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Trojans come to pass

Booty keeps throwing it in the second half, and Jarrett and Smith key dominating win

January 02, 2007|Gary Klein | Times Staff Writer

The last time USC quarterback John David Booty trotted off the field at the Rose Bowl, the Trojans' hopes for a national championship trailed in his wake, the dream ending against UCLA on a tipped pass and interception.

On Monday, after leading eighth-ranked USC to a 32-18 victory over third-ranked Michigan in the 93rd Rose Bowl game, Booty stood in the middle of the field amid celebrating teammates and awakened dreams for next year.

"It's a lot different," he said, grinning. "A lot different."

On a postcard-perfect afternoon in the Arroyo Seco, Booty threw four second-half touchdowns as the Trojans bounced back from their stunning defeat with a dominant second-half performance before 93,852.

Booty's big game sparked memories of the 2004 Rose Bowl when Trojans quarterback Matt Leinart passed for three touchdowns and caught a pass for another against Michigan. The game kick-started Leinart's drive to the 2004 Heisman Trophy and the Trojans' run to the Bowl Championship Series title.

"That looked familiar," said Leinart, who watched the game from the USC sideline. "This will put him on the map and start his Heisman campaign."

USC also conjured memories of the 2004 Rose Bowl by shutting down the Wolverines' high-powered running game and harassing quarterback Chad Henne with a flurry of sacks that helped the Trojans finish 11-2.

Coach Pete Carroll bounced along the sideline throughout the third and fourth quarters while the Trojans turned a 3-3 tie at halftime into a runaway victory reminiscent of Trojans teams of the past.

The night before the game, Carroll had addressed the need to do just that.

"The statement I said to the guys was, whether you can quantify it or not, we're the best team in the country the last five years, and every time we go out it is our challenge to prove that," said Carroll, who is 65-12 in six seasons, 59-6 in the last five. "Let's make sure with this opportunity we have, let's go make this statement again about what we're all about."

The Trojans did it by putting the ball in Booty's right hand again and again in the second half. Most of the time he found junior split end Dwayne Jarrett or senior flanker Steve Smith.

During one stretch, the Trojans passed or had Booty run quarterback sneaks on 29 consecutive plays.

"I wasn't going to take the ball out of John David's and Steve's and Dwayne's hands," offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin said. "I called [Booty] on the phone and told him, 'We're going to throw the ball every single time.' "

Jarrett got the same message.

"I was like, 'Yeah!' That's what I wanted to hear," said Jarrett, who finished with 11 receptions for 205 yards and two touchdowns.

Said Smith, who had seven catches for 108 yards: "We knew we could explode if the ball was in the air."

Booty threw touchdown passes to Chris McFoy and Jarrett in the third quarter and to Jarrett and Smith in the fourth. He completed 27 of 45 passes for 391 yards without an interception.

Meanwhile, the Trojans defenders shut down running back Mike Hart, allowing them to cut loose and go after Henne.

Hart, who finished fifth in the Heisman balloting, came in averaging 126 yards a game. But the Trojans limited the junior to a season-low 47 yards in 17 carries.

Henne passed for 309 yards and two touchdowns, but was sacked six times.

"I pretty much knew where their blitzes were coming from, but we just didn't get it done," Henne said. "Their speed overcame ours."

USC linebacker Brian Cushing led the charge, recording four tackles for losses, including 2 1/2 sacks. Linebacker Dallas Sartz, nose tackle Sedrick Ellis, tackle Fili Moala and cornerback Terrell Thomas also got to Henne.

"We were coming at them from all different angles," said Cushing, who also forced a fumble.

Michigan (11-2) had not played since Nov. 18, when it lost its chance for a BCS title-game spot by losing to Ohio State. USC was playing for the first time since the Dec. 2 loss to UCLA.

The rust showed during an uneventful first half, then USC defensive end Lawrence Jackson sparked the Trojans by intercepting a screen pass.

"I saw the quarterback holding the ball and looking for somebody to throw to and he threw it right to me," Jackson said. "I'm just glad I made the play because it happened at practice and the coaches got mad because I dropped it."

Four plays later, Booty found McFoy for a two-yard touchdown and a 10-3 lead.

Michigan went three and out on the ensuing possession and Booty capped a five-play drive with a 22-yard touchdown to Jarrett.

After Cushing sacked Henne and forced him to fumble, Mario Danelo kicked a 26-yard field goal near the end of the third quarter for a 19-3 lead.

Henne brought the Wolverines to within 19-11 on a touchdown pass to Adrian Arrington early in the final period, but Booty answered with a season-long 62-yard touchdown pass to Jarrett.

The Trojans went ahead, 32-11, on Booty's seven-yard touchdown pass to Smith with 6:52 left and the celebration began.

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