EAST LANSING, Mich. – Pitt freshman tailback LeSean McCoy, in his first career start, rushed for 115 yards on 12 carries, including a 64-yard touchdown.
But Michigan State took advantage of two Kevan Smith interceptions for a 14-7 halftime lead Saturday before 68,620 at Spartan Stadium.
Michigan State free safety Otis Wiley intercepted Smith and returned it to the Pitt 35 with four seconds left in the first quarter. On the next play, Spartans quarterback Brian Hoyer completed a 32-yard pass to tight end Kellen Davis.
Three plays later, Jehuu Caulcrick scored on a 2-yard run to give the Spartans a 7-0 lead with 14:15 remaining.
Pitt answered with a 64-yard touchdown run by McCoy to tie the game. It was the Panthers’ longest touchdown run since LaRod Stephens-Howling had a 70-yarder against Syracuse last October. McCoy was starting in place of Stephens-Howling (bruised ribs), who did not dress.
Another Smith interception led to a Spartans touchdown, as his third-down pass deflected off the hands of receiver Oderick Turner and into those of free safety Travis Key, who returned it 31 yards for a touchdown and 14-7 lead.
Smith was 5 of 9 for 32 passing yards with the two picks.