• Quarterback Kedon Slovis #9 of the USC Trojans passes against the UCLA Bruins in the first half of a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, December 12, 2020. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • defensive back Qwuantrezz Knight #24 of the UCLA Bruins tackles wide receiver Gary Bryant Jr. #1 of the USC Trojans for a loss of yards in the first half of a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, December 12, 2020. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Wide receiver Drake London #15 of the USC Trojans catches a pass for yardage against the UCLA Bruins in the first half of a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, December 12, 2020. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Quarterback Kedon Slovis #9 of the USC Trojans passes against the UCLA Bruins in the first half of a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, December 12, 2020. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Wide receiver Tyler Vaughns #21 of the USC Trojans catches a pass for first down against defensive back Jay Shaw #1 of the UCLA Bruins in the first half of a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, December 12, 2020. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Running back Vavae Malepeai #29 of the USC Trojans runs for yardage against the UCLA Bruins in the first half of a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, December 12, 2020. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Quarterback Kedon Slovis #9 of the USC Trojans passes against the UCLA Bruins in the first half of a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, December 12, 2020. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Wide receiver Ethan Fernea #36 of the UCLA Bruins catches pass and runs for touchdown past safety Talanoa Hufanga #15 of the USC Trojans in the first half of a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, December 12, 2020. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Wide receiver Tyler Vaughns #21 of the USC Trojans catches a pass for first down against the UCLA Bruins in the first half of a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, December 12, 2020. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Place kicker Parker Lewis #48 of the USC Trojans misses a field goal attempt against the UCLA Bruins in the first half of a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, December 12, 2020. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Wide receiver Drake London #15 of the USC Trojans catches a pass and runs for a 65 yard touchdown against the UCLA Bruins in the first half of a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, December 12, 2020. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Wide receiver Kyle Philips #2 of the UCLA Bruins runs for yardage against the USC Trojans in the first half of a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, December 12, 2020. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Quarterback Kedon Slovis #9 of the USC Trojans scrambles against the UCLA Bruins in the first half of a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, December 12, 2020. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Tight end Erik Krommenhoek #84 of the USC Trojans catches a pass for yardage against defensive back Patrick Jolly Jr. #27 of the UCLA Bruins in the first half of a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, December 12, 2020. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Wide receiver Drake London #15 of the USC Trojans catches a pass and runs for a 65 yard touchdown against the UCLA Bruins in the first half of a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, December 12, 2020. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Place kicker Parker Lewis #48 of the USC Trojans kicks a field goal against the UCLA Bruins in the first half of a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, December 12, 2020. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Defensive back Jay Shaw #1 of the UCLA Bruins sacks quarterback Kedon Slovis #9 of the USC Trojans in the first half of a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, December 12, 2020. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Wide receiver Drake London #15 of the USC Trojans catches a pass and runs for a 65 yard touchdown against the UCLA Bruins in the first half of a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, December 12, 2020. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Tight end Erik Krommenhoek #84 of the USC Trojans catches a pass for yardage against defensive back Patrick Jolly Jr. #27 of the UCLA Bruins in the first half of a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, December 12, 2020. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Defensive back Jay Shaw #1 of the UCLA Bruins sacks quarterback Kedon Slovis #9 of the USC Trojans in the first half of a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, December 12, 2020. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Safety Isaiah Pola-Mao #21 of the USC Trojans intercepts a UCLA Bruins pass in the first half of a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, December 12, 2020. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Running back Demetric Felton #10 of the UCLA Bruins catches pass and runs for touchdown against the USC Trojans in the first half of a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, December 12, 2020. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Defensive back Quentin Lake #37 of the UCLA Bruins knocks away a pass in the end zone intended for tight end Josh Falo #83 of the USC Trojans in the first half of a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, December 12, 2020. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown #8 of the USC Trojans catches a pass for first down over defensive back Jay Shaw #1 of the UCLA Bruins in the first half of a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, December 12, 2020. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Head coach Clay Helton of the USC Trojans looks on after a UCLA Bruins touchdown in the first half of a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, December 12, 2020. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown #8 of the USC Trojans catches a pass for yardage against defensive back Rayshad Williams #3 of the UCLA Bruins in the first half of a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, December 12, 2020. