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Northridge Finishes With Wright Moves in a 21-16 WFC Win

November 22, 1987|MIKE HISERMAN | Times Staff Writer

Send in your cards and letters now. Bring back the forward pass to the Cal State Northridge offense.

No, forget the run-and-shoot this time. The Matadors aren't that desperate.

All that's needed is a repeat of the game plan that was used to defeat Cal State Sacramento, 21-16, Saturday night before 3,927 at North Campus Stadium.

Whatever you want to call it, it was the Wright offense.

Wide receiver Keith Wright and quarterback Rob Huffman, both juniors, gave Matador fans a glimpse of what could become a downright scary passing combination, connecting for all three Northridge touchdowns.

Huffman, who completed 15 of 31 attempts for 167 yards, finished the season with 13 touchdown passes. Wright caught nine of them.

"Tonight all the touchdowns were designed to go to him, but when someone else is covered, he's the one I go to," Huffman said. "He always seems to be flying by someone. It doesn't seem like I can ever overthrow him."

Wright needed only six receptions to notch the three scores, but his catches-to-touchdowns ratio wasn't all that much better than it has been the entire season. He finished with 26 catches and 10 touchdowns.

"If you're serious about building a championship team, you have to be able to take what they give you," Wright said. "Tonight, that's what we did. Before, we hadn't established that we would throw on first or second down, or on all three downs."

Huffman's 31 attempts were his second highest of the season, which may have come out of necessity rather than by plan.

The Northridge running game was grounded by a stunting Sacramento defense and gained a season-low 74 yards.

Freshman tailback Albert Fann, who needed only 53 yards to break Mike Kane's freshman rushing record, fell 30 yards short, gaining 23 on 14 carries.

Northridge (7-4 overall) finished second in the Western Football Conference with a 4-2 record, two games back of third-ranked Portland State.

Sacramento, which didn't win a road game all season, finished 4-7, 2-4 in conference games.

"It's not as good as we wanted, 7-4, but you can't put thumbs down, either," said all-conference tackle Dester Stowers, who was one of 18 CSUN seniors playing their last college game.

The winning touchdown came on a 24-yard pass with 3:49 remaining in the third quarter.

Twice before, Wright had burned Andre Giles, catching lob passes in the corner of the end zone. The third time, he picked on Keith Waters, beating him deep down the sideline.

"They were taking away the inside, so we went inside a couple of times to set them up, then broke a couple back outside after freezing them with an inside fake," Wright explained.

It looked that simple, too.

The Matadors led, 14-10, at the half with Huffman hooking up with Wright for two short touchdowns. In both instances Wright was isolated on Giles and Huffman lofted the ball toward the corner of the end zone.

Sacramento took an early lead when Steve Buccellato raced 72 yards on the Hornets' second play from scrimmage. Familiar with the hidden-ball trick in baseball? The touchdown call can be described best as a hidden running-back play.

Buccellato disappeared from view into a mass of players shortly after taking the handoff. Northridge defenders must have lost track of him also, because they stopped, awaiting a whistle that would not be blown until Buccellato crossed the goal line.

The freshman from Napa reappeared suddenly at the 30 with only CSUN's Shawn Scott in pursuit. Scott was three yards to the rear and stayed there as Buccellato broke into the open field and raced for his second touchdown of the season.

Northridge tied the score, 7-7, early in the second quarter when Huffman connected with Wright on a 10-yard scoring toss.

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