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College football

USC rout moves it closer to title game

The Trojans score on their first four possessions and defeat UCLA 47-22.

By Wire services
Published November 23, 2003

LOS ANGELES - Regardless of the outcome in the Midwest, USC knew it had to take care of business at the Los Angeles Coliseum.

It did just that Saturday, scoring on its first four possessions and rolling to a 47-22 victory against crosstown rival UCLA.

"It was a great day for Michigan, a great win," Trojans coach Pete Carroll said.

Not a bad a day for USC, either.

Matt Leinart threw for 289 yards and two touchdowns, and Mike Williams had 11 catches for 181 yards and two scores.

USC, which had slipped to third behind Ohio State in the BCS rankings, got a boost when Michigan beat the Buckeyes 35-21 in a game that finished just before it took the field. The Trojans have a bye Saturday before finishing the regular season at home on Dec. 6 against Oregon State.

Some of the Trojans, apparently, didn't know about Michigan's victory until the game.

"What was it? I'm asking you," said Williams, who sat out the second half with a sore ankle. "I just found out. I'm sure a lot of people knew."

Leinart also said the Trojans weren't thinking about the Ohio State game or the BCS rankings.

"Our coaches never told us what the score was," he said. "We still have one game left, and that's what we have to worry about."

The Trojans overwhelmed the Bruins early, scoring touchdowns on their first three possessions and adding a field goal for a 24-0 lead en route to their fifth consecutive victory in the series.

"Everything was just right," Carroll said. "There was nothing we couldn't do. We were in total command."

Williams, the sophomore and former Plant High star, caught a 21-yard touchdown less than three minutes in, his school-record 27th in a career that has spanned only 23 games. LenDale White bulled over from a yard out seven minutes later.

Then Leinart hit Williams with a 4-yard touchdown on the first play of the second quarter. At that stage, Leinart had passed for 175 yards and Williams had nine catches for 143 yards.

Meanwhile, USC's defense accounted for two touchdowns and held UCLA to 36 yards in the first half. Kenechi Udeze scored when he recovered Drew Olson's fumble in the end zone. Mike Patterson, a 285-pound defensive tackle, scored when he returned a fumble 51 yards.

The game had some unusual moments, including USC's Reggie Bush returning a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown on the last play of the third quarter and Maurice Drew answering with a 99-yard return on the ensuing kickoff.

There also were two long runs on botched extra points. The Bruins' Matt Clark returned a blocked kick to give UCLA two points, and the Trojans' Shaun Cody intercepted a two-point conversion and reached the UCLA 5 before being tackled.

The Bruins finished the regular season with four consecutive losses.

"We played a very good football team. We could not keep up," coach Karl Dorrell said. "This game was a great measuring stick for us, and we have a lot of work to do."

[Last modified November 23, 2003, 01:46:45]

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