Drake London injured in USC’s 41-34 victory over Arizona

Senior running back Keaontay Ingram stiff arms an Arizona defender while carrying the ball Saturday night.
Senior running back Keaontay Ingram stiff arms an Arizona defender Saturday night. Ingram ran for a career-high 204 yards in the USC victory. (Patrick Hannan | Daily Trojan)

USC’s defense got a stop to push Arizona off the field early in the second quarter. The Trojans were up by one touchdown, but the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum sat eerily quiet during the homecoming game. 

If you looked away for a second, you might have thought someone made a home run play. But, it was just freshman quarterback Jaxson Dart running out with the offense, making his long-awaited debut at the Coliseum as the crowd chanted “Let’s Go, Dart.” 

The Trojans scored on their first two possessions with Dart under center, and the crowd leapt out of their seats as USC went on its way to a 41-34 victory Saturday night over Arizona. But, midway through the second quarter, it was the nightmare before Halloween for Trojan fans.

After junior wide receiver Drake London’s second touchdown of the game, he stayed on the ground holding his right leg. The entire USC sideline kneeled with its helmets off. London’s ankle was immediately put into an air cast as he exited into the tunnel on a cart. 

London was second in the country with 11.3 receptions and 143.3 receiving yards per game entering Saturday. London’s status is now up in the air. 

“Until everything is done, [London] will be out right now,” said Head Coach Donte Williams in a post-game press conference Saturday. “[A season-ending injury] is a fear.”

Arizona’s freshman quarterback Will Plummer made some Trojan fans tense when he ran for a touchdown to cut the USC lead down to 10 with 12:50 left in the game. An Arizona field goal made it a one-possession game with 6:04 remaining. 

But, senior running back Keaontay Ingram galloped down the field to set up a Trojan field goal to close out the win. 

Ingram ended with a career-high 204 yards rushing plus one touchdown on 27 carries — his second game in a row with over 100 yards and third of the season. His career day gave him the most rushing yards by a USC running back since Aca’Cedric Ware had 205 in 2018.

“When my number’s called on I just gotta go execute,” Ingram said. “One thing that we believe in, Coach  [Williams preaches] all the time, [is] be physical and bring that physicality, and I feel like we did that at the line of scrimmage today.”

USC’s offense found comfort early on and maintained it throughout the game. The Trojans eclipsed 500 total yards against a Wildcats team fourth in total defense in the Pac-12 allowing 362.4 yards per game.

The first drive of the game ended with a touchdown run by Ingram, who continued as the lead back in a run-heavy game plan for USC. Redshirt sophomore running back Darwin Barlow and redshirt senior running back Vavae Malepeai combined for 14 carries. 

The Trojans mixed it up in the passing game with Dart and junior quarterback Kedon Slovis alternating throughout the game. They combined for 313 passing yards for the game. Coming into Saturday, Arizona only allowed 176.4 passing yards per game, second-best in the Pac-12. 

Slovis and Dart served as a one-two punch in a two-quarterback system last used during USC’s Rose Bowl-winning 1996 season. Then USC Head Coach John Robinson switched between Brad Otton and Kyle Wachholtz after each quarter.

Williams said during the post game press conference Saturday the decision to split between the two quarterbacks will depend on the game.

“We’ll continue to do what we need to do to win the football game,” he said. “So, that’s what we felt we needed to do to beat Arizona. We’ll look at the game plan to see if that’s what we need to do to beat Arizona State.” 

The decision to switch between the two was made on Tuesday, Williams said. Slovis said he found out about the move Friday.

“I wanted to know why, obviously,” he said. “Not to take away from [Dart], he’s a great player. But, I just wanted to know if there was something I was doing to make this happen or what the reasoning was behind it.” 

USC’s defense struggled to contain an Arizona offense that hadn’t eclipsed 20 points since November 2020. The Trojans also became the only team to allow the Wildcats to score at least 28 points in the last two seasons.

Arizona stayed alive with season highs in total yards. They blew past their season average of 339.4 per game with 466 yards against USC — the third time this season the Trojans have allowed over 400 total yards. All instances have happened at the Coliseum. 

Plummer was sacked five times and the USC defense allowed eight 3rd-down conversions, the same number as last week against Notre Dame.

The Trojans face Arizona State on the road next Saturday.

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly credited the photo. The photographer’s name is Patrick Hannan. The Daily Trojan regrets this error.