Kedon Slovis threw for two touchdowns, fifth-string running back Kenan Christon ran for two scores in his debut and USC overcame more injuries on defense to cruise to a 41-14 victory over Arizona on Saturday night in Los Angeles.
The Trojans (4-3, 3-1 Pac-12) snapped a two-game skid and won their seventh consecutive game against Arizona (4-3, 2-2).
Slovis completed 19 of 28 passes for 232 yards. Christon, a true freshman getting his first college carries, put an exclamation point on USC’s victory with bursts of 55 and 30 yards in the fourth quarter. He finished with eight carries for 103 yards.
A banged-up USC defense that already was without four starters lost two more during the game. Safety Talanoa Hufanga left in the first half with an apparent shoulder injury, while defensive lineman Drake Jackson was carted from the sideline to the locker room early in the second half after a left leg injury.
USC had seven sacks, its most since getting seven in a 2013 game against Hawaii.
USC also was without starting tailback Vavae Malepeai because of knee surgery this week, and Stephen Carr limped off late in the first half and did not return.
When Markese Stepp had to leave the game in the third quarter with an ankle injury, walk-on Quincy Jountti lost a fumble at the Arizona 17 on his first carry, opening the door for the speedy Christon.
Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate, who was 6 of 10 for 47 yards, was replaced early in the second half by true freshman Grant Gunnell. On his second snap, Gunnell was hit as he threw, resulting in an interception by Kana’i Mauga at the Arizona 24.
USC had to settle for a 38-yard field from Chase McGrath for a 20-0 lead. The Trojans padded their advantage to 27-0 with a 5-yard pass to Tyler Vaughns with 3:29 to go in the third quarter.
Gunnell was 16 of 26 for 196 yards and two touchdowns, both to Brian Casteel, including a 56-yard catch-and-run that ended USC’s shutout bid with 12:12 left in the game.
The Trojans won the turnover battle (3-1) for the first time since the 2018 season-opener. They used the first two takeaways to establish a 10-0 first-quarter lead while their offense struggled early, gaining only 76 yards on the first six possessions.
—Field Level Media