Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Darnold Leads Southern Cal to Title

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Darnold Leads Southern Cal to Title

Article excerpt

Sam Darnold threw for 325 yards and two touchdowns and engineered a back-breaking 99-yard drive in the fourth quarter to lead No. 11 Southern California to a 31-28 victory over No. 14 Stanford in the Pac-12 championship game on Friday night in Santa Clara, Calif.

Darnold threw touchdown passes to Michael Pittman Jr. and Tyler Vaughns to stake the Trojans (11-2, No. 10 CFP) to the lead. He then delivered one of the biggest plays of the game when he stepped up to avoid pressure in the end zone before connecting on a 54-yard pass to Pittman to spark the key touchdown drive in the fourth.

Ronald Jones finished that drive with an 8-yard run that made it 31-21 to cap a productive night as he ran for 140 yards and two touchdowns to give USC its first win in a Pac-12 championship game.

The long drive came after USC stuffed Stanford (9-4, No. 12) at the goal line to preserve the lead. With Bryce Love nursing an injured ankle on the sideline, Cameron Scarlett was stopped on successive runs from inside the 2, including a fourth-down try from the 1 that was stopped by Uchenna Nwosu.

Darnold sealed the game with a 15-yard pass to Josh Falo on fourth-and-2 to let USC run out the clock.

The win gives USC a season sweep against Stanford and will probably send the Trojans to the Fiesta Bowl. USC still holds out hope for a spot in the four-team playoff if there are several upsets in other conference title games Saturday, but the chances appear to be remote.

LOOKING FOR RESPECT

The American Athletic Conference championship game boasts the best winning percentage of this weekend's 10 Football Bowl Subdivision conference title game matchups. It also represents the best hope for 12th-ranked Central Florida and No. 16 Memphis to show skeptics why they should belong in the conversation as one of the nation's best teams. …

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