No. 12 BYU prevail against resilient Trojans

(News4usonline) – It’s been all downhill for the USC Trojans football team since their homecoming win against the Arizona Wildcats on Oct. 30. That was the same day that heralded wide receiver Drake London went down for the season with a leg injury.

For interim head coach Donte Williams, who was put in a position of leadership after Clay Helton was fired by the university, it has been a tough road.

The Trojans have not won a football game since their 41-34 win against the Wildcats, dropping three in a row. The Trojans’ 35-31 defeat at United Airlines Field at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to BYU was the latest reminder of how far south their season has gone.

BYU took control of the game in the second and third quarters, where they outscored the Trojans, 24-17, and didn’t look back. The good news for the Trojans was that they didn’t quit and kept grinding all the way until the end, even taking a 31-28 lead in the fourth quarter.

USC running back Vave Malepeai (6) rushed for 99 yards and a touchdown against No. 12 BYU. Photo by Melinda Meijer/News4usonline

However, BYU got the last laugh when they added a late score in the ballgame to clinch their 10th (10-2) win of the season. With a game against Cal, the Trojans dropped to 4-7 on the season. 

“Ultimately we didn’t get the final outcome that we wanted,” Williams said. “The kids fought extremely hard tonight. We battled back from mistakes that we made and made it a ballgame up to the last play of the ballgame. We fought hard all night and created turnovers, we ran the ball the way I would like for us to run the ball and controlled at the line of scrimmage.

“We had two running backs, one with 100 rushing yards, one with almost 100, that ran well. At the end of the day, we had one too many mistakes and unfortunately, we didn’t come up with the outcome we wanted.”

On a positive tip, even though they did lose the game to BYU, the Trojans nearly pulled off the upset of the No. 12 Cougars. USC came up with two interceptions off of BYU quarterback Jaren Hall and held the Cougars to a single score in the fourth period as they worked to take the lead.

From an offensive perspective, the Trojans managed to roll up 458 yards in total offense and recorded 27 first downs against the Cougars. USC senior running back Vave Malepeai rushed for 99 yards and added a 2-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.

Malepeai said that even though the Trojans came up short in their quest to get a win on Senior Night, the energy from the crowd showed plenty of love.     

USC quarterback Jaxson Dart (2) looks for running room against No. BYU. Photo by Melinda Meijer/News4usonline

“I feel like we found that energy within each other, the coaching staff, and just everybody on the sideline. Coach Donte really preached about bringing positive energy, not just from coaches or players, but everyone involved. Staff, training staff, anyone who’s associated with the USC football team has to bring that positive energy. Today, we did a great job of doing that. We didn’t get the outcome we wanted, but with the way that the guys fought today, I can honestly say I’m proud to be their team captain.”   

Hall, who passed for 276 yards and two touchdowns in the Cougars’ win, gave kudos to the Trojans for their gut-check performance.

“You should not look at these guys’ record to determine how good of a team they are,” Hall stated after the game. “They’re just as talented as some of the best teams in the country and we felt it tonight. I feel banged up. They’re a big, physical team from every position on defense.

“They’re really talented, really athletic, and they play hard from beginning to the end. They gave us a fight and luckily we were ready for it. Our coaches prepared us well. No one should take any credit away from them. That’s a really good defense. They’re gonna have a lot of guys that’ll play in the NFL. Props to them.”

So on the night before it was announced by USC athletic director Mike Bohn that the university had hired Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley as its new head football coach, Williams said that things are going to get turned around.   

“BYU travels well, and the Trojan nation fed off that a little bit,” Williams said. “When BYU got loud, the crowd got into it to let them know that this is USC’s home, this is the Coliseum. We’re going to get this thing back on track and make sure people understand this is not PAC-12 After Dark, this is USC after dark. We’re going to do the things we need to do to turn this around and create the outcome that we all want to see.”

Featured Image Photo Credit: Melinda Meijer/News4usonline