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Michigan State Spartans football team improves to 5-0 with 48-31 win over Western Kentucky

Michigan State’s Jacub Panasiuk, right, sacks Western Kentucky quarterback Bailey Zappe in the fourth quarter Saturday in East Lansing. (AP photo)

By LARRY LAGE

AP Sports Writer

EAST LANSING — Michigan State’s Jayden Reed planted his right foot in the turf and juked to his left, cut back across the field and sprinted up the sideline untouched for an 88-yard touchdown off a punt return to score on special teams for the third straight week.

Reed also had a touchdown reception in the first half, giving him multiple scores for the fourth straight week, to help the 17th-ranked Spartans build a 26-point lead and they went on to beat Western Kentucky 48-31 on Saturday night.

“He can do it all,” coach Mel Tucker said.

Reed had 285 all-purpose yards, including 127 yards receiving and 63 yards on kickoff returns.

Kenneth Walker ran for 126 yards, a week after being held to 61 yards rushing in an overtime win over Nebraska, and three touchdown in the first half to keep his name in the early conversation for the Heisman Trophy candidates.

“That is a dream of mine to win the Heisman,” Walker said. “I had that in my notes on March 8th.”

The Spartans (5-0) have won their first five games for the first time since starting 8-0 in 2015, when they ended up earning a spot in the College Football Playoff.

The Hilltoppers (1-3) moved the ball through the air effectively, but settled for three field goals in the first half and struggled to slow down Michigan State until the second half when it was too late.

Reed returned the punt for a touchdown after the opening possession and had 46-yard reception for another score in the first quarter, helping the Spartans take a 21-10 lead. Walker ran for his second and third scores in the second quarter, putting Michigan State ahead 42-16.

“In the first half they were able to do whatever they wanted to do,” Helton said.

Payton Thorne was 20 of 30 for a career-high 327 yards yards and a touchdown for the Spartans. Jalen

Michigan State’s Jacub Panasiuk, right, sacks Western Kentucky quarterback Bailey Zappe in the fourth quarter Saturday in East Lansing. (AP photo)

Michigan State coach Mel Tucker yells during the fourth quarter of a game against Western Kentucky on Saturday in East Lansing. Michigan State won 48-31. (AP photo)

Nailor had career highs with eight catches and 128 yard receiving.

Bailey Zappe, who was 46 of 64 for a career-high 488 yards, threw two touchdown passes early in the fourth quarter to pull Western Kentucky within two touchdowns.