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Utah defeats USC 42-26 in first game since Lowe's death

Utah USC Football
Posted at 10:46 PM, Oct 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-10 00:46:18-04

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Cameron Rising threw three touchdown passes and ran for another as Utah defeated Southern California 42-26 on Saturday night.

It was the first game for the Utes since safety Aaron Lowe was killed in a shooting at a post-game party on Sept. 26. The teams observed a moment of silence before kickoff.

Rising was 22-of-28 passing for 306 yards, Brant Kuithe and Tavion Thomas each ran for a touchdown, and Utah (3-2, 2-0 Pac-12) won a road game against the Trojans for the first time since 1916.

Drake London had 16 receptions for 162 yards and a touchdown for USC (3-3, 2-3), which has lost three straight at the Coliseum by at least 14 points for the first time in school history. The Trojans also lost three consecutive conference games in 1991 and 2000.

Scoring touchdowns on four straight possessions in the second and third quarters, Utah took control when Thomas went 43 yards up the middle to take a 28-10 lead 2:19 into the second half. After Vonte Davis intercepted a pass by Kedon Slovis on fourth down to give Utah a short field, Rising scored on a 17-yard keeper to send fans to the exits with 9:13 left in the third.

As a passer, Rising was able to take advantage of the aggressive tendencies of USC’s defensive backs. He found Money Parks off play-action for a 12-yard touchdown and Devaughn Vele for a 37-yard touchdown off a flea flicker on fourth-and-1 late in the second quarter, before connecting with Dalton Kincaid on a 1-yard pass in the fourth.

USC was able to move the ball early on, with each of its first four drives ending in Utah’s territory, but had just 10 points to show for it because of continued poor play in the red zone. Parker Lewis missed a 34-yard field goal to compound those issues, and the offense couldn’t keep pace once the Utes began exploiting weaknesses in the Trojan defense.

Slovis was 33 of 53 passing for 401 yards, two touchdowns and two 2-point conversions, and Vavae Malepeai had a short rushing touchdown.

THE TAKEAWAY

Utah: Playing to honor Lowe, the Utes came through with their most complete performance of the season. They will now return home to face Arizona State for first place in the Pac-12 South, and a win would put them in favorable position to play in the conference title game in Las Vegas on Dec. 3.

USC: The Trojans’ path to bowl eligibility is now in serious jeopardy. It’s also no longer out of the question that this could be the first senior class at USC to have two losing seasons in their career since John McKay had two sub-.500 years in 1970-1971.

UP NEXT

Utah: The Utes host the Sun Devils on Saturday in a battle of the last two Pac-12 teams without a conference loss.

USC: The Trojans have an open week before traveling to Notre Dame on Oct. 23. The intersectional rivals did not play last season because of the COVID-19 pandemic, only the second interruption in the series after World War II halted it from 1943-1945.