Top-Ranked Trojans Too Tough for Razorbacks
LOS ANGELES, Calif. –- Top-ranked Southern California clicked on all cylinders on offense as the Trojans cruised to a 70-17 victory over Arkansas at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum late Saturday.
Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Matt Leinart was sharp and tailback Reggie Bush was everywhere as USC scored 28 points in the first quarter, led 42-10 at the half and generated 736 yards of total offense for the game, a school record for a UA opponent.
In almost three full quarters of action, Leinart was 18-of-24 for 381 yards and four touchdowns. Bush had eight rushes for 125 yards and a score, three receptions for 70 yards and another score, and two kickoff returns for 16 yards.
Arkansas’ defense had trouble stopping the Trojans, but the Razorback offense was able to move the ball, at least until quarterback Robert Johnson was forced out of the game with a sore back late in the second quarter.
With Johnson in the game, Arkansas (1-2) had 182 yards of offense and 12 first downs. UA finished with 326 yards and 21 first downs. Johnson finished eight-of-16 for 91 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Alex Mortensen filled in and finished four-of-10 for 38 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Mortensen drove the Hogs deep into USC territory in the third quarter before a sack took UA out of scoring position. In the fourth period, he drove Arkansas 63 yards for a touchdown – a five-yard scoring pass to Marcus Monk.
Freshman tailbacks Felix Jones and Darren McFadden were bright spots. Jones had 224 all-purpose yards. He had 147 yards on four kickoff returns, 66 on 12 carries and 11 on one reception. McFadden finished with 88 yards on 13 carries.
Cedric Washington was UA’s top receiver with five catches for 63 yards.
After building the big halftime lead, USC (2-0) took the opening kick in the second half and moved 86 yards in four plays, taking a 49-10 lead on LenDale White’s one-yard touchdown. A 21-yard pass from Leinart to fullback David Kirtman made it 56-10 with 6:26 left in the third quarter.
The Trojans led 42-10 at the half with Leinart completing 13-of-19 passes for 264 yards and three touchdowns, and running six times for 39 yards and another score. Bush had six carries for 109 yards and a TD. USC out-gained the Hogs 429-187.
After the teams combined for 35 points in the first quarter, Leinart threw an eight-yard scoring pass to Dwayne Jarrett and White scored from three yards out in the second period.
Chris Balseiro’s 31-yard field goal capped a 15-play, 66-yard drive which cut the deficit to 28-10 early in the second period.
Bush got the scoring started with a 76-yard sprint on USC’s first possession. The run came on USC’s third play from scrimmage after a Jacob Skinner punt pinned Southern California at its six. The drive covered 94 yards in 38 seconds.
Jones returned the ensuing kickoff 67 yards to the Trojan 29, the longest kickoff return for the Razorbacks since Lawrence Richardson’s 98-yard return against Weber State in 2001.
Johnson hit Washington for a 19-yard gain and two plays later found Monk in the right corner for a 12-yard touchdown, tying the game at 7-7. Monk finished with three catches for 33 yards and two scores, the second two-touchdown game of his career.
Desmond Reed returned the following kickoff to the Razorback 29, and on first down Leinart hit Bush for a touchdown down the left sideline, a one-play drive taking 13 seconds.
After another Skinner punt, Leinart moved the Trojans 68 yards in two plays, hitting Jarrett in stride for a 21-7 lead at the 9:06 mark with the drive lasting 26 seconds.
Leinart made it 28-7 in the first period with a 17-yard draw, capping a two-play, 70-yard drive, aided by a 15-yard personal foul on the Razorbacks, which lasted 15 seconds.
Arkansas travels to Alabama Saturday.