Sept. 30, 2006
PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) - With All-America Dwayne Jarrett out, Southern California's other receiver was happy to pick up the slack.
"I knew it was my time," Steve Smith said.
The often-overlooked senior had a career-high 11 catches for 186 yards and two second-half touchdowns, and the No. 3 Trojans survived a scare from Washington State with a 28-22 victory on Saturday night.
"We are glad to get out of here," Carroll said after his team extend its school record for consecutive road wins to 18.
USC (4-0, 1-0 Pac-10) won for the 49th win in 51 games since its last loss outside California, in overtime to Washington State on Oct. 5, 2002 in Pullman.
The Trojans' only losses in that span were at California in 2003 and to Texas in last January's Rose Bowl.
"Steve Smith just rose to the occasion," Carroll said. "He had a fantastic game."
Smith had just 12 catches through three games. But that was before Jarrett stayed home with a strained shoulder he injured in last week's win at Arizona.
Smith continually converted key third- and fourth-down plays while getting walloped by the charged up Cougars' defense. The hits and big plays left Smith with dreams of Miami - which no one has even confused with landlocked Pullman.
"It feel good, similar to the (2005) Orange Bowl game when I had a couple of big-time touchdowns," Smith said of three scores that tied an Orange Bowl record and buried Oklahoma.
But this one wasn't nearly so easy.
The Cougars (3-2, 1-1) nearly rallied to steal their first home win over a top-five team since they beat No. 5 Washington in 1982. They got to the USC 38 and then spiked the ball with 3 seconds remaining. But Alex Brink's final heave was intercepted by Taylor Mays at the 4.
"I really believed that we were going to win this game," Cougars defensive back Husain Abdullah said.
He was beaten by Smith on a 47-yard catch and run that set up Chauncey Washington's 3-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. That gave USC a 14-6 lead.
"We're still in disbelief that we lost," Abdullah said.
The Trojans appeared to have the game in hand, when Smith ended a 17-play drive with an 11-yard touchdown pass from John David Booty with 5:52 remaining. That drive was extended when referee Jay Stricherz waved off a flag thrown by his linesman for USC holding on a 3rd-and-3 run.
"I would like to say something, but I'm not going to," Doba said.
But Washington State responded with Brink's 10-yard scoring pass to Dwight Tardy, who leaped and reached across the goal line to make it 28-22 with 4:18 left.
Booty, 23-for-32 for 269 yards passing and three touchdowns, then found Jarrett's replacement, Patrick Turner, for 8 yards on a key third-and-5 with three minutes left. That atoned for Turner's first-half fumble, which set up Loren Langley's second field goal.
The Cougars finally got the ball back at their own 23 with 1:04 left and no timeouts. But all they could get was a desperation pass on the final play.
Brink was 26-for-46 for 287 yards. He also had a 4-yard touchdown pass to Jason Hill in the first half. But his poor throw behind Cody Boyd on the subsequent 2-point conversion try kept Washington State down 14-12 at halftime.
Michael Bumpus had a season-high seven catches - by halftime - for Washington State. He finished with 11 receptions for 112 yards.
"We just didn't get it done," Brink said.
Not after Smith and Booty took over the game on a 99-yard drive in the third quarter. Smith drew a defensive pass interference penalty on the first play, then his kick-out block freed Emmanuel Moody for a 48-yard run to the Washington State 36.
After Smith's 12-yard catch on fourth-and-10, Booty found the senior running alone across the back of the end zone for a 7-yard touchdown that gave the Trojans a 21-12 lead.
Washington State answered by driving to the USC 2 before Brink was stopped by a swarm of Trojans on a third-down scramble. Langley kicked his third field goal, this one from 20 yards, to cut the lead to 21-15 two plays into the final quarter.
Booty was 10-for-14 for 153 yards passing in the first half with his eighth touchdown pass of the season, an easy 7-yard throw to Chris McFoy.
McFoy left the game before halftime with a bruised shoulder and had his left arm in a sling after the game, leaving Smith to star.
"I'm just a playmaker," Smith said of a team that has had plenty of those in recent years. "We feel we can be as explosive as those offenses were those other years."