USC offense led by two quarterbacks stalls during fourth quarter of loss at ASU

USC quarterback Jaxson Dart celebrates after running for a touchdown against Arizona State
USC quarterback Jaxson Dart (2) celebrates after rushing for a touchdown against Arizona State Saturday in Tempe, Ariz.
(Darryl Webb / Associated Press)

Struggling USC had no answers on offense during the fourth quarter, falling 31-16 to Arizona State Saturday night in Tempe.

USC continued alternating quarterbacks during a road game against Arizona State.

While the Trojans kept the contest tight through three quarters and forced three Sun Devils turnovers, Kedon Slovis and Jaxson Dart struggled for first downs in the pivotal fourth quarter.

Two Trojans quarterbacks are not better than one in a lifeless loss at Arizona State

USC quarterback Kedon Slovis throws a pass during the first half of the Trojans’ 31-16 loss to Arizona State on Saturday.
(Darryl Webb / Associated Press)

TEMPE, Ariz. — In and out they went, two USC quarterbacks aimlessly trading places, grasping for any semblance of rhythm or hope or something, anything in between. One drive, it was Kedon Slovis. The next, Jaxson Dart. The hope was to get the best out of both. The reality, in an ugly back-and-forth between two imploding Pac-12 foes, was that the Trojans got the best of no one.

Instead, they found themselves wandering aimlessly through the desert night, with seemingly no plan at all in Saturday’s 31-16 defeat at Arizona State. Even as the Sun Devils handed over every possible opportunity they could give the Trojans to win, USC found itself trading punts and field goals in a high-stakes game of who blinks first.

Then, on a third and long in the fourth quarter, Chris Steele blinked. The cornerback was called for defensive holding, extending a late Sun Devils drive. The next play, Rachaad White was off to the races, breaking through USC’s front on his way to a 50-yard touchdown and burying the Trojans for good with his second score of the night. He finished with 202 yards and three touchdowns.

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Jaxson Dart runs USC offense for final, fruitless drive

Jaxson Dart took over leading the offense with less than two minutes remaining in the game and couldn’t maneuver USC into position to score before time expired.

USC ultimately fell 31-16 to Arizona State in Tempe Saturday night.


Arizona State runs over tired USC defense

Arizona State gashed a tired USC defense, carrying the ball 10 times during a 10-play, 67-yard scoring drive.

ASU now leads USC 31-16 with 1:58 left in the game.


USC goes three-and-out again

The USC offense is still stuck in its punt loop.

Kedon Slovis completed one pass as the Trojans went three-and-out after Arizona State’s big scoring drive that put the Sun Devils ahead by eight points.


USC gives up 50-yard touchdown run, falls further behind

Arizona State delivered what could be a crushing blow for USC, with Rachaad White rumbling for a 50-yard touchdown run.

With the extra point, Arizona State leads USC 24-16 with 8:13 left in the game.



Great defense or terrible offense?

Hard to say as USC followed Arizona State’s quick punt a quick punt of its own.

The Sun Devils kept the trend rolling with another short drive and punt.

ASU still leads USC with 11:25 left in the fourth quarter.


USC goes three-and-out after pick

USC went three-and-out after the defense snagged an interception near midfield.

Jaxson Dart was 0-for-2 passing and couldn’t scramble for a first down during his sole carry.


USC defense forces third turnover of game

USC’s defense has locked in on Jayden Daniels.

Xavion Alford intercepted a Daniels pass at the USC 49-yard line.

It’s the third turnover and second Daniels interception the Trojans have forced.


New QB, same result

After Arizona State went three-and-out, Jaxson Dart took over running to the USC offense.

Two ASU penalties helped extend the drive, during which Dart went 3-of-3 passing. He couldn’t overcame a USC holding penalty and the Parker Lewis hit a 52-yard field to further trim Arizona State’s lead.

It’s USC 17, ASU 16 with 3:09 left in the third quarter.


Kedon Slovis keeps running the offense and USC adds a field goal

The ESPN broadcast crew was told Jaxson Dart would start the third quarter, but Kedon Slovis took the field instead.

Interim coach Donte Williams said entering the contest he would ride the hot hand and Slovis was warmer in the first half.

Dart, however, was more successful reaching the end zone.

After driving the ball to the Arizona State 28-yard line, Slovis couldn’t lead USC to a first down and Parker Lewis converted a 45-yard field goal.

USC trails Arizona State 17-13 at the 9:23 mark in the third quarter.


USC penalty helps Arizona tack on three points

USC’s defense was called for pass interference, but the Trojans put applied enough pressure to limit Arizona State to a 29-yard field goal on the Sun Devils’ opening drive of the third quarter.

ASU 17, USC 13 with 12:37 left in the third quarter.


