LOS ANGELES -- Most of Oregon State's punt-coverage team was to his left, so Damian Williams went right. When he dodged the final tackler and slipped into the end zone early in the fourth quarter, he thought Southern California finally had shaken the Beavers as well.
"And then they went down and scored again like it was nothing," Williams recalled. "I said, 'I guess it's still going to be a fight here.'"
The Trojans (No. 7 BCS, No. 4 AP) won that fight with one final drive by their revitalized offense, which relished a rare chance to bail out their usually formidable defense in a 42-36 victory Saturday night.
Allen Bradford rushed for a career-high 147 yards and two touchdowns as USC avenged its only loss of last season -- a 27-21 defeat last September that prevented the Trojans (6-1, 3-1 Pac-10) from playing for the national title.
USC's defense looked nowhere near title shape against Sean Canfield, Jacquizz Rodgers and the Beavers (4-3, 2-2), who shredded it for 482 total yards -- including James Rodgers' 7-yard TD catch less than two minutes after Williams' 63-yard punt return put the Trojans up 42-23.
Jacquizz Rodgers' 1-yard TD plunge with 5:41 to play cut USC's lead to 42-36, but the Trojans converted two third downs while running out the clock, with Bradford picking up one with a stiff-arm in the final minute.
"It was the moment you dream about," said Bradford, who has spent most of his USC career stuck behind Chauncey Washington and Joe McKnight, who missed much of this game with injured hands. "We knew we had to keep scoring and being consistent to beat these guys. It's good to pick up the defense, because they've been picking us up all year."
Canfield passed for 329 yards and a career-best three touchdowns for the Beavers, while Jacquizz Rodgers rushed for 113 yards and a score and also caught a TD pass on an injured ankle. Jacquizz Rodgers was the star of Oregon State's win over then-No. 1 USC last season, but the Trojans still haven't lost consecutive games to the same opponent since 2002, in the second year of coach Pete Carroll's tenure.
"I'm very proud of our team for their fight," said Oregon State coach Mike Riley, whose team hit season highs of nine penalties for 85 yards. "We will regret many opportunities. There's a million things. I just don't want to sell our team short. ... Nobody blinked. Everybody stayed in it and made plays, and I do love that about our team."
Although the Trojans never trailed, they never got comfortable. Matt Barkley rushed for a score and passed for 202 yards with two TDs and two interceptions in another inconsistent freshman performance. Bradford's breakout game included a 43-yard scoring run late in the third quarter.
"This was a different game than we hoped to have," Carroll said. "We were scrambling, trying to slow them down. Our offense just carried us, which I love. You saw the way we ran out the clock?"
Ronald Johnson caught six passes for 99 yards, including a full-stretch dive for a 22-yard TD, in his second game back from a broken collarbone. Anthony McCoy had an early TD catch before spraining his ankle.
Jacquizz Rodgers, who had 186 yards and two scores last year against USC, talked trash to the Trojans defense from the opening snap, but sat out the second quarter with an injured right ankle. He briefly went to the locker room before returning to the sideline and starting the second half.
His older brother, James, had seven catches for 56 yards and a score while playing on a bruised knee.
"Both were a little banged up, but those guys give it all for the Beavers," Canfield said. "We were really confident with what was in the game plan. In the second half, we really got it going and hit the things we liked on film."
But James also was responsible for losing Oregon State's first fumble of the season in the first quarter when Josh Pinkard alertly stripped him to set up the Trojans' first score. The Beavers had won their last seven games after byes, but they haven't won in Los Angeles since 1960.
Joe Halahuni had career highs of nine catches for 127 yards, and Justin Kahut kicked three first-half field goals for Oregon State, but also missed a 22-yard attempt.
"It's a little disappointing, and there are some things we're going to have to look at," USC linebacker Chris Galippo said. "Really, it was just a bunch of little rinky-dink things."
Stafon Johnson, the USC tailback whose throat was crushed in a weightlifting accident last month, made an emotional return to the Coliseum in the Trojans' pregame meeting before watching the game from the press box. Johnson is recovering swiftly from the near-fatal injury, but isn't expected to play again this season.
Johnson got a standing ovation when he appeared on the Coliseum scoreboard between the first two quarters.