Clay Helton received his first loss at home since taking over as head coach of the Trojans in 2015. After losing 41-28 to Utah and losing their first and second string quarterbacks, USC was unable to come out on top against the Sun Devils and lost 38-35. The 19-0 Coliseum record now moves to 19-1.
The Trojans had a great start as Tyler Vaughns ran for 82-yards on the punt return for a touchdown on their first possession of the game, giving them a 7-0 lead.
Things started looking messy when the Sun Devils answered with a touchdown of their own. A low punt return caused the Trojans to start their drive deep in their own territory. After a fumble forced by Arizona State's Jalen Harvey, the Sun Devils scored another touchdown to take the lead 14-7. The Devils would remain in the lead for a majority of the game.
Late in the first half, 3rd-string quarterback Jack Sears threw his first touchdown as a Trojan to Michael Pittman Jr. After back-to-back touchdowns in the third quarter, including a beautiful pass from Vaughns to Pittman, the Trojans took back the lead. This was short lived and the Trojans were down 31-28 before the start of the fourth quarter.
Ultimately, the Trojans were unable to hold on. In the waning minutes, a touchdown was scored by each team, but a failed attempt at an on-side kick by USC sealed their defeat.
- Eno Benjamin: With a whopping 192-yards, Benjamin really helped the Sun Devils come out on top. In addition, he accounted for two of the team’s touchdowns.
- N’Keal Harry: Harry scored the first ASU touchdown of the game and had 95-yards on 4 receptions, Harry proved himself a key to the Sun Devils win. On top of that, he ended the game by catching USC’s on-side kick attempt.
- Jack Sears: The redshirt freshman stepped up as starting quarterback due to injuries to both JT Daniels and Matt Fink. Sears had two touchdowns and threw for 235-yards in his debut. Regardless of the score, he did exactly what he needed to do
- Michael Pittman Jr.: With two touchdowns off 90-yards receiving, it was obvious that Pittman was a comfortable target for Sears. He really helped ease the pressure off Sears in his first game.
- Tyler Vaughns: Vaughns kept morale high with the two most exciting touchdowns of the game. The stadium went wild when he scored on the punt return and when he threw a 36-yard pass to Pittman Jr. Vaughns shined on special teams today in addition to having 72-yards receiving.
USC did not properly utilize their timeouts and in a way contributed to the Trojans falling short. Timeouts were called at unnecessary times and the decision to go for it on 4th down instead of kicking a field goal remains questionable.
The defense also disappointed in the loss. There were many big stops that the team failed to get, including the final ASU touchdown. The Trojans allowed the Sun Devils to convert many 3rd down situations, which allowed drives to continue.
USC will be on the road next week against Oregon State. The Beavers have a 2-6 record, but just came off a win against the Colorado Buffaloes.
The Trojans carry a 1-3 away record and have a lot of preparation to do this week in the lead up to this contest.
"Sears is starting to settle in," head coach Clay Helton said on the quarterback situation.