In bizarre circumstance, USC misses field goal to end first half after halftime break

The final play of the first half of USC's game vs. Cal came right before the third quarter started

USC’s final play of the second quarter against Cal came after halftime.

Yes, that sentence is correct. Let’s explain.

Trailing 28-17, USC was attempting to get into position for a half-ending field goal as Caleb Williams hit Lake McRee for a 29-yard game while time seemingly expired. Lincoln Riley argued his case to officials that there was a second left on the clock, but both teams headed to their locker rooms and the Cal band took the field.

As officials conferred, halftime continued. And then they decided that there was, in fact, one second on the clock. The officiating crew also decided to run the last play of the second quarter before the start of the third quarter instead of clearing the band off the field and bringing the teams out of the locker rooms for one play.

The unique circumstance led to USC kicker Denis Lynch getting to proceed through his normal halftime routine and practice the exact kick he’d get to attempt after halftime was over.

However, that practice didn’t pay off. Lynch missed the kick from the right hash as he pushed it too far to the left.

The missed kick allowed Cal to maintain its 11-point lead as the Bears officially started the second half with the ball. After he missed the field goal, Lynch went straight to the 35-yard line for the opening kickoff of the second half.

Cal held a 43-29 lead early in the fourth quarter but allowed three consecutive touchdowns to fall behind 50-43. The Golden Bears still had a chance to win it late after a Fernando Mendoza touchdown pass to Jaivian Thomas with just over a minute left in the game, but the ensuing two-point conversion fell incomplete and USC escaped with a 50-49 win.