STANFORD, Calif. >> Andre Heidari kicked a career-long 53-yard field goal with 2:30 remaining, J.R. Tavai forced a fumble to end Stanford’s comeback bid and No. 14 Southern California held off the No. 13 Cardinal 13-10 Saturday.
With Stanford threatening to tie or take the lead, Tavai came from Kevin Hogan’s blindside to jar the ball loose. Scott Felix recovered at the Trojans 26-yard-line with 19 seconds to play, sealing new coach Steve Sarkisian’s first major victory at USC (2-0, 1-0) and upending the two-time defending Pac-12 champions.
Javorius Allen ran for a career-high 154 yards, and Nelson Agholor had a career-high nine receptions for 91 yards to help the Trojans do just enough on offense to win at Stanford Stadium for the first time since 2008.
Heidari also kicked a 25-yard field goal in the third quarter.
The Trojans had gained 701 yards while running a conference-record 105 plays in a 52-13 win over Fresno State last week. But Stanford slowed down Cody Kessler and USC’s up-tempo offense most of the afternoon.
Stanford outgained the Trojans 413 to 291 but had too many mistakes to overcome. The Cardinal committed two turnovers, eight penalties for 68 yards and missed two fields.
Stanford’s 17-game home winning streak — which was the longest in the country — also ended.
Kessler underwent an unspecified procedure on one of his toes this week but showed no effects of the injury. Instead, the Cardinal’s physical defense proved to be the problem.
Kessler completed 15 of 22 passes for 135 yards but directed the Trojans when it mattered most.
Sarkisian sent his offense on the field for a fourth-and-5 from the 35-yard line before calling a timeout to go for a field goal at the end of USC’s final drive. Heidari connected from 53 yards, turned around and pumped his arms at the Trojans faithful in the far corner of the stands.
USC stunned Stanford in similar fashion last season to end a four-game losing streak in the series. Heidari kicked a 47-yard field goal with 19 seconds to play in USC’s 20-17 win over the Cardinal last year in Los Angeles.
Stanford still had one last chance to erase those memories.
Hogan completed passes of 7 and 19 yards to Ty Montgomery and 16 yards to Michael Rector to put the Cardinal in position to come back. Then Tavai rushed from the outside to knock the ball loose, sending the USC sideline into a frenzy, including the Trojans faithful that sprinkled around the announced sellout crowd of 50,844.
The play capped an emotional day on the USC sideline.
Trojans cornerback Hayes Pullard received a 15-yard penalty and was ejected for targeting the head of Montgomery at the end of a punt return. USC athletic director Pat Haden, who was in the press box earlier, was later caught by television cameras disputing with officials on the sideline.
But it was the big plays on the field that led the Trojans to victory.
USC stuffed Stanford fullback Daniel Marx on fourth-and-1 from the 3-yard line, and Heidari finished off USC’snext drive with a tying field goal late in the third quarter.
Hogan also had a 28-yard TD pass to Austin Hooper that was wiped away by a 15-yard penalty on Remound Wright for an illegal block in the back. The Cardinal punted from USC’s 32 instead of trying a long field goal.
Stanford had seven penalties, a botched snap and a missed field goal in the first half but still led 10-7 at the break.
Fullback Patrick Skov, brother of former standout middle linebacker Shayne Skov, bulldozed through the line for a 2-yard TD run — the first of his career — in the second quarter. And Jordan Williamson, who missed from 49 yards out in the first quarter, kicked a 33-yarder in the final seconds of the half.
USC started off strong, stopping Stanford before engineering a 12-play, 68-yard opening drive that Justin Davis capped with 1-yard touchdown scamper.