(Saturday, August 30th)
Final Score: (3) Southern California 52, Virginia 7
Charlottesville, VA (Sports Network) - Mark Sanchez showed no ill effects of his recent knee injury, throwing for 338 yards and three touchdowns to lead No. 3 USC to a 52-7 stomping of Virginia in the season opener for both clubs.
Sanchez, who dislocated his left kneecap on August 8, completed 26-of-35 passes and had one interception for the Trojans (1-0), who have won 11 straight season openers. Damian Williams had seven catches for 91 yards, and Ronald Johnson caught three balls for 78 yards, one a 49-yard touchdown for USC, which found the end zone on its first three possessions and never looked back.
C.J. Gable gained 73 yards on nine carries, highlighted by a 33-yard touchdown run for the Trojans, the six-time defending Pac-10 champions who are coming off an 11-2 campaign and a Rose Bowl rout of Illinois.
Sophomore Peter Lalich completed 18-of-35 passes for 155 yards, no touchdowns, and an interception for the Cavaliers (0-1), who went 9-4 last season. Mikell Simpson's seven-yard touchdown was the lone score for Virginia, which was outgained in total yardage 558-187, and managed just 32 rushing yards as a team.
"USC was a big, powerful, fast team with superior quarterback play today," said Virginia head coach Al Groh. "We were anything but big and fast. Our quarterback turned the ball over too many times."
The Trojans put 21 points on the scoreboard before Virginia managed a first down on offense, and dominated throughout the game on both sides of the ball. Sanchez was sharp from the start, completing three straight passes to start an eight-play, 56-yard drive capped by a two-yard scoring run by Stafon Johnson, and USC took a 7-0 lead with 10:29 left in the first quarter.
The Trojans kept rolling on their second drive, a five-play, 47-yard march that Joe McKnight finished off when he took a middle screen pass from Sanchez and rumbled 10 yards for the touchdown, and a 14-0 Trojans edge with seven minutes left.
Gable's 33-yard scoring scamper with 4:01 left in the first boosted USC to a commanding 21-0 lead.
The Cavaliers finally picked up a first down on the ensuing drive, which was aided greatly by USC. The Trojans were penalized for roughing the passer and pass interference on consecutive plays, moving Virginia to the USC 29-yard- line. Simpson's seven-yard scoring run with 2:14 left in the first briefly cut the deficit to 14 points for Virginia, but, without further help from USC penalties, the Cavaliers couldn't sustain anything on offense.
"They are big, fast veteran players who know how to run their scheme," said Groh. "They were second in the country last year. They are a very talented defense."
Trojans kicker David Buehler banged in a 20-yard field goal with 9:07 remaining in the second quarter, and USC's offense finally slowed down for a bit, as the score held at 24-7 at the intermission. The Trojans outscored Virginia 28-0 after the half to blow the game wide open, though.
Patrick Turner's 20-yard scoring grab capped USC's seven-play, 82-yard drive to open the second half, and the Trojans took a 31-7 lead. Sanchez continued to shred the UVA secondary, and a 49-yard scoring strike to Ronald Johnson pushed the Trojans lead to 31 points with 3:28 left in the third.
"Mark really has the eyes for getting the ball down the field," said USC head coach Pete Carroll. "You give him time and he'll find guys who'll take advantage of it. He has a way of taking advantage of the system that we have. Mark did a good job by readily attacking those guys. So, there were nothing but good things today."
Allen Bradford's two-yard scoring run and Marc Tyler's 10-yard touchdown rush in the fourth quarter capped the rout for USC.
Virginia converted just 2-of-12 third downs, and lost the time-of-possession battle 36:31 to 23:39...The Cavaliers' leading receivers were Jared Green and Cary Koch, who each had three catches for 40 yards. Cedric Peerman led all UVA rushers with 32 yards on eight carries. Simpson had 18 yards on six carries...This was the first-ever meeting between the schools in football. USC is the first Pac-10 team to visit Charlottesville. It was also the Trojans' first game in the state of Virginia.
08/30 22:06:42 ET