The USC Trojans traveled to Reser Stadium to take on the Oregon State Beavers on Friday night, and surprisingly turned things in their favor very early on.
On the opening kickoff, the home crowd was stunned into silence when LB Joel Skotte took a huge hit from USC fullback Soma Vainuku and went limp on the field. He got up and walked off on his own accord after a few minutes, but it certainly was a scary way to start this game.
After the injury break, Sean Mannion connected with Brandin Cooks on the first play of the game for a 31-yard pick up. The Beavers strung together a fairly efficient drive, but got stopped on 3rd-and-9 when Trojan linebacker Hayes Pullard read the screen perfectly and nullified the play. Oregon State attempted a 46-yard field goal, but it was blocked.
Taking over at their own 29-yard line, the Trojan offense got things moving quickly: Cody Kessler rolled out of the pocket and found Marqise Lee–in his return from a knee injury–wide open down the field for a 71-yard touchdown bomb.
USC getting on the board quickly and early took the energy out of the Reser Stadium home crowd.
On Oregon State’s second drive of the game, a quick three-and-out saw them move on and off the field in under three minutes.
USC attempted to get the running game going with its second drive of the night. Kessler handed the ball off to Silas Redd who rushed for nine yards, then he picked up the first down and a couple more yards on his next rush. With a new set of downs, however, USC started moving in the wrong direction. First, Cody Kessler held on to the ball for way too long even with the pressure coming on strong, and got dropped for a sack. Then on 2nd-and-long, Aundrey Walker got flagged for a holding penalty, backing the Trojans up even further. USC would not convert on 3rd and long, and what once looked like a promising drive became a punting situation.
On Oregon State’s next drive, Devon Kennard brought Mannion down for a sack on second down, which pushed the Beavers deeper into their own endzone and effectively killed their chances of moving down the field.
USC, with a fresh set of downs, went to work trying to get into scoring position. Lee caught a short pass from Kessler and spun around a defender for a 23-yard gain. Later, on 3rd and 10, Nelson Agholor handled an 11-yard catch-and-run, darting for the Oregon State 38-yard line and picking up the first down.
Kessler then rolled towards the sideline and connected with freshman wide receiver Darreus Rogers at the 22-yard line. Due to some confusion, USC burned all of its timeouts in the first quarter. Late in the quarter the Trojans used their third one and coming out of it, Buck Allen took the hand off, bounced off a few defenders and scrambled for the first-down marker. Inside the Oregon State nine-yard line, Allen again took the hand off and twisted his way into the endzone for the score.
Up 14-0 in Reser Stadium, USC showed early in this game that they intend to compete.
USC has 167 yards of offense after the first quarter, to Oregon State’s 47.