EditorsNote: Changes JT to TJ for Daniels in lede
True freshman quarterback JT Daniels passed for 241 yards and three touchdowns, and Vavae Malepeai rushed for two scores as USC rallied for a 39-36 Pac-12 Conference victory over visiting Washington State.
Malepeai scored on a 2-yard run with 8:03 to play to put the Trojans (2-2, 1-1 Pac-12) on top for good. The sophomore running back also scored on a 3-yard run in the first quarter that gave USC an initial 7-0 lead.
Daniels went 17 for 26 in his breakthrough game, connecting on scoring strikes of 9, 50 and 30 yards. He had just one TD pass in his first three games. Daniels’ 50-yarder to Michael Pitman came in the third quarter, while the 30-yard TD pass to Amon-Ra St. Brown came 29 seconds into the fourth quarter.
Washington State senior quarterback Gardner Minshew was 37-of-52 for 344 yards and three touchdowns. The graduate transfer entered as the leading passer in the nation with just over 400 yards passing per game.
The Cougars (3-1, 0-1) attempted a 38-yard field goal to tie the game with just under two minutes remaining, but Blake Mazza’s kick was blocked by 6-foot-6 USC freshman Jay Tufele.
Minshew threw a 28-yard TD pass to Easop Winston in the second quarter and followed that with a 7-yard TD strike to Dezmon Patmon with 1:39 remaining in the first half. The Cougars led 24-17 at the break.
Washington State had won two of the last three games in the matchup, including a victory last season in Pullman, Wash.
The Cougars looked like they had a chance to take another against USC when they went ahead 36-31 with 10:15 to play after Minshew hit Winston on a 4-yard scoring pass. Washington State failed on the ensuing 2-point conversion.
Daniels and USC answered quickly on a five-play 2-minute, 12-second drive that ended with Malepeai’s short TD run. USC connected on a 2-pont conversion when Daniels hit Tyler Vaughns at the back of the end zone for the final margin.
Washington State running back James Williams had 17 carries for 54 yards and a touchdown. Malepeai had 78 yards on 13 carries, while Stephen Carr had 77 yards on eight carries.
The Trojans won despite not converting a third down until 2:12 remained in the third quarter. They were 0-of-5 before Carr picked up a first down on a 3-yard run.
—Field Level Media