Sometimes, the darkest moments can yield some of the greatest results.
Arizona State lost a heartbreaking 45-43 game to UCLA Bruins on October 27th that arguably decided the Pac-12 South division in the latter's favor. The Will Sutton-less Sun Devil defense was unable to stop the Bruins from moving 60 yards in 12 plays over the game's final 93 seconds as UCLA kicked the deciding field goal as time expired.
It was simply a crushing defeat for ASU. No two ways about it.
Yet it was that lead that ASU ultimately surrendered, and the fashion in which they gained it that stand out as tangible proof that great days are ahead for Sun Devil football.
3:36 left in the game. ASU had just forced a UCLA punt. The Sun Devil offense took the field trailing 42-36.
This was it. Crunch time. Despite the recent three-and-out forced by the defense, the unit had still surrendered 426 yards and 42 points, and giving the ball back to the Bruins may be the end of the game.
For ASU quarterback Taylor Kelly, it was his time for a signature moment.
At that point in the 2012 season, Kelly had surprised everyone in leading the Sun Devils to a 5-2 record, but the critics were still quick to point out that he had had most of his success against lesser competition. For a young quarterback, there's nothing that builds confidence quicker than a clutch touchdown drive in the fourth quarter.
Kelly then had his own number called for a designed run. He took the snap and bolted forward. Showing off excellent field vision and patience, he allowed his blocks to develop and followed them downfield. He continued to drive his legs, and by the time three Bruins took him down, Kelly had gained 32 yards to the UCLA 12.
A Cameron Marshall carry and a Kelly scramble out of pressure managed just five yards, setting up a critical third and five.
With just 1:41 left, Kelly took the snap, faked a handoff and looked towards the endzone. Sensing pressure, he scrambled to his right. Defensive lineman Ellis McCarthy peeled off his block and made a line right for Kelly.
With time running out, Kelly unleashed a pass on the run to the endzone...
...where it found a leaping Foster, who hauled it in for the game-tying touchdown.
Foster began the play lined up as the inside receiver in ASU's trips right formation. He initially ran a seam route into the endzone as Kevin Ozier ran a slant underneath. However, once Foster saw Kelly in trouble, he took off to the corner to the side of Kelly's scramble, raised his hand and soon made the clutch catch.
So there it is. The redshirt sophomore quarterback completes a clutch, go ahead drive thanks to the great catch by the true freshman phenom. Youth is served. It wasn't to the level of Elway against the Browns or Jake in the Rose Bowl, but it was a significant stepping stone in the team's maturation.
The Sun Devils didn't win the game that day, but that combination and the experience they and their teammates gained bodes well for 2013 and beyond.
Watch the drive in it's entirety here: