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Cardinal Falls to USC in Pac-12 Finale

Posted December 2, 2017 by in

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) – With the Pac-12 championship hanging in the balance, Southern California delivered a goal-line stand followed by a 99-yard drive that gave the Trojans their first conference title in nine years.

Sam Darnold’s 54-yard pass to Michael Pittman Jr. keyed the long drive after Uchenna Nwosu preserved the lead with the defensive stop that led No. 11 USC to a 31-28 victory over No. 14 Stanford on Friday night.

Love ran for 125 yards and had his FBS-record 12th run of at least 50 yards that set up K.J. Costello’s 11-yard touchdown pass to Kaden Smith that cut USC’s lead to 24-21 late in the third quarter. Costello added a 28-yard touchdown pass to Smith with 2:09 remaining. Costello finished 10 for 22 for 192 yards.

The Trojans (11-2) led 24-21 when the Cardinal (9-4) drove down the field in position to tie the game or take the lead.

But facing a third down from the 2, Stanford kept star back Bryce Love on the sideline with his injured ankle to rely on short-yardage back Cameron Scarlett instead. Scarlett ran on successive plays, gaining one yard on third down and then being stopped just short of the end zone on fourth.

“The bottom line is we had opportunities and we didn’t make enough plays,” coach David Shaw said. “We made enough plays to keep it close but not enough plays to win. The sequence of fourth-and-1 to take the lead in the Pac-12 championship game, there’s no hesitation at all. That’s what we’re going to do.”

Shaw figured at worst, Stanford would come out of that situation with a defensive stop and good field position on the ensuing drive but those hopes ended when Darnold delivered the offensive play of the game.

After Ronald Jones gained one yard on first down, Darnold dropped back to pass and quickly was under pressure. He stepped up and appeared ready to run before launching a pass to Pittman to get USC out of trouble.

Jones finished that drive with an 8-yard run that made it 31-21 to cap a productive night where he ran for 140 yards and two touchdowns to give USC its first Pac-12 title since 2008.

Darnold was 17 for 24 for 325 yards with touchdown passes to Pittman and Tyler Vaughns to lead the way for USC.

— #GoStanford —


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Alforde Joaquin

ALF’s passion for shooting and editing has earned him several awards including an Edward R. Murrow Award in 2006 for Videography. He was also a nominee for the National Edward R. Murrow Award for Videography. A 6-time Emmy recipient for five different categories: Director/Producer, Videography, Editing, Feature Segment and Sound Mixing, Alf has produced over 1,000 video segments and is committed to developing GetSportsFocus as one of the best sports video magazine on the web.