Ducks Get A Flying Lesson -- Usc's Johnson, Morton Combine For 2 Touchdowns
EUGENE, Ore. - Rob Johnson's passing performance was a thing of beauty. Oregon's fourth-quarter effort was just plain ugly.
Johnson passed for 307 yards and three touchdowns - two to Johnnie Morton - to lead USC to a 24-13 victory yesterday, the 15th time the Trojans have beaten the Ducks in the past 17 tries.
Johnson completed a career-best 28 passes in 36 attempts. He won a passing duel with Oregon's Danny O'Neil, who fumbled the ball away once, threw two interceptions and fumbled the snap on a fourth-and-1 play, all in the final quarter.
Had USC lost, the Trojans would have had to face a suddenly red-hot Oregon State team next Saturday that had more wins than the Trojans. Instead, the Trojans (2-1 Pac-10, 3-3 overall) and Beavers (1-2, 3-3) will go in even.
USC led Oregon 14-13 after three quarters, then scored 10 points in the first three minutes of the fourth period.
"We needed this," Morton said. "It felt good. I didn't care if it was by a point or I had one catch or whatever, as long as we won. Everyone's sick of losing."
Oregon, 1-15-1 against the Trojans since 1971, had five turnovers in the fourth quarter.
"When five of your drives end up in turnovers, you're not going to get too many scoring opportunities," said Oregon Coach Rich Brooks, whose team blew a 30-0 lead at California last Saturday.
Morton, who became USC's career leader in receiving yardage, caught touchdown passes of 72 and 10 yards. The second, against two defenders, gave USC a 24-13 lead with 12:06 to play.
"It was the same play we ran earlier for the touchdown. It was just shorter," Morton said. "He (Johnson) had no margin for error. He threw it perfect."
The touchdown was set up when O'Neil fumbled after being tackled. USC's Willie McGinest recovered at the Duck 5. That was the beginning of the end for Oregon.
The Trojans took a 17-13 lead on Mike Salmon's 33-yard field goal with 13:30 remaining. A personal foul against Oregon's Gary Williams for hitting Morton out of bounds helped set up the score.
Johnson had a string of 15 straight completions in the first half, including the 72-yard scoring play to Morton and a 44-yard touchdown bomb to Edward Hervey.
O'Neil had 13 straight completions during one stretch and finished 24 of 36 for 297 yards.
Morton, who caught seven passes for 113 yards, has 2,403 career receiving yards, breaking the USC record of 2,379 set by John Jackson in 1989.
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