50 defining moments from the 2021 Michigan State football season: No. 39

Michigan State celebrates a touchdown scored by wide receiver Jayden Reed (1) during the first half at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021.
Michigan State celebrates a touchdown scored by wide receiver Jayden Reed (1) during the first half at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021. /

Welcome back to the 12th edition of my Michigan State football series. We break into the 30s, as we see more Jayden Reed.

Welcome back to the 12th edition of this Michigan State football series. Today, we break into the 30s and highlight the Youngstown State game for the last time. The dynamic offensive trio of Jayden Reed, Payton Thorne, and Kenneth Walker III combined for one of the best plays of the season.

For those of you who missed yesterday’s article, please click here. If you would like to look at previous articles of this series, feel free to scroll through my writing profile.

No. 39: Jayden Reed’s 75-yard flea-flicker TD vs. YSU

Why No. 39?

This play was dynamic, coming off the heels of Kenneth Walker’s breakout game against Northwestern. Jay Johnson made the excellent call of trying a little trickery on the first play of the game for the Spartans.

With a handoff to Walker getting sent back to Jayden Reed, the defense clamped down on the run, leaving the All-Big Ten receiver all alone to catch the ball and run for a 75-yard house call. This would be the second 75-yard touchdown in a row to start the game for the Spartans.

This play was an electrifying moment for Michigan State football, as this play call showed the rest of the country that the Spartans would not just rely on Walker. No team could just plan for the run game, as Johnson, Mel Tucker, and the entire Spartan offense were ready to take the ball deep at any time the second a defense fell to autopilot to stop K9.

It set the tone for a rout of an outmatched FCS team, showing the vast talent gap with Reed easily out-striding his corner and the rest of the secondary. Despite the long-developing play, Thorne had ample time in the pocket, allowing an underthrown ball to still leave Reed wide open to lead to the Spartan touchdown, a lead that they would never relinquish.

With this said, it cannot go any higher on this list as it was against an FCS team that Michigan State beat by 28 points. This is a play that was explosive, energizing, and dynamic, but the Youngstown State Penguins are not on the same level of competition or importance as the Michigan Wolverines.

Another item of note on this play is that I had told my friends prior to the game that Thorne would throw a touchdown on the first offensive play of the game. Granted, I had predicted that it would be from play action and end up in Jalen Nailor’s hands, but I was somewhat correct. Maybe I know ball?

Statistically, this play contributed to Reed and Thorne’s great seasons, as I have mentioned in multiple articles. This was part of Reed’s explosive day against YSU, with this being one of three receptions that went for over 45 yards in the contest. Reed would finish this contest with 181 yards on only four catches. Thorne threw for 280 yards on 15 completions, with this play being one of his four touchdowns on the day.

Tomorrow, another Michigan State victory in 2021 will be featured for the first time in this series.

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