Jalen Watts-Jackson scooped up Michigan’s fumbled punt and scored a game-winning touchdown as time expired Saturday, delivering one of the most improbable endings to a football game you’ll ever see.
And then he went to the hospital.
Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio told reporters after the 27-23 win that Watts-Jackson injured his hip and had to be taken to the hospital.
“Jalen Watts-Jackson, great job scooping it up. I think he either dislocated his hip or has a broken hip. He’s at the hospital right now,” Dantonio said. “So on that particular play, as he went in the end zone, that’s what happened, or before it, I’m not sure what. By the time I got there, he was down.”
Just even more unbelievable aftermath to an unbelievable play.
For those who didn’t see it, Michigan punter Blake O’Neill lined up to punt with 10 seconds remaining and the Wolverines ahead by two. The game looked over. But O’Neill couldn’t handle the snap and dropped the ball. Watts-Jackson — part of Michigan State’s 11-man punt-blocking unit — picked it up and ran it back 38 yards for a shocking touchdown that gave the Spartans their first and only lead of the game with no time left on the clock.
(Video from BTN.com)
“I don’t know what to say about that,” Dantonio said. “You go from 10 seconds and the guy punting the ball, thinking, ‘OK, this is done.’ All of a sudden, life gets flipped upside down.”
As the head coach reminded reporters, this isn’t the first crazy ending to a Michigan State win.
You might remember what the coach dubbed “the Little Giants play,” a fake field goal for a game-winning touchdown in overtime against Notre Dame in 2010. And there’s the Hail Mary touchdown catch Keith Nichol hauled in off a tip to beat Wisconsin in 2011.
Well, add this one to the list.
“We’ve had a lot of finishes like this,” Dantonio said. “We’ve got a belief system. Doesn’t mean it always happens. … There’s been some tight ones, but we just find a way. It’s the culture that we have on our football team, and our guys just continue to play and we believe in each other. And if we lost, we lost, but I knew that we played as hard as we could and we left it on the field. And that’s the most important thing to me.”
After seven weeks, the Spartans are undefeated, despite escaping with nail-biting victories over Purdue, Rutgers and Michigan in three straight weeks. But winning’s the most important thing, and if Michigan State is undefeated come season’s end, it won’t matter how it got those wins, just that it got them.
“I don’t know, it’s crazy,” Dantonio said. “It was crazy.”