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Northridge Offense Comes of Age, 56-36

October 25, 1987|MIKE HISERMAN | Times Staff Writer

It was bound to happen sooner or later. One does not became a junior college All-American as a result of a slick advertising campaign.

Rob Huffman had earned the title in his sophomore season at Glendale College. It just took him a while to show followers of Cal State Northridge exactly how he did it.

The wait ended Saturday night before a homecoming crowd of 6,526 at North Campus Stadium. Huffman, a junior transfer, completed 16 of 21 passes for 261 yards and 2 touchdowns to lead Northridge to a 56-36 victory over Southern Utah State.

Part of Huffman's success can be attributed to the Matador offense loosening up a bit.

Instead of the usual it's-third-and-10-we'll-finally-throw passing game, Northridge often threw on first and second down.

Setting up in the pocket, Huffman found, is much easier to do without a couple of linebackers in your face.

"That way we know they're not as likely to blitz and it opens up the passing lanes for the receivers," Huffman said.

And, instead of always tossing it to the wide receivers, Huffman looked to tight end Brian Bowers, who at 6-3, 235 pounds is hard to miss.

Bowers, who had only seven catches in CSUN's first six games, had six for 88 yards.

"We never forget about him," Huffman said of Bowers, "we just weren't passing that much."

Another portion of Northridge's sudden passing success could be attributed to Southern Utah, which is last in the Western Football Conference in pass defense.

Huffman isn't the first quarterback to riddle the Thunderbird secondary this season. In fact, he wasn't even the only quarterback Saturday to do so.

Freshman Sherdrick Bonner came in for CSUN's last possession of the half and directed the Matadors on a five-play, 57-yard drive for a touchdown. He dropped an 11-yard pass over Keith Wright's outside shoulder in the right corner of the end zone to give Northridge a 35-14 lead at the half.

But, despite the discovery of the forward pass in the Northridge offense, the Matadors once again failed to KO an opponent they had on the ropes.

Until very late in the game, that is.

Huffman delivered the killer blow with 2:53 left, hitting Wright with a 52-yard bomb for a touchdown.

So much for running out the clock.

"Coach said at the end of the half that we were going to grind it out to the last minute, we were going to keep trying to score," Huffman said. "I thought he was lying, but I guess he wasn't."

It was Wright's second scoring reception of the night. He has 14 catches this season, seven for touchdowns.

Last season, Southern Utah State was the only team to run and pass for more than 200 yards in a game against CSUN. The Thunderbirds had 495 yards in total offense this time--259 passing and 236 rushing. The Matadors had 504 total yards--306 passing and 198 rushing.

Northridge running backs Albert Fann and Richard Brown each scored two touchdowns. Fann, a freshman, had 120 yards rushing, his fifth game in which he had more than 100 yards.

Northridge improved its record to 5-2, 2-1 in WFC play. The Matadors are tied with Cal Poly San Luis Obispo for second place in the conference, one game behind Santa Clara and Portland (3-0).

The Matadors play host to Santa Clara next week and travel to Portland on Nov. 14.

Southern Utah is 4-4 and 1-3.

Northridge's point total was its highest of the season.

The 92 points scored broke a conference record. And, if it's any consolation to Southern Utah State, it set a WFC record for points by a losing team.

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