They say there's no such thing as a moral victory in college football but Arizona's football players can feel pretty good about themselves after a 42-21 loss to USC on Saturday. In a game that the Wildcats were never given a chance in by anyone, the team stuck around for over three quarters.
After a poor effort against Cal, quarterback Richard Kovalcheck bounced back in a big way. Kovalcheck effectively led the offense downfield all game long, completing 16 of 25 passes for 180 yards, three touchdowns and an interception off of a deflected pass.
Darrell Brooks had a game-high 14 tackles and defensive end Copeland Bryan did a great job of putting pressure on USC quarterback Matt Leinart all game long.
USC's offense didn't have much trouble with the Arizona defense, compiling 724 yards, but the Wildcats held tough throughout most of the game. Kovalcheck especially deserves credit because Mike Bell and the Arizona running game never got going.
Tailback LenDale White was the star for USC, running the ball 25 times for 180 yards and four touchdowns. One of the best backs in the country, there's no shame in allowing White to go off.
USC got on the board first after driving the length of the field. White scored on a one-yard run, giving USC a 7-0 lead. The Wildcats came right back and scored on a four-yard pass from Kovalcheck to tight end Brad Wood, tying the game 7-7, which was the final score of the first quarter.
The only points in the second quarter came towards the end of the half when Leinart found receiver Dwayne Jarrett in the middle of the field for a touchdown. The Wildcats went into the half down 14-7.
The Trojans quickly drove down the field and scored in the second half off of a two-yard run by White. Arizona fought back and scored again when Kovalcheck found receiver Mike Thomas on the right side of the end zone, making the score 21-14 in USC's favor.
White scored again, capping another huge USC drive and down 28-14, it didn't look good for Arizona. However, after Syndric Steptoe had a 77-yard punt return and a few players later, Kovalcheck found Gilbert Harris in the end zone to make it a seven point game.
After that, it was all USC. Leinart found Jarrett for a touchdown and soon after, White scored to give USC a 42-21 advantage, which also happened to be the final score. Arizona had a chance to get within seven but the Wildcats couldn't convert on 4th and 2 just yards away from the USC end zone.
Up next for the UA is Stanford next Saturday at Arizona Stadium.
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