Trojans Let One Slip Away Against Sun Devils 38-35
Trojans Let One Slip Away Against Sun Devils 38-35
By Cameron Buford, whatsgoodinsports.com
On this picturesque Saturday at the Coliseum for college football fans. Many who no doubt lost sleep last night as many of them stayed up late watching the conclusion of the historic Dodgers World Series win, slowly filled up the LA Coliseum. The picture couldn’t have been set any better for the USC Trojans as they welcome the Arizona State Sun Devils to the LA Memorial Coliseum on this busy sports weekend in Los Angeles. Though they are missing a couple of their notable starters, Cameron Smith, Porter Gustin and QB J.T Daniels, the Trojans are hoping to extend their home winning streak with Jack Sears was getting his first start of his young career for USC.
The Trojans kicked off to the Arizona State Sun Devils and they ended up punting on their first possession. Tyler Vaughns excited the Trojans fans when he returned the punt 82 yards for the touchdown after the 42-yard punt. This was also Vaughns first punt return of his career as a Trojan.
Sun Devils sophomore running back Eno Benjamin had a 49-yard TD called back, Benjamin quickly found his groove and pounded the Trojans on their home field. He rebounded from the penalty by earning a couple first downs with his tough running. The Sun Devils Manny Wilkins then hit N’keal Perry for a 44-yard touchdown pass to N’Keal Harry to tie the game.
On the Trojans first drive of the game, Jack Sears lead his team to a first down. Shortly thereafter, Sears attempted to pitch the ball to his running back, but the pitch was muffed and subsequently recovered by the Sun Devils on the Trojans 3 yard line. Eno Benjamin then pounded it in for the go-ahead touchdown.
The second quarter begins with the Trojans starting their drive inside their own 30-yard line. Tyler catches his first pass of this game for the drives first down and then shifty Senior Running Back Aca’Cedric Ware picked up their second first down on his 16-yard gain. After a near interception, the Trojans suffered a holding call and was then forced to punt the ball.
The Sun Devils ball control attack was on full display with Manny Wilkins behind center. The series of RPO exquisitely executed led to three first downs in a row. Then after breaking a couple tackles, Benjamin got loose for a 49 Yard touchdown run.
On the subsequent kickoff, as the Trojans returned the kick… As the defender was in position to make the tackle, the ball carrier lowered his shoulders and helmet, subsequently leading with his helmet while contacting the defender. This appears to be the offensive equivalent of targeting. I’d be curious to know if the NCAA or their rules committee even investigate this play further. By not looking into this situation they are being less than sincere in their efforts to combat players head trauma and overall players safety.
Just as I am typing the previous paragraph a Sun Devils defender is ejected from the game for “targeting”. This rule makes no sense if only the defensive players are going to be punished for
helmet to helmet contact. As we know, quarterbacks are overprotected, and the ejection happened when the quarterback was hit as he went to slide. At worst this should’ve been a penalty on the defender for hitting the quarterback after he slid.
Clearly inspired by their halftime speech or their own lack of production, the USC Trojans came out the locker room with a purpose. They drove the ball 75 yards right down the throats of the Sun Devils for a TD. After a fumble by the Manny Wilkins the Trojans, then pulled out their trick play to get in the end zone. Sears pitched to Tyler Vaughns, who then passed Michael Pittman Jr. for the 35-yard TD which also gave them a 4-point lead.
With Wilkins back at QB, the Sun Devils put together a decent drive which ended with a missed field goal. After both teams exchanged possessions, the Sun Devils retook the lead on an electrifying 92-yard punt return by ASU’s N’keal Harry.
The Arizona State Sun Devils got the ball back, up by three points, on their 3-yard line, with a chance to take a two-score lead. Just as I would do, they begin their drive by handing the ball off to their hard nose running back Benjamin, who immediately gained 9 yards on the carry on this critical drive.
The Trojans fans came alive and the 47,000 fan in the stadium were began to root loudly for the Trojans defense to stop the Sun Devils. Down by 3 with 12:28 to go in the game the Trojan started off this drive by giving the ball the Vavae Malepei who burst up the middle nearly 40 yards. A critical moment in the game came when the Trojans ended up with a 4th and 1, from the 20-yard line and lined up for a field goal, to a chorus of boos from the hometown fans.
Well kudos to that sun Devils Defense, as Helton reconsidered his decision to tie the game with a field goal… the ASU defense made a huge stop to give the ball back to their offense. Wilkins and Harry connect again for a spectacular one-handed catch on the left sideline. But, they were then ultimately forced to punt... giving the Trojans the ball back the Trojans, giving them a chance to win the game with a TD drive.
Even with the histrionics Tyler Vaughns’ by scoring a TD on a Punt Return, throwing a TD pass and catch a touchdown pass… it’s not likely that any other player has done that in one game for the USC Trojans. The Trojans were forced to punt the ball back to the Sun Devils. On the final opportunity the stop the Sun Devils, Manny Wilkins was able to fake out the defense and run untouched for a touchdown cementing the win for the Sun Devils.
Many fans will second guess the decision of Head Coach Clay Helton to go the first down late in the game rather than kick the field goal. Though, I personally like the confidence he showed in his offense and the courage to go for it. Agree or disagree on that play call, they gave up over 280 yards rushing. This is obviously where the veteran leadership being out has hurt the team. How do you feel about the Trojans season thus far, do you feel the decision to go the first down was a good call or not? Let me know What Good by commenting in the comment section of this article on www.whatsgoodinsports.com or reaching out to me @whatsgoodinsports on twitter.