50 defining moments from the 2021 Michigan State football season: No. 18

Michigan State wide receiver Jayden Reed (1) is lifted by offensive lineman J.D. Duplain (67) for scoring a 2-point conversion against Michigan during the second half at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021.
Michigan State wide receiver Jayden Reed (1) is lifted by offensive lineman J.D. Duplain (67) for scoring a 2-point conversion against Michigan during the second half at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021. /

Only 18 days remain until the 2022 Michigan State football season starts, and today’s moment features Jayden Reed posterizing the Michigan secondary.

Welcome to day 33 of my 50-day Michigan State football series to countdown until kickoff. Today, I look at the 18th most defining moment of the Michigan State football season. Jayden Reed made a lot of big plays for the Spartans last year, and one of his biggest came against our hated in-state rivals, the Michigan Wolverines.

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. 18: Jayden Reed’s 2-point conversion vs. Michigan

This conversion came in the fourth quarter, as opposed to moment No. 25, which came in the third.

Why No. 18?

This moment came after Kenneth Walker III broke through for a massive touchdown run against the Wolverines. With a successful two-point conversion, the game would be tied at 30 with just over 12 minutes to play. With an empty backfield and a quad set of receivers on the left side of the field, Jayden Reed lined up on an island. The rest was a game of who wanted to win more.

This was the best play call by Jay Johnson of the entire season. With a tie game on the line, Johnson sent out Thorne with a set of smoke and mirrors. Jay Johnson put the season on Thorne’s shoulders and it paid off excellently. After motioning out a set of receivers to make it four on the left, Thorne had three options with the ball: throw into the quad set with a screen for Montorie Foster, run a quarterback draw, or throw into an endzone fade for Jayden Reed.

Looking at the play, the latter two would most likely succeed, and Thorne picked the safest option of letting his high school teammate make a play.

Full marks to Thorne here. Our starting quarterback had the option of being the hero himself or facing the “safe” check-down to Foster, who had Walker and two senior tight ends (Connor Heyward and Tyler Hunt) blocking for him. He takes the snap and instantly looks over to Reed, drawing the eyes of the linebackers to face the dawning horror of their lead relying on corner D.J. Turner. No offense to Turner, who was an honorable mention for the All-Big Ten defensive team.

This is a scenario where when facing one of your biggest rival’s biggest threats, you want all the help you can get. Thorne places the ball perfectly, letting Reed elevate over top of Turner for a catch and two-point conversion.

Reed also gets massive credit on this play as well. Reed went all in for this ball and had to beat Turner and outlast him to establish possession. Turner rips the ball out of Reed’s hands to sell the belief of an interception, but Reed had held the ball long enough to get about four steps down. Watching this, there really was nothing Turner did wrong or should have done differently. He just was the victim of a perfect ball and perfect catch, much to the joy of the Spartan fans.

This play tied the game at 30 with a tick under 12:30 to play. This play completed the first part of the comeback, with the Spartans now just needing to win the final few minutes to keep Pauly B in East Lansing.

I can hear it now: with how dynamic and impactful this play is, why would it only be rated at 18 instead of the top 10 at least? For that, I ask you to trust me. There are a lot of fun plays coming up that sealed the game. When making the articles for this list, I kept getting more excited to bring my readers the final three weeks of articles. My only knock against this play would be the question of possession from Turner ripping the ball out. This was one of my favorite plays (and favorite play call) of the season, but when consulting my friends about defining moments of the season, this one always ranked between Nos. 15 and 20.

Statistically, this faces the same conundrum as Mosley’s two-point conversion: the statistics only count for total points scored on the season for Reed and Michigan State football as a whole. I love counting statistics, and situations like this frustrate me as I cannot talk about stats as much. Instead, I’ll mention Reed and Thorne went to the same high school. I’m sure that is a unique fact that is not mentioned on every Michigan State football broadcast.

Tomorrow, the longest play of the 2021 Michigan State football season gets its own article.

Next. Ranking MSU's 2022 opponents by toughness. dark