Trojans Fought A Good Fight Against Norte Dame
Los Angeles, CA - The USC Trojans (5-6) had a very respectable performance against the undefeated Norte Dame Fighting Irish (11-0) on Saturday evening. Considering that the Norte Dame came into the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum ranked third in the nation. The probability for an upset by the Trojans was very feasible and it would be a tremendous vote of confidence for coach Clay Helton and the program. After losing to UCLA their crosstown rivals last week (27-34), this would be the crowning achievement for their season. However, for Norte Dame, coach Brian Kelly wasn’t going to let his team come this far to fail with the College Football Playoffs clearly in their view.
In the first half, the Trojans surprisingly led the contest 10 - 7. It should have been at least 13-7 with a field goal, if they could have avoided a fumble in the red zone in the closing minutes.
Norte Dame ran out the clock to end the half. In the second half, the Irish led by Ian Book (QB) successful ceased the lead against the Trojans with a 24-10-point lead. The Trojans were held scoreless until the closing minutes of the game when TJ Daniels connected with Tyler Vaughns for a 20-yards touchdown. Now with only 48 seconds remaining and trailing by a touchdown, the Trojans had a slim chance for victory. The heroic final challenge was ahead. Unfortunately, the onside kick by Michael Brown was foiled as the ball was successfully recovered by Norte Dame.
The Trojans came close to defeating the Norte Dame, however, with two turnovers and penalties (8/71 yards) contributed to their downfall. The 24-17-point victory preserved the Irish’s unbeaten 12-0 record. The performance by Ian Book was comparable in yardage to that of Daniels. He passed for 352 yards (22/39, 2 TD’s 1 INT), while Daniels passed for 349 yards (37/51, 1 TD). The ground game by the Irish accounted for 121 yards (1 TD by Dexter Williams), while the Trojans tallied 94 yards (1 TD by Vavae Malepeai) for the game.
After the game, the big question was about the future of Clay Helton’s position. “The best is yet to be, I truly believe that,” said coach Helton. Despite the loss, he spoke his good confession of faith and it certainly came to pass with him retaining his job to fight on. He further said, “I am fully confident in the support that I have not only from Mr. Swann, and this administration. They have been terrific to me; our staff, and our football team. And I know that we’ll get their continued support. We’ll do a better job for them and the Trojan family.” Well, he got exactly what he mentioned at the press conference after the game, as Lynn Swann the Trojans’ athletic director gave him the approval to continue as their head coach. The successful accomplishments by Helton was winning the Rose Bowl in 2016, and the Pac-12 Championship in 2017 was probably the green light that prompted Swann to keep him at the helm. His overall record is 32 – 17.
Article Written By: Gary George, IVN Sports Writer