USC quarterback Cody Kessler gets the ball in the right hands against Utah
USC quarterback Cody Kessler, plagued by interceptions in USC’s previous three games, recaptured his efficiency Saturday in the Trojans’ 42-24 victory over third-ranked Utah at the Coliseum.
Kessler completed 21 of 28 passes for 264 yards and a touchdown, without an interception.
Kessler rebounded after having five passes intercepted in the previous three games.
He was sacked four times and hit often while operating behind a reshuffled offensive line, but he escaped several potential negative plays and turned them into gains.
Kessler has passed for 18 touchdowns this season, with five interceptions.
Sophomore receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster caught eight passes for 143 yards, including a 25-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Center Toa Lobendahn suffered a knee injury during the first half and did not return. Lobendahn, a sophomore, was starting at center for the second consecutive game because Max Tuerk suffered a season-ending knee injury against Washington.
Junior Khaliel Rodgers finished the game in Lobendahn’s place.
It was the latest injury sustained by an offensive line that featured Zach Banner moving from right tackle to left tackle because of a concussion suffered last week by Chad Wheeler. Freshman Chuma Edoga started at right tackle in place of Banner.
Jackson starts on offense
Adoree’ Jackson, who worked almost exclusively on offense during practice this week, did not start at cornerback, but did start at receiver.
Jackson caught six passes for 37 yards and rushed for minus-one yard in two carries.
Senior Kevon Seymour started at cornerback in place of Jackson. Seymour made two tackles.
With receivers Steven Mitchell Jr. and Darreus Rogers sidelined because of injuries, junior De’Quan Hampton and freshman Dominic Davis made key catches for the Trojans.
Hampton had a 29-yard reception in the second quarter to help set up a touchdown run by tailback Ronald Jones II that gave the Trojans a 21-14 lead. Davis caught three passes for 22 yards.
Fullback Soma Vainuku entered the game with one carry this season for three yards. The Trojans called on him on fourth and goal from the one-yard line and the Trojans trailing, 14-7.
Vainuku took a handoff and dived over lineman across the goal-line to tie the score.
Interim Coach Clay Helton said tight end Taylor McNamara suffered a shoulder injury. Defensive lineman Rasheem Green suffered a knee injury.
Former Trojans fullback Sam Cunningham led the Trojans onto the field before the game.
The crowd observed a moment of silence in memory of Nick Pappas, a former USC player and coach who was known as Mr. Trojan for his nearly six-decade association with USC’s football team. Pappas died Friday in Pasadena of natural causes. He was 99.
Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @LATimesKlein
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