(Photo: Adam Stites/WCSN)
LOS ANGELES – Mike Bercovici could have been just about anywhere else in the nation on Saturday night. With every opportunity to transfer from Arizona State in the past, the junior quarterback likely could have been starting for the majority of the schools in the nation, but instead he wore maroon and gold for the biggest play of his football career…just liked he always imagined it in his head.
“I used to dream ‘What is going to satisfy me more than anything in the world?’ When I envisioned it, I had a fork on my helmet,” Bercovici said.
He looked about as satisfied as can be on Saturday night, as the junior quarterback was all smiles after throwing a 46-yard Hail Mary that was hauled in by Jaelen Strong with zeroes on the clock at the Los Angeles Coliseum. It was the kind of play that every quarterback dreams of making and may have never happened had Bercovici made the easy choice to play elsewhere rather than sit behind Taylor Kelly.
“He chose to stay a Sun Devil,” ASU head coach Todd Graham said. “He would’ve missed out on the greatest moment of his football career if he had transferred.”
He also would have missed out on that moment had Taylor Kelly not suffered a foot injury three weeks earlier in a 38-24 victory over the Colorado Buffaloes. With the senior sidelined and on crutches, Bercovici was thrust into action against two nationally-ranked Pac-12 South rivals.
In two starts, Bercovici has tallied 998 yards passing and eight touchdowns, and while the job will be turned back over to Kelly when the Sun Devils return to action in two weeks against the Stanford Cardinal, Bercovici had the chance to start in front of friends and family in Los Angeles before turning the reins back over.
A native of Calabasas, Calif., Bercovici played his high school ball at Taft High School, just a couple dozen miles from the site of his miraculous play on Saturday night.
“I know I needed to get like 150 tickets if I could,” Bercovici said. “I had friends in the USC student section telling me they were cheering for me.”
The trip to Los Angeles was the only one that Arizona State will make for the rest of the regular season, but Bercovici is hopeful the team will get another chance to play close to his home on New Year’s Day in the Rose Bowl. With three minutes remaining in the team’s game on Saturday, that chance looked all but snuffed out entirely.
Now, the Sun Devils are in great shape after the win put ASU right back in the thick of the Pac-12 South race. While UCLA still controls their own destiny, ASU has one goal and that’s winning every game for the rest of the year.
“Every game is a must win from here on,” ASU safety and roommate of Bercovici, Jordan Simone, said. “Every game we’ve got to win and we just had the will to win.”
You can reach Adam Stites on Twitter @AdamStitesASU or by email email@example.com