By Tim Peterson
(Los Angeles) – USC scored on its first two possessions, and cruised the rest of the way in a 45-17 rout of Fresno State Saturday night before 66, 226 fans at the LA Memorial Coliseum.
Fresno State cut the lead to 11 points on three different occasions but that was as close as the Bulldogs could get as the Trojans offense was clicking on all cylinders. Caleb Williams was the ring-leader of the show accounting for four touchdowns as he threw for two and ran for two more. USC also had two running backs, Travis Dye and Austin Jones, each rush for more than 100 yards.
USC took the opening possession and drove 83 yards on 12 plays. Jordan Addison caught a two-yard touchdown pass from Williams to finish it.
After forcing Fresno State to punt, Williams capped a 12-play, 65-yard drive with an 8-yard run for a 14-0 lead with 3:35 left in the first quarter.
Abraham Montano booted a 23-yard field goal after a Fresno State drive stalled at the USC five-yard line to cut the Trojans lead to 14-3 eight seconds into the second quarter.
On the next series USC continued its surgical assault on the Fresno St. defense. This time they drove 83 yards on 15 plays. Williams got his second touchdown of the night with a one-yard keeper.
The Bulldogs responded however on the ensuing possession. They needed just 5 plays to find the endzone. Jake Haener connected with Erik Brooks who outran the Trojan secondary for a 39-yard touchdown to make it 21-10 with 6:30 remaining in the second quarter.
Jaylin Smith intercepted Haener in the endzone as the clock ran out in the second quarter. The Trojans took a 21-10 lead into the half.
Haener was hit and fumbled the ball early in the third quarter. He also was carted off the field with an injury. The Trojans promptly took advantage of the fumble recovery going 46 yards on five plays capped by a 3-yard touchdown run by Austin Jones to make it 28-10.
The Bulldogs, now with Logan Fife at quarterback, answered with a 71-yard march as Malik Sherrod broke through the USC secondary for a 32-yard touchdown run.
USC immediately responded with a quick strike. The Trojans needed only four plays to go 75 yards. Travis Dye got loose for a 25-yard touchdown run.
Early in the fourth Malcolm Epps hauled in a 10-yard pass from Williams as the Trojans scored again. It was 42-17 with 14:14 left in the fourth quarter.
Denis Lynch kicked a 41-yard field goal with 5;17 left or the final points of the night.
Williams completed 25 of 37 for 284 yards and two touchdowns and no interceptions. Addison caught 6 passes for 69 yards and a touchdown and Mario Williams hauled in 6 for 77. Dye ran for 102 yards on 11 carries and Jones had 112 on 12 carries with each back scoring a touchdown.
Haener was 10 for 18 for 117 yards and a score for Fresno State before leaving with an injury. Fife completed 11 of 12 for 140 yards. Brooks had 6 receptions for 89 yards and a touchdown. Jordan Mims led the Bulldogs rushing attack with 114 yards on 15 carries.
The Trojans piled up 517 yards of total offense as they improved to 3-0 on the season. Fresno State dropped to 1-2.
FS 0 10 7 0 17
USC 14 7 14 10 45