USC vs. Arizona score, summary: Trojans outlast Khalil Tate and Co.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images /

Saturday night’s USC vs. Arizona score at the Coliseum was a wild one, with the Trojans winning despite blowing a 22-point lead.

The lowdown: The Trojans put together one of their best first halves of the year against Arizona, particularly on defense. All-world quarterback extraordinaire Khalil Tate had just 19 net rushing yards and was sacked three times, as USC held the Wildcats to 2.68 yards per play and no touchdowns.

But the offense was a mixed bag, juxtaposing dominant run-based scoring drives with missed red zone opportunities and errant throws from Sam Darnold. All told, the Trojans took a 21-6 lead to the break with touchdowns from Jalen Greene on a blocked punt, and caught scores by Tyler Vaughns and Steven Mitchell.

The switch flipped in the second half, with Tate waking up and ultimately being able to take advantage of all of the points USC left on the board. After the Trojans opened a 28-6 lead on a Ronald Jones run in the third quarter, Arizona scored on four-straight drives, gaining 254 yards and the necessary points to tie the game.

Tate scored on a 32-yard burst to start the comeback, and added runs of 21 and 54 yards to set up touchdowns. He found Tony Ellison with just over eight minutes to play on a two-point conversion to tie the game at 35.

For as cooked as the Trojans appeared —downright gassed on defense and sputtering on offense— they answered with two-straight scoring drives of their own, along with a pair of interceptions off Tate to seal the victory and ultimately win by two touchdowns, 49-35.

The takeaway: USC’s performance was a microcosm of their season. They looked dominant at times. They looked undisciplined. They left points on the board. They were gashed by a freakish athlete in Khalil Tate. And yet they didn’t force quit, and ultimately won to take full control of the Pac-12 South race.

For as difficult of a game the offense made it for the Trojans by not finishing off drives early to seize a blowout ripe for the taking, they responded when facing the harshest of adversities, after blowing a 22-point lead. That’s good and reflects well on Clay Helton and his coaching staff.

However, the game having a little bit of everything is still what’s wrong with USC. They make games harder on themselves with turnovers and penalties, and they are too often late to make in-game adjustments. That’s bad and reflects poorly on the coaching staff.

Luckily for USC, they’ve found a way to win these topsy turvy games more often than not, and that puts them in position win trophies at the end of the year, even if not the grandest. That has to count for something, despite the frustrations.

Player of the game: Ronald Jones put together another magnificent game for the Trojans, totaling 194 yards and leading a dominant USC run game. All told, Troy ran for 331 yards, just shy of last week’s season-high of 341.

Stat of the game: With his host of yards, Ronald Jones passed the 1,000-yard mark for the second-straight year. He now has 1,082 yards for the year—identical to 2016— and joins LenDale White as only the second Trojan to do the double since Marcus Allen in 1981.

Next on tap: The good news? First-place-in-the-Pac-12-South USC can now wrap up the division and punch their ticket to the Pac-12 Championship Game next Saturday afternoon at Colorado. The bad news? The forecast shows at a high of 45 degrees in Boulder.