EditorsNote: rewords second and third graf
Michael Pittman Jr. caught 10 passes for 232 yards from third-string quarterback Matt Fink, and host Southern California knocked off 10th-ranked Utah 30-23 Friday night at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Fink, a junior who began the season third on the Trojans' depth chart, completed 21 of 30 passes for 351 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. He came on for freshman Kedon Slovis, who exited with an apparent injury on the first drive.
Slovis made his third career start after similarly replacing Week 1 starter JT Daniels, who sustained a season-ending torn ACL in the opener.
Pittman led a dazzling performance from the wide receiver corps. A variety of pass-catchers made spectacular grabs for USC (3-1, 2-0 Pac-12 Conference), but perhaps none as critical as Pittman's 77-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter. He twisted to grab a Fink heave between two Utah defenders, then was off to the races.
Amon-Ra St. Brown and Tyler Vaughns also hauled in scoring catches. St. Brown bounced back from a disappointing Week 3 in which he caught only one pass for 4 yards, amassing 68 yards on five catches.
Utah (3-1, 0-1) moved the ball often with ease on the USC defense, gaining 457 yards on the night. Quarterback Tyler Huntley picked up the rushing slack after running back Zack Moss sustained a reported first-half shoulder injury. Huntley gained 60 yards on 18 carries to go with his 210 passing with one touchdown.
Moss' absence loomed, however, particularly at the goal line. Three Utes possessions in the first half that moved inside the USC 30-yard line combined to produce only three points. A fumble by Devin Brumfield near the goal line just before halftime denied Utah a potential lead at intermission, as USC took a 14-10 lead into the locker room.
The visitors then had to settle for field goals on a pair of red-zone opportunities in the fourth quarter.
Utah cut an 11-point gap to one early in the final quarter thanks to a Huntley scoring pass and a 24-yard field goal by Jadon Redding, then forced a USC punt. However, Ben Griffiths booted a coffin-corner punt to the 4-yard line.
After a holding penalty -- one of 27 flags assessed on the night, totaling 120 yards for Utah and 117 for USC -- negated a positive play, Trojans defensive lineman Drake Jackson forced an intentional grounding penalty by Huntley in the end zone that resulted in a safety.
The safety preceded a USC touchdown drive, capped by a Markese Stepp 4-yard run.
--Field Level Media