By Daniel Dullum
Andre Heidari’s 47-yard field goal with 19 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter vaulted Southern California past Stanford 20-17 Saturday night in a Pac-12 football thriller at the L.A. Coliseum.
The upset defeat, Stanford’s second of the season, all but squelched the No. 5-ranked Cardinal’s shot at a national championship and put their possible berth for the Pac-12 championship game at risk as well.
It was the fifth win in six games for USC under Coach Ed Orgeron, who replaced the fired Lane Kiffin in late September after a 3-2 start. Trojans quarterback Cody Kessler passed for 288 yards, completing 25 of 37 passes for one TD and no picks. Nelson Agholor, Kessler’s primary target, snared eight passes for 104 yards.
Stanford (8-2 overall, 6-2 Pac-12) tied the game with 9:03 left in the third quarter on an 18-yard touchdown run by Tyler Gaffney. That completed the scoring until Heidari – who missed an extra point kick on the Trojans’ first touchdown – booted his dramatic game-winning field goal.
Gaffney scored both Cardinal touchdowns while gaining 154 yards on 24 attempts. Cardinal quarterback Kevin Hogan completed 14 of 25 passes for 127 yards, but was also picked off twice as Stanford’s offense stalled in key situations most of the night.
USC (8-3 overall, 5-2 Pac-12) took a 14-7 first quarter lead, scoring first on a 1-yard TD pass from Cody Kessler to Soma Vainuku, and a 1-yard run by Javorius Allen. In between, a 35-yard touchdown run by Gaffney put Stanford on the board.
The two teams swapped field goals in the second qauarter. Heidari hit one from 23 yards out, and Stanford’s Conrad Ukropina kicked a 26-yarder 25 seconds before halftime.
Next Saturday, Stanford faces a must-win situation in The Big Game, when the Cardinal host California. Game time is yet to be determined, pending the wants of the television networks.