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Spartans end Marshall's run

By Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 10, 2000


EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Thick and quick.

That's what T.J. Duckett wanted to become this season, and he seemingly has achieved it.

The burly running back displayed power by running over defenders and speed by running past them Saturday, collecting 219 yards on 26 carries as Michigan State beat Marshall 34-24 and snapped the Thundering Herd's 18-game winning streak.

The 6-foot-2, 252-pound Duckett has lost 23 pounds since the Spartans beat Florida in the Citrus Bowl on New Year's Day.

"If you let Duckett get into the secondary, you have huge problems," Marshall coach Bob Pruett said. "If you keep him in traffic, he's manageable. But if gets into the open, he's a load."

Duckett did most of his damage in the second half, with 16 carries for 185 yards and a touchdown. He put Michigan State ahead 27-17 with a 36-yard touchdown run with 4:44 left in the game. His 64-yard run to begin the final quarter set up a field goal that gave the Spartans a 20-10 lead.

He could feel the benefits of eliminating cheeseburgers and late-night pizzas from his diet.

"I had great stamina and I got stronger as the game went on," he said. "I worked hard and lost the weight just in case of situations like this."

Freshman Jeff Smoker became the Spartans' starting quarterback on the first possession of the second quarter after Ryan Van Dyke left with a bruised right thumb. Van Dyke is expected to be ready to play at Missouri next week.

Smoker completed 16 of 24 passes for 138 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

Marshall sophomore Byron Leftwich, making his second start, had three touchdown passes and three interceptions, one in the Spartans end zone and one at their 1. Leftwich was 27-for-44 for 227 yards.

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