In the second quarter, USC started to have some problems defensively. The Beavers broke off two big runs back to back, and moved into scoring position quickly. Inside the Trojans’ 40-yard line the Beavers just continued to grind. With draw after draw, the Beavers cut through the Trojan defense, which allowed for Sean Mannion to get more comfortable diversifying with short passes.
Threatening to score, Mannion dropped back with his eyes on the endzone…and connected with USC’s Josh Shaw, for the interception.
The Trojans didn’t do anything with their new fortune, though. Ty Isaac came in, in place of Redd and only got two yards on two carries. Then on third down Kessler felt mounting pressure and tried to get rid of it, but got flagged for intentional grounding.
Forced to punt, Kris Albarado dropped a punt right into the arms of an awaiting Beaver, near the 50-yard line.
Continuing to run the ball, the Beavers quickly found themselves inside the Trojan redzone once again. Mannion dropped back and found Brandin Cooks for a 27-yard touchdown, getting Oregon State on the board. USC cornerback Kevon Seymour fell down at the end of the route, but it wouldn’t have mattered.
USC got the ball back, and immediately coughed it up, thanks to an awful decision by Kessler. He stepped up in the pocket and threw a dart right to Oregon State’s Ryan Murphy, who ran it back for a 41-yard pick six.
Trying to rebound from a costly error, USC got the ground game going again. Silas Redd bowled his way through Oregon State’s defense for the first down, and then picked up four more yards on his next rush. Kessler then found Marqise Lee on a short slant for the first down.
Redd took another hand off for nine yards and pushed his way across the line of scrimmage to pick up the first down on the next play. Continuing to push his way through the Oregon State defense, Redd burst across the first-down marker, to the Beaver 18-yard line. From there, Kessler gave the ball to Buck Allen, who beasted his way into the endzone for the score.
The Trojans responded quickly and efficiently to Oregon State’s back-to-back scores, going up 21-14 after a nine-play, 72-yard drive. With the score, the Trojans took the Beavers’ crowd out of the game once again.
USC nearly picked off Mannion twice on the Beavers’ next drive, which ended in a quick three-and-out for Oregon State. The Trojans, too, punted on their next offensive series, getting nothing going themselves.
In the final two minutes of the half, Oregon State got backed up deep in their own endzone, thanks to a big-time sack by Devon Kennard. It was his second sack of the game (and seventh on the season), and effectively kept the wind out of Oregon State’s sails.
USC goes into the half with all the momentum, and comes out of it with the first possession of the second half.
Cody Kessler is 9-of-12 for 145 yards and one touchdown. He also has thrown one interception. Sean Mannion has completed 12 of 21 passes, for 139 yards, one touchdown and one pick.
On the ground, Silas Redd has 12 carries for 85 yards, while Buck Allen is also having a heck of a game with six carries for 46 yards and two touchdowns. Marqise Lee leads the passing game, with three receptions for 100 yards and one touchdown.
Defensively, the Trojans are playing a great came and are containing Mannion and his weapons. Brandin Cooks only has two receptions for 58 yards (with a long of 31), and one touchdown. The Trojans have sacked Mannion twice, and have picked him off once.
If USC can continue to keep the defensive pressure on while sustaining long, successful offensive drives, the Trojans can emerge from Corvallis unscathed.