After a disappointing overtime loss the previous week, the (3-1) USC Trojans bounced back defeating PAC-12 opponent (3-1) #10 Utah Utes, 30-23. Reggie Bush was in attendance as a Fox Sports analyst for the first time at the Coliseum since the NCAA hit USC with sanctions tied to the former Heisman winner.
On the second play of the game Freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis was driven into the ground and injured on a pass attempt removing him from the game. Junior quarterback Matt Fink took charge of the Trojans offense and completed 21of 30 passes for 351 yards, 3 touchdowns and an interception. Senior wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr ran circles around the Utes secondary hauling in 10 catches for 232 yards and a touchdown.
Matt Fink showed poise as he entered the game and marched the Trojans down the field capping off a 7 play 81 yard drive with a 29 yard touchdown throw to Junior wide receiver Tyler Vaughns. USC didn’t miss a beat with the third-string quarterback at the helm in the likes of a must-win game to propel the Trojans back in discussion with the top teams in the country.
The Utah Utes responded with a 17 yard touchdown run from Junior running back Devonta’e Henry-Cole finishing a strong 5 play 75 yard drive. Senior quarterback Tyler Huntley had the Utes offense going toe-to-toe with the Trojans. Huntley completed 22 of 30 passes for 210 yards, a passing touchdown, along with 80 rushing yards.
Midway through the first quarter, the Trojans regained a 14-7 lead on a perfectly placed lob pass from Rancho Cucamonga native Matt Fink to Sophomore wide receiver Amon-ra St. Brown for a 31 yard touchdown. With four minutes remaining in the first quarter USC Junior defensive lineman Connor Murphy blocked a 41 yard field goal attempt by the Utes, the second blocked field goal on the young season for the Trojans.
Fink continued to show the depth USC has at the quarterback position throwing a 78 yard touchdown pass to Michael Pittman Jr increasing the lead 21-10 in the third quarter. The Utes were down but not out, temporarily slowing down the Trojans steamrolling offense. Senior cornerback Terrell Burgess intercepted Fink leading to a 2 yard touchdown pass from Huntley to Sophomore tight end Cole Fotheringham decreasing the Trojan lead, 21-17.
A 24 yard field goal in the fourth quarter cut the Trojan lead to 21-20. In a must win game at home, the Trojans showed an immense amount of heart with an impressive defensive stand leading to a safety and Freshman running back Markese Stepp sealing the win for the Trojans with a 4 yard emphatic touchdown run high-fiving Reggie Bush in the back of the endzone.
Quarterback Matt Fink spoke on his poise and composure as he entered the game, “I didn’t think this moment was too big for me, I have a great team of brothers that continued to push me forward,” said Fink. “I think getting in today and showing what I can do, was what I really wanted to do by staying here,” said Fink.
USC Head Coach Clay Helton was always confident in his depth of quarterbacks, “Coming out of training camp I said this was a unique situation we were in because the four quarterbacks on our roster can play anywhere,” emphasized Helton. “[Matt Fink] trained as hard as anyone, even when he was named the third string quarterback, he took advantage of each and every rep and when it was his turn he made the most of it.”
The Trojans are now ranked #21 in the country and looking to improve heading on the road to take on PAC-12 opponent #17 Washington Huskies Saturday September 28th at 12:30 pm.