YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

USC, Ervins Resurrect Offense in 66-10 Win

September 17, 1989|STEVE SPRINGER | Times Staff Writer

Offense? Did somebody mention USC doesn't have an offense?

Don't say that around the Utah State Aggies.

Criticized for their failure to score a touchdown in their season opener against Illinois, the Trojans took out their frustrations on Utah State before 54,209 Saturday night at the Coliseum, rolling to a 66-10 victory.

In their biggest offensive outburst in nearly two decades, the Trojans scored early and often, spreading their scoring among nine players.

They racked up 654 yards in total offense, 491 passing and 163 rushing.

The defense was also effective, holding the Aggies to 207 yards of total offense, including 24 rushing.

When it was finally over, even Traveler, the team mascot, was happy. He looked as if he could have used an oxygen mask after galloping around the track all night.

Admittedly, the Aggies figured to be overmatched, but Trojan Coach Larry Smith wasn't about to throw this one back.

"We had to win a game, and I don't care who we beat," he said.

Ricky Ervins led the way with a career-high 180 yards in 15 carries and two touchdowns.

"We needed this one for our confidence," Ervins said. "We got the win and that's what matters."

The 66 points were the most by a Trojan team since USC scored 70 against Washington State in 1970. It was also the most points given up by the Aggies since 1974, when Utah State lost to Oklahoma, 72-3.

USC's rushing game was most maligned after the 14-13 loss to Illinois.

No complaints Saturday.

USC gained 491 rushing yards in 49 carries, a 10.02 average. The Pacific 10 record (9.5 by Oregon State against Utah in 1951) is based on a minimum of 50 carries.

Also scoring on the ground Saturday for USC were Aaron Emanuel, Leroy Holt and backup quarterback Shane Foley.

Foley also threw a touchdown pass. Starter Todd Marinovich threw two. Freshman receiver Larry Wallace, who had never caught a pass for the Trojans, caught two for touchdowns.

Marinovich completed 10 of 18 for 92 yards.

"It's easy when you have the time back there I had tonight," he said. "I didn't get touched the entire game. People doubted us after Illinois, but I knew we had this kind of effort in us. The numbers don't surprise me."

Any doubts the Aggies might have about how bad it was going to be were quickly erased. The first time they gave the ball up, USC scored.

After a Utah State punt, USC put together a 53-yard, eight-play drive that culminated with Emanuel scoring from two yards out.

The second play of the drive gave the Aggies a clue as to just how futile this night would become. Ervins burst through the line for 46 yards, but the play was called back because of a holding penalty.

No problem.

Marinovich handed off to his other back, Holt, who gained 20 yards.

Less than a minute after their first score, the Trojans had Traveler running around the track again.

On Utah State's second play from scrimmage, quarterback Kurt Johnson lofted a pass from his 26-yard line toward receiver Keith Roberson.

But he lofted it much too high, over Roberson's head and into the waiting arms of defender Ernest Spears at the 38. With nobody between him and the end zone, Spears easily raced in to put USC ahead, 14-0.

A two-yard scoring run by Ervins and a 45-yard field goal by Grant Runnerstrum closed out the first-quarter scoring.

It was the USC's best quarter since scoring 27 in the fourth quarter against Cal in 1980.

The Aggies couldn't be blamed for looking for the quickest way to the Coliseum tunnel. Instead, they found a way to get back in the game briefly.

Taking over after Runnerstrum's field goal in the closing minute of the quarter, Utah State put together a 15-play, 60-yard drive that extended nearly six minutes into the second quarter.

With backup quarterback Kevin White leading the way, Utah State drove to the Trojan 16-yard line, where Russ Moody kicked a 33-yard field goal.

On the ensuing kickoff, USC's Gary Wellman fumbled, kicker Sean Jones recovered, and Utah State had the ball at the Trojan 26.

From there, it took six plays to score, the points coming on a 15-yard pass from White to Tracey Jenkins, who managed to grab the ball despite being sandwiched between Spears and Marcus Hopkins.

That made it 24-10, but Marinovich closed out the half with his first touchdown pass as a Trojan. The redshirt freshman hit Frank Griffin from four yards out.

The second half was more of the same.

Much more.

Ervins opened it with a 78-yard run from scrimmage down the left sideline that took him to the Utah State 14. It was the longest run from scrimmage by a Trojan since Zeph Lee's 94-yard run in 1984 against Utah State.

Holt followed Ervins' big gainer two plays later with his first touchdown of the night, going in from three yards out.

USC quickly got the ball back when linebacker Junior Seau wrapped an arm around the neck of White, forcing a fumble that was recovered by fellow linebacker Craig Hartsuyker.

This time, Marinovich went to the air, hitting Wallace with a five-yard scoring pass.

Los Angeles Times Articles