Trojans Trounce California Golden Bears, 62-28
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — Nelson Agholor had two of Southern California’s NCAA-record tying three punt returns for touchdowns and Javorius Allen scored three times to help the Trojans beat California for the 10th straight time, 62-28 on Saturday.
Agholor started the scoring for USC (7-3, 4-2 Pac-12) with a 75-yard return and added a 93-yarder late in the second quarter to help USC win for the fourth time in five games under interim coach Ed Orgeron.
Josh Shaw also returned a blocked punt 14 yards for a score earlier in the second quarter for the Trojans, who tied the record last achieved by Oklahoma against UCLA in 2003 when Antonio Perkins returned three punts for scores.
The Trojans had far too much speed for the Golden Bears (1-9, 0-7) to handle as Allen scored on runs of 43 and 79 yards and a 57-yard screen pass from Cody Kessler to extend USC’s dominance over Cal. Allen gained 192 yards on seven offensive touches.
The Trojans haven’t lost in this series since a triple-overtime defeat in Berkeley in 2003, outscoring the Bears by an average of 20 points in that span and not trailing at any point in a game since 2007.
The Bears failed to give first-year head coach Sonny Dykes a home victory against an FBS opponent in six games. Their only home win came was a 37-30 decision over Portland State of the lower-level FCS on Sept. 7. Cal has not beaten an FBS opponent anywhere since a 31-17 win at Washington State on Oct. 13, 2012.
The 14-game skid against FBS teams is the longest active one in the country and many of those games haven’t even been close. Cal has been outscored by an average of more than 25 points per game in that skid.
A coaching change has provided a spark for the Trojans. They have been much improved since Orgeron replaced Lane Kiffin after the Trojans lost 62-41 at Arizona State on Sept. 28 and remain in the running to win the Pac-12 South title.
After Goff threw two TD passes early in the second quarter to get Cal back in the game, USC scored three touchdowns in a span of 3:35 to break the game open.
The surge started after a rare positive play from Cal’s defense when Michael Barton sacked Kessler to put the Trojans in a second-and-18 hole. But Kessler dumped a short pass off to Allen, who did the rest by racing 57 yards for the score to make it 28-14.
The special teams took over from there with Soma Vainuku blocking Cole Leininger’s punt and Josh Shaw catching it at the 14 and running in for the score.
Leininger got his punt off after Cal’s next possession but the Bears had no answer for the speedy Agholor, who maneuvered through the Bears’ coverage unit for the 93-yard score. Agholor joined Mike Garrett as the only USC players with two punt-return touchdowns in a single game. Garrett set his record in 1965 at California.
Goff finished 34 for 48 for 255 yards and three touchdowns.
Dykes’ 44th birthday got off to a bad start and only got worse after that. The Bears punted three times, committed three personal fouls and allowed three touchdowns to fall behind 21-0 after the first quarter.
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