ARIZONA STATE FOOTBALL

ASU football puts up good fight in loss to No. 6 USC

Oct 2, 2022, 12:15 AM
Jordan Addison #3 of the USC Trojans rushes after catching a pass against Kyle Soelle #34 of the Ar...
Jordan Addison #3 of the USC Trojans rushes after catching a pass against Kyle Soelle #34 of the Arizona State Sun Devils during the first half at United Airlines Field at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on October 1, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Although Caleb Williams and No. 6 Southern California never trailed against Arizona State, the Trojans also couldn’t pull away during a fairly average first half by their newly ambitious standards under coach Lincoln Riley.

“It just wasn’t quite us,” Riley said. “Wasn’t quite the edge that we’re used to playing with, and that we expect to play with.”

Williams and the Trojans found their edge in the second half, and they used it to slice straight through the Sun Devils on the way to another big win.

Williams passed for 348 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for another score, keeping USC unbeaten in Riley’s first season with a 42-25 victory Saturday night.

Mario Williams, Malcolm Epps and Kyron Hudson caught TD passes from Caleb Williams, who returned to elite form after struggling through much of the Trojans’ nail-biting 17-14 win at Oregon State last weekend. Travis Dye also rushed for 62 yards and two second-half touchdowns for USC (5-0, 3-0 Pac-12).

“You come off a win like Oregon State, and it’s almost like you feel like you’re over the hump, and you’re thinking, ‘OK, we made it,’” Dye said. “That’s absolutely never the case. You’re never at the point where you’ve made it. We had to realize that, and we did in the second half.”

Caleb Williams led the way. The Oklahoma transfer marched the Trojans up and down the field against Arizona State for 485 total yards while demonstrating that his elusiveness, accuracy and playmaking acumen were all fully intact.

“Some things just don’t go your way,” Caleb Williams said with a shrug about his comeback from last week. “I went through the week how I normally go through the week. Did the same things. Some things go your way, some don’t.”

Emory Jones passed for 243 yards and Xazavian Valladay rushed for two touchdowns for the Sun Devils (1-4, 0-2), who gave an encouraging effort in their second game under interim head coach Shaun Aguano after the firing of Herm Edwards.

“Absolutely there is improvement,” Aguano said. “I’m sitting here because I’m not real happy about it, but I thought we could play and finish this game against them. We came in at halftime, we had the attention of those kids.”

Valladay and Jones scored early TDs to keep the game close for nearly three quarters, but Arizona State’s offense stalled on three straight drives while USC pulled away. The Sun Devils had minus-6 yards rushing in the second half.

“Offensive side, they did their job,” ASU safety Khoury Bethley said. “They kept us in the game today. Defense, we didn’t step up to the plate, though. … Offense played like that, you think you should win the game. So defense, we’re taking full responsibility for this one.”

Jordan Addison had eight catches for 105 yards for the Trojans, who are off to their first 5-0 start since 2020 — but their first in a full season since 2006, near the height of the Pete Carroll era.

USC’s first three drives all ended in touchdowns, with Caleb Williams sneaking in for the first score. The quarterback also showed off his elusiveness while evading several near-sacks, and his across-the-body scoring pass to Mario Williams was an exceptional play.

But Arizona State was nearly as effective on offense, making three straight scoring drives longer than 50 yards to stay within 21-17 at halftime. Jones went 9 of 11 for 117 yards, while Valladay rushed for 57 yards and made a 29-yard TD reception.

USC’s defense again struggled to get important stops, continuing a theme for a unit that didn’t get the massive influx of elite transfer talent received by the offense. The Trojans also committed six penalties in the first half, including an offensive holding call that erased an 82-yard TD catch by Mario Williams.

Hudson scored his first career touchdown with 10:54 to play. Valladay replied with 6:16 left, but Addison recovered an onside kick before Dye put it away with several gritty runs leading up to his second TD with 3:46 to play.

FIRST BLEMISH

Caleb Williams committed USC’s first turnover of the season on the opening drive of the second half, underthrowing Addison in the end zone for an interception by Timarcus Davis. The Trojans had been the only team left in the FBS without a turnover.

THE TAKEAWAY

The Sun Devils might be in transition, but they clearly don’t intend to write off the rest of this season, as they showed with a spirited effort against a top-10 opponent. Jones and Valladay are big-time playmakers who could make ASU dangerous in the second half of the season.

