WSU rolled over by USC

WSU defense allowed 28 points from USC in first quarter alone

WSU+turned+over+the+ball+three+times%2C+the+most+against+any+team+this+season.

COURTESY OF MARIN MEDIA

WSU turned over the ball three times, the most against any team this season.

CODY SCHOELER, Evergreen football reporter

The WSU Cougars suffered their second loss of the season as they fell to the No. 20 USC Trojans by a score of 38-13.

The Cougars (1-2) struggled for much of the game, only gaining 163 yards and allowing USC (4-0) to rack up 287 yards.

Head coach Nick Rolovich said the offense was never able to get in the rhythm and overall, the Trojans played much better football than his team.

Redshirt junior offensive lineman Abe Lucas said it took three and a half quarters for the team to wake up and they got themselves into a hole by starting out slow.

“You got to come out fast and not start fast in the third or fourth quarter or at halftime,” Lucas said. “They jumped out on us, they came out fast and they deserve the credit for it.”

Freshman quarterback Jayden de Laura had his worst game in his young collegiate career, throwing for just 134 yards on 18-29 passing. He also tossed two interceptions, both of which occurred in the first quarter.

Redshirt junior wide receiver Travell Harris said de Laura had excellent energy throughout the game despite his struggles.

“He dealt with the adversity good. He was always coming out to the sideline, communicating, hyping guys up,” Harris said. “At the end of the game it’s a team game, and we all got to do our part as one unit and it’s not just about Jayden or me or coach Rolo. We all got to come together and do it as one unit.”

The interceptions came at the hands of USC’s star players in the secondary. The first was to junior safety Talanoa Hufanga, who had an impressive, 37-yard return that included a hurdle over de Laura and took the ball inside the five-yard line.

The second was to junior cornerback Olaijah Griffin, who jumped in front of a slant route and made the contested pick.

The opening quarter was especially rough for WSU. Everything went USC’s way in a quarter that they outscored the Cougars 28-0.

All four of those scores were touchdown passes from sophomore quarterback Kedon Slovis to junior wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown. Slovis finished the game 25-32 for 282 yards and five touchdowns. St. Brown ended with seven receptions for 65 yards and four touchdowns.

WSU was never able to recover from the early deficit, despite outscoring USC 7-3 in the second half.

The Cougars’ first touchdown came from redshirt junior wide receiver Travell Harris, who ran it in from the wildcat formation for five yards with under 30 seconds remaining in the first half. Harris finished the game with seven catches for 74 yards and two carries for seven yards and the score on the ground.

WSU’s second touchdown of the game came late in the fourth quarter on a touchdown pass from redshirt freshman quarterback Gunner Cruz to redshirt senior wide receiver Renard Bell. He had 11 catches for 76 yards and a touchdown, leading the team in each category. 

Once again, the two slot receivers got the bulk of the attention, grabbing 18 of the teams 26 completions. Redshirt junior wide receiver Jamire Calvin was the most involved he has been all season, catching four passes for just 17 yards, although he dropped a long pass from de Laura early in the game.

The bright side for WSU was its defense in the final three quarters, where they held the Trojans to just 10 points. The run defense was stout all game long; USC ran for just five net yards and averaged 0.3 yards per carry.

“I think the credit goes to the defensive line and the defensive box players’ character, the whole defense really,” Rolovich said. “And credit for the defensive coaches to keep their guys playing.”

The pass rush also showed signs of life in the second half. All three of the Cougars’ sacks came in the final 30 minutes of play. Redshirt junior defensive lineman Christian Mejia, redshirt sophomore edge rusher Brennan Jackson, and redshirt freshman edge rusher Quinn Roff all had one sack.

The WSU Cougars will look to get back to .500 when they take on the University of California Golden Bears at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Martin Stadium.