Men Of Troy Triumphant Over ASU, 48-17

Oct 13, 2001

AP Sports Writer

LOS ANGELES - As the first 15 minutes ticked off the game clock at theColiseum, Southern California's offense looked like it was going to be in foranother long afternoon.

Held to minus-13 yards in the first quarter, the Trojans came to life in thesecond, scoring three touchdowns on their way to a 48-17 victory over ArizonaState on Saturday that ended a four-game losing streak.

'We're really gelling,' the Trojans' Carson Palmer said after throwing for295 yards and three touchdowns. 'It seems that things are clicking right now.

'We still have a chance for a bowl and that's what we're shooting for.'

Palmer completed 18 of 26 passes and was not intercepted as the Trojans(2-4, 1-3 Pac-10) won for the first time since their Sept. 1 opener against SanJose State.

'It was a long wait,' USC coach Pete Carroll said. 'It was interestinghow we struggled early but then found a way to move the ball. It changed thewhole game for us.'

The Sun Devils (3-2, 0-2) lost quarterback Jeff Krohn, second in the countryin passing efficiency with a 180.9 rating, to an ankle injury on the firstseries of the second quarter.

Backup Matt Cooper, a junior who was 7-of-12 with two interceptions inmop-up duty this season, took over as Krohn watched the second half oncrutches. Cooper went 9-of-17 for 117 yards and one touchdown, but wasintercepted three times.

Cooper said his performance was 'not good enough, I guess that explainsit.'

'Horrible reads, bad sets, bad footwork,' he added.

Palmer threw scoring passes of 21 yards to Kori Dickerson and 20 yards toCharlie Landrigan in the second quarter, then added a 4-yard scoring toss toAlex Holmes as USC went up 28-10 in the third.

Landrigan said the Trojans weren't celebrating much after the victory.

'We're still figuring things out. This is a step in the right direction.There's no reason to be cocky, we're still 2-4,' the fullback said.

Sunny Byrd, a fifth-year senior who had never carried the ball for USC,rushed for 63 yards on 20 carries and scored twice on short runs after startingtailback Sultan McCullough went out with an abdominal strain. McCulloughcarried only four times.

The Trojans' four defeats - by a total of 14 points - all came against teamsthat were nationally ranked this week, including losses at Oregon (No. 5) andWashington (No. 10) on field goals in the closing seconds. USC also lost toStanford and Kansas State.

Arizona State came into the game at the Los Angeles Coliseum ranked No. 2nationally in scoring at 45.2 points a game, but the Trojans' defense was ableto contain the Sun Devils after Krohn went out.

'Anytime you structure your team to a starting quarterback and he goes out,it's difficult to pull it together,' ASU coach Dirk Koetter said. 'Theadjustment a second quarterback has to make is to adjust to the speed of thegame from practice. It's very hard.'

After falling behind 3-0 in the first quarter, the Trojans came back to lead21-10 at halftime.

They pulled away in the third quarter as Palmer threw a scoring pass toHolmes on their first possession of the half, then added a 2-yard TD run byByrd. David Davis tacked on field goals of 36 and 29 yards, and Darryl Postonadded a 7-yard TD run in the fourth.

In a wild final 1{ minutes to finish the first half, the Trojans blew onescoring chance when Chris Howard fumbled at the Arizona State 15 and Mason Unckrecovered for the Sun Devils. USC got another chance shortly afterward whenKris Richard intercepted Cooper's pass and returned it 36 yards to the SunDevils' 3.

Byrd scored on the next play - his first carry for USC - for a 21-3 leadwith 47 seconds left in the half.

The Sun Devils came right back with a TD of their own, however, going 82yards on a drive capped by Cooper's 4-yard pass to Skyler Fulton with 11seconds left.

Mike Barth's 36-yard field goal 6{ minutes into the game gave Arizona Statethe early lead.

The USC victory evened the series between the schools at 9-9. Arizona Statehad been the only Pac-10 team with winning record against the Trojans.

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