EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Jayden Daniels and Arizona State spoiled Mark Dantonio’s bid for a milestone.
Instead, the Michigan State coach was left to explain a chaotic finish to a disappointing home loss.
Daniels directed Arizona State on a pressure-packed 75-yard drive and, after Eno Benjamin reached the ball to the goal line for a 1-yard touchdown run with 50 seconds remaining, the Sun Devils held on for a 10-7 victory over No. 18 Michigan State on Saturday.
The Spartans had a tying field goal in the final seconds negated for having too many men on the field — a sour finish on a day when Dantonio had a chance to take over sole possession of the school record for victories.
After falling behind late, the Spartans drove back to the Arizona State 24 and, after spiking the ball to stop the clock with 11 seconds left, they appeared to have enough time for one more throw.
But with no timeouts remaining, Michigan State (2-1) seemed indecisive, and eventually the field goal team rushed on. The Spartans barely snapped the ball in time to beat the play clock, and although Matt Coghlin’s 42-yard kick went through, a replay review showed there were too many players on the field.
“Initially, we were going to try to take a shot to the end zone,” Dantonio said.
“Then I said, ‘Hey listen, we need to kick it, because if we catch the ball the game’s probably over— if we catch the ball and we’re not in the end zone, the game’s probably over. Line up and kick it.’ Our field goal kicker was a little late, sort of watching, so he runs out, the clock’s ticking down. He still makes the field goal, but I’m not sure how — we had injuries on the offensive line — I think maybe one guy stayed in. I’m not sure.”
Coghlin had to try again from farther back, and he hooked the kick left for his third miss of the day.
“We line up again, kick the field goal, they try and hurdle us. That should be a penalty. Call no penalty, it’s not reviewable,” Dantonio said. “But that’s just to get to overtime. There’s a lot of opportunities prior to that where we could have won the football game. I think that they need to take a good hard look at the officiating, and that’s all I’ll say, because there were some disputes out there.”
Dantonio missed a chance to break a tie with Duffy Daugherty atop Michigan State’s career victories list. Dantonio and Daugherty both have 109.
The Spartans’ defense was stifling all day, but Arizona State finally broke through on the final drive. Daniels, the Sun Devils’ freshman quarterback, ran 15 yards for a first down on fourth-and-13 from the Michigan State 28.
“Offensively, we knew it was going to be very difficult to run the football,” Arizona State coach Herm Edwards said. “We came in with a plan trying to get it out of our quarterback’s hand fast because they can hit the quarterback. They hit him a couple of times, but at the end the kid did good.
He really did good. He made a lot of plays with his legs. I think that’s surprising for a lot of people — his ability to run, and he’s a smart runner.”
Benjamin’s touchdown put the Sun Devils ahead. That play also was reviewed, and Benjamin had just barely extended the ball far enough to score.
“He told me, ‘Just give me the ball. I’m going to win this game,'” Daniels said. “I knew once he got hit I knew that he got the ball across the plane.”
Elijah Collins had a 9-yard touchdown run with 8:37 remaining for Michigan State, but the Spartans blew a fourth-quarter lead against Arizona State for a second straight year. The Sun Devils won 16-13 last season.
Arizona State: The Sun Devils showed they could slug it out on the road with the physical Spartans, and although they didn’t move the ball much, their young quarterback was impressive at the end.
Michigan State: Dantonio will have to wait for his milestone, and this game certainly wasn’t his finest hour. Although the kicking game cost the Spartans dearly, the disorganized finish didn’t reflect well on the coaching staff.
Arizona State has scored more than seven points in 137 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the FBS. The Sun Devils just barely extended that run Saturday.
“You’re not going to win too many games 10-7,” Edwards said. “We’ve got to get some offense generated. Our defense played pretty well in the end.”
The Suns Devils have held all three of their opponents to seven points, beating Kent State 30-7 and Sacramento State 19-7.
Coghlin was 40 of 48 on field goals for his career before Saturday. He missed from 47 yards in the second quarter, and Arizona State drove the other way for a 41-yard field goal by Cristian Zendejas. The Spartans appeared poised to tie the game late in the half, but Coghlin missed from 31 yards after a delay of game penalty had pushed that kick back.
Michigan State did not make Coghlin available to reporters after the game.
Michigan State will obviously drop, and it will be interesting to see how voters view Arizona State after the Sun Devils remained unbeaten with this tough road victory.
Arizona State: Hosts Colorado next Saturday.
Michigan State: Visits Northwestern on Saturday.