The Trojans continued to drive on the Sun Devils to begin the second half, and they capped their drive with Cody Kessler dumping it off to Tre Madden for a 10-yard touchdown. In a three-minute, 77-yard drive, the Trojans took the lead over the Sun Devils.
A nice 16-yard completion to tight end Xavier Grimble set the Trojans up for the score as Coach Lane Kiffin has been using the running game to set up play-action passes, allowing for diverse play calling.
The Trojan defense bent, but didn’t break on ASU’s next offensive drive, and quickly moved the Sun Devils off the field once more. ASU started the game hot, but the Trojans have contained their opponent easily since: the Sun Devils had 75 yards on its first drive, then a combined 62 yards on their next three.
USC moved the ball, but ultimately came up short on its next drive, and was forced to punt after Marqsie Lee went no where from a bubble screen on third-and-nine.
Taylor Kelly brilliantly executed the read-option against the Trojan defense, keeping the ball himself and darting across the field for a 40-yard gain. Finding their rhythm now, Kelly hit De’Marieya Nelson for 24 yards, and the Sun Devils entered the Trojan redzone. Kelly then targeted tight end Marion Grice from 11 yards out, and found him in the endzone for the score.
The Sun Devils tied it up again, and took some of the momentum away from USC.
It got even better for the Sun Devils when Kessler hit Lee right in the hands, Lee couldn’t control it, and the Sun Devils got under it for the interception. With great field position, the Sun Devils stood prime to retake the lead. The Trojan defense came up huge though, stuffing the Sun Devils mere inches away from the endzone.
A big holding call against ASU backed them up, and Kelly’s pass on third down sailed incomplete. Settling for the field goal, the Sun Devils took a 17-14 lead.
On USC’s next drive, the Trojans looked to strike back but then Madden ran into his own player and fumbled the ball. ASU recovered it, and the home crowd exploded in cheers.
With under two minutes to play, ASU drove to the Trojans’ endzone, but after a botched third-and-one at the goal line, they settled for another field goal.
USC turned the ball over on both of its final drives of the half, which is the exact opposite of what the Trojans needed to do on the road. Still, the defense held the Sun Devils to just a pair of field goals, effectively keeping the Trojans in the game.
In the second half, USC needs to eliminate little mistakes, and find a way to improve the secondary’s effort against ASU’s receivers.
Cody Kessler is 11 of 13 for 87 yards and one touchdown at the half, while Taylor Kelly is 16 of 21 for 205 yards and one TD as well. On the ground, Tre Madden has 10 carries for 84 yards (and 10 receiving yards) and one touchdown, with Justin Davis helping out for five carries for 49 yards. Marqise Lee leads the passing game, with five receptions for 30 yards.