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Spartans Spoil ‘Blackout’ And Upset-Minded Scarlet Knights

Rutgers welcomed back star wide receiver Leonte Carroo, and interim head coach Norries Wilson had his “babies” ready to play, but Michigan State prevented an upset bid to remain undefeated scoring a touchdown with under a minute remaining for a 31-24 victory.

Rutgers WR Leonte Carroo hauls in a touchdown in the second quarter against Michigan State / (Saed Hindash | NJ Advance Media for

Rutgers WR Leonte Carroo hauls in a touchdown in the second quarter against Michigan State / (Saed Hindash | NJ Advance Media for

Michigan State (6-0, 1-0) running back LJ Scott found pay dirt with 43 seconds to go to cap a 10-play, 76-yard drive after Rutgers (2-3, 0-2), tied the game at 24-24 on Kyle Federico’s 22-yard field goal with 4:21 left in the fourth quarter.

The Scarlet Knights took over at their own 35-yard line after the ensuing kickoff by the Spartans went out of bounds. After two incompletions by quarterback Chris Laviano, the signal caller connected with wide receiver Andre Patton for a 25-yard gain to the Michigan State 40-yard line. Laviano then spiked the ball to stop the clock, threw an incomplete pass to tight end Charles Scarff, and took a comeback killing sack with the clock continuing to run.

This is where things get interesting.

Now, on fourth-down, Laviano spiked the ball to the fans and coaches dismay, evidently ending any chance of a Hail Mary pass for a last second effort to beat the No. 4-ranked Spartans.

“At the end of the game, the clock management is 100 percent on the guy in charge and I’m the guy in charge,” said Wilson during his post game press conference. “So I mismanaged the situation. Chris Laviano did what he was told to do and I told him the wrong thing. So don’t think that he screwed it up.”

The Long Island, N.Y. native Laviano finished with 208 yards on 15-of-24 passing, and connected on three touchdown passes to Carroo in his first game back after being reinstated this past week from an indefinite suspension stemming from an incident after their matchup against Washington State on Sept. 12.

Carroo hauled in seven total passes for 134 and three scores, but had a chance to take the lead instead of settling for the late field goal after a back-shoulder pass was knocked out of his hands in the endzone. The Don Bosco Prep product now has a school record 25 career receiving touchdowns and counting and tied a career high with seven catches on the night.

The deep ball allowed the running backs some room as Paul James, Robert Martin, Josh Hicks, and Justin Goodwin totaled 165 rushing yards. James got the long of the night with a 72-yard rush, on his way for a score only to get ankle tackled in the open field.

Rutgers defensive end Djwany Mera blocks a Michigan State field goal attempt /

Rutgers defensive end Djwany Mera blocks a Michigan State field goal attempt /

The block party returned during the “blackout” game to High Point Solutions Stadium as Rutgers defense end Djwany Mera blocked a field goal in the first quarter and was the 43rd blocked kick by the Scarlet Knights since 2009, the most in the nation in that time frame.

The defense played well at times on early downs, but the Spartans and quarterback Connor Cook shredded the defense on third-down, converting 11-of-17 tries. Scarlet Knights safety Kiy Hester, who finished with seven tackles, recorded his first interception of his college career just before halftime. Linebackers Quentin Gause and cornerback Blessuan Austin led the team with 10 tackles a piece in front of 50,373, and Wilson talked about Gause after the game.

“I’m sure there’s going to be some mistakes on the film that he’s made but he plays with a lot of emotion and he plays with a lot of heart and the kids know that when it comes from him, it’s honest and it’s genuine,” Wilson said. “And he’s not going to give them something that’s not genuine. He’s not going to ask his teammates to do something that he’s not willing to do himself. We enjoy having him as part of our program.”

Rutgers hits the road to face Indiana next Saturday at 3:30 p.m. on BTN.

To watch interim head coach Norries Wilson’s post game presser, click here.

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