A star was on display for Southern California, as the Trojans rolled out one of its newest weapons on the offensive end, mesmerizing a crowd of 53,826 with explosive play after play.
18-year-old true freshman running back Kenan Christon rushed for 103 yards, two touchdowns and led the way for the Trojans in a triumph 41-14 victory over the Arizona Wildcats on Saturday night at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Christon, who was just months removed from becoming a California high school champion at 100 and 200 meters at Madison High School, juked and dazzled his way past defenders.
“I just followed my blockers and the O-line opened up a huge hole for me,” Christon said on his first career touchdown run.
The San Diego Native broke off a 55-yard TD, followed by a 30-yard TD scamper five minutes later in the fourth quarter.
“There’s a lot of great football players on this team, so it’s hard to judge his speed,” USC coach Clay Helton said. “But it’s nice to have that feeling and know that when the play breaks, if he’s even, he’s leaving.”
“In the recruiting process of Kenan, he was a definition of not only a student-athlete, but you wanted a Trojan to be from a person,” Helton added. There’s trained and untrained, and this one’s been trained the right way.”
USC (4-3, 3-1 Pac-12) freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis also impressed, throwing for 232 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Slovis connected with wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. for a nine-yard score in the first quarter to take a 10-0 lead.
Trojans tailback Markese Stepp then found the end-zone on a 12-yard run in the second just before halftime, followed by Slovis finding wide receiver Tyler Vaughns on a five-yard strike to take a commanding 27-0 lead in the third.
On the defensive end, the Trojans held Arizona’s (4-3, 2-2 Pac-12) dual-threat quarterback Khalil Tate to 47 yards through the air and an even more impressive -27 yards rushing, making things difficult all night on the Wildcats.
“I believe our defense is all together, so when one makes a play, everybody makes a play,” said USC linebacker Kana’i Mauga, who finished with 13 tackles and an interception. “Everybody was hype on the sideline. It was a great atmosphere.”
Even after a strong performance, Helton couldn’t help but feel troubled for his young roster after suffering six “significant” injuries on the night.
“I feel terrible for those kids,” Helton said. “We’ll have to see where they’re at.”
Running backs Stephen Carr (hamstring) and Stepp (ankle) were apart of players that didn’t return to the game which ultimately led to a 41-14 victory for the Trojans.
The Trojans will be looking to keep momentum rolling while they travel on the road to take on the Colorado Buffaloes Friday October 25 at 6:00 pm.
“With losing Vavae this week and then losing two more backs this week, I would imagine Kenan [Christon] is going to have a pretty big role going into Colorado, as well as Quincy Jountti,” Helton said.