Drive Chart
NWEST
MICHST

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Thorson leads Northwestern past No. 20 Michigan State 29-19

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) On a day when Northwestern had little choice but to pass early and often, Clayton Thorson was up to the task.

Thorson threw for 373 yards and three touchdowns, and the Wildcats recovered from another second-half slip to beat No. 20 Michigan State 29-19 on Saturday.

The Spartans (3-2, 1-1 Big Ten) entered with the nation's top-ranked run defense and held Northwestern (2-3, 2-1) to 8 yards on the ground, but it didn't matter. The Wildcats moved the ball consistently well through the air, and Michigan State's offense was mostly inept except for a brief stretch in the third quarter.

''I think this was one of my best games in responding when bad things happen,'' Thorson said. ''We don't win a lot when I throw two picks. So really credit to our guys for staying in it.''

Thorson threw a 21-yard scoring pass to Cameron Green with 15 seconds left in the third, and a 2-point conversion gave Northwestern a 22-19 lead.

The Wildcats missed a field goal with 6:41 to play, but Michigan State went 15 yards backward on the ensuing possession and had to punt. The Spartans held again defensively, and on the next possession, they had second-and-1 from their own 11. After two near-sacks, running back Connor Heyward was stopped on fourth down. Thorson scored on a 2-yard run to make it a 10-point game with 2:51 left.

''We'll find the answers. I feel pretty confident in that,'' Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said. ''We'll right the ship.''

The Spartans took advantage of a first-quarter interception and led 3-0, but Thorson connected with Kyric McGowan for a 77-yard touchdown with 18 seconds left in the period. Thorson found JJ Jefferson for a 34-yard TD in the second, and Northwestern led 14-6 at halftime.

The Wildcats blew a 21-3 halftime lead in a loss to Akron and were up 17-0 in the first half in last weekend's loss to Michigan . They also gave away the lead against Michigan State in a quick sequence during the third quarter.

Felton Davis scored for the Spartans on a 48-yard reverse , and although a 2-point conversion attempt failed, Michigan State got the ball back on an interception and took a 19-14 lead on Brian Lewerke's 3-yard touchdown pass to Davis.

Northwestern recovered, however, and won on a day when the Wildcats looked like the better team.

''We lost some momentum there in the third quarter and we were able to seize it back,'' Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. ''We've been really close the last three weeks and to come in here against an outstanding football team and get the win, I'm incredibly proud of our guys.''

THE TAKEAWAY

Northwestern: The Wildcats earned this win. Northwestern had the right plan, throwing 47 passes against a Michigan State team that excels at stopping the run, and the Wildcats also were impressive defensively in the final quarter.

Michigan State: With plenty of returning starters from a team that won 10 games a season ago, the Spartans have been a disappointment so far. They've had injuries - running back LJ Scott and receiver Cody White were out Saturday - and both the offensive line and secondary now seem like real problems.

THREE STRAIGHT

This was Northwestern's third straight victory over Michigan State. In those three games, Thorson has completed 70 percent of his passes. He's thrown for 1,010 yards and eight touchdowns with three interceptions.

GRABBING ON

Northwestern's Roderick Campbell was called for pass interference in the third quarter when he appeared to grab Davis' long hair to prevent the Michigan State receiver from getting open. Davis said that happens from time to time.

''More times in practice than during the game,'' he said.

RECORD

Michigan State's Matt Coghlin kicked two field goals, and the second set a school record - his 16th straight successful attempt.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

It's hard to see Michigan State staying in the Top 25 after this double-digit loss at home.

UP NEXT

Northwestern: The Wildcats host Nebraska next Saturday.

Michigan State: The Spartans play at Penn State next Saturday, the start of a tough stretch in the schedule that includes a game against Michigan the following week.

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More AP college football: https://apnews.com/tag/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

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Follow Noah Trister at www.Twitter.com/noahtrister

Copyright 2018 by AP. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of AP is strictly prohibited.

