Stanford's offense brings out the whooping stick as we start the fourth. The Cardinal start at their own 15 and six plays later are to the USC 5. Kevin Hogan keeping for nine on a beautiful zone read was the personal highlight, but Montgomery caught for 12 and Rector had a 28-yard catch and run down the left sideline. Then, of course, the goal-line play-calling took over. First and goal from the six. Should pound it up the middle against Utah, and today, same deal. Both times, I said it aloud in real time. Today, though, we get a wildcat for minus-3, which forces a passing situation after a short second-down gain on the ground. Kevin Hogan doesn't see a USC defender cutting underneath his man, and it's an ugly, ugly throw, akin to Andrew Luck's effort here two years ago, also in a tie game late. This time, USC does intercept, but Stanford does well to close and prevent a pick-six. Time for a defensive hold.
Ed Orgeron just out-conservatived David Shaw, punting on a fourth and three from Stanford's 40. The karma gods were watching, as the ensuing touchback resulted in only a 20-yard punt. Our fingernails are steadily fraying up in the press box. The teams trade punts, though Stanford does pick up 12 yards on the exchange, thanks to a 49-yard Ben Rhyne punt without a return.
Then Kevin Hogan has one of his poorer plays in a Stanford uniform at a most inopportune time. Certainly he doesn't want to take a sack on second and two, and does well to fight through the rushers and try to throw it away. Alas, with a man pulling him back as he releases, Hogan can't get enough on the ball to float it to the sideline, and it's a wounded duck. Stanford can only tip, and Su'a Cravens, a one-time Stanford recruiting target intercepts at the Trojan 44. In David Shaw's defense, you can see the appeal in the relative safety of running up the middle given the consecutive turnovers from the passing attack.
Agholor catches for nine on third and 11, and USC goes for the ensuing fourth and two from the Cardinal 48. Agholor runs a slant across Amanam, Kessler's throw is on the money, and Agholor makes the tough catch with Amanam right there in coverage. Give USC credit for a money play.
Agholor has another big catch and run, this one for 11 yards, to move the sticks and put the Trojans in more comfortable field goal range at the 24. But the next snap, Trent Murphy drops Allen for six, pushing back the potential game-winning field goal to a 47-yard attempt with a shaky kicker. Big tackle. SC does the Walt Harris and centers (well, almost), for a 46-yard field goal attempt. Stanford will have some time, maybe 15 seconds, after a field goal and kickoff, with 25 seconds currently on the clock.
Heidari comes on for a 47-yard attempt and drills it. Great kick in a pressure situation. USC does get called for an unsportsmanlike after the play, so they'll be kicking off from the 20, which is potentially huge.
USC 20, Stanford 17, 19 seconds remaining
I can feel my heart beating, and I'm sure many Booties can too. Montgomery dances too much on the kickoff return and Stanford will have only nine seconds left. The Coliseum is absolutely rocking. Time for some magic.
The hook and ladder doesn't work like it's 1982 all over again and that's all she wrote.
USC 20, Stanford 17, Final
See our postgame thoughts for much more!
Are you fully subscribed to The Bootleg? If not, then you are missing out on all the top Cardinal coverage we provide daily on our award-winning website. Sign up today for the biggest and best in Stanford sports coverage with TheBootleg.com (sign-up)!