UCLA cornerback Darnay Holmes positioned himself under a pass that was only his to catch.
It was intended for the sideline as a throwaway but had slipped out of USC quarterback JT Daniels’ hand early in the fourth quarter, making Holmes the lone possible recipient.
Holmes ran down a one-item checklist in his head.
“My main thing was, make sure I catch it,” Holmes said. “I’d probably be the worst person ever if I had dropped that pass.”
Holmes made the interception, one of several big defensive stops that helped the Bruins emerge with a 34-27 victory over the Trojans on Saturday afternoon at the Rose Bowl.
The Trojans generated zilch from their four fourth-quarter drives. The first ended when coach Clay Helton curiously decided to run on third and 21, linebacker Krys Barnes wrapping up Vavae Malepeai for a one-yard gain.
USC’s second drive of the quarter ended with Holmes’ interception. The third was snuffed out when Barnes flung Malepeai to the ground for a four-yard loss on third and seven.
Barnes was also there to end the Trojans’ final hopes, breaking up Daniels’ fourth-down pass with 32 seconds left.
All that was left for a defense that entered the game ranked next to last in the Pac-12 in yardage and points given up was to commence the celebration.
“It just shows that hard work pays off,” Holmes said. “And just being patient throughout the process is the main thing.”
Back at it
Less than a month after he tweeted a picture of himself in a hospital gown following arthroscopic knee surgery, UCLA offensive lineman Justin Murphy was back on the field in a game.
The graduate transfer from Texas Tech made it a memorable one, helping to clear out defenders for tailback Joshua Kelley’s record-setting performance.
“We love Murph,” Kelley said after rushing for a career-high 289 yards, the most by any player in the history of the UCLA-USC rivalry. “He came back, he fought. You know, it’s just a testament of a man’s character when you’re injured. A lot of people are banged up in this time of the year, and he just said, ‘I’m gonna come back, and I’m gonna do the best that I can,’ and he was phenomenal.”
Murphy’s procedure was the third on the knee. The first two prompted Murphy to take a medical retirement before he gave football one more try with the Bruins.
“He’s a big-time player for us [with] his energy, his leadership,” Kelley said. “We love him.”