This article was originally written by Matthew Argillander and appeared in The State News on December 9, 2015. It has been republished with the author’s permission.
It sounds simple enough. All season long, MSU football head coach Mark Dantonio has asked his team to “Reach higher” and go somewhere they’ve never been, specifically a national championship.
MSU fans have watched several symbols come full circle this season.
For example, in MSU’s shocking victory over the University of Michigan, Dantonio had the team wait an extra 10 seconds on the bus in silence, to take in and think about the importance of the game. And that 10 seconds came back to the Spartans when they blocked a punt for a touchdown with 10 seconds remaining before the play started.
And on Saturday night, freshman running back LJ Scott took Dantonio’s season mantra literally.
On third and goal from the 1-yard line, Scott took a handoff from senior quarterback Connor Cook. He appeared to get stuffed by two Hawkeye defenders but he kept pumping his legs, spinning and reaching his arm past the goal-line and propelling MSU into the College Football Playoff as the Spartans defeated the Iowa Hawkeyes, 16-13.
Behind Scott’s extra efforts and a stout defensive performance, MSU beat Iowa to put them one step closer to their ultimate goal.
“It’s just fitting for this season and for this team,” senior linebacker Darien Harris said. “It just seems like there’s so much symbolism that always goes along with this team and how we were able to play this season.”
Senior center Jack Allen said the team questions Dantonio’s mantras and themes to the season, but at the end of the year they always seem to come to fruition.
“I feel like Coach D has been doing that the last couple of years, he says something at the beginning of the year and everyone’s like ‘what?’ and then at the end of the year that’s what it comes down to,” Allen said.
Senior cornerback Arjen Colquhoun is just happy that Scott is his teammate.
He said he knew the talented freshman would be special.
“That kid’s a baller man, he’s one of the best running backs I’ve ever seen just come out of high school,” Colquhoun said. “I’m just glad to have him on my team, he’s a great person, great player and just expect more from him.”
Scott’s effort literally reached the Spartans into the playoffs, and what started as a motto for the season has become so much more.
Next up for the Spartans — Alabama in the College Football Playoff
“We just have to stay humble, execute (for) everything we’ve always wanted and reach higher on our goals,” Scott said. “Dreams come true man. I just gotta remain humble and everything will happen, everything will fall into place.”