USC DT Marlon Tuipulotu continues monster season in first half against Utah

  • Utah wide receiver Samson Nacua, right, scores against Isaiah Pola-Mao (21) in Southern California during the first half of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, November 21, 2020 in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo / Rick Bowmer)

  • USC DT Marlon Tuipulotu continues monster season in first half against Utah

    Utah cornerback Clark Phillips III (8) tackles Southern California wide receiver Bru McCoy (4) during the first half during an NCAA college football game Saturday, November 21, 2020 in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo / Rick Bowmer)

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  • USC DT Marlon Tuipulotu continues monster season in first half against Utah

    Utah linebacker Nephi Sewell scores after recovering from a fumble in Southern California during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, November 21, 2020 in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo / Rick Bowmer)

  • USC DT Marlon Tuipulotu continues monster season in first half against Utah

    Southern California quarterback Kedon Slovis throws a pass during the first half of the team’s NCAA college football game against Utah on Saturday, November 21, 2020 in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo / Rick Bowmer)

  • USC DT Marlon Tuipulotu continues monster season in first half against Utah

    Utah linebacker Nephi Sewell, 29, scores after recovering from a fumble in Southern California during the first half of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, November 21, 2020 in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo / Rick Bowmer)

  • USC DT Marlon Tuipulotu continues monster season in first half against Utah

    Utah quarterback Cameron Rising is looking for a receiver during the first half of the team’s NCAA college football game against Southern California on Saturday, November 21, 2020 in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo / Rick Bowmer)

  • USC DT Marlon Tuipulotu continues monster season in first half against Utah

    Southern California linebacker Kana’i Mauga, 26, reacts after a tackle during the first half of the team’s NCAA college football game against Utah on Saturday, November 21, 2020 in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo / Rick Bowmer)

  • USC DT Marlon Tuipulotu continues monster season in first half against Utah

    Southern California linebacker Kana’i Mauga, 26, reacts after a tackle during the first half of the team’s NCAA college football game against Utah on Saturday, November 21, 2020 in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo / Rick Bowmer)

  • USC DT Marlon Tuipulotu continues monster season in first half against Utah

    Southern California runs back against Vavae Malepeai (29) against Utah in the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, November 21, 2020 in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo / Rick Bowmer)

  • USC DT Marlon Tuipulotu continues monster season in first half against Utah

    Southern California walks back Vavae Malepeai, 29, carries the ball during the first half of the team’s NCAA college football game against Utah on Saturday, November 21, 2020 in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo / Rick Bowmer)

  • USC DT Marlon Tuipulotu continues monster season in first half against Utah

    Southern California walks back Vavae Malepeai, 29, drags a Utah player on a carry during the first half during an NCAA college football game Saturday, November 21, 2020 in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo / Rick Bowmer)

  • USC DT Marlon Tuipulotu continues monster season in first half against Utah

    Drake Jackson, 99, of Southern California, hits Utah quarterback Cameron Rising (7) while throwing during the first half during an NCAA college football game Saturday, November 21, 2020, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo / Rick Bowmer)

  • USC DT Marlon Tuipulotu continues monster season in first half against Utah

    Southern California quarterback Kedon Slovis (9) throws a pass during the first half of the team’s NCAA college football game against Utah on Saturday, November 21, 2020 in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo / Rick Bowmer)

  • USC DT Marlon Tuipulotu continues monster season in first half against Utah

    Rice-Eccles Stadium will be shown for an NCAA college football game between Southern California and Utah Saturday, November 21, 2020 in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo / Rick Bowmer)

  • USC DT Marlon Tuipulotu continues monster season in first half against Utah

    Ralen Goforth, Southern California linebacker, is warming up for the team’s NCAA college football game against Utah on Saturday, November 21, 2020 in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo / Rick Bowmer)

  • USC DT Marlon Tuipulotu continues monster season in first half against Utah

    Southern California quarterback Kedon Slovis is warming up for the team’s NCAA college football game against Utah on Saturday, November 21, 2020 in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo / Rick Bowmer)

  • USC DT Marlon Tuipulotu continues monster season in first half against Utah

    Southern California quarterback Kedon Slovis is warming up for the team’s NCAA college football game against Utah on Saturday, November 21, 2020 in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo / Rick Bowmer)

Marlon Tuipulotu continued his monster season on Saturday-evening in the first half of USC’s game against Utah.

On top-and-10 of the Utah 15 early in the second quarter, the senior defensive tackle pushed aside his blocker, passed the man, and devoured Utah quarterback Cameron Rising. Tuipulotu hit the football and defensive lineman Connor Murphy jumped on it at the Utah 4.

The turnovers led to a Vavae Malepeai touchdown run two plays later, the second score of the season for the senior running back.

Tuipulotu has taken a big step since his fellow defensive tackle Jay Tufele chose to prepare for the NFL Draft. Tuipulotu had eight tackles in each of the first two games of this season and led the Trojans in the category for two weeks.

His strip bag on Saturday was one of three forced turnovers by the Trojans in the first half. Outside linebacker Drake Jackson intercepted a pass in the first quarter, then safety Isaiah Pola-Mao jumped on an unsuccessful hand-off to give USC its second fumble.

But the Trojans themselves were not very clean in terms of turnover in the first half. USC quarterback Kedon Slovis was fired three minutes in the second quarter and was unable to hold the ball. Safety Nephi Sewell picked up the ball and brought it back 23 yards for a touchdown.

Then, after recovering from Pola-Mao’s fumble, Slovis tried to throw to Erik Krommenhoek. But the ball sailed gently behind the senior and Sewell intercepted him, Slovis’ second pick of the year.

It didn’t matter much to silence the questions about Slovis’ arm strength and accuracy for the first two weeks of the season, but he did get some relief on the next stage by passing to Krommenhoek for a touchdown and a lead of 14 points. the first lead of the Trojans in two possession of the year.

REPORT OF INJURY

USC’s lead rusher, Markese Stepp, wore street attire for the game due to what was reported on USC radio as an upper body injury. Stepp had 26 carries for 135 yards and two touchdowns for the first two games of the season.

Defensive tackle Brandon Pili got back into action after missing the first two games of the season due to a broken finger. Center Brett Neilon also returned to play after missing the game in Arizona with an ankle sprain.

Linebacker Palaie Gaoteote IV didn’t play after being in concussion all week.