Skip to main content

Sun Devils fall short against Trojans

November 07, 2009

Will Harris returned an interception 55 yards for a score, Matt Barkley threw a 75-yard pass to Damian Williams for another score, and No. 12 USC held on for a shaky 14-9 victory over Arizona State on Saturday night.

Coming off the worst loss in the Pete Carroll era, the Trojans (7-2, 4-2 Pac-10) barely survived on a night they produced little on offense. The victory kept the Trojans in the hunt for an eighth straight Bowl Championship Series berth.

USC's defense was the reason the Trojans beat ASU (4-5, 2-4) for the 10th straight time.

Sun Devils freshman Brock Osweiler came off the bench and threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Chris McGaha. But Harris ended ASU's upset bid by picking off Osweiler's last-gasp pass in the end zone as time expired.

Perhaps still reeling from last week's 47-20 wipeout against Oregon, the Trojans seemed to be in a fog early on.

On the opening possession, they let the Sun Devils march to the USC 13-yard line before freshman tailback Cameron Marshall fumbled on a hit by Christian Tupou. USC cornerback Josh Pinkard recovered.

The Trojans picked up three first downs on the ensuing possession, then managed one first down the rest of the half.

ASU threatened again late in the second quarter but had to settle for a 21-yard field goal by Thomas Weber.

At halftime, USC had almost as many penalty yards (73) as total yards (76).

But the Trojans led 7-3 because Harris picked off a Danny Sullivan pass along the left sideline and romped 55 yards for a touchdown. Harris was also flagged 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct for high-stepping into the end zone.

USC made it 14-3 on an electrifying play early in the second half.

On second and nine at the USC 25, Barkley dumped the ball to Williams in the right flat. Williams waited for his blockers, then cut back across the field and streaked toward the goalline.

ASU cornerback Terell Carr pushed Williams out of bounds as he stretched the football toward the pylon. The officials ruled Williams out at the 2, but USC was awarded a touchdown on review.

That put the Trojans ahead 14-3.

At that point, ASU coach Dennis Erickson pulled Sullivan and brought in 6-foot-8 freshman Brock Osweiler. Sullivan was 12 of 23 for 113 yards, and he threw two interceptions.

It took three possessions for the Sun Devils to respond.

Osweiler led ASU 80 yards in eight plays, completing all three of his passes for 65 yards. Osweiler kept the drive alive by stiff-arming a tackler and picking up six yards on a bootleg on third-and-3.

Then he found a wide-open McGaha for a 23-yard touchdown in the final minute of the third quarter. USC led 14-9 after Pinkard blocked the point-after try.

ASU threatened again after a fluke interception by Clint Floyd midway through the fourth quarter. With the Trojans leading 14-9, Barkley threw into traffic, and ASU's Mike Nixon deflected the pass.

The ball caromed to USC's Brice Butler, who juggled the ball as he collided with a teammate. The ball popped loose, and ASU's Terell Carr kicked it a foot or so off the turf. Floyd finally latched onto it and returned it to the USC 36.

USC dodged that bullet, thanks to an offensive holding call and three misses by Osweiler.