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NOTES

Leinart Shoulders Key Task

September 14, 2003|Gary Klein and Paul Gutierrez | Times Staff Writers

USC quarterback Matt Leinart had an impressive passing game during the Trojans' 61-32 victory over Hawaii on Saturday, but he delivered his most eye-catching play with a block.

Leinart threw a screen pass to freshman running back Reggie Bush with just over a minute left in the second quarter. Bush ran toward the right sideline, then cut back across the field.

Leinart, a left-hander, lowered his right shoulder and took out cornerback Abraham Elimimian to spring Bush for a 28-yard gain.

"Reggie's a playmaker," Leinart said. "When he came back to the left toward me, I just lowered my shoulder into the guy. The guys on the sideline were fired up. So was I."

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USC junior free safety Jason Leach was as surprised as anyone else in the Coliseum when Hawaii's free-wheeling quarterback, Timmy Chang, tried to thread a needle with him in close coverage. Leach's first interception of the season ended with him going 25 yards for the first touchdown of his career with 5 minutes 28 seconds to play in the third quarter.

"I didn't think he was going to throw it at first," Leach said. "But he threw it and I just took off and got to the end zone."

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Sophomore receiver Mike Williams, who had a touchdown catch in the second quarter, has 18 touchdowns in 16 games.

He is averaging one touchdown every 5.6 times he catches the ball.

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USC freshman running back Chauncey Washington, who gained eight yards in three carries, suffered a sprained ankle.

Defensive end Frostee Rucker suffered a mild knee sprain.

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Hawaii Coach June Jones, one of the last practitioners of the run-and-shoot offense, said he was not disturbed that USC was still passing with a big lead.

"They run what they're supposed to run," he said. "If we're up, we throw it too as part of what we do."

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USC is 5-0 against the Warriors and has outscored them by, 234-50, in a series that dates to 1930.

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Hawaii plays at Nevada Las Vegas on Friday, so the Warriors will stay in Ontario through Thursday.

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In their 11-game winning streak, which dates to last season, the Trojans have beaten their opponents by an average score of 41-19.

The 61 points are the most the Trojans have scored in the Coliseum since getting 61 against California in 1994. It was also the most points scored by USC in any game since scoring 62 against Hawaii at Honolulu in 1999.

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USC has not allowed an opposing rusher to gain 100 yards for 16 consecutive games and 10 of the Trojans' last 11 opponents have not gained 100 yards rushing as a team.

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