In a game where USC is fielding less than 50 healthy, scholarship athletes, the Trojans got off to a slow start, leading the Utes 7-3 after the first quarter.
Utah started the game with the ball, going up against the Trojan defense early. The Utes moved the ball well, despite pressure from the stout defensive line. Threatening to score early, the Utes marched into Trojan territory. On 3rd and long, Devon Kennard got pressure on Travis Wilson, who then walked right into a sack by Leonard Williams. Trojans kept the Utes out endzone but they got on the scoreboard with a 42-yard field goal kick to go up 3-0.
Cody Kessler and the Trojan offense took the field but didn’t get much going. Nelson Agholor almost had a beautiful 35-yard reception from the first play of scrimmage, but it fell incomplete. From there, it was a quick three-and-out for the Trojans, who only earned one yard (a rush from Silas Redd) on the drive.
On Utah’s next drive, Hayes Pullard came up with a big stop at the line of scrimmage and a loss of yards for the Utes. But the Utes would not be so easily deterred; Wilson darted past Williams towards the first-down marker, to come up just short. On fourth-and-one, Utah did get the first down, after a possible fumble play was reviewed.
The Trojan defense did come up with the stop to again keep the Utes out of their endzone, forcing a punt. The defensive line continues to dominate the line of scrimmage and get penetration, but Wilson’s ability to scramble could be an area of concern later in the game.
USC again went three-and-out with their next possession, but a pick from cornerback Josh Shaw put the ball back in the Trojans’ hands. They looked to be faced with another three-and-out but on fourth down, Kessler hit freshman Darreus Rogers to pick up the first down.
The Trojans have yet to convert on 3rd down in their last 14 attempts.
THe Trojans finally got the offense rolling a bit when Kessler hit Agholor for 30-yards out, who then tiptoed down the sideline and flipped into the endzone for the score.
Building momentum, the Trojan defense then forced Wilson to fumble as time ran out in the first quarter.
THe Trojans will start the second half with the ball, and are starting to wake up a bit on this Saturday afternoon.