USC beats Arizona in debut of Orgeron
Nelson Agholor caught seven passes for 161 yards, Javorius Allen rushed for two touchdowns and USC got off to an impressive start under interim coach Ed Orgeron with a 38-31 victory over Arizona on Thursday night.
The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES — Nelson Agholor caught seven passes for 161 yards, Javorius Allen rushed for two touchdowns and USC got off to an impressive start under interim coach Ed Orgeron with a 38-31 victory over Arizona on Thursday night.
Cody Kessler passed for 297 yards and two TDs as the revitalized Trojans (4-2, 1-2 Pac-12) survived Arizona’s second-half rally to win for Orgeron, the longtime defensive line coach who replaced the fired Lane Kiffin on Sept. 29.
Agholor caught a 62-yard touchdown pass and Tre Madden had a 63-yard TD catch in the first quarter for the Trojans, who had the Coliseum rocking as they roared to a 25-point lead in the first half.
B.J. Denker passed for 363 yards and four touchdowns for the Wildcats (3-2, 0-2) in their second straight loss.
Garic Wharton caught his second TD pass for Arizona with 4:18 to play, but Silas Redd punctuated his season debut for USC with seven consecutive clock-chewing runs for 43 yards in a drive that began at the Trojans 4, allowing USC to run out the clock.
Redd, the Penn State transfer who led USC in rushing last season, had 80 yards on the ground after missing the first five games of this season with a persistent knee injury.
Ka’Deem Carey rushed for 138 yards in his eighth straight 100-yard game for Arizona, while Nate Phillips and David Richards also caught touchdown passes from Denker.
Nearly 12 days after Kiffin’s stormy four-year tenure ended in a dark airport parking lot, the Trojans played with passion and excitement for Orgeron, who promised to return fun to a desultory USC season. The Coliseum crowd that booed frequently last month amid chants of “Fire Kiffin!” gave several standing ovations to their Trojans in a rare Thursday night game at the historic stadium.
Clay Helton, the Trojans’ new play-caller in Kiffin’s absence, dialed up an aggressive game plan that succeeded even without star receiver Marqise Lee, who sat out with a sprained knee.
Justin Davis also rushed for a score for the Trojans, who still racked up 546 total yards.
Orgeron’s first game brought a new vibe to the Coliseum, which loves the excitable Cajun’s enthusiasm and passion for USC. Six fans in the front row of the student section painted “COACH O” on their bare chests — a fitting tribute to a coach who was known to rip off his own shirt to fire up his players in his Ole Miss days.
• Host Louisville intercepted passes on back-to-back drives in the fourth quarter, the second by Terell Floyd to set up Teddy Bridgewater’s 6-yard touchdown pass that clinched the Cardinals’ 24-10 victory over Rutgers. Defense was the story for the eighth-ranked Cardinals (6-0, 2-0 American Athletic Conference), who had four interceptions, sacked Gary Nova eight times and held Rutgers (4-2, 1-1) to 12 yards rushing. Safety Calvin Pryor led Louisville’s stifling effort with 14 tackles and a fourth-quarter interception in holding the Scarlet Knights to 240 yards.
• Minnesota coach Jerry Kill said he is taking an open-ended leave of absence from the team to focus on treatment and management of his epilepsy, and it is uncertain when he will be able to return to the Golden Gophers. Defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys will fill in as acting head coach.
• All-American defensive end Jadeveon Clowney will start if healthy Saturday when No. 14 South Carolina takes on Arkansas. He has practiced two straight days after recovering from a rib injury.
• Texas Tech quarterback Baker Mayfield ’s twisted right knee might be too sore to allow him to play Saturday against Iowa State.