Marshall Falls To No. 24 Michigan State

Updated 9/9/2000
George Miller of Marshall causes Michigan State running back T.J. Duckett (8) to fumble the ball in the first quarter. The fumble led to a Marshall touchdown.
(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

AP Sports Writer

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - T.J. Duckett ran for 219 yards as No. 24 Michigan State beat Marshall 34-24 on Sept. 9 snapping the Thundering Herd's 18-game winning streak.

Freshman Jeff Smoker made a solid debut at quarterback for the Spartans (1-0) after starter Ryan Van Dyke injured his right thumb on the first possession of the second quarter.

Smoker completed 16 of 24 passes for 138 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Michigan State, in coach Bobby Williams' first regular-season game, scored two touchdowns and Marshall (1-1) added one in the final five minutes.

Sophomore Byron Leftwich, making his second start, had three touchdown passes and three interceptions - one in the Spartans' end zone and one at their 1-yard line.

Marshall entered the game with the nation's longest winning streak.

Duckett did most of his damage in the second half, with 16 carries for 185 yards and a touchdown.

Michigan State quarterback Jeff Smoker (9) scrambles from Marshall defensive end Ralph Street (53) (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
He put Michigan State ahead 27-17 with a 36-yard touchdown run with 4:44 left in the game. His 64-yard run to begin the final quarter set up a field goal, which gave the Spartans a 20-10 lead.

Duckett's goal during the offseason was to become, ``thick and quick,'' and he seemingly achieved his aim. The 6-foot-2, 252-pounder has lost 23 pounds since the Spartans beat Florida in the Citrus Bowl on New Year's Day.

Cedric Henry made two interceptions to lead the Spartans defensively.

Van Dyke found Chris Baker, who had eight catches for 93 yards, wide open on the sideline for a 37-yard touchdown play midway through the first quarter to give the Spartans a 7-0 lead.

Marshall tied it when Leftwich threw an 11-yard pass to Nate Poole, who was standing alone in the back of the end zone, with 4:06 left in the second quarter. The score came one play after Duckett fumbled.

J.R. Jenkins gave the Herd a 10-7 lead on a 20-yard field goal with 9:34 left in the first half.

Smoker, on his second drive, led the Spartans on a 15-play, 75-yard drive, which ended with David Schaefer's 23-yard field goal with 1:34 left in the half.

Michigan State went ahead 17-10 midway through the third. Smoker escaped a sack and threw a 6-yard TD pass to Shawn Foster.

Schaefer's 23-yard field goal early in the fourth gave the Spartans a 20-10 lead.

Marshall sliced its deficit to 20-17 with 8:33 left on Leftwich's 4-yard pass to David Foye.

After Duckett's long touchdown run, Dawan Moss gave Michigan State a 34-17 lead on a 1-yard plunge. Leftwich threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to John Cooper as time expired.