Provo • BYU’s upset over USC was so sweet, fans got to celebrate not once, but twice.
The double celebration was warranted given BYU’s 30-27 victory over the 24th-ranked Trojans Saturday at LaVell Edwards Stadium. Not only was it the second overtime win in as many weeks for the Cougars, but also their first win at home over a ranked team since beating No. 20 Boise State 35-24 on Sept. 12, 2015.
Since that win over the Broncos, the Cougars have been through a coaching change, a losing season in 2017 and only one other big victory, the 24-21 upset at No. 6 Wisconsin last year.
So no surprise that the near-sellout crowd of 62,546 and players took some extra moments to enjoy Saturday’s game, which came a week after winning at Tennessee in double overtime.
“I was getting destroyed by fans,” BYU quarterback Zach Wilson said of the celebration after throwing for 280 yards and a touchdown on 20-of-33 passing. “I was taking hits harder than I was in the game.”
The Cougars notched the overtime win over the Trojans when Dayan Ghanwoloku brought down a tipped pass in overtime with the Cougars protecting a 30-27 advantage.
Thinking the game was over, fans stormed the field. However, officials cleared the field to review the play, only to uphold the original call, leading to a second fan rush.
The end of the game was so wild, even the players weren’t sure what happened.
“I grabbed someone and was like, ‘What happened,’” linebacker Kavika Fonua said. “I don’t know what we were cheering for, I was just happy.”
BYU 30, NO. 24 USC 27 (OT)
• In short: The BYU Cougars won for the second week in overtime, this time upending No. 24 USC 30-27.
• Key moment: BYU linebacker Kavika Fonua tipped a pass by USC quarterback Kedon Slovis and Dayan Ghanwoloku intercepted it to seal the overtime win.
• Key stat: The Trojans had 187 passing yards in the first half, but just 94 yards passing for the remainder of the game.
Saturday’s win had similarities to last week when the Cougars rallied in the final minutes to beat Tennessee 29-26, with Wilson coming up with big plays when needed and the defense refusing to give up easy yardage after doing so earlier in the game.
On Saturday, the Cougars not only showed they can handle a pass-happy offense — despite the absence of several key defenders — but that they have an offense of their own that deserves some respect.
Wilson wasn’t always accurate, but his decision making was solid and running back Ty’Son Williams supported him 99 yards on 19 carries.
The Cougars used their share of trickery too, with Ghanwoloku playing both sides of the ball and backup quarterback Jaren Hall making an appearance.
“I really feel fortunate for the win,” BYU coach Kalani Sitake said. “We made some plays and we did some unconventional things on offense, defense and special teams, and I’m glad we got the win.”
Fresh from the celebration, Sitake brushed away any implications the win might have, other than giving the Cougars confidence when they prepare to host Washington in a week.
“It’s not about me or the rankings,” he said. “I’m happy for our fans and players to get this win. As the head coach, I had the best view in the house.”
The game went back and forth all afternoon, with BYU seemingly making a losing gaffe in the fourth quarter when it failed to convert on fourth-and-2 at USC’s 8-yard line.
The Trojans answered with a 13-play, 92-yard drive that culminated with a 30-yard touchdown pass from freshman QB Kedon Slovis to Michael Pittman Jr. that gave the Trojans a 24-17 lead with 10:45 remaining.
“I might have some regrets on that call,” Sitake admitted of the fourth-down decision.
Instead of fading away, the Cougars put together a drive that ended with a 32-yard field goal from Jake Oldroyd, then forced USC to punt on its next possession.
BYU briefly went ahead 27-24 when Wilson connected with Gunner Romney on a 35-yard play to USC’s 17-yard line, and Wilson ran for a touchdown two plays later.
USC got the ball back at its 22-yard line. USC advanced to BYU’s 34-yard line where Chase McGrath kicked a 52-yard field goal with 1:43 remaining.
Both teams had one more chance to win in regulation but failed to do so.