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USC vs. Hawaii: Defense leads Trojans to 30-13 victory

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USC has finished off a 30-13 win over Hawaii in the season-opening football game for both teams.

USC intercepted four passes by Hawaii quarterback Taylor Graham, converting the turnovers into 20 points. The Trojans also sacked Graham seven times.

The Trojans started Cody Kessler at quarterback, and he played into the third quarter, completing 10 of 19 passes for 95 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

Max Wittek took over on USC's second possession of the second half and played the rest of the way. He completed five of 10 passes for 77 yards.

Each quarterback suffered from dropped passes by All-American receiver Marqise Lee inside the 10-yard line.

Lee caught eight passes for 104 yards.

USC ran for 191 yards, with converted linebacker Tre Madden rushing for 109 yards in 18 carries and freshman Justin Davis running for 74 yards and a touchdown in 14 carries.

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USC 30, Hawaii 13 (30 seconds left in fourth quarter)

Norm Chow's patience with his Hawaii quarterback, Taylor Graham, was finally rewarded with 30 seconds remaining in the game.

Graham, who has had four passes intercepted, connected with Keith Kirkwood on a 60-yard scoring pass. Hawaii then converted on a two-point conversion run.

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USC 30, Hawaii 5 (42 seconds left in fourth quarter)

Freshman running back Justin Davis just made like a hurdler on a three-yard touchdown run.

Davis has 74 yards in 14 carries. Tre Madden has 109 yards in 18 carries.

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The nights of USC quarterbacks Cody Kessler and Max Wittek would both be better if Marqise Lee looked anything like an All-American receiver.

Lee has dropped two on-target passes inside the 10-yard line against Hawaii.

Wittek, under a heavy rush, just threw a bomb that hit a streaking Lee right in the numbers. That is, right in the numbers after it went right threw his hands.

Lee has eight catches for 104 yards.

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There was a time that USC's Lane Kiffin and Hawaii's Norm Chow were known as quarterback gurus.

Making a motion here to strip both of their guru status.

Chow certainly has patience -- or perhaps few choices other than junior Taylor Graham.

Graham, a transfer from Ohio State -- and let's just say that the Buckeyes are probably better off with Braxton Miller -- has had four passes intercepted, leading to 20 USC points.

Graham has completed 15 of 38 passes for 149 yards. He's also been sacked seven times.

USC's Cody Kessler and Max Wittek don't have the turnovers -- Kessler was picked once -- but neither has been very sharp.

Kessler completed 10 of 19 passes for 95 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Wittek, who has played since the second possession of the second half, has completed four of eight for 58 yards with 5:27 left in the fourth quarter.

USC is holding a 23-5 lead.

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USC 23, Hawaii 5, 13:10 left in fourth quarter

For the second time in the game, USC had the ball first-and-goal inside the five-yard line -- and had to settle for a field goal.

With freshman Justin Davis running the ball, and quarterback Max Wittek finding All-American receiver Marqise Lee three times for gains totaling 46 yards, the Trojans drove from their own 5 to the Hawaii 3 until stalling.

On first-and-goal, Davis lost two yards on a run, Wittek missed an open Randall Telfer with a pass in the corner of the end zone, and Wittek was stopped for no gain on a run.

Andre Heidari then made a 22-yard field goal.

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Hawaii quarterback Taylor Graham was starting to look a little better -- but then he completed another pass to a USC defender.

This time it was Dion Bailey, who plays safety now after moving over from linebacker.

Graham has had four passes intercepted.

He has completed 11 passes to Hawaii receivers in 29 throws.

USC converted its first three interceptions into 17 points.

USC leads Hawaii, 20-5, with 3:16 left in the third quarter.

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Penalties ... injuries ... TV timeouts.

Do these folks at the USC-Hawaii game not know we have a print edition to put out?

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Max Wittek is now at quarterback for USC.

Coach Lane Kiffin played Cody Kessler the entire first half and stuck with him to start the second half after Kessler completed three consecutive passes just before halftime.

But USC's first possession of the third quarter ended in three plays -- two of them incomplete passes by Kessler.

