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September 30, 2006

WR Steve Smith helps No. 3 USC avoid upset

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PULLMAN, Wash. -Steve Smith responded to the loss of All-American Dwayne Jarrett with a career-high 11 catches for 186 yards and two second-half touchdowns, and No. 3 Southern California survived a scare from Washington State with a 28-22 victory Saturday night.

Smith had just 12 catches through three games. But that was before Jarrett stayed home with a strained shoulder he injured in last week's win at Arizona.

The Trojans won for the 49th time in 51 games since their last loss outside California, an overtime loss to Washington State on Oct. 5, 2002 in Pullman. Their only losses in that span are at California in 2003 and to Texas in last January's Rose Bowl.

They also extended their school record for consecutive road wins to 18.

But this was far from easy.

The Trojans (4-0, 1-0 Pac-10) appeared to have the game in hand when Smith ended a 17-play drive with an 11-yard touchdown pass from John David Booty with 5:52 remaining.

But Washington State (3-2, 1-1) responded with Alex Brink's 10-yard scoring pass to Dwight Tardy, who leaped and reached across the goal line to make it 28-22 with 4:18 left.

Booty, 23-for-32 for 269 yards passing and three touchdowns, then found Jarrett's replacement, Patrick Turner, for 8 yards on a key third-and-5 with three minutes left. That atoned for Turner's first-half fumble that set up Loren Langley's second field goal.

The Cougars finally got the ball back at their own 23 with 1:04 left and no timeouts. They moved to the USC 38 and then spiked the ball with 3 seconds left. But Brink's final heave was intercepted by Taylor Mays at the 4.

Brink was 26-for-47 for 287 yards.

Smith and Booty took over the game on a 99-yard drive in the third quarter. Smith drew a defensive pass interference penalty on the first play, then his kick-out block freed Emmanuel Moody for a 48-yard run to the Washington State 36.

After Smith's 12-yard catch on fourth-and-10, Booty found the senior running alone across the back of the end zone for a 7-yard touchdown pass that gave the Trojans a 21-12 lead.

Washington State answered by driving to the USC 2 before Brink was stopped by a swarm of Trojans on a third-down scramble. Langley kicked his third field goal, this one from 20 yards, to cut the lead to 21-15 two plays into the final quarter.

USC took a 14-6 lead five minutes into the second quarter on Chauncey Washington's stomping, 3-yard run, his second career touchdown.

The Cougars answered two drives later. A defensive pass interference penalty, a 21-yard pass from Brink to Brandon Gibson and Dwight Tardy's 19-yard run set up Brink's 4-yard touchdown pass to Jason Hill.

But Brink's poor throw behind Cody Boyd on the subsequent 2-point conversion try kept Washington State down 14-12 at halftime.

Booty was 10-for-14 for 153 yards passing in the first half. He threw his eighth touchdown pass of the season, an easy, 7-yard throw to Chris McFoy midway through the opening quarter. Booty ended the half with his second interception of the season.

McFoy left the game before halftime with a shoulder injury, leaving Smith to star.

Michael Bumpus had a season-high seven catches - by halftime - for Washington State. He finished with 11 receptions for 115 yards.

For more coverage of the USC Trojans, visit USCFootball.com; for more on the Washington State Cougars, visit CougZone.com.



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