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Trojans outlast the Wildcats in the desert, 24-20 in a penalty-ridden showdown

The Trojans reached new highs and lows in this important Pac-12 matchup, but left with a victory nonetheless

NCAA Football: Southern California at Arizona Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Penalties , penalties, penalties—that was the theme of this game. To be more specific, 18 penalties for 169 yards…

Aca’Cedric Ware was the star on offense and had a career game as he had 21 carries for 173 yards and two rushing touchdowns. Ware’s previous career high in rushing yards came last against Arizona when he ran for 122 yards and a touchdown.

JT Daniels once again looked the part of a poised, young quarterback as threw for 197 yards on 67-percent passing—making all the right plays throughout the game.

This Trojan squad looked very balanced early on, as the Trojans closed out the first half outgaining in yardage Arizona 281-96.

USC v Arizona
Aca’Cedric Ware’s care high of 173 rushing yards lifted the Trojans in this very important Pac-12 South game.
Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

The Trojans’ first score came on a drive that included two big throws from Daniels— a 37-yard pass to Michael Pittman Jr. to get USC in the redzone, and a 18-yard throw to Velus Jones Jr. to place the ball on the goal-line and set up Vavae Malepeai for the easy score.

The penalties stalled many Trojans throughout the first half. Midway through the second quarter on fourth and two, the Trojans boldness to go for it resulted in a 26-yard touchdown run for Ware.

The Trojans’ offensive momentum carried into the second half as Ware broke off another big run, this time it was a 69-yard touchdown run—the longest of his career. With Trojans up 24-0 midway through the third quarter, Arizona was finally able to get on the board as Tate fired off a 30-yard touchdown pass to Stanley Berryhill III.

Khalil Tate still isn’t his old self as his ankle injury was apparent in his inability to run the ball. Tate finished the game with 16 of 33 with 232 yards to go with two touchdowns and an interception. Tate’s 38 rushing yards are a season high, a far cry from the 161 he had a season against the Trojans.

The fourth quarter saw the Wildcats and Trojans play in what was one strange final act was was.

A Kylan Wilborn strip-sack of Daniels set up a 32-yard touchdown connection from Tate to Cedric Peterson to cut their deficit 27-17.

On the following drive, Josh Falo fumbled away the ball near midfield and gave Arizona yet another crack at the Trojans. Ultimately, the game ended on a strange final series that included an interception by Iman Marshall that was called back for pass interference, five goal line stands by the Trojan defensive, and of course—a plethora of penalties.

The Trojans need a lot of disciplinary work. The gross amount of penalties is unacceptable, one would hope the ensuing BYE week will give them the opportunity to fix these issues. The Trojans are now 3-2 on the season and 3-1 in conference play—another Pac-12 South title is still within reach.