It was unraveling rather quickly. Junior wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster had to be helped off the field — status in doubt — redshirt freshman quarterback Sam Darnold had thrown an ill-advised interception and Mike Fafaul, UCLA’s backup quarterback, had thrown a touchdown pass to give the unranked Bruins a lead over the No. 13 Trojans in the second quarter.False alarm, it turned out to be. USC rattled off 29 unanswered points to beat the Bruins 36-14 at the Rose Bowl on Saturday night to win its seventh straight game and keep its Pac-12 South hopes alive. With Utah losing to Oregon earlier on Saturday, the Trojans will claim the Pac-12 South crown if Utah beats Colorado next week.It’s also, of course, a rivalry win — the rivalry win.“It feels great to beat UCLA because it gives us bragging rights, and it’s also a good Pac-12 South win,” redshirt senior offensive tackle Zach Banner said.Darnold threw for 267 yards and two touchdowns, both to senior wide receiver De’Quan Hampton, who had the game of his USC career. Hampton’s three catches for 51 yards was more than the 22 yards he recorded the entire season leading up to Saturday. His score with 9:54 to play in the third quarter gave the Trojans much-needed separation.“I can say it was worth the wait,” Hampton said. “As much frustration, just being the position I was and getting the opportunity — when it came, it was all worth it.”Junior wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster catches a pass against UCLA. He dealt with an apparent hip injury all game long – Nick Entin | Daily TrojanSmith-Schuster appeared to injure his hip region while making a leaping catch in the first quarter. Despite receiving treatment from the bench and making a trip to the locker room, the wide receiver re-entered the game at several points, finishing with seven catches for 76 yards. Head coach Clay Helton said after the game that Smith-Schuster had a hip pointer.USC accrued more than twice the amount of total yards (527 to 226) and rushing yards (260 to 55) as UCLA en route to the Trojans retaining the Victory Bell. Sophomore running back Ronald Jones II led the way with 121 yards and a pair of touchdowns.“I thought that was the key to the game,” Helton said on the efficient rushing offense and defense. “It enabled us to basically hold the ball for 43 minutes and 47 seconds in the game.”It wasn’t entirely smooth sailing. With the game tied at 7-7 in the second quarter, USC appeared to swing the momentum in its favor after sophomore defensive tackle Rasheem Green blocked a UCLA 45-yard field goal attempt. But what followed was an unfortunate sequence of events for the Trojans.Darnold threw incomplete for Smith-Schuster on the first play of the series, but the wide receiver stumbled to the ground after the play and promptly left for the locker room. Two plays later, Darnold was intercepted by Fabian Moreau, who jumped the route of senior Hampton and returned it to USC’s nine-yard line.UCLA took two plays for Faufal to find Lasley again for another touchdown, this one putting the Bruins in front 14-7 and USC in the rare position of trailing early in a game. During their win streak, the Trojans have routinely jumped out ahead and set the tone.“It really showed the maturity of this team,” Helton said. “It did not see any panic with any of the guys.”Instead, the Trojans stayed poised and collected.It didn’t take long for them to respond, thanks to Jones blazing past defenders for a 60-yard touchdown run. Jones stutter-stepped his way into a big hole and the burst through, leaving the Bruins in the dust.“The offensive line did a great job setting up the edge,” Jones said. “Then I just cut upfield and it was off to the races.”After a three-and-out by UCLA, USC took its first lead on a 31-yard connection from Darnold to Hampton. Hampton reached up over Bruins defensive back Randall Gorfoth to bring down an impressive reception. The Trojans took a 20-14 lead after the extra point went off the upright.USC tacked on a field goal before halftime to take a 23-14 lead into the locker room.Adoree’ Jackson runs for a gain on offense in USC’s win over UCLA – Nick Entin | Daily Trojan“I feel like we’ve had a lot of adversity,” Jackson said. “We’ve been ready. When things happen like when they score quick … having that adversity in the past, when things like this hit, we don’t get rocky. We just keep going.”It was an inauspicious start for the Trojans, as UCLA found the end zone less than 90 seconds into the game. Fafaul found Jordan Lasley for a 56-yard touchdown, with Lasley slipping from the tackle of’ Jackson after making the catch.But after allowing 14 first half points, the defense clamped down, shutting down UCLA the rest of the way.“I thought the defense, who really all of a sudden has a hit to them in that first drive, they take a deep breath and the really showed great, great poise,” Helton said.The Trojans answered with a calm nine-play scoring drive, taking advantage of excellent field position at midfield. A spectacular catch by Smith-Schuster set up first-and-goal at the one-yard line, and Jones pounded it in to even the score at 7-7.Sam Darnold threw two touchdowns and two interceptions in the win over UCLA – Nick Entin | Daily TrojanFor all the concern about the early-game struggles, USC quickly erased any doubt of an upset. And though Darnold’s two interceptions raised some eyebrows — his second was a wild launch to the end zone from UCLA’s 44-yard line that was picked off — coaches quickly brushed it off as part of the unpredictability he brings to the table.