|Arizona brought down the 22nd-ranked Trojans, 31-24|
By MEL REISNER, AP Sports Wrtier
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- It took a memorable effort for Arizona to derail No. 22 Southern Cal, and that's what the Wildcats gave.
"We've been through some tough times, but we've learned from it," Coach Dick Tomey said after Arizona gained 550 yards against the Pac-10's best defense and equaled its five-game sack total in a 31-24 victory over the Trojans on Saturday.
The Wildcats (4-2, 2-1), a preseason No. 4 pick, fell from the rankings after a blowout loss at Penn State and less-than-dazzling wins against Texas Christian and Middle Tennessee. But they regained their stride against the Trojans.
Trung Canidate ran for 194 yards on 31 carries -- his fourth consecutive 100-yard game -- and scored one of two fourth-quarter touchdowns for the Wildcats, and Dennis Northcutt had eight catches for 121 yards to become the school's career receiving yardage leader.
On the other side of the ball, the Wildcats had seven sacks, two takeaways and held Southern Cal to minus-20 yards rushing -- second-worst ever for a school once known as "Tailback U." The school record is minus-23 yards in a 28-19 loss to TCU in the Sun Bowl last year.
"I think the better team out there won," coach Paul Hackett said. "You have to be better on special teams, defense and offense to win, and I think Arizona was better on both sides."
Arizona had three sacks, an interception and scored on Kelvin Hunter's 24-yard fumble return after Canidate broke a 17-17 tie with an 11-yard TD run with 11:52 remaining.
The Trojans (3-2, 1-2 Pac-10) also had a defensive touchdown -- a 44-yard fumble return by Antuan Simmons early in the second quarter -- and Mike Van Raaphorst threw TD passes of 18 yards to Windrell Hayes and 21 yards to Marcell Allmond.
But Allmond's score came with 28 seconds remaining. When the ensuing onside kick went out of bounds, Southern Cal's three-game winning streak against Arizona was over.
"Our No. 1 goal this week was to come out and play this game like it was the last one of the season, and we did," said Northcutt, who also played cornerback and paid for it with leg cramps after what he estimated as 100 plays.
Keith Smith ran 57 yards for a TD and threw a 17-yard pass to Dennis Northcutt for another for Arizona.
Arizona's Mark McDonald had a 43-yard field goal, but missed two others to go 1-for-9 on the season.
His field goal in the second quarter was Arizona's first in six games, and gave the Wildcats a 10-7 lead.
David Newbury tied it with a 40-yard field goal just before halftime.
Marcus Bell intercepted Van Raaphorst with 10:49 left in the game, and the Wildcats marched within range of McDonald's second miss -- from 43 yards.
The Trojans got the ball back with 9:21 remaining. But Joe Tafoya and Idris Haroon sacked Van Raaphorst on two of the next three snaps, and Southern Cal punted.
After an Arizona punt, Van Raaphorst tried to rally his team once more.
But two passes were broken up, a running play gained seven yards and Van Raaphorst fumbled the fourth-down snap. The ball was kicked around and wound up in Hunter's hands for the clinching TD.
"That's what Arizona defense should look like," Bell said. "We played with the desire to make plays."
The Trojans exceeded their first-half production when they marched 79 yards with the opening kickoff of the second half, and Hayes' scoring reception sent them to a 17-10 lead.
The Wildcats tied it again on a 17-yard pass from Smith to Northcutt with 41 seconds left in the third quarter.
Arizona needed only four plays to cover 95 yards for its first TD. Smith covered the final 57 yards on a draw 4:40 into the game.
Smith gained 22 yards on his next carry, but McDonald missed a 41-yard field goal at the end.
Southern Cal linebacker Zeke Moreno, who scored on a fumble return and an interception return in a win over Oregon State last week, figured in his third defensive score in two games. He sacked Smith and forced a fumble, and Simmons got the ball and scored 52 seconds into the second quarter.
"Looking up on the scoreboard, it was embarrassing to see how lopsided the total yards was (550-271)," Southern Cal tailback Chad Morton said. "We need to identify the problems and make the adjustments and go from there."