Oct 27, 2001
By MEL REISNER
AP Sports Writer
TUCSON, Ariz. - Kris Richard returned an interception 62 yards for a tie-breaking touchdown, and Southern California broke its fourth-quarter jinx by beating Arizona 41-34 Saturday night.
The Trojans, playing without tailback Sultan McCullough for the second straight game, overcame their habit of losing late when Richard repeated the feat of Kevin Arbet, who scored on a 70-yard interception in the second quarter.
Richard stepped in front of a pass by Jason Johnson and raced along the sideline to score untouched with 1:50 remaining.
On Arizona's next series, Lonnie Ford and Shaun Cody sacked Johnson on third and fourth downs to seal the win.
Carson Palmer passed for 248 yards and two touchdowns, but the Trojans still needed the big defensive plays to keep alive their slim hope of becoming bowl-eligible.
The Trojans (3-5, 2-3 Pac-10), who still need to beat Oregon State, California and UCLA to avoid missing out on their third straight bowl season, scored 28 points in the second quarter after Arbet got them going.
Palmer's scoring strikes went to his tight ends - 1 yard to Alex Holmes and 17 yards to Kori Dickerson. Sunny Byrd scored on a 1-yard run and David Davis kicked field goals of 32 and 47 yards.
Arizona's Michael Jolivette scored on a 60-yard interception return, and Johnson threw a 24-yard scoring pass to Brandon Marshall and scored on a 9-yard run.
Clarence Farmer ran 22 yards for Arizona's other TD, and Sean Keel kicked 24- and 46-yard field goals for the Wildcats (3-5, 0-5), who dropped their 10th Pac-10 game in a row.
The Wildcats hadn't beaten a conference foe since a 53-47, triple overtime win over Washington State on Oct. 14, 2000.
The Trojans, who blew a 13-3 second-quarter lead in a 27-16 loss at Notre Dame last week and lost four games in a row by a total of 14 points before beating Arizona State two weeks ago, led 31-13 at halftime this time.
But Anthony Thomas got Arizona's first sack to end an USC possession midway through the third quarter, and Bobby Wade returned the punt 16 yards to give the Wildcats a short field on the USC 26.
Farmer scored on the second snap.
Johnson's throw to Marshall cut USC's lead to 31-27 with 3:47 left in the third, and Johnson tied it at 34 with his 9-yard scramble with 7:05 left in the fourth.
The game had a pattern early on - an Arizona score, and USC's answer in the same style, field goal for field goal and interception return for interception return.
But after Arbet scored on a 70-yard sideline sprint to paydirt 1:35 into the second quarter, the momentum shifted.
The Trojans defense stepped up the pressure, and Johnson's next pass was batted and dropped into Omar Nazel's hands. He ran 11 yards with the interception, setting up Palmer's short throw to Holmes in the end zone that gave USC its first lead, 17-10, with 11 minutes left in the quarter.