LOS ANGELES – Andre Heidari kicked a 47-yard field goal with 19 seconds to play, and Southern California’s stalwart defense repeatedly came up big in a 20-17 victory over No. 5 Stanford on Saturday night.
Cody Kessler passed for 288 yards for the revitalized Trojans (8-3, 5-2 Pac-12), who earned their fifth win in six games under interim coach Ed Orgeron.
USC’s remarkable defensive performance included two fourth-quarter interceptions against the powerful Cardinal (8-2, 6-2), who followed up last week’s win over Oregon by getting knocked out of the national title chase and maybe the Rose Bowl race as well.
After the inconsistent Heidari’s field goal and Stanford’s final play, USC fans stormed the Coliseum field, where Stanford had won in its last three trips.
Heidari nearly lost his job twice this season, and he missed an extra point in the first quarter. But the junior coolly nailed the tiebreaking field goal – and then got an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for running the length of the field to celebrate it.
Soma Vainuku caught an early TD pass and Javorius Allen rushed for a score for USC, which didn’t score in the second half until Heidari’s kick. Nelson Agholor had eight catches for 104 yards, while Marqise Lee had six catches for 83 yards.
Tyler Gaffney rushed for 158 yards and two touchdowns for Stanford. Kevin Hogan went 14 of 25 for 127 yards, but the Cardinal couldn’t regain the lead after trailing at half, despite repeatedly getting close.
After trailing 17-10 at halftime, Stanford calmly tied it with Gaffney’s 18-yard TD run on the first drive of the third quarter. USC’s offense struggled throughout the second half, but the Trojans’ thin defense kept it close despite using just two substitutes for most of the night.
Dion Bailey intercepted Hogan’s third-down pass at the USC 6 with about 101/2 minutes to play, killing what seemed certain to be Stanford’s go-ahead drive. Su’a Cravens then intercepted a tipped pass at the USC 44 with 3 minutes to play, giving another chance to the Trojans’ offense. A chance Heidari would make.