When Sam Darnold saw the trajectory of his throw, he worried he had just turned the ball over for the fourth time. His deep ball to Darreus Rogers was short and Colorado cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon appeared to be camped under the ball, waiting to intercept the pass.
Colorado had all the momentum after tying the game on a 10-yard touchdown pass from Steven Montez to Bryce Bobo. An interception would have given the Buffaloes the ball back near midfield and forced the USC defense back on the field with only one play of rest.
Like Darnold, USC head coach Clay Helton thought the pass was going to be picked off. Rogers had different plans.
"Never thought it was going to be a pick," Rogers said. "110 percent that's my ball and I came down with it. I think that's why I caught it -- because I had no intention of it being an interception. Underthrown ball. Quarterbacks don't always have to throw a great pass. Receivers got to make great plays and I just try to make the hard ones look easy."
Witherspoon had both hands on the ball. Rogers ripped it away.
"He had two hands and I had one hand on it. I felt like if I tucked it in faster than he did, I could take it off his hands. I grabbed it. I wanted it more. I feel like if I touch it, I've got to come down with it. In the past, I had a couple of drops and I felt like, man, I've got to catch everything that comes my way. When I caught it, I was kind of surprised. I was just like 'Wow!' and then we have to move on to the next play because we had to keep it going."
The play rejuvenated the Coliseum crowd and shifted the momentum in the game as the Trojans marched down the field, scoring a touchdown on an 8-yard pass to Tyler Petite to take a 21-14 lead en route to a 21-17 win.
Watch Darreus Rogers talk about his game-changing catch and what it's been like playing with quarterback Sam Darnold.
Not a USCFootball.com member? Sign up now and you'll get a seven day FREE trial! Join the Peristyle Family and get all the great information from USC football practices, Trojan football games, access to the Peristyle and all of the premium recruiting updates on USCFootball.com! Become a member today!
Follow Shotgun on Twitter: @ShotgunSpr