On Saturday, the sixth-ranked USC Trojans continued their winning ways, routing the Nevada Wolf Pack 66-14 at the L.A. Coliseum. This was the first meeting between the two teams since 1929. The Wolf Pack were the clear underdogs entering the game, and it showed.
Cheryl Miller, USC Trojans Women’s Basketball legend, two-time NCAA Champion, and Basketball Hall of Famer, served as Tunnel Captain for the game, leading the Trojans onto the field and the Spirit of Troy hosted area high school bands for High School Band Day.
Receiver Dorian Singer set the day off with a 30-yard pass from S.C. quarterback Caleb Williams. This pass set up the Trojans for its first of many touchdowns with a 22-yard pass from Williams to Zachariah Branch. Kicker Denis Lynch would kick a good extra point.
Nevada would answer at the 11:01 mark in the first quarter on a three-yard rush from running back Sean Dollars following the Trojan sack of Nevada quarterback Brendon Lewis at the hands of Jamil Muhammad.
The Trojans would score again in the first quarter with a 24-yard run by MarShawn Lloyd, his first Trojan touchdown, and a Lynch extra point score. The Trojans were up 14-7. Lloyd would have seven carries for 76 yards. With 2:13 remaining in the first quarter, QB Williams would throw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Tahj Washington, his first of two touchdowns; the Trojans were up 21-7.
The second quarter highlights saw Trojan QB Williams on a 46-yard keeper, setting up the Trojans for their fourth touchdown to receiver Michael Jackson III, a 15-yard pass from Williams with another Lynch extra point; Trojans lead 28-7. At the 6:17 mark in the second quarter, Williams, after almost losing the ball, would scramble and find receiver Brenden Rice on a 13-yard pass, bringing the Trojan lead to 35-7.
Nevada would attempt a failed 54-yard field goal at the half-time mark, but the Trojans would leave the field at half-time with a solid lead, 35-7.
After the first half, the Trojans would continue to dominate with a 45-yard pass from Williams to Tahj Washington, bringing the Trojans lead to 42-7. The Trojans Denis Lynch would kick a 37-yard field goal in the fourth quarter, increasing the Trojan lead to 45.
The defense provided a game highlight on a Wolf Pack fumble forced by freshman Braylan Shelby, picked up and returned for a 23-yard touchdown by defensive tackle Stanley Ta’ufo’ ou (pronounced tau-FOE-oh). It was the first touchdown for the Simi Valley native. The Trojans lead 52-7.
“It’s like a dream come true to get a touchdown for the defensive line,” Ta’ufo’ou said. And his coach, Lincoln Riley, could not agree more:
“Stanley’s fumble return was probably the major highlight of the game. When big people score, football is more fun,” Riley said.
The Wolf Pack would score for the second time on a 77-yard pass from AJ Bianco to receiver Jamaal Bell. Trojans continue to lead 52-14.
With 9:09 remaining in the fourth quarter, running back Quinten Joyner had a 47-yard touchdown, his first as a Trojan and the longest touchdown run by a Trojan this season. The Trojans’ lead grows to 59-14. Joyner finished with four carries for 65 yards. Receiver Duce Robinson would score on a 71-yard T.D. pass, a first-career touchdown catch for the freshman. The game would end with the Trojans scoring 66 points, a final score of 66-14.
S.C. would finish the game with 668 yards of total offense. QB Caleb Williams had five touchdown passes, going 18-for-24 for 319 yards with three carries for 50 yards rushing.
The Trojan defense stepped up this week, improving their performance from week one. Senior linebacker Shane Lee led the defense with ten tackles, one resulting in a 13-yard loss. Jamil Muhammad, Solomon Byrd, Braylan Shelby, Shane Lee, and De’jon Benton recorded one sack each.
The Trojan defense held the Wolf Pack to two touchdowns despite freshman linebacker Tackett Curtis receiving an ejection for targeting in the second quarter, Mason Cobb and Eric Gentry on the sideline due to undisclosed injuries, backup guard Gino Quinones suffering a right leg injury in the first quarter and defensive back Christian Rolland-Wallace receiving a game suspension for an incident from an Arizona/Arizona State game last season.
Coach Riley began his post-game remarks by addressing the suspension:
“We’re very disappointed that the Pac-12 didn’t allow Christian Rolland-Wallace to play in the first half of the game today. Not one time in the offseason were we informed of a pending suspension. We became aware Thursday afternoon after the majority of the preparation was already done.”
In Riley’s comments, he wanted to ensure that the reputation of Rolland-Wallace remained intact.
“It was apparent that Christian was not involved in any way that you could even imagine an ejection. We felt that it was an incorrect call.” Riley continued to stress his belief in Rolland-Wallace and his tremendous value to the team:
“I’ve seen the kind of person that he is, the kind of teammate that he is. I don’t want this to put him in any bad light because it shouldn’t, and it’s wrong.”
All-in-all, it was a good game on both sides of the ball for the Trojans. And there was no happier defensive player than Shane Lee:
“First off, credit to my coaches for putting me in the right position and always believing in me and instilling confidence in me, as well as my teammates. I hadn’t been on the field a whole bunch for fall camp, but just always taking reps, always asking questions, and just always being around the guys. That way, you never get away from it, and they’ve done a great job of always keeping me involved. So, that’s a credit to my team and my coaches.”
Next up for the Trojans – the Stanford Cardinals come to town, the teams final matchup in the Pac-12 era.