View Count: 95 |  Publish Date: November 17, 2013
USC kicks Stanford out of Rose Bowl driver's seat

Los Angeles -- - Despite Stanfords elevation to the elite level of college football, it still seems bizarre to see USC fans storm the field to celebrate a win over the Cardinal.
Thats what happened in the Coliseum on Saturday night when the underdog Trojans edged Stanford 20-17 and put a severe crimp in the Cardinals Rose Bowl plans.
Andre Heidaris 47-yard field goal with 19 seconds left - USCs only points in the second half - handed Stanford its second Pac-12 loss in front of a sellout crowd of 93,607.
If Stanford (8-2, 6-2 Pac-12) beats Cal next week, Oregon would have to lose to either Arizona or Oregon State for Stanford to win the Pac-12s North Division.
Stanford was trying to beat USC for the fifth straight time in a series that dates to 1905. It didnt do it, thanks to a blocked field goal in the third quarter and two USC interceptions in the fourth.
Its not a good feeling, said tailback Tyler Gaffney, who rushed for 158 yards and two touchdowns. We expect to win every game. This is the first time Ive lost to them. I think its the first time anybody on the team has lost to them. Its a tough thing to swallow.
Cody Kessler, who became USCs starting quarterback early in the season, completed 25 of 37 passes for 288 yards and a touchdown. His leading receiver, Nelson Agholor, had eight catches for 104 yards.
Meanwhile, Stanfords Kevin Hogan probably deserved better numbers than his 14-for-25, 127-yard performance. Ty Montgomery dropped two early passes, including a bomb that could have gone for a touchdown. Hogan later just missed on deep tries to Michael Rector and Montgomery.
We knew we had to make some explosive plays, head coach David Shaw said. We had some opportunities. ... You gotta connect on them when the opportunity is there.
With the score tied 17-17 early in the fourth quarter, Hogan tried to hit Montgomery on a slant pattern, but safety Dion Bailey picked it off. Later, Hogan failed to throw the ball out of bounds when he was under heavy pressure; instead, it was intercepted by safety Sua Cravens, who tipped the ball to himself.
Shaw took the blame for the first pick. It was a bad call, he said. It was the second time we ran it; we just flipped the sides. On the second pick, he said Hogan should just have taken the sack and played it smart in a tie game.
USC (8-3, 5-2) is 5-1 since Ed Orgeron became interim head coach on Sept. 29, replacing the fired Lane Kiffin. Orgeron put all his chips on the table with 1:21 left, going for the first down on a 4th-and-2 at the Stanford 48. Kessler hit Marqise Lee for 13 yards and the first down.
A pass to Agholor brought 10 more yards to the Stanford 21. Four plays later, Heidari - who was only 11-for-17 entering the game - hit his second field goal of the game.
Theyre a good team, and they got healthy at the wrong time for us, Shaw said. Agholor and Lee are difference makers. In the second half, we did a heck of a job holding them down defensively. We didnt make enough plays on offense.
Conrad Ukropina filled in as Stanfords kicker for Jordan Williamson, who tweaked a leg muscle in warm-ups. Ukropina booted a 27-yard field goal with 17 seconds left in the first half, but his 30-yard try was blocked in the third quarter.
That play was set up when Kessler fumbled as he was sacked by Trent Murphy, and Shayne Skov recovered at the USC 20.
USC drove 63 yards on its first possession, and Kessler completed it by lobbing a 1-yard touchdown pass to fullback Soma Vainuku. Heidaris PAT kick was wide, and Stanford moved ahead on Gaffneys 35-yard touchdown.
Javorius Allen scored on a 1-yard run, and USC took a 14-7 lead on Lees nice catch for a two-point conversion. Gaffneys 18-yard run allowed Stanford to tie the score at 17-17 in the third quarter.
Cal remains winless in Pac-12 with 41-24 loss to Colorado. B8
Tom FitzGerald is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: Twitter: @tomgfitzgerald

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Time: 8:22  |  News Code: 342640  |  Site: San Francisco Chronicle
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