Rodgers puts a big rush on Trojans

CORVALLIS — Oregon State's opening drive set the tone in its upset of top-ranked Southern California Thursday.

After forcing USC to go three-and-out on the first possession, the Beavers marched right down the field for a 7-0 lead. Not surprisingly, it was the Rodgers brothers who highlighted the eight-play drive that took just 3:39 and covered 60 yards.

Freshman running back Jacquizz Rodgers carried the ball four times for 27 yards, twice going for a long of nine yards.

"Rushing stats and turnover stats are always big, and we out-rushed them by a lot," OSU coach Mike Riley said. "That is the major factor because USC had been running the ball well and had only been giving up about 50 yards a game rushing."

But it was Jacquizz's older brother, sophomore wide receiver James Rodgers, who capped the drive. He caught a screen pass from quarterback Lyle Moevao on the left side and took it 8 yards for the score despite a horse-collar tackle on the play. He also had a big 14-yard reception earlier in the drive that moved the Beavers inside the Trojans' 2.


RIDING JACQUIZZ: At 5-foot-7, 193 pounds, Jacquizz Rodgers isn't the biggest running back around, but he punished the Trojans all night. Just how good was he? By the 4:40 mark in the second quarter, he had already eclipsed the century mark in rushing yards.

He finished the first half with 117 yards on 21 carries. His 2-yard touchdown with 7:38 remaining in the half gave the Beavers a 14-0 lead.

"Our inability to stop (Jacquizz) Rodgers on the zone play was crucial," USC coach Pete Carroll said. "I am just beside myself. They didn't hide what they were doing, they just did it and we couldn't stop it. We couldn't tackle him. He had a great game, he did everything they wanted him to and gave them every chance to control the ball and get first downs."

Most impressive was the fact that Rodgers averaged 5.2 yards per carry against a USC defense that's known for being tough against the run. Rodgers finished with a career-high 186 yards on 37 carries, scoring twice.


STANDING TALL: The OSU defense came out strong against USC's explosive offense. It forced the Trojans to punt after only three plays their first two series, and USC didn't record a first down until seven seconds remained in the first quarter.

In the first half, OSU held the Trojans to 75 total yards while recording a sack and forcing a fumble that senior defensive end Victor Butler recovered. USC ended up with three first downs in the half. For the game, OSU held the Trojans to 86 rushing yards.

"We went against a great opponent with great coaches and great athletes," Butler said. "We executed to perfection."


MR. THIRD DOWN: Standout receiver Sammie Stroughter only had three catches for 42 yards in the first half, but all of them came on third-and-long and gave the Beavers first downs.

The end result: OSU scored on each drive Stroughter had a catch in. His most impressive catch was his first one. Facing a heavy blitz on third-and-six from his own 22, Moevao fired a pass over the middle that Stroughter laid out for and came down with for a 13-yard gain.


STILL CATCHING IT: Stroughter wasn't the only Beaver to come up with a big catch. With 11 seconds remaining in the first half, no timeouts left and 3 yards to go for the touchdown, Moevao lofted a pass toward the end zone that USC cornerback Kevin Thomas could have intercepted. Somehow the ball went off his hands and James Rodgers came up with the ball and managed to stay inbounds to give the Beavers a 21-0 lead going into halftime.

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