(Saturday, November 7th)
Final Score: (12) Southern California 14, Arizona State 9
Tempe, AZ (Sports Network) - The 12th-ranked USC Trojans needed just two big plays -- Will Harris' 55-yard interception return for a touchdown and Damian Williams' 75-yard score on a screen -- to hold off Arizona State, 14-9.
The Trojans (7-2, 4-2 Pac-10) suffered an embarrassing 27-point setback to Oregon last week and nearly dropped two straight conference games. Harris ended ASU's comeback bid by intercepting Brock Osweiler's Hail Mary pass at the end of regulation.
"Close doesn't count anymore. We had a chance to win the football game," said ASU head coach Dennis Erickson.
Joe McKnight ran for 78 yards on 15 carries, while Matt Barkley was an ineffective 6-for-21 for 37 yards after subtracting the touchdown pass to Williams, who left the game early with an ankle injury.
Osweiler replaced an ineffective Danny Sullivan after halftime and finished with 153 yards and a touchdown on 11-of-27 throws for ASU (4-5, 2-4), which has dropped three straight.
Chris McGaha caught nine passes for 118 yards and a score in the team's 10th straight loss to its conference rival.
The score was 14-9 in favor of USC heading to the fourth, and Clint Floyd's highlight-reel interception with 10 minutes left in the game set up ASU in enemy territory. But a holding penalty on first down moved the ball back to the USC 46-yard line, and three straight incompletions forced a punt.
After stagnant drives from both clubs, the Sun Devils took over at their own 22 with 1:56 remaining and no timeouts left.
Another holding penalty hurt the slow-moving drive, though Jamal Miles moved the chains with a seven-yard grab on 4th-and-6 from the 39.
McGaha was tackled two plays later just short of the first down, and ASU had to stop the clock with seven seconds left. The only option was a bomb from the USC 45, and there were no ASU receivers in the vicinity of Osweiler's heave.
ASU had the best chance to score in the opening quarter, but Cameron Marshall fumbled in the red zone on the game's opening drive.
USC couldn't turn a turnover into points early in the second, as Jordan Congdon was short on a 47-yard field goal attempt.
Thomas Weber opened the scoring for ASU when his 21-yard boot capped a 12- play, 58-yard drive with under five minutes to go in the second quarter.
USC turned the ball over on downs in ASU territory, but Harris intercepted a poor pass from Sullivan and took it 55 yards the other way to put USC on top.
"Coach [Pete] Carroll called man-to-man. It was empty, so I knew it was going to be quick. I hopped it and that's exactly what happened," recalled Harris.
On the second play of the third quarter, Williams caught a screen pass in the right flat, reversed field and sprinted down the left sideline with a convoy of blockers for a 75-yard touchdown.
Later in the frame, Osweiler and McGaha hooked up for a 23-yard score. The extra point was blocked, however, keeping it 14-9 heading to the fourth.
The USC defense had just three interceptions on the year coming into the game...Carroll has never lost a game in November (28-0)...Sullivan finished 12-of-23 for 113 yards with two interceptions in the first half...Marshall led ASU's rushing attack with 42 yards on 16 carries...Allen Bradford gained 67 yards on 14 carries for USC, which converted 2-of-13 third down tries.
11/08 01:43:34 ET