Andrew Aguila’s toughest kick of the day? It wasn’t the one that sailed through the uprights with 3 seconds to go, the game-winner that will be talked about for a long time at Central Michigan.
No, it was the onsides kick that gave the Chippewas the ball and a chance to win – a chance they cashed in when Aguila made a 42-yarder to stun Michigan State 29-27 on Saturday in a wild, come-from-behind game oddsmakers had figured the Spartans would win by two touchdowns.
“The onside was the biggest kick. The field goal is going to be remembered, but the onside was executed perfectly,” Aguila said.
No one would disagree. And Central Michigan has a marquee victory, though it was a nail-biter until the end.
Chippewa quarterback Dan LeFevour, who became the Mid-American Conference’s all-time leader in total offense during the game, threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Paris Cotton with 32 seconds left to pull his team within 27-26. Central Michigan went for the win, but the 2-point conversion pass attempt was caught out of bounds.
That’s OK. Bring on Aguila, whose kickoff bounded over the Michigan State line and into the arms of streaking wide receiver Bryan Anderson.
The Chippewas (1-1) drove into position for a 47-yard field goal. Aguila missed it, but Michigan State (1-1) was whistled for an offsides penalty, giving Aguila another shot from 42 – and he nailed it.
“I can’t say enough about Andrew Aguila,” Central Michigan coach Butch Jones said. “That last-second field goal seemed like an eternity. I think it took about 20 minutes to make a 5-second kick.”
When time expired, Central’s players ran in all different directions, some piling on each other and others heading toward the maroon-and-gold section in one corner of the stadium. One player waved an oversized “C” flag as the Spartan faithful streamed out of the stadium.
The win was Central’s second straight over a Big Ten opponent and fourth all-time against the conference. It also snapped the program’s four-game losing streak to the Spartans.
“Even after the onside kick, we still had a chance,” Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said. “All we had to do was not jump offside.
“But there are no excuses here. We got beat today. They were better than us.”
LeFevour finished 33 of 46 for 328 yards with three TDs and an interception a week after an ineffective outing at Arizona.
“My pride was hurt … a little bit,” he said. “I felt like (the 19-6 loss) was my fault, and I didn’t want to feel that way this week.”
The suburban Chicago native surpassed Byron Leftwich’s record of 12,084 yards on a 12-yard TD pass to Kito Poblah that tied the game 20-20 less than a minute into the fourth quarter. Leftwich, of Marshall, now is the starter for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. LeFevour, a senior, has compiled 12,166 yards of total offense.
Michigan State took a 27-20 lead on a 7-yard pass from Kirk Cousins to B.J. Cunningham with 7:33 remaining.
Cousins, who was 13 of 18 for 164 yards and the one TD, started and played the majority of the game. Fellow sophomore Keith Nichol completed 3 of 8 passes for 51 yards and a score.
Michigan State led 17-13 at halftime, thanks to a 16-yard pass from Nichol to Charlie Gantt that the tight end caught while falling down in the end zone with 4 minutes to go in the second quarter.
Brown did a little bit of everything on Saturday for Central Michigan, catching passes and returning punts and kicks. He threw a 24-yard pass to LeFevour and ran twice from scrimmage. He finished with 248 all-purpose yards.
Brown’s fellow receiver, Anderson, not only recovered the onside kick, he extended his streak of consecutive games played with a reception to 42, the nation’s longest active streak. He finished with six catches for 120 yards.
Michigan State’s Blair White followed up his nine-catch, 162-yard performance in a season-opening win over Montana State with seven grabs for 105 yards. But he was upset with himself for letting the onside kick get past him.
“They got a great bounce on a great kick,” he said. “I misplayed it, and it took a big bounce over my head. I just misjudged it.”