USC erases a 13-point lead for a comeback win over Arizona State

The USC Trojans defeat the Cal Bears 41-17 at California Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, Calif., on Saturday, November 16, 2019 (Aaron Nelson / fi360 News).

Los Angeles, CA – USC trailed Arizona State by 13 points with 2:52 left in the fourth quarter when wide receiver Bru McCoy caught a tipped pass in the end zone for a 26-yard touchdown. The pass was intended for Amon-Ra St. Brown before it was tipped in the air and landed in McCoy’s hands. 

On the ensuing kickoff, the Trojans go for an onside kick and recover the ball at their own 45 to set up the frantic comeback. USC was down to fourth-and-nine when quarterback Kedon Slovis hit Drake London between three defenders for a 21-yard game-winning touchdown with 1:20 left in the game. 

“We had never repped one before and they told me on the sideline that I was going to be the one coming down,” McCoy said on the onside kick. “I honestly thought I messed up and could’ve attacked the ball. I was waiting for that big one hop so I could come down on it and it stayed low, fell inside and we were able to come up with it.” 

No. 20 USC scored twice in the final three minutes to come back and defeat Arizona State, 28-27, in the season opener Saturday morning at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. 

“I commend our team,” USC coach Clay Helton said. “A year ago we may not have won this game. But a year older, a year more experience, I did not see panic, just poise and kids saying they want to get to the next opportunity. We made some big plays down the stretch. We know that Arizona State is one of the tougher teams on our schedule.”

Slovis completed 40-of-55 passes for 381 yards and two touchdowns. Two-sport star London finished with eight receptions for 125 yards and a touchdown. 

“That play is one we work on all the time. We ran it a lot down the stretch there, too. To be honest they dropped a lot guys most of the time we ran it and didn’t give us a chance to get off those down-the-field shots. But when they gave us the look they did, it’s something we rep a lot in practice.” 

Arizona State got on the board first with a 38-yard field goal by Cristian Zendejas. USC responded with a 2-yard touchdown run by Stephen Carr to take a 7-3 lead in the first quarter. 

In the second quarter, ASU running back Chip Trayanum took a 3rd and 1 handoff and raced 25 yards for the score. The Trojans came right back on a 1-yard touchdown run by Markese Stepp and took a 14-10 lead. 

The Sun Devils didn’t waste any time as running back Rachaad White took a swing pass 55 yards for the score. ASU went into halftime with a 17-14 lead. 

“This team can be really good, and yes there was a lot of rust,” Helton said.  “We shook it off. The thing that makes this team special is their mindset and how they deal with adversity and the playmakers.”

After a slow start to open the second half, ASU took a 10-point lead on Trayanum’s 17-yard touchdown run, his second score of the game. Zendejas added a 41-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to give the Sun Devils a 27-14 lead. 

USC finished with 556 yards of total offense and managed to overcome four turnovers. The defense gave up 392 total yards, including 258 yards on the ground, but came up with key stops down the stretch to secure the win. 

“We had an opportunity to finish the game in the fourth quarter,” ASU coach Herm Edwards said.  “We didn’t finish the game, you have to give them credit. They made the plays they needed to make. We did not, whether it was on offense, defense or special teams so I got to give those guys credit.”

Up next for the Trojans is a road matchup against Arizona Saturday Nov. 14