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Recap and highlights: Freshman quarterback JT Daniels sparks second-half comeback as USC tops Washington State

UPDATED: Sat., Sept. 22, 2018, 12:44 a.m.

PAC-12 FOOTBALL
At Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles
Final 39 - 36

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➤ Saturday, Sept. 29: Utah Utes at Washington State Cougars, 3 p.m. PDT TV: Pac-12 Networks


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LOS ANGELES – At one point early in the third quarter, Washington State held a 13-point lead at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. USC’s 17-game home win streak was in danger and the Cougars were threatening to beat Clay Helton and the Trojans for the second time in two years.

But right on cue, JT Daniels and USC’s talented crew of wide receivers began to get hot, and a 38-yard WSU field goal was blocked with less than 2 minutes to play, allowing the Trojans to preserve a 39-36 win at the Coliseum and the country’s second-longest home winning streak.

WSU (3-1, 1-0) hosts Utah next Saturday at Martin Stadium, while USC (2-2, 1-1) travels to Tucson for a Pac-12 South battle against Arizona.

USC’s once-sluggish run game woke up on the game’s first drive and the Trojans got positive yardage on their first five offensive plays – all runs – and a 50-yard scamper from Stephen Carr helped set up a 3-yard rushing touchdown from Vavae Malepeai to make it 7-0.

But Carr didn’t get another carry on the next two USC drives, and the Cougars got on the board with a career-long 50-yard field goal from redshirt freshman Blake Mazza and established their first lead when James Williams punched in a 3-yard touchdown on the next WSU drive.

USC made it to the end zone once more in the first half. After Marcus Strong incurred a pass interference while guarding receiver Tyler Vaughns, the Trojans went back to that matchup on the next play and Daniels delivered a 9-yard touchdown strike to Vaughns to make it 14-10 USC.

But WSU’s defensive pressure, and a few botched snaps, made it difficult for USC to move the ball the remainder of the half. The Cougars capitalized and retook the lead after two passing touchdowns – one to Easop Winston and the other to Dezmon Patmon, who ran a 7-yard slant to haul in the first TD of his career.

USC had a chance to close WSU’s lead to seven points near the end of the half, but Daniels’ final pass to Michael Pittman was ruled incomplete, though it initially appeared the receiver had dragged his toe in the end zone.

The Cougars took a 24-17 lead into halftime and eventually extended it to 30-17 on a bullish touchdown run from Max Borghi, but Daniels and his receivers were up to the test and eventually brought the Trojans back into the game. USC scored on a 50-yard screen pass to Michael Pittman, Daniels hooked up with Amon-Ra St. Brown for a 30-yard score and Vavae Malepeai ran in a 2-yarder to make it 39-36. – Theo Lawson

pac-12.com

First quarter

Q1 12:56 – USC 7, WSU 0: The Trojans go 80 yards on five straight rushes, finished by Vavae Malepeai’s 3-yard touchdown plunge, to quickly jump in front of the Cougars. The big play was Stephen Carr’s 50-yard carry that zipped the Trojans down to the WSU 24. Malepeai had 3 rushes for 24 yards on the drive.

Q1 7:19 – USC 7, WSU 3: Blake Mazza connects on a 50-yard field goal to pull the Cougars closer to the Trojans. A sack by Peyton Pelluer on 3rd down on USC’s previous drive and a face mask on the punt return set the Cougs up with good field position.

Second quarter

Q2 13:29 – WSU 10, USC 7: The Cougars take the lead on James Williams’ 4-yard touchdown run. Williams finished the 14-play, 59-yard WSU drive in which the Cougs converted two 4th-down situations. Gardner Minshew completed seven passes during the drive to reach 53 yards passing for the game. The Cougs also benefited from two USC penalties.

Q2 12:23 – USC 14, WSU 10: The Trojans quickly respond to the Cougs score with a touchdown of their own. Quarterback JT Daniels accounted for all the yardage during the drive, throwing for 74 yards in 3 plays. Daniels found Tyler Vaughns on a fade route for the 9-yard TD. The drive started with a 44-yard connection from Daniels to Velus Jones.

Q2 9:55 – WSU 17, USC 14: The Cougars march right down field and take the lead back from the Trojans. Gardner Minshew and Easop Winston found some rhythm on the drive, connecting three times including the touchdown. Minshew stood in the pocket and delivered a strike to Winston for the 28-yard score. Winston had 62 receiving yards during the drive.

Q2 1:39 – WSU 24, USC 14: The air raid is flying through Los Angeles. Gardner Minshew caps another methodical drive for the Cougs with a touchdown pass, this one a 7-yard strike to Dezmon Patmon. The Cougs went 75 yards in 11 plays to push their lead to double digits. Minshew is up to 179 yards passing.

Q2 0:00 – WSU 24, USC 17: The Trojans have to settle for a field goal after nearly connecting on a touchdown pass to end the half.

Halftime

Third quarter

Q3 10:21 – WSU 30, USC 17: Another long drive, another touchdown for the Cougars. Max Borghi finishes the 11-play drive with authority, lowering his head and plowing through the USC safety on his way to a 13-yard touchdown run. The Cougs went 75 yards on the first drive of the second half. Gardner Minshew completed 5 of 7 passes during the drive. The WSU QB is up to 230 yards passing. WSU missed the point-after conversion when the snap was mishandled.

Q3 9:03 – WSU 30, USC 24: Just four plays after the Cougars go in for 6, the Trojans respond. Michael Pittman Jr. goes 50 yards on a pass from JT Daniels to pull USC to within six. Pittman made WSU corner Sean Harper Jr. miss his tackle in the open field and was gone.

Fourth quarter

Q4 14:31 – USC 31, WSU 30: The Trojans open the final quarter with a 30-yard touchdown pass from JT Daniels to Amon-Ra St. Brown. Two penalties by the Cougs on the drive spotted USC 25 yards. The failed extra point by the Cougars in the third quarter is looming large.

Q4 10:15 – WSU 36, USC 31: Gardner Minshew does it again. The Cougars quarterback connects on a 4-yard touchdown pass with Easop Winston to put WSU back in front. Minshew is now up to 297 yards passing and three touchdowns tonight after throwing for 71 yards in the drive.

Q4 8:03 – USC 38, WSU 35: Strong response from the Trojans. USC marches 56 yards to take the lead back on Vavae Malepeai’s 2-yard touchdown run. JT Daniels found Tyler Vaughns for 21 yards to convert a 3rd and 9 and extend the drive. The Trojans also benefited from a pass interference call on WSU corner Sean Harper that put the ball on the Cougs’ 2.

Q4 1:53 – USC 38, WSU 35: After the Cougars decided to run the ball on 3rd and 6, Blake Mazza has his field goal attempt blocked. WSU ran for no gain using a draw play to James Williams on 3rd down. That left Mazza with 38-yard field goal attempt.

Pregame

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