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USC's D.J. Morgan has productive return

The sophomore tailback plays for the first time since undergoing knee surgery after the Trojans' season opener against Hawaii. Morgan finished with 46 yards in nine carries.

October 05, 2012|By Gary Klein, Los Angeles Times
  • Trojans tight end Randall Telfer makes a one-handed catch for a touchdown against the Utes in the second quarter Thursday night.
Trojans tight end Randall Telfer makes a one-handed catch for a touchdown… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)

SALT LAKE CITY — Tailback D.J. Morgan played, and produced, against Utah on Thursday night for the first time since undergoing knee surgery after USC's season opener against Hawaii.

Morgan, a sophomore, was needed because senior Curtis McNeal was forced to leave the game after the first series because of an unspecified injury.

Morgan, seeing spot duty in support of Silas Redd, rushed for 10 yards in two carries in the first half and finished with 46 yards in nine carries.

Redd ran for 77 yards and a touchdown in 18 carries.

Center of attention

Khaled Holmes' triumphant return to the starting lineup as USC's center got off to a slow start.

His second snap bounced to quarterback Matt Barkley, who was in shotgun formation. Barkley picked up the ball, but Utah defensive end Nate Fakahafua ripped it from his grasp and ran eight yards for a touchdown.

Then, on USC's next possession, Barkley bobbled a snap from Holmes and the fumble was pounced on by Utah nose tackle Star Lotulelei. Two plays later, Utah scored another touchdown and had a 14-0 lead less than three minutes into the game.

Lotulelei, a top NFL prospect, looked like a man among boys in the early going, but as the game wore on Holmes performed effectively and Lotulelei made few plays.

Heidari's streak ends

USC kicker Andre Heidari kicked a 32-yard field goal in the first half, but he missed a 40-yard attempt in the third quarter and a 45-yard attempt in the fourth.

Heidari, a sophomore, had converted eight consecutive attempts dating to last season before the misses.

Heidari suffered a knee injury in the opener against Hawaii and underwent surgery. He was sidelined for games against Syracuse and Stanford, but returned against California.

Telfer shines

USC Coach Lane Kiffin has said that tight ends Xavier Grimble and Randall Telfer could be future first-round NFL draft picks.

Telfer, a 6-foot-4, 255-pound sophomore from Rancho Cucamonga, looked the part in the second quarter when he scored a touchdown on a one-handed catch. The play pulled USC to within, 21-17.

"We practiced that play all week," Telfer said. "I knew when they called the play I had to score. The one-handed part was not rehearsed."

Telfer also blocked a 48-yard field-goal attempt in the first half.

Telfer appeared to suffer a right ankle injury with less than a minute remaining in the third quarter and he finished with just the one touchdown catch.

Grimble had two catches for 16 yards but dropped a pass in the end zone and had a 15-yard personal-foul penalty that helped stall a drive.

USC transfer to redshirt

Amir Carlisle, a former USC tailback who transferred to Notre Dame, will redshirt this season after suffering a broken ankle injury during the spring, Fighting Irish Coach Brian Kelly announced.

Carlisle rushed for 118 yards in 19 carries as a USC freshman last season. He also caught seven passes, including one for a touchdown.

Quick hits

USC improved its record in its series against Utah to 8-3…. USC tied its record for most consecutive games without being shut out. USC has scored in 186 straight games, tying a streak set in 1967 to 1983. The Trojans have not been shut out since Nov. 12, 1983, when they lost to Washington, 24-0, at Seattle.

Staff writer Mike Hiserman contributed to this report from Los Angeles.

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