The #5 USC Trojans (4-1, 2-1) fell to the #16 Washington State Cougars (5-0, 2-0), 30-27, in an instant classic on Friday night. The battle-tested Trojans showed heart in a hostile road environment while battling multiple key injuries. QB Luke Falk led his Cougars downfield late fourth quarter, leading to the go-ahead 32 yard field goal, 30-27, with only 1:40 left in the game. Sam Darnold, who struggled all night, fumbled while being sacked on the Trojans last chance with a minute and a half to go. He finished 15-29 for 164 yards, two touchdowns and two turnovers.
Here’s the game recap:
After a Cougar 44 yard field goal to start the game, the Trojans responded with a strong 10 play 75 yard drive capped off by a four yard touchdown run by Sam Darnold, taking a 7-3 lead with 7:46 left to play the first quarter. Following defensive stops from both units, WSU exploded for a scoring drive. Falk began the drive with a 61 yard pass to Renard Bell, then just two plays later found star WR Tavares Martin Jr on a screen pass for a 28 yard touchdown, giving WSU a 10-7 advantage early second quarter. Falk finished 34 of 51 for 340 yards and two touchdowns while Martin had six catches for 55 yards including a touchdown.
Ronald Jones II continued the scoring, breaking off an 86 yard touchdown run giving USC the lead once again 14-10 with 11:25 to play in the second quarter. Jones went for 128 yard on only 14 carries with a touchdown. After an incredible interception by Uchenna Nwosu on the WSU three yard line, the Cougar defense stood tall, limiting the Trojans to only a field goal, extending their lead to 17-10.
Following defensive stops from both units, Wazzu responded with a dominant 12 play 94 yard drive to close the first half. Jamal Morrow’s one yard touchdown run concluded the drive, tieing the game at 17-17 with only 13 seconds before half.
Washington State regained the lead midway thru the third quarter off a 33 yard field goal, making it 20-17. As a result of a bizarre roll on a Cougar punt, Trojans started inside WSUs own 30 yard line late third quarter. However, they were once again held to a field goal, this time from 29 yards, tying the game at 20-20 heading into the fourth quarter.
Luke Falk then found RB Jamal Morrow on a shovel pass for a 23 yard touchdown with 10:14 in the fourth, building a 27-20 lead. With USC’s back against the wall, Darnold led USC down the field, converting on a wild 4th and 13, finishing it off with a two yard touchdown run to tie it at 27-27 with 5:01 to play in the fourth quarter.
Check back to Conquest Chronicles throughout this week for more in-depth analysis on the USC vs WSU game as well as previewing the Trojans upcoming matchup against the Oregon State Beavers next Saturday.