sfgate.com photo: Southern California running back Stephen Carr (7) scores a rushing touchdown against Stanford during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019, in Los Angeles
By Pearl Allison Lo
LOS ANGELES — In the 99th matchup between these California rivals, No. 23 Stanford was shut out in the second half as the teams kicked off the Pac-12 season at United Airlines Field Saturday.
Quarterbacks Kedon Slovis (USC) and Davis Mills (Cardinal) also had their first starts of their college careers 99th meeting first Saturday
USC tweeted, “Slovis is the first true freshman in USC history to throw for 2 touchdowns in his first career start.” He went 28 of 33 for 377 yards and three scores.
Mills went 22 of 36 with 237 yards for one score and one interception.
Neither quarterback had a fumble but each were sacked at least once.
Stanford’s leaders were for rushing Cameron Scarlett, 82 yards, 1 TD and receiving Colby Parkinson for 89 yards.
For the Trojans, their leaders for rushing was Vavae Malepeai, 42 yards, 2 TDs and receiving Amon-Ra St. Brown 97 yards, 2 TDs.
The Cardinal started with the momentum even though the Trojans scored first. Stanford scored on every drive, including on a fumble recovery, until 2:21 left to go in the first half. USC’s first touchdown came with 11:29 left in the second and they halted the Cardinal defensively in the end zone after 14:56 left in the second.
In the second half, we saw the first sacks and interception.
Both teams scored on their opening drive.
The Trojans’ first drive was highlighted by a 45-yard pass to Drake London, but Stanford was able to cut them off from a touchdown. The closest USC got was the two yard line, ending the drive with two incomplete passes before Chase McGrath made it 3-0 with a 23-yard field goal.
Connor Wedington was the highlight of the Cardinal’s first drive. He gave them good field advantage with a 60-yard return and two plays after the Trojans were stalled by a holding penalty, he took a 15-yard pass into the end zone, the second pass of the drive.
Both teams combined for 34 points in the second quarter.
Stanford was helped down the field with an illegal use of hands call. A 21-yard pass to Parkinson at the four was then ruled out of bounds before it was called good after review. Scarlett then had two runs in the first and second quarter to make it a 14-3 lead.
With 14:43 left in the half, the Cardinal then forced a fumble off Velus Jones Jr.’s 21-yard return, which was recovered by Stanf Tobe Umerah. Stanford went down the field four straight plays to fourth down and Jet Toner converted a 32-yard field goal to extend the Cardinal’s lead to 17-3.
The Trojans found themselves on third down with 12:54 left, but that was followed by three double-digit plays, the last a 39-yard pass to one of the St. Brown brothers, Amon-Ra, in the end zone for both USC and Slovis’s first touchdown.
One of Stanford’s drives was filled with penalties, two from USC (personal foul and pass interference) and one from the Cardinal (holding). The Cardinal continued scoring with a 37-yard field goal by Toner to double their lead to 20-10.
The Trojans got to within three (20-17) with their second touchdown in a row. The longest plays were a 25-yard return by Jones Jr., a 29-yard pass to Tyler Vaughns and a 25-yard touchdown run to the left by Stephen Carr.
Then Stanford was forced to punt for the first time with 2:21 left.
USC kept rolling with their third straight touchdown that gave them their first lead (24-20) since their opening drive. They had a holding penalty but Vaughns caught a 31-yard pass and the Cardinal had two straight defensive offside penalties. It was their fastest drive, 1 minute and 50 seconds, as the Tronjans went 70 yards.
USC nearly duplicated their first half total in the second half.
The first quarterback sack came with 12:09 left in the third on Mills by Connor Murphy. It was Murphy’s first career sack. Mills was also sacked by Jay Tufele on the same drive. Toner missed his first and longest field goal of the night, 39 yards, in the second half’s opening drive. It was the longest drive of the night in terms of plays (14) and time (7:09).
Slovis was sacked the following drive by Casey Toohill with 7:08 left. It was the shortest drive in terms of plays (three) and yards (one).
Toner then attempted a 47-yard field goal, but he was blocked by Austin Jackson with 3:21 left.
The Trojans made it 31-20 with 44 seconds left in the third. Michael Pittman Jr. accounted for the bulk of the yardage with a total of 61 yards through three plays. Malepeai ran four yards into the end zone to complete the drive.
Mills took the game’s first interception too as he was caught by Greg Johnson with 13:21 left in the game. USC was able to turn it into a touchdown when Malepeai ran six yards for his second score three minutes later. It was the game’s biggest lead at 38-20.
Things continued to look grim as they turned over the ball on downs with 8:21 left. This also went the opposite way as Vaughns had 30 yards, 16 on the scoring reception to make it 45-20. He ended up with the most total yardage in the game with 106.
Up Next: Next Saturday, the Trojans will face BYU at 1:30 pm and Stanford will take on UCF at 12:30 pm