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Southern Cal 20, Stanford 17

The SportsXchange

LOS ANGELES -- USC kicker Andre Heidari missed an extra point attempt in the first quarter on Saturday night against No. 5 Stanford, but given a chance to be a hero in the closing seconds, he didn't disappoint.

Heidari connected on a 47-yard field goal and the Trojans stunned Stanford 20-17 in sold-out Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, sending the Pac-12 Conference spinning and perhaps securing the USC head coaching job for interim coach Ed Orgeron.

Upsetting the fifth-ranked team in the country certainly doesn't hurt Orgeron's cause.

Or rolling the dice by going for it on fourth down in the closing minute of the game, and having USC quarterback Cody Kessler complete a fourth-down pass to wide receiver Marqise Lee for 13 yards to extend the winning drive on a play that began at the Stanford 48-yard line and ended at the 35.

And then holding on for the win, and fans spilling onto the field in jubilation.

But that is a decision for another day.

For one night, the Trojans looked, acted and played like an elite team again.

Meanwhile, the Cardinal misfired twice on chances to win the game.

Stanford tied the score at 17 with 8:22 remaining in the third quarter on running back Tyler Gaffney's 18-yard run. But the Cardinal missed two chances to take the lead, first when Conrad Ukropina's 30-yard field goal attempt was blocked and then when quarterback Kevin Hogan was intercepted by Dion Bailey at the USC 7-yard line.

Hogan was also intercepted with 3:02 remaining in the fourth quarter by Su'A Cravens and the score tied.

The Trojans stunned Stanford in the first half, carried by the hot hand of Kessler, some creative play calling and the type of physicality needed to stand up to the imposing Cardinal.

Kessler opened by hitting eight f his first 9 passes, including a 1-yard touchdown throw to receiver Soma Vainuku, and running back Javorius Allen added a 1-yard run as USC took a 17-7 lead.

Gaffney ran 35 yards for Stanford's only touchdown and Ukropina added a 27-yard field goal with 17 seconds remaining in the half to cut USC's lead to 17-10.

Kessler completed 12 of 14 passes for 158 yards in the first half, which helped make up for USC's 23 yards rushing against the Cardinal's physical defense.

Stanford ran for 101 yards, but Hogan threw for just 47 yards and the Cardinal were turned back on two key third downs to help USC take the 10-point halftime lead.

NOTES: Stanford is USC's oldest rival, and though the Trojans own a decided 58-29-3 lead over the Cardinal since the series began in 1905, Stanford won the last four going into Saturday's matchup at the Coliseum. ... Coming in, Stanford won four consecutive games against nationally ranked teams, the first such occurrence in school history. ... Including its Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin, Stanford won 31 of its last 32 games in California, with the only loss coming against Oregon in 2011.

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