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Utah takes down USC with walk-off field goal in Pac-12 title game rematch

Utah takes down USC with walk-off field goal in Pac-12 title game rematch

Right now, the Utah-USC rivalry is all Utes.

Utah took down the Trojans in the Pac-12 title game last season, but they weren’t done doing business with them just yet.

The 14th-seeded Utes won, 34-32, on a field goal as time expired, earning their fourth-straight win over No. 18 USC, this one being on the road.

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Utes celebrate

Sione Vaki #28 of the Utah Utes celebrates his touchdown with Bryson Barnes #16 in the first quarter against the USC Trojans at United Airlines Field at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on October 21, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.  (Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

After a 61-yard punt return, Caleb Williams ran it in for an 11-yard touchdown to give the Trojans a 32-31 lead with 1:46 to go. The two-point conversion failed, so Utah only needed a field goal to win.

The Utes got across midfield with roughly a minute to go and converted a 4th and 1 from the USC 41 with under 20 ticks left. A false start pushed them back to the 45 with 16 seconds left, but Bryson Barnes rushed for 26 yards. Utah kneeled their next snap in the center of the hashes, and Cole Becker drilled the 38-yarder as time expired to give Utah the victory.

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The Trojans entered the fourth quarter down 11 points, but early in the final quarter, Calen Bullock took an interception to the house, making it a 28-23 game. Both teams then exchanged field goals before the long Trojan punt return leading to Williams’ score. But USC also missed a two-point conversion after that pick-six, so both of those came back to bite them.

Bryson Barnes

Bryson Barnes #16 of the Utah Utes throws a pass in the second quarter against the USC Trojans at United Airlines Field at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on October 21, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.  (Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

Defense was hardly existent early on, as both teams scored a touchdown on their first possessions. It was a 14-14 game just 13:06 into the ballgame, but naturally, both teams were held scoreless in the second quarter. Utah outscored USC, 14-3, in the third quarter.

Barnes threw for three touchdowns, completing 14 of his 22 passes for 235 yards. Sione Vaki caught two of those scores, with the other going to Landen King. Vaki had five receptions for 149 yards, while Ja’Quinden Jackson rushed for 118 yards on 26 carries.

Williams rushed for a touchdown, as did Mar’Shawn Lloyd and Zachariah Branch.

Sione Vaki running for score

Utah Utes receiver Sione Vaki (28) scores on a 53-yard touchdown reception against Southern California Trojans defensive end Braylan Shelby (34) in the first half at United Airlines Field at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.  (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

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Utah moved to 6-1 on the season and 3-1 in conference play, while USC dropped to 6-2 (4-1).

Utah will host No. 9 Oregon next week, while the Trojans will play California.

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Ryan Morik

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