USC scored 14 points in the fourth quarter to erase a 24-7 deficit but the comeback bid fell short after N’Keal Harry returned a punt 92 yards for the go-ahead score.
The Trojans had its 19-game home win streak snapped with a 38-35 loss to Arizona State Saturday afternoon at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
“Guys gave a great effort all the way a down to the end.” USC head coach Clay Helton said. “I was extremely proud of them. I told them there’d be better days ahead. I’m sad for the kids, to go out there and play that hard and not come away successful. I hurt for them.”
USC (4-4, 3-3) turned to redshirt freshman Jack Sears who made his first collegiate start after J.T. Daniels and Matt Fink suffered injuries against Utah last week.
“It’s been a while since I’ve been in a game setting,” Sears said “We did our best in fall camp and my entire time here. I gotta go out and play better in the first half. I felt comfortable in the second half and guys never stopped believing in me. It was fun to rally with them and keep competing and we fought to the very end.”
The San Clemente product completed 20-of-28 for 235 yards and two touchdowns. Sears hit Tyler Vaughns for a 52-yard touchdown with 35 seconds left in the game to make it a three-point game. USC failed to recover the onside kick and ran out of time.
Michael Pittman Jr. caught his fifth touchdown pass this season on a 6-yard pass from Sears to close the second
quarter and caught his team-best sixth touchdown pass on a 36-yard pass from Tyler Vaughns, off a lateral from Sears.
Not only did Vaughns throw a touchdown, he also caught a touchdown and returned a punt for a touchdown.
“We’ve been on the wrong side of a lot of these games,” ASU head coach Herm Edwards said. “It was fun to see them come in the locker room after beating a talented team. They had to beat a team that had won 19 in a row (at home). I told them at the end. They made it hard on me. I thought about maybe going back to television.”
USC will try to bounce from two straight losses when they head to Corvallis for a matchup against Oregon State on Saturday.