In their annual crosstown showdown, the UCLA Bruins jumped out to a 7-0 lead over the USC Trojans, in an opening quarter defined by sloppy offensive line play and lots of penalty flags.
The USC defense got off to a good start vs. the Bruins, forcing UCLA off the field with a fast three-and-out. Hayes Pullard smothered the run and then Devon Kennard followed that up with a quick sack of Brett Hundley to set up a 3rd-and18 for UCLA. They didn’t convert, and had to punt it away.
Cody Kessler and the offense took the field for the first time, and had a bit of trouble of their own. The Trojans saw theselves go three-and-out, but not before Marqise Lee got into a brief tussle with Bruin Myles Jack, and USC offensive lineman Marcus Martin went down with injury. After a few minutes, Martin had to be carted off the field, a significant blow to the Trojans’ already weak offensive line.
The tensions continued to boil over between the Bruins and the Trojans as the first quarter toiled on.
On UCLA’s first play of its second drive, offensive tackle Caleb Benenoch got ejected after punching USC’s JR Tavai in the helmet. Both teams found themselves down an offensive lineman less than four minutes into the game. More penalty flags flew on the following punt and though another Bruin punched a Trojan, an ejection was avoided due to offsetting penalties.
Buck Allen found some space for the Trojans on USC’s next drive, picking up a first down, which was also the first one of the game. Nelson Agholor caught the next play-action pass close to the sideline, the Allen punched it across the first down marker to earn another set of downs for the Trojans. Nothing would come it though, as the Trojans were forced to punt again.
USC punter Kris Albarado shanked a horrible punt, putting UCLA right near the 50-yard line, and the Bruins would capitalize. After a 7-play, 48-yard drive, Myles Jack punched it in from three yards out for the score, and UCLA got on the board first with a 7-0 lead.
The Trojans were moving the ball decently, then back-to-back sacks of Kessler forced USC to punt it away again.