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USC endures wild finish to deal Arizona first loss of season

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USA Today
USC's Leonard Williams made big plays Saturday vs. Anu Solomon and the Arizona offense.

The late-night Pac-12 action that tends to end every college football Saturday continues to be one of the best, if not most interesting, parts of the day.

Unfortunately for league commissioner Larry Scott, that means plenty of upsets and a league that continues to show that while it's the deepest in the land, it's also one that cannibalizes itself. Such was the case late into the desert night Saturday as USC held on for a 28-26 win at previously unbeaten Arizona.

And to say USC "held on" might not accurately describe what happened.

The Wildcats came back from a 15-point deficit in the fourth quarter to close to within two after a touchdown with 1:07 left in the game but failed (twice, thanks to a USC penalty) on the two-point conversion. Living up to their recent nickname, the Cardiac 'Cats then managed to recover an onside kick and quickly drove into field goal range. However, USC coach Steve Sarkisian iced kicker Casey Skowron with his final timeout and Skowron hooked his kick wide right to give the Trojans the win and a place atop the wild Pac-12 South Division.

USC survived thanks to quality performances out of many of its stars, getting back on track -- barely -- in the conference after a last-second loss to Arizona State last week.

Trojans defensive tackle Leonard Williams looked like the potential first-round pick he was touted as entering the season, recording his third sack of the season and causing havoc in the backfield most of the night. Williams stuffed Arizona's two-point conversion attempt, which ultimately decided the game. Fellow defensive lineman Claude Pelon also recorded a sack (he also blocked a field goal) and the team shut down a top-notch rushing attack to the tune of just 77 yards on the ground.

USC tailback Javorius "Buck" Allen kept the offense in the game and might have earned himself Pac-12 Player of the Week honors after rushing for 205 yards and three touchdowns. Quarterback Cody Kessler threw his first interception of the season but was steady under center most of the night, posting 185 yards through the air on 20-of-30 passing with a touchdown pass to Nelson Agholor in the third quarter.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Anu Solomon was asked to carry the Arizona offense after starting tailback Nick Wilson was held out due to injuries he suffered in the team's win over Oregon last week. Solomon threw for 395 yards and a touchdown but needed 72 attempts to do so. Tailback Terris Jones-Grigsby, Wilson's replacement as the starter, left in the first half after taking a hard hit from USC's Williams.

In the end, it was another zany, late-night Pac-12 game that saw USC hold on for a big divisional win that further muddled the title picture out West and knocked one team from the ranks of the unbeaten.

You can follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.

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