Dr. Samuel L. Stanley Jr. was adamant: Michigan State is on the right track, and Mark Dantonio is the right man to oversee the football program.
The school president (formerly president at Stony Brook University from 2009-19) had his faith in Dantonio and his team rewarded with a 27-21 win over Wake Forest in the 10th annual Pinstripe Bowl on Friday.
The Spartans finished 7-6. “I keep talking to our players about ‘what is next?’ ” Dantonio said. “That’s how we spring forward. That’s always — always — how we’ve done it.”
An announced crowd of 36,895 at Yankee Stadium saw Spartans senior quarterback Brian Lewerke win the David C. Koch Trophy as the game’s most valuable player. Lewerke was 26-for-37 for 320 yards, one touchdown and one interception and rushed for 46 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries.
“It’s obviously really cool,” Lewerke said of winning the award. “For me and my teammates to go out with a win.”
Trailing by a point at the half, the Spartans took the second-half kickoff and drove 73 yards on 10 plays. Lewerke threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Cody White to give Michigan State a 27-21 lead.
Wake Forest finished 8-5. Said coach Dave Clawson, “The telltale sign of our program is [that] we’re not happy. I think we’re past the point of just being happy to get to a bowl.”
The first matchup between the Big Ten and ACC programs began as a dissertation in modern football and ended as an ode to the time when Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry paced the New York Giants’ sideline as assistants to Jim Lee Howell.
Jamie Newman threw three touchdown passes as Wake Forest went ahead 21-20 in a first half in which there were four lead changes.
The Demon Deacons opened the scoring with Newman’s 29-yard touchdown pass to Kendall Hinton just 2:16 into the game.
Michigan State responded with two scores 43 seconds apart to go up 10-7. Matt Coghlin kicked a 23-yard field goal with 2:44 left in the first quarter and Mike Panasiuk returned an interception 14 yards for a touchdown.
Wake Forest regained a 14-10 lead on Newman’s 16-yard touchdown pass to Donavon Greene, but Lewerke ran for an 8-yard touchdown 1:01 later, set up by his 64-yard strike to Trenton Gillison.
Newman’s third touchdown pass of the half, a 44-yarder to Jack Freudenthal, put Wake Forest ahead 21-17. Michigan State ended the first half with Coghlin’s 44-yard field goal.
Newman rushed for 87 yards on 17 carries, including 81 yards on nine carries in the first half. He completed 12 of 27 passes for 175 yards and was sacked four times, including on the game’s penultimate drive, which led Clawson to replace him with Sam Hartman for two plays.
“He took a shot,” Clawson said. “Kind of at the end of the game when they were teeing off [and] I didn’t think he could protect himself.”