LOS ANGELES — Immediately after Oregon running back Jeremiah Johnson burst into the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown, he leapt into the arms of offensive lineman Jeff Kendall for a brief celebratory hug.

LOS ANGELES — Immediately after Oregon running back Jeremiah Johnson burst into the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown, he leapt into the arms of offensive lineman Jeff Kendall for a brief celebratory hug.

The score gave the No. 23 Ducks an early lead against No. 9 USC during an eventual 44-10 loss to the Trojans at the Memorial Coliseum on Saturday night. It was the Ducks' worst road loss since a 59-14 defeat at Arizona State on Oct. 11, 2003.

Johnson's homecoming performance was one of the few bright spots for Oregon's offense that entered the game fourth in the nation in rushing offense and sixth in total offense.

After racking up 63 points against Pacific-10 Conference bottom feeder Washington State, the Ducks (4-2, 2-1 Pac-10) couldn't solve the Trojans' stingy defense during their first conference loss of the season.

The Ducks rushed for a season-low 60 yards and had a season-low total of 239 yards.

Things started off well enough for Oregon on the team's first possession that led to Johnson's lone touchdown.

USC was flagged for a personal foul when place kicker Matt Evensen was kicking a 44-yard field goal, giving the Ducks the ball at USC's 13.

Five plays later, Johnson, who played at Dorsey High School located just a few miles away from the Trojans' home field, crept into the end zone.

"It's my second loss on the Coliseum field," said Johnson, who rushed for 45 yards on 13 carries. "It hurts, but you've got to keep your head up and keep pushing."

In his only other appearance against USC, Johnson made one catch for two yards during the Ducks' 35-10 loss in 2006.

"It felt real good coming back to my backyard and just having fun out there," said Johnson, who remained upbeat about the Ducks season. "Unfortunately we got the L, but we're still going to keep our heads up."


HURRAY HARRIS: Oregon defensive tackle Ra'Shon Harris set up the Ducks' second and final scoring opportunity.

Harris secured the ball after USC quarterback Mark Sanchez fumbled the snap to revert possession back to the Ducks for the first fumble recovery of his career.

Oregon took over at USC's 38 and scored on Evensen's 24-yard field goal for a 10-3 lead in the second quarter.


DISAPPEARING DEFENSE: Other than Oregon cornerback Jairus Byrd's nice coverage of USC wide receiver Patrick Turner that prevented Turner from catching a 4-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter and a late interception by Byrd, the Ducks' defense couldn't keep up with the Trojans' potent offense.

Missed tackles and a porous secondary summed up a multitude of sins that allowed USC to amass 598 total yards, while Sanchez, who didn't play most of the fourth quarter, completed 19-of-28 passes for 332 yards and three touchdowns.

"We couldn't stop the run and they just began to pass so that makes everything hard because you can't prepare for one thing," said Byrd, whose 14th career interception tied him with Bill Drake for fourth on the school's all-time list. "They were running a lot of double routes and sometimes we over played and got into where the soft spots are.

"We were definitely getting tired. We had to keep going out there, but we're all in this together."


EVERY SECOND COUNTS: Of all the negative plays the Ducks committed, the one that occurred with 40 seconds remaining before halftime may sting a little longer than the others.

Oregon took over at USC's 20 after the Trojans made a 36-yard field goal for a 20-10 lead.

But after Jeremiah Masoli completed a 1-yard pass to Jaison Williams, USC's Josh Pinkard snuck up on Williams from behind causing Williams to fumble the ball at the 21.

Pinkard scooped it up and Oregon committed a personal foul on the play. The Trojans then got the ball back at Oregon's 11 and scored another touchdown when Sanchez connected with Turner with 16 seconds left before halftime for a 27-10 lead.

"I didn't have great ball security," said Williams, who caught four passes for 31 yards. "I caught the ball and tried to turn up field.

"I guess I didn't have it tucked away secure enough. He popped it out, I tried to go down and grab it, but he dove on it. He made an excellent play."