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Arizona State tops USC on Hail Mary to complete comeback

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Kirby Lee/Associated Press
Arizona State QB Mike Bercovici came through in the clutch for the Sun Devils on Saturday.

Nine down, three minutes to go and on the road. No problem if you ask Mike Bercovici.

Arizona State used a 54-yard Hail Mary catch by Jaelen Strong to cap off an improbable comeback at the Coliseum and beat USC 38-34 to cause even more chaos in the Pac-12.

"I'm about to have a heart attack," Sun Devils head coach Todd Graham said on Fox after the game.

He wasn't the only one.


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Starting his second game in place of quarterback Taylor Kelly, Bercovici went 27-of-45 for 512 yards and five touchdowns against a team that hadn't allowed a score through the air all season. He willed the team to a victory with several key downfield throws and was close to perfect in the final few minutes when his team needed it most.

His top target was one of the best in the Pac-12 and a potential first-round pick, Jaelen Strong. The junior racked up 10 catches for 212 yards and three scores, the last of which set off celebrations in Tempe and a slew of expletives around Southern California. Strong created separation on several first-down pick-ups through the game but saved his best for last, reaching up to grab Bercovici's pass and waltz into the end zone nearly untouched for the game-winning score.

USC's Cody Kessler had a solid night at quarterback for the Trojans and still hasn't thrown an interception this season. Tailback Javorius Allen had appeared to ice the game late in the fourth quarter when he burst to the outside for a 53-yard touchdown run, putting the Trojans up 34-25. It just wasn't meant to be, however.

A normally reliable USC defense saw several key players fail to come through in the clutch. It was another quiet game for defensive lineman Leonard Williams, who could see his stock start falling after being mentioned as a potential top-five pick. Veteran linebacker and All-Pac-12 pick Hayes Pullard was responsible for both of Arizona State's touchdowns that fueled the comeback and had his issues in pass coverage all night.

Just another wild night of Pac-12 football. Given how crazy it was around the country on Saturday in college football, it's seems completely appropriate there was a game-winning Hail Mary out west.

You can follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.

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