Williams sets USC career mark for TD receptions in 45-0 rout of Arizona
Posted: Sunday November 16, 2003 12:38AM; Updated: Sunday November 16, 2003 1:20AM
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- Mike Williams and Matt Leinart are on record runs, and No. 2 Southern California is gaining momentum in its bid for a shot at the national championship.
Williams caught 11 passes for 157 yards, including scoring plays of 15, 22 and 26 yards, and didn't play the last 1 1/2 quarters, in the Trojans' 45-0 rout of Arizona on Saturday night.
His three TD catches tied a school record, and gave him 26 in his 23-game college career, breaking the USC career record of 25 touchdown receptions by Kevin Williams from 1977-80.
"Mike was unbelievable. He had a great night again tonight, was just strong, competitive on the ball. They weren't all easy catches for him," Trojans coach Pete Carroll said. "You can see the confidence that Matt has in him. There's a lot of chemistry that's working for us right now."
Williams brushed aside the record. He has a bigger goal in mind.
"It hasn't sunk in yet," he said. "If I have the career touchdown record and we don't finish the season out the way I think we can, then it's not that big a deal."
His was one of several records broken as the Trojans (9-1, 5-1 Pac-10) took another step toward an appearance in the Sugar Bowl for the national title.
Arizona (2-9, 1-6) was shut out for the first time in 146 games, dating to a 54-0 loss at Washington on Oct. 5, 1991.
Leinart completed 22 of 30 passes for 296 yards and four touchdowns before sitting down with 61/2 minutes left in the third quarter. He ran his streak of consecutive passes without an interception to 165 and counting, breaking the school record of 147 set last season by Carson Palmer.
"It's a big deal for him. For the most part, I think people were looking forward to him failing so they can see John David (Booty) or whoever else they wanted at quarterback," Williams said. "You can't say enough about Matt and how he's playing."
LenDale White ran 43 yards for a touchdown on the final play of the third quarter, his 11th TD of the season, breaking Charles White's freshman record set in 1976.
Ryan Killeen's six extra points gives him 49 for the season, tying the school record with home games remaining against UCLA and Oregon State.
Despite the methodical thumping, Arizona's Clay Hart didn't think the Trojans were the best team he's faced this year.
"I thought they were really good," he said. 'But personally, I? think LSU was the best team we've faced since we've been a Wildcat."
LSU pounded Arizona 59-13 the second game of the season.
All three of Williams' scoring catches came in the first half, when he had 10 receptions for 150 yards and the Trojans built a 35-0 lead.
Williams didn't have the most spectacular catch, though.
That came from tight end Gregg Gentler Jr., who made a one-handed grab of Leinart's 20-yard scoring pass while being hit by two defenders for USC's final first-half touchdown.
"You can't beat a team like USC on will power alone," Arizona interim coach Mike Hankwitz said. "We're not where we need to be to beat a team like that."
The last time USC played Arizona was two years ago, when the Trojans limped in 3-5 and won 41-34. Carroll's Trojans are 24-4 since then.
Leinart completed six of seven passes for 99 yards in directing the Trojans on touchdown drives the first two times they had the ball.
The Trojans added three touchdowns in the second quarter, the last two in a span of 1:03. Facemask and personal-foul penalties, on the same play, aided USC's five-play, 81-yard drive third touchdown drive, Leinart throwing 22 yards to Williams to make it 21-0 with 10:59 to go in the half.
USC pinned the Wildcats inside their 1, and after the punt, got the ball on the Arizona 26. Three plays later, Leinart threw to Williams for a 26-yard touchdown to make it 28-0 with 4:42 left in the half.
Arizona's Steve Fleming fumbled and USC's Marcell Allmond recovered at the Wildcats 27 to set up Leinart's 20-yard TD pass to Guenther and it was 35-0 2:59 before halftime.
The Wildcats were at the USC 6 and 4 on their last two possessions of the first half but failed to score.
In the third quarter, the Trojans drove from their 6 to the Arizona 1 but failed to score.
Will Poole intercepted two passes for USC in its second shutout of the season. The Trojans beat Auburn 23-0 in their opener. USC was inside the Arizona 10 three times in the second half without scoring. The Trojans took a knee at the Wildcats 6 to end the game.