Running back Dillon Johnson had an explosive performance for the fifth-ranked Huskies as Washington beat No. 20 USC 52-42 on the road to stay perfect on the season.
Johnson had 26 carries for an astonishing 256 yards rushing and four touchdowns on the night as the Trojans’ defense was gassed.
Huskies quarterback and Heisman Trophy frontrunner Michael Penix Jr. had as many yards passing as Johnson had running (256) and tossed for two touchdowns and an interception.
Devin Culp and Ja´Lynn Polk caught TD passes from Penix, who also rushed for a score while the Huskies won a high-octane thriller featuring two elite offenses and two deficient defenses.
Johnson had the fifth-biggest rushing performance in Washington history and its first 200-yard game or four-TD game since 2017 while the Huskies racked up 572 total yards.
Dillon Johnson had an unbelievable game on the ground as Washington held off USC 52-42
Caleb Williams passed for 312 yards and three touchdowns for the Trojans, who have lost three of four to derail their championship hopes despite another prolific outing from the Heisman Trophy winner and his offense.
Raleek Brown, Darwin Barlow and Williams rushed for TDs, while Tahj Washington, Brenden Rice and Mario Williams caught scoring passes in front of a sold-out Coliseum for USC’s 100th Homecoming weekend.
The offenses combined for 1,087 yards, but Washington repeatedly made bigger plays at key moments.
The Huskies never trailed in the second half after Williams’ fumble deep in USC territory allowed Washington to take a 35-28 lead on Johnson’s third TD run 20 seconds before halftime.
Mario Williams caught a 20-yard TD pass from Caleb Williams to make it 42-42 late in the third quarter, but Washington’s Grady Gross made a 43-yard field goal with 12:25 to play.
Caleb Williams then took a long sack that put the Trojans out of field-goal range on their next drive, and Washington marched 91 yards for Johnson’s fourth TD with 2:20 left.
Washington QB Michael Penix tossed for 256 yards and two TDs while also running for a score
USC gave up at least 40 points for the fifth time in its last six games, increasing the pressure on head coach Lincoln Riley’s longtime defensive coordinator, Alex Grinch.
USC played without Pac-12 rushing leader MarShawn Lloyd, who sat out with a previously undisclosed injury, but the Trojans are loaded with skill-position talent: While Austin Jones ran for 127 as the backfield starter, Brown scored in his first game since Week 0 and Barlow added 44 yards and a score on his first carries since Week 2.
Big, bold offensive plays happened regularly in this meeting between two longtime Pac-12 rivals heading to the Big Ten together next season.
Penix threw a spectacular 22-yard TD pass to Culp while running out of bounds in the second quarter. USC answered with a 95-yard drive capped by two electrifying runs from Barlow, but Johnson made an untouched 52-yard TD run moments later.
USC went ahead on Washington’s 41-yard TD reception off a sublime flea-flicker that almost looked improvised by freshman Zachariah Branch when he lateraled back to Williams.
Caleb Williams passed for 312 yards and three touchdowns for the Trojans in the loss
But after Polk’s TD catch tied it, Zion Tupuola-Fetui forced a fumble by Williams on USC’s next snap, and Johnson rushed for his third TD 20 seconds before the half.
Tupuola-Fetui, whose father died last week, was visibly emotional on the sideline after his big play.
Christian Roland-Wallace intercepted Penix’s tipped pass in the end zone on Washington’s opening drive out of halftime, and Williams led an 80-yard scoring drive capped by Rice’s 25-yard TD catch on fourth and 1.
The Coliseum crowd was frenetic, but the Huskies calmly reclaimed the lead with a 75-yard drive ending in Penix’s TD sneak.