ATLANTA –The State of Michigan closed its turnaround after a two-game winning season with a fourth quarter comeback in the Peach Bowl.
Payton Thorne’s 22 yards touchdown pass to Jayden Reed put No.11 Michigan State ahead with less than three minutes to go and the Spartans overcame an 11-point deficit to beat No.13 Pittsburgh 31-21 Thursday night in the Peach Bowl.
Led by Thorne, the Spartans outscored the Panthers 21-0 in the final quarter.
“Throughout the game my teammates kept telling me to stay awake and keep chopping like we talked about,” Thorne said.
Linebacker Cal Haladay’s 78-yard interception returns for a touchdown 22 seconds to go.
Thorne threw two touchdowns in the fourth quarter as Michigan State (11-2) rallied after trailing 21-10.
“We just got stronger and stronger as the game progressed,” said second-year coach Mel Tucker. “We… were able to find a way to do it. “
Michigan state finished 2-5 in its pandemic-shortened 2020 season.
Luminous cam returned a salvage escape 26 yards for a touchdown just 20 seconds into the second half for Pittsburgh (11-3). The Panthers lost starting quarterback Nick Patti to a broken collarbone in the first quarter.
Defensive end John Morgan forced a fumble from Michigan State quarterback Payton Thorne, who was fired by Bright for a 21-10 lead.
It was the second big game for Pitt’s defense. Brandon Hill’s interception late in the first half resulted in an 87-yard touchdown for a 14-10 lead.
by Thorne 15-yard scoring pass tight end Connor Heyward reduced the Panthers’ lead to 21-16 with 8:06 left. The Spartans were stopped on their 2-point play as Heyward stayed out of the end zone on another reception.
Thorne completed 29 of 50 passes for 354 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. by Thorne great pass for Reed with 2:51 remaining gave the Spartans a 22-21 lead. A 2-point assist to Jalen Nailor extended the lead to three points.
With Pickett, who retired from the game after finishing third in the Heisman Trophy vote, watching from a coach’s surface, the Panthers’ transition to quarterback quickly took a dramatic turn.
Making her first start since 2019, Patti was knocked out of the game in the first quarter.
On Michigan State 16’s third down in the Panthers’ second possession, Patti backed off before rushing forward and diving into the end zone, reaching out for the touchdown before landing a hand on his left shoulder.
Patti grabbed his shoulder after getting up and was escorted to Pitt’s locker room. When he returned later in the first half, he was not wearing epaulets and his left arm was in a sling.
Beville replaced Patti and completed 14 of 18 passes for 149 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
“Davis did a great job, as good as you would expect from a third team quarterback,” Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi said. “It wasn’t good enough to win the football game.”
Brandon Hill’s interception of Thorne’s pass to Maliq Carr gave the ball to Pitt on his 13th, setting up the 87-yard touchdown.
Beville completed 10- and 52-yard passes to Jordan Addison, the Biletnikoff Award winner as the nation’s top wide receiver, against the Michigan state pass defense, which placed last in the nation. from Béville 5 yard touchdown pass to Jared Wayne gave the Panthers a 14-10 halftime lead.
Addison had seven catches for 114 yards.
Take it away
Pitt: We expected the game to be a chance for Patti to argue for the starting position next season. Former Southern Cal starter Kedon Slovis has announced he is transferring to Pitt and will be in the competition as well. Beville may have shown enough to be another contender.
Michigan State: Thorne showed poise as he regrouped after a slow start. His two turnovers – one on an interception and one on a fumble – were costly, leading to two touchdowns. Thorne used his experience to take control of the game in the last quarter.
The Spartans were without running back Kenneth Walker, who withdrew from the game after finishing sixth in the Heisman Trophy voting. Jordon Simmons led Michigan State with 16 carries for just 23 yards.
“Obviously we miss Ken, but we thought we could get some stuff in the passing game,” Thorne said. “In the fourth quarter, we were able to do some things together and leverage areas that we thought we could do.”
BLAME CONCENTRATION, NOT FATIGUE
Pitt linebacker Phil Campbell said fatigue was not an issue in the last quarter.
“It was probably just a lack of focus in some areas,” Campbell said. “We weren’t more tired than them.
Due to rain all morning and most of the afternoon, the annual Peach Bowl Parade in downtown Atlanta has been canceled. The rain stopped in time for the retractable roof of the Mercedes-Benz stadium to be opened for the game.
AP Sports Writer George Henry contributed to this report.
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