LOS ANGELES (AP) — N’Keal Harry scored on a 92-yard punt return and Arizona State defeated Southern California 38-35 on Saturday.
Harry also caught a 44-yard touchdown pass from Manny Wilkins as the Sun Devils ended the Trojans’ 19-game home winning streak. Eno Benjamin rushed for 185 yards and two touchdowns, and Arizona State (4-4, 2-3 Pac-12) won at the Coliseum for the second time in their past 10 visits dating back to 2001.
“It’s quite an accomplishment for our football team,” Arizona State coach Herm Edwards said. “We’ve been on the wrong side of a lot of these games. It’s par for how we’ve played. We finally won a game, a close game, and it’s good for the guys.”
Redshirt freshman Jack Sears threw for 235 yards and two touchdowns in his first career start for USC (4-4, 3-3), which had not lost at home since Clay Helton took over as interim coach midway through 2015. Michael Pittman Jr. had two touchdown receptions, and Tyler Vaughns threw a touchdown pass, caught a touchdown and returned a punt for a touchdown.
Harry put Arizona State up 31-28 with 2:54 left in the third quarter, reversing field back to his own 2-yard line before cutting right and finding a lane down USC’s sideline.
“The punt return, everybody on the sideline was yelling, ‘Don’t catch it. Don’t catch it. Don’t catch it.’ He made an extraordinary play happen, and that’s what he does,” said Wilkins, who was 14 of 22 passing for 166 yards and one touchdown.
Helton passed on a 38-yard field goal that would have tied the game with 10:16 remaining, and Aca’Cedric Ware was stopped short on fourth-and-1 at the Arizona State 20.
Wilkins kept the ball on third-and-short for a 45-yard touchdown run to make it 38-28 following a USC punt.
Sears threw a 52-yard touchdown pass to Vaughns with 35 seconds remaining, but Harry recovered the onside kick attempt. Harry also had four receptions for 95 yards and two carries for 5 yards.
Arizona State scored 24 straight points after Vaughns took a punt return 82 yards for a touchdown 2:08 into the first quarter, but USC responded with three straight touchdowns to take a 28-24 lead on a double pass from Vaughns to Pittman early in the third quarter.
“I feel like Jack battled today,” said Pittman, who had six receptions for 90 yards. “He got off to a rough start, but he battled back. The second half, I felt we looked as good as we’ve looked all year moving the ball and that’s all you can really ask for.”
Arizona State: Harry is the most talented receiver in the Pac-12, and possibly all of college football. Despite being the focus of USC’s defensive game plan, the junior still made his mark by brushing aside cornerback Ajene Harris for his sixth touchdown catch of the season. And Harry’s punt return that won the game for Arizona State was simply jaw-dropping in its audaciousness.
USC: The heat is on for Helton. Fans made their displeasure with the erratic offense, inconsistent defense and penalty-prone special teams known by leaving plenty of seats at the Coliseum empty. It’s not unreasonable to think the Trojans could become the highest-profile vacancy on the coaching carousel after winning the Pac-12 last season.
Arizona: Host No. 23 Utah on Saturday.
USC: At Oregon State on Saturday.
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