The running back rushed for more than 100 yards. The quarterback ran the offense almost without a hitch. The defense was its usual stifling self.
This scenario should have looked familiar to the 7,127 football fans who crammed into North Campus Stadium on Saturday night to watch Cal State Northridge play for a Western Football Conference championship.
There was only one oh-so-important difference: It was the visitors from San Luis Obispo who had the more impressive numbers. Among them was a single touchdown that the Mustangs scored early in the first quarter and that held up in a 6-3 decision over the Matadors.
Tenth-ranked San Luis Obispo (8-1 overall) claimed a share of the WFC championship by finishing with a 4-1 conference record, the same as seventh-ranked Northridge, which is 7-2 overall.
"We're co-champs," said CSUN Coach Bob Burt, whose team's seven-game win streak came to a halt. "We'll settle for that and have to live with that."
It is San Luis Obispo's first title since 1982 and CSUN's first since 1983.
How the loss will affect Northridge's bid for its first Division II playoff berth remains to be seen. The Matadors will complete their season next week with a nonconference game at Cal State Long Beach.
"You get the No. 7-ranked team (Northridge's NCAA Division II rating) and the No. 10-ranked team and it was a three-point game," Burt said. "I don't know if it proves a heck of a lot other than that they played better than we did tonight."
The Mustangs simply beat the Matadors at their own game.
Joe Fragiadakis, San Luis Obispo's senior running back, carried a career-high 36 times for 122 yards; quarterback David Lafferty completed 16 of 29 passes for 144 yards with an interception; and the Mustang defense allowed Northridge 219 yards--only 79 on the ground.
Albert Fann, CSUN's All-American tailback, gained only 34 yards in 11 carries and played sparingly in the second half because of a sprained right ankle. He also caught four passes for 30 yards. Matador quarterback Sherdrick Bonner, whose receivers dropped several passes, completed 15 of 40 for 140 yards. His final nine passes fell incomplete.
Linebacker Lee Jaitt provided the Mustangs' scoring opportunity only 55 seconds into the game, picking off a Bonner pass intended for tight end George Fua at the Northridge 35-yard line and returning it to the 12. Three plays later, running back Daryl McChristian dived one yard for the touchdown. The point-after was blocked--one of three kicks foiled during the evening.
The other aborted attempts were by Abo Velasco, CSUN kicker. He had a 36-yard effort blocked by Joe Barsi in the second quarter and a 27-yard try batted down by Dennis Breshears early in the fourth period.
"It was a combination of things," Burt said of CSUN's kicking breakdowns. "We didn't block well and the kicker was slow on his get-off."
Despite its lack of firepower on offense, Northridge had several opportunities to score.
The best was on the Matadors' first possession of the second half when four Bonner passes and a three-yard Fann run brought CSUN to the San Luis Obispo 40.
Bonner then threw a strike to Adam McKinney, who had a step on his defender. The ball met McKinney square in the chest at the goal line but fell to the ground.
Victor DeVaughn, substituting for Fann, provided another chance midway through the fourth quarter. Taking a handoff up the middle and cutting left to the sideline, he raced 50 yards to the Mustang 10.
However, on the ensuing play, CSUN gave back 13 yards: A swing pass from Bonner to DeVaughn that fell incomplete and rolled out of bounds was ruled a lateral. Passes on the next two plays fell incomplete and Northridge had to settle for a 40-yard field goal by Velasco.
The Northridge defense had provided another scoring opportunity earlier in the period. Danny Abraham, a reserve linebacker, sacked Lafferty at the Northridge 43 and the ball bounded to midfield. It was picked up by linebacker Ken Wallace who raced into the end zone.
What he didn't see as he was mobbed by teammates was an official doing a hunting-dog point at the 50. Fumbles recovered behind the line of scrimmage cannot be advanced.
Bonner hooked up with McKinney for a 13-yard gain to the Mustang 37. But three consecutive passes fell incomplete and CSUN punted.