PROVO, Utah (AP) — BYU should be getting accustomed to coming from behind to beat traditional powers.
Dayan Ghanwoloku intercepted a tipped pass in overtime after Jake Oldroyd kicked a 43-yard field to give the Cougars the lead, and BYU held on to beat No. 24 Southern California 30-27 on Saturday — one week after a similar fourth-quarter rally to knock off Tennessee.
Zach Wilson threw for 280 yards and a touchdown while running for another score, Ty’Son Williams had 99 yards rushing, and the Cougars (2-1) capitalized on three crucial turnovers.
“No matter the score, no matter the time that’s left on the clock, this team keeps fighting and keeps fighting,” Williams said.
It took the Cougars a few minutes to digest that they had beaten a ranked opponent at home since defeating then-No. 20 Boise State in 2015. Fans stormed the field immediately after the interception Saturday, then stormed a second time when a review confirmed the call on the field.
“You’re still in that game mode,” Wilson said. “Even when you see the pick, you’re thinking, ‘Is that it? Is that game?’ You don’t start celebrating yet. You see everyone come on the field. They always got to review it, so there’s always that split second of, ‘Is the game over yet?'”
The Trojans’ Chase McGrath tied the game 27-all when he connected on a 52-yard field goal with 1:43 left in regulation. But those were the only points they scored over the final 10:44 of regulation and overtime, their offense going stale when they needed it the most.
Kedon Slovis threw for 281 yards and two touchdowns for the Trojans (2-1). But he also was picked off three times, including on the final play of the game, as USC lost its fourth consecutive game in the state of Utah.
After a week in which USC athletic director Lynn Swann stepped down, coach Clay Helton absorbed a loss that will certainly raise the heat on him going into a crucial stretch. The Trojans play No. 11 Utah on Friday, then have road games against No. 23 Washington and No. 7 Notre Dame.
“We don’t worry about noise,” Helton said. “We live in Los Angeles, California. There’s a ton of damn noise. It’s every day. What we have to focus on is doing our job, winning the next game.”
Ghanwoloku, a defensive back who moonlights as a running back, scored the first touchdown for BYU on a 1-yard run in the first quarter. But that wound up being merely a footnote after the clutch play he would make on the other side of the ball in overtime.
The Trojans took the lead early in the fourth quarter, when they stopped Ghanwoloku a yard short of the first down on fourth-and-2 and proceeded to march 92 yards the other way. Michael Pittman Jr. hauled in a 30-yard touchdown pass to give USC a 24-17 advantage.
Wilson gave the Cougars the lead back with 5:41 left in regulation when he ran 16 yards for a touchdown. The score was set up by Wilson evading a sack and hitting Gunner Romney for 35 yards.
“He’s a great football player,” Trojan defensive tackle Jay Tufele said of the Cougars’ second-year quarterback, who has been dynamic ever since becoming the starter. “He’s versatile.”
Jack of all trades
Ghanwoloku was used in the backfield in a short-yardage package for a second straight week. He ran twice, getting a touchdown on his first carry and stopped on fourth down on his second.
“I just want to be a playmaker,” Ghanwoloku said. “Just making plays no matter what.”
Markese Stepp finished with a season-high 53 yards on nine carries as USC’s no. 3 running back. His 5.9 yards per carry led the Trojans, but a near-fumble early in the fourth quarter limited his touches as the game progressed.
“He did a nice job. He put the ball on the ground one time,” Helton said. “That’s where he’s got to learn, in these kinds of games, it’s a violent game. We were fortunate to get the ball back.”
USC: Slovis and the Trojan offense had plenty of issues after dominating Stanford last week. USC threw a single pass in the third quarter and Slovis had a pair of costly interceptions in the first quarter. The Trojans netted just a field goal on their final three drives in regulation.
BYU: An inability to finish long drives ended up being a problem for the Cougars for a third straight game. BYU had to rely on key defensive stops late to sneak away with another close victory.
USC will likely fall out of the AP Top 25 when the poll comes out Sunday.
USC: The Trojans have a short week to prepare for Pac-12 South rival Utah.
BYU: The Cougars face their third Pac-12 opponent in four weeks when they host No. 23 Washington next Saturday.
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