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Trojans Fall 24-21 in Final 10 Seconds at Utah

Buck Allen's 100 yards rushing wasn't enough.

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

For the fourth time this season, a USC football game came down to the final seconds and as is usually the case, the odds swung back to even.

With 13 seconds and no timeouts remaining, Utah ran a tremendous play motioning Kaelin Clay across the formation where Travis Wilson connected with him for the game-winning score with eight seconds remaining, giving Utah a 24-21 victory over USC.

As is the case in any last-second victory, there are several instances that you could point at after the game.

Holding a four-point lead with just over two minutes remaining, USC head coach Steve Sarkisian opted against the special teams game and a potential seven-point lead when he went for out on fourth-and-2 from the 28-yard line instead of kicking a 45-yard field goal with senior kicker Andre Heidari, who had missed the last two games with a groin injury.

Instead, USC pitched the ball to wide receiver Nelson Agholor, who made a move to get to the outside, but lost track of where he was on the field and stepped out of bounds a yard shy of the first down. Agholor's mistake gave Utah the ball with 2:08 remaining.

After Devontae Booker picked up a first down on a third-and-1, Utah grabbed 15 more yards on a pass interference penalty on Kevon Seymour. A pair of second-down completions moved the ball to the 26-yard line. A seven-yard pass preceded a Travis Wilson run to the 1-yard line that was reviewed after Wilson dove for the end zone and was pushed out at the half-yard line with 13 seconds remaining, leading to the game-winning play.

But that wasn't the only play that will haunt Steve Sarkisian's nightmares tonight. Instead, it'll be that second-to-last touchdown and the second-to-first bubble screen that USC tried to run against Utah. After completing a 23-yard pass to JuJu Smith on the first play from scrimmage, the Trojans attempted a bubble screen to Darreus Rogers.

Rather than catching the ball and turning upfield, Rogers took the throw directly off the chest. The ball bounced away and when Rogers turned to Cody Kessler to tell him "My Bad," Utah defender Davion Orphey scooped it up and took off the other way.

The pass was actually a lateral and no one on the USC offense noticed except for Kessler, who ran down Orphey and shoved him out of bounds, but it was too late as Orphey stuck his arm out and reached across the goal line for the first score of the game.

USC responded to Utah's touchdown with a lengthy 10-play, 75-yard drive. On third-and-goal from the 10-yard line, Kessler found JuJu Smith over the middle. Smith made a shoestring catch around the 4-yard line, absorbed hit from a defender and dove into the end zone to tie the score, 7-7.

Utah drove right down the filed. The Utes looked like they were about to dive into the end zone with the go-ahead score, but the Trojans stripped Devontae Booker on back-to-back plays with the Trojans recovering the second one.

The Trojans subsequently moved down the field, but on the 14th play of the drive, quarterback Cody Kessler struggled to get the snap from center Max Tuerk on a fourth-and-1. The ball popped free and Kessler couldn't do anything but fall on the fumble.

Utah eventually took a 10-7 lead on an Andy Phillips 24-yard field goal with 5:06 remaining. But USC quickly regained the lead when Adoree' Jackson took the ensuing kickoff 100 yards to the house for his second career touchdown.

In the second half, following Cody Kessler's second interception of the season, Utah took a 17-14 lead on a 24-yard run from Devontae Booker, who finished with 102 yards and the touchdown on 26 carries. The Trojans responded with a 12-play, 73-yard touchdown that ended with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Rogers.

The score stayed 21-17 until the final eight seconds of the game.

With the loss, USC falls to 5-3 on the season and 4-2 in conference. The Trojans have now fallen behind Utah, Arizona State and UCLA in the Pac-12 South race.

USC running back Buck Allen finished with 101 yards on 27 carries, finishing with 100-yards rushing for the seventh time this season. Nelson Agholor finished with a career-high 10 catches for 110 yards.