“Certain animals are born certain animals, and you can’t change it,” offensive coordinator Tee Martin said. “I like that about him. I like that he’s going to push the envelope. He’s going to push the defense and see how much he can get.”Helton added his positives outweigh the negatives.“You take the good with the bad,” he said. “But thank goodness for us, there is a lot more good than there is bad.”USC ends conference play at 7-2 (they face a non-conference opponent, Notre Dame, next week) and will await the result of the Colorado-Utah game, hoping that Utes pull out a victory.“It would be awesome if they could get a win,” Darnold said.
tomorrowThe 2016 Clarendon Netball Association (CNA) season begins tomorrow at the Mineral Heights Sports Complex, with the start of the Jamalco Open League.As usual, the first day of competition will feature an opening rally of the 21 teams that have been registered. The opening ceremony, which begins at 1:30 p.m., will feature newly elected President of Netball Jamaica, Dr. Paula Daley-Morris, as guest speaker.Long-standing chief organiser, Winston Nevers told The Gleaner all is in place for asuccessful start.He said: “The people always look forward to the Jamalco League as you know that when Jamalco is involved the sponsorship is sure and things will be in place.”The competition is in its 17th year.Sporting Central, Jamalco head Venom on top in domino competition’s first roundVenom finished on top in the first round of the inaugural Orville Higgins/Caribbean Classic five-team franchises cross the table domino competition, which took place at Classic home ground, Portmore Drive.Venom finished on 63 points, five clear of Warriors in second, followed by Destroyers 51, Legend 49 and Punisher, who ended on 11 points, but failed to make it to the second round. All teams played eight matches each.The second phase of the competition gets under way tomorrow and will see the four teams that advanced playing each other twice, in a round robin format.At the conclusion, the top two teams play each other in the first preliminary round match, with the winner going straight to the final, while the loser goes to the second preliminary round. The third and fourth place teams play each other to decide who will take on the loser from the first preliminary round match. The winner of the second preliminary round match will move on to the final, where the winner will be crowned kingpins of cross the table dominoes.The competition will see the biggest monetary payout ever offered locally, with the winning team walking away with $600,000 and the second place team $400,000, while the team finishing third will receive $200,000.Mandeville hosts Street Gun contestThe Manchester Rifle and Pistol Club will host the first leg of the Jamaica National Street Gun Championships tomorrow at its Lincoln range, near Spur Tree. Starting time is 10 a.m., although the range will be opened at 8:30 a.m. to accommodate practice.The Street Gun contest is a popular shooting competition as it is categorised as a ‘minor affair’, meaning the firearm required is the regular carry-on weapon by ordinary licensed firearm holders. No rigs are attached, hence all competitors, including the established professionals, compete with the same disadvantages.Additional excitement is also created by the nature of the stages. There will be eight requiring only 100 rounds. The stages will be created to resemble practical scenarios and will test the shooter’s skill and ability to respond quickly.The organisers have promised trophies for first and second positions in each division. Food and refreshments will also be free.Tight battle for Manchester Major League semisWith just one round to complete, it remains anybody’s bet the three other teams that will join Hillstars in the semi-finals of Manchester Football Association (MFA) Magnum/Captain’s Bakery Major League competition.Hillstars are the unassailable leaders from Group One with 35 points and also the overall leaders in the 12-team slate. They are two points clear of their nearest challenger in Group One, but maintaining the overall lead is significant as the MFA awards a tidy sum to the team which accumulates the most points at the completion of the preliminary rounds, which includes return legs in group play, as well as cross zone matches.In the overall standings, Hillstars hold a slim lead over Ricam Academy (33) and Alligator Pond (32). Downs (31) are out of that contest, but are still in the pecking for a semi-final spot.Ricam, Alligator Pond and Downs are in a tight race to claim two semi-final slots from Zone Two. All three are therefore faced with must win scenarios.Meanwhile, Mile Gully (23) and Georges Valley (21) have the best chance of joining Hillstars from Group One. Either team must also win their final match and hope the other loses.In the penultimate round of matches played earlier this week, Georges Valley scored