Nelson Agholor’s efforts go to waste in USC’s defeat

Nelson Agholor

USC receiver Nelson Agholor returns a punt for a touchdown against Arizona State last season.

(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

USC’s Nelson Agholor returned a punt for a touchdown and caught nine passes, but the effort went to waste in the Trojans’ 38-34 loss to Arizona State on Saturday night at the Coliseum.

Agholor caught a first-quarter punt at the Arizona State 47-yard line and bolted up the middle nearly untouched for his third career punt return for a touchdown.

Last season, Agholor returned two punts for touchdowns at California.

Agholor had 85 yards in receiving yards.

Streak intact

USC quarterback Cody Kessler completed 28 of 45 passes for 273 yards, with no passes intercepted.

He scored on an eight-yard scramble that gave USC a 27-18 lead early in the fourth quarter.

Kessler has passed for 10 touchdowns, with no intercepted passes this season.

Saturday’s game was the second time this season Kessler did not throw a touchdown pass.

He also was held without a touchdown pass against Stanford.

Another 100-yard game for Allen

Trojans tailback Javorius Allen rushed for 143 yards and two touchdowns.

It was the fourth time in five games the junior has rushed for more than 100 yards.

Allen scored on a one-yard run in the first half and a 53-yard run with just over three minutes remaining.

Cravens has impact

Sophomore Su’a Cravens, a Freshman All-American at safety last season, had another productive game at linebacker.

Last week, Cravens returned an interception for a touchdown in the Trojans’ victory over Oregon State.

On Saturday, he had five tackles, including 3 1/2 for losses.

Time warp

The first two possessions of the game ended with fourth-down punts by the quarterbacks.

With Arizona State facing a fourth-and-six at the USC 33, Mike Bercovici took a snap out of the shotgun formation and placed a kick that was downed at the one-yard line.

USC drove to the Sun Devils’ 47 on the ensuing possession. Arizona State called time out as the Trojans lined up on a fourth-and-five.

When play resumed, Kessler took a snap out of the shotgun formation. His kick traveled on a low trajectory and rolled through the end zone for a touchback.

Kessler punted four times.

Coach Steve Sarkisian said Kessler punted because long snapper Zach Smith had suffered a concussion.

Jackson starts

Freshman Adoree’ Jackson started for the first time at cornerback.

The former Gardena Serra High standout finished with five tackles but was part of a defense that gave up 510 yards passing and five touchdown passes.

Jackson had played as a reserve in a rotation with redshirt freshman Chris Hawkins the first four games.

Against Oregon State, Jackson tipped a pass in the end zone that was intercepted by safety Leon McQuay III.

Peete leads Trojans

Former Trojans quarterback Rodney Peete led the Trojans out of the Coliseum tunnel before the game.

Peete was a 1988 All-American and finished second in Heisman Trophy balloting.

Quick hits

Receiver Steven Mitchell, a redshirt freshman, had his first career reception on a seven-yard catch in the second half…. The Stanley Cup was on display on the field during part of the game.

Twitter: @latimesklein