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USC Vs. Stanford - Fumble In Triple OT Thriller Gives Cardinal The Win

Kate Rooney |
October 29, 2011 | 10:23 p.m. PDT

Senior Sports Editor


Andrew Luck went 29-40 for 330 yards and three TDs. (Sara Ramsey/Neon Tommy)
Andrew Luck went 29-40 for 330 yards and three TDs. (Sara Ramsey/Neon Tommy)
The fumble heard ‘round the Coliseum ended the nailbiter that was Saturday’s Stanford-USC showdown. The Trojans put up the strongest fight the Cardinal has seen all season, but unfortunately for ‘SC, Luck was with them. Andrew Luck’s squad stopped the men of Troy in triple overtime to win 56-48 and stay undefeated.

Stanford struck first to start the night, with an opening drive TD pass from Luck to Gaffney. Luck was impressive on the first drive, going 5-5 and 74 throwing yards.

After a promising start to their first drive that got them down to the Stanford 37, the Trojans failed to execute on three straight passes, including Robert Woods’ second dropped ball of the season.

The Trojans stopped Stanford on its second drive, but mustered just a field goal themselves after the referees didn’t spot what looked like sure end zone pass interference.

Matt Barkley’s interception threw a wrinkle in the Trojan’s plans to catch Stanford before the half, after the Cardinal turned it into a field goal. USC had several good chances but dropped balls by Robert Woods and Marqise Lee held them to just six points in the first half. 

But Curtis McNeal quickly lit the Trojan fire to start the second half, with a 61-yard touchdown run on a one minute, six second drive. The defense did their part of the next drive with a big stop by Nickell Robey to bring up third down, followed by a Wes Horton sack on Andrew Luck for a loss of nine. It was just the third sack allowed by Stanford this season.

Three plays later, McNeal ran it in again, to the exact same spot in the corner end zone.  The Cardinal answered back immediately, with Luck doing what he does best, calmly leading his team downfield and throwing a strike to FB Ryan Hewitt. 

Next Stanford drive…it was Luck once again. This time he scored the TD himself, with a two-yard run.

USC got another spark to start the fourth quarter, with a 73-yard drive culminating in a Barkley bomb to Lee for a touchdown to make it 27-24 USC.

That wasn’t enough drama for the Cardinal. They kicked a field goal on the next drive, sending the score to a tie. The Trojans failed to execute on the next drive, putting the ball back into Luck’s hands with more than five minutes left.

Luck threw a pass to an unexpected receiver—Nickell Robey. Robey ran it back for a TD to give the Trojans a seven-point edge. The Cardinal forced the game into overtime on their next chance, with Stepfan Taylor’s 1-yard TD run. 

The game’s three overtimes were a shootout, until the third, when rules mandate two-point conversion attempts on all touchdowns. As the Trojans sought to match Stanford’s third overtime score, McNeal lost the ball in the endzone, and just like that, the Cardinal held their streak of good Luck.

HITS AND MISSES:  “I’m really disappointed with the officials—very disappointed,” head coach Lane Kiffin said. Controversial calls on the evening included a missed pass interference call that would likely have yielded a Trojan first down, and Woods’ stepping out of bounds at the end of regulation. On the latter play, a reversal of the out-of-bounds call would have left one-second on the clock, in which USC could have called a time out and kicked a field goal.

UNHAPPY TRAILS TO YOU: McNeal’s first second half touchdown to put the Trojans up by three marked the first time the Cardinal had trailed in a game this season.

A STAR IS BORN?: With 145 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries, McNeal logged his second 100-yard game and made a definitive name for himself among the Trojan faithful, leaving many wondering why Kiffin didn’t go to him more in the first half. 

TOUGH BREAK: Jonathan Martin, Terrence Brown, Cameron Fleming and Chris Owusu all left with injuries for Stanford. USC’s Marc Tyler left the game with a shoulder injury for the second time this season, and Wes Horton, Marqise Lee, and Rhett Ellison were all banged up as well.

SACK ATTACK: USC doubled the number of sacks Stanford has allowed this season, taking Luck down to green twice. Devon Kennard claimed one and Wes Horton the other.


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