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SPORTS EXTRA / COLLEGE FOOTBALL | NOTES

Ending Was Hit and Miss

November 04, 2001|DAVID WHARTON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

USC's players and coaches acknowledged that things looked grim as Oregon State kicker Ryan Cesca lined up for two late field-goal attempts that might have won the game at the Coliseum on Saturday. But Coach Pete Carroll said he never gave up hope of a miss.

"These guys are college kids," he said. "It happens in the NFL, so it can certainly happen in college."

Though Cesca had made eight of 10 attempts this season, his fourth-quarter kicks went wide left and right, respectively.

"He has to realize that more than one guy lost this game," quarterback Jonathan Smith said. "A lot of guys contributed to this. It was tough looking the defense in the eyes. They played so well but we didn't put enough points on the board."

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When quarterback Carson Palmer scored the winning touchdown in overtime, dozens of USC players rushed off the bench to pile on him. The next thing he knew, Palmer was trapped beneath a mass of bodies with someone's foot on his throat.

Later, he had trouble remembering his touchdown run, saying the celebration had jarred him.

"That was definitely the hardest hit I've taken all season," he said. "I was scared to death."

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The USC offensive line was juggled Saturday. After tackle Jacob Rogers suffered a hyperextended elbow in the first quarter, guard Norm Katnik, who has also played center, switched to tackle and Faaesea Mailo came in at guard. Then, when guard Zach Wilson was pulled from the game after committing a personal foul, Nate Steinbacher came in.

Meanwhile, with tailback Sunny Byrd carrying 20 times for 54 yards, an injured Sultan McCullough could only watch from the sideline.

McCullough ranks among the top rushers in the Pacific 10 Conference but has not played since early in the Arizona State game because of a nagging abdominal injury.

Asked if he has given up hope of playing again this season, he answered: "Never. But if it happens, I'm preparing myself."

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With 11 first downs and 204 yards, this was the Trojans' lowest offensive output in a victory since they defeated Baylor, 17-14, in 1986 with only 197 yards. ... Defensive end Lonnie Ford missed the end of the game with a stinger and is listed as possible for next week.

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