EAST LANSING, Mich. -- When Andrew Maxwell wasn’t sharp in his first collegiate start, Le’Veon Bell was there. When an inexperienced group of wideouts dropped passes and failed to get open, Le’Veon Bell was there. And when Michigan State desperately needed a score to avoid becoming Boise State’s latest primetime upset victim, Le’Veon Bell was there.
Bell's 44 carries were the most for an MSU running back since Javon Ringer had the same number in 2008 at Indiana
The Spartans’ preseason all-Big Ten running back carried the ball 44 times for 210 yards while carrying MSU’s offense during a 17-13 win Friday in the home opener. Bell added six receptions for 55 yards and two touchdowns, putting the Spartans ahead 17-13 with a five-yard rushing score with 8:12 remaining in the game.
First-year starting quarterback Andrew Maxwell predictably struggled some in throwing three interceptions, ultimately completing 22 of 38 attempts for 248 yards. Tight end Dion Sims lead the Spartans with seven catches for 65 yards, while Tony Lippett led all receivers with three catches for 62 yards.
Linebacker Max Bullough lead the defense with seven tackles, 1.5 for loss, and one pass breakup.
Michigan State’s offense executed a near-flawless scoring drive on its opening possession to take a 7-0 lead. A 23-yard Bell run capped by a highlight-reel hurdle helped spark the Spartans, who went 60 yards in six minutes, 18 seconds on 12 plays. But the offense stalled for the rest of the half and struggled with penalties and turnovers, as MSU was penalized six times for 60 yards.
Maxwell threw all three interceptions in the first half, two of which were largely his fault. The first came on a perfect throw to receiver Tony Lippett in stride, but Lippett bobbled the ball and Boise State defensive back Jamar Taylor returned the interception 23 yards. The Broncos ultimately tallied a field goal to make it 7-3.
Maxwell’s second interception off the hands of Larry Caper on a less-than perfect screen pass was even more costly, with Bronco linebacker Jeremy Ioane returning the wayward ball 43 yards for a Boise score to tie the game at 10. His third turnover of the second half came with time winding down, as the Spartans’ first-year quarterback missed receiver Bennie Fowler. The pass was intercepted by Lee Hightower and gave the Broncos a 13-10 advantage entering halftime.
Maxwell finished the first half 11 of 22 for 96 yards, while Bell tallied 108 rushing yards on 22 carries. First-year Broncos quarterback Joe Southwick completed 8 of 18 passes for 114 yards and one interception.
MSU next travels to Mt. Pleasant Saturday to take on Central Michigan.