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Bru McCoy makes his long-awaited USC debut memorable with clutch plays

USC wide receiver Bru McCoy catches a deflected pass in the end zone for a touchdown in the Trojans' 28-27 win.
USC wide receiver Bru McCoy catches a deflected pass in the end zone for a touchdown in the Trojans’ 28-27 win over Arizona State at the Coliseum on Saturday.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

After two years of waiting marked by a mysterious illness and a winding transfer saga, Bru McCoy was due a break.

As it turned out, in his long-awaited debut Saturday for USC, he’d get two. Both of which would be crucial in securing a 28-27 comeback victory over Arizona State.

The redshirt freshman wideout caught only two passes for 19 yards before the Trojans faced a fourth-and-13 with fewer than three minutes remaining. McCoy wasn’t even the target when quarterback Kedon Slovis uncorked a throw toward the left corner of the end zone, knowing a penalty flag for offside against Arizona State had already been thrown.

The target of that throw, Amon-ra St. Brown, was blanketed by defenders. But he managed to tip the ball into the air. Nearby, McCoy was conveniently waiting. As the ball fluttered in the air, McCoy snagged it. Then, he threw his arms up in celebration.

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USC recovers an onside kick late in the fourth quarter before Drake London scores on a 21-yard touchdown pass from Kedon Slovis to defeat Arizona State.

“It felt great,” McCoy said. “More than anything, just happy to be out there, happy to help the team get a big win. It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to play a game, so there were a lot of jitters heading into the game.”

But those jitters were well behind him when, immediately after his touchdown catch, the freshman was among the Trojans sent to recover a desperation onside kick.

McCoy had never practiced onside coverage before. When freshman kicker Parker Lewis delivered a perfect attempt on his first-ever try, McCoy thought he’d messed up his assignment.

“I thought I could attack the ball,” McCoy said. “I was kind of waiting for that big one up to jump up and go get it, but it stayed low. It kind of fell inside and I was staring at the ball the whole time.”

It wound up within arm’s reach, and McCoy clung to it tightly, until he felt a teammate pulling the ball out from behind him. The unexpected recovery would set up the game-winning drive, on which McCoy caught two passes, before Drake London, the team’s leading receiver Saturday, capped the comeback.

USC wide receiver Drake London congratulates Bru McCoy after his touchdown catch.
USC wide receiver Drake London, left, congratulates Bru McCoy after his touchdown catch in the second half against Arizona State on Saturday.
(Sean M. Haffey / Associated Press)

For a receiver who’d waited years for that moment, it was hard to imagine a more picture-perfect debut.

“Bru’s had a wonderful camp and really felt confident in him going and playing today, and he made some big plays in the game including that touchdown,” USC coach Clay Helton said. “You look at his five5 catches and 51 yards — we needed every yard today. And he was a part of that.”

Early start

The first iteration of the #Pac12BeforeBrunch may have given #Pac12AfterDark a run for its money, as far as wild endings go.

But as far as those involved are concerned, the 9 a.m. kickoff time made no discernible difference.

The Trojans don’t look like a team that can contend for a College Football Playoff spot, but Clay Helton’s team showed Saturday it won’t give up.

“I’ll never forget this game, and I’ll never forget this team for all the things that they’ve dealt with in 2020,” Helton said. “It didn’t matter if that game was at 9 a.m. or 9 p.m. We wanted to have the opportunity to play the game we love, we got that opportunity and we found a way to make the most of it today.”

Etc.

Junior center Brett Neilon left the game with an injury and did not return. He was replaced by Justin Dedich. … Defensive tackle Brandon Pili didn’t dress for the game after reportedly suffering a broken finger. … Redshirt sophomore Markese Stepp led the Trojans in carries with 14, but his 3.8 yards per carry average was lower than the other two backs who rotated, Stephen Carr and Vavae Malepeai.


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