Freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis passed for 377 yards and three touchdowns in his first career start, leading USC to a come-from-behind, 45-20 win over No. 23 Stanford on Saturday night at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
USC (2-0, 1-0 Pac-12) was without Week 1 starting quarterback JT Daniels, who sustained a season-ending ACL injury midway through a win over Fresno State. Slovis led an opening field-goal drive, but the Trojans appeared headed for a blowout loss when the Cardinal (1-1, 0-1) responded with 17 consecutive points.
The turning point came when Stanford extended its lead to two touchdowns in the early second quarter. The Cardinal could have pushed the advantage to three scores after recovering a kickoff return fumble deep in USC territory, but the Trojans' defense held Stanford to a field goal, giving their offense the window it needed.
Slovis, who finished 28 of 33, led three straight touchdown drives before halftime, giving USC a lead it never surrendered. The deluge began with a perfectly placed, 39-yard rainbow pass to wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, who finished with 97 yards on eight receptions and two scores.
Fellow wide receiver Tyler Vaughns followed his career-high 150 yards in Week 1 with 106 yards receiving and a fourth-quarter touchdown of 16 yards that provided the exclamation point, capping 35 unanswered points from the Trojans
Running backs Stephen Carr and Vavae Malepeai both reached the end zone for the second time in as many weeks. Carr's came on a 25-yard run in the first half, while Malepeai powered in for second-half scores of 4 and 6 yards.
As Malepeai pushed the lead to three scores, two promising Stanford possessions in the third quarter ended in missed field goals.
Before the game-changing misfires, the Cardinal moved the ball effectively with quarterback Davis Mills, playing in place of injured K.J. Costello. Mills, a Greater Atlanta Christian grad, threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Connor Wedington in the first quarter to cap a 35-yard drive, part of the quarterback's 22-of-36, 237-yard night.
Running back Cameron Scarlett punched in a 3-yard rushing touchdown on the first play of the second quarter to conclude an 80-yard drive.
Stanford did not reach the end zone again. USC cornerback Greg Johnson snuffed one fourth-quarter possession with an interception, and a fourth-down stop in Stanford territory with 8:21 remaining effectively ended the Cardinal's comeback hopes.
--Field Level Media