’s football contest between the Michigan State Spartans and Iowa Hawkeyes, Michigan State had the ball with the chance to win the game, trailing the visiting Hawkeyes 16-19.

On a second and nine from the 24, Michigan State quarterback Andrew Maxwell dropped back in the pocket. From there, he spotted an open wide receiver Keith Mumphrey about ten yards down field near the first down marker. Maxwell threw the ball in his direction. The ball flew through the air and the falling raindrops as Mumphrey leapt up and extended his arms to make the catch.

Then, something happened that no Spartan fan wanted to see.

As the ball traveled closer to Mumphrey’s outstretched arms, it was becoming apparent that the pass was too high. The ball bounced off of Mumphrey’s fingertips and behind him, landed right into the arms of Iowa defender Greg Castillo to end the game.

The Iowa players stormed the field in celebration as the Michigan State players trudged off the muddy field in disappointment.

“I couldn’t believe it when I saw it happen,” Michigan State running back Le’Veon Bell said. “I thought as soon as the ball was tipped, I knew someone was going to catch it. It’s just the worst feeling in the world knowing you came up short.”

It certainly was Michigan State’s game to lose. They lead the majority of the game that also served as the school’s homecoming game. However, Iowa had every intention of spoiling the fun.

Earlier on the wet and rainy afternoon in East Lansing, Michigan State jumped on top early. On Iowa’s opening drive, Iowa quarterback James Vandenburg threw a pass that was tipped by Michigan State defensive end William Gholston and intercepted by linebacker Denicos Allen at the 26 yard line. From there, Michigan State pounded the ball to Bell four times in a row, scoring on the fourth play from 14 yards out.

After that, the remainder of the first half turned into a defensive struggle between the two B1G opponents with both teams only able to manage a field goal.

However, late in the first half with Michigan State leading Iowa 10-3, the Spartans had the chance at adding some points when Andrew Maxwell connected with Keith Mumphrey getting the ball down to the Iowa 32 yard line with six seconds to go in the half. With no timeouts remaining, Michigan State could have potentially spiked the ball and set up a long field goal attempt. However, confusion took place as members of the field goal team ran onto the field and Maxwell ran off. This left nobody on the field to take the snap as time ran out and the Spartans failed to get any points.

“I think it was miscommunication,” Maxwell said. “I was running down, I saw the field goal team running on so I thought we were going to sneak a quick field goal in there so I ran off and we had half the offense, half the field goal team on the field.”

This miscommunication loomed large in the Spartans loss, as it was an opportunity to get points in what ended up being a close game.

    In the second half, both defenses continued to play well as each team was only able to add another field goal.

That is until with less than a minute to go in the game and Michigan State leading the game 13-6, Iowa running back Mark Weisman scored from five yards out to tie it up at 13 apiece. Michigan State got the ball back but could only make it to their own 36 yard line before the ball was punted away and the clock ran out, sending the game into overtime.

In the first overtime, both teams traded field goals, sending the game into a second overtime session, where the Spartans eventually lost the game 16-19.

“Tough football game today,” Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio said after the game. “You go from having an opportunity to win at the end of the football game, to losing it in a split second. It’s tough to deal with and it’s tough for our players and coaches. You have to take it as it comes and can’t get overwhelmed by it. You have to bring something out of it and go forward.”

Taking a look at this Michigan State football team, it is clear that they are not the type team that we have come to expect over the past couple of years.

Nevertheless, moving forward, Michigan State (4-3, 1-2) will have to shake this one off and get ready for what could be their biggest game of the year next week, when they travel to Ann Arbor, to take on in-state rival, Michigan.