The USC Trojans survived a late push from the California Golden Bears at the Coliseum Thursday night, ultimately winning the game 38-30.
Nelson Agholor and Cody Kessler were the starts for USC. Agholor logged his second-straight 200-yard receiving outing with 16 receptions for 214 yards. He was one catch shy of tying Robert Woods’ school record for receptions in a game.
Kessler threw for 370 yards and four touchdowns, but he also threw an interception, his third of the season.
Jared Goff recovered from a poor first half to finish with 279 yards and three touchdowns. At runing back, Daniel Lasco was effective with 86 yards and a touchdown.
Javorius Allen failed to eclipse 100 yards for just the second time this season for USC.
The Trojans dominated the first half, putting the game out of reach by the end of the first quarter. Kessler found Agholor for a ten-yard touchdown to start the scoring.
A 32-yard bomb to George Farmer made it 14-0 soon after and Cal failed to produce anything offensively to keep the game close.
The Bears’ first points came after Cal downed a pooch punt at the one-yard line. Justin Davis was met inside the endzone by Cal defenders who forced the safety.
The Trojans responded with a long-pass to Agholor which set up a a three-yard touchdown from Justin Davis.
Kessler threw another touchdown pass to Agholor in the second quarter, then a 25-yard kick from Heidari finished off the scoring for the Trojans.
Goff took advantage of USC backing off on defense to lead a touchdown drive at the end of the half and cut to score to 31-9.
Cal struck first in the second half after back and forth punts. Daniel Lasco made it 14 unanswered points by Cal with a four-yard touchdown run after Goff got into a grove and picked his way down the field.
On the following USC drive, the Bears had the opportunity to put the Trojans in a hole after a long Agholor touchdown was called back on a hold and George Farmer was called for offensive pass interference, but a taunting penalty on the Cal sideline gave USC new life.
Coincidentally the drive finished off with a taunting penalty. After Davis and Allen worked USC to the goal line, Kessler scrambled away from pressure and found Randall Telfer open in the endzone. Kessler turned to the Cal sideline and was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct, but the score stood.
Cal answered with a scoring drive of their own on a Bryce Tregs 5-yard score, but it took them nearly six minutes to do it.
Still, the Bears forced a Trojan punt and once again it was Goff who got Cal going. He hit a wide open Stephen Anderson for a 26-yard touchdown to cut the USC lead to eight.
The Trojans avoided another catastrophe by recovering the onside kick and securing the uncomfortably close victory.
USC improved to 7-3 while Cal dropped to 5-5. Next week, the Trojans will face rival UCLA. Cal will play Stanford as they fight for bowl eligibility.
Stay tuned to Reign of Troy for more USC vs. Cal score updates and post-game content.