A brutal game bereft of offense couldn’t have looked better to coach Mike Leach and the Washington State Cougars as they stunned 25th-ranked USC 10-7 Saturday night at the Los Angeles Coliseum, where WSU had not won since 2000.
CB Damante Horton returned an interception 70 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter, then sealed the game with another pick on the Trojans’ final possession, causing the remainder of a crowd of 60,000 to heckle Trojans coach Lane Kiffin with chants of “Fi-re Kif-fin!”
The win was the biggest of Leach’s two-year tenure, and came a week after the Cougars nearly pulled off an upset of Auburn in Alabama, losing 31-24.
“It’s a big win — Washington State hasn’t done it in a while,” Leach told Fox Sports 1. “We played incredibly hard. This was a war of D-linemen, and I was prouder than hell we had our D-linemen.”
WSU held the inept Trojans offense to 193 yards (54 passing) and 14 first downs. The Trojans again split the QB job between Cody Kessler and Max Wittek, but neither was effective.
In the second quarter, Kessler scored on a four-yard run, capping a 20-yard drive following an interception of Cougars QB Connor Halliday. But Kessler gave back late in the period when he threw a bad ball that Horton took to the house untouched for a halftime tie at 7.
The game looked to stay that way into overtime until Washington State made the offensive breakthrough of the night inside four minutes. Halliday threw a wide receiver screen to Dominic Williams, who juked one defender, then broke a tackle to find open space and scoot down the sideline 49 yards to the USC 28.
After three ineffective plays, Andrew Furney came on to kick a 41-yard field goal with 3:03 left that held up. Wittek, who took over in the second half for Kessler, ended the Trojans chances when he threw almost directly to Horton with a little more than two minutes remaining. USC gave the Cougars one final break by committing pass interference that gave WSU the one first down it needed to run out the clock.