Smith shines in Jarrett's absence as USC survives late scareOct 1, 2006 - 2:39 AM PULLMAN, Washington (Ticker) -- Most teams would be in trouble if they had to play without an All-American wide receiver. Not Southern California.
With his star partner sidelined by a shoulder injury, Steve Smith stepped up with a sensational performance as the third-ranked Trojans escaped with a 28-22 victory over Washington State in Pac-10 Conference action.
Southern California (4-0, 2-0 Pac-10) was forced to take the field without All-American junior Dwayne Jarrett, who suffered a shoulder sprain in last week's 20-3 triumph at Arizona. He sustained the injury making his 32nd career touchdown catch, tying the conference record.
But Smith reminded the college football community on Saturday that he is no slouch, catching a career-high 11 passes for 186 yards and two touchdowns. It was the seventh career 100-yard outing for the speedy senior, who entered with just 12 receptions and one touchdown on the season.
"It reminds me of the (2005) Orange Bowl game, when I had a couple big-time touchdowns," Smith said. "I just want to play in the offense. I know what I can do and whenever they want me to step up, I'm here."
With USC clinging to a 14-12 lead midway through the third quarter, Smith took over on a critical nine-play, 99-yard drive. He caught three passes from John David Booty, including a 12-yard reception on 4th-and-10 and a seven-yard TD catch to make it 21-12.
"Steve Smith just rose to the occasion," USC coach Pete Carroll said. "He had a fantastic football game. He made tough catches, great catches, got open well. He just had a terrific game.
"I thought the throwing of John David was just spectacular tonight. I thought he did a fantastic job. What stands out in my mind is those guys hooking up and making plays when we had to."
Booty and Smith hooked up again with 5:52 remaining in the fourth quarter, combining on an 11-yard touchdown to put the Trojans ahead, 28-15.
But the Cougars marched right back down the field, closing within 28-22 with 4:18 left when Alex Brink threw a pass in the left flat for Dwight Tardy, who dove for front corner of the end zone to make it a one-possession game.
"We gave them too many easy opportunities and they took advantage of them," Carroll said. "They held onto the ball. I think they did a really good job."
Washington State got back the ball with just over a minute remaining with a chance to win the game. Brink directed an impressive drive, finding Michael Bumpus for a 21-yard gain to the USC 39 with three seconds left. But Brink's final heave was intercepted by true freshman safety Taylor Mays short of the end zone, ending the game.
Booty completed 23-of-32 passes for 271 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. Chauncey Washington had 18 carries for 72 yards and a score for USC, which has won a Pac-10-record 25 straight conference games and a school-record 18 consecutive road contests.
"The game's never over," Booty said. "We're so used to winning out there, but you do have to play four quarters and sometimes it might come down to the last series like it did tonight."
Smith was not the only receiver to step up for USC in Jarrett's absence. Chris McFoy caught an eight-yard touchdown pass from Booty in the first quarter, Fred Davis had five catches for 46 yards and Patrick Turner made a big third-down reception late in the fourth quarter.
"This is a good-looking offense," Carroll said. "This is a good group and they're going to give a lot of people problems. They're going to have a real good, solid season."
Brink went 26-of-47 for 284 yards and two touchdowns for Washington State (3-2, 1-1), which lost despite rolling up 416 yards of offense - the highest total against USC this season.
"We ran (our plays) and they couldn't stop it," Brink said. "We did everything we planned throughout the game."
Bumpus finished with a career-high 11 catches for 112 yards for the Cougars, while Jason Hill had four receptions for 49 yards, including his school-record 29th career TD catch - a four-yarder in the second quarter.
"It is something great to build on," Bumpus said. "Now we feel we can use this momentum going into Oregon State and we have our confidence up."
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