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September 23, 2006

Freshman leads No. 3 USC past Arizona

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TUCSON, Ariz. -Bolstered by a smothering defense, No. 3 Southern California shook off a poor first half and defeated Arizona 20-3 Saturday night, extending the Trojans' Pac-10 record winning streak to 24 games.

The Trojans (3-0) also set a record with their 12th straight conference road win.

USC limited Arizona to 154 yards, including minus-16 yards on 19 rushes. Arizona has scored one touchdown in three games against Division I-A opponents.

Leading 3-0 at intermission, the Trojans (3-0) made it 10-0 when John David Booty hit Dwayne Jarrett for a 3-yard touchdown pass early in the third quarter. It was Jarrett's 32d career touchdown catch, tying the record set by Stanford's Ken Margerum from 1977-80. USC freshman tailback Emmanuel Moody ran for a game-high 130 yards and one touchdown.

USC dominated its first two opponents, whipping Arkansas 50-14 on the road and defeating then-No. 19 Nebraska 28-10 in Los Angeles. But the Trojans found themselves in a 60-minute fight against the Wildcats (2-2), who lost to Louisiana State 45-3 two weeks ago.

One minute into the second quarter, Arizona created the game's first scoring chance when Wildcat cornerback Antoine Cason intercepted a Booty pass and returned it 17 yards to the Trojans 32. Cason grew up 30 minutes from the USC campus in Long Beach, Calif., but was not recruited by the Trojans, and he vowed last week to prove they made a mistake.

It was Booty's first interception in 79 passes since he replaced Matt Leinart, now with the Arizona Cardinals. Booty completed 24 of 39 passes for 179 yards and a touchdown. He was intercepted once.

But Arizona gained only three yards after the turnover, and USC's Lawrence Jackson blocked Nick Folk's 46-yard field-goal attempt.

That set up the first half's lone scoring drive. The Trojans went 47 yards in 10 plays and took a 3-0 lead on Mario Danelo's 35-yard field goal with 8:23 to go in the first half.

At halftime, Arizona had 52 yards, including minus-7 rushing. But the Wildcat defense was playing its best game of the season. Led by Cason, the Wildcats limited Jarrett to two catches for 24 yards in the first half.

USC mounted its best drive to open the second half. Starting from their own 20, the Trojans went 80 yards in 10 plays. The biggest play was tailback Moody's 40-yard run, the Trojans' longest from scrimmage this season.

USC appeared to score when Booty hit Steve Smith on first-and-goal from the Arizona 7. But the play was overturned on review.

One play later, Booty rolled out and hit Jarrett, who beat Cason in the front corner of the end zone.

After stopping Arizona on the next series, the Trojans drove to Arizona's 8 before the drive stalled and Danelo missed a 26-yard field-goal attempt.

The miss inspired the Wildcats, who drove 54 yards in 12 plays to make it 10-3 on Folk's 43-yard field goal with 14:05 to go in the fourth quarter.

Arizona was 0-for-7 on third-down conversions when the drive began, but Tuitama hit Anthony Johnson for 17 yards on third-and-8 from the Wildcat 22. Later in the same drive, Tuitama threaded a 28-yard pass to Syndric Steptoe on third-and-15 from the Arizona 47.

USC responded with a 10-play, 64-yard drive that ended in Danelo's 33-yard field goal to give the Trojans a 13-3 lead with 9:43 to play.

The Trojans put the game away when Arizona returner Mike Thomas dropped a punt and USC's Dallas Sartz recovered at the Wildcat 9. Moody scored on the next play to make it 20-3.

For more coverage of the USC Trojans, visit USCFootball.com; for more on the Arizona Wildcats, check out GOAZCats.com.



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