Michigan State football team pulls out Pinstripe Bowl win over Wake Forest, 27-21
By DAN GELSTON
AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK — Mike Panasiuk ripped off his Michigan State helmet and hoisted it in the air, unleashing the hidden part of his scruffy beard that’s normally a no-no at Yankee Stadium.
Facial hair is banned for all Yankees, and so, for the Spartans, are the kind of acts of unsportsmanlike conduct that get a big guy like Panasiuk penalized.
The penalty was worth it for the burly Spartans defensive tackle, who rumbled 14 yards on an interception for his first career touchdown. His brother, Jacub, triggered the pick when he swatted the ball at the line. It took a bounce off a fallen player, and into Panasiuk’s hands.
“Shoutout to Mike,” MSU’s Kenny Willekes said. “That’s pretty damn cool to score a touchdown at Yankee Stadium.”
Brian Lewerke took it from there in his final game. Lewerke threw for 320 yards and a touchdown and ran for a score in Michigan State’s 27-21 victory over Wake Forest on Friday night in the Pinstripe Bowl.
“When you’re a senior and you play your last football game, you want it to be your best,” coach Mark Dantonio said.
Lewerke threw a 10-yard pass to wide receiver Cody White in the third quarter to put the Spartans (7-6) ahead 27-21 and they survived down the stretch to give Dantonio his sixth bowl victory.
“As the game progressed we got more confident, we got stronger,” he said. “I think that was the difference, our attitude.”
And a defense that gave up 250 yards and 21 points to the up-tempo Demon Deacons in the first half pitched a shutout after, surrendering just 101 yards.
“Once we got used to it, I feel like we had the game in our hands,” Panasiuk said.
Panasiuk had the ball in his hands for an early contender for wildest play of the bowl season. Wake Forest’s Jamie Newman failed to get enough lift on an early pass attempt that turned into a bit of a 4-6-3 touchdown on the Yankee Stadium field. Panasiuk’s measurements look a little like this: height, 6-foot-4; weight, 300 pounds; unkempt beard length, oh, let’s say 4 to 6 inches.