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No. 14 USC Football Routs Rice, 66-14, in Lincoln Riley's Explosive Debut

Sep 3, 2022

LOS ANGELES — USC Football began the Lincoln Riley era 1-0 and on an explosive note.

Caleb Williams led a balanced attack in his own USC debut — passing for 19-of-22 for 249 yards and two touchdowns, plus 68 rushing yards on six carries — as the No. 14 Trojans routed Rice, 66-14, on a hot season opener at United Airlines Field at L.A. Memorial Coliseum.

The Trojans' 66 points are the most USC scored since Oct. 18, 2008.

"Great first win," said Riley, who improved his career head coaching record to 56-10. "Really, really proud of the team. It's a fun moment to finally be here. I think the team was anxious and excited just with all the buildup, just ready to finally go play, and I thought we responded well."

Newcomers Jordan Addison and Austin Jones each recorded a pair of touchdowns in their first games. True freshman running back Raleek Brown found the endzone in his first collegiate game. Darwin Barlow rushed for a score early in the fourth quarter.

USC (1-0, 0-0 Pac-12) tied school records in interceptions (four) and pick-sixes (three) on Saturday. Calen Bullock returned a pick for a 93-yard touchdown in the second quarter. The Trojans recorded interceptions on Rices' first three drives of the second half, with Shane Lee and Ralen Goforth returning their picks for touchdowns and Xamarion Gordon catching a tipped pass.

"What we set out to do as a defense is to play together, play hard, just run into the ball and be
physical, and I think we did," said Lee, who was voted as a team captain this week. "I think we accomplished that today. Especially by playing together."

USC's hopeful outlook for the new season quickly appeared promising when Williams threw a 5-yard touchdown to Addison on the game's opening drive.

"[Jordan] got here and it was almost as if we have been drawn to each other from the past year," Williams said. "It was really cool to get him the ball. Let him get his first touchdown in the Coliseum and also me, too. So all around, really cool."

The Trojans' defense however struggled to get off the field, as Rice (0-1, 0-0 Conference USA) burned eight minutes on their first drive that tied the game near the end of the first period.

Jones, Brown and Bullock's touchdowns in the second half gave the Trojans a three-score lead but Rice used another long drive to record their second touchdown. The Owls contained USC's offense on the first half's final drive when the Trojans settled for Denis Lynch's 25-yard field goal.

USC stymied the Owls' offense immediately after halftime with Lee, Goforth and Gordon's interceptions helping the Trojans hold the Rice to just 62 total yards in the second half.

Riley and the Trojans will open Pac-12 play next week at Stanford (4:30 p.m. PT/ABC). USC will return to the Coliseum to host Fresno State on Sept. 17 (7:30 p.m. PT/FOX). Tickets to all USC home games start at $60.