No. 1 USC got another major scare Saturday night. But the electrifying Reggie Bush wouldn't let the Trojans lose. Bush, making a strong...
LOS ANGELES — No. 1 USC got another major scare Saturday night. But the electrifying Reggie Bush wouldn’t let the Trojans lose.
Bush, making a strong Heisman Trophy statement, ran for a career-high 294 yards on 23 carries and scored twice, leading the Trojans to a wild 50-42 victory over No. 16 Fresno State and keeping their hopes alive for an unprecedented third straight national championship.
Bush, a Heisman finalist as a sophomore last year, also caught three passes for 68 yards and set a Pac-10 record with 513 all-purpose yards.
The win was the 33rd straight for USC and its 26th in a row at the Los Angeles Coliseum, where a crowd of 90,007 watched the 23-point underdog Bulldogs give the Trojans all they could handle.
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USC (11-0) kept its streak alive Oct. 15 by scoring on a 1-yard run by Matt Leinart with 3 seconds remaining for a 34-31 victory over Notre Dame. This game came close to rivaling that one in fourth-quarter drama.
Fresno State scored twice in a span of 12 seconds to take a 42-41 lead with 9:47 left. After Paul Pinegar’s 6-yard touchdown pass to Joe Fernandez, Bush made perhaps his only mistake of the game, fumbling the ensuing kickoff. Jason Huss recovered, and Wendell Mathis ran 18 yards for a touchdown on the next play.
The Trojans then moved 89 yards to take a 47-42 lead, scoring on a 2-yard run by LenDale White. The big play of the drive was a 43-yard pass from Leinart to Bush, putting the ball at the Fresno State 21.
Three plays later, Lawrence Jackson sacked Pinegar and forced a fumble, which Brian Cushing recovered at the Fresno State 15. That set up a 26-yard field goal by Mario Danelo with 3:06 to play to complete the scoring.
The Bulldogs then moved to the USC 25 before Darnell Bing intercepted a pass by Pinegar at the goal line and returned it 40 yards. The Trojans then ran out the clock.
Leinart completed 22 of 33 passes for 200 yards and one touchdown. Pinegar was 27 of 45 for 317 yards and four TDs with four costly interceptions. Mathis gained 109 yards on 23 carries.
Pinegar passed for 203 yards and two touchdowns as the Bulldogs took a 21-13 halftime lead — the fourth time USC has trailed at the half this season.
The Trojans responded by scoring three times in the first 6 ½ minutes of the third quarter.