USC Football Pulls Off a Thrilling Comeback Against Cal

USC Football

The No. 24 USC Trojans ended their two-game losing streak with a wild 50-49 victory over the California Golden Bears on Saturday. The game was a back-and-forth shootout that came down to the final minute, when linebacker Eric Gentry deflected Francisco Mendoza’s pass in the end zone on a two-point conversion attempt that would have given Cal the lead.

The Trojans (7-2, 5-1 Pac-12) rallied after trailing by 11 at halftime. USC scored 21 points in the fourth quarter, with Austin Jones’ seven-yard touchdown run providing the game-winner with 3:33 remaining. Gentry’s deflection came moments after Cal quarterback Fernando Mendoza threw a 13-yard swing pass to Jaivian Thomas for a touchdown. With no shot at the conference title within their grasp, the Bears (3-5, 1-4) chose to go for the win rather than tying with an extra point.

Mendoza dropped back and scanned the field before lofting a short throw toward wide receiver Brian Hightower near the back of the end zone. The 6-foot-6-inch Gentry leaped to knock the ball away as the Trojans celebrated.

“That was a wild one,” Trojans coach Lincoln Riley said. “I’m really, really proud of the group. They could have folded there in the fourth quarter. The last two weeks, things haven’t went our way. To step up here on the road and go find a way to get this sucker done was huge. There’s a lot to build on and there’s a lot that needs to improve.”

USC Football

Williams shines in bounce-back performance

USC quarterback Caleb Williams passed for 369 yards and two touchdowns, bouncing back from subpar performances in losses to ranked foes Utah and Notre Dame. Williams completed 28 of 38 passes and did not throw an interception. He also ran for 46 yards and a score.

“I had a few mistakes in the Notre Dame game, dumb passes that I threw. Last week I had a 70 percent completion or something like that,” Williams said. “So I had one off day in the past three years.”

Williams connected with nine different receivers, with Drake London leading the way with eight catches for 118 yards and a touchdown. London extended his streak of consecutive games with at least 100 receiving yards to nine, tying Robert Woods’ school record.

Running back MarShawn Lloyd added 115 yards and two touchdowns rushing on 16 carries, averaging 7.2 yards per carry. Lloyd scored on runs of 34 and 15 yards in the second half to help USC erase Cal’s lead.

Cal offense nearly matches USC’s firepower

Cal’s offense was nearly as good as USC’s, racking up 527 yards and scoring six touchdowns. Mendoza, a redshirt freshman making his third career start, ran for two touchdowns and passed for another. He completed 23 of 35 passes for 299 yards with an interception.

Running back Jaydn Ott matched his career high with three touchdowns and rushed for 153 yards on 23 carries, averaging 6.7 yards per carry. Ott scored on runs of 1, 4 and 9 yards in the first half to give Cal a 35-24 lead at the break.

Wide receiver Brian Hightower had six catches for 90 yards and a touchdown, while tight end Jake Tonges added five receptions for 72 yards.

Cal converted eight of 15 third downs and had possession for more than 34 minutes, but could not overcome four turnovers that led to 17 points for USC.

The end of an era?

The game could be the last one between the two long-time rivals, as USC is headed to the Big Ten next year while Cal is going to the ACC. The Trojans and Bears have played each other every year since 1929, except for last year when their game was canceled due to COVID-19.

USC leads the all-time series 73-31-5 and has won 17 of the last 19 meetings.

“It’s sad to see this rivalry go,” Williams said. “It’s been a great one for a long time. I’m glad we got to end it on a high note.”

By Kane Wilson

Kane Wilson, founder of this news website, is a seasoned news editor renowned for his analytical skills and meticulous approach to storytelling. His journey in journalism began as a local reporter, and he quickly climbed the ranks due to his talent for unearthing compelling stories. Kane completed his Master’s degree in Media Studies from Northwestern University and spent several years in broadcast journalism prior to co-founding this platform. His dedication to delivering unbiased news and ability to present complex issues in an easily digestible format make him an influential voice in the industry.

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