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WSU loses in final trip to USC, 30-14

We’re on to Corvallis.

NCAA Football: Washington State at Southern California Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

It was close for a half, but the Washington State Cougars lost to the No. 6 USC Trojans, 30-14, after getting shutout in the second half.

WSU (4-2, 1-2 in Pac-12) needed to play a near-perfect game if they wanted to come away with the upset over USC (6-0, 4-0). Unfortunately, the Cougs shot themselves in the foot one too many times in this one. USC took advantage of WSU’s mental lapses and poorly timed penalties. WSU led the Trojans 14-10 early on, but a drive littered with WSU defensive penalties helped USC take a 17-14 lead into the half and shutout WSU from there.

After an opening drive punt, USC converted a third and 16 from the WSU 38, taking advantage of a blown coverage from the Cougs for an easy touchdown pass to Mario Williams. WSU quickly went three and out on the next drive as USC got the ball near midfield. The Cougar defense bended, allowing USC inside the 10, but didn’t break as the Trojans settled for a field goal. Freshman running back Jaylen Jenkins used his speed to burst through the holes in the Trojan defense for two carries of over 20 yards to help set-up the Cougars deep in USC territory as the quarter rolled from the first to second.

On the opening play of the second quarter, Cam Ward hit Robert Farrell in the end zone to bring WSU back in the game down 10-7. The tides began to turn in the Cougars favor. WSU’s defense forced a Trojan three and out, giving the ball back to the offense. A targeting call against USC set up WSU around midfield and Ward took his shot downfield, finding Jenkins who made an incredible catch through contact just outside the end zone.

Two plays later, Ward floated the ball to Nakia Watson for the one-yard touchdown to give Wazzu the 14-10 lead. After exchanging punts, USC put together a drive aided by WSU penalties. A facemask near midfield away from the play moved USC to the WSU 33. On third and 19 from the WSU 24, the Cougars gifted USC another shot by lining up offsides. USC took a shot to the end zone the next play and WSU was whistled for a defensive pass interference. A once third and 19, turned into a first and goal at the WSU four and a touchdown for USC running back Travis Dye. Another trade of punts all but ended the first half of play with USC leading 17-14.

A little over half way through the third quarter, WSU looked to finally get the break they needed with a diving interception by Chau Smith-Wade in WSU territory. However, it would all be for not. A defensive holding wiped out the penalty and a personal foul after the play on WSU added salt to the wound. What would have been WSU’s ball around their own 35, turned into a first and 10 for USC at the WSU 21. On a third and 19, Caleb Williams again found Mario Williams in the end zone for a touchdown to push the lead back up to 10. WSU muffed the ensuing kick-off, starting WSU’s drive at their own four. Jenkins continued to rip through the Trojans defense, flying through for a 41 yard run to put the Cougs in USC territory. An illegal blindside block with a targeting call tacked on to it against Grant Stephens, pushed WSU out of USC territory and even worse, disqualified the WSU offensive lineman for the rest of the game.

USC began to bleed the clock, scoring a field goal after a 13-play, seven and a half minute drive to open the final quarter. WSU still had plenty of time with nine minutes to go, down just 13. On third and 11, Ward found De’Zhaun Stribling on a curl route at the first down marker but Stribling couldn’t haul it in. WSU punted the ball away and USC bled the clock for a field goal with two minutes to go. The Cougars couldn’t get the offense rolling on the final, only getting to midfield before the clock hit triple zeros.

A frustrating loss will have to be quickly flushed away as WSU will now have to get ready for a big matchup against the northwest rival Oregon State Beavers in Corvallis.