by Nick Hamilton (@NickHamiltonLA)
PASADENA, CA — The USC Trojans finally put their game plan together and truly fought on to victory in the second half, thanks to a vailant effort from Gary Bryant Jr., Tyler Vaughns, and Amon-Ra St. Brown for the 43-38 win over the UCLA Bruins.
In the final drive of the fourth quarter for the Trojans, who moved the chains down the field to score the game winning touchdown with just 16 seconds remaining in the game.
UCLA regained their 38-36 lead with less than a minute remaining in regulation. After Nick Barr-Mira connected on a 43-yard field goal, USC received the ball on the kickoff. Bryant Jr., returned the ball 63 yards to the UCLA 43, that gave the quarterback Kedon Slovis and the offense a short field to work with.
“I knew if we just had one more opportunity that they would make something happen. That’s just who this team is,” USC Trojans head coach Clay Helton said. “I’ve always felt great quarterbacks shine when the game is on the line, and I’ve watched No. 9 in three situations just do what championship quarterbacks do. And he’s done it against this league now his whole career.”
Slovis connected with Vaughns for a 35-yard pass that put the Trojans in field goal range. USC refused to settle for the easy route and continued to move the ball down field eventually finding St. Brown for an 8-yard touchdown catch.
The Bruins had one last opportunity with a hail mary with one second remaining, but the pass was incomplete and the Trojans stormed the field in a victory celebration.
“This isn’t a normal game and this isn’t a normal loss so this one hurts, but the good thing is we get to go back on Monday and we’ve got one more game, so we can put this one to rest after watching film and move onto next week,” Bruins quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson said.
This game became a heavyweight fight where at times both teams traded blows, even though UCLA lead for about three quarters, until USC made it’s comeback.
“We had a run called but I checked it over to Amon-Ra, and that worked out for us. Probably gave coach Helton a bit of a tough time, but it worked out for us,” Slovis said post game about the final drive.
USC quarterback Kedon Slovis struggled early but eventually found his rhythm, and completed 30-of-47 passes with five touchdowns for 344 yards in the win. Slovis is the first USC quarterback since Sam Darnold to have five passing touchdowns in two straight games.
“I think that Kedon Slovis is one of the top quarterbacks in the nation,” UCLA Bruins head coach Chip Kelly said. “I don’t think anybody thought that we’d come in here and shut them out. But it was kind of a heavyweight fight and you are just trading blows.”
Amon Ra-St. Brown finished with 10 receptions for 73 yards and two touchdowns. Tyler Vaughns finshed with 8 receptions for 128 yards and a touchdown along with Drake London who caught 5 receptions for 97 yards. Running back Vavae Malepeai ran for 110 yards and touchdown on 19 carries.
UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson completed 30-of-36 passes for 364 yards and four touchdowns on the night. Thompson-Robinson completed his first eight passes in the game.
“Proud of my team as always, “Thompson-Robinson tweeted. “Win, lose, or draw can’t thank God enough for another opportunity.“
The USC Trojans will host the Pac-12 Championship on Friday Dec 18 at the Los Angeles Coliseum at United Airlines Field at 5PM on FOX.
The Trojans will take on either the Washington Huskies (if they can have enough healthy players to dress due to COVID-19), or they will face the Oregon Ducks if Washington is unable to play.