|Date of game: 11/16/2013
Recap: USC vs. Stanford
Los Angeles, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - It was a gamble that may take the interim tag off Ed Orgeron.
He has a valiant Marqise Lee to thank for that.
Andre Heidari's go-ahead 47-yard field goal with 19 seconds remaining lifted USC over No. 5 Stanford, 20-17, on Saturday night.
Su'a Cravens intercepted Cardinal quarterback Kevin Hogan with 3:02 remaining and Cody Kessler went deep to Lee on the very next snap. Lee, who has been used sparingly the last two games due to a left knee injury, limped off the field following the play.
USC faced a 4th-and-2 at the Stanford 48 with 1:23 left and Orgeron elected to go for it.
A hurting Lee came back in for the play and hauled in a 13-yard slant to give the Trojans a vital first down before he hobbled off the field again. Heidari's boot came six snaps later.
"I knew I was taking a chance but I looked in these guys' eyes and I knew they wanted to go for it. I wanted to give them the best shot to get what they wanted. It worked; it was a great call," Orgeron said.
Thrust into the head coaching role after Lane Kiffin was fired following a 3-2 start, Orgeron has helped the Trojans (8-3, 5-2 Pac-12) win five of their six games since taking over.
Kessler completed 25-of-37 passes for 288 yards and a touchdown, Nelson Agholor had eight receptions for 104 yards and Lee caught six balls for 83 yards in the triumph.
After carrying the ball a school-record 45 times for 157 yards in Stanford's upset win over Oregon last Thursday, Tyler Gaffney didn't get as many totes but was just as effective. He had 158 yards rushing and two scores on 24 carries.
Hogan completed 14-of-25 passes for 127 yards with a pair of interceptions for the Cardinal (8-2, 6-2), who fell a game behind the Ducks for sole possession of first place in the Pac-12 North.
"They made the plays at the end to win it and we didn't it," Stanford head coach David Shaw said. "They have a good team and they got healthy at the wrong time for us."
Stanford had its three-game winning streak at the Coliseum snapped.
Kessler hit Agholor for 20 yards on 3rd-and-8 and then Lee for 13 yards on a 3rd-and-7 on USC's opening drive before Kessler flipped a play-action pass to Soma Vainuku in the right flat for a 1-yard score.
Heidari, though, missed the extra point.
Gaffney capped Stanford's ensuing 5-play, 76-yard march with a 35-yard score. He was ganged up at the line of scrimmage by four Trojans, but somehow wiggled free and made linebacker Hayes Pullard miss along the right edge. Gaffney jettisoned along the right sideline and cut inside at the 20 before diving into the end zone for the highlight-reel touchdown.
The Trojans answered with another long trek, this one an 8-play, 76-yard sequence that ended with Javorius Allen's 1-yard TD plunge. Lee hauled in the ensuing two-point conversion to give USC a 14-7 lead late in the first.
Kessler's incompletion to Jahleel Pinner on a 3rd-and-4 from the Stanford 5 snapped his streak of 10 straight completions on the Trojans' next touch and Heidari booted through a 23-yard field goal for a 10-point spread at the 9:05 mark of the second.
Conrad Ukropina split the uprights from 27 yards out with 17 ticks left on the first-half clock to whittle the Stanford gap to 17-10 heading into the break.
Gaffney capped Stanford's initial 10-play, 92-yard drive of the second half with an 18-yard sprint up the middle for a score and Kessler fumbled four plays later to give the ball right back to the Cardinal at the USC 19.
But the Trojans blocked Ukropina's 30-yard field goal attempt to keep the contest knotted at 17-17 with 5:59 to go in the third.
A 19-yard run by Gaffney set up the Cardinal with a 1st-and-goal at the 6-yard line early in the fourth, but Dion Bailey intercepted Hogan on 3rd-and-goal.Game Notes
Former Stanford lineman Jonathan Martin watched the game from the Cardinal
sideline ... The Cardinal outgained the Trojans, 337-311 ... Allen carried the
ball 16 times for 26 yards.