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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

No. 18 Trojans Trample Beavers

USC rebounded from an upsetting defeat with a dominating 35-10 victory over visiting Oregon State.

Justin Davis tallied 112 total yards in the Trojans' rout of OSU
Justin Davis tallied 112 total yards in the Trojans' rout of OSU

The No. 18 USC football team (3-1, 2-0) retained its unblemished home and PAC-12 records Saturday, as the Trojans took down Oregon State (3-1, 0-1) in front of a sea of Cardinal and Gold at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum.

As both teams struggled to move the ball on their early possessions, sophomore safety Su'a Cravens made up for the lackluster offensive performance. During OSU's second drive, strong arm quarterback Sean Mannion dropped back and rocketed a pass intended for a Beaver that Cravens intercepted and returned 31 yards for his first collegiate touchdown to give the Trojans a 7-0 lead.

"We knew that they wanted to get the ball out to the flats with their big tight ends," said Cravens. "They ran them out and I just happend to make a play on the ball."

USC would not be able to celebrate for long.

On the ensuing kickoff, senior Andre Heidari's long ball was fielded by safety Ryan Murphy at the OSU 3-yard line and he never looked back. Murphy sliced through the USC defenders, avoiding an outstretched Heidari, and evened the score at seven with five minutes remaining in the first.

With the Trojans struggling to gain momentum offensively, the Beavers were able to find their way. Utilizing eight throws by Mannion, OSU marched down the field and settled for a 38-yard field goal to pull ahead, 10-7.

After watching the Beaver slinger pick apart the Trojan secondary, redshirt junior Cody Kessler decided to do the same for USC. On the following offensive possession for the Cardinal and Gold, Kessler connected with freshman tight end Bryce Dixon for a 31-yard gain. Kessler coupled Dixon's effort just three plays later, as sophomore running back Justin Davis squeaked out of the back field and took in a pretty pass for a 16-yard Trojan touchdown to regain the lead, 14-10.

"I think the way the defense played and Su'a's pick-six really got the crowd into it and got us pumped up," said Kessler about the offenses sudden spark of efficiency. "It got the offense energized and we started to get a rhythm."

As OSU made its way into USC territory, Cravens continued his massive night by bursting through the line of scrimmage and wrestling Mannion to ground. Later in the drive with the Beavers threatening on the Trojan 22 yard line, the senior quarterback tested USC freshman Adoree Jackson and the 19-year-old one. Jackson knocked Mannion's pass out of a OSU receiver's hands in the endzone as sophomore Leon McQuay III corralled the loose ball for the second USC interception.

With time ticking down in the first half, USC set up for a long fourth down on the OSU 48 with just one second remaining. After spending time in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts two weeks ago, Kessler mimicked the former Boston College quarterback Doug Flutie, tossing a 50-yard bomb toward the endzone that found sophomore Darreus Rogers to give USC a 21-10 halftime advantage.

"We've been practicing it since training camp," said Sarkisian about the hailmary pass. "You never know when you're going to use it."

The opening of the second half mirrored the game's beginnings with both teams struggling to move the ball offensively. However, on the Trojan's second drive, glimpses of the early-season success came through.

Davis strung together a series of successful runs that allowed USC's passing game to open up and permit Kessler to move the ball more freely, which the play caller from Bakersfield took advantage of. Kessler found freshman Ajene Harris, who carried the ball into Beaver territory before connecting with tight end Randall Telfer for 18 yards down to the OSU 23. Lining up for the 36-yard field goal attempt, Heidari pulled the ball well left to end USC's drive.

Later in the quarter, Davis and company in the backfield would be called on to be the driving force behind the Trojan offense.

Davis started the USC possession lined up deep inside his own territory before breaking off a 20-yard run to give the Trojans breathing room. After a string of successive runs, redshirt junior Javorius "Buck" Allen took control to move within striking distance. As the torch of the L.A. Memorial Coliseum was lit, Allen scampered 17 yards for a Trojan touchdown.

Midway through the fourth quarter, USC put together a drive displaying its variety of options on the ground game, with all nine plays coming as rushes. Touches were distributed amongst the committee until Davis tacked on his second touchdown of the game with a 21-yard burst to seal the Trojan victory, 35-10.

"We came in here not really worried about the other team, but worried about ourselves," said Cravens about the team's mentality of playing for the first time since suffering an upset loss to Boston College. "We were making sure we did our jobs and executing, and I think we did that tonight."

"We have to remain hungry. We have to remain in this mindset of a relentless attitude to strive for perfection, to strive to get better and not be satisfied with this game," said Sarkisian. "We have to raise our level of play as the season goes on because we have another great challenge next Saturday night."

USC looks to remain perfect in PAC-12 play as they take on visiting Arizona State October 4.

Final Stats:


Cody Kessler: 24/32, 261 yds, 2 TDs

Javorius Allen: 20 carries, 115 yds, 1 TD


Sean Mannion: 15/32, 123 yds, 0 TDs, 2 INTs

Storm Woods: 9 carries, 61 yds

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