Scoreless Third Quarter Hinders Sun Devils in 42-25 Loss at USC
LOS ANGELES – Emory Jones and the Sun Devil offense were humming throughout the entire first half, going step-for-step with Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams and the high-powered USC offense to pull within four at the break.
The Sun Devils had rattled off scores in their first three drives – matching the Trojans' similar run – with a pair of touchdowns and a Carter Brown field goal. Jones completed nine of 11 first-half passes for 157 yards and a touchdown, and the Sun Devil defense held its own to close out the half and keep it a one-score contest.
But the Sun Devils offense couldn't replicate that offensive rhythm down the stretch, plagued especially by a scoreless third quarter, in their 42-25 loss to the Trojans on Saturday night at the LA Memorial Coliseum.
The Sun Devils' lone score in the second half came midway through the fourth quarter, when Xazavian Valladay punched it in from two yards out and converted the ensuing two-point conversion to cut the Trojan lead to 35-25.
After a near-successful onside kick attempt – the Sun Devils recovered before it was overturned upon further review – the Trojans delivered a dagger when Travis Dye's one-yard score made it a 42-25 game.
Each offense began the night having scored on their first three drives. Jones delivered a beautiful ball to a streaking Valladay for a 29-yard score and Brown nailed a 40-yard field goal before the Sun Devil quarterback scrambled into the end zone from six yards out late in the second quarter.
But the Trojans had an answer each time, as Williams tossed touchdowns to both Malcolm Epps and Max Williams to go along with his 1-yard rushing score.
The offense stalled to open the third quarter, as they were forced to punt on their opening drive, but they were rescued momentarily by the heroics of the Sun Devil secondary. The Trojan offense marched into the red zone on their ensuing drive and had taken a shot at the end zone, before Timarcus Davis intercepted Williams to keep it a one-score game.
Already Davis' second interception of the season, it was the first turnover by Williams and the Trojan offense this season. The Sun Devils have now recorded an interception in seven straight games and 12 of 13 dating back to last season.
The Sun Devils couldn't piece together anything for the remainder of the third, punting twice more, before Dye found the end zone from two yards out for his first of two scores, making it a 28-17 USC lead.
The Sun Devils were outscored 14-8 in the final 15 minutes, as Valladay's two-yard score was sandwiched between Williams' third passing touchdown of the night and Dye's second rushing touchdown.
Despite cutting it to a two-possession game in the fourth quarter, the Sun Devils struggled to contain the playmaking abilities of Williams, who helped the Trojans convert eight of nine third down attempts to extend drives.
Jones ended his evening having completed 23-of-32 passes for 243 yards and one touchdown. Valladay toted the rock 13 times for 64 yards and a score, meaning he's found the end zone in four of the team's five games to begin the year.
The Sun Devils will return home on Saturday, October 8, to host the Washington Huskies for a 1 p.m. MST kickoff.