Scoring Summary
4th Quarter
No scoring this quarter
Point After TD 2:51
14-C.Kuhbander extra point is good.
plays
yds
pos
29
19
Touchdown 2:58
18-C.Thorson runs 2 yards for a touchdown.
3
plays
11
yds
00:17
pos
28
19
3rd Quarter
No scoring this quarter
Two Point Conversion 0:15
18-C.Thorson complete to 4-S.Vault. 4-S.Vault to MSU End Zone for 2 yards. Conversion is good.
plays
yds
pos
22
19
Touchdown 0:23
18-C.Thorson complete to 84-C.Green. 84-C.Green runs 21 yards for a touchdown.
10
plays
65
yds
03:45
pos
20
19
Point After TD 4:08
4-M.Coghlin extra point is good.
plays
yds
pos
14
19
Touchdown 4:14
14-B.Lewerke complete to 18-F.Davis. 18-F.Davis runs 3 yards for a touchdown.
7
plays
48
yds
02:32
pos
14
18
Missed Two Point Conversion 7:18
14-B.Lewerke incomplete.
plays
yds
pos
14
12
Touchdown 7:30
18-F.Davis runs 48 yards for a touchdown.
4
plays
80
yds
01:16
pos
14
12
2nd Quarter
No scoring this quarter
Field Goal 2:53
4-M.Coghlin 25 yards Field Goal is Good.
10
plays
60
yds
3:47
pos
14
6
Point After TD 13:58
14-C.Kuhbander extra point is good.
plays
yds
pos
14
3
Touchdown 14:06
18-C.Thorson complete to 12-J.Jefferson. 12-J.Jefferson runs 34 yards for a touchdown.
3
plays
61
yds
00:43
pos
13
3
1st Quarter
No scoring this quarter
Point After TD 0:18
14-C.Kuhbander extra point is good.
plays
yds
pos
7
3
Touchdown 0:29
18-C.Thorson complete to 8-K.McGowan. 8-K.McGowan runs 77 yards for a touchdown.
3
plays
65
yds
00:33
pos
6
3
Field Goal 1:08
4-M.Coghlin 27 yards Field Goal is Good.
8
plays
30
yds
04:34
pos
0
3
Team Stats
1st Downs 19 22
Rushing 3 4
Passing 14 17
Penalty 2 1
3rd Down Conv 5-14 4-15
4th Down Conv 1-1 0-2
Total Net Yards 375 413
Total Plays 67 76
Avg Gain 5.6 5.4
Net Yards Rushing 8 96
Rush Attempts 20 24
Avg Rush Yards 0.4 4.0
Net Yards Passing 367 317
Comp. - Att. 31-47 31-52
Yards Per Pass 7.8 6.1
Sacked - Yards Lost 1-6 2-12
Penalties - Yards 3-35 5-49
Touchdowns 4 2
Rushing TDs 1 1
Passing TDs 3 1
Other 0 0
Turnovers 2 1
Fumbles - Lost 1-0 1-0
Int. Thrown 2 1
Punts - Avg 6-43.8 7-40.9
Return Yards 65 48
Punts - Returns 3-19 2-9
Kickoffs - Returns 1-29 2-29
Int. - Returns 1-17 2-10
Kicking 3/4 3/3
Extra Points 3/3 1/1
Field Goals 0/1 2/2
Safeties 0 0
1234T
Northwestern 2-3 778729
20 Michigan State 3-2 3313019
367 PASS YDS 317
8 RUSH YDS 96
375 TOTAL YDS 413
Passing CP/ATT YDS TD INT
C. Thorson 18 QB
IN-GAME COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
66% 373 3 2 145.2
SEASON COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
62.1% 1300 6 5 124.7
C. Thorson 31/47 373 3 2
Rushing ATT YDS TD LG
D. Anderson 21 RB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
5 12 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
5 12 0
D. Anderson 5 12 0 11
S. Vault 4 WR
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
10 6 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
17 24 0
S. Vault 10 6 0 5
C. Thorson 18 QB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
3 -8 1
SEASON ATT YDS TD
24 -75 2
C. Thorson 3 -8 1 2
Receiving REC YDS TD LG
F. Nagel 2 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
10 111 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
36 402 0
F. Nagel 10 111 0 18
K. McGowan 8 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 77 1
SEASON REC YDS TD
4 137 1
K. McGowan 1 77 1 77
C. Green 84 TE
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
9 76 1
SEASON REC YDS TD
26 259 3
C. Green 9 76 1 21
B. Skowronek 88 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
5 60 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
