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Trojans rally for win at Ohio State, 18-15

September 12, 2009 |  5:21 pm

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With an 86-yard drive for a touchdown in the final minutes, No. 3-ranked USC has defeated No. 8 Ohio State, 18-15, before a record crowd of 106,033 at Ohio Stadium.

Stafon Johnson scored the game-winning touchdown on a three-yard run with 1 minute 5 seconds left on the clock.

The drive consisted of 14 plays -- seven of them either runs or receptions by Joe McKnight. Freshman Matt Barkley was solid in the clutch, completing three of five passes on the drive and converting twice on quarterback sneaks for first downs. He also connected with McKnight on a two-point conversion after the touchdown.

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USC has taken an 18-15 lead over Ohio State with 1 minute 5 seconds left to play.

The Trojans drove 86 yards in 14 plays, with Stafon Johnson scoring from three yards out. USC then scored on a two-point conversion, with Matt Barkley hitting Joe McKnight on a swing pass.

USC's march didn't start well, as McKnight missed a block that resulted in Barkley being sacked back at the USC 10.

However, McKnight more than made up for the mistake, running or making receptions on seven plays during the scoring march. Barkley, a freshman, also sneaked ahead for first downs twice -- including on a fourth-down-and-one play with 3:38 left.

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USC, trailing 15-10, has driven from its own 14-yard line to inside the Ohio State 5 with a little more than a minute left in the game.

There have been 13 plays on the march -- seven either runs or receptions by Joe McKnight -- including two quarterback sneaks by freshman Matt Barkley for first downs.

-- Mike Hiserman

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USC's final possession of the third quarter started pretty well with Joe McKnight turning a short pass into a 25-yard gain.

But USC's drive stalled near midfield and Matt Barkley appeared to hurt his hand when he was hit by defensive back Chimdi Chekwa and defensive lineman Nathan Williams. The Trojans called timeout to assess Barkley's condition and he returned.

But USC was forced to punt and the third quarter ended with Ohio State ahead, 15-10.

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Ohio State turned USC's errant punt snap into a five-point play.

After the safety, the Buckeyes got a nice return from DeVier Posey on Jake Harfman's free kick. Terrelle Pryor's 20-yard pass to running back Brandon Saine moved Ohio State to the Trojans' 23.

The Buckeyes got as far as the 10 but had to settle for Aaron Pettrey's 22-yard field goal and a 15-10 lead with 4:43 left in the third quarter.

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USC's special teams continue to hurt the Trojans.

Jordan Congdon's 44-yard field-goal attempt hit the crossbar.

Punter Billy O'Malley struggled in the first half and his first attempt of the second half ended when snapper Cooper Stephenson snapped the ball over O'Malley's head for a safety.

Ohio State leads, 12-10, with 9:03 left in the third quarter.

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USC and Ohio State are tied, 10-10, at halftime after Jordan Congdon came back and kicked a 22-yard field goal on the last play of the second quarter.

USC had forced Ohio State to go three and out and got the ball back with 48 seconds left until halftime.

Stafon Johnson's 29-yard gain on the first play of the ensuing possession put USC in position to do something in the final 40 seconds.

Barkley's 18-yard pass to Damian Williams moved the ball to Ohio State's 22 and an 18-yard pass to tight end Anthony McCoy moved the Trojans to the four.

Barkley spiked the ball, then on the next play threw a pass to David Ausberry, who was ruled out of bounds.

Congdon came on for the field goal, setting up what could be an exciting second half.

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Give USC quarterback Matt Barkley credit for having some poise.

After his interception, he came back and completed passes of 12, 19 and 18 yards. A 27-yard pass to Damian Williams in the end zone was ruled incomplete because Williams stepped out of bounds.

The drive stalled at the Buckeyes' 26, and Jordan Congdon's 44-yard field-goal attempt ... hit the crossbar.

Ohio State has the ball and a 10-7 lead with 1:49 left in the half.

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Ohio State went ahead, 10-7 on Aaron Pettrey's 18-yard field goal on the first play of the second quarter.

The Buckeyes wasted another chance to capitalize, though, after linebacker Ross Homan intercepted a pass by Matt Barkley with 9:50 left in the first half. It was the first career interception for Barkley, who is three of eight for 14 yards.

Taylor Mays returned to the game after leaving the game with an injured leg and the Buckeyes went three and out.

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All-American safety Taylor Mays appeared to hurt his knee bringing down Pryor after a nine-yard scramble. But Mays stayed in the game.

Two plays later, though, he had to be helped off the field.

Then Pryor hit DeVier Posey over the middle for a 34-yard gain to the USC two-yard line.

USC held the Buckeyes for three plays, setting up a fourth-down decision for Ohio State Coach Jim Tressel as the first quarter comes to an end.

USC 7, Ohio State 7 (and threatening)

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Ohio State isn't laying down.

Quarterback Terrelle Pryor came out and fired a pass to receiver Dane Sanzenbacher that split the Trojans' secondary. Sanzenbacher gained 56 yards on the play to the Trojans' two-yard line.

Running back Dan Herron punched it in two plays later, tying the score, 7-7, with 8:06 left in the first quarter.

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USC's defense came into the season hungry to be a better at creating turnovers.

It didn't take long at Ohio State.

Trojans linebacker Chris Galippo intercepted a pass by Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor on the third play of the first series and returned it 51 yards to the Buckeyes two-yard line.

Ohio State's defense held for three plays, but tailback Stafon Johnson scored from a yard out for a 7-0 lead with 11 minutes 37 seconds left.

--Gary Klein

Photo: USC's Taylor Mays, left, and Josh Pinkard team up to bring down Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor after a nine-yard run Saturday. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

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