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USC beats Hawaii in season opener

  • USC Trojan kicker Andre Heidari drew first blood with a field goal against the Hawaii Warriors in the first quarter today making the score three to zero. (GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARADVERTISER.COM) CLICK HERE FOR MORE PHOTOS

A woeful performance by the University of Hawaii offense gave No. 24-ranked Southern California all the opening it needed as the Trojans won tonight’s nonconference football game 30-13 before a crowd of 34,495 at Aloha Stadium.

Hawaii quarterback Taylor Graham threw four interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown in an inauspicious start for the transfer from Ohio State. He completed only 16 of 41 passes for 208 yards and one touchdown. In his defense, a half-dozen passes were dropped.

Part of the problem is the offensive line couldn’t block; the running backs gained only 40 yards on 23 carries, Graham was sacked seven times and his receivers couldn’t get open quickly enough for him to get the ball out.

The first two offensive series for UH were typical of the entire game and resulted in a punt and an interception, giving the Trojans excellent field position both times. But thanks to a questionable fourth-down call that resulted in an incompletion for USC on the first drive and a nice defensive stand by UH on the second, USC led only 3-0 at the end of the first quarter.

The eight-play scoring drive for USC stalled at the Warriors’ 3 when UH held Tre Madden to 1 yard on a pitch play, resulting in the 20-yard field goal by the Trojans’ Andre Heidari.

Hawaii scored its first points of the year on a safety by linebacker Art Laurel as he sacked USC quarterback Cody Kessler deep in his end zone on a first-and-10 play at the USC 1 to make it 3-2 USC with 14:06 remaining in the second quarter.

Hawaii came back with a 42-yard field goal by Tyler Hadden with 11:43 remaining in the half to give UH a 5-3 advantage.

But a second interception by Graham later in the quarter gave the Trojans the ball at the UH 30. They would only need five plays to score their opening touchdown of the year; a 19-yard strike from Kessler to Nelson Agholor, who beat UH cornerback Ne’Quan Phillps on the play.

Hawaii turned the ball over again on the next series. Graham’s pass to Marcus Kemp was dropped and snagged in midair by USC defensive back Josh Shaw, who returned it 35 yards for the score as USC opened its advantage to 17-5 with 2:49 left in the half.

The Trojans added three points late on a 52-yard field goal by Heidari as time ran out in the second quarter and managed another three by the USC kicker with 13:10 remaining in the game from 22 yards out to make it 23-5 USC.

The Trojans scored a touchdown with 42 seconds remaining on a 3-yard run by freshman Justin Davis to make it 30-5. They scored 27 unanswered points before Graham finally got in the end zone with a 60-yard touchdown pass to Keith Kirkwood, who dropped a long pass earlier in the game. The Rainbows converted the 2-point conversion to cut the margin to 30-13 with 30 seconds left.

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