Arizona State runs out clock, leads 14-10 at halftime

Arizona State took a timeout after getting the ball back with 19 seconds left in the first half.

The Sun Devils took a knee, heading into the break with a 14-10 lead.

ASU will receive the kickoff to open the third quarter.


USC misses field goal and fails to capitalize on interception

Kedon Slovis continues running the USC offense, completing passes to Gary Bryant Jr. and Joseph Manjack to cross into Arizona State territory.

However, he tossed three consecutive incomplete passes in the final minute of the second quarter to set up fourth-and-10 from the Arizona State 34-yard line.

Parker Lewis stepped in and missed a 51-yard field goal with 19 seconds left in the half.


USC forces another Arizona State turnover

Raschaad White picked up where he left off, carrying the ball three times and catching one pass as Arizona State efficiently went from its 20-yard to its 41-yard line.

USC’s defense came through, however, with another big takeaway. Jayden Daniels’ pass was intercepted by Xavion Alford at the Trojans’ 39-yard line.


Kedon Slovis returns and USC’s next drive stalls

Kedon Slovis took back over running the USC offense and found Tahj Washington for a 12-yard gain.

Slovis rushed for four yards, passed to Washington for no gain and put up an incomplete pass before Ben Griffiths punted.


Raschaad White carves up the USC defense

USC didn’t hold the lead for long.

Raschaad White helped carve up the Trojans’ defense, catching a pass for 26 yards before running for a 46-yard touchdown.

With the extra point, Arizona took a 14-10 lead with 7:35 left in the second quarter.


Fox on the field in Tempe

Play was briefly stopped in the first quarter while a fox ran onto the field. Check out the video via ESPN:


Jaxson Dart rushes for a touchdown after Arizona State fumble

Keontay Ingram ran for nine yards before Jaxson Dart completed passes to Kyle Ford and Tahj Washington during USC’s drive set up by an Arizona State fumble.

The Sun Devils continue to help the Trojans, picking up their third penalty. The face mask call gave USC the ball at the ASU 11-yard line.

Ingram rushed for two yards before Dart carried the ball for a 9-yard touchdown.

With the extra point, USC leads 10-7 with 8:39 left in the second quarter.


Tuli Tuipulotu forces Arizona State turnover

Tuli Tuipulotu punched the ball out during the first play of Arizona State’s drive and it was recovered by Ralen Goforth at the Sun Devils’ 43-yard line.


USC picks up penalty late in drive, settles for a field goal

Keaontay Ingram opened the second quarter with an encouraging USC run, gaining 24 yards.

His next carry, however, was for a loss of five yards as USC continues to figure out how to gain consistent yards against the Arizona State defense focused on stopping the run.

Two Arizona State penalties (pass interference and holding) extending the drive, but USC was called for holding on first-and-10 at the Sun Devils’ 28.

Ingram managed another seven yards before a Dart incomplete pass to set up third-and-13 at the ASU 21.

The Sun Devils then called timeout with 11:40 left in the second quarter.

Dart tossed another incomplete pass and Parker Lewis hit a 38-yard field goal to close the 10-play, 54-yard drive.

Arizona State 7, USC 3 with 11:28 left in the second quarter.


Jaxson Dart takes over running USC offense

The USC quarterback rotation continues.

After Kedon Slovis led the offense most of the first quarter, Jaxson Dart took over during a drive that started with less than a minute left in the opening period.

Dart completed a 14-yard pass to Tahj Washington, moving the ball to the USC 39-yard line.

Keontay Ingram ran for no gain as time expired in the first quarter.

Still Arizona State 7, USC 0.


Arizona State relies on run during first scoring drive

USC has not been able to scratch out any rushing yards.

Arizona State has had no problem churning up yards on the ground.

The Sun Devils paired long Rachaad White runs with three key passes by Jayden Daniels to take a 7-0 lead.

During the drive, USC called timeout and Arizona State seemed to benefit from it, converting on fourth-and-three to keep the drive rolling.

DeaMonte Trayanum capped the 12-play, 94-yard drive with a 14-yard touchdown run scored with 58 seconds left in the first quarter.


Trojans’ drive stalls at midfield

After a Keaontay Ingram run for no gain, Kedon Slovis completed three consecutive passes to give the USC offense some breathing room after starting its latest drive on its 7-yard line.

However, the Trojans couldn’t move the ball on the ground and the drive stalled at the USC 48.

Ben Griffiths booted a 46-yard punt and it was downed at the Arizona State 6.

The game remains scoreless with 6:48 left in the first quarter.


USC defense stuffs Arizona State on opening drive

USC’s defense helped offset Kedon Slovis’ early pick, forcing Arizona State to go three-and-out on its first drive.

After the punt Slovis and the Trojans started their second drive of the game from their 7-yard line.


