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6-Points: USC 20, Stanford 17

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Junior kicker Andre Heidari drills a 47-yard game-winning field goal to complete an unforgettable night at the Coliseum.

Click here for the recap and final stats.

Redemption Story

celebration2_stanford-McG.jpgIt is not how you start, but how you finish.  Andre Heidari proved that tonight.  After a perfect opening drive ended in a Soma Vainuku touchdown catch, Heidari missed the extra point adding to an already inconsistent season.  While the shank would have been the last straw for many coaches, Ed Orgeron and John Baxter stuck with Heidari, who with 25 seconds to go found himself lining up the game-winner.  "It's the same kick. Three steps back, two steps over and hit a target. That's it," Heidari recited his process.  Instead of carrying the weight of his earlier miss and the pressure of the moment, the junior kicker felt supported by his team and his coaches.  "I just want to thank my teammates for putting me in that position.  My team was there for me for the whole process."

The Gamble

Belief has become a popular word in the USC locker room.  Put to the test, Ed Orgeron backed up the word with action by betting on his offense's ability to pickup a 4th and 2 near midfield with 1:23 to go despite being shutout in the second half to that point.  "I just looked in my guys' eyes.  They wanted to go for it.  They thought we could win.  I wanted to give them a chance to win the game," said Orgeron about the decision.  QB Cody Kessler delivered a strike to Marqise Lee (6 catches for 83 yards) who gutted out another knee injury to make the crucial catch.

The Dirty Dozen

With the exception of one snap for Torin Harris, the USC defense featured only 12 players over 60 minutes.  Clancy Pendergast swapped NG Antwaun Woods and S Dion Bailey in-and-out depending on the down-and-distance, but the other 10 starters never came off the field despite the grueling, physical nature of the battle.  "This is big boy football.  This is smash mouth football.  USC vs. Stanford in the Coliseum.  Sold out.  I wouldn't want to be off the field at any time," said freshman S Su'a Cravens.  Among the defensive heroes, LB Anthony Sarao had a game-high 12 tackles, while LB Hayes Pullard had 11 tackles. 

"The Game Manager"

Lee_stanford-McG.jpgStanford's defensive game plan was to stop the run, and force Cody Kessler to beat them, so he did exactly that.  The sophomore quarterback played a lights out first half, and finished the game 25/37 for 288 yards and 1 TD with no interceptions.  What Kessler lacks in eye-popping ability, he makes up for in efficiency and determination.  "That's something we always saw in him.  His moxie.  His game type attitude.  The guys believe in him.  He's going to make a play," said Orgeron about Kessler.  "He's just becoming a good quarterback for us."

The Saver and Winner

While Kessler and the offense carried the first half, the Trojans were stifled after the break leaving the game in the defense's lap.  "It was just going to be a competition between the two defenses who was going to play the best and who could come out with the most turnovers," said Dion Bailey. "Our defense locked in and made a conscious effort to go after the ball and help our offense because we knew they were going up against a very tough defense.  I'm glad we were able to come down with two and help our team get a victory today."  Bailey came down with the first interception when the Cardinal appeared to be headed in for the go ahead score.  And then later, Cravens snagged a second pick to position the Trojans for the game-winning drive.

Thank You Coach O

Ed Orgeron gathered the Trojans in the post-game locker room and started his message with two simple words, "Thank you."  The team answered the coach back immediately, "No, thank you."  The mutual admiration society has turned a once lost season into one that the Trojan Family will never forget.  For the veterans on the team, tonight was something to truly savor.  "This game, it just reflects how tough, how relentless, the guys on this team have been," said redshirt junior Dion Bailey.  "My class, we've been through so much.  This win made it all worth it for us."

Extra Point...

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The final word and final thank you goes to the Trojan Family and the Coliseum crowd.  The atmosphere and post-game pandemonium had even the oldest Trojan fans wondering the last time the building was pumped with that much electricity.  "I'm so proud of our fans, and who they are, and the way they fight.  It's just great to be a Trojan tonight," said Orgeron.

(Photos by John McGillen)

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2 Comments

Keep Coach O as the HC!!!

he is the perfect coach blends well with the players truly a fan's choice for the job he
has my vote !!!

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