22 257 1
B. Skowronek 5 60 0 29
J. Jefferson 12 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
2 38 1
SEASON REC YDS TD
3 74 1
J. Jefferson 2 38 1 34
R. Lees 19 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
2 10 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
5 33 0
R. Lees 2 10 0 9
S. Vault 4 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 4 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
1 4 0
S. Vault 1 4 0 4
R. Chiaokhiao-Bowman 81 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
0 0 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
10 76 0
R. Chiaokhiao-Bowman 0 0 0 0
J. Moten IV 20 RB
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 -3 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
6 48 0
J. Moten IV 1 -3 0 -3
Defense T-A SACK INT
J. Gaziano 97 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 1.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 1.0
J. Gaziano 1-0 1.0 0
T. Goens 83 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 1.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 1.0
T. Goens 1-0 1.0 0
C. Ruiz 18 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
C. Ruiz 1-0 0.0 0
J. McGee 41 S
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
0-0 1 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
0-0 1 0.0
J. McGee 0-0 0.0 1
Kicking FG LG XP PTS
C. Kuhbander 14 K
IN-GAME FG XP
0/1 3/3
SEASON FG XP
2/5 14/14
C. Kuhbander 0/1 0 3/3 3
Punting NO AVG IN20 LG
J. Collins 49 P
IN-GAME NO AVG IN20
6 43.8 3
SEASON NO AVG IN20
28 39.2 3
J. Collins 6 43.8 3 56
Kickoff Returns NO AVG LG TD
K. McGowan 8 WR
IN-GAME NO AVG LG TD
1 29.0 29 0
SEASON NO AVG LG TD
7 23.7 29 0
K. McGowan 1 29.0 29 0
Punt Returns NO AVG LG TD
R. Lees 19 WR
IN-GAME NO AVG LG TD
3 6.3 11 0
SEASON NO AVG LG TD
14 5.8 11 0
R. Lees 3 6.3 11 0
Passing CP/ATT YDS TD INT
B. Lewerke 14 QB
IN-GAME COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
60.8% 329 1 1 117.5
SEASON COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
64.2% 1328 6 6 133.2
B. Lewerke 31/51 329 1 1
Rushing ATT YDS TD LG
F. Davis III 18 WR
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
2 50 1
SEASON ATT YDS TD
2 50 1
F. Davis III 2 50 1 48
L. Jefferson 15 RB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
6 15 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
32 125 1
L. Jefferson 6 15 0 9
C. Heyward 11 RB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
5 12 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
42 147 3
C. Heyward 5 12 0 9
B. Lewerke 14 QB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
7 11 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
43 63 2
B. Lewerke 7 11 0 10
A. Thomas 39 RB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
1 6 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
1 6 0
A. Thomas 1 6 0 6
L. Nelson 13 WR
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
2 2 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
2 2 0
L. Nelson 2 2 0 3
W. Bridges 27 RB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
1 0 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
7 18 0
W. Bridges 1 0 0 0
Receiving REC YDS TD LG
F. Davis III 18 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
7 96 1
SEASON REC YDS TD
23 374 2
F. Davis III 7 96 1 26
C. Chambers 21 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
5 82 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
5 82 0
C. Chambers 5 82 0 27
B. Sowards 16 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
3 59 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
