Los Angeles, CA- Heisman trophy winner Caleb Williams led the No. 6 USC Trojans with 278 yards and four touchdowns in a 56-28 win over San Jose State in the season opener on Saturday at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
True freshman wide receiver Zachariah Branch made his sensational debut with a 96-yard kickoff return and caught a 25-yard touchdown.
The last Trojan to have a scoring kickoff return and a receiving touchdown in a game was Adoree’ Jackson against Notre Dame in 2016.
“There’s some big plays on all sides of the ball,” USC head coach Lincoln Riley said. “Some huge plays on special teams, but from a consistency standpoint it wasn’t there. We know we have a lot of work to do.”
USC took a 7-0 lead on its opening drive when Williams hit Dorian Singer for a 15-yard touchdown. It was Singer’s first touchdown catch as a Trojan.
San Jose State running back Kairee Robinson scored from a yard out to tie it 7-7 at the beginning of the second quarter.
In the second quarter, Williams fumbled the snap, picked it up and found a wide open Tahj Washington for a 76-yard touchdown and a 14-7 lead.
USC extended their lead 21-7 on running back Austin Jones’ 2-yard touchdown run with 3:31 remaining in the second quarter.
The Spartans cut the lead 21-14 with eight seconds left in the first half when quarterback Chevan Cordeiro connected with Nick Nash for a 28-yard touchdown.
USC opens the third quarter with a 10-play, 75- yard drive. Jones scores on a 3-yard run to give the Trojans a 28-14 lead.
True freshman Zachariah Branch took a short pass and ran past defenders for a 25-yard touchdown. USC took a 35-14 lead. It’s his first career touchdown for the Trojans.
“I didn’t really have any expectations,” Branch said. “Coach Riley and the rest of the staff just told me to go out there and don’t try to do too much, execute your job and the rest will follow. I was blessed enough to get those opportunities and I just tried to capitalize off of them.”
San Jose State answered with a 32-yard touchdown reception from Nash, who bobbled the pass but came down with the ball in the end zone. The Spartans trailed 35-21. On the ensuing kickoff, Branch returned it 96 yards for a touchdown to give USC a 42-21 lead.
After the defense forced a punt, Williams hit Brenden Rice for a 12-yard touchdown and USC took a commanding 49-21 lead in the fourth quarter. Backup quarterback Miller Moss added a 4-yard touchdown run to give USC a 56-21 lead.
USC returns to the Coliseum next Saturday to host Nevada. Kickoff is at 3:30 p.m.