BERKELEY — Coach Sonny Dykes' first season at California has gone so bad that even the simplest tasks like punting the ball out of bounds prove too difficult to master.
Fearful of Southern California's dangerous punt return team, Dykes wanted the Golden Bears to kick the ball out of bounds when they had a chance. Instead, the Bears found themselves on the wrong end of a record-tying performance.
Nelson Agholor had two of USC's three punt returns for touchdowns and Javorius Allen scored three times on seven touches to help the Trojans beat California for the 10th straight time, 62-28 on Saturday.
“I've been doing this a long time and that has always been a strength of ours,” Dykes said of his punt coverage units. “We start three practices every week with our punt team. It's a big deal to us. That was 21 points at a pretty critical point in the ballgame when we had some momentum.”
Agholor started the scoring for USC (7-3, 4-2 Pac-12) with a 75-yard return and added a 93-yarder late in the second quarter to help USC win for the fourth time in five games under interim coach Ed Orgeron.
Josh Shaw also returned a blocked punt 14 yards for a score earlier in the second quarter for the Trojans, who tied the record last achieved by Oklahoma against UCLA in 2003 when Antonio Perkins returned three punts for scores.
“The best thing about getting that first return is it gave the rest of the guys confidence that they know they could block the same way,” Agholor said. “They knew we were going to return another one. That's how I felt. We returned one and they were like, 'Let's do it again.' ”
The Trojans had far too much speed for the Golden Bears (1-9, 0-7) to handle as Allen scored on runs of 43 and 79 yards and a 57-yard screen pass from Cody Kessler to extend USC's dominance over Cal.