Sept. 25, 2004
Final Stats |
By GREG BEACHAM
AP Sports Writer
STANFORD, Calif. (AP) - USC had another harrowing trip to the Bay Area.
Thanks to their defense and their unstoppable tailback tandem, this one had a
much happier ending.
Matt Leinart passed for 308 yards and LenDale White scored on a 2-yard run
with 6:15 left, capping the Trojans' comeback from an 11-point deficit for a
31-28 victory over Stanford on Saturday night.
Steve Smith caught eight passes for 153 yards and a touchdown, and Reggie
Bush contributed 95 yards rushing and a key punt return to Southern
California's 13th straight victory. After yielding 291 yards in the first half,
No. 1 USC gave up just 36 after halftime.
But the nation's second-longest winning streak nearly ended across the Bay
from the site of the defending national champions' most recent defeat, at
California last season.
Stanford took a 28-17 lead into halftime, embarrassing the Trojans' vaunted
defense and shocking the thousands of USC fans at Stanford Stadium. The
Cardinal did it in style, scoring on a fake field goal and adding J.R. Lemon's
82-yard TD run as time ran out.
It was all too reminiscent of the Trojans' 34-31, triple-overtime loss in
Berkeley last fall. That game featured similarly tentative defensive play,
another big first-half deficit and a poor performance by Leinart.
But Leinart was nearly flawless against Stanford, going 24-of-30 and finally
getting his offense going late in the third quarter on Smith's 51-yard
reception to the Stanford 12. Leinart scored on a 1-yard keeper, cutting the
lead to four points.
Ryan Killeen missed a 23-yard field goal on the Trojans' next drive with
11:10 to play, but Bush's spinning 33-yard punt return set up a short drive
culminating in White's TD dive.
Stanford couldn't reach midfield on its final drive, with Frostee Rucker
flattening Trent Edwards on a fourth-down incompletion with four minutes left.
USC then ran out the clock inside the Stanford 15.
Edwards was 23-of-35 for 183 yards and two touchdowns, though Stanford's
offense floundered in the second half. Still, this impressive performance was
encouraging for the Cardinal, who were beaten by a combined 93-38 in the
schools' last two meetings.
Buddy Teevens, Stanford's third-year coach, is under pressure to show
results this season after going 6-16 in his first two seasons. The Cardinal
began this season with easy victories over San Jose State and BYU - and this
performance should have him back in his fans' good graces.
Smith's 2-yard TD catch, set up by Kevin Arbet's interception return, gave
USC a 10-0 lead late in the first quarter. That's when the Cardinal's offense
awoke, mounting consecutive lengthy scoring drives.
USC helped out by sitting back in a passive zone defense, rarely blitzing or
pressuring Stanford's inexperienced offensive line. Edwards picked apart the
Trojans with short passes to his receivers and tight ends.
When Stanford took a 14-10 lead midway through the second quarter on Patrick
Danahy's 2-yard TD catch, the Cardinal cheered, danced and squirted water on
each other on the sideline. Smith fumbled on the Trojans' next play, and
Stanford drove to the USC 11.
Stanford set up for a field goal - but holder Kyle Matter, the backup
quarterback, picked up the snap and ran untouched around the right end for a
The final play of the first half epitomized USC's defensive ineptitude.
Lemon simply was trying to run out the clock - but he split the line and roared
through the secondary, outrunning every defender for a touchdown that sent
Stanford Stadium into a frenzy.
The Cardinal played without starting linebacker David Bergeron, who was
suspended by Teevens for an unspecified violation of team rules.