The USC Trojans (2-2, 1-1 in Pac-12 play) travel to Arizona this weekend to play the Wildcats (2-2, 1-0) in a conference game on Saturday. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. PDT. USC is coming off a 39-36 victory over Washington State that wasn’t sealed until the game’s final minutes and a blocked field-goal attempt by the Trojans. Arizona is coming off back-to-back wins over Southern Utah (62-31) and Oregon State (35-14). Stay tuned here as Los Angeles Times reporter Eric Sondheimer provides live updates.
USC runs the ball effectively to defeat Arizona 24-20
USC coach Clay Helton should be handing out game balls to his offensive linemen for creating opportunities to run the ball effectively on Saturday night so the Trojans could come away with a badly needed road victory with a 24-20 triumph over Arizona in Tucson.
Running back Aca’Cedric Ware was a major beneficiary, rushing for 173 yards in 21 carries and scoring two touchdowns, including a 69-yard run. Stephen Carr added 80 yards rushing.
The Trojans’ defense also did its job by limiting Arizona’s big plays on offense and preventing quarterback Khalil Tate from gaining any momentum or confidence. Linebacker Cameron Smith finished with seven solo tackles. Safety Marvell Tell had an interception and blocked a field-goal attempt.
USC (3-2, 2-1) did get a little scare in the fourth quarter, losing the ball twice on fumbles forced by Arizona’s Kylan Wilborn and Colin Schooler. A 24-0 lead was down to a four points after the flags kept flying against USC. The Trojans put together a goal-line stand, forcing Arizona to use up its timeouts and clock. Gary Brightwell scored on a one-yard run with 1:40 left, but the Wildcats missed the extra point and USC recovered the onside kick.
USC was assessed 18 penalties for 169 yards, including a 15-yarder in the fourth quarter when an official ran into a coach on the sideline.
Tate completed 16 of 33 passes for 232 yards and one touchdown. JT Daniels of USC was 16 of 24 for 197 yards. He lost two fumbles.
USC will get next week off with a bye before resuming action against Colorado at the Coliseum on Oct. 13.
As USC penalties pile up, Arizona closes to 24-20
How bad has it gotten for USC in regards to penalties against Arizona? Coach Clay Helton’s face looks as red as the shirt he’s wearing in Tucson.
The flags are flying, but USC put together a goal-line stand forcing Arizona to use up its timeouts and clock. Gary Brightwell scored on a one-yard run with 1:40 left, but the Wildcats missed the extra point, leaving USC ahead 24-20.
Officials called a 15-yard penalty on USC for a coach getting in the way of an official on the sideline. An interception by Iman Marshall was nullified because of a pass interference penalty.
USC has been assessed 18 penalties for 169 yards.
USC recovered the onside kick and can run out the clock, because Arizona has no timeouts left.
Arizona takes advantage of fumble to cut its deficit
Looking for any big play from its defense, Arizona finally got one from former Sherman Oaks Notre Dame defensive end Kylan Wilborn. He stripped the ball from USC quarterback JT Daniels, and the Wildcats recovered the fumble on the USC 32 with 9:42 left.
On the next play, Khalil Tate completed a 32-yard touchdown pass to Cedric Peterson, cutting Arizona’s deficit to 24-14.
Daniels has lost two fumbles on the night.
Arizona got the ball back again on its 46 after USC lost another fumble, this time when Colin Schooler stripped the ball from tight end Josh Falo with 8:23 left.
USC’s defense forced Arizona to turn the ball over on downs with 6:16 left, getting the ball on its own 46.
USC defense not letting Arizona get back into the game
As much as Arizona is trying, USC’s defense is not letting the Wildcats get back into the game.
Through three quarters on Saturday night, USC has a 24-7 lead in Tucson. Cameron Smith has six solo tackles at inside linebacker.
Khalil Tate of Arizona is hobbling with a sore ankle and keeps trying, but the Trojans aren’t letting the Wildcats to break off any big plays.
USC has outgained the Wildcats 393-236.
JT Daniels of USC has completed 13 of 20 passes for 177 yards. Aca’Cedric Ware has rushed for 150 yards and two touchdowns.
Arizona gets its first touchdown against USC
Arizona finally got on the scoreboard against USC, receiving a 33-yard touchdown catch from redshirt freshman Stanley Berryhill, who played at Orange Lutheran.
USC still leads 24-7 with 7:44 left in the third quarter.
Khalil Tate of Arizona has completed 12 of 21 passes for 153 yards.
This is the time USC still needs to put the Wildcats away, since the Trojans have had trouble in road games.
Aca’Cedric Ware runs 69 yards for USC touchdown
The rout is on in Tucson. USC’s offense is starting to dominate.
Aca’Cedric Ware ran 69 yards for a touchdown with 10:36 left in the third quarter to give the Trojans a 24-0 lead over Arizona.
Ware has rushed for 149 yards in 12 carries and scored two touchdowns. As he ran down the right sideline, receiver Velus Jones was giving him a key block to clear the way.
USC has gained 217 yards on the ground. The Trojans do have 117 yards in penalties.
USC holds 17-0 halftime lead over Arizona
USC has come away with a 17-0 halftime lead over Arizona in Tucson.
The Trojans had a chance to increase their lead with less than two minutes left but lost the ball on the Arizona 13 when quarterback JT Daniels wasn’t prepared for the snap. The ball was hiked off his knee and recovered by the Wildcats.
