USC linebacker Dion Bailey has a giant takeaway game
Linebacker Dion Bailey, who entered Thursday night’s game as USC’s leading tackler, spoke this week of being unsatisfied with his performance.
“I’m playing well but I feel like I’m not really helping my team like I’m supposed to,” Bailey said. “Like a true linebacker, I need to lead the team in pass breakups or interceptions.
“I really have to step up in my game, have a better nose for the football when it’s in the air and get my hands on it.”
Consider it done.
The redshirt freshman from Lakewood High recovered a fumble and made the first two interceptions of his career as the Trojans came up with five turnovers in a 30-9 win over California at AT&T Park. He also led USC with eight tackles, six of them solo.
Bailey’s first pick came with 49 seconds left in the second quarter when he made a leaping grab of a pass by Cal’s Zach Maynard in the end zone to preserve a 20-0 lead.
The second interception set up USC’s final points — but he didn’t have to do nearly as much. Maynard’s pass hit him right in the chest at the Cal nine-yard line with 5:50 left in the game.
One for the Bears
Give Cal one edge. In a matchup of star sophomore receivers, Keenan Allen held a big edge over USC’s Robert Woods.
Allen had a career-high 13 catches for 160 yards — his fifth 100-yard receiving game of the season, and fourth in a row.
Woods, who came in averaging 11 receptions a game, was held to a season-low five catches for 36 yards.
After moving George Farmer from receiver to tailback during an open week, the Trojans wasted no time utilizing the freshman for the first time.
The former Gardena Serra High star was on the field for the opening kickoff on the coverage team. And he got the ball on USC’s second play from scrimmage.
It didn’t go really well, though. On first-and-goal at Cal’s six-yard line, Farmer took a pitch and ran to his left, where he was stopped for a four-yard loss.
He finished with four yards in four carries and also caught a short pass and turned it into a 14-yard gain.
Freshman cornerback Anthony Brown, who started in place of Torin Harris for the second game in a row, suffered an apparent leg injury early in the second quarter. Isiah Wiley, a junior college transfer, replaced Brown.
Harris did not make the trip to the Bay Area, nor did middle linebacker Lamar Dawson, who missed a third consecutive game because of an ankle injury.
It took a while
USC finished with 118 rushing yards, but the Trojans were slow starters.
Quarterback Matt Barkley’s two-yard run with 10:40 left in the second quarter doubled USC’s output to that point.
With Curtis McNeal providing a spark, the Trojans picked up the pace in the second quarter and had 47 yards rushing by halftime. McNeal, subbing for injured starter Marc Tyler for most of the second half, finished with 86 yards rushing in 17 carries.
Cal ran for a net of only 35 yards.
Ups and downs
Cal receiver Marvin Jones, a senior who played at Etiwanda High, caught a pass for the 31st consecutive game. He had six catches for 89 yards.
Jones also had a career-long 37-yard punt return, the longest by a Cal player since Jeremy Ross also had a 37-yard punt return vs. UC Davis on Sept. 4, 2010.
However, he dropped a pass inside USC’s 10 in the second half, and later made a fair catch of a punt at Cal’s own four-yard line.
Get our high school sports newsletter
Prep Rally is devoted to the SoCal high school sports experience, bringing you scores, stories and a behind-the-scenes look at what makes prep sports so popular.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.