USC falls short in finale, losing 35-14 to UCLA

Ed Orgeron’s remarkable turnaround tale at Southern California

didn’t exactly have the storybook ending the Trojans wanted.

USC’s dominance over UCLA at the Coliseum is history, and the

interim coach doesn’t know whether he’ll be a part of the Trojans’

next chapter.

Brett Hundley passed for 208 yards and rushed for two

touchdowns, leading No. 22 UCLA past No. 23 USC 35-14 Saturday

night and winning the crosstown showdown for the second straight

season.

Javorius Allen rushed for 123 yards and a score for the Trojans

(9-4, 6-3 Pac-12), who had won five straight in their revitalized

season under Orgeron. Cody Kessler passed for 174 yards and hit

Xavier Grimble with a TD pass, but USC’s defense couldn’t handle

Hundley, who rushed for 80 yards and led the Bruins (9-3, 6-3) to

their third win in the last 15 editions of the rivalry.

”I think it was the worst performance we’ve had since we

started back together,” Orgeron said. ”We started off very slow,

weren’t able to run or pass the ball. No excuses. We just didn’t

play well.”

A scoreless fourth quarter didn’t help the unlikely cause of

Orgeron, who emerged as a legitimate candidate for the full-time

USC job by revitalizing a stagnant USC program since replacing Lane

Kiffin in late September.

Orgeron got the Trojans back into the national rankings, shocked

No. 5 Stanford earlier this month, and made football fun again at

USC – but he also lost to Notre Dame and UCLA, the Trojans’ two

biggest rivals. Athletic director Pat Haden hasn’t said when he’ll

pick a full-time coach.

”Obviously, we’re disappointed – especially when you don’t beat

UCLA and Notre Dame,” Orgeron said. ”That is what a head coach of

USC is supposed to do. What the future holds, we don’t know. But I

do know this: This group of young men and coaches will always be in

my heart for what they’ve accomplished through extreme conditions.

They’ve grown as a team, and I’m proud of them.”

Marqise Lee had six catches for 69 yards in what’s expected to

be the final home game for the USC junior, who won the Biletnikoff

Award last year before struggling with injuries all season long.

Lee claimed he hasn’t thought about his decision to turn pro, and

won’t decide until after USC’s bowl game.

”I’m upset that we lost, but when I think about the overall

expectation, you can’t really be all that mad,” Lee said. ”We

left some things on the field tonight, but we’ve come a long way

when nobody gave us a chance.”

Hundley saw the results a bit differently, of course.

”UCLA runs L.A. now,” the UCLA quarterback said.

Linebacker Myles Jack and defensive end Eddie Vanderdoes also

rushed for touchdowns as the Bruins earned their first win at the

Coliseum since 1997, retaining the Victory Bell with their biggest

margin of victory over their rival since 1970.

”Oh, we run this town,” said Bruins defensive end Cassius

Marsh, who killed two USC drives with back-to-back sacks and a

fumble recovery. ”It’s solidified. We’re 2-0. We won this game.

It’s our city now. They can come try to get it next year.”

The crosstown rivals had rarely been so evenly matched heading

into their annual meeting. UCLA and USC hadn’t been next to each

other in the AP rankings for the game since 1976, and both schools

are headed to bowl games after solid seasons.

The result only revealed just how much has changed in Los

Angeles football since the Trojans beat UCLA 50-0 on this field

just two years ago.

”You win two in a row in this town, and things start to

change,” UCLA coach Jim Mora said. ”If I’m a high school player,

I want to play at UCLA. … There’s nothing like tonight. You don’t

get that in the NFL. That was more exciting than the dang Super

Bowl.”

Jack scored UCLA’s first points with a 3-yard TD run. UCLA added

an 80-yard scoring drive early in the second quarter ending in a TD

run by the 305-pound Vanderdoes, who committed to USC and Notre

Dame before switching from the Irish to UCLA earlier this year.

The Trojans replied with an 11-yard TD run by Allen, who has

seized the top job at Tailback U. from injured Silas Redd and Tre

Madden.

UCLA’s offense was stopped on fourth down at the USC 12 late in

the first half, but the Bruins went up 21-7 early in the second

half on an 11-yard TD draw by Hundley, who went in untouched.

The Trojans responded with a 22-yard TD pass to Grimble, but the

Bruins got another huge kick return from Ishmael Adams and scored

less than three minutes later. Hundley took it in on a 5-yard run,

beating USC’s Devon Kennard to the corner for his second TD.

USC had chances late, but couldn’t convert. After Jack recovered

a fumble early in the quarter, Anthony Barr swatted the ball out of

Kessler’s hand from behind with 6 minutes left, and Marsh fell on

the fumble near midfield. UCLA’s Paul Perkins ran in the clinching

TD from 8 yards out with 3:50 to play.