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NCAA Football Recap (Washington St-USC)
Posted: Sun September 14, 1997 at 12:55 a.m EDTWASHINGTON ST 28, (22) USC 21
Ryan McKenzie made a one-handed grab on a pass from Ryan Leaf and took it 51 yards for the go-ahead score with 4:18 remaining to give Washington State its first road victory over Southern California in 40 years, 28-21. The Trojans (0-2) were unable to get a first down on either of their final two possessions and lost to the Cougars at the Coliseum for the first time since 1957, a span of 16 games. Washington State (2-0), which ended an overall nine-game slide to USC, beat the Trojans and UCLA in the same season for the first time in the school's 103-year history. The Cougars, who squeaked out a 37-34 victory over the Bruins two weeks ago, are still just 7-48-4 all-time against Southern Cal. "This is really great. I'm particularly happy for the players, especially the seniors," Cougars coach Mike Price said. "To go out like this and make history as the first team to beat both Southern California schools, it's great for the seniors, especially all the guys from California." The Cougars faced a 3rd-and-12 on their own 18 midway through the fourth quarter with the game knotted, 21-21, and Leaf hit McKenzie for a 31-yard completion. On the next play, Leaf lofted a pass over the middle to McKenzie, who pulled it in with one hand and took off for the end zone. He received a key block from Shawn McWashington and went the distance for a 28-21 lead. "I was supposed to go outside but the way they were playing me forced me inside," McKenzie said. "I found the seam and I went into the hole. The throw was a little high so I had to go out and make the grab. Shawn McWashington made a great block and sprang me for the TD." "I'm glad to see Kevin McKenzie make that play because he didn't play that well in our last game. Shawn McWashington's block was just key," Price added. Leaf threw for 355 yards and three scores on 21-of-40 passing and hooked up with McKenzie five times for 107 yards. USC rebounded from a 21-6 halftime deficit with a pair of big plays. The first came when R. Jay Soward took the second-half kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown. Early in the fourth quarter, John Fox hit Billy Miller on a 39-yard completion to put the Trojans at the 15. From there, tailback Lavalle Woods took a handoff, ran right but threw to Mike Bastianelli in the end zone. Fox and Miller hooked up for the tying two-point conversion. Despite the comeback, USC's offense struggled for the most part, gaining 275 yards to 398 for Washington State. "It's very frustrating. We had very high expectations for this season," said Miller, who set career highs with 10 catches for 138 yards. "We should have won this game. Offensively, we have to dig deep and find out what's going on because we are the reason we're losing games." "We are extremely disappointed. We choked in a thousand areas," Trojans coach John Robinson said. "We botched lots of things, people seemed to be confused. It was a disappointing performance." Leaf found Washington for a three-yard TD and the early lead. Michael Black's 16-yard touchdown run 93 seconds into the second quarter bumped the lead to 14-0. USC's Malaefou Mackenzie answered with a one-yard plunge, but the extra-point was no good. Leaf hit Love Jefferson with a six-yard scoring strike 50 seconds before halftime to stretch Washington State's lead to 21-6. "Ryan was on target all day long," Price said. "There weren't too many bad throws." "This is very sweet. It's a great feeling," added Black, who gained 62 yards on 20 carries. "We accomplished something that hasn't been done in a hundred years, to have two big wins like this." Fox completed 23-of-42 passes for 229 yards and Bastianelli set career highs with six catches and 75 yards. Brian Kelly had a pair of interceptions for the Trojans, who have started the season 0-2 for the first time since 1960 and just the fifth time ever. "We couldn't take advantage of anything. It was one of the most disappointing run performances I've been involved with," Robinson said. "We need to put something together on offense and not shoot ourselves in the foot."
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