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Holiday Bowl: Southern Cal 42, Louisville 28

Southern Cal 42, Louisville 28

BY BERNIE WILSON
Associated Press

SAN DIEGO - With Caleb Williams watching from the sideline, Miller Moss threw a Holiday Bowl-record six touchdown passes in his first college start and Southern California ended a frustrating season by beating No. 16 Louisville 42-28.

Moss took full advantage of the opportunity he was given when Williams opted out. Williams, the 2022 Heisman Trophy winner and presumptive first overall pick in the NFL draft, watched from the sideline wearing a white T-shirt with his No. 13 jersey hanging around his neck.

Moss was 23 of 33 for 372 yards, with one interception. He broke the Holiday Bowl record of four touchdown passes held by four players, including Jim McMahon in BYU’s miracle 46-45 comeback win against SMU in 1980. The record came late in the third quarter when Moss lobbed a 12-yard pass to a leaping Ja’Kobi Lane in the back of the end zone. Lane’s second TD catch of the night gave USC a 35-21 lead.

Moss added on with a beautiful 44-yard strike to Duce Robinson for a 42-28 lead with 10 minutes to go.

Williams jumped on Moss in celebration after the redshirt sophomore twice took a knee in victory formation at Petco Park.

The six TD passes were also the most by a quarterback in his first start for USC (8-5), which lost three straight games and five of six coming in after opening the year with national championship aspirations. They also were a Trojans bowl record and tied the Pac-12 bowl record.

Isaac Guerendo ran 23 times for 161 yards and three touchdowns for Louisville (10-4). Jack Plummer threw for 141 yards with no touchdowns.

Moss also threw scoring passes of 17 and 29 yards to Tahj Washington, who completed his first 1,000-yard receiving season. Kyron Hudson caught a 9-yard touchdown pass two plays after blocking Brady Hodges’ punt, which went out of bounds at the Cardinals’ 18.

Leading 28-14, the Trojans were driving early in the third quarter when Moss was intercepted at the goal line by Quincy Riley, who returned it 61 yards to the USC 39. Five plays later, Isaac Guerendo scored on a 1-yard run to pull the Cardinals within a touchdown.

Guerendo scored on a 2-yard run on Louisville’s first possession of the game.

After Denis Lynch was wide right on a 38-yard field goal try, the Trojans got the ball right back when Max Williams strip-sacked Plummer, with Solomon Byrd recovering at the Louisville 19. Moss threw a short pass to Washington, who deked two defenders before diving into the end zone to tie the game.

USC jumped to a 21-7 lead on Moss’ second scoring pass to Washington and then Hudson’s score. Evan Conley scored on a 9-yard run for Louisville before USC went 75 yards in five plays just before halftime, with Moss dodging a defender, rolling right and chucking up a 31-yarder to Lane for a 28-14 lead.

THE TAKEAWAY

Louisville: Plummer injured a finger on his right hand early in the second quarter, but missed only a few plays before returning.

USC: Moss had played in just 11 games in three seasons, going 43 of 59 for 542 yards and three touchdowns, with no interceptions.

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December 27, 2023





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