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USC Football Loses To Washington, 52-42


The No. 5 Washington offense ran for 256 yards and four touchdowns, Michael Penix Jr. passed for 256 yards and two scores, and the Huskies defeated No. 24 USC Football 52-42 on Saturday night to maintain their undefeated record.

Penix ran for a score and completed touchdown passes to Devin Culp and Ja’Lynn Polk as the Huskies (9-0, 6-0 Pac-12) prevailed in a thrilling game that pitted two outstanding offenses against two weak defenses.

The Huskies amassed 572 yards total, and Johnson turned in the fifth-largest rushing performance in Washington history. It was also the team’s first 200-yard or four-TD game since 2017.

The Trojans (7-3, 5-2), led by Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams, passed for 312 yards and three touchdowns. Despite this impressive performance, the team has lost three of the last four games. In front of a packed Coliseum for USC’s 100th Homecoming weekend, Raleek Brown, Darwin Barlow, and Williams ran for touchdowns, while Tahj Washington, Brenden Rice, and Mario Williams caught touchdown passes.

Although the offenses combined for 1,087 yards, Washington consistently produced larger plays at crucial junctures. Twenty seconds before halftime, Johnson’s third touchdown run gave Washington a 35-28 lead. Williams’ fumble deep in USC territory set up the Huskies to never trail again in the second half.

Grady Gross of Washington made a 43-yard field goal with 12:25 remaining in the third quarter, but Mario Williams tied the score at 42-42 after he caught a 20-yard touchdown pass from Caleb Williams. The Trojans’ next drive was cut short by a long sack by Caleb Williams, and with 2:20 remaining, Washington marched 91 yards for Johnson’s fourth touchdown.

It was USC’s fifth consecutive game in which it allowed at least 40 points.

Despite playing without Pac-12 rushing leader Marshawn Lloyd due to an injury that was not disclosed beforehand, USC has a wealth of skill players at every position: Brown scored in his first game since Week 0, Barlow added 44 yards and a touchdown on his first carries since Week 2, and Austin Jones, the starting backfield player, ran for 127 yards.

In this meeting between two longstanding Pac-12 rivals who will play in the Big Ten together next season, big, daring offensive plays were commonplace.

In the second quarter, Penix ran out of bounds and hit Culp for a spectacular 22-yard touchdown pass. After USC responded with a 95-yard drive highlighted by two thunderous runs from Barlow, Johnson scored an uncontested 52-yard touchdown run just a short while later.

USC took the lead on Washington’s 41-yard touchdown reception after a brilliant flea-flicker by rookie Zachariah Branch that nearly appeared to be improvised when he lateraled back to Williams. However, Zion Tupuola-Fetui forced Williams to fumble on USC’s next snap, and Johnson ran for his third touchdown just 20 seconds before the half, after Polk’s touchdown catch tied the score.

After his huge play, Tupuola-Fetui, whose father passed away last week, was obviously upset on the sidelines.

On Washington’s first drive after the break, Christian Roland-Wallace intercepted Penix’s tipped pass in the end zone. Williams then led an 80-yard scoring drive that was capped by Rice’s 25-yard touchdown catch on fourth and 1. Though the Coliseum crowd was electrified, the Huskies regained the lead with a composed drive of 75 yards, which culminated in Penix’s touchdown sneak.

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