USC receives opening kickoff and Kedon Slovis starts at quarterback

The final Pac-12 after dark game of the night is under way.

USC received the opening kickoff and Gary Bryant Jr. returned it 37 yards to the USC 37.

Quarterback Kedon Slovis, who has recently split snaps with Jaxson Dart, is starting for Trojans.


USC left tackle Courtland Ford and defensive end Nick Figueroa out

USC will play Arizona State without a few veteran players.


USC vs. Arizona State matchups: Will Trojans’ running game overshadow QB carousel?

USC quarterback Jaxson Dart talks with his teammates in a huddle
USC quarterback Jaxson Dart talks with teammates during the game against Arizona at the Coliseum in Los Angeles on Oct. 30.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times )

The final month of USC’s season was supposed to be its most difficult stretch, a gauntlet that included two tough road trips, a crosstown showdown with UCLA and an out-of-conference finale against already bowl-eligible Brigham Young.

The rest of the schedule turned out to be quite a slog, too, and as the Trojans enter the final month in much worse shape than they expected, their final four games have taken on a new significance. USC must win at least two of those four to avoid missing out on the bowl season for the second time in four years.

That uphill climb begins Saturday at 7:30 p.m. PDT in Tempe, Ariz., when USC meets an Arizona State team in the midst of a serious slide. The Sun Devils have played the entire season under the dark cloud of scandal, but the cracks have only started to show over the last two weeks, as they lost to Washington State and Utah by two touchdowns.

Bolstered by a rushing attack that ranks among the Pac-12’s best, Arizona State will aim to run it early and often. The same strategy could be in play for USC, which comes to town as an eight-point underdog, setting up for a physical matchup in the trenches.

Here’s what to expect out of Saturday’s meeting of two Pac-12 South teams that expected to be contenders.

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USC vs. Arizona State: College football betting lines, odds and analysis

USC takes the field against Arizona at the Coliseum on Oct. 30
The USC Trojans take the field for a game against Arizona at the Coliseum in Los Angeles on Oct. 30.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

USC won last week, but it might have lost a shot at bowl eligibility in the process. Star wide receiver Drake London suffered a season-ending ankle injury and the Trojans will have to adjust to life without their best offensive player to take on Arizona State at Sun Devil Stadium on Saturday night.

The Trojans will be underdogs in each of their four remaining games and need to win two of them to be eligible for a bowl game on their own merits. If there aren’t enough teams with six wins, the Trojans could be picked for one if they have five wins, but that seems like a long shot.

USC will have to take it one game at a time and it starts this week in Tempe.

USC Trojans at Arizona State Sun Devils (-8.5, 59)

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Kyle Ford is one of several USC players ready to step up after Drake London injury

USC receiver Kyle Ford leaps over Arizona linebacker Christian Young
USC receiver Kyle Ford leaps over Arizona linebacker Christian Young during a game Oct. 30 at the Coliseum.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

As Drake London lay writhing in pain on the Coliseum field last Saturday, clutching a fractured ankle that would prematurely end the star receiver’s last season at USC, the reaction of his fellow wideouts, many of whom were kneeling close by, was visceral. The injury felt like a gut punch that left an entire offense gasping for air.

“It really hurt in the moment,” sophomore Gary Bryant Jr. said.

“We all felt that,” added sophomore Tahj Washington.

Few, though, could understand what USC’s star receiver was going through quite like Kyle Ford. When the two receivers signed with USC as part of its 2019 class, Ford was the five-star recruit, a top-five in-state prospect presumably bound for stardom, while London barely cracked the nation’s top 250. But recovery from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee forced Ford to sit out for most of his freshman season. In the meantime, London emerged as a star in the making.

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Uncertainty remains for USC quarterbacks about playing time

Southern California quarterback Kedon Slovis watches against Notre Dame
It’s unclear what role USC starting quarterback Kedon Slovis (9) will play leading the Trojans’ offense moving forward.
(Paul Sancya / Associated Press)

The decisive drive arrived Saturday night with six minutes remaining and Kedon Slovis still awaiting word on whether he would take the reins as USC’s quarterback.

For the better part of three seasons, there had been no question. Since taking over in the wake of JT Daniels’ season-ending knee injury in the 2019 opener, Slovis had started 25 games, enough to move into seventh place in career passing yards at USC. He had been named to the All-Pac-12 first team in each of his first two seasons and was chosen conference freshman of the year in 2019.

But in the game’s most critical moment Saturday, with the Trojans clinging to a touchdown lead over Arizona, Slovis was left on the sideline. Instead, freshman Jaxson Dart took his place, leading a scoring drive that consisted of four handoffs and a field goal — just enough to slip past the Wildcats 41-34.

Neither quarterback was aware until just before that fourth-quarter drive who would step in. A few days later, that same sense of uncertainty remains at USC.

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