Michael Pittman Jr. caught two touchdowns, including a 37-yard game-winner, in USC’s come-from-behind, 35-31 defeat of Colorado on Friday night in Boulder, Colo.
The Trojans (5-3, 4-1 Pac-12) trailed for almost 42 minutes of game time before Pittman’s decisive catch-and-run to the end zone with 2:15 remaining. Colorado (3-5, 1-4) took the lead in the early second quarter on the first of three Steven Montez touchdown passes, and one of four total scores for the Buffs quarterback on the night.
His longest was a 71-yarder to wide receiver Laviska Shenault, who finished with a game-high 172 yards on nine receptions.
Montez’s last touchdown, a 17-yard run, extended the Colorado advantage to 10 points with 9:16 to play in the third quarter. The Buffs appeared on the verge of scoring a program-first win over USC, but a scoreless Colorado fourth quarter and two touchdowns by the Trojans improved their record to 14-0 all-time in the series.
The win also kept USC in control of its fate for the Pac-12 championship. A Sept. 20 win over Utah, the only one other one-loss team in the South, gives the Trojans the tiebreaker.
Pittman’s 156 yards receiving at Folsom Field on Friday were his most since hauling in 232 in the win over Utah. Friday also marked his first multiple-touchdown performance since Sept. 14 at BYU. His first score came from 44 yards out with 11:25 to play, cutting USC’s deficit to 31-28.
Quarterback Kedon Slovis finished 30-of-44 passing for 407 yards with four touchdowns, the other two going to wide receiver Tyler Vaughns and running back Kenan Christon. USC avoided disaster on its game-winning drive twice, as the freshman Slovis was nearly intercepted on a desperation shovel pass and then fumbled on a sack.
Christon rushed for 76 yards his first career start for a depleted backfield. Stephen Carr, Vavae Malepeai and Markese Stepp were all out with injuries.
USC’s final, 89-yard drive was set up when Colorado coach Mel Tucker opted to punt on fourth-and-4 from the Trojans 38-yard line with 6:23 remaining. It was the Buffs’ second punt on USC’s side of the field in the fourth quarter, the other coming when a promising drive was negated by a holding penalty.
Colorado was penalized 13 times for 109 yards.
After the Trojans took a 7-0 lead in the first minute, Colorado scored the next 17 points, including two 7-yard TD grabs by K.D. Nixon from Montez.
Christon’s 3-yard score with 2:48 to play until half made it 17-14 at the break.
Shenault went 71 yards just 45 seconds into the second half, but Slovis hit Vaughns from 21 yards out just two minutes later to make it 24-21.
—Field Level Media