goals in the fourth and fifth minutes to defeat Greenvale United 2-1, Hillstars outscored Mile Gully 3-1, while in the biggest surprise of the day, Alligator Pond beat Downs in their own backyard 3-1.Clarendon netball season begins quarter-final chargeFormer National Premier League campaigners, Sporting Central Academy, as well as defending champions Jamalco, headline the qualifiers for the quarter-finals of the Captain’s Bakery-sponsored Clarendon Major League.Sporting Central qualified unbeaten from Zone Three with 20 points from six wins and two draws. They lead two other qualifiers from this group, namely Moores and Original Hazard, which both finished on 11 points. The latter qualified as one of two best third-placed teams, since there were three zones with two automatic qualifiers.Jamalco topped Group Two ahead of New Bowens. The champions mined 22 points from six wins and a draw. They scored 20 goals and conceded just once.Zone I, which featured the closest of the preliminarybattles, is headed by Kemps Hill (15), York Town (13) and Comfort (12).Starz Academy gain Manchester Division One leadStarz Academy have taken over the lead of the Jamalco-sponsored Manchester Division One. Starz Academy leapfrogged Technical Strikers after shutting out Mandeville United 3-0 earlier this week. They now have 10 points, one more than Technical Strikers, who have played one game less.Los Perfectos, who are making a return to the Manchester league after an absence of 10 years, are in third position with eight points from four games. Their second win of the season came on Tuesday, after a 2-0 effort against 360 degrees Youth Football Academy.Fourth on goal difference are Plowden, who walloped Epping Forest 4-0. They lead five other teams who have mined four points. Fourth is narrowly held on goal difference by Trinity, who have four points. In fact, the latter leads a quartet of teams who have also mined four points.Black Star, St Bess FC lead semi-final charge in St ElizabethWith just two rounds to complete the preliminary phase of the St Elizabeth Magnum Major League, defending champions Black Star sit pretty on top of the standings. In fact, their total of 43 points cannot be surpassed.Last Sunday, they celebrated their quarter-final berth with a 2-1 win over form team St Bess FC. On Wednesday, they added the scalp of Tafari Lions with a 1-0 win.Despite the loss to Black Star, St Bess FC (32) are still poised for a semi-final berth in their first year at Major League, after rebounding with a crucial 1-0 win over Holland Police Youth Club (28) who are also eager to make the semi-final cut.Other teams in the reckoning for semi-finals are Real Treasure Beach (26) and Appleton and Super Action. However, the latter two must win their remaining two games and hope for adverse results from the front-runners.Spit Fyah on topSpit Fyah domino team has carved out a four-point lead atop the standings of the City of Kingston Cooperative Credit Union Portmore Domino League after the ninth round of matches last Sunday.Spit Fyah (33 points) won their eighth match of the season, as they outclassed third place Right Stuff (29) 300-274. Spit Fyah’s nearest rivals, Exceptional International, cut down Soursop Tree 300-281. Exceptional International lead Right Stuff with a better points average.In other games, Waterhouse United got past Highlight Strikers 300-289, eighth-placed Eradication humbled Ken’s Wildflower 300-280, Fort International blew away Chedwin Strikers 300-266, Spring Village scolded Correctional Services300-268, while Garveymeade whipped Felluchie Strikers 300-258.Games on tomorrow (Home teams named first): Masterpiece vs Ken’s Wildflower; Exceptional International vs Highlight Strikers, Passagefort United vs Garveymeade, Spring Village vs Soursop Tree, Right Stuff vs Naggo Head, Chedwin Strikers vs Correctional Services, Spit Fyah vs Memory Lane, Felluchie Strikers vs Eradication and Waterhouse United vs Fort International.Cumberland, Racing replay for KO crownThe final of the York Pharmacy-sponsored Portmore Division Two knockout football competition between Cumberland and Racing United was rained out at the Cedar Grove Sports Complex last Sunday. A new date for this match will be announced shortly by the organisers.In semi-final action recently, Cumberland defeated Cedar Grove 2-1, while Racing’s win over Braeton United was a no-contest as the Gregory Park-based club ran out 4-1 winners over Braeton, the side that took home the midseason crown.Church cricket begins March 19The Power of Faith Ministries (PFM) Twenty20 Church Cricket League commences on Saturday, March 19, with adouble-header at Bridgeport Sports ground.Defending champions Power of Faith International will start against their brother team Power of Faith Development at 10 a.m., while at 2 p.m., Faith Temple New Testament will oppose Portmore Gospel Assembly.The league will be staged on a round robin format and the two top teams will advance to the final.”There is also a new development this year as an over-50 match is being planned during the course of the competition,” said Mark Williamson, coordinator of the competition.The competition is used as a tool to bring fellowship among churches and to seek souls for the Kingdom of Heaven.