A familiar face is back on day 18 of this Michigan State football series. This time, Kenneth Walker’s only receiving touchdown of 2021 will be highlighted.
Welcome back to the 18th edition of this series, moment No. 33. Today marks just over a month until the Spartans start their season against Western Michigan. For today’s moment, the Spartans’ game against Miami is again highlighted. Human highlight reel Kenneth Walker III is again featured today, which I am sure is a shock.
No. 33: Kenneth Walker’s 7-yard TD reception vs. Miami
Why No. 33?
This play was one of the most underrated Kenneth Walker III plays of the campaign. He catches the ball on an out, slips a tackle, and bursts into the end zone. When this play developed, it appeared to be a Payton Thorne dump-off to gain a few yards and attempt a fourth-and-goal play or take the field goal. K9 had other plans, turning this into six.
When watching this play, it really sums up the season Walker had. Give him a little space, and he is just at a different level than anyone else on the field. This game only had one Walker touchdown, but he still flipped this game in favor of the Spartans. The Spartan offensive success was based on deception to Walker or letting his legs set them up for a play. As highlighted on my write-up of Jayden Reed’s rushing touchdown, the Miami defense bit on a fake to K9, letting Reed only need to pick up two blocks from Connor Heyward for six.
This play gets the nod over Reed’s rushing touchdown due to the moment of the game, giving the Spartans a lead compared to sealing a mostly finished game. Additionally, the overall season and awards for Walker help propel this play further up due to how this play contributed to his season.
One thing I want to highlight on this play is the discipline of Thorne. Instead of forcing a pass into the endzone, he lets the play develop and sees no option besides Walker. He willingly takes the checkdown and is rewarded with one of the easiest passing touchdowns of his career thus far.
This moment made the game a 10-7 Michigan State football advantage, a lead the Spartans would never relinquish. Michigan State would trot into the locker room with this same lead and then start the scoring in the second half. This play was a big momentum shift for the Spartans.
This said, I cannot rate this higher as the final quarter really sets this moment back, as a 21-point win makes it hard to put in my top 30. Without this play, there were plenty of other moments that might have flipped the advantage to the Spartans. With their second-half conditioning, Michigan State football was destined to win this game. An 18-point positive scoring margin in the final quarter of play tends to seal most games.
Statistically, this would be Walker’s only receiving touchdown and one of his 19 touchdowns from scrimmage in the 2021 season. For Thorne, this would be another one of his passes that led to his school record for single-season passing touchdowns. Additionally, it would be the first of his four passing touchdowns of the game.
For those looking for a hint on tomorrow’s play, it will be the first play in the series from when the Spartans went (Peach) bowling.