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White, Bush Lay Trojan Groundwork

Freshman running backs each score two touchdowns to help spark USC offense.

September 14, 2003|Paul Gutierrez | Times Staff Writer

While everyone at the Coliseum was looking to the sky for the arrival of Hawaii's vaunted aerial attack, it was USC's freshman Thunder and Lightning ground game that propelled the No. 4-ranked Trojans to their 61-32 victory over the Warriors on Saturday afternoon.

While USC was merely hoping to establish a running attack, the tenacity of LenDale White and the game-breaking ability of Reggie Bush turned a tight game into a blowout.

The freshmen scored two touchdowns apiece and White had a game-high 58 yards in 10 carries and Bush 54 yards in nine carries. USC rushed for a season-high 164 yards.

"It was as we had hoped," Coach Pete Carroll said. "Reggie would be flashy and make people miss and bust the big plays and LenDale ... would pound away at it.

"I thought both Reggie and LenDale had terrific games to show what they're all about. We finally found the continuity up front that would allow those guys to play the games they did. That's a real plus for us right now.

"We need all the depth we can get and all the power and the explosion out of those guys."

Bush electrified the crowd the first time he touched the ball.

Taking a handoff from quarterback Matt Leinart, Bush hit the line and bounced outside to the left, eluding tacklers and finishing with a 23-yard touchdown run, his first career score, giving the Trojans a 17-6 lead with 4 minutes 58 seconds remaining in the second quarter.

He did it again, only flashier, with 10:43 on the clock in the third quarter.

Going left, Bush took a pitch from Leinart ... and fumbled the ball.

"I was thinking of scoring," Bush said of what went through his mind when the ball went through his hands and hit the ground.

Bush, though, did not break stride and the ball bounced back into his grasp as he took off down the left sideline again. His 27-yard touchdown dash ended as he dived head first, ball extended, into the end zone.

"I thought the safety might come over and cut me off and knock me out of bounds and I wasn't going to be denied on that touchdown," said the 6-foot, 190-pound Bush, who attended Helix High in La Mesa.

So the dive at the end wasn't purely for show?

"Nah," he said with a smile. "Well, maybe.

"But I was going to get in there ... by any means necessary."

White's first score came on a punishing five-yard run with 4:45 to play in the third quarter, putting USC ahead, 52-6.

His second touchdown came on a workmanlike 20-yard rumble in which a handful of Hawaii players bounced off him with 7:28 remaining in the game.

"We just try to come in and fit in where we can," said White, a 6-2, 225-pounder from Chatfield High in Littleton, Colo. "During camp, coach told us that we were going to be thrown into the fire early and he wanted to see how we reacted.

"We compete with each other, but we cheer for each other too. We're a big family."

Bush agreed, saying that he was not surprised by the freshmen's success.

"No, not at all because we're equally talented and we have our different talents that brought us here," he said. "I'm a speed-type back and LenDale's a power-type back, as you can tell. We get in the end zone differently.

"We needed to establish a running game, a good running game today and we went out there and did that."

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