Sports

USC seniors finish their careers with a win over Notre Dame

With neither USC nor Notre Dame ranked, fan interest was down, from 93,607 two seasons ago to 79,586 this year

Linebacker Hayes Pullard and tight end Randall Telfer were among the seniors who played their final home game for the Trojans.

Pullard capped his career with a second-quarter fumble recovery, while Telfer had three catches for 28 yards, with a touchdown.

After the game, Pullard lingered on the Coliseum floor to savor his last moments.

"It was a great feeling," Pullard said.

Pullard also added three tackles, increasing his team-leading total to 87.

Senior safety Gerald Bowman had seven tackles and an interception in his final home game.

"We played for our seniors this week," junior tailback Javorious Allen said after the game. "They went out with a victory, something they'll always remember the rest of their lives."

Saturday also marked the likely last Coliseum appearance for junior defensive lineman Leonard Williams, who is regarded as a possible top pick in the 2015 NFL draft.

Williams finished with five tackles against the Irish.

Not-as-hot ticket

Saturday marked only the 12th time that neither school was ranked entering the game.

How much does affect fan interest?

Saturday's game drew a crowd of 79,586.

The game two seasons ago, when Notre Dame was ranked No. 1 entering the Coliseum, drew 93,607.

Notre Dame won that game and advanced to the BCS title game, losing to Alabama.

Dixon plays

Tight end Bryce Dixon, who sat out all week with concussion symptoms, played and finished with three catches for 27 yards.

Senior Josh Shaw started at cornerback and was credited with one assisted tackle. … Freshman receiver/defensive back Adoree' Jackson caught a 16-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter, his first touchdown since the Fresno State opener. Jackson left the game in the second quarter after making a defensive play in pass coverage. He did not return and was said to be suffering from concussion symptoms.

Allen had 93 yards in 19 carries to finish the regular season with 1,337 yards.

Farmer shines

Junior receiver George Farmer, whose promising career has been marred by injuries, had his best game as a Trojan. He finished with four catches for 85 yards and two touchdowns.

His 48-yard touchdown catch was the longest of his career.

Farmer is a former high school teammate of Robert Woods and Marqise Lee. He missed all of last season because of a knee injury.

Coach Steve Sarkisian said he wants Farmer's resiliency to rub off on his teammates.

"That is exactly what we want," Sarkisian said. "We want guys that keep fighting, keep battling. Inevitably that is going to become the character of our team."

Homecoming of sorts

Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart led the Trojans out of the Coliseum tunnel before the game. Leinart has a special history in the Notre Dame series as a key player in the game-winning, "Bush Push" touchdown to beat the Irish in 2005.

Other former USC players who led the Trojans onto the field this season: Seattle Seahawks linebackers Malcolm Smith and Mike Morgan, Pro Football Hall of Fame receiver Lynn Swann, former NFL receiver Curtis Conway, former NFL quarterback Rodney Peete and former NFL lineman Tony Boselli.

Road-bested

Notre Dame played only its third true road game of the season. The Irish finished 1-2 against the Pac-12, with a win against Stanford and losses to USC and Arizona State.

chris.dufresne@latimes.com

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