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Jacksonville State at Michigan State

Cook terrific, Spartans beat Jacksonville St 45-7

By NOAH TRISTER
AP Sports Writer
  •  

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) Connor Cook threw a long touchdown pass for Michigan State's first points of the season - and coach Mark Dantonio's immediate reaction was concern.

That's because Cook needed to be helped off the field after a late hit to his left leg.

''That looked pretty ugly out there, but he rebounded after that, and he went right back in the football game,'' Dantonio said. ''I'm pretty sure he's fine, based on how he played.''

Cook shook off that early scare to finish with three touchdown passes, and No. 8 Michigan State rolled to an easy 45-7 victory over Jacksonville State on Friday night.

Cook completed his first nine passes in a nearly flawless performance. He sat out the second half after going 12 of 13 for 285 yards.

Michigan State won the Big Ten and the Rose Bowl last year thanks to its outstanding defense, and although that unit lost a few standouts, it was hard to tell the difference in this season opener against the Gamecocks.

Jacksonville State is considered one of the top teams in the Football Championship Subdivision, but the Spartans showed no vulnerability to an upset in this one.

''They're every bit as good as advertised,'' said John Grass, who was in his first game as Jacksonville State's coach after being promoted from offensive coordinator.

''I was proud of our kids on how we finished the game. We dug a hole early and you can't do that against a team like Michigan State. They've got a team that's going to make a run at a national championship. I really believe that.''

Talk such as that would have been put on hold if Cook had been seriously injured. The talented junior made a nice throw on the run to Tony Lippett for a 64-yard touchdown to open the scoring, but Jacksonville State's Folo Johnson came diving in and hit Cook around the knee.

''I was a little dinged, but nothing too serious,'' Cook said. ''I hadn't really gotten hit like that in a while.''

Cook was able to come back for Michigan State's next drive, and he threw a 71-yard touchdown pass to Lippett on his next pass. A 17-yard strike to AJ Troup made it 21-0.

When the Spartans opened the season last year, they weren't sure who their starting quarterback should be, and the offense was woeful for the first month or so.

Cook grew more comfortable as the season progressed, and now Michigan State is hopeful its offense can take some pressure off that reliable defense.

''When you have an explosive offense like that clicking, it's dangerous for any team to be playing against,'' Michigan State safety Kurtis Drummond said. ''Seeing them come out there clicking early like that is getting us more confidence and allowing us to play more at ease.''

Next week, the Spartans head west for a marquee nonconference matchup at No. 3 Oregon. That will be quite a test for this Michigan State defense.

Jacksonville State's offense never got untracked. Spartans linebacker Ed Davis provided one highlight in the second quarter when he hurdled a blocker and sacked Eli Jenkins.

Nick Hill ran for two touchdowns in the first half, including a 17-yarder that featured a nice spin past a potential tackler. At one point, Cook was 9 for 9 for 257 yards.

The Spartans led 38-0 at halftime, and when Jacksonville State finally scored early in the third quarter, it was the first touchdown Michigan State had allowed at home since Oct. 12 - a span of 215 minutes, 40 seconds.

Lippett had four catches for a career-high 167 yards. Backup quarterback Tyler O'Connor ran for a 3-yard touchdown in the third to make it 45-7.

Jacksonville State's DaMarcus James, who rushed for an Ohio Valley Conference-record 29 touchdowns last year, was held to 17 yards on three carries.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC is strictly prohibited.
 
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Scoreboard
Jacksonville State  (0-1)00707
Michigan State #8  (1-0) «21177045
Players of the Game
Spartans

C. Cook
Att 13
Comp 12
Yds 285
TD 3
Gamecocks

M. Shortell
Att 18
Comp 10
Yds 117
TD 1
Scoring Summary
MICHSTTony Lippett 64 yd pass from Connor Cook (Michael Geiger kick)
MICHSTTony Lippett 71 yd pass from Connor Cook (Michael Geiger kick)
MICHSTAJ Troup 17 yd pass from Connor Cook (Michael Geiger kick)
MICHSTNick Hill 17 yd run (Michael Geiger kick)
MICHSTNick Hill 8 yd run (Michael Geiger kick)
MICHSTMichael Geiger 35 yd FG
JAXSTMarkis Merrill 9 yd pass from Max Shortell (Connor Rouleau kick)
MICHSTTyler O'Connor 3 yd run (Michael Geiger kick)
 
Team Stats
 JAXSTMICHST
First Downs1425
Third Down Efficiency6-156-13
Fourth Down Efficiency0-11-1
Plays-Net Yards62-24474-565
Rushes-Yds25-2250-211
Passing Yds222354
Kick Return Yds910
Punt Return Yds011
Passes18-37-318-24-0
Punts7-2864-131
Fumbles-Lost0-01-0
Penalties-Yds7-642-13
Time of Poss.21:5538:5
 
Individual Stats
RUSHING
JAXST: Christian LeMay 5-23, DaMarcus James 3-17, Eli Jenkins 12-7, Troymaine Pope 2-4, Miles Jones 1-2, Max Shortell 2--31
MICHST: Jeremy Langford 13-57, Nick Hill 11-42, Gerald Holmes 8-28, Damion Terry 5-21, R.J. Shelton 2-19, Aaron Burbridge 2-18, Macgarrett Kings Jr. 1-17, Tyler O'Connor 2-5, Delton Williams 5-3, Connor Cook 1-1
PASSING
JAXST: Max Shortell 10-18-117-0, Eli Jenkins 5-13-82-2, Christian LeMay 3-6-23-1
MICHST: Connor Cook 12-13-285-0, Tyler O'Connor 5-8-56-0, Damion Terry 1-3-13-0
RECEIVING
JAXST: Josh Barge 7-98, JD Williams 3-23, Dalton Screws 2-17, Ruben Gonzalez 1-23, Anthony Johnson 1-23, Darrius Stephens 1-17, Markis Merrill 1-9, Bo Brummel 1-6, Spencer Goffigan 1-6
MICHST: Tony Lippett 4-167, Josiah Price 3-54, AJ Troup 3-38, Keith Mumphery 1-43, Monty Madaris 1-13, Jamal Lyles 1-10, Nick Hill 1-9, Aaron Burbridge 1-8, DeAnthony Arnett 1-6, R.J. Shelton 1-5, Macgarrett Kings Jr. 1-1
 
 
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