LOS ANGELES, Calif. – USC quarterback Cody Kessler engineered 546 yards of total offense with two passing touchdowns to lead the Trojans past Arizona, 38-31, on Thursday.
Senior quarterback B.J. Denker passed for a total of 363 yards with four touchdowns for a career-high in passing yards and completions, completing 28-of-44. Denker threw to seven different receivers for 20 or more yards on at least two receptions each.
Junior running back Ka’Deem Carey led the Wildcats with 174 total yards. His 138 yards rushing marks his 14th career and eighth-straight 100-yard rush game, maintaining his lead of all active Pac-12 players in 100-yard rush games.
Both David Richards and Garic Wharton recorded touchdowns for the Cats. Terrence Miller led the team in receiving yards with 76 yards on six receptions.
To start the game, the Trojans needed only nine seconds in their drive for Kessler to connect with Nelson Agholor for a 62-yard touchdown. Although the Wildcats moved down the field, a missed kick by Jake Smith gave the ball back to USC.
In the next series, Kessler threw for another touchdown pass to provide USC a 14-0 lead to end the first quarter.
After a 26-yard pass to Miller, the Wildcats were able to create a rhythm allowing them to move down the field. To start the second quarter, two passes to Johnny Jackson gave the Cats 46 yards to the red zone. The drive ended with a 27-yard field goal by Smith to cut the lead.
A blocked punt by Soma Vainuku gave USC the ball once again. The Trojans extended their lead to 21-3 with a one-yard rushing touchdown by Justin Davis. From there, USC continued it’s scoring with another rushing touchdown.
Coming back with just under two minutes left in the half, pressure from USC opened up an opportunity for Denker to complete the longest pass play of the season for 57 yards to Nate Phillips, which resulted in a touchdown. With the extra point good, the 'Cats cut the lead to 28-10 entering halftime.
In the third quarter, the Arizona defense held USC to a 45-yard field goal by Andre Heidari. With just under five minutes left, Carey rushed for 39 yards followed by a big throw from Denker for a 45-yard touchdown pass to Wharton. This marked a career long reception for Wharton. With the extra point good, the Cats decreased the Trojan lead, 31-17.
To begin the fourth quarter, USC finished a nine-play drive for a touchdown by Javorius Allen, his second of the night.
In the following drive, the Wildcat offense came back once again. The Wildcats made their way down the field with powerful runs from Carey and a pair of complete passes to Miller. With pressure, Denker threw for his third touchdown pass to the back of the end zone to Richards. The 96-yard drive cut the Trojan lead to 38-24.
With momentum in the Wildcats' favor, the Arizona defense came up with a big stop against USC to gain possession of the ball with just under five minutes. Denker took just 19 seconds throw a pair of passes including one for a touchdown to Wharton, making it just a one-score game.
The Trojans finalized the win without scoring on a final drive down the field, ending a final score of 38-31.
The Wildcats will return to Arizona Stadium on Oct. 19 to take on Utah for a 7 p.m. MST kickoff. The game will be televised by Pac-12 Networks.
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