LOS ANGELES, Calif. – In a thrilling matchup of college football blue bloods, The University of Texas fell in double overtime, 27-24, to the No. 4/4 USC Trojans at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Saturday.
Trailing 14-10 with 5:14 remaining in regulation, true freshman quarterback Sam Ehlinger played like a seasoned veteran, leading the Longhorns on a 14-play, 91-yard touchdown drive, and found wide receiver Amanti Foreman for an 11-yard toe tap touchdown with 45 seconds remaining.
USC was able to regain composure on the next possession, moving the ball quickly into UT territory for a game-tying field goal as time expired. After trading touchdowns in the first overtime, the Trojans connected on a 43-yard field goal to come away with the victory.
The Longhorn defense put together an impressive effort, taking the Trojan running attack out of the game and keeping the Trojan offense, which came in ranked 16th in the nation in scoring offense, out of sync. Entering play, USC averaged 269.5 rushing yards per game, but the Horns held the Trojans to just 71 yards on the ground.
Defensive back DeShon Elliott intercepted USC quarterback Sam Darnold twice, taking one all the way back for a touchdown. It was the third straight game the 'Horns have returned an interception for a touchdown, the first time Texas has accomplished the feat in school history.
Both teams moved the ball effectively in the first quarter, with the Trojans taking the opening possession as far as the Texas 37-yard line, but turning the ball over on downs when Elliott made a big play to bat a pass away on fourth-and-4.
Texas took over and drove the ball to the USC 15, but failed to convert on their own fourth-down try and gave USC possession at their own 20. The Trojans moved the ball to the Texas 1-yard line, but were unable to convert on another fourth down try when linebackers Naashon Hughes and Gary Johnson stuffed Trojan running back Ronald Jones II at the line for no gain.
USC regained possession on the next play with an interception at the UT 34-yard line, but the 'Horns defense held firm, pushing the Trojans back to the Texas 49 and forcing a punt.
The next Trojan drive again started in Longhorn territory after recovering a misplayed UT snap on the 22-yard line, but they failed to take advantage. Texas linebacker Anthony Wheeler sacked Darnold for a 9-yard loss at the end of the first quarter and then the Trojans missed a 46-yard field goal try two plays into the second quarter.
The Trojans managed to get on the board with 2:40 remaining in the first half on a 15-yard strike from Darnold to wide receiver Deonta Burnett, giving the Trojans a 7-0 lead.
On the next USC drive, Elliot grabbed a deflected Darnold pass just before it hit the ground and ran it back 38 yards for a touchdown, leveling the score at 7-7 with 19 seconds remaining.
The Trojans struck quickly, adding a touchdown on a 56-yard catch and run by Jones as time expired in the first half, giving USC a 14-7 lead heading into the half.
Texas came out strong on the opening possession of the second half, mounting a 12-play, 54-yard drive that included a highlight reel, diving full extension 24-yard catch by wide receiver Collin Johnson and ended with a 39-yard field goal from Joshua Rowland to close the gap to 14-10.
Johnson made huge play after huge play in the game, finishing with seven receptions and a career-high 191 yards.
On the Trojans first possession of the half, USC drove the ball to the UT 36-yard line and elected to go for it on fourth-and-three. The Texas defense came up huge again, stopping USC on fourth-and-short for the third time in the game.
In the fourth quarter, Elliott intercepted Darnold a second time at the USC 49-yard line and returned it 24 yards to the USC 25, but the 'Horns were unable to capitalize on the field position.
On the final drive of regulation for UT, Ehlinger came up big. On third-and-5 from the UT 24, Ehlinger scrambled for a diving-four-yard gain, then converted on fourth down with a two-yard quarterback sneak out of the shotgun. Two plays later, Ehlinger hit Johnson for a 47-yard pass down the left sideline. After missing on three passes, Ehlinger connected with Foreman for 11 yards and a first down. Foreman scored two plays later to give Texas a 17-14 lead.
Ehlinger passed for a career-high 298 yards and two touchdowns on 21-of-40 passing, while connecting with eight different receivers. Foreman ended the day with five receptions for 38 yards.
USC charged back, quickly moving the ball down the field and knotting the game at 17-17 with a 31-yard field goal as time expired.
The Trojans started the first overtime with the ball and scored on the first play with a 25-yard touchdown pass from Dornald to Burnett to give USC a 24-17 lead.
Texas struck back with a touchdown drive of its own, scoring on a 3-yard reception by tight end Cade Brewer on a pass from Ehlinger to tie the score at 24-24.
In the second overtime, the UT offense moved the ball to the USC 3, but the Trojans were able to force a turnover and end the Texas threat.
The Longhorn defense once again held the Trojan offense back, allowing only one yard, but a 43-yard field ended the game 27-24.
Eighteen 'Horns registered tackles for the defense, led my Wheeler with 12 and linebacker Malik Jefferson, who tallied 11. Wheeler collected 1.5 sacks, while defensive lineman Charles Omenihu added one and linebacker Jeffrey McCulloch picked up a half sack.