Battle of the Washingtons. Trojan tailback Chauncey Washington eludes Washington defenders. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
While the Washington Huskies will lie in bed thinking about the #1 that got away, the USC Trojans will spend the night thanking their lucky stars they escaped on top. Trojan fans everywhere woke up Sunday morning breathing a sigh of relief, after a penalty plagued USC team barely edged the Washington Huskies, 27-24.
Typically this season, USC football games have ended some time at the beginning of the third quarter. The clocks physically don’t wind down prematurely, mind you, but by sometime in the third the Trojans have typically put their opponents out of reach of a comeback. But no backup quarterback would touch the field against the Huskies. Michael MacDonald and Mark Sanchez were too busy sweating on the sidelines as John David Booty struggled to lead the team to the win.
Statistically the Trojans were in the driver’s seat. Overall USC had ten minutes more possession time than Washington. USC had 460 total yards, passing for 236 and running for another 224. That’s compared to Washington’s mere 190 yards, 100 yards passing and 90 rushing. But with double the field stats, one would expect USC to have double Washington’s score. Just goes to show, you can’t always trust the stats.
USC looked shaky out there. Maybe it was because of the some 86,000 Husky fans, who definitely made their presence known. The noise was so loud that USC players had trouble with the snap count. That noise led to illegal motions and false starts and off-sides, a portion of the Trojans’ whopping 161 penalty yards (compared to Washington’s 64). But to be fair a lot of those yards came from USC’s sloppy play, late hits and personal fouls.
The Trojans turned the ball over three times, two interceptions (one that was run back for a touchdown), and a fumble. The Huskies also blocked a 4th quarter punt, recovering the ball and setting themselves up for another touchdown to bring Washington within 3 points with 30 seconds left in the game.
But fate would not have it, as USC recovered the ensuing onside kick, thus bringing the game to a close. Washington’s freshman quarterback Jake Locker would not triumph the Trojan machine this year.
But all was not lost. Patrick Turner, Fred Davis and Desmond Reed combined for over 200 of the Trojans receiving yards. Tailbacks Stafon Johnson (45 yard long) and Chauncey Washington (53 yard long) had stellar performances, rushing for over 100 yards each.
One person who won’t be getting a lot of sleep this week: Pete Carroll. As reported by the LA-Times
“We were so horrid,” USC coach Pete Carroll said. “We were hard to watch. We couldn’t do more wrong. We just wanted to get out of our own way.”
“It’s a classic game to give away. I feel grateful with all the things that happened. A lot of teams lost. We tried really hard. It was a horrible night. We understand. We survived.”
*stats from ESPN