For all that Jake Moody accomplished in his career, he never hit the game-winning shot.

Not in Michigan. Not in high school. Not even in youth football.

So it was fitting that in the final seconds of his final game at the Big House – the stadium where he has achieved so much – the fifth-year man had the opportunity to add another goal in the first.

With Michigan trailing by one with 13 seconds left on the clock, Moody ran in to try to win the game – a chance for an undefeated season hanging in the balance.

The stakes of this shot were higher than anything he had attempted before. But Moody never gets caught up in the moment, thinking about the consequences of any blow.

“I had every confidence going in there that I was going to do it,” Moody said. “Right off my feet I realized he had come in, looked up and saw him flying right down the middle, which was pretty surreal.”

Moody had no nerves as he wound up and watched the ball fly through the uprights to secure a 19-17 win. He had already made two other field goals in the fourth quarter, keeping the Wolverines afloat as the offense failed to convert touchdowns.

In a troubling situation where a loss would derail everything Michigan has worked toward all season, Moody was calm.

And his teammates reciprocated.

“I don’t think there was a single player on that sideline that didn’t trust our kicker,” junior defensive lineman Chris Jenkins said. “Moody is without a doubt one of the best kickers I’ve ever seen. Point. He is such a player. He has the ability to make big plays in big moments in big games.”

Moody struck when the lights were at their brightest with 110,000 fans watching. But that shot doesn’t come without the thousands of shots Moody has taken before, practicing every day to perfect his craft.

Matt Ladach, Northville High School’s football coach, has witnessed that dedication for years.

“He’s always been confident, and I really attribute his confidence to his work ethic,” Ladakh told The Daily after Saturday’s game. “He will not be overwhelmed. I can guarantee you there isn’t a single kick or situation that he and his teammates haven’t coached or prepared for. I mean, I can guarantee you that. He has such a drive to be the best he can be and nothing will stop him.”

In high school, Ladach watched Moody throw punch after punch, never worrying about missing it. But on Saturday, cheering on Moody as a fan rather than a coach, Ladakh’s stomach was in knots.

But he knew that Moody would not share such feelings. Nothing could impress Moody. Not even the swirling wind that had been rocking the goalposts and flapping the flags that surrounded the Great House all day.

“The wind was strong,” Moody said. “But it’s nothing we haven’t seen before.”

Much of football involves change. The defense shows different coverages throughout the game; wide receivers displaying changes in their routes; game plan that adjusts with halftime adjustments.

But kicking is an art form based on repetition. This repetition, this attention to detail, allowed Moody to thrive.

In the moments after his shot, Moody was mobbed by his teammates. At a celebration in the locker room, teammates chanted his name. It was a defining legacy that will forever loom large over Moody’s career and Michigan’s season.

With one swing of his leg, Moody ensured that this game would be remembered on the right side of history.

In the postgame press conference, Michigan State coach Jim Harbaugh raved about Moody’s brilliance. He recalled his three touchdowns in the fourth quarter. On the sidelines, he praised Moody’s emotional control.

He then made a statement:

“I’m a pretty decent Michigan football historian,” Harbaugh said. “I nominate him for legendary status.”

A well-deserved nomination.

Anna Fuder / Daily. Buy this photo.

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