LOS ANGELES (AP) — Vernon Adams Jr. threw for 407 yards and six touchdowns and the No. 23 Oregon Ducks defeated No. 22 USC 48-28 on Saturday for their fifth straight victory.
The Ducks (8-3, 6-2 Pac-12) have not dropped a game since Adams returned from a finger injury he sustained in the season opener against Eastern Washington. It was the third game since coming back that he’s thrown for 300 or more yards and at least four scores.
Royce Freeman rushed for 147 yards in his seventh straight game going above the 100-yard mark for the Ducks, who awaited the outcome of Saturday night’s game between Stanford and California to see if they were still alive for the Pac-12 North title.
Oregon QB Vernon Adams becomes the first player EVER to throw 6 TD passes against USC. #USCvsUO Ducks 45 – Trojans 28, 4th Quarter
— CBS Los Angeles (@CBSLA) November 21, 2015
The Trojans (7-4, 5-3) were still vying for a spot in the conference championship game, but no longer controlled their own destiny in the Pac-12 South. The loss dropped USC to 4-2 under interim coach Clay Helton, who took over at Southern California after the dismissal of Steve Sarkisian.
Cody Kessler completed 30 of 41 passes for 248 yards and two scores for USC.
All of Adams’ TD passes went to different receivers. His six scoring passes were the most ever allowed by USC, and the senior transfer joins five other Oregon quarterbacks with six in one game.
A Southern California native who grew up idolizing the Trojans, Adams was intercepted in the end zone on Oregon’s first possession of the game, but hit Bralon Addison with a 48-yard touchdown pass on the next one.
USC evened the score on Kessler’s 27-yard pass to Darreus Rogers. The Ducks scored on the first play from scrimmage on the ensuing drive on Evan Baylis’ 52-yard catch from Adams.
Kessler’s 12-yard TD pass to Tyler Petite evened it again. But the Trojans got a scare in the second quarter when receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster left the game after a non-contact injury.
Trainers taped Smith-Schuster’s left ankle on the sideline and he returned. The sophomore, who had 63 catches for 1,160 yards and 10 touchdowns going into the game, was named one of the 10 semifinalists for the Biletnikoff Award for the nation’s top receiver this week.
Oregon pulled back ahead on Adams’ 37-yard scoring pass to Darren Carrington, then padded the lead with a 30-yard TD pass to Kani Benoit. The Ducks closed out the first half with Aidan Schneider’s 37-yard field goal for a 31-14 lead.
Adams had 313 yards passing and four touchdowns in the first half alone, his third game with as many yards and TDs since returning from a broken index finger. The senior transfer was hurt in the opener against his former school, Eastern Washington, then struggled until Oregon shut him down for a couple of games to heal.
Last weekend in Oregon’s 38-36 victory at Stanford, Adams threw for 205 yards and two touchdowns, and the Ducks all but spoiled the Cardinal’s shot at playoff spot.
Adams hit Dwayne Stanford with a 21-yard TD pass early in the third quarter, but USC closed the gap with consecutive touchdowns: Ronald Jones’ 12-yard rush and Adoree Jackson’s 41-yard punt return.
But Adams then found two-way player Charles Nelson in the end zone with a 26-yard pass and the Ducks pushed their lead to 45-28.
The Trojans were playing without starting inside linebackers freshman Cameron Smith and senior Lamar Dawson because of season-ending injuries last week in USC’s 27-24 victory at Colorado.
The two teams hadn’t met since 2012, when the Ducks won 62-51 in Los Angeles.
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