USC jumps out early, easily beats a sloppy UW team
Trojans score 23 in the first half en route to a 40-17 blowout of the Huskies
Seattle Times staff reporter
Rushing yards for Chris Polk, season low
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LOS ANGELES — There were no last-second heroics for Washington this time. No final-play drama.
Instead, there was just a lot of yellow flags, missed tackles, misfiring plays and frustration as USC avenged defeats against the Huskies the past two years with a dominating 40-17 victory in front of 64,750 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Washington defeated USC on last-second field goals in 2009 and 2010 and was hoping the third time would also be a charm.
But this one was a dud for UW from the start as USC scored a touchdown on its second possession, busted out to a 23-3 halftime lead, then returned the opening kickoff of the second half for a touchdown to turn it into a rout.
"I knew they had a chip on their shoulder," UW linebacker Cort Dennison said of the Trojans wanting to stop their slide against UW. "We weren't surprised they came out on fire."
And there was nothing fluky about it as the Trojans outgained UW 426-244 in total yards and 252-46 in rushing yards, both season lows for Washington.
Washington also allowed a season-high seven sacks, four suffered by Keith Price, who left the game in the third quarter after reinjuring both knees — he said he didn't think either was serious and expects to play this week against Oregon State.
"I think there were some issues up front," said UW coach Steve Sarkisian, who lamented his team's inability to block and tackle, though he said the effort was fine. "The fundamentals of the game are what we need to get back to so that we can match our execution with our want-to."
The Huskies, who were called for a season-high 12 penalties, have lost two consecutive games and are 6-4 overall and 4-3 in Pac-12 play.
They also are 0-4 against ranked teams, losing each by 13 points or more. Those results indicate how far the Huskies have to go to reach true contending status in the conference.
Sarkisian was reluctant to say the lack of success against ranked teams indicates a step back in the program's progress.
"We've beaten them before," he said. "We just haven't done it this year. We've beaten five in two years, but just haven't done it this year. ... I don't think we're very far away. We just haven't played well against those teams."
The defeat was the third in the past four games for the Huskies after starting 5-1 and finding themselves ranked.
Just about everything went bad from the start Saturday. After winning the toss and electing to receive, Sarkisian called for a trick play — a pass by receiver Devin Aguilar — on the first snap. But Aguilar was sacked for a 2-yard loss, setting a tone for what was to come.
"We just aren't executing for some reason," said Price. "I'm not sure what's going on. We have to get it fixed."
UW's defense played the run well enough early, and USC led just 7-3 midway through the second quarter when it lined up to punt from its 45. That's when USC called its own trick play. Kyle Negrete gained 35 yards on a fake punt, setting up another USC touchdown that swung the game the way of the Trojans for good.
"Those kinds of things hurt, but we have no one to blame but ourselves for that," Dennison said. "We need to go out and make plays and limit those kinds of trick plays from happening."
Washington never recovered. On its next possession, a 23-yard catch by freshman tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins was overturned on review, and on the next play, center Drew Schaefer snapped the ball over the head of Price for a safety to make it 16-3. USC then used good field position to drive for another score to lead 23-3 at halftime.
Sarkisian said he told his team at the break to "win the second half."
But that effort got off to the worst start possible when USC true freshman Marqise Lee returned the kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown, his second of the game.
Washington used a 53-yard pass from Price to Kevin Smith to set up a 1-yard Chris Polk run for a touchdown that cut the lead to 30-10. But on USC's next possession, Curtis McNeal ran 79 yards for a touchdown and that was that. UW's other score came on a touchdown pass on fourth down from Nick Montana to Kasen Williams with 13 seconds remaining.
The 17 points scored tied the season low set last week against Oregon.
"We are not going to let this game get to us," Dennison said. "We still have two games left and we are a good football team and we are holding our heads up high and moving on."
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or email@example.com. On Twitter @bcondotta
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