Two weeks after junior running back Kalen Ballage tied the NCAA single-game record with an eight-touchdown performance against Texas Tech, Arizona State feared for the worst.
After catching a third down check down pass against Cal from sophomore quarterback Manny Wilkins and being tackled short of the first down marker, Ballage didn't get up.
ASU's training staff rushed onto the field to treat Ballage, who needed assistance walking off with a knee injury.
Head draped in a towel and right leg flattened out along the sideline training table, Ballage looked devastated in the moments following his injury. But instead of thinking about the potential of missing time, Ballage was thinking about getting right back into the game.
"I mean, I wanted to go back in probably two to three plays after it happened, but I had to get cleared by the doctors, so the whole time I was inside I was basically begging for them to let me go back out on the field," Ballage said. "I told them I was fine and everything so just being able to be out there with my teammates is the most important part to me."
Often times, athletes are able to play through pain and feed off of a rush of adrenaline, but Ballage said he knew he was healthy enough to play after his injury and he said he isn't feeling the effects of the injury this week.
"I'm good, I'll be out there on Saturday," Ballage said.
When Ballage went down in the first half, the Sun Devils were trailing the Bears, and by the halftime break, ASU faced a two-touchdown deficit for the second consecutive week.
After overcoming a 16-point deficit to notch a road victory over the University of Texas-San Antonio, the Sun Devils were able to fend off the Bears with a second consecutive comeback win thanks to a comeback from Ballage.
After being cleared by the training staff, Ballage returned to action, and helped ASU convert a critical fourth quarter fourth down situation when he took a direct snap in the Sun Devils' "Sparky" formation and lunged forward for a first down. Later on in the drive, Wilkins hit sophomore tight end JayJay Wilson for a 30-yard touchdown to tie the game and the Sun Devils never looked back.
"It's just, we've pulled together as a team, we always talk about linking up and just having the ability, no matter how many points we're down or how bad we've played to come back and finish strong because that's the most important part to a football game is the finish," Ballage said.