October 4, 2009

Former captains see win as closure for '07 game

EAST LANSING - Former Spartan captains Peter Clifford, Otis Wiley, Jehuu Caulcrick, and Justin Kershaw were back in Spartan Stadium to cheer on their alma mater as they fought through adversity to pull off a 26-20 overtime victory over a Michigan program that had not suffered back-to-back losses against the Spartans since 1967.

All four former captains were on the field during Mark Dantonio's first game against Michigan as head coach of the Spartans in 2007. That game was a heart-breaking defeat for the Spartans, who should have won and probably would have won if then Wolverine running back Mike Hart had not miraculously covered a third-down fumble which he converted to a first down.


A few days after that loss, Dantonio suggested that Michigan players should check themselves and boldly predicted that pride comes before the fall at his weekly press conference. While some dismissed the then first-year head coach's words as unnecessary bravado in a rivalry that has been one-sided in Michigan's favor for the better part of the last four decades, the players within the program rallied around the words of their coach.

For players like Clifford and Caulcrick, who never tasted victory against their school's top rival, watching Michigan State win a game in overtime against the Wolverines was a special moment, which served as validation for all of the sweat and blood the senior class in '07 put in to laying the foundation for Michigan State's success under Dantonio.



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