Coming Up Roses

Pasadena, Calif. - The USC Trojans, wearing their Cardinal jerseys, made themselves right at home in the Rose Bowl against the overmatched UCLA Bruins, cruising to a 28-7 victory. Look inside for all the details.

Pasadena, Calif. - The USC Trojans, wearing their Cardinal jerseys, made themselves right at home in the Rose Bowl against the overmatched UCLA Bruins, cruising to a 28-7 victory.

The Bruins showed a spark early in the first quarter, recovering a fumble by C.J. Gable on the Trojans' first offensive play of the game, and quickly turned it into points when Norm Chow dialed up a double-pass, which resulted in a 21-yard touchdown pass from wide receiver Dominique Johnson to Kahlil Bell.

"When they scored that first touchdown we just came back on the sidelines with all the players and told ourselves ‘we aren't giving up any more touchdowns," Rey Maualuga said.

"We came back and had a couple of three-and-outs and that showed our poise," Maualuga added. "We just had to bounce back and keep fighting."

The UCLA touchdown was just the fourth score that the Trojans have allowed through the air in 2008.

After the opening score of the game, USC controlled the game on both sides of the ball scoring 28 unanswered points en route to a convincing win over the rival Bruins.

"Defense was the key today," Pete Carroll said. "We played great and we only gave up one play."

USC's defense, which is unquestionably the top unit in college football, dominated the Bruins with their speed and aggressiveness.

UCLA became the seventh USC opponent to be held under 200 yards, when they managed just 157 yards of total offense.

By only giving up 7 points today, the Trojans finish the regular season allowing just 93 points in 12 games.

The Trojans top eight tacklers on the game were seniors.

"I'm especially proud of the seniors," Carroll said. "I was proud of their effort."

On offense, Joe McKnight got the Trojans going with a 12-yard touchdown run off the edge.

Mark Sanchez showed a lot of grit, passing for 269 yards and two touchdowns.

"Mark (Sanchez) really played terrific in this game. I was really happy how he bounced back and competed," Pete Carroll said. "This is the kind of stuff that you like to see your quarterback do."

Sanchez connected with Damian Williams for a 12-yard score in the first quarter of play, and capped off the scoring with an 18-yard touchdown pass to Patrick Turner in the third.

Sanchez's 30 touchdowns mark the fourth-most in a season by a USC quarterback.

Tailback Stafon Johnson also added a 2-yard touch down run for USC.

With the win the Trojans claimed their seventh straight Pac-10 championship and have all but assured another New Year's Day trip to Pasadena to face the Penn State Nittany Lions.

After the game, offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian officially announced that he was leaving to become the head coach at the University of Washington.

"We proudly send our guy off on this job," Carroll said. "We wish him the very best and I know he is going to do a good job."

Carroll said Sarkisian will stay with the Trojans through the Rose Bowl.


Taylor Mays and Rey Maualuga helped shut down UCLA's offense. (Paul Pinner Photo)

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions you can reach Kevin Carden at kevin@scplaybook.com


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