USC vs. Arizona Final: Trojans Beat Wildcats, 28-26


The USC Trojans held on defeat the No. 10 Arizona Wildcats in Tuscon, 28-26, despite 13 unanswered points from the home team in the fourth quarter.

It looked like it might be a repeat of last week’s heartbreak against Arizona State, when the Wildcats scored with just over a minute remaining then recovered the onside kick and marched inside the 20 trailing by just two. But a timely time out and a poor kicking performance from Arizona’s kicker helped USC avoid disaster again.

Javorius Allen starred for the Trojans with 205 yards and three touchdowns on 26 carries. Arizona’s back up running back came away with two touchdowns in his own in place of the injured Terris Jones-Grigsby.

At quarterback, Cody Kessler finished with 185 yards, a touchdown and his first interception of the season on 20-of-30 passing. His counterpart on the Wildcats, Anu Solomon, threw for 395 yards and a touchdown on 72 attempts.

Arizona and USC traded three and outs in the fourth quarter, with the Trojan’s drive ending on the first sack of the game for the Wildcats.

Devonte’ Neal muffed the ensuing punt, which USC recovered, but a dubious kick-catch interference penalty gave Arizona a second shot to field the punt.

Oct 11, 2014; Tucson, AZ, USA; Southern California Trojans defensive end Leonard Williams (94) hugs head coach Steve Sarkisian as they celebrate a second quarter fumble recovery against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

With the help of a pass interference penalty, Arizona moved towards midfield, then on fourth down a defensive breakdown left Baker wide open on the outside. He strolled into the endzone to pull the Wildcats within one score of the Trojans.

USC was backed up in their own territory following a holding penalty on the kick off until Allen took more than a few Wildcats for a ride on his back, fighting for 32 yards towards midfield. The drive stalled from their however and the Trojans were forced to punt.

Substitute safety John Plattenburg made the difference on defense, forcing two incompletions to end Arizona’s hopes of tying the game midway through the fourth.

Justin Davis entered the game to spell Allen and atoned for his key fumble earlier in the half with a trio of first down runs. It was another Trojan drive fizzled out at midfield however and the Wildcats once again got the ball back with a chance to draw even as the minutes ticked down.

Arizona moved with ease on their next drive, but on the sideline, Cayleb Jones fumbled the ball then batted it out of bounds but got away with it as the refs determined the ball had gone backwards. Solomon kept going with the dinks and dunks until the Wildcats were back in the red zone.

Solomon missed Jones on a slant over the middle, then hit him to the outside to get to the goal line. Baker then punched in a touchdown from short range. Still trailing by two, the Wildcats attempted a two-point conversion.

The first attempt was thrown well over the head of the receiver but the referees called pass interference on Chris Hawkins. Leonard Williams stuffed the rush on the second attempt and for the second straight week USC looked set to win.

But for the second straight week the Trojans dropped the ball. This time, on the onside kick which Arizona recovered.

Without time outs, the Wildcats moved to the 19 yard line and needed just a field goal to defeat USC and stay undefeated.

Casey Skowron’s kick was straight down the middle, but USC had called a timeout just before and the play was reset. This time, the kicker missed wide and the Trojans won the game.

In the first half, USC’s defense looked to redeem themselves for last week’s meltdown in the final minutes. Limiting the Wildcat rushing offense to 38 yards and coming up with big plays when they were most needed, the Trojans forced Arizona into four field goal attempts, only two of which were converted for points.

Leonard Williams ended another Wildcat drive in the red zone with a forced fumble after a strange series which saw the referees hit USC with a personal foul penalty after reviewing and overturning an illegal pass penalty against Solomon.

Offensively, the Trojans still lacked the rhythm Steve Sarkisian has been looking for, but Allen took matters into his own hands on scoring runs of 34 and 48 yards.

Stay tuned to Reign of Troy for USC vs. Arizona final thoughts and post-game content.