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Oregon State stuns top-ranked USC

Sep 26, 2008 - 6:44 AM CORVALLIS, Oregon (Ticker) -- Call it the Corvallis Curse, III.

Oregon State shocked top-ranked Southern California, 27-21, on Thursday.

After surging to a 21-0 halftime lead, Oregon State (2-2, 1-1 Pac-10) saw its advantage cut to 21-14. The Beavers pinned the Trojans deep in their own territory with a punt late in the fourth quarter.

Safety Greg Laybourn then intercepted a pass from Mark Sanchez and returned it 28 yards inside the five.

A 5-6, 180-pound freshman, Jacquizz Rodgers scored from two yards out to make it 27-14 with 2:39 left. The PAT was missed.

The Trojans (2-1, 0-1) responded as Sanchez found Patrick Turner with a 14-yard pass to make it 27-21, but Oregon State recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock.

"I wouldn't take anything away from what they did," USC coach Pete Carroll said. "They were ready and they just beat us. The Pac-10 is ridiculously hard."

Rodgers rushed 37 times for 186 yards and two touchdowns. His brother James, a sophomore wideout, caught two touchdown passes.

"The guys up front did a good job,'' Jacquizz Rodgers said. "I'm hiding behind the linemen. I'm a small dude and they couldn't find me. USC is an aggressive team, and it gave us a chance to hit the cutback lane."

USC's Taylor Mays agreed.

"He ran the ball hard, he ran the ball with a lot of heart," the safety said. "He was not intimidated. He wasn't scared at all."

Oregon State outgained USC, 343-313, and dominated time of possession, 37:49-22:11. The Trojans managed only 86 yards on the ground. They also hurt themselves with two turnovers and seven penalties, totaling 84 yards.

"They just beat us up, plain and simple," USC fullback Stanley Havili said.

The upset marked the third time the Beavers have shocked a highly ranked Trojan team; in 1967, Oregon State downed O.J. Simpson and No. 1 USC, 3-0; in 2006, they pulled off a 33-31 surprise over the then-No. 3 Trojans.

This was the first time a No. 1 team lost to a team with a losing record since 1990.

"We felt like we had great preparation, we thought we did everything like we needed to and then when we're out there it just didn't feel like it," Carroll said.

After sleepwalking through the first half, a gamble by Carroll ignited the Trojans in the third quarter.

After converting on a fourth-and-nine play from Oregon State's 40, the Trojans got on the board with 10:12 left in the third quarter as Sanchez connected with Ronald Johnson for a 26-yard touchdown strike.

Sanchez then found Arkansas transfer Damian Williams with a 29-yard scoring pass with 2:56 left in the third quarter to bring the Trojans within seven. Sanchez finished 18-of-29 for 227 yards with three touchdowns and an interception.

With 6:52 left, Oregon State attempted a field goal, but Clay Matthews Jr. deflected the kick, keeping it a one-score game.

The first quarter was all Beavers. They outgained USC, 99-28, had seven first downs to one for the Trojans and 7-0 on James Rodgers' eight-yard touchdown reception on a pass from Lyle Moevao.

They went up 14-0 on a two-yard run by Jacquizz Rodgers with 7:38 left in the second quarter.

After a personal foul on USC gave Oregon State a first down with 11 seconds left, Moevao tossed a three-yard pass to James Rodgers, who hauled in the ball after it was deflected by a Trojan defensive back to make it 21-0.

Oregon State had the ball for 19:46 in the first half and outgained USC, 220-75. The Beavers had 16 first downs to the Trojans' three. Jacquizz Rodgers had 21 carries for 117 yards in the first 30 minutes.

The halftime deficit was the biggest USC had faced since it was down 33-10 to Oregon State in 2006.

USC lost for the first time in five games on Thursday.