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Cornerback Chris Steele #8 of the USC Trojans knocks away a pass intended for wide receiver Chase Cota #23 of the UCLA Bruins in the first half of a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, December 12, 2020. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Running back Demetric Felton #10 of the UCLA Bruins catches pass and runs for touchdown past linebacker Hunter Echols #31 of the USC Trojans in the first half of a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, December 12, 2020. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Defensive back Quentin Lake #37 of the UCLA Bruins reacts after intercepting a pass intended for wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown (not pictured) of the USC Trojans in the first half of a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, December 12, 2020. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Running back Demetric Felton #10 of the UCLA Bruins runs for a first down against cornerback Olaijah Griffin #2 of the USC Trojans in the first half of a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, December 12, 2020. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Quarterback Kedon Slovis #9 of the USC Trojans passes against the UCLA Bruins in the first half of a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, December 12, 2020. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Quarterback Kedon Slovis #9 of the USC Trojans passes against the UCLA Bruins in the first half of a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, December 12, 2020. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown #8 of the USC Trojans cam???t reach a pass against the UCLA Bruins in the first half of a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, December 12, 2020. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Wide receiver Ethan Fernea #36 celebrates with teammate unning back Brittain Brown #28 of the UCLA Bruins after catching a pass and runs for touchdown against the USC Trojans in the first half of a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, December 12, 2020. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Linebacker Drake Jackson #99 of the USC Trojans pressures quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson #1 of the UCLA Bruins in the first half of a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, December 12, 2020. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Defensive back Quentin Lake #37 of the UCLA Bruins intercepts a pass intended for wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown #8 of the USC Trojans in the first half of a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, December 12, 2020. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Defensive back Quentin Lake #37 of the UCLA Bruins intercepts a pass intended for wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown #8 of the USC Trojans in the first half of a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, December 12, 2020. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Wide receiver Ethan Fernea #36 of the UCLA Bruins catches a pass and runs for touchdown against the USC Trojans in the first half of a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, December 12, 2020. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Head coach Clay Helton of the USC Trojans, left, shakes hands with head coach Chip Kelly of the UCLA Bruins as the USC Trojans defeated the UCLA Bruins 43-38 during a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, December 12, 2020. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson #1 of the UCLA passes in the end zone for the final play of the game against the USC Trojans in the second half of a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, December 12, 2020. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson #1 of the UCLA passes in the end zone for the final play of the game against the USC Trojans in the second half of a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, December 12, 2020. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • USC Trojans defeated the UCLA Bruins 43-38 during a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, December 12, 2020. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Tght end Greg Dulcich #85 of the UCLA Bruins can???t catch a pass in the end zone on the final play of the game as the USC Trojans defeated the UCLA Bruins 43-38 during a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, December 12, 2020. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • USC Trojans defeated the UCLA Bruins 43-38 during a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, December 12, 2020. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Wide receiver Tyler Vaughns #21 of the USC Trojans can???t catch a pass in the end zone over defensive back Rayshad Williams #3 of the UCLA Bruins in the second half of a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, December 12, 2020. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Defensive lineman Otito Ogbonnia #91 of the UCLA Bruins tackles running back Vavae Malepeai #29 of the USC Trojans in the second half of a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, December 12, 2020. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Running back Keegan Jones #22 of the UCLA Bruins is stopped by the USC Trojans defense on fourth down in the fourth quarter of a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, December 12, 2020. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Wide receiver Tyler Vaughns #21 of the USC Trojans catches a pass for first down past defensive back Mo Osling III #7 of the UCLA Bruins in the second half of a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, December 12, 2020. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Head coach Clay Helton of the USC Trojans, left, shakes hands with head coach Chip Kelly of the UCLA Bruins as the USC Trojans defeated the UCLA Bruins 43-38 during a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, December 12, 2020. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown #8 of the USC Trojans celebrates after catching a pass for touchdown over defensive back Rayshad Williams #3 of the UCLA Bruins in fourth quarter of a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, December 12, 2020. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Wide receiver Gary Bryant Jr. #1 of the USC Trojans catches a pass for first down against the UCLA Bruins in fourth quarter of a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, December 12, 2020. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

