No matter the situation, true freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels kept his poise together and lead the Sun Devils to a 10-7 upset over the No. 18 Michigan State Spartans.
With less than four minutes left in the game, the Sun Devils (3-0) were trailing the Michigan State Spartans (2-1), 7-3. The offense shutdown all night long by the Spartans defense but that didn’t stop Daniels.
Daniels and the offense entered the final drive with 141 total yards. The running game wasn’t working much, with Michigan State’s front seven allowing negative three yards rushing in their two games on the season. That didn’t stop Daniels though.
Once he stepped onto the field for the Sun Devils final drive of the game, the true freshman told the offense they had a chance to win the game.
“We had a chance to win the game,” Daniels said. “Really everyone was staying calm out there. I told (center) Cohl (Cabral) to just give us a chance to go win the game. They trusted in me, I trusted in them; we just went out there and executed.”
The Sun Devils did that. Daniels connected with senior wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk on a beautiful deep ball that Daniels says was under thrown but enough for the 40-yard reception.
“We thought that we could get behind them at some point in the game,” offensive coordinator Rob Likens said. “I just knew that somewhere along the line, running somebody deep, that somebody was going to pop and I knew that Jayden was just going to Johnny Manziel his way out of there. I knew that we couldn’t protect to take a shot and that was a problem, trying to come up with something.”
ASU’s offensive line had some more shifts in the starting five as senior Cohl Cabral was moved back to center, true freshman Dohnovan West was at right guard and true freshman La’Darius Henderson took over at left tackle.
After two straight incompletions and a false start, it seemed the Sun Devils shot themselves in the foot to kill any hope of a comeback.
Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio did not like the look of ASU’s offense, blowing his last two timeouts consecutively, leaving the team with none to use.
On fourth-and-13, game on the line, Daniels felt the pocket collapse and made the decision to use his legs to try and get the first down. He converted it. Daniels sparked hope that the Sun Devils could pull through.
“(I) was really just not trying to force anything in the passing game,” Daniels said. “If it wasn’t there, (I) just use my legs. Like I said, it was just being able to keep drives alive, keeping that whole drive alive.”
Head coach Herm Edwards and Daniels talked about what to do in situations where Daniels would be forced to make a play with his legs and Edwards knows he’s a good decision maker.
“He’s a smart runner, this guy is pretty savvy as a quarterback,” Edwards said. “I think it caught people by surprise that he would take off and run like that. It was third-and-fifteen and he takes off, he saw the coverage and as soon as he saw it, he took off. He made some critical, critical first downs.”
Daniels rushed to the one-yard line. The final punch belonged to junior running back Eno Benjamin. A stretch of the arm broke plane for the go-ahead touchdown with 50 seconds left in the game.
After the review stood, ASU fans who traveled to the game erupted in cheers and started chanting “ASU” as the Sun Devils took the 10-7 lead late on the Spartans.
Michigan State had 50 seconds to march down the field and tie the game to force overtime. Senior quarterback, Phoenix native, Brian Lewerke ran for a first down and then had three incompletions but the last one was called for a pass interference on junior Tillman Evan Fields.
Senior wide receiver Darrell Stewart’s 25-yard reception with 11 seconds left in the game put the contest on the leg of junior kicker Matt Goghlin, who had missed two field goals already.
Dantonio sent him onto the field for the 42-yard attempt. Goghlin buried the field goal and the whole stadium erupted as the game was heading to overtime.
But, it didn't count.
After review, the officials ruled that Michigan State had 12 men on the field and Coghlin would have to go back out and attempt a 47-yard field goal to tie the game.
Coghlin’s ensuing kick was hooked left and the Sun Devils capitalized on the upset. Players celebrated both as a team and with fans in the stands.
Arizona State will kickoff PAC-12 play Saturday, September 21 as they take on the Colorado Buffaloes (2-1) at 7 PM on the PAC-12 Network.