Sam Darnold, USC Outlast Texas 27-24 in OT Thriller Beh…

Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

USC escaped Saturday’s showdown against Texas with a 27-24 victory in double overtime thanks to Chase McGrath’s game-winning 43-yard field goal. 

In the first meeting between these two historic programs since the 2006 Rose Bowl, when Vince Young carried the Longhorns to a national title, USC extended its winning streak to 11 straight games behind quarterback Sam Darnold‘s season-high 397 passing yards and three touchdowns. 

Texas true freshman quarterback Sam Ehlinger’s 17-yard touchdown pass to Armanti Foreman with 45 seconds left in the fourth quarter to take a 17-14 lead had Texas on the verge of a shocking upset over the fourth-ranked team in the nation. 

USC went into attack mode, trying to keep its perfect record this season intact. Darnold led the Trojans 52 yards to set up McGrath’s game-tying 31-yard field goal as time expired in regulation.

Darnold’s 25-yard touchdown pass to Deontay Burnett on the first play of overtime put USC right back on top, 24-17, and put the pressure back on Ehlinger. 

Needing just four plays, Ehlinger found Cade Brewer for a three-yard score to push it to a second overtime tied at 24. 

USC defensive end Christian Rector made a huge play on Texas’ possession in the second overtime, stripping Ehlinger on the Longhorns’ 3-yard line. The Trojans recovered, setting up McGrath’s heroics to end the game. 

Darnold’s turnover problems continued in this game, as he threw two interceptions for the third straight week. He was able to make up for those miscues thanks to his late heroics in the fourth quarter and overtime. 

Even though Darnold’s overall numbers didn’t look great, Joey Kaufman of the Orange County Register did note the USC star wasn’t getting a lot of help from his wide receivers:

The entire tempo of the game changed in the final three minutes of the first half. Both teams were struggling to move the ball and had been kept off the scoreboard up to that point.

USC finally broke through with 2:40 remaining in the second quarter when Darnold found Deontay Burnett in the back of the end zone for a terrific touchdown catch. 

It appeared as if USC would be able to compose itself in the second half and keep rolling. The defense forced a Texas punt on the ensuing drive with just 30 seconds left, but Darnold opened the door for the Longhorns with a turnover and a DeShon Elliott pick-six:

The first-half excitement still wasn’t finished. Velus Jones Jr. returned the kickoff 37 yards to USC’s 38 with 10 seconds left. After a six-yard run by Ronald Jones II, Darnold scrambled to find his star running back for a 56-yard score aided by a huge block from wide receiver Steven Mitchell Jr.

All of that led to USC taking a 14-7 lead at halftime. It was a miracle Texas kept the game that close because the Longhorns were outgained, 239-90, allowed more than 19 minutes in time of possession and had two turnovers in the opening 30 minutes. 

Justin Wells of Inside Texas also provided this statistical nugget from the first half:

Texas gave the start to Ehlinger, his second in as many weeks. He was running all over the place most of the game, trying to escape the clutches of USC’s defense after being taken down behind the line of scrimmage three plays in a row in the second quarter. 

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