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Cousins, Michigan State rally to beat Purdue

Nov 21, 2010 - 12:01 AM East Lansing, MI (Sports Network) - Kirk Cousins scored on a three-yard run just two plays after a blocked punt to cap a 22-point fourth quarter, as 11th- ranked Michigan State pulled out a 35-31 victory over Purdue at Spartan Stadium.

The Spartans entered the fourth quarter trailing by 15, but drew within 31-28 with just under seven minutes to play. Purdue was forced to punt deep in its own territory and Denicos Allen blocked the kick with 5:19 left, giving Michigan State the ball at the three-yard line.

Cousins dropped back to pass on second down and found a hole up the middle. He stretched out to break the plane of the goal line before losing the ball and was credited with the touchdown, although a Michigan State lineman fell on the fumble in the end zone.

The Boilermakers still had more than four minutes left and marched from their own 34 to the Michigan State 20 with the help of a fourth-down conversion. But facing 4th-and-8, Purdue quarterback Rob Henry scrambled and was intercepted by Chris Norman with 44 seconds left to seal the remarkable comeback.

"What a day. Outstanding job by our football team hanging in," said Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio. "We knew we needed to catch fire emotionally, and we finally did in the fourth quarter, with about 8:56 to go."

Cousins, despite playing with a sore left shoulder from a hit early in the game, completed 28-of-37 passes for 276 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. Mark Dell caught eight passes for 108 yards and two scores, while Edwin Baker ran for 90 yards and a touchdown for the Spartans (10-1, 6-1 Big Ten), who can claim at least a share of the Big Ten title with a win next week in the season-finale at Penn State.

"I've been battling a sprained ankle and sprained shoulder three or four weeks now, and they just don't heal when you keep playing on them," Cousins said. "Sprains are something that you can keep playing as long as you can handle the pain, but it slows you down."

The Boilermakers (4-7, 2-5) needed a win to stay in the running for a bowl bid, but lost their fifth straight game and will close the season next week against Indiana.

Henry threw for 189 yards on 16-of-26 passing with two touchdowns and a pair of interceptions in defeat. Keith Carlos ran for 103 yards, including an 80- yard touchdown.

"I am really proud of our football team," said Purdue head coach Danny Hope. "We started the season off with a lot of question marks. We lost both of our top players right in a row. It was a great game today; very disappointed we did not win."

Purdue carried a 28-13 lead to the fourth quarter and had the ball at its own four-yard line with just over 12 minutes remaining when Henry threw a pass deep down the left sideline. Michigan State's Chris Rucker was the only player in the vicinity and easily picked it off, returning the interception to the Purdue 20.

The Spartans needed just four plays to score, as Cousins threw a five-yard TD pass to B.J. Cunningham for an eight-point game with 10:55 to play.

A 54-yard kickoff return by T.J. Barbarette then set up a 52-yard field goal from Carson Wiggs to give Purdue a 31-20 lead, but Michigan State followed with a 69-yard drive for a touchdown. Cousins threw a nine-yard pass to Dell for the score and the two hooked up for the two-point conversion to pull the Spartans within 31-28 with 6:54 remaining, setting up the dramatic finish.

The Spartans grabbed a 7-0 lead on their first possession when Cousins threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Dell, but Purdue followed with 14 quick points. Carlos broke free for an 80-yard run to tie the game and Ricardo Allen returned an interception 35 yards for a score just three plays after the kickoff to give the Boilermakers a 14-7 edge.

Cousins injured his left shoulder while taking a hit on the interception and exited the contest briefly. He engineered a 52-yard scoring drive that featured a third-down conversion and a fourth-down conversion before Baker raced to the end zone from 19 yards away. Dan Conroy missed the extra point, leaving the Spartans down by a point with 11:10 left in the half.

Michigan State reached the Purdue 36 on its next possession, but Cousins lost a total of 16 yards on consecutive plays and the Spartans were forced to punt. The Boilermakers followed with an 85-yard march for a touchdown. A Michigan State personal foul penalty wiped out a 2nd-and-15 early in the 13-play series and Henry threw an eight-yard scoring pass to Antavian Edison just nine seconds before the break to send Purdue into the locker room with a 21-13 lead.

The Boilermakers forced a Michigan State punt to start the second half and followed with a 69-yard touchdown drive to extend their lead. Henry hit Cortez Smith with a 12-yard scoring pass to cap the 11-play series with just under seven minutes to play in the third.

Game Notes

Michigan State won for the first time in seven tries after a bye under head coach Mark Dantonio...The Spartans have won four straight against Purdue and lead the all-time series, 32-28-3...Michigan State finished 7-0 at home for the first time in school history...Baker became the sixth sophomore to reach 1,000 yards rushing in a season and the first since T.J. Duckett in 2000.