Skip to main content

Vavae Malepeai Scores Hat Trick Amid USC Football's Loss To Rival UCLA

Nov 20, 2021

LOS ANGELES — Vavae Malepeai rushed for three touchdowns, but it wasn't enough as USC football fell to rival UCLA, 62-33.

It was Malepeai's first three-touchdown game of his five-year career at USC. The redshirt senior captain entered Saturday with two touchdowns in his first eight games and rushed for just three scores during the shortened 2020 season.

The Trojans suffered their first home loss to the Bruins at United Airlines Field at L.A. Coliseum since 2013. USC (4-6, 3-5 Pac-12) must win its final two games — at home next week against Brigham Young and the Dec. 4 postponed contest at California — to earn bowl eligibility.

True freshman Jaxson Dart was 27-for-47 and finished with 325 passing yards, a touchdown and two interceptions in his first career start. Head coach Donte Williams named Dart the starter on Monday and revealed incumbent Kedon Slovis would be out with a leg injury.

Gary Bryant Jr., who became USC's No. 1 receiver after Drake London was ruled out or the season with an ankle injury, caught nine passes for 161 yards and a touchdown. Keaontay Ingram rushed for 96 yards on 17 carries.

The Trojans took a 3-0 lead with Alex Stadthaus' field goal after USC marched 63 yards on the game's opening drive. The next three possessions saw two interceptions from Dorian Thompson-Robinson and a pick by Dart.

UCLA scored on its first of many big-yardage plays on a 45-yard touchdown pass. The Trojans responded with Malepeai's first rushing touchdown on a seven-yard run to take a 10-7 lead.

The Bruins pummeled the Trojans with a 21-0 run, highlighted by Thompson-Robinson's 23-yard and 58-yard touchdown passes. USC's offense was stagnant for much of the second quarter until the Trojans drove 67 yards on eight plays that ended with Malepeai's second touchdown.

After conceding a touchdown to open the second half, the Trojans tried to rally with Stadthaus' 23-yard field goal and Dart's 44-yard scoring pass to Bryant Jr. to cut the deficit to 35-26.

UCLA quelled USC's effort with a 100-yard kickoff and cruised with three other touchdowns to put the game out of reach.

The Trojans play their home finale next week against BYU on Senior Night, next Saturday at 7:30 p.m. PT on ESPN