Cal Poly San Luis Obispo defeated Cal State Northridge, 14-7, Saturday in the first round of the NCAA Division II playoffs at San Luis Obispo.
San Luis Obispo, co-champion of the Western Football Conference with Northridge, improved to 10-1 and will play top-ranked North Dakota State (11-0) in the quarterfinals Nov. 24 at Fargo, N.D.
Northridge finished the season 7-4.
The playoff game was the second meeting in 15 days between the Mustangs and Northridge. San Luis Obispo had beaten the Matadors, 6-3, to tie for the WFC title.
The key play of Saturday's game occurred with the score tied, 7-7, with 4:48 left to play.
On fourth down, Northridge punter Albert Razo stood awaiting a snap at the Matador 12-yard line. The ball was snapped low and Razo covered it at the 12.
Four plays later, San Luis Obispo running back Joe Fragiadakis dived over right guard from the one for the game-winning touchdown.
"It came down to who was going to make a mistake first, and we made the one that got us beat," Northridge Coach Bob Burt said.
Fragiadakis gained 80 yards in 22 carries and also scored on a nine-yard run in the third quarter that gave San Luis Obispo a 7-0 lead. The Mustangs had 188 yards in total offense.
Northridge tailback Albert Fann gained 80 yards in 31 carries, but the Matadors managed only 132 yards in total offense against the No. 1-rated defense in Division II.
Northridge, however, had its chances. The only three turnovers of the game were supplied by the Matador secondary. Cornerback Eric Barnes intercepted two passes thrown by Mustang quarterback David Lafferty and safety Eric Treibatch picked off another.
Barnes' second interception set up Northridge's only touchdown, a seven-yard pass from Sherdrick Bonner to Adam McKinney with 11:26 left in the game.
The Matadors' other interceptions--both in Mustang territory--were wasted.
"Every time we would get a good play, they would come back with another play, which is what a good football team will do," Fann said.
Treibatch's second-quarter interception gave Northridge the ball at the San Luis Obispo 29, but the Matadors stalled there and Abo Velasco shanked a 47-yard field-goal attempt.
Northridge threatened again in the third quarter when Barnes picked off a pass at the Mustang 48 and returned the ball to the 37.
Four consecutive runs by Fann brought Northridge to the 20, where, on second and seven, Bonner found wide receiver Billy Nealy open at the five-yard line. Nealy dropped the ball.
After another incomplete pass, Velasco missed a 37-yard field-goal attempt.