No. 4 Trojans Hold Off BYU
Sept 6, 2003
By KEN PETERS
AP Sports Writer
LOS ANGELES - Matt Leinart threw three touchdown passes asfourth-ranked Southern California built an early lead, then scored two latetouchdowns to hold off Brigham Young 35-18 Saturday night.
USC (2-0) went up 21-0 in the first quarter, then BYU slowly fought its wayback into the game, the first ever between the schools.
Leinart's third touchdown pass - and second to Mike Williams - with 4:11remaining gave the Trojans some breathing room after BYU (1-1) had closedwithin 21-18.
Williams was wide open in the seam of the defense when Leinart connectedwith him for the 18-yard score to help the Trojans win their 10th in a rowdating back to last year.
The Trojans' Hershel Dennis capped the scoring with an 11-yard touchdown runwith 1:40 remaining after linebacker Matt Grootegoed recovered a fumble by theCougars' Naufahu Tahi at the BYU 11.
Williams had 10 receptions for 124 yards and two touchdowns. Leinart, aredshirt sophomore making his second start, went 19-of-34 for 235 yards,including a 48-yard TD pass to Keary Colbert. But Leinart also threw threeinterceptions and was tackled in his own end zone for a safety.
BYU's Matt Berry completed 27-of-39 for 297 yards, with one touchdown andthree interceptions. Daniel Coats had eight catches for 114 yards.
Trailing 21-5 at halftime, the Cougars (1-1) got a 14-yard touchdown passfrom Berry to Coats and field goals of 26 and 52 yards by Matt Payne to closewithin 21-18 with 7:05 left to play.
The Cougars put together their first sustained drive of the game to pullwithin 21-12 early in the third quarter, covering 80 yards in nine plays andcapping the march with Berry's 14-yard throw to Coats.
USC capitalized on BYU's mistakes to build the 21-0 lead in the firstquarter, but the Cougars took advantage of two poor plays by the Trojans in thesecond quarter to trim the lead to 21-5 by halftime.
After defensive lineman John Denney batted a pass by Leinart into the airthen intercepted and returned it 8 yards to the USC 45, Payne kicked his firstof three field goals, a 53-yarder, as time expired in the half.
Leinart also figured in the Cougars' first score, which extended their NCAArecord to 352 consecutive games without being shut out. Leinart, throwing outof the Trojans' end zone, was dragged down by linebacker K.C. Bills for asafety 2:51 before halftime.
USC scored twice in a 9-second span late in the first quarter. Two playsafter Colbert turned a quick slant pass from Leinart into the 48-yard touchdownwith 2:43 left in the quarter, Trojans defensive end Omar Nazel snared a screenpass from Berry in the BYU backfield and raced 16 yards to the end zone for a21-0 lead.
A personal foul by BYU, a late hit on Leinart out of bounds, kept theTrojans' drive alive, or USC would have been forced to punt.
Southern California's first touchdown came after the Cougars' DavidChristensen fumbled a punt and Melvin Simmons recovered at the BYU 21. Leinartthrew the 1-yard scoring pass to Williams 5 minutes into the contest.