It wasn't supposed to play out this way. Not today — where Mark Dantonio had a shot at history to become Michigan State's all-time winningest head coach.
It was supposed to be a day of celebration in Spartan Stadium. Instead, the Spartans fell flat at home.
Dantonio's moment will have to wait another week.
In its first loss of the season, No. 18 MSU struggled to finish offensive drives as Arizona State did just enough to pull out a 10-7 victory at Spartan Stadium.
“Too many missed opportunities when you look at it," Dantonio said following the loss. "Just missed opportunities.”
With 50 seconds left, ASU running back Eno Benjamin extended the ball over the goal line for a 2-yard game winning touchdown.
With 11 seconds left, Matt Coghlin appeared to kick a game-tying 42-yard field goal, but the Spartans had 12 players on the field. On the re-kick, Coghlin missed a 47-yard attempt as the clock hit triple-zeros.
What happened to the offense?
Apparently, MSU left its offense in the neon alternate jerseys it wore last Saturday against Western Michigan. For the second time this season, the Spartan offense managed just seven points as it looked stagnant, boring and dry for most of Saturday afternoon.
With 8:37 remaining, Elijah Collins gave MSU a 7-3 lead on a 9-yard touchdown run. The Spartans moved into Sun Devil territory on a 29-yard reception by Julian Barnett, his first collegiate catch. Four plays later, Brian Lewerke found Darrell Stewart Jr. to convert a crucial third down with an 11-yard reception to move inside of the 30-yard line.
Stewart finished with a team high nine receptions for 121 yards.
Five plays later, Collins found a seam on the right side of the offensive line and glided into the end zone for his first collegiate touchdown.
After being held in check for the game, Collins finished with 72 yards on 19 rushing attempts, as well as his game-winning touchdown.
In the first half, the Spartans cruised past midfield on each of their five drives, only to be stalled by failed third-down conversions, penalties and missed field goals.
After punting on its first possession of the game, MSU moved inside of the ASU 40-yard line. That's when quarterback Brian Lewerke put the ball on the grass, resulting in a fumble. The Spartans moved past midfield again on their next possession. But, after a Matt Dotson 8-yard catch, MSU was set back by a holding call on left guard Luke Campbell — one that they couldn't recover from.
Lewerke finished 24-for-38 for 291 yards, while Dotson added four catches for 44 yards.
On MSU's next possession, Matt Seybert's 48-yard catch-and-run set up another chance for the Spartans to get on the board. However, Coghlin missed a 47-yard field goal — his first of three misses in the game — and the Spartans searched for points until Collins attempted to save the day in the fourth quarter.
With time running out, and no timeouts, MSU drove 51 yards on six plays, including a 25-yard reception by Stewart Jr. to set up Coghlin's game-winning attempt.
The Spartans racked up 404 total yards while also converting 9 of their 17 third-down attempts.
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Defense crumbles on final drive
ASU's offense had its own struggles Saturday afternoon. The Sun Devils gained only 104 yards in the first half, but capitalized on their lone drive that moved into MSU territory. With 3:40 remaining before halftime, Cristian Zendejas connected on a 41-yard field goal to give ASU a 3-0 lead. That was all the Sun Devils could muster until their final drive of the game.
ASU drove inside MSU's 25-yard line, thanks in part to a 40-yard reception by Brandon Aiyuk from true freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels. Later in the drive, Daniels converted a 4th-and 13 inside of the red zone, which gave Benjamin his chance to score four plays later.
"It's tough to win a game when you score one touchdown, but we almost did it," Dantonio said. "We had some lapses defensively. Had one big play on us, they threw the ball over our head, and you got to make it tougher for them to do that. Extremely disappointed. I thought the crowd was outstanding. I thought the environment, again, was outstanding. I'm disappointed for our fans and I take responsibility for that.”
In his first college road start, Daniels finished with 15 of 26 for 140 yards. He used his legs often, adding 37 yards on 12 rushing attempts.
ASU scored more than seven points for an FBS-record 137th-straight game.
Michigan State (2-1) travels to Evanston, Illinois next week to open Big Ten play against Northwestern (12:00 p.m., ABC), a team that has beaten the Spartans for three consecutive years.
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