Wittek's first series also lasted three plays -- and ended with him sacked on his back.

USC still leads, 20-5, with about nine minutes left in the third quarter.

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Cody Kessler is USC's quarterback at the start of the second half.

Coach Lane Kiffin has said he would play both Kessler and Max Wittek, but Wittek, who started two games last season, has not played.

Kiffin may be sticking with Kessler to see if he can build on the momentum he had at the end of the first half, when he completed three straight passes to move the Trojans within field-goal range.

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Some halftime numbers as USC leads Hawaii, 20-5, at Aloha Stadium:

Cody Kessler played the entire first half at quarterback for USC, completing 10 of 17 passes for 95 yards and a touchdown with an interception.

His completions have gone to five different receivers. Nelson Agholor has two catches for 35 yards and a touchdown. Marqise Lee has three catches for 27 yards and tight end Xavier Grimble three receptions for 18 yards.

Tre Madden has run 14 times for 70 yards.

Hawaii quarterback Taylor Graham has completed six of 20 passes for 57 yards with three interceptions. He has also been sacked five times for minus-26 yards, leaving Hawaii's running game with a net of just 18 yards in 22 carries.

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The new quarterback is putting up points for USC.

No, not Cody Kessler, or even Max Wittek.

His name is Taylor Graham, and he plays for Hawaii.

Graham, a junior transfer from Ohio State making his first start since high school, has had a hand in all but three of USC's points as the Trojans lead, 20-5, at halftime.

He has had three passes intercepted, and the Trojans have converted them into field goal and two touchdowns -- the last one on a 35-yard interception return by Josh Shaw.

Kessler has played the entire first half for USC, completing 10 of 17 for 95 yards and a touchdown with an interception.

Three of Kessler's completions came on consecutive plays just before the half, moving Andre Heidari into position to establish a career-best with a 52-yard field goal as time expired.

Heidari's previous long field goal was of 50 yards.

Graham, on the other hand, started slow and hasn't found a rythm. He has completed six of 20 passes for 57 yards.

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USC 17, Hawaii 5, 2:49 left in the second quarter

USC's defense is generating plenty of offense.

The Trojans defense set up a field goal and a touchdown with two early interceptions, and it scored on its own with its third pick of the half.

Actually, it wasn't as much of a pick as it was handed to USC by Hawaii.

Hawaii's Taylor Graham tried to connect with freshman Marcus Kemp on a crossing route, but Kemp couldn't latch on and he tipped it right into the hands of USC's Josh Shaw at the Hawaii 35.

Shaw did the rest, returning for a touchdown.

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USC 10, Hawaii 5, 4:18 left in second quarter

USC's Lane Kiffin and Hawaii's Norm Chow are sticking with their quarterbacks.

And it hasn't been pretty.

Well, it wasn't until USC's Cody Kessler found Nelson Agholor on a corner pattern for a 19-yard scoring pass.

Kessler, who came into the game having thrown only two college passes, has completed seven of 14 passes tonight for 70 yards and the touchdown. He also had one pass intercepted.

He's been shaky, and perhaps rightfully so considering his lack of experience.

Fortunately for the Trojans, the USC defense is making Hawaii quarterback Taylor Graham look even worse.

Graham has completed four of 13 passes for 46 yards with two interceptions, and USC has converted both into points.

An interception by Hayes Pullard gave USC the ball at the Hawaii 30 before the Trojans' touchdown. Three runs by Tre Madden and a two-yard sneak by Kessler gave USC a first down at the 19, and Kessler connected with Agholor on the next play.

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Coach Lane Kiffin is still sticking with Cody Kessler at quarterback.

But again we'll ask the question: for how long.

A nifty 34-yard run by Tre Madden gave USC a first down at the Hawaii 26, but the Trojans stalled and then ... worse.

A pass from Kessler to Marqise Lee lost four yards. Then Madden was stuffed at the line of scrimmage on a run.

Then Kessler found Marrell Jackson open over the middle.

One problem: Jackson plays for Hawaii.

