LOS ANGELES — Former Berkeley Prep standout Nelson Agholor had a breakout performance for Southern Cal late Thursday night and helped interim coach Ed Orgeron win his first game as Lane Kiffin's replacement.
Agholor caught seven passes for 161 yards, including a 62-yard touchdown, as the Trojans beat Arizona 38-31.
Clay Helton, the new play-caller in Kiffin's absence, dialed up an aggressive game plan that produced 546 total yards even without star receiver Marqise Lee, who sat out with a sprained knee. Helton regularly called long, daring pass plays — something the notoriously conservative Kiffin rarely tried. USC managed just one pass play longer than 60 yards under Kiffin this season, but the Trojans had two TD catches longer than that in the first 10 minutes.
Quarterback Cody Kessler, who finished with 297 passing yards, threw a long pass down the middle on the Trojans' first play of their second series. Agholor, the speedy sophomore who replaced Robert Woods in the starting lineup, sprinted to make a fingertip catch just 3:39 in to give the Trojans (4-2, 1-2 Pac-12) a 7-0 lead.
Tre Madden had a 63-yard TD catch in the first quarter as the Trojans had the Coliseum rocking in building a 25-point lead over the Wildcats (3-2, 0-2) in the first half.
"These men have been fantastic," said Orgeron, the stalwart defensive line coach before taking the reins. "We really have a close bond here."