Lee injured as USC falls 62-41 to Arizona State
That wasn't even the worst news.
Dominated by Arizona State's offense, the Trojans lost 62-41 to the Sun Devils Saturday night and may have lost All-American receiver Marqise Lee for an extended period of time after he appeared to injure his left knee in the fourth quarter.
"Obviously, it didn't look very good," USC coach Lane Kiffin said. "It didn't sound very good or look very good, so that's all I got for you."
There wasn't much that looked good for the Trojans on this night.
The offense, which had been inconsistent, was decent, gaining 542 yards and getting three touchdowns each from Tre Madden and Justin Davis.
Still, the Trojans (3-2, 0-2 Pac-12) had four turnovers — two on interceptions by Cody Kessler — and didn't put up much of a fight until after Arizona State raced out to a 27-point lead in the second half.
The defense, USC's strong point this season, struggled for most of the night.
Marion Grice scored four touchdowns, two on passes from Taylor Kelly, and Arizona State rolled up 612 yards against a Trojans' defense that had not allowed 285 yards or 14 points in any game this season. USC gave up 479 yards the previous two games combined.
Bad as that was, seeing Lee have to be helped off the field in the fourth quarter after becoming USC's all-time leader in receiving yards made things much worse.
"It doesn't matter who is on the ground," said Kessler, who threw for 295 yards and a pair of touchdowns. "They are our family, and we are going to be there for them. He was having a great game and working as hard as he could and it is really difficult to see that."
Two plays got Arizona State rolling.
Trailing by one after USC opened the third quarter with a quick scoring drive, the Sun Devils (3-1, 1-1 Pac-12) scored a pair of touchdowns 47 seconds apart to spark the runaway.
Kelly orchestrated the first, hitting D.J. Foster in stride for a 74-yard touchdown pass. Alden Darby was next, stepping in front of a pass by Cody Kessler for a 46-yard interception return that put the Sun Devils up 34-21.
Arizona State ran away from the Trojans from there.
Grice was the nation's leading scorer coming into the game and stretched his touchdown total to 12 — 18 in seven games over two seasons — scoring on catches of 11 and 8 yards and runs of 9 and 28 yards.
Kelly was solid , throwing for 351 yards on 23-of-34 passing
Behind those two, Arizona State finished with its most total yards in a conference game since gaining 667 against Oregon in 2000 and had its most points in a Pac-10/12 game since scoring 65 against Stanford in 2002.
The Sun Devils did it against a defense that had not allowed more 285 yards — 479 total its previous two games combined — or 14 points in a game this season.
"We didn't just win, we went out and dominated tonight," Graham said. "That was impressive. I was impressed with our team."
Already with a conference loss each, neither team wanted another; 0-2 would be a huge hill to climb toward a spot in the Pac-12 championship game.
Advantage: Arizona State.
USC looked good early, rolling over the Sun Devils on a pair of scoring drives in the first half. Davis capped the first with a 26-yard run and Madden the second with a 10-yard reception to put the Trojans up 14-7.
Not much went right after that.
USC closed the first half with a pair of turnovers — an interception on a ball that went off Lee's hands and a fumble by Madden — to set up Zane Gonzalez field goals.
Lee caught a 51-yard pass on the opening drive of the third quarter to pass Johnny Morton's school record of 3,201 career receiving yards, and Madden followed with a 24-yard touchdown run that put the Trojans up 21-20.
Then Arizona State ran away with it, sparked by the two quick touchdowns by Foster an Darby.
USC tried to rally, pulling within 48-34 on a 48-yard touchdown reception by Madden and Davis' 15-yard scoring run, but Grice put the game out of reach with his 28-yard scamper to the left pylon with just over 7 minutes left.
Worse yet, Lee, USC's All-American receiver, may be down for a while after having to be helped from the field by teammates.
"This one hurts," Kessler said. "I mean I feel that our offense played a pretty good game. There was definitely mistakes and turnovers that were there but we still should have put some more points up on the board."
It still might not have been enough the way the Sun Devils were rolling.
Our new comment system is not supported in IE 7. Please upgrade your browser here.