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Sun Devils fall to Trojans, 14-9

Two plays.

That was all it took to squash the ASU football team’s chances of knocking off No. 12 USC for the first time in the new millennium, as the Sun Devils fell to the Trojans 14-9 at Sun Devil Stadium.

A 55-yard interception return for a touchdown by USC senior safety Will Harris with 1:17 to go before halftime and a 75-yard touchdown pass from USC freshman quarterback Matt Barkley to junior wide receiver Damian Williams on the Trojans’ second offensive play of the second half propelled USC to its 10th straight victory over ASU.

The contest also saw the first significant game action for ASU freshman quarterback Brock Osweiler, who replaced senior Danny Sullivan for one snap in the second quarter and then played the entire second half.

ASU was unable to take advantage of another stout defensive performance, as it held USC to just 183 yards of total offense outside of the big touchdown pass.

The Sun Devils’ best chance to take a lead late in the game came following a bizarre interception play where the ball was tipped multiple times before eventually falling into the hands of ASU sophomore safety Clint Floyd. Floyd then fumbled the ball on the return, but ASU senior cornerback Terell Carr picked it up to give the Sun Devils possession on the USC 36-yard line with 8:44 to play.

But a holding penalty on ASU on first down and three straight incomplete passes from Osweiler forced the Sun Devils to punt, and even though the Sun Devil defense gave the ASU offense two more chances with the ball in the fourth quarter, it could not capitalize with the winning score.

ASU dominated the stat sheet in the first half, but the Sun Devils hurt their chances to put points on the board because of three turnovers before intermission.

The Sun Devils began the game by putting together a 10-play, 43-yard drive that brought them down to the USC 12-yard line, but a fumble by freshman running back Cameron Marshall halted the early scoring chance.

ASU did strike first when a 21-yard field goal by junior kicker Thomas Weber at the 4:46 mark of the second quarter capped a 13-play, 58-yard drive, but the interception by Harris on the Sun Devils’ next possession gave the Trojans a 7-3 lead that ultimately put them up for good.

USC extended its lead to 14-3 on the connection between Barkley and Williams, which was called a touchdown after officials ruled the ball touched the pylon as Williams was diving for the end zone, before a 23-yard touchdown pass from Osweiler to senior wide receiver Chris McGaha cut that advantage to 14-9 with under a minute to go in the third quarter.

Osweiler outplayed his freshman counterpart in Barkley, as he completed 11 of his 27 passes for 153 yards in just over a half of work. Barkley had seven completions on 22 attempts for 112 yards, with 75 of them coming on one play.

McGaha finished the game with nine catches for 118 yards, moving him into fourth place on ASU’s all-time list in career receptions with 160. He now sits four receptions behind Eric Guliford for the No. 3 spot.

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