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Trojans Lose Another Heartbreaker To Washington

Patrick Crawley |
October 2, 2010 | 10:19 p.m. PDT

Senior Sports Editor

Allen Bradford heads to the end zone for his second touchdown. (Shotgun Spratling)
Allen Bradford heads to the end zone for his second touchdown. (Shotgun Spratling)
It was déjà vu for the USC Trojans on Saturday night as they fell 32-31 to Washington, their second consecutive loss to the Huskies on a game-winning field goal.

Here’s how the game developed:

The Trojans struck first blood, taking the ball 76 yards on the first drive of the game. Marc Tyler ran the ball four times for 22 yards and Matt Barkley completed a 22-yard pass to Ronald Johnson. Allen Bradford made the most of his first carry, tearing through the heart of the Washington defense for a 37-yard touchdown run, his second of the season.

Washington responded with a strong first drive of its own, but Jake Locker missed a wide open Chris Polk in the flat for what would have been a surefire touchdown and the Huskies had to settle for a 23-yard field goal, making the score 7-3.

The Trojans struggled to contain the Husky offense on the next two Washington drives, allowing consecutive touchdowns to fall behind 17-7. Missed tackles and blown coverages defined the defensive series for USC. The second touchdown was particularly embarrassing as Locker hooked up with wide receiver Devin Aguilar for a 44-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the series.

The Trojans struck back, though, thanks to a brilliant special teams play by Robert Woods.

The freshman showed his explosiveness on the ensuing kickoff, twisting and turning his way to the Washington 38 yard line. The 56-yard return set up good field position for the Trojans and they capitalized on it, capping a five-play, 38-yard drive with a four-yard touchdown run by Tyler.  

With the score 17-14, Locker once again had his way with the USC defense. This time, he did the majority of his damage on the ground, breaking loose for a 54-yard scramble. However, just as Locker was about to hit pay dirt, cornerback Shareece Wright caught him from behind and knocked the ball into the end zone, resulting in a turnover.

“I saw the ball the whole time,” Wright said. “I was waiting to catch him. I didn’t know it was so close to the end zone but the whole time I was looking to punch the ball out.”

Upon review, officials reversed a horse collar tackle call against Wright and USC marched down the field for a touchdown to retake the lead 21-17. Again, it was Tyler who finished off the drive, bullying his way to a second four-yard touchdown run.

Washington bookended halftime with drives that resulted in field goals of 41 and 35 yards, respectively, putting the Huskies ahead 23-21.

USC’s running game would not be denied, however.

The Trojans scorched the Huskies on the ground for 50 yards on four carries on the next drive. Bradford capped off the series with a 16-yard touchdown run, adding to his already huge rushing total. Barkley contributed a nice play as well, evading a would-be sack and finding Ronald Johnson for a 20-yard gain.

Another long scramble by Locker set up Washington’s third touchdown of the game, a one-yard pass to Chris Izbicki from backup quarterback Keith Price, who was in the game after Locker suffered a brief injury. The Huskies failed to convert the two-point conversion but still held a slight edge at 29-28.

A 34-yard run from Bradford set the table for another USC rebuttal. The Trojans marched down the field to kick a 27-yard field goal that made it 31-29 and held Washington out of scoring range on the next series to maintain the lead.

Bradford took over once again on the ensuing drive, racking up 39 yards to take him well over the double century mark. However, Joe Houston missed a 40-yard field goal that would have put USC up by five and Washington got the ball back.

With 2:34 remaining, Washington took over on its own 23 yard line. The Trojans’ defense appeared to stonewall the Huskies, but Locker pulled the game from the embers, completing a pass to D’Andre Goodwin on fourth-and-11 that kept Washington alive.

“I told the guys before the game, ‘Play today like it’s your last game,’” Locker said. “Before the fourth down play, I said, ‘I love you guys. We have one more chance to continue the drive and win the game.’ I have confidence in each guy there.”

Behind Locker and Polk, the Huskies marched down the field to the USC 15-yard line, where Erik Folk kicked the game-winning field goal as time expired.

Locker finished the game 24-40 with 310 yards passing and a touchdown. He ran the ball 12 times for 110 yards and was sacked just once, at times looking more like a tailback than a top flight quarterback prospect.

“Hats off to Washington, their staff and their players,” USC coach Lane Kiffin said after the game. “They came in playing well. Locker was phenomenal. He’s a great player, and he showed why.”

Barkley, Locker’s counterpart, threw half as many times for 186 yards and no touchdowns. He went without an interception for the first time in three games, something he considered a blessing as well as a curse.

“I didn’t throw any picks,” Barkley said. “I think the negative thing is sometimes I was too focused on not throwing an interception on those clutch drives. I should have made those passes like the touchdown to David Ausberry and the third down to Jordan Cameron.”

Bradford was the obvious standout for the Trojans. He set a career high with 224 yards rushing on 21 carries (10.6 yards per carry) and found the end zone twice.

After the game, he credited his teammates for setting him up.

“It’s mostly because of the O-line,” he said of his success. “Stanley [Havili] created some huge holes and I worked with Hershel Dennis, who helped me out a lot with reading plays, and I found holes.”

Washington improves to 2-2 on the season with the win. USC drops to 4-1 (1-1 at home).

Kiffin hopes the loss will instill more of a killer instinct in his team.

“We have to finish teams off,” he said. “We can’t keep them alive. You’ve got to make those plays when you have the chance, when you have them on the ropes.”

To reach editor Patrick Crawley, click here.

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