Football gets clobbered by UCLA at Coliseum

Caleb Williams threw for 384 yards in presumably his last game at the Coliseum, but it wasn’t nearly enough.

USC never seemed to have its footing against UCLA, losing wire-to-wire. (Brooks Taylor / Daily Trojan)

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If the Trojans have anything, it’s inertia: Their 38-20 loss against the Bruins marks the third consecutive loss for USC — allowing over 34 points in eight consecutive games. 

Heading into this afternoon’s rivalry matchup, the Trojans (7-5, 5-4 Pac-12) had lost four of their last five games, both USC and UCLA (7-4, 4-4) had been knocked out of the Top 25 rankings and neither team was in the running for the Pac-12 title. This game was doomed with gloom.

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With sparsely filled stands and thick clouds hanging over the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the Trojans began their first drive with a turnover-on-downs in their own territory. The Bruins’ sophomore running back T.J. Harden rushed up the middle for a 1-yard touchdown to give UCLA an early 7-0 lead. 

On the ensuing UCLA drive, redshirt senior defensive lineman Jack Sullivan recorded his first sack of the season to place the Bruins outside of field goal range. Two plays later, freshman wide receiver Zachariah Branch was stripped of the ball. The Bruins’ recovery at the USC 17-yard line set up an easy connection from redshirt junior quarterback Ethan Garbers to wide-open receiver senior tight end Hudson Habermehl, which put the Bruins up 14-0. 

Junior quarterback Caleb Williams topped off the offense’s horrid first quarter performance with an interception and the Bruins began three of their first four drives in USC territory. 

Less than a minute into the second quarter, the Trojans’ yips were no more. Williams aired out a 74-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Brenden Rice to complete a 99-yard, 2:03-minute drive. 

The Bruins hoped to regain their two-possession lead with a field goal attempt the next drive, but the kick smacked the uprights. Later in the quarter, the Trojans missed a field goal of their own. Luckily, redshirt sophomore kicker Denis Lynch capitalized on his next attempt in the final minute of the half to narrow the Bruins’ lead to 14-10.

On the Bruins’ opening drive of the second half, the Trojan defense forced five third downs, but it wasn’t enough to stop UCLA from completing its 5:15-minute drive in the endzone. Losing 21-10, redshirt junior running back MarShawn Lloyd was stripped of a carry and the Bruins completed the scoop-and-score for their fourth touchdown of the game. 

After each team booted in a field goal, the Trojans entered the fourth quarter with a daunting 31-13 deficit. 

UCLA began the final quarter in the same fashion they began the game: comfortably in USC territory after a turnover-on-downs. A 15-yard reception by Habermehl eased the Bruins into the endzone and extended their lead to 25 points. 

In garbage time, redshirt senior running back Austin Jones scored a 7-yard rushing touchdown to place the final score of the loss at a respectable 38-20.

Even with the loss, USC will qualify for a bowl game — a final opportunity to get Williams a win in what’s assumed to be his last game as a Trojan.

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