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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


USC comes out hot, breezes by Arizona football for a 48-14 victory on Family Weekend

Sydney Richardson
USC wide receiever JuJu Smith-Schuster leaves Arizona’s Tony Ellison in the dust as he runs toward the endzone for a touchdown on Saturday, Oct. 15.

With on-field temperatures reaching over 130 degrees prior to the 12:30 p.m. kickoff, Arizona’s defense was hung out to dry by the visiting USC Trojans and redshirt freshman quarterback Sam Darnold, with a final score of 48-14 on Family Weekend.

Coming into today’s contest fresh off victories against ASU and a ranked Colorado squad, the Trojans’ offense was able to find their stride early, scoring touchdowns on three of their first four drives.

A 10-play, 73-yard drive to start the game was capped off with running back Ronald Jones II’s five-yard score. The sophomore started in place of injured senior Justin Davis and finished with 77 yards on 16 attempts.

The Trojans’ efficiency on third downs kept the Wildcat defense on the field for the majority of the game. Converting 7-of-13 third-down opportunities and possessing the ball for over 35 minutes, drained the Arizona defensive front line. The Wildcats were unable to get Darnold down in the backfield over the course of the game.

“We just need to play better, condition better and we have to do a lot of things better than what we have been doing because obviously it’s not working,” Arizona safety Tellas Jones said.

RELATED: Wildcats leave Arizona football fans little to be excited about on Family Weekend

In his third straight start since taking over for Max Browne, Darnold’s ability to extend drives with his legs and finding primary target JuJu Smith-Schuster put the Trojans up 34-7 by halftime, in front of a half-empty (yet somehow sold-out) Arizona Stadium.

“We’ve had some adversity but we’re 2-5,” head coach Rich Rodriguez said. “I think a lot of the problems we can fix in the next year or two with recruiting and some of them we’ll try to fix in the short term. I love our fans, we got great fans and they’ve been very supportive since I’ve been here. … If they’re not happy with not winning, hey, nobody over here is either.”

USC rested Darnold for the final quarter of the game after he threw for five touchdowns and 235 yards. Smith-Schuster led the Trojans’ receiving corps with nine catches for 132 yards and three touchdowns.

RELATED: USC pulled the plug on Arizona football’s life support

True freshman Khalil Tate was given his first career start at quarterback with Brandon Dawkins on the sideline after suffering a concussion in Arizona’s 23-36 loss at Utah last Saturday.

Tate was able to find some success early with his mobility, scoring on a three-yard keeper to tie the game at seven with just under six minutes remaining in the first quarter. But USC capitalized on a fumble at the start of the second quarter and an interception on the first play of Arizona’s sixth drive.

“There are just times when a 17-year old freshman looks like a 17-year old freshman,” Rodriguez said.” … I don’t know what our QB situation is going forward, but we got at least two weeks now to figure something out.”

USC jumped on the young Wildcat quarterback right from the start, rendering him virtually ineffective for most of the game.

“I felt like we played well,” USC defensive back Chris Hawkins said. ”Coach put together a great game plan. We knew we were going to be facing Khalil Tate. He’s a true freshman so we wanted to rattle him a bit and get some hits on him.”

Backup tight end Matt Morin replaced Tate at quarterback in the third quarter. Tate finished 7-for-18 for 58 yards passing and 72 yards rushing on 14 attempts and two turnovers.

Running back Nick Wilson was back in the lineup after missing the Utah game with an injury. The junior was able to break one run outside of the tackles for a 39-yard gain—Arizona’s longest of the game. But besides the big run, Wilson was stifled by the Trojans’ athletic defense for only eight yards on five rushes.

Both teams have byes next week with the Wildcats next playing host to Stanford (3-2, 2-2 Pac-12) on Oct. 29 at Arizona Stadium.

Follow Daily Wildcat Sports on Twitter for live and postgame coverage. 

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