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Pac-10: Ex-Plant star helps lead USC

©Associated Press
October 27, 2002

EUGENE, Ore. -- Even though they trailed at halftime, Carson Palmer and the rest of the USC offense were confident of an easy victory over Oregon.

The Ducks' defensive vulnerability was easy to spot.

"We knew they couldn't stop us offensively, and they didn't stop us offensively," Palmer said after the Trojans turned a five-point halftime deficit into a 44-33 victory.

Freshman receiver Mike Williams, a former standout at Plant High, caught 13 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns for the Trojans. It was his fifth consecutive game with a touchdown.

"The feeling in the locker room was that we were going to blow it out," Palmer said.

Palmer threw for a career-best 448 yards, breaking his school record of 411 in a loss to the Ducks last season.

His five touchdown passes tied Rodney Peete's mark in 1987 against Stanford. Palmer was 31-for-42 with one interception.

"I loved every second of it," he said. "There's nothing better than playing in this place and beating these guys."

A week after losing 45-43 to Arizona State, the Ducks dropped consecutive games at home for the first time since they lost to Washington State and UCLA in 1997.

"You can't give up the big play, the long plays," Oregon coach Mike Bellotti said. "And that was our Achilles' heel."

Oregon's Jason Fife, who came in completing 60.9 percent of his passes to rank No.2 nationally in passing efficiency, was 20-for-45 for 336 yards and two touchdowns. He was intercepted twice.

Ducks receiver Keenan Howry and Trojans wideout Kareem Kelly set a Pac-10 record with at least one reception in 43 consecutive games.

They broke the record set by Arizona's Dennis Northcutt from 1996-99.

USC went up 14-10 on Palmer's 35-yard touchdown to Williams with 5:08 left in the first.

Jared Siegel's 45-yard field goal to open the second quarter gave Oregon a 16-14. He added a 31-yarder to make it 19-14 at the half.

After the Trojans went up 20-19 to start the second half on Palmer's 31-yard pass to Kelly, Igor Olshansky blocked the extra point.

It didn't matter. USC padded the lead with Justin Fargas' 15-yard run and Palmer's 15-yard pass to Williams before the close of the third quarter. Palmer hit Malaefou MacKenzie with an 8-yard scoring strike in the fourth.

Terrence Whitehead scored on a 1-yard run for Oregon, and Howry added a 31-yard touchdown late.

"I really didn't find a rhythm until late in the fourth quarter," Fife said. "We should have put up 50 points. But that third quarter just killed us."

* * *

UCLA 28, STANFORD 18: Freshman Tyler Ebell ran for 160 yards and scored the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth as the host Bruins rallied.

After falling behind 15-0 early, UCLA cut it to 18-13 by halftime.

Freshman Matt Moore, starting because of injuries to Cory Paus and Drew Olson, threw a 22-yard touchdown to Mike Seidman early in the second, and Nate Fikse kicked field goals from 36 and 22 yards.

Fiske also kicked field goals of 19, 23 and 44 yards.

OREGON ST. 24, CAL 13: Steven Jackson rushed for a career-high 239 yards and three touchdowns to help the host Beavers end a three-game losing streak.

Jackson dominated the first half, scoring all three Beaver touchdowns to go along with 168 yards on 16 carries.

He had runs of 11, 11, 42 and 7 yards on consecutive plays to score the Beavers' first touchdown.

Jackson also scored on 4-yard runs to give Oregon State leads of 14-10 and 21-10.

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