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PASADENA — When Nicholas Barr-Mira’s 43-yard field goal gave UCLA a two-point lead with 52 seconds to play, it appeared USC had run out of luck. The Trojans had fallen behind by 18 in this rivalry game, and burned all three timeouts already.

But it turned out 52 seconds was more than enough time.

A 56-yard kickoff return by Gary Bryant got USC on the precipice of field-goal range. But the Trojans weren’t satisfied with that. Quarterback Kedon Slovis dropped a perfect lob in to Tyler Vaughns for 35 yards to get the Trojans to first-and-goal, and the next play Slovis found a leaping Amon-Ra St. Brown in the end zone with 16 seconds to spare.

The Bruins’ Hail Mary attempt was batted away, and USC completed the 43-38 win.

USC (5-0) received good news before Saturday’s rivalry game against UCLA: Colorado had lost to Utah, guaranteeing the Trojans the Pac-12 South crown and a spot in the conference championship game on Friday against Washington (assuming the Huskies overcome their COVID-19 issues between now and then).

But the thing about that news is it took away some of the urgency of the crosstown rivalry. And it showed, as USC came out flat and let the Bruins take an early 14-point lead.

UCLA (3-3) came out with clearer focus to start the game, with Quentin Lake intercepting Kedon Slovis on the opening drive of the game and scoring first with a 33-yard pass to Ethan Fernea, quickly followed by another touchdown pass to running back Demetric Felton.

USC appeared to regain some momentum. First, Slovis tossed his first touchdown pass to Drake London, a 65-yarder in which the sophomore receiver dodged seven would-be tacklers and avoided a near fumble. On the ensuing UCLA drive, safety Isaiah Pola-Mao tipped an interception to himself and the Trojans took over inside the UCLA 30.

But a personal foul on Tyler Vaughns and a sack of Slovis made the Trojans settle for a field goal, and field goals weren’t going to cut it. Not with how UCLA was moving the ball.

The Bruins were pulverizing the Trojans on first down, averaging 7.6 yards per play to set up second-and-manageable situations. UCLA QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson completed all six of his pass attempts on first down before halftime for 84 yards.

Felton’s second touchdown reception of the first half, this one with seemingly no one on the USC defense picking him up out of the backfield, put the Bruins up 11 going into halftime, set to receive the second-half kick.

UCLA did not squander that opportunity to bury USC, marching right down the field out of the locker room. Felton broke off a 40-yard run and Thompson-Robinson threw a nine-yard completion to Kyle Philips on third-and-nine before Brittain Brown rushed 15 yards for a touchdown and 18-point lead.

But that’s when the Trojans started chipping away again, first with a diving touchdown catch by Pasadena native Tyler Vaughns and then another six points on a three-yard slant by St. Brown.

The comeback seemingly dissolved over the course of two plays: First, a pass going through St. Brown’s hands to UCLA safety Stephan Blaylock for an interception. One play later, Thompson-Robinson found Greg Dulcich along the seam for a 69-yard touchdown pass.

But USC kept at it, taking the lead momentarily with London’s second touchdown catch of the game.

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By Kelley Wheeler

Kelley Wheeler is a Metro reporter covering political issues and general assignments. A second-generation journalist, worked with all major news outlet, she holds a vast expeirience. Kelley is a graduate of USC with degrees in journalism and English literature. She is a recipient of Yale’s Poynter Fellowship in Journalism.

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