USC football: Trojans defeat Minnesota, 19-17
Shut out in the second half, USC held on for a 19-17 season-opening win over Minnesota on Saturday at the Coliseum when Trojans cornerback Torin Harris pulled in an interception near midfield in the final minute.
USC was up, 19-3, at the half, but the Gophers rallied behind freshman quarterback Max Shortell.
Shortell's only mistake was a pass he threw high trying to connect with Da’Jon McKnight. Instead of McKnight making the catch, Harris pulled it away, allowing USC to escape.
"We're not very good right now," USC Coach Lane Kiffin said in a postgame television interview. "We've got two good players on our offense. We have to figure out the rest."
Kiffin was obviously talking about quarterback Matt Barkley and receiver Robert Woods.
Barkley completed 34 of 45 passes for 304 yards and three touchdowns. Half of the completions and all of the scoring passes went to Woods.
Woods' 17 receptions established at USC single-game record -- two more than Johnnie Morton had against Houston in 1993. The three touchdown catches tied a school record held by several players -- including Woods, who had three against Stanford last season.
USC 19, Minnesota 17 (fourth quarter)
Those unsuccessful two-point conversion attempts are looming large for the Trojans.
Freshman quarterback Max Shortell connected with receiver Brandon Green for a 12-yard touchdown with just over eight minutes left to pull the Golden Gophers to within two points.
Shortell, who replaced injured MarQueis Gray, has completed five of 10 passes for 80 yards.
USC 19, Minnesota 10 (end of third quarter)
Trojans receiver Robert Woods has 15 receptions, tying the USC single-game record.
The sophomore has amassed 167 yards receiving and scored three touchdowns.
Minnesota quarterback MarQueis Gray was hurt at the end of the quarter and has been replaced by freshman Max Shortell.
USC quarterback Matt Barkley has completed 28 of 35 passes for 257 yards.
USC 19, Minnesota 10 (9:37 left in third quarter)
Minnesota took advantage of USC's first major miscue and turned it into a touchdown.
On a fourth-and-six play at Minnesota's 34, center Khaled Holmes snapped the ball to the left and over the head of quarterback Matt Barkley. Minnesota recovered the ball at USC's 30 and scored three plays later on Duane Bennett's nine-yard run.
MarQueis Gray has completed five of nine passes for 63 yards.
Bennet has rushed for 39 yards in 12 carries.
Barkley is 25 of 29 for 201 yards and three touchdowns.
USC 19 Minnesota 3 (halftime)
USC receiver Robert Woods was slowed by a high ankle sprain and a sore right elbow during training camp and practices leading up to USC's opener against Minnesota.
But you'd never know it.
The sophomore has caught 11 passes for 115 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Trojans to comfortable halftime cushion.
Quarterback Matt Barkley has connected with Woods on scoring plays of seven, 43 and two yards, the last coming with 49 seconds left in the second quarter.
Barkley has completed 18 of 20 passes for 163 yards while USC has gained 200 yards and limited Minnesota to 131 yards.
MarQueis Gray has completed four of eight passes for 47 yards and rushed for 29 yards in 11 carries.
USC 12, Minnesota 3 (4:07 left in first half)
USC went the entire first quarter without commiting an penalty.
But with Minnesota driving to the Trojans 21-yard line, USC was called for a personal foul after an incomplete pass.
That was enough to keep alive a drive that ended with Chris Hawthorne's 21-yard field goal.
MarQueis Gray had 17- and 11-yard completions during the drive.
USC 12, Minnesota 0 (second quarter)
Matt Barkley and Robert Woods combined on a 43-yard touchdown pass play to put the Trojans ahead, 12-0, with 9:25 left in the first half.
The Trojans have failed on both of their two-point conversion attempts.
Barkley has completed 11 of 13 passes for 112 yards and two touchdowns.
Woods has seven recpetions for 85 yards and two touchdowns.
Marqise Lee has three catches, fullback Rhett Ellison one.
USC 6, Minnesota 0 (end of first quarter)
Matt Barkley has completed nine of 11 passes for 60 yards and touchdown to give USC the early lead.
USC's special teams have come up big twice.
Matt Kalil, a 6-foot-7 tackle, blocked a Minnesota field-goal attempt and walk-on punter Kyle Negrete put a kick inside the five-yard line that was downed by safety T.J. McDonald at the three.
USC has held Minnesota to 46 yards.
Golden Gophers quarterback MarQueis Gray has completed one of two passes and rushed for two yards in four carries.
USC 6, Minnesota 0 (early first quarter)
Matt Barkley and Robert Woods wasted no time re-establishing their connection.
Barkley completed five passes to Woods during the Trojans' first drive against Minnesota, including one for a seven-yard touchdown with 5 minutes 52 seconds left in the first quarter for a 6-0 lead. Th eplay concludied a 13-play, 66-yard drive.
The Trojans' two-point conversion attempt failed when fullback Rhett Ellison took a direct snap and was stopped short of the goal line.
Minnesota drove from their 25 to the Trojans's 34 on the first possession.
But USC offensive tackle Matt Kalil, playing on the field-goal block unit, reached up and deflected a 51-yard field-goal attempt by Chris Hawthorne.
Photo: USC receiver Robert Woods celebrates with teammates after scoring on a 43-yard touchdown reception against Minnesota in the second quarter Saturday. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times