Marvell Tell kept the shutout intact by blocking a 38-yard field goal attempt on the final play of the second quarter.
Arizona offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone wasn’t a fan favorite when he coached at UCLA, and the way the Wildcats’ offense has been performing could produce a similar effect.
The Wildcats have been limited to 116 total yards, and quarterback Khalil Tate was seen limping. He has been playing with a hurt ankle. He’s nine of 18 passing for 77 yards.
Daniels completed 11 of 16 passes for 156 yards. The Trojans have rushed for 125 yards in the first half. Aca’Cedric Ware and Stephen Carr each have 57 yards rushing.
It was an ugly half as far as penalties are concerned. USC picked up nine penalties for 95 yards. Arizona had five for 50.
On fourth down, USC gets touchdown
USC coach Clay Helton decided not to try for a field goal on fourth down on the Arizona 26 with 5:16 left in the second quarter.
Needing two yards, running back Aca’Cedric Ware got the ball on a handoff, went right, received a clearing block from center Toa Lobendahn and raced into the end zone for a touchdown and a 17-0 USC lead.
USC has held Arizona to 52 total yards offense. Freshman safety Talanoa Hufanga has been playing aggressively on defense for Trojans.
The only disappointment for USC so far are the penalties piling up. USC has been assessed eight penalties for 80 yards. There have been 15 penalties called in the game.
Marvell Tell gets key interception for USC
USC safety Marvell Tell made Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate pay for trying to do too much on a scramble, intercepting the pass on the Arizona 32 with 13:32 left in the second quarter.
That set up a 42-yard field goal by Michael Brown, giving USC a 10-0 lead over Arizona with 11:12 left in the second quarter.
USC has been called for seven penalties for 65 yards.
Quarterback JT Daniels has been moving around a lot in the pocket early on.
Arizona’s offense has run off 16 plays with only one play better than seven yards,
USC ends first quarter with 7-0 lead over Arizona
USC has a 7-0 lead over Arizona at the end of the first quarter in Tucson.
Three possessions and three punts for Arizona. The Trojans’ defense is denying the big play and making sure Khalil Tate doesn’t pick up yards when he leaves the pocket.
Former Gardena Serra linebacker John Houston of USC deflected a pass against his former Serra teammate, Tate.
JT Daniels suffered a sack after his offensive line did a good job protecting him on a 90-yard, 12-play scoring drive for the Trojans.
The Trojans are still picking up penalties. A holding penalty nullified a long run from Stephen Carr at the end of the quarter.
Daniels has completed six of 11 passes for 93 yards.
USC line giving JT Daniels protection
JT Daniels was unbeaten as a quarterback last season for Santa Ana Mater Dei because he had the best offensive line in high school football. And on USC’s second possession on Saturday, the Trojan offensive line gave him plenty of time to throw, and he delivered.
He guided the Trojans on a 90-yard, 12-play scoring drive, with Vae Malepeiascoring on a one-yard run for a 7-0 lead over Arizona.
Daniels came through with a 20-yard pass to Michael Pittman on third down deep on Trojan territory and connected with tight end Josh Falo on a 37-yard pass play.
He’s five for nine for 83 yards.
USC, Arizona exchange punts on opening possessions
The opening possessions for USC and Arizona both resulted in punts.
USC moved the ball to the 39 on its first possession before having to punt after an incompletion on third down.
Arizona’s opening drive was halted at the 50 before having to punt.
Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate, with a sore ankle, hasn’tbeen running much this season but he picked up a first down with his legs.
USC starts its second drive on its own 10.
JT Daniels vs. Khalil Tate QB rematch
As USC prepares to face Arizona in Tucson, it should be reminded that the two starting quarterbacks, JT Daniels and Khalil Tate, last faced off in 2015 when both were in high school.
Daniels passed for 214 yards in Santa Ana Mater Dei’s 28-27 victory over Gardena Serra in the Division 1 playoffs. Daniels was a freshman. Tate was a senior and rushed for a school-record 356 yards.
It will be interesting to see how much running Tate is able to do for Arizona. He hasn’t done much this season.
Trojans’ freshman QB JT Daniels continues to impress with his improving touch
JT Daniels’ favorite was his two-point conversion throw to Tyler Vaughns in the back of the end zone that gave USC a 39-36 lead.
Amon-ra St. Brown was partial to Daniels’ fade pass in the final seconds of the first half to Michael Pittman Jr. that was caught in the end zone but ultimately ruled incomplete after a lengthy review.
USC quarterbacks coach Bryan Ellis couldn’t decide between two throws Daniels made in the second half that beat a “Cover 2” defense. The first was a 22-yarder down the left sideline to Pittman that got USC moving on its first drive of the second half. The second was a 21-yarder on third-and-nine on the Trojans’ game-winning drive when Vaughns leaped over a Washington State defender on the right sideline to keep the chains moving.
Ellis appreciated the debate going around USC’s practice Tuesday night and took it as a good sign that things had taken a turn for his young quarterback Friday night in a much-needed win over the Cougars.
“That goes to show you that he made a couple good ones, right, if people have got different opinions?” Ellis said.
Ellis saw where St. Brown was coming from too.
“But I like the ones that are actual completions,” Ellis said with a chuckle.