LOS ANGELES - Only minutes – and two Southern California timeouts - had expired.
Erik Folk’s glance at the west-end goal posts must have seemed like it lasted an eternity – until he finally got the chance to put a dagger in another ranked Trojans team Saturday night.
His 32-yard field goal on the final play lifted Washington a 32-31 victory over 18th-ranked USC in front of stunned crowd of 82,796 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
It was the Huskies’ first win at USC since 1996.
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And two weeks after he was largely labeled the goat in the Huskies’ lopsided loss at home to Nebraska, UW quarterback Jake Locker returned from a blow to the head to lead the Huskies on their final drive.
The biggest play came on a do-or-die, fourth-and-11 pass to receiver D’Andre Goodwin that netted an 18-yard gain with 2:08 to go.
Once Chris Polk pranced 26 yards up the gut, and into USC territory, the Huskies decided to keep it on the ground, eating up the clock for one final opportunity at a victory.
Interrupted by a timeout not once … not twice … but three times – twice by USC, and once by his own team – Folk’s soaring boot split the uprights and sent the Huskies players and coaches shooting onto the field, running and yelling in celebration.
Though a bit hoarse, somehow UW coach Steve Sarkisian had enough of a voice to admit what he said to his players in the huddle before Folk nailed the game-winner.
“I told the guys … ‘We’re going to kick off SportsCenter, so let’s go,’ ” Sarkisian proudly proclaimed.
It was a night when both offenses carried the mail – 1,020 total yards. USC did it on the ground with 298, led by Allen Bradford’s 223 to go along with a pair of touchdowns.
The Huskies did it entirely differently, but equally proficiently. On almost every snap, they lined up in shotgun and let Locker pick apart the Trojans with his arm (310 passing yards) and legs (110 rushing yards).
“Legendary,” said Sarkisian, summing up his senior’s effort in what easily was the defining moment of his career.
Locker had to get off the mat, too, to get the win.
On a third-down run deep in Trojans’ territory early in the fourth quarter, he twisted his body in a scrum of players trying to get the first down. As he hit the grassy surface, he was inadvertently struck by the leg of USC’s Shareece Wright, snapping his head back.
Locker stayed on the ground for a few minutes before he was helped off the field by team doctors.
“I knew I was coming into the game,” Locker said. “Just got my bell rung, got a little woozy, and I was fortunately able to come back.”
Just not on the next play. Backup Keith Price tossed a 1-yard touchdown pass to Chris Izbicki to give the Huskies a 29-28 lead.
After USC regained the lead, 31-29, on Joe Houston’s 27-yard field goal with 10 minutes remaining, the Huskies appeared to hit a snag in the Trojans’ territory.
On fourth-and-8 from the USC 38, Sarkisian opted to go for it. Locker had an open crease to throw to Devin Aguilar. Cornerback Brian Baucham came up and appeared to grab the receiver to knock down the pass, but no penalty was called, and USC had the ball back.
Irritated, Sarkisian threw his visor on the turf and glared at the officiating crew.
Five consecutive Bradford runs, and USC was back in UW territory. But on third-and-4, Matt Barkley’s pass was deflected by a closer receiver (Jordan Cameron) when it appeared intended for Ronald Johnson in the deeper flat.
Houston’s 40-yard field goal try clanked off the right upright.
“We need to finish people off,” USC coach Lane Kiffin said. “Earlier in the season, we were up by more and we didn’t necessarily finish them off, either. This time, it came back to get us.”
Locker’s fourth-down dart to Goodwin in the right flat was as clutch as they come.
“I had a post (pattern). Depending on coverage, he makes his read,” Goodwin said. “We just made a play. ... I was open in the hole. He saw me. He made the play.”
Polk powered up through the middle of the USC defense to the Trojans’ 33, and the visitors were in business, setting up a game-winner for Folk – who nailed a 22-yarder in the final seconds last season to give the Huskies a 16-13 upset win in Seattle.
“It was really good for the confidence of our offense on the last drive,” Folk said. “They knew they could drive down the field on these guys, and did exactly that.
“The whole time, I knew if I hit it well, it would go through. I had confidence in my swing, and went out there and kicked it.”