Fright Night sequel is more of the same

Trojans throw a scare into top-ranked Ducks, but can't stop one-two punch of Darron Thomas and LaMichael James in 53-32 loss.

After last year's Halloween night massacre at Autzen Stadium, dubbed ‘Fright Night' by the Oregon faithful, USC was hoping to avoid ending up in a sequel Saturday night at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Unfortunately, for the Trojans, they forgot the first rule of all horror movies.

You can never keep the monster down for long.

The No. 1 Ducks used a 24-0 scoring run in the second half to defeat USC 53-32 in front of 88,726 on Homecoming.

Heisman Trophy contender LaMichael James scored three rushing touchdowns and had 239 yards on the ground, while Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas frequently found gaps in the middle of the Trojan defense, throwing for four scores.

The Ducks (8-0, 5-0 Pac-10) had 599 yards of total offense and yet USC (5-3, 2-3 Pac-10) seemed to play much better than it had the previous season, even taking the lead in the third quarter on quarterback Matt Barkley's 1-yard quarterback sneak for a touchdown.

"I thought we came out better than last year," said wide receiver Ronald Johnson, who caught four passes for 65 yards and one touchdown. "They are a lot better team also. We just got the other end of the stick."

But the quick-strike Oregon offense put together methodical drives of 12 plays to take back the lead and 11 to push its edge to 43-32 entering the fourth quarter.

Those drives took 4:26 and 4:03 as a team that rarely controls the clock held the ball for more than 18 minutes in the second half.

"Time of possession can be vitally important," Oregon coach Chip Kelly said. "Your four-minute offense can be as important as your two-minute offense. We did it. You got to be able to do it all."

"That's their scheme," corner Shareece Wright said. "You don't see no other team that plays like that. They count on the defense making mistakes. They just waited until we made the mistake."

The Trojans actually forced five punts, two after three-and-outs and defensive tackle Jurrell Casey intercepted Thomas, but couldn't sustain that success.

"We came out in the second half feeling pretty good," safety Jawanza Starling said. "It kind of got away from us there. Missing keys, that's how they get all their big breaks. Breakdown or mental mistakes, that's how they get big plays and their offense runs."

USC coach Lane Kiffin, seeing Kelly's ‘blur' offense in person for the first time, actually thought the defense performed well all things considered.

"I thought I'd have the feeling like I couldn't even breathe out there, it was so fast we couldn't get lined up. I thought we lined up well today compared to what some other teams had done," he said.

"If you're going to give them that many chances and fail that many times on offense, those are two great players. The quarterback and running back had career days today."

It was the offense, Kiffin said, that failed to hold up its end of the bargain.

"I thought our defense at a point played well enough to win and our offense was terrible today and obviously that starts with myself," he said

Barkley threw for 264 yards and one touchdown but also had three costly turnovers. USC ran for an average of just 3.1 yards per carry and was 8 of 17 on third down.

"We were in a rhythm and for whatever reason, we got out of it, then we went back in and then we went out of it. It wasn't consistent. That's what we needed tonight was four quarters of solid football," Barkley said.

"Finishing is what we didn't do, the first half and the second half. You can't win if you don't do that."

*Discuss more on the message boards

If you haven't subscribed to yet, give us a chance. Check out all the premium content and recruiting information you have been missing with a 7-Day Free Trial! Top Stories