Sep 4, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA;   USC Trojans quarterback Kedon Slovis (9) sets to pass in the first half of the game against the San Jose State Spartans at United Airlines Field at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

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No. 15 Southern California pulls away from San Jose State

Greg Johnson’s 37-yard interceptions return for touchdown punctuated a strong defensive effort from No. 15 Southern California, and the Trojans overcame San Jose State’s own stout defense to win their season-opener 30-7 on Saturday in Los Angeles.

USC (1-0) intercepted San Jose State quarterback Nick Starkel twice, both of which led to Trojans’ touchdowns. Johnson jumped a route in the fourth quarter and streaked down the sideline untouched for a score with 11:42 remaining that effectively put the game away.

Trojans quarterback Kedon Slovis finished 25-of-36 passing for 263 yards and no interceptions.

USC struggled to put distance between itself and reigning Mountain West Conference champion San Jose State (1-1), which went scoreless for the game’s first 37:35 but pulled to within 13-7 on Tyler Nevens’ 2-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter.

After Slovis threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Tahj Washington in the opening quarter, San Jose State, playing an aggressive defensive style heavy on blitz packages, kept the Trojans out of the end zone for the next 40:19 of game time. The Spartans recorded eight tackles for loss on the day and brought consistent pressure on Slovis with three quarterback hurries.

Viliami Fehoko sacked Slovis in the early fourth quarter to limit USC’s most promising drive since the mid-first quarter touchdown.

That score — set up after edge-rusher Drake Jackson intercepted Starkel at the San Jose State 39-yard line — looked like it was going to open the floodgates for the Trojans.

Slovis found Washington, who went over a Spartans defender to haul in the score and give USC a 10-point lead less than eight minutes into the game. The Trojans scored on a 27-yard Parker Lewis field goal just 2:39 earlier.

But USC’s inability to complete drives relegated it to three Lewis field goals, all attempted in the red zone.

The Trojans finally broke through for another offensive touchdown when Slovis found a sliding Erik Krommenhoek for a 20-yard score with 2:07 remaining.

USC’s Drake London caught a career-high 13 passes for 144 yards, and Washington hauled in four passes for 56 yards.

Keaontay Ingram rushed for 86 yards, and USC totaled 423 yards as a team.

San Jose State totaled 356 yards, with Starkel’s 308 yards on 24-of-46 passing leading the way. The Spartans finished just 1-of-3 on red-zone opportunities.

–Field Level Media

Field Level Media
Sport Writer & Editor
FLM has a North American focus while tying into regional and hyper-local resources – providing the ability to distribute compelling content through the writing of professional journalists. As the U.S. sports content provider to dozens of digital and print media publishers through strategic partnerships with the likes of Reuters and Nielsen Sports, FLM covers the nuts and bolts with a breaking news desk and game event coverage.

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