Hail Mary victories have quickly become the new normal in the state of Arizona.
Just two weeks after the Arizona Wildcats’ last-second 47-yard TD reception that beat Cal, the Arizona State Sun Devils enjoyed some late-game magic of their own, as backup quarterback Mike Bercovici connected with wide receiver Jaelen Strong for 46-yard score as time expired to give ASU an amazing 38-34 win over the Trojans in front of 70,115 stunned fans at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
After Bercovici threw a 73-yard touchdown pass to Cameron Smith with under three minutes to play, the Sun Devils’ defense held USC to a three-and-out and got the ball back with less than 30 seconds remaining. Bercovici — who threw for 510 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions — completed a 26-yard pass to Gary Chambers before connecting with Strong on the final play of the game.
Strong finished the game with 10 catches for 202 yards and three touchdowns.
Here’s how ASU carved out a Saturday night SoCal miracle, by the numbers:
Let’s get the bad stuff out of the way: the Sun Devils haven’t forced a turnover in their last two games. With that said, ASU was also turnover-free on Saturday, after turning it over four times during its 62-27 loss to UCLA.
Bercovici had three fourth-quarter touchdowns to three different receivers in the fourth quarter. The Sun Devils outscored USC 20-14 in the final frame.
Strong has recorded at least 100 receiving yards in 10 of his 19 NCAA games — although Saturday was the junior’s first 200-yard performance.
Winning can mask a lot of flaws, but the Devils will definitely want to address their third-down defense going forward. USC was 11 of 23 on third-down conversions for the game.
The Devils played a disciplined game in LA, committing only five penalties for 36 yards. USC had a nine-penalty, 60-yard evening.
ASU won despite USC winning the battle on the ground by a 190-yard margin. The Trojans out-rushed the Sun Devils 220-30 for the game.
Bercovici has a ridiculous 998 passing yards in his first two games as a starter. He threw for 488 yards in a losing effort against the Bruins.