LOS ANGELES (AP) — Sam Darnold led Southern California on three long scoring drives in the second half, and the 13th-ranked Trojans stopped a two-point conversion attempt by Utah with 42 seconds to play to edge the Utes 28-27 on Saturday night.
USC (6-1, 4-1 Pac-12) trailed 21-7 at the half before scoring touchdowns on drives of 98, 88 and 98 yards in the second half.
Utah answered with a final drive, going 75 yards before quarterback Troy Williams scored from the 2-yard line. Utah (4-2, 1-2) went for the win, but Williams could not find an open receiver, scrambled and was stopped a yard shy of the end zone.
Darnold overcame a tough first half to complete 27-of-50 passes for 358 yards and three touchdowns. The Trojans finished with 532 total yards.
Running back Ronald Jones scored USC’s final touchdown, going 11 yards up the middle before getting hit and flipping into the end zone. Walk-on kicker Chase McGrath’s fourth point-after proved the difference.
Zack Moss rushed 20 times for 141 yards, and Williams completed 16-of-27 passes for 262 yards for Utah.
Jones carried 17 times for 113 yards for USC, which won its 14th consecutive home game.
USC tied the score early in the fourth quarter when Darnold completed an 88-yard drive with 4-yard pass to tight end Josh Falo.
The Trojans completed a 98-yard march in the third quarter when Darnold scrambled and fired into the end zone to find Tyler Petite for the tight end’s second touchdown.
The Utes capitalized on three fumbles — all charged to Darnold — to build a 21-7 lead at the half.
The Trojans amassed 262 yards of offense at the half but could manage only score. There were scattered boos in the Coliseum as they exited the field at halftime.
Utah opened the scoring immediately after USC linebacker Cameron Smith jumped near the line to intercept Williams. Smith has four career interceptions, and in a statistical oddity, all four have come against Utah.
But USC immediately gave the ball back when linebacker Kavika Luafatasaga hit Darnold, forcing a fumble that safety Marquise Blair scooped up and tip-toed down the sideline before sprinting into the end zone for an 18-yard return.
USC answered quickly, Darnold finding Petite completely open over the middle for a 52-yard scoring strike.
The rest of the opening half belonged to Utah. The Utes took the lead with a trick play, receiver Demari Simpkins taking an end around handoff and stopping to throw the other way back to Williams for 5-yard TD.
Williams returned the favor later in the second quarter, completing a 33-yard touchdown to Simpkins for the 21-7 lead.
Utah: The Utes still can’t find a way to win in the Coliseum. Saturday marked their eighth consecutive defeat to USC in Los Angeles.
USC: The Trojans seem to like to do things the hard way. This was the fifth time in seven games they entered the fourth quarter either trailing or tied.
Utah: Returns home next Saturday to meet Arizona State. After losing 11 consecutive games to the Sun Devils, the Utes have won the last two.
USC: Travels to No. 16 Notre Dame next Saturday for its traditional intersectional game. USC has won 11 of the last 15.
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