Tampa â€“ â€œWe got the call from coach, I think it was monster, and Jerel got a good surge off the ball. I followed right behind him, jumped as high as I could and blocked it,â€ said 316 lb. junior DT Anthony Rashad White.Â He blocked SEC career scoring leader Blair Walshâ€™s 47-yard game tying field goal attempt in triple overtime.Â Whiteâ€™s field goal block sealed a thrilling 33-30 second-half comeback victory for Michigan State (11-3) over Georgia (10-4) in the Outback Bowl.Â The final play was set-up after DE Will Gholston had sacked Georgia QB Aaron Murray for four yards pushing the Bulldogs back to the 29 on fourth and 14.
Michigan State out-scored Georgia 27-11 in the second-half.Â A one-yard touchdown plunge by Leâ€™Veon Bell with 14 seconds remaining in regulation sent MSU to their first over-time bowl game.Â Â Both team defenses dominated in over-time not allowing any touchdowns but MSUâ€™s Dan Conroy connected on 35 and 28-yard field goals, while Walsh who missed a 42 yard field goal to win the game on the final play of the first OT was denied again on Rashad Whiteâ€™s game clinching block.
Down 16 to nothing at half time the MSU Seniors would not end their careers on a loss.Â Both Kirk Cousins and BJ Cunningham who have faced adversity throughout their careers knew all they needed were a couple plays to get back in the game.Â They got that play late in the third quarter when Darqueze Denard, from Dry Branch, Georgia, picked off an Aaron Murray pass and returned it for a 38 yard touchdown cutting the Georgia lead to 16-14. Denard said â€œthe play was just like we saw on film and when I saw the QBâ€™s eyes and knew where he was going with the ball I just made a play on it.â€
Sophomore DE Will Gholston had a monster game for the Spartan defense making two sacks for ten yards, five tackles for a minus 16 yards, and recovering a fumble.Â Â Gholston could not be blocked and was in the face of Georgia QB Aaron Murray all day.Â The Spartan defense set a school bowl record and season-high of 17.0 tackles for loss for a total of 47 yards.Â The defense forced three Georgia turnovers and held the Dawgs to just 51 yards rushing.
The bowl victory, the first for Mark Dantonio, sends the MSU senior class out with back-to-back 11 win seasons and 37 career victories.Â Â Dantonio said â€œWeâ€™ve been waiting for one of these bowl trophies for five years so weâ€™re thrilled to have it.Â Great individual effort by Rashad White at the end of the game with the block, but our defense played outstanding I felt throughout the entire game.Â The final offensive drive in two minute with 1:26 to go on the clock was big.Â Thatâ€™s why Kirk Cousins is who he is and you saw some of our guys making the plays they made.Â I thought TE Brian Linthicum (7 catches for 115 yards) played an outstanding game and had some big plays.â€
In their final game in a Michigan State uniform QB Kirk Cousins was 27-50 for 300 yards with 1 TD and 3 picks.Â â€œI did not want to end my career on an interception, but I am ecstatic over our bowl victory.Â We have raised the bar and good times are ahead for the Michigan State program.â€Â All-time career receiving leader B. J. Cunningham often faced double coverage but still produced seven catches for 66 yards.Â Cunningham said, â€œIt is great to go out on a bowl victory; I knew even when we were down that we would make a come-back.â€Â Senior WR Keith Nichol who will for-ever be remembered in Spartan football history for his game winning catch in Spartan Stadium against Wisconsin had four catches for 35 yards including a seven yard fourth quarter TD catch which cut the Georgia lead to 20-19 with 08:22 to play.
With the bowl victory Dantonio hopes that MSU will be ranked in the top ten in the final polls.Â â€œI think it just points towards us becoming an elite program in this league.Â Thereâ€™s not a football team that we cannot play with and not win against.Â Weâ€™ve beaten every football team in the Big Ten Conference within the last four years.Â The standard has been set by our seniors weâ€™re going to continue to grow the program with recruiting and work.Â Everything is there, two 11-win seasons; there are not too many football teams in the country saying that right now.Â Â
KIRK COUSINS WATCH:
GAMES WON AS THE STARTING QB:Â (#1)
Cousinâ€™s 27-12 record as a starter (69.2%) broke Jeff Smokerâ€™s record of 21 career victories as the starting quarterback.Â Â Â
PASS COMPLETIONS:Â (#1)
Cousins who has 723 completions overtook Jeff Smoker who is #2 with 685 completions.
`PASSING YARDS:Â (#1)
With 9,131 total yards Cousins passed Jeff Smoker (8,932 yards) for #1 on the MSU career list.
TOUCHDOWN PASSES:Â (#1)
With 66 TD throws Cousins finishes his career #1 on the Spartan career list passing Jeff Smoker who was previously #1 with 61.
WR B. J. CUNNINGHAM WATCH
CAREER RECEPTIONS:Â (#1)
B.J. CUNNINGHAM has 218 career catches;Â Matt Trannon (2003-06) is #2 with 148.
CAREER RECEIVING YARDS:Â (#1)
Cunningham has 3,086 receiving yards passing Andre Rison (1985-88) who had 2,992 yards.
CAREER TOUCHDOWN RECEPTIONS: (#2)
With 25 career TD catches Cunningham finishes his career #2 behind Charles Rogers who is at the top of the career list with 27.