USC’s Aca’Cedric Ware rushed for 173 yards and two touchdowns, and the Trojans held off a late Arizona rally to win 24-20 in a Pac-12 game Saturday at Arizona Stadium in Tucson.
Ware, who gained his yards on 21 carries, led a rushing attack that amassed 253 yards. Stephen Carr contributed 80 yards on 14 carries.
The Trojans (3-2 overall, 2-1 Pac-12) finished with 450 yards in total offense, compared to 330 for Arizona. That disparity made up for the Trojans’ 18 penalties for 169 yards.
Ware’s touchdown run of 69 yards with 10:36 left in the third quarter seeming put USC comfortably ahead 24-0.
But Arizona (2-3, 1-1) rallied for three touchdowns, the last a 1-yard plunge by Gary Brightwell on fourth-and-goal with 1:40 remaining to cut the lead to 24-20. Lucas Havrisik missed the extra-point attempt.
The onside kick that followed was recovered by USC, which proceeded to run out the clock because Arizona had burned all of its timeouts.
Arizona had only 98 yards rushing after entering the game averaging 247.2 yards a game.
The Wildcats’ offense started to get on track midway through the third quarter with a 33-yard touchdown pass from Khalil Tate to Stanley Berryhill III that cut USC’s lead to 24-7. Tate also had a scoring strike of 32 yards to Cedric Peterson with 9:34 left in the fourth quarter that cut the lead to 24-14.
Tate completed 16 of 33 pass attempts for 232 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.
USC was opportunistic with its offense and defense to establish a 17-0 lead before halftime.
USC quarterback JT Daniels, who completed 16 of 24 passes for 197 yards, enabled the Trojans to convert three third-down plays in their first scoring drive. He completed a 20-yard pass to Michael Pittman on a third-and-13 play at the USC 7, rushed for two yards on third-and-1 and completed a 19-yard pass to Velus Jones Jr. to the Arizona 1 on a third-and-10 situation.
Vavae Malepeai ran for a 1-yard score on the next play to put USC ahead 7-0 with 5:52 left in the first quarter.
A 42-yard field goal by Michael Brown gave USC a 10-0 lead with 11:12 left in the second quarter, set up after Tate was intercepted by Marvell Tell III at the Arizona 28.
On USC’s next possession, on fourth-and-2 at the Arizona 26, Ware ran off right tackle untouched to the end zone, increasing the lead to 17-0 with 5:08 left in the half.
Symbolic of how Arizona’s first half went, the Wildcats tried for a 38-yard field goal after a defensive penalty extended the half after time expired. The try by Havrisik was blocked.
Arizona had only 116 yards of total offense by halftime, 39 on the ground, while USC compiled 281.
—Field Level Media