USC holds off Arizona State en route to wild win
LOS ANGELES -- Torin Harris returned a blocked extra point to score two points for USC with 6:59 to play, and Joe Houston made a 29-yard field goal with 3:06 left in Southern California's wild 34-33 victory over Arizona State on Saturday night.
Matt Barkley passed for 215 yards and three touchdowns for the Trojans (6-3, 3-3 Pac-10), who yielded 19 consecutive points in the second half before rallying for the go-ahead score by Houston, who missed two earlier field goal attempts.
Thomas Weber then missed a 41-yard field goal try with 1:34 left for the Sun Devils (4-5, 2-4), who haven't beaten USC since 1999.
Arizona State trailed 29-14 late in the third quarter before LeQuan Lewis' 100-yard kickoff return, Omar Bolden's 66-yard interception return and Jamal Miles' go-ahead TD catch with 6:59 to play. But Tyron Smith blocked the extra point attempt, and Harris returned it all the way for two points that turned out to be crucial.
Marc Tyler and David Ausberry caught early scoring passes from Barkley, and Tyler rushed for 119 yards. Barkley led the Trojans' final drive setting up Houston's kick -- and after losing two games earlier this season on last-second field goals, USC finally came out on top.
"I started off the game about as bad as you could ever dream," Houston said. "I was living a nightmare. Redemption is a sweet thing."
Steven Threet passed for 228 yards and hit Gerell Robinson with two of his three TD passes for the Sun Devils, whose hopes for bowl eligibility appear slim. Arizona State must beat either Stanford or Arizona in the next four weeks just to have a chance at a .500 record.
Malcolm Smith returned an interception 73 yards for a touchdown for the Trojans, who responded well after blowing a third-quarter lead and their national ranking in a 53-32 loss to top-ranked Oregon last week.
Arizona State opened with an offensive game plan that could have been torn right out of Oregon's playbook. After Miles threw a 54-yard trick pass to T.J. Simpson on the first snap, Threet hit Robinson for a 10-yard TD three plays later to put Arizona State ahead just 97 seconds in.
USC didn't answer until Tyler scored on a 15-yard swing pass 4:46 before halftime.
Arizona State played without conference-leading punter Trevor Hankins, who didn't make the trip after coach Dennis Erickson suspended him for one game for a violation of team rules. USC capitalized late in the first half when T.J. McDonald blocked Weber's punt -- but Barkley threw an end-zone interception on the next play.
Smith short-circuited the Sun Devils' first drive of the second half with his TD return down the USC sideline, and the Trojans tacked on a 2-point conversion. USC fullback Stanley Havili turned a short catch into a 22-yard score moments later and a 15-point lead.
That's when Lewis, a senior from nearby Norwalk, reversed field and ran through a host of missed tackles for a 100-yard kickoff return for a TD. Bolden, who's from nearby Ontario, then snagged a tipped pass intended for Ausberry and sprinted the length of the USC sideline.
After Harris' 2-point return, Tyler broke two long runs to get USC into range for Houston's kick. The Sun Devils then reached the USC 24, but Weber's kick was wide right.
2022 Pac-12 Conference Standings