By Allen Martin
Excitement was in the air at Spartan Stadium for Friday’s opening game between No. 17 Michigan State and Youngstown State, but many Spartan fans began to put down their heads and ponder a few things after the first quarter.
Was this the same team that won a share of the Big Ten title last year? Is this a team ranked in the top 25 of the nation? More importantly, was this team going to win against an, unranked, mediocre Youngstown State? All these questions would be answered quickly, as Michigan State football team would prove that they deserve to be among the elite.
Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins would go on to throw for 222 yards, going 18 for 22. Many of those yards went to wide receiver B.J. Cunningham, catching nine passes for 130 yards, tying the number one receiving yard position in MSU’s history, along with former MSU receiver Matt Trannon. Cunningham now only needs one catch to become MSU’s leading wide receiver in the storied Spartan football program.
Youngstown State’s only score of the game came off a second quarter pass from quarterback Kurt Hess to receiver Jelani Berassa. The team would struggle throughout the rest of the game, finding no momentum to spark anything for the Penguins.
Although MSU would pull out a 28 to 6 win over Youngstown State, there were a few rocky areas in the Spartan’s game. MSU’s struggle in the first half had much to do with the seven penalties they committed. In addition to the penalties, MSU’s special teams didn’t meet head coach Mark Dantonio’s expectations.
One Special Night, For One Special Spartan
For one MSU football player, Friday’s game didn’t just mean the start of the 2011 college football season, it meant so much more. Senior left guard and team captain Joel Foreman, would give up his starting spot to let his teammate Arthur Ray Jr. start one play.
“He’s not only an inspiration to me, but to the entire team” said Foreman.
Ray was diagnosed with cancer in his left leg after enrolling in MSU four years ago. Doctors performed surgery to remove a cancerous tumor on a bone above his left leg. The surgery was successful, but an infection ensued that caused Ray to leave school, but more importantly, the Spartan football team. Ray returned the following year and has since worked to get back to the field.
“Young man, you are going to start your first college football game,” coach Dantonio told Ray.
Even though Ray was only in for one play, it was clear that it meant a lot for the senior, as tears ran down his face on the sideline after the play.
“I have been waiting for this moment for so long. It was a great feeling,” said Ray.