Ronald Jones II ran 37 yards for the tiebreaking touchdown with 6:57 to play, and No. 4 Southern California rallied from a second-half deficit for a 49-31 victory over Western Michigan on Saturday in Los Angeles.
Jones rushed for 159 yards and three scores, while freshman Stephen Carr added 69 yards rushing and two TDs in an auspicious debut for the Trojans, who scored 28 points in the fourth quarter.
Marvell Tell returned an interception 37 yards for a TD with 3:13 to play as USC won its 10th consecutive game despite major trouble from the defending MAC champion Broncos on a brutal 99-degree day at the Coliseum.
Jon Wassink passed for 67 yards, caught a touchdown pass and rushed for another score in coach Tim Lester’s debut for his alma mater. Even after losing coach P.J. Fleck, quarterback Zach Terrell and star receiver Corey Davis, the Broncos’ 15 returning starters came back strong after winning 13 games and reaching the Cotton Bowl during the best season in school history.
Sam Darnold passed for 289 yards and rushed for a score for the Trojans, but failed to throw a touchdown pass for the first time during USC’s winning streak, which included his record-setting performance in last season’s Rose Bowl. Deontay Burnett caught seven passes for 142 yards.
Oregon 77, Southern Utah 21: The Willie Taggart era at Oregon got off to a fast start with Tony Brooks-James’ 100-yard touchdown return on the opening kickoff against Southern Utah.
Fitting for a team that’s (still) known for speed.
Royce Freeman ran for 150 yards and four touchdowns and the Ducks routed the Thunderbirds in Eugene for Taggart’s debut as Oregon’s head coach. It was the most points for the Ducks in a single game since 1916.
California 35, North Carolina 30: Ross Bowers threw for 363 yards and four touchdowns in his first college start, helping the Golden Bers defeat the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
It was California’s first game under head coach Justin Wilcox and offensive coordinator Beau Baldwin, the former Eastern Washington head coach.
Bowers, a sophomore, had never thrown a pass in a college game and had to win a preseason battle for the starting job. But he shook off two interceptions and came up with several good throws to help Cal (1-0) win its first East Coast day game since 2012.
Vic Wharton III had five catches for 156 yards for Cal, which trailed 17-7 in the second quarter. But a targeting penalty on UNC’s Jalen Dalton extended a drive to set up Wharton’s 67-yard score just before halftime, a game-changing sequence that helped Cal outscore UNC 28-7.
Oregon State 35, Portland State 32: Isaiah Hodgins caught a 17-yard touchdown pass from Jake Luton with about a minute left as the Beavers defeated the Vikings at Corvallis, Oregon.
Luton threw for 235 yards, one TD and one interception and had six completions in a row on the last drive for the Beavers (1-1), who bounced back from a season-opening loss at Colorado State.
Portland State drove to within field goal range on its final drive, but a 46-yard attempt was wide right to end the game.
Subscribe to The Spokesman-Review’s sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.