Irish flounder against USC

Published 7:10 pm Monday, October 20, 2003

By By DAN WEISS / Niles Daily Star
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - After a productive first quarter, the Notre Dame football team's offense stalled, the defense turned into a sieve and the Irish suffered a 45-14 loss to Southern California Saturday.
The Trojans scored on their first two possessions in the first quarter, but so did the Irish. After that, USC kept rolling while Notre Dame floundered and found itself trying to catch up the rest of the game.
USC opened the game's scoring, taking the opening kickoff and putting together an eight-play, 80-yard drive that ended with Keary Colbert's 18-yard touchdown pass from Matt Leinart. Ryan Killeen kicked the extra point.
The Irish answered that score with a solid offensive drive of its own. Notre Dame went 73 yards in 10 plays and scored on a 22-yard run by Julius Jones. D.J. Fitzpatrick added the extra point.
The Trojans then mounted another 80-yard drive, this time in four plays, and scored on a 58-yard rush by Reggie Bush. Killeen's extra point gave USC a 14-7 lead.
The Irish tied the game just three minutes later when Anthony Fasano capped off a seven-play, 43-yard drive with his diving two-yard catch of a pass from Brady Quinn in the end zone. Fitzpatrick kicked what would be the last point Notre Dame scored.
USC continued to roll, covering 240 yards in total offense in the first quarter and taking the lead for good on a seven-yard touchdown pass from Leinart to Mike Williams.
USC scored just once in the second quarter, on a three-yard pass from Leinart to Hershel Dennis.
The Trojans totaled 340 yards of total offense in the first half and wound up with 551 yards in the game.
Leinert threw a seven-yard pass to Greg Guenther Jr. to start the second-half scoring. Killeen then kicked a 29-yard field goal and Dennis added a two-yard touchdown run.
Leinart finished with 351 passing yards, completing 26-of-34 passes for four touchdowns. The Trojans rushed for 195 yards, led by Bush's 89 yards on six carries.
Notre Dame covered 111 yards on the ground and 168 in the air. Jones carried the ball 18 times for 84 yards while Quinn completed 15-of-34 passes for 168 yards and one touchdown.