The game seemed over when USC was down 21-48. But they still had some fight in them.
It started with an impressive first quarter. USC gave up a touchdown early, but tied it up with a long drive. They showed some of everything, with passes to the fullback, receivers, and runs by Tre Madden and Justin Davis. USC scored on the 89-yard drive to tie it at 7-7. USC finished with over 90 rush yards in the first quarter alone.
Early in the second quarter, USC scored again on another impressive drive, totaling 77 yards. USC was up 14-7 and Kessler 8/8 at that point. It was good. Too good to be true apparently. Arizona State responded with a huge quarterback run and a touchdown soon after. USC turned the ball over on the next two consecutive drives. The first was a tipped pass by Marqise Lee, ending in an interception. The second was a fumble by Tre Madden near midfield. Both times, the Trojan defense held ASU to field goals. At the close of the half, the score was 14-20— the game was still well within reach.
The Trojans started the second half fast. A 51-yard reception by Lee, capped off by a 24-yard touchdown run by Madden gave the Trojans the lead again. It took just three plays from scrimmage to accomplish it, making USC look as sharp as ever. Little did the Trojan faithful know, that would be the last time they would have the lead.
Arizona State started their first drive of the half with an incomplete pass. The next went up the middle to D.J. Foster for 74-yards and a touchdown. It was a case of blown coverage by the defense. However, the score still was not too much of a problem— yet.
USC’s second play of the drive resulted in a pick six. The Trojans still had a reasonable shot to win.
The right side of the field proved to be the favorite area for Sun Devil quarterback, Taylor Kelly. He constantly targeted that side for long completions. By the time the score hit 21-48, it appeared to be an effectively insurmountable lead for the Trojans. They just kept fighting.
Marqise Lee was ready to make a big play early in the fourth quarter— and he delivered. Lee returned the ball to the 50 yard line, but paid dearly for it. A large portion of the team walked out to assist Lee off the field; he was unable to get off on his own power. USC did not let his effort go to waste, with Madden taking Kessler’s pass 48-yards into the end zone. Andre Heidari failed to kick the PAT through the uprights though, putting the score at 27-48. They just kept fighting.
Heidari made up for the missed kick by kicking a unique and successful on-side kick. On the ensuing drive, Kessler avoids the pass rush on fourth-and-5 and throws complete to Victor Blackwell, initially behind the first down marker. Blackwell spins to dodge the would-be tackle and takes the ball far past the first down marker for a total of 17 yards. After runs by third-string running back, Javorious Allen and Justin Davis, USC brings the score back to a winnable 34-48. They just kept fighting.
One of the few scholarship safeties left, Su’a Cravens went down as the Sun Devils pushed on for another touchdown. With ASU up 21 points again, it was not a good sign. And it still got worse from there.
Any shred of hope left was dashed as the score was 34-62— tied with Oregon (in 2012) for the most points scored against USC. It was also the first time ASU ever scored more than 50 points on USC. But they just kept fighting.
Justin Davis refused to let up. He carried the ball— and the drive— with a 58-yard touchdown run. It brought in the final score of 41-62.
USC scored six touchdowns on sixteen drives. They had four turnovers and five punts. ASU scored eight touchdowns and two field goals on 17 drives. They had one turnover and four punts. The Trojan defense gave up more yards and more points than all of their first four games combined. As bad as the loss was, it was the least of the Trojans’ worries.
By the end of the game, walk on receivers were on the field, running routes. The spring started with Marqise Lee, Nelson Agholor, George Farmer, De’Von Flournoy, Victor Blackwell, Darreus Rogers, and Steven Mitchell. Steven Mitchell and George Farmer were out for the season before fall camp started. Darreus Rogers made it through a few games before going out. Only Marqise Lee, Nelson Agholor, and Victor Blackwell and De’Von Flournoy traveled to Tempe, Arizona. Flournoy left early in the game after an injury. Lee went down later in the game. The scholarship sanctions have taken further hold in the roster, leaving a very bleak situation. And that’s just on the offensive side.
Kessler played well despite the conditions. He spent a lot of time running from pressure towards the end of the game. Only one interception was his fault. He finished with 295 yards and a 69% completion percentage.
Justin Davis. Big play after big play. He ran for 122 yards on only 10 carries. Remember, he’s only a freshman.
Tre Madden, again, shows that he brings a lot not just to the running, but the passing game as well. He accounted for three touchdowns: one on the ground and two receiving. He combined for 194 yards.
Receiver Victor Blackwell stepped up and made some crucial plays after the injury of Marqise Lee.
And of course, USC kept fighting despite knowing they lost at a certain point.