LOS ANGELES – Drake London caught a 21-yard touchdown pass with 1:20 to play, and No. 20 Southern California rallied from a late 13-point deficit for a 28-27 victory over Arizona State on Saturday in the Pac-12's long-delayed season opener.
Bru McCoy caught a deflected 26-yard TD pass with 2:52 left for the Trojans (1-0), and McCoy then recovered the ensuing onside kick as well. On fourth and 9, Kedon Slovis fired a pass down the middle to London, and the two-sport athlete beat double coverage to haul it in for an electrifying score.
USC's defense then stopped Arizona State (0-1) on downs near midfield with 50 seconds left to preserve an astonishing comeback for perpetually embattled coach Clay Helton's team.
“Well, it reminds you of 2020, doesn’t it?” Helton said. “A year of adversity and finding a way to overcome hard situations. I’m proud of our football team. We made it.”
Until their rally, the Trojans were struggling for poise and precision in a game that began at 9 a.m. USC agreed to its earliest kickoff in at least 70 years for a national television audience, but it looked like another embarrassment for Helton and his Trojans — before it abruptly turned into a thrilling triumph.
USC racked up 556 yards of offense and outgained the Sun Devils by 164 yards, but the Trojans were nearly finished because they committed three turnovers and turned the ball over on downs two more times — all inside ASU territory.
Slovis passed for 381 yards for USC, while Stephen Carr and Markese Stepp made scoring runs in the first half. London also caught eight passes for 125 yards, none bigger than his winning TD reception.
“That play was a play we run all the time,” Slovis said. “There was three steps and a hitch ball, and Drake did the rest for me.”