Charles White demonstrated a pleasing flair for the dramatic yesterday, simultaneously setting a Southern California rushing record and preserving a victory for his teammates as the Trojans earned a Rose Bowl trip by defeating UCLA, 17-10.
UCLA had put some spark in an otherwise lackluster game by scoring on a scintillating 81-yard touchdown pass from Rick Bashore to Severn Reese to pull within a touchdown with five minutes remaining.
USC did the expected at this point and it worked beautifully. For eight of the game's last 10 plays, it simply gave the ball to White, and he responded with 42 yards. That brought his game total to 145 and his career figure to 3,739, surpassing Anthony Davis' 3,724. And he's only a junior.
The expected runoff between White and UCLA's Theotis Brown never materialized, as Brown was held to 15 yards on eight carries. Subtracting that 81-yard touchdown pass, UCLA's total defense came to only 135 yards.
Still somebody up there must like them. The Bruins were invited to the Fiesta Bowl at the games's conclusion.
At halftime there were signs of a tepid rout as USC moved a 17-0 lead.
The Trojans scored the first time they had the ball. They needed only four minutes to move from their 37 to the UCLA four. On fourth and one they settled for a 21-yard Frank Jordan field goal. Key play in the drive was a 26-yard run by fullback Lynn Cain.
In the second quarter, USC controlled the ball on every play but one - a UCLA fumble - in the first seven minutes 24 seconds. It scored two touchdowns by passing.
Cain was again instrumental in the first of the two scores. He scored four yards on a fourth down that gave USC new life on the USC 32.
Three players later, split end Calvin Sweeney burst past a lone Bruin safety to receive quarterback Paul McDonald's pass in the end of the zone for a 36-yard score.
UCLA took possession on the kickoff, but if shouldn't have bothered. On the first play from scrimmage halfback Theotie Brown fumbled and linebacker Garvey Cobb recovered on the UCLA 17.
It was a mark of sluggishness of the Trojan offense, however, that it took nine plays to reach the end zone. Three penalties, including one for delay of game, didn't help. Finally, McDonald passed to wide receiver Kevin Williams, who made a diving catch at the back of the end zone.It was his 14th catch of the season, the ninth for a touchdown.
While watching USC build its 17-0 lead, UCLA managed only one first down. The Bruins never got closer than the USC 39 and Brown, their top runner, was held to eight yards.