It looked like the Trojans might come out on top before the game went into overtime. Redshirt sophomore kicker Chase McGrath nailed a clutch 52-yard field goal to tie the game, and the Trojans got the ball back with 46 seconds to go. The Trojans totaled 171 rush yards between Slovis and their three backs, far more than the 115 rush yards they had against Stanford. “You get up in the second half, they make a couple plays, we make a couple plays, we find ourselves in overtime,” said USC head coach Clay Helton. “I thought the defense did a really nice job on the first series in overtime, and we had the opportunity to close the door and the ball bounced the wrong way. That happens sometimes.” “[A road game] is the first big game a freshman quarterback is going to have,” said junior offensive tackle Austin Jackson. “[Slovis] responded well … He accepted [what his coaches said] and the coaches made the adjustments. He’ll pick it up next time, I’m sure he will.” After Slovis’ near-perfect performance in his first start against Stanford, many eyes trained on the young starter to see if he could repeat his excellent debut. This was not the case. Offensive coordinator Graham Harrell’s Air Raid offense looked a little different against a Cougar team that was clearly prepared for his strategy. The Cougars stacked the secondary and often double-teamed the Trojans’ wide receivers, so USC had to adjust and focus more on the run game than in prior weeks. BYU led by 3 points after the first overtime drive, and USC had a chance to tie the game or seal the deal on a manageable third-and-6. Then freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis threw into double coverage and the ball was deflected and intercepted. Cougars fans swarmed the field as refs confirmed the 30-27 upset. Although the Trojans were able to sack Wilson three times in the second half, he used his legs to get an important late-game touchdown for BYU. Redshirt junior running back Vavae Malepeai had the majority of the snaps with 96 rushing yards and a touchdown. Redshirt freshman running back Markese Stepp also had some nice looks, putting up 53 yards and showcasing his strength on some tough carries. “[Wilson’s] just very nice with his feet, very good in space,” said freshman defensive lineman Drake Jackson. “So when he does quick stuff like that it’s just up to him, he’s a playmaker.” Even though the loss disappointed many fans who had high hopes after the Trojans’ dominant second half against Stanford, Helton said that the team should not be counted out yet. “It’s one game,” Helton said. “We’ve got to correct it and move on. We plan on doing big things this season, and it’s early in the season. I like this football team, and I like these kids, and I like their mindset. They will do great things.” Senior wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. led the Trojan wide receivers Saturday with nine receptions for 95 yards and two touchdowns. (Tal Volk / Daily Trojan) Along with the pick that ended the game, Slovis threw two first half interceptions, giving the ball to the Cougars in the red zone on both occasions. As the Trojans were driving downfield, Slovis fired a pass in the direction of senior receiver Michael Pittman Jr., and a penalty flag fell as Pittman tripped on the sideline. As Trojan fans cheered, expecting a 15-yard penalty on the defense, the referee called offensive pass interference on Pittman, and the Trojans were backed up too far to score before overtime. On the defensive end, the Trojans had trouble with pass rushing and containing BYU sophomore quarterback Zach Wilson, especially given the absence of senior defensive lineman Christian Rector. The Trojans failed to sack Wilson in the first half, and he evaded the defense to catch a pass for 19 yards on a trick play. The Trojans return to the Coliseum Friday to take on No. 10 Utah, which comes off a dominant 31-0 victory against Idaho State.
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