UCLA defeats USC for first time since 2006
PASADENA (CNS) – UCLA ended a five-game losing streak to cross-town rival USC Saturday, capitalizing on two first-quarter turnovers to take a 24-point lead, then withstanding the Trojans’ comeback attempt for a 38-28 victory at the Rose Bowl.
The victory assures UCLA (9-2 and 6-2 in Pacific-12 Conference play) of the conference’s South Division championship and the accompanying berth in the conference’s championship game Nov. 30.
The Bruins never trailed, scoring the game’s first 24 points before a crowd announced at 83,277. Two touchdown passes by USC’s Matt Barkley in the second quarter and defensive tackle George Uko’s recovery of a wild center snap in the end zone in the third quarter cut the lead to 24-20.
Brett Hundley ran three yards for his second touchdown with nine minutes, 57 seconds left in the third quarter, three plays after Eric Kendricks partially blocked Kyle Negrete’s punt, giving the Bruins the ball on the Trojans’ 33-yard line.
USC (7-4, 5-4) pulled within three on Barkley’s 14-yard touchdown pass to Lee and two-point conversion pass to Robert Woods with 7:22 left.
UCLA responded with a nine-play, 83-yard drive, culminated by Johnathan Franklin’s 29-yard touchdown run with 4:02 remaining.
The Trojans’ comeback hopes ended when Sheldon Price blocked Andre Heidari’s 38-yard field goal attempt with 1:34 left. The Bruins called a time out just before Heidari kicked what would have been a field goal.
Hundley, a redshirt freshman completed 22 of 30 passes for 234 yards and one touchdown. Barkley completed 20 of 38 passes for 301 yards and three touchdowns and had two passes intercepted. He left the game after being sacked on USC’s next to last possession. Franklin ran for 171 yards on 29 carries and two touchdowns.
The Bruins opened the scoring 1:21 into the game on Hundley’s one-yard run, five plays after Aaron Hester intercepted Barkley’s pass on the first offensive play of the game and returned the ball to the Trojans’ 17-yard line.
UCLA drove 84 yards on 18 plays on its second possession, but had to settle for Ka’imi Fairbairn’s 23-yard field goal.
Kendricks forced a fumble by standout receiver Marquise Lee on a reverse on the Trojans’ next possession and defensive end Owa Odighizuwa recovered at the USC 33. Hundley threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Joseph Fauria four plays later, giving the Bruins a 17-0 lead with 1:34 remaining in the first quarter.
Franklin capped UCLA’s 12-play, 74-yard drive with a 16-yard touchdown run, increasing its lead to 24-0 7:38 before halftime.
USC began its comeback attempt on Barkley’s 33-yard touchdown pass to Nelson Agholor with 5:58 left in the second quarter and two-yard touchdown pass to Randall Telfer with 1:07 to play in the first half.
The loss cuts the Trojans’ lead in the series to 46-29-7, although their victories in 2004 and 2005 were later vacated after it was penalized by the NCAA.
The victory was the Bruins first over USC since their 13-9 triumph in 2006. UCLA had lost 12 of its last 13 games against the Trojans before today, including a 50-0 last year.
The victory gives the Bruins the Victory Bell, a 295-pound bell originally hung atop a Southern Pacific freight locomotive. The bell was given to the UCLA Alumni Association in 1939. In 1941, it was taken by a group of USC students.
A year later, the student body presidents of both schools signed an agreement providing that the winner of the football game would keep possession for the next year, a tradition that has continued.