UP NEXT

Arizona State returns to Tempe to host No. 15 Washington on Saturday at 1 p.m. on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

Penguin Air
Southern California quarterback Caleb Williams passes during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Arizona State Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Southern California wide receiver Mario Williams, left, stiff arms Arizona State defensive back Jordan Clark during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Southern California running back Raleek Brown, right, has his face mask grabbed by Arizona State linebacker Merlin Robertson as he runs the ball during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Southern California running back Raleek Brown, right, has his face mask grabbed by Arizona State linebacker Merlin Robertson as he runs the ball during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Arizona State running back Xazavian Valladay catches a touchdown pass during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Southern California Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Southern California tight end Malcolm Epps, right, catches a touchdown pass as Arizona State linebacker Connor Soelle, left, and wide receiver Brenden Rice watches during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Southern California wide receiver Mario Williams, right, breaks a tackle by Arizona State defensive back Khoury Bethley, left, during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Arizona State quarterback Emory Jones passes during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Southern California Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Arizona State running back Xazavian Valladay, center, celebrates his touchdown with wide receiver Elijhah Badger, left, as Southern California defensive back Calen Bullock stands by during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Arizona State running back Xazavian Valladay runs in for a touchdown after catching a pass during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Southern California Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Arizona State running back Xazavian Valladay runs in for a touchdown after catching a pass during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Southern California Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Arizona State running back Xazavian Valladay, right, tries to fend off Southern California defensive back Jaylin Smith during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Southern California quarterback Caleb Williams rolls out during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Arizona State Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Southern California wide receiver Brenden Rice, top, jumps over Arizona State defensive back Jordan Clark during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Southern California wide receiver Kyron Hudson (10) gets up after catching a pass as members of his team celebrate while Arizona State defensive back Timarcus Davis (7) lays on the ground during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Southern California quarterback Caleb Williams, left, throws a touchdown pass as Arizona State defensive lineman B.J. Green II defends during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Southern California running back Austin Jones (6) breaks a tackle by Arizona State linebacker Merlin Robertson (8) during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Arizona State quarterback Emory Jones, right, breaks away from an attempted sack by Southern California defensive lineman Nick Figueroa during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Arizona State quarterback Emory Jones, left, breaks away from an attempted sack by Southern California defensive lineman Nick Figueroa during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Arizona State quarterback Emory Jones passes during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Southern California Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Southern California quarterback Caleb Williams takes a snap during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Arizona State Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Members of Southern California run out prior to an NCAA college football game against Arizona State Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Southern California wide receiver Mario Williams, left, stiff arms Arizona State defensive back Jordan Clark during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Southern California quarterback Caleb Williams rolls out during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Arizona State Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 01: Jordan Addison #3 of the USC Trojans rushes as Timarcus Davis #7 of the Arizona State Sun Devils tries to strip the ball during the first half at United Airlines Field at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on October 1, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) Southern California defensive lineman Tyrone Taleni celebrates a sack during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Arizona State Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Arizona State quarterback Emory Jones, left, is sacked by Southern California defensive lineman Tyrone Taleni during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Southern California defensive back Calen Bullock celebrates after an interception during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Arizona State Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Southern California defensive back Calen Bullock celebrates after an interception during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Arizona State Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Southern California wide receiver Jordan Addison, left, is unable to catch a pass while under pressure from Arizona State defensive back Ro Torrence during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Los Angeles. Torrence was called for pass interference on the play. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Southern California head coach Lincoln Riley claps after a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Arizona State Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Southern California quarterback Caleb Williams, left, talks with head coach Lincoln Riley during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Arizona State Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Southern California wide receiver Jordan Addison, right, tries to fend off Arizona State defensive back Jordan Clark during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Southern California quarterback Caleb Williams slicks his fingers while standing on the sideline during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Arizona State Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Southern California running back Travis Dye is stopped just short of a touchdown during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Arizona State Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Arizona State head coach Shaun Aguano stands on the sideline during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Southern California Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Southern California wide receiver Jordan Addison, left, is tackled by Arizona State defensive back Khoury Bethley, top, and defensive back Timarcus Davis during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Southern California defensive back Calen Bullock celebrates after an interception during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Arizona State Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Southern California offensive lineman Andrew Vorhees, center, celebrates a touchdown by running back Travis Dye during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Arizona State Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Southern California wide receiver Mario Williams, right, is tackled by Arizona State linebacker Kyle Soelle during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Southern California head coach Lincoln Riley, left, and Arizona State head coach Shaun Aguano shake hands after an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Los Angeles. USC won 42-25. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Southern California quarterback Caleb Williams, left, runs the ball as Arizona State defensive back D.J. Taylor chases during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

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