EAST LANSING – Rocky Lombardi threw for 318 yards and two touchdowns in his first start for Michigan State, and the Spartans halted Purdue's four-game win streak, beating the Boilermakers 23-13 on Saturday.
With Brian Lewerke out with a shoulder injury, Lombardi guided the offense, and Michigan State (5-3, 3-2 Big Ten) didn't hold back. The redshirt freshman attempted 46 passes and avoided any big mistakes. Matt Coghlin kicked three field goals, and the Spartans held on defensively toward the end.
"Came out with the idea that we were going to attack," Spartans coach Mark Dantonio said. "I thought Rocky played a tremendous game."
Michigan State's Mike Panasiuk blocked a field goal with 3:42 remaining, and Jalen Nailor broke free for a 48-yard touchdown reception to put the Spartans up 23-13 with 1:58 to play.
David Blough threw for 277 yards for Purdue, but he was intercepted three times, including once while the Boilermakers (4-4, 3-2) were in field goal range in the fourth quarter.
Michigan State has won eight straight games in this series.
"They executed better than us. I thought they played harder than us and I thought they made fewer mistakes," Purdue coach Jeff Brohm said. "It's a good learning experience for our team. That's why we say it's a one-game season. We did not get ready to play this game, come out and do the things necessary in order to win."
Purdue was coming off a 49-20 win over Ohio State, but the Boilermakers missed too many opportunities against the Spartans. On fourth-and-3 from the Michigan State 44 in the final quarter, Blough completed a pass to Rondale Moore, who was tackled short of the line to gain.
Later, Blough threw to Brycen Hopkins near the Michigan State 20, but Hopkins took a hard hit from Tyriq Thompson of the Spartans and lost the ball. Thompson grabbed it before it hit the ground for an interception with 10:02 to play.
Spencer Evans had a chance to tie it with a 41-yard kick, but Panasiuk got a piece of it.
Lombardi's first touchdown pass came with 56 seconds left in the first half — an 11-yarder to Darrell Stewart. The Spartans led 16-6 before Terry Wright's 1-yard scoring run late in the third brought Purdue within three.
Purdue: The Boilermakers were shut down for much of the first three quarters, but they certainly had their chances in the fourth. Their inability to come away with points on repeated trips into Michigan State territory made this loss a frustrating one.
Michigan State: The Spartans were coming off an emotional loss to rival Michigan, and their offense had its ups and downs with the backup quarterback in the game. But Michigan State remains a solid defensive team, and the Spartans were able to prevent Moore (11 catches for 74 yards) from breaking free for too many big plays.
Purdue: The Boilermakers host No. 18 Iowa next Saturday in a game that could have major implications in the Big Ten West race.
Michigan State: The Spartans play at Maryland next weekend.