There are flea-flickers, and then there is the gem USC pulled off Saturday night.
The 20th-ranked Trojans were looking for some momentum during the first half of their contest against No. 5 Washington, which led 35-28 at the half.
And USC ran one of the prettiest plays of the year.
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Southern California quarterback Caleb Williams warms up for the team’s game against Washington Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Defending Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams handed the ball off to Zachariah Branch on a jet sweep, which seemed like it would be stuffed immediately.
But Branch cut back to his right as Williams backed up a couple steps. Branch then lateraled the ball back to Williams, who heaved a pass downfield to Tahj Washington, who was wide open for a score.
When he scored, Washington did his best Victor Cruz salsa dance in the end zone.
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The touchdown put USC up 28-21 with just over four minutes to go in the first half, but it lost momentum quickly.
Caleb Williams (13) of the USC Trojans throws a pass in the fourth quarter against the Utah Utes at United Airlines Field at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Oct. 21, 2023, in Los Angeles. (Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)
Washington scored a touchdown with just over a minute left in the half, and then Williams lost a fumble on the ensuing drive inside USC’s own 20. Three plays later, the Huskies scored another touchdown on Dillon Johnson’s third of the half.
The matchup figured to be a shootout. Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. has joined the Heisman conversation. While Williams isn’t replicating his Heisman campaign from last year, he still is likely to be the top selection in the NFL Draft next year if he enters.
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USC is coming off a 50-49 win over California on the road, a game it trailed by two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, Washington is looking to go 9-0 on the season.