Los Angeles, CA- USC was on the road to another comeback. Another magical fourth quarter. Kedon Slovis drove his team down to Oregon’s 38-yard line with 2:47 left in the game.
It was second-and-eight when Slovis scrambled right and tried to throw a pass out of bounds but the ball sailed towards Jamal Hill, who tipped the pass to himself and was able to keep one foot in bounds to make the interception.
The Trojans run of comebacks fell short as Oregon was able to hold for a 31-24 win and become back-to-back Pac-12 champions on Friday at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
“We were fighting for one more possession and we actually got it with 4:30 left,” USC head coach Clay Helton said. “It was right where we’ve known to be. We were in position even with the mistakes we made, especially the turnovers. We can’t do that with a good football team. It’s only for the kids’ heart and toughness and willingness to fight back that we put ourselves in position to go tie the game at the end.”
USC was not able to overcome three turnovers by Slovis and 98 yards in penalties. Slovis finished with 320 yards and two touchdowns but had three costly interceptions. Oregon’s defense put pressure on Slovis throughout the game. Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux was named the games MVP, finishing with five tackles and two sacks.
“We know Kayvon (Thibodeaux) and what he can do,” Helton said. “I thought he had tremendous jump off the ball tonight. They did some nice things, got three sacks tonight. They flushed Kedon (Slovis) out of the pocket and got him off his spot a bunch. I thought Kedon did a nice job keeping his eyes up and downfield and creating a lot after being flushed.”
Oregon got into the game after Washington dropped out due to Covid-19 cases on the team. The Ducks were coming off two consecutive losses to Cal and Oregon State.
On the opening drive, Slovis was intercepted by Deommodore Lenoir, who returned it 24 yards to the USC 9-yard line. Oregon quarterback Anthony Brown came in and completed a 2-yard touchdown pass to Jaylen Redd for an early 7-0 lead.
Slovis was off the mark early, throwing a second interception to Hill. Oregon capitalized on the turnover with a 14-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Shough to tight end Hunter Kampmoyer.
The Trojans defense forced a punt and Slovis got USC on the board with a 47-yard touchdown pass to Amon-Ra St. Brown, who was wide open down the left sideline. Oregon came right back when Shough hit DJ Johnson for a 16-yard touchdown and a 21-7 lead.
USC answered with a 12-play, 80-yard drive which was capped with a 1-yard touchdown run by Markese Stepp. On the ensuing drive, Shough was intercepted by USC linebacker Kana’i Mauga but Parker Lewis missed a 41-yard field goal with two seconds left in the second quarter. Oregon took a 21-14 lead into halftime.
Oregon led 31-17 in the fourth quarter when Slovis hit Bru McCoy on fourth-and-goal for a 4-yard touchdown. USC was able to force a punt and get the ball back with 4:43 left in the game before Slovis threw the final interception.
“I haven’t thought one second past this game,” Helton said. “We’ve been in a mindset all season of trying to be 1-0 all week and don’t look back, don’t look forward. Right now I’ve got a bunch of kids that just gave their absolute heart and soul and are hurt and I’m going to focus on that and I’m not going to worry about what’s in the future right now.”