A tense afternoon at the Coliseum ended with USC delivering the best story of the day in college football on Saturday.
After getting a tough battle from Western Michigan all game, No. 4 USC pulled away late, winning 49-31. The 49th and final point was the most memorable: Chase McGrath made an extra point after a snap from Jake Olson, who is blind:
Olson joined the USC football team in 2015 and has had a long relationship with the football program, dating back to the Pete Carroll era. Because of retinoblastoma, Olson had one eye removed at 10 months old, and the other removed at age 12. A USC fan, Olson connected with Carroll and spent time with the team, as documented by ESPN.
Olson became a long-snapper in high school, and after working with the USC team the past two years and participating in the spring scrimmage, he took the field for his first game action on Saturday -- something that coach Clay Helton said won't be a one-time thing. According to Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times, Helton called Western Michigan coach Tim Lester before the game and offered to not rush the Broncos' first extra point if Western Michigan agreed to call off a rush if Olson took the field to snap.
Jake Olson on his snap: pic.twitter.com/3EOtO9uunG- Keely Eure (@keelyismyname) September 3, 2017
Olson's snap was perfect, as was the PAT to cap a strong finish to USC's day.
With renewed high expectations, the Trojans struggled to put away the Broncos, who went undefeated last regular season and then lost coach P.J. Fleck. Under Lester, the new coach, Western Michigan stayed even with USC through three quarters. However, after Western Michigan settled for a field goal to cut the lead to four with 4:37 left, the Trojans scored twice: a 52-yard run by Stephen Carr and a 37-yard interception return for a TD by Marvell Tell.
Tell allowed USC to breathe easy, and Olson provided the perfect ending to the game for the Trojans.