Bumped - P
Stanford was a 25-point underdog against a ranked USC team in the Coliseum. The Trojans were flagged for 100 yards in penalties. They lost six turnovers, including a fumbled kickoff return. The game wasn’t decided until the last play of the game.
Sound familiar? But this isn’t a script from the 2000s. It took place on November 10, 1973.
#8 USC was 6-1-1 and Stanford was 5-3, but both were still very much in the Rose Bowl race. The Trojans, coming off a 50-14 win over Cal, did everything possible to keep the Cardinal in the game. A nine-yard Anthony Davis touchdown run was nullified by a clipping penalty. A Pat Haden to JK McKay pass was bobbled by the coach’s son and intercepted, leading to Stanford’s first go-ahead touchdown. Trojan returner Allen Carter fumbled the second half kickoff, giving Stanford a first down on the USC 18; the Cardinal had a TD four plays later. The Trojans trailed 13-10 at halftime and 23-10 going into the fourth quarter.
Don’t forget that this was a USC squad whose offense featured not just Haden, McKay, and Davis but also Lynn Swann, along with two All-American offensive linemen (Booker Brown and Steve Riley). But these stars hardly had a chance to shine because they never had the ball.
Things looked pretty bleak after Stanford kicker Rod Garcia hit his fourth field goal of the day, putting the Cardinal up 26-17 with 3:10 left to play. But Haden led the Trojans down the field in about a minute, scoring on a ten-yard run to make the score 26-24. Stanford got the ball back and played conservatively. The USC defense, who had its own All-Americans (safety Artimus Parker and linebacker Charles Phillips) forced Stanford to punt. Haden took over on his own 30 with 33 seconds left—and no timeouts.
On first down, Haden found one last All-American, tight end Jim Obradovich, for a 24-yard catch. Obradovich couldn’t get out of bounds, so Haden quickly threw four yards to Davis, who was able to stop the clock. USC was now at the Stanford 42 with 15 seconds left. Again, Haden found Obradovich on a 25-yard reception, and this time the big tight end fought his way to the sideline, stopping the clock with three seconds remaining. Onto the field came USC kicker Chris Limahelu, who nailed the 34-yard game-winner as time expired. He was promptly buried under a sea of cardinal and gold teammates.
The Trojans would go on to beat Washington and UCLA, and then lose to Ohio State in the Rose Bowl, for a record of 9-2-1 and a #7 ranking. Stanford recovered enough to beat Oregon and Cal, finishing 7-4. Apparently, their band was a riot even back then; for the USC game, one of their saxophonists appeared in a gorilla suit.
USC won national championships in 1972 and 1974, but sandwiched between those is a season that deserves to be remembered. And so do two unlikely heroes who emerged on November 10 in what the Los Angeles Times
called “one of the most memorable drives in USC history”; not Haden or McKay or Davis or Swann, but Obradovich and Limahelu.
This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Conquest Chronicles' writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Conquest Chronicles' writers or editors.