The interception gave Hawaii the ball at its own 25 with 6:43 left in the first half.

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Cody Kessler played the entire first quarter at quarterback for USC, and he started the second quarter.

But it might not be long before Coach Lane Kiffin turns to Max Wittek.

Kessler is telegraphing his passes and has had several batted down.

Kessler has completed five of 11 passes for 46 yards and has yet to connect with All-American receiver Marqise Lee -- although Lee did drop a pass early in the game.

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Hawaii 5, USC 3, 11:43 in second quarter

A 42-yard field goal by Tyler Hadden has given Hawaii the lead.

Hadden is a junior out of California High in Whittier, and his kick was set up by another Southland product.

Chris Gant returned a USC free kick 34 yards, from the Hawaii 25 to the USC 41.

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USC 3, Hawaii 2, early in second quarter

A great punt by Hawaii's Scott Harding and a big sack by senior linebacker Art Laurel resulted in a safety that has made this a one-point game.

Harding's punt pinned USC back at its own 1; Laurel sacked USC quarterback Cody Kessler in the end zone on the Trojans' first play.

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USC 3, Hawaii 0, end of first quarter

Remember last year when No. 1-ranked USC led Hawaii, 35-0, at halftime?

The Trojans don't look like that.

USC leads Hawaii, 3-0, at the end of the first quarter.

The Trojans have a 63-33 edge in total offense,  but neither offense looks fluid.

Cody Kessler, making the start at quarterback for USC, has completed four of eight passes for 39 yards. Tre Madden, making his first start at tailback, has run for 27 yards in nine carries.

USC's defense has a turnover -- an interception by freshman S'ua Cravens -- and three sacks.

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USC 3, Hawaii 0, 7:05 left in first quarter

Freshman S'ua Cravens, going straight from high school to USC's starting lineup at safety, turned immediate dividends, making a diving interception of a Taylor Graham pass at the Hawaii 38.

Eight plays later, the Trojans converted with a 20-yard field goal by Andre Heidari.

Hawaii did a great job holding USC to a field goal after the Trojans had first and goal at the 1.

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USC and Hawaii are underway in their college football season opener at Aloha Stadium.

Hawaii got the ball first, and with junior Taylor Graham making his first start at quarterback since high school, Hawaii went ... nowhere.

USC took over at its own 48 and got one first down, but the Trojans stalled at the Hawaii 26 when Marqise Lee dropped a pass from Cody Kessler on a fourth-and-four inside the 10-yardline.

Kessler completed one of three passes for 16 yards on the drive.

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Cody Kessler will start at quarterback for USC against Hawaii, USC announced.

Coach Lane Kiffin has said that he anticipated that both Kessler and Max Wittek both would play against the Warriors, but he has not revealed his plan for how much time each might get.

Kessler, a third-year sophomore from Bakersfield, played in two games at quarterback last season, He completed two passes against Hawaii.

This will be his first start since his senior season at Bakersfield Centennial High. Kessler passed for 36 touchdowns, with only two interceptions, that season.

Wittek started twice last season, in losses against Notre Dame and Georgia Tech.

Kickoff is at 8 p.m. PDT.

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USC players just arrived and walked across the field to their locker room at Aloha Stadium to get ready for their opener against Hawaii, according to Los Angeles Times reporter Gary Klein.

Klein is in Hawaii covering tonight's game along with columnist Bill Plaschke.

This is actually the second consecutive day the Trojans have been in the stadium, a rarity under Coach Lane Kiffin.

Since returning to USC as head coach, Kiffin has taken the Trojans to a stadium walkthrough only once — last season when the Trojans played Syracuse at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford. N.J.

At the beginning of last season, USC did not make the Coliseum available to visiting teams for traditional day-before walkthroughs, athletic department officials saying it was done to preserve the stadium’s turf.

The policy, which affected Hawaii before the opener, was later changed when the Pac-12 Conference mandated that visiting teams be allowed to conduct 60-minute walkthroughs at the game facility the day before games.

Hiserman is reporting from Los Angeles.

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Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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