Strong defense leads Trojans past Aggies 17-14Southern California quarterback Cody Kessler passes during the first half of their NCAA college football game against Utah State, Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Cody Kessler passed for 164 yards and a touchdown, and the Southern California defense stifled explosive Utah State on Saturday as the Trojans topped the Aggies 17-14.
Andre Heidari's 25-yard field goal with 13:35 remaining provided the Trojans (3-1) with the winning points.
Utah State (2-2) averaged 49.3 points, 29 first downs and 550.3 yards and converted 30 of 46 third-down opportunities in its first three games. USC held the Aggies to just 285 yards, 13 first downs and 5 of 17 third-down conversions.
Kessler completed 13 of 27 passes with one interception and Tre Madden gained 93 yards on 24 carries for the Trojans, who were held to just 282 total yards. Kessler's 1-yard sneak on a fourth-and-inches play from the Utah State 25-yard line, with two minutes remaining, enabled USC to run out the clock.
Utah State's Chuckie Keeton completed 21 of 39 passes for 179 yards and two touchdowns. He threw for 923 yards and 12 touchdowns in his team's first three games this season.