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Titans, Who Made New Mexico State's Year Last Season, Seek Revenge

October 31, 1987|ROBYN NORWOOD | Times Staff Writer

There are, no doubt, more than a few teams that take a casual approach to a game against New Mexico State, the winner of a paltry 6 games among its last 40.

Cal State Fullerton is no longer among them.

Not since last season, when New Mexico State Coach Mike Knoll was so bold as to predict that the Aggies would beat the Titans for their first Pacific Coast Athletic Assn. victory since they joined the conference in 1984.

What was more audacious, the Aggies did it, edging Fullerton, 24-21, in the second game of the season.

Fullerton went on to a 3-9 season, its worst since 1982. New Mexico State went on to lose the rest of its games, finishing 1-10.

"You begin to question yourself after a game like that," said Fullerton tight end Jim Thornton.

The game, an embarrassment for Fullerton, was one that Coach Gene Murphy said the Titans should have won.

It also was a game that has given Fullerton players--who say the Aggies--Knoll in particular--lack a certain respect for the Titans--the desire for a little revenge.

"We're looking to put it in their faces," said Matt Fitts, a starting offensive lineman. "They won one game last year, and it was against us. That's their claim to fame."

The Titans haven't been strangers to defeat the past two seasons, and this year they suffered the second-worst loss in school history, 65-0 to Florida. But Thornton said losing to New Mexico State was as bad as it gets.

"It's different than being beaten by Florida. They're a great team," Thornton said.

But the New Mexico State loss? "You don't feel like being seen after that."

It is, of course, a different year, and these are different teams that will meet today at 1 p.m. at Santa Ana Stadium.

When they played last year, the Titan starting quarterback was Tony Dill, who is now the third-stringer behind Ronnie Barber and Carlos Siragusa. Last year's Aggie quarterback, Jim Miller, who passed for 180 yards against Fullerton, is now the starting free safety. He was replaced by Phil Vinson, who has passed for 1,190 yards.

Fullerton (4-4, 3-1) has won two straight games and is in second place behind San Jose State, which is undefeated in conference and already has defeated the Titans.

New Mexico State is in last place and is winless in the conference, although the Aggies (2-5, 0-3) already have bettered last year's overall record with two nonconference victories.

But despite all that, you aren't likely to find anyone in a Fullerton uniform not wary of this one.

"We want to beat them bad," Fitts said.

Titan Notes Todd White, the Titans' leading receiver with 34 catches for 469 yards and six touchdowns, needs only four receptions to break Roy Lewis' school record of 81 career receptions. White is 196 yards behind Corn Redick's career receiving yardage mark of 1,337 yards.

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