Matt Boermeester had already missed two field goals when his number was called with the game on the line. Boermeester nailed a 46-yard field goal as time expired to give USC a dramatic 52-49 victory over Penn State in the 103rd Rose Bowl on Monday.
“I wasn’t concerned about the distance,” Boermeester said. “I knew I was going to get an opportunity to kick that field goal, so wherever it was at, I was kicking it.”
USC redshirt freshman quarterback Sam Darnold had a game for the ages as he completed 33-of-53 passes for 453 yards while adding five touchdowns and an interception. Darnold has helped himself get into Heisman discussions with an incredible season.
Saquon Barkley gave Penn State a 49-35 lead with 1:55 left in the third quarter on a 7-yard reception. The fourth quarter was all USC as Ronald Jones scored on a 3-yard touchdown run to cut the deficit, 49-42.
USC tied the score at 49 on Darnold’s 27-yard touchdown pass to Deontay Burnett with 1:20 left in the fourth quarter.
“What Tay’s actually supposed to do is keep a straight line, not necessarily run a post like that,” Darnold said on the touchdown pass to Burnett. “But that’s just the player that he is, he made a play, and I saw him.”
Burnett finished with 13 receptions for 164 yards and three touchdowns while Juju Smith-Schuster added seven receptions for 133 yards and a touchdown.
Penn State got off to a rough start as Trace McSorley’s first two passes of the game were intercepted. The Nittany Lions answered to being down 13-0 in the first quarter by scoring on seven straight possessions.
“You can’t turn the ball over against good opponents and have a chance to win,” Penn State coach James Franklin said. “You lose the turnover ratio, you’re going to have a hard time being successful.”
USC finishes the season 10-3 after a 1-3 start and early contenders for the National Championship in 2017.
“We’re so worthy of a Rose Bowl,” Helton said. “I think about this group of coaches and kids and what they’ve been able to accomplish over a season, and to put a stamp on it right here in The Granddaddy of Them All, it’s been an absolutely great week.”