PULLMAN, Wash. — USC was in a familiar position late Friday.
For the fourth time in its five games of this season, it was tied or trailing during the fourth quarter.
In each of the previous games, the Trojans successfully mounted a late rally, including prevailing over Texas in a double-overtime thriller, and remained undefeated. Rarely, did they appear unshaken, and as they opened with four consecutive victories, they extended their winning streak to 13 games, the longest for the program since winning 34 in a row under Pete Carroll more than a decade ago.
This time, USC was unable to prevail, its hopes for another last-minute comeback ending when quarterback Sam Darnold was sacked and fumbled at its 25-yard line with 1:27 remaining, a sold-out crowd of 33,773 at Martin Stadium roaring.
The Trojans were undone, 30-27, for their first defeat, their record dropping to 4-1 overall and 2-1 in the Pac-12 Conference.
Washington State moved ahead by three points on a 32-yard field goal by Erik Powell with 1:40 left.
On its previous possession, USC had just tied the score at 27, buoyed by some more late-game magic by Darnold, who orchestrated the critical scoring drive.
On a fourth-and-13, Darnold, moving within the pocket to avoid a pass rush, found Tyler Vaughns over the middle of the field for 15 yards, extending the drive. On the next play, he hit Vaughns for a gain of 26 yards, setting USC on the edge of the end zone.
Darnold ultimately scored on a 2-yard touchdown run.
For a majority of the game, the Trojans were missing three of their five starting offensive linemen due to injuries, including right guard Viane Talamaivao and both offensive tackles Chuma Edoga and Toa Lobendahn, who did not travel with the team.
It was held to 327 yards, out-gained by Washington State, which amassed 462 yards, led by quarterback Luke Falk who threw for 340 yards and two touchdowns.
Darnold threw for less than 200 yards for the first time as a starter.
He finished 15-of-29 passing for 164 yards with an interception
Before Darnold’s game-tying drive, Washington State moved ahead early in the fourth quarter when Jamal Morrow caught a shovel pass from Falk and ran in for a 23-yard touchdown.
The teams traded scores for much of the back-and-forth contest that saw four lead changes, including three during the first half, as the score was tied at 17 after two quarters.
Both USC and Washington were each playing on short rest. The Trojans had defeated Cal, 30-20, last Saturday, six days earlier.
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