Thursday, 23 November, 2017

USC shakes off sloppy start, edges Utah, 28-27

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Rita Gibson | 16 October, 2017, 15:19

Late in the second quarter, Williams matched Darnold by throwing a deep pass to Simpkins for a 33-yard touchdown to give the Utes a double-digit lead.

Utah drove 75 yards and watched Troy Williams, its senior quarterback, sneak into the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown and a deliver a potential blow to 13th-ranked USC's suddenly waning hopes of a College Football Playoff berth and conference championship. Prior to going up 21-7 in the second quarter, Utah's offense was moving. Because, in that second half, USC looked great across all phases. The Trojans previous high of 466 came past year. It was a gutsy call, but one that made sense. The only downside was that nearly all of his production came in the first half. The Sun Devils' three losses have all been one or two possession games. In the third quarter, Darnold found Petite again for his second touchdown of the night to cut Utah's lead to 21-14.

"The only thing we can do is keep winning games", Trojans linebacker Cameron Smith said. When things aren't going absolutely flawless, you find a way to complete the [pass] and complete another one and then all of a sudden, it's 21-14. Darnold eluded would-be Ute tacklers, bypassed the easy safety-valve pass, and connected with Petite in the tightest of windows.

You had all the components of an incredible football game.

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"We're beating ourselves right now", Helton said during a halftime interview shown on a Coliseum video board, after the team had emerged from the locker room. Less than five minutes later, USC gained its first lead of the night on an 11-yard run by the Trojan's leading back, Ronald Jones, to put USC up 28-21. Utah had six receivers with a catch of at least 15 yards and four receivers with at least one catch of over 30 yards. But with Darnold's late-game credentials and 42 seconds remaining, a Ute conversion wouldn't have necessarily won it for the visitors.

The second turnover was more costly.

Utah's defense got off to a good start when cornerback Marquis Blair recovered a fumble by USC quarterback Sam Darnold and returned it 18 yards for a touchdown. Utah led 21-7 early and weathered 21-straight points from USC.

Williams made a second consecutive start for the Utes in place of Tyler Huntley, who has been out with a shoulder injury.

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