8 116 0
B. Sowards 3 59 0 23
C. Heyward 11 RB
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
7 30 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
16 105 0
C. Heyward 7 30 0 15
M. Dotson 89 TE
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
2 18 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
3 29 1
M. Dotson 2 18 0 9
D. Stewart Jr. 25 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 15 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
15 142 0
D. Stewart Jr. 1 15 0 15
Ma. Sokol 81 TE
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
2 14 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
3 20 0
Ma. Sokol 2 14 0 9
C. Hayes 4 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 13 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
1 13 0
C. Hayes 1 13 0 13
L. Jefferson 15 RB
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
2 8 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
3 5 0
L. Jefferson 2 8 0 8
W. Bridges 27 RB
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 0 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
1 0 0
W. Bridges 1 0 0 0
A. Thomas 39 RB
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 -6 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
1 -6 0
A. Thomas 1 -6 0 -6
Defense T-A SACK INT
K. Willis 27 S
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
0-0 1 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
0-0 2 0.0
K. Willis 0-0 0.0 1
M. Panasiuk 72 DT
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
0-1 1 0.5
SEASON T-A INT SACK
0-1 1 0.5
M. Panasiuk 0-1 0.5 1
J. Panasiuk 96 DE
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
0-1 0 0.5
SEASON T-A INT SACK
0-1 0 0.5
J. Panasiuk 0-1 0.5 0
Kicking FG LG XP PTS
M. Coghlin 4 K
IN-GAME FG XP
2/2 1/1
SEASON FG XP
8/8 14/14
M. Coghlin 2/2 27 1/1 7
Punting NO AVG IN20 LG
T. Hunt 97 K
IN-GAME NO AVG IN20
7 40.9 5
SEASON NO AVG IN20
15 38.9 5
T. Hunt 7 40.9 5 63
Kickoff Returns NO AVG LG TD
C. Heyward 11 RB
IN-GAME NO AVG LG TD
2 14.5 20 0
SEASON NO AVG LG TD
6 21.3 20 0
C. Heyward 2 14.5 20 0
Punt Returns NO AVG LG TD
B. Sowards 16 WR
IN-GAME NO AVG LG TD
2 4.5 9 0
SEASON NO AVG LG TD
3 11.0 9 0
B. Sowards 2 4.5 9 0
1st POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
15:00 MICHST 35 0:08 4 -11 Punt
12:48 NWEST 16 3:26 8 35 Punt
7:45 NWEST 11 1:30 5 50 INT
1:02 MICHST 35 0:33 3 65 TD
2nd POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
14:49 NWEST 49 0:43 3 51 TD
9:55 NWEST 13 2:01 4 8 Punt
2:53 MICHST 35 0:31 4 -5 Punt
1:16 NWEST 48 0:33 3 -13 Halftime
3rd POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
11:52 NWEST 19 2:29 8 39 Punt
7:18 MICHST 35 0:06 3 32 INT
4:08 MICHST 35 3:45 10 75 TD
4th POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
12:14 NWEST 17 4:50 13 68 FG Miss
4:34 MICHST 33 0:20 3 2 Punt
3:15 MICHST 11 0:17 3 11 TD
0:29 NWEST 1 0:00 1 0
1st POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
14:16 MICHST 27 1:24 4 24 Fumble
9:17 MICHST 17 0:50 3 9 Punt
5:42 NWEST 39 4:34 8 30 FG
0:18 NWEST 35 0:05 4 -18 Punt
2nd POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
13:58 NWEST 35 3:51 8 21 Punt
7:22 MICHST 33 3:47 9 60 FG
2:19 MICHST 14 0:55 7 24 INT
3rd POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
0:35 NWEST 35 0:00 6 33 Punt
8:46 MICHST 20 1:16 4 80 TD
6:46 NWEST 33 2:32 7 33 TD
0:15 NWEST 35 0:00 8 17 Punt
4th POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
6:46 MICHST 20 2:05 4 -15 Punt
4:08 MICHST 2 0:45 4 9 Downs
2:51 NWEST 35 2:02 12 64 Downs