The city of Rohnert Park, home of Sonoma State, is smack in the middle of Wine Country, USA.
So is it any wonder that just before a snap the Cossacks' defense looks like 11 drunks readying to pounce on the last bottle of Ripple?
Sonoma's defense lined up just about every way imaginable Saturday night against Cal State Northridge, and the Cossacks blitzed from just about every direction.
And they almost stumbled away with an upset victory.
Northridge defeated Sonoma, 13-6, in front of 3,426 at North Campus Stadium thanks to a 29-yard touchdown pass from Rob Huffman to Keith Wright three minutes into the second half.
It was one of the few offensive plays Northridge was able to run as diagramed.
"Sometimes it looked like they had more than 11 guys out there," CSUN tailback Lance Harper said. "And sometimes it looked like all 11 were coming."
This was by design, of course.
Marty Fine, a former defensive coordinator who is in his first season as Sonoma's head coach, said since he had reasoned that his defense couldn't run through the Matadors, they'd run past them.
"They were bigger than us so we figured we couldn't just sit in one defense and let them punch it at us," he said.
So the Cossacks jumped around--and often landed in the Matador backfield.
It may have looked like chaos, but, CSUN Coach Bob Burt said, "They knew exactly what they were doing."
And that was botching things up for Northridge. Huffman's scoring pass to Wright was one of only four completions in 16 attempts for the Matador passing game.
Hounded and grounded by the Sonoma rush, Huffman, a JC All-American at Glendale College last year, was left with a simple explanation after the game.
"That blitz really messed us up," he said.
Northridge (2-1) had only 211 in total offense after gaining 496 yards in a 45-0 win over San Francisco State last week.
Harper provided the only offensive spark for Northridge. The sophomore from San Fernando High rushed for 53 yards on nine carries and caught a screen pass and turned it into a 29-yard gain.
The Matador defense, which wasn't scored on for the second consecutive week, set up both Northridge touchdowns and recorded nine quarterback sacks, including four by outside linebacker Jim Crane. The sacks left Sonoma with minus-2 yards rushing on 33 attempts. And when the Cossacks threw the ball, their luck was almost as bad.
Curiously, Sonoma tried to pick on cornerback Kip Dukes, who was All-Western Football Conference last season. Result: Duke had two interceptions. Safety Sean Scott added a third Matador interception, which set up the winning touchdown pass from Huffman to Wright.
Sonoma quarterback Randy Lingle, who came into the game with 518 yards passing in two games, was 15 of 27 for 151 yards.
Yet the longest scoring drive of the first half was one yard.
Northridge got credit for that when Richard Brown skipped over right tackle for a first-quarter touchdown after Sonoma punter Mike Braun ran down an errant snap at the 1-yard line.