Cougars booted by No. 1 Trojans
Midway through Bill Doba's postgame news conference, the lights went off in the interview tent just outside the Coliseum. "This is fitting for...
Seattle Times staff reporter
LOS ANGELES — Midway through Bill Doba's postgame news conference, the lights went off in the interview tent just outside the Coliseum.
"This is fitting for the night," the Washington State coach quipped.
And with reason.
USC lived up to its No. 1 ranking by thumping Washington State 47-14 in a game Doba aptly described as "an old-fashioned butt-whipping."
Looking bulletproof, the undefeated Trojans (3-0, 1-0 Pac-10) dominated the league opener as quarterback John David Booty completed 28 of 35 passes for 279 yards and four touchdowns, two of them to tight end Fred Davis.
Davis finished with 124 yards on nine catches.
USC had relied on its strong running game to dismantle Nebraska 49-31 on the road last week. This time, most of the damage was done through the air.
"We just really needed the work," said a pleased USC coach Pete Carroll, referring to the aerial production.
WSU quarterback Alex Brink completed 17 of 31 passes for 165 yards and two touchdowns.
One of the most telling stats was that USC never punted. The Trojans amassed 509 yards in total offense and limited the Cougars (2-2, 0-1) to 247.
The game was decided in the second quarter when the Cougars, a team that couldn't afford mistakes, made two big ones.
"Against this team, one mistake is enough to lose you the ballgame," Brink said. "You have to play as close to perfect as possible."
Trailing 17-7, WSU punter Darryl Blunt fumbled a good snap and USC pounced on him at the Cougars' 20.
Three plays later, Booty found Davis for a 14-yard touchdown pass and a 24-7 lead when the extra point was added.
The Cougars then turned the ball over when Brink, under pressure, was intercepted by defensive end Kyle Moore at the WSU 23 and the ball was returned to the 10-yard line. The Trojans had to settle for a 29-yard field goal on the possession, thanks in part to a sack by WSU defensive end Kevin Kooyman, who was making his first start after replacing Mike Graisem who has a finger injury.
"I should have thrown it away," said Brink.
"It's important that you try and stay focused on one play at a time," Brink said. "I think at times we tried to do a little too much."
The second-quarter damage could have been worse because WSU replacement punter Reid Forest, a redshirt freshman from Ephrata who finished the game, had to punt from his end zone the next time the Cougars had the ball. He punted 35 yards and the Trojans were quickly moving but Cougar safety Husain Abdullah stopped the drive with an interception at the 2-yard line.
After leading 27-7 at the half, USC went up 34-7 in the third quarter on a 7-yard run by Chauncey Washington, who withstood a good hit by Cougars safety Alfono Jackson on the way to the end zone.
Brink counterpunched with a 20-yard touchdown pass to Michael Bumpus. Brink's first touchdown had been on the Cougars' first drive of the game, when he found tight end Jed Collins for a 3-yard score.
With the score 34-14, USC went ahead 40-14 on a 4-yard TD pass from Booty to Allen Bradford. In one of the Trojans' few mistakes, the extra point was missed.
Booty went to the bench after throwing a 20-yard TD pass to Vidal Hazelton in the fourth quarter for the game's final points.
One of the highlight's for the Cougars was the longest kickoff return since 2003. It was a 48-yard return by Charles Dillon, but the Cougars wound up punting on the drive.
Dillon, who is nursing a hip injury, was stopped by kicker David Buehler.
Late in the game, WSU backup defensive tackle Toby Turpin stopped a final Trojan drive by intercepting reserve quarterback Mark Sanchez at the 5-yard line and returning the ball 30 yards.
The victory was the 35th in a row at home for the Trojans, including 24 Pac-10 victories.
"I really liked the game we had today," said Carroll. "The guys played really well and were flying around all night. We felt like we were playing together and were in full control. We were able to do a lot of good things."
As Doba put it, "They're the No. 1 team for a reason."
Craig Smith: 206-464-8279 or firstname.lastname@example.org
|WSU vs. No. 1 teams|
|The game Saturday against No. 1 USC marked the ninth time the Cougars have faced a top-ranked team. They are 1-8 in the contests.|
|Year||No. 1 opponent||Result|
|1974||Ohio State||Loss, 42-7|
|1973||Ohio State||Loss, 27-3|
|* Rose Bowl Source: WSU athletics|
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
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