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COLLEGE FOOTBALL

USC-UCLA, 10 years ago

Kareem Kelly's controversial catch helped Trojans win.

November 26, 2009

USC 17, UCLA 7

Nov. 20, 1999, at the Coliseum

Setup: For only the fourth time in the history of the series and the first time since 1941, USC (4-6) and UCLA (4-6) both came into the game with losing records. Both teams were also without their top quarterbacks -- the Trojans' Carson Palmer and the Bruins' Cory Paus -- because of broken collarbones. Although UCLA had an eight-game winning streak in the series that was the longest in the history of the rivalry, USC tailback Chad Morton guaranteed a victory over the Bruins -- in August.

What happened: In a game that included a combined 25 penalties for 194 yards, UCLA compounded its problems with five turnovers. Freshman receiver Kareem Kelly scored both of USC's touchdowns -- on a 22-yard pass from quarterback John Fox in the first half and a controversial fourth-quarter reception that television replays indicated might not have been a legal catch because his first foot touched the ground out of bounds before he could plant his other foot in the end zone. The play gave the Trojans a 17-7 lead that held up, prompting USC fans to carry Morton off the field on their shoulders after the game.

The aftermath: USC defeated Louisiana Tech, 45-19, the following week to finish 6-6. The triumph over the Bruins started a seven-game winning streak in the series for the Trojans.

Memories: "We were pretty optimistic coming into the game," said Kelly, who would go 4-0 against the Bruins. "We had a pretty good team that year even though it didn't show in our record. We all vowed to play our hearts out and send the seniors out with a bang." Kelly said his controversial catch was a fade route designed to capitalize on his one-on-one matchup with Ricky Manning Jr., who was about two inches shorter. Kelly said he wasn't sure whether he was inbounds on the fourth-quarter touchdown: "I saw the referee throw his hands up. . . . At the time, it was said on the field that my first foot hit inbounds." Breaking UCLA's series winning streak was "a relief," Kelly said. "It was great to finally break that streak and start my career off on a good note."

-- Ben Bolch

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