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COLLEGE FOOTBALL / WEEK 12 | NOTES

Palmer Not Ready to Give Up Starting Spot

November 12, 2000|DAVID WHARTON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Carson Palmer was gracious about being replaced in favor of Mike Van Raaphorst against Washington State on Saturday.

"I was, of course, sad," he said. "But Mike went out there and played awesome."

Palmer completed 12 of 26 passes for 145 yards and an interception in the first half. Coach Paul Hackett was upset that he missed on several long passes. Palmer said he understood.

"The quarterback's job is to win the game," he said. "When we're not winning, you've got to make the switch."

But when asked about playing against UCLA this week, the sophomore was insistent: "Do I want to start? Yeah."

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Van Raaphorst's entrance wasn't the only surprise for USC. For the first time this season, kickoff specialist David Bell was called upon to kick extra points.

Hackett had expressed displeasure when the usual kicker, John Wall, had an extra-point attempt blocked in double overtime at Arizona State last week. But after Wall improved the loft on his kicks, making a number of attempts in practice last week, Hackett said the job was his to keep.

Bell got the call because Wall reportedly suffered a slight groin pull before the game.

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It was midway through the first quarter, the score tied 0-0, when Kareem Kelly caught a short pass from Palmer along the sideline, slipped away from a defender and stumbled forward.

But before he could reach the goal line, Kelly--untouched--fumbled the ball into and through the end zone. It was the second time this season the Trojans have turned the ball over inches short of a touchdown.

Receiver Marcell Allmond committed a similar blunder against San Jose State.

"It's hard to fault someone for making an extra effort," Hackett said. "But you have to be smart."

Kelly, who admittedly had one of his worst games of the season, did not play for much of the second half, saying he was suffering from abdominal pain.

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Defensive lineman Matt Childers, who recovered a fumble to seal the victory over Arizona State, suffered a broken right arm and was scheduled to undergo surgery at USC Hospital today. He will sit out the last two games of the season.

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Chad Pierson wasted no time showing his career-best performance against Arizona State was no fluke.

Pierson, who started the season as a reserve fullback and has worked his way up to No. 2 tailback, took over midway through the first quarter when starter Sultan McCullough retreated to the locker room to change shoes and have his ankle retaped.

The 6-foot-1, 240-pound sophomore gained 29 yards in his first three carries, among them a career-best 18-yard run.

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