SANTA CLARA — Injury-plagued running backs Jamal Farmer and Robert Trice showed Saturday what they can do when healthy, galloping for 329 yards between them as Cal State Northridge pounded Santa Clara, 42-18, at Buck Shaw Stadium.
Farmer rang up 208 yards in 19 carries and scored three touchdowns, one of them on a 59-yard run, as he became the first Northridge player to rush for more than 200 yards since Albert Fann gained 251 against Cal State Sacramento in 1989.
A touted transfer from Hawaii, Farmer began the game with only 21 yards in 22 carries over 1 1/2 games for Northridge (3-3). Arthroscopic knee surgery sidelined him for the other games.
Farmer, whose longest run went for 69 yards, was relieved.
"I haven't had a good game in a while," he said. "And as far as the team goes, this was a time to build character. We were on the road at their homecoming, everything was against us, and we prevailed."
Trice, who missed six of the last eight quarters because of a hamstring strain, gained 121 yards in 11 carries, including a 51-yard run and a six-yard touchdown burst. It marked the third time he has run for more than 100 yards this season.
In an effort to get his "two best backs on the field at the same time," Coach Bob Burt moved Farmer to fullback with Trice at tailback for several drives.
It was the first time in more than two years that two Northridge players gained more than 100 yards in the same game.
"We knew what Jamal's potential was and he lived up to it," said Santa Clara linebacker Kevin Cunningham. "No. 23 (Trice) surprised us. He hits the holes fast. He's a great complement to Jamal."
The Northridge defense set the tone by forcing three fumbles in the first quarter and recording the first of a season-high seven sacks.
Linebacker Tyrone Dorsey recovered the first fumble and combined with Gerald Ponder and Jose Aguilar to force the second one, which Eric Treibatch recovered.
Aguilar, who made a team-high nine tackles and was in on two sacks, recovered the third fumble.
"We wanted to get real physical," Dorsey said. "Any time you get turnovers early in the game, you're setting the tempo. They were down and you can't play good when you're down, and we kept them down."
One play after Treibatch's fumble recovery, Farmer threw the first halfback option pass of his career.
Although the 35-yard toss wobbled, Farmer had enough arm strength to reach Saadite Green, who jumped between two defenders to make the catch at the Santa Clara one.
On the next play, Farmer scored his first touchdown as a Matador.
Santa Clara (4-3) answered with a 76-yard touchdown pass from John St. Jacques to Hector Siquieros, who beat cornerback Johnny Gallo in single coverage down the right sideline. Gallo had replaced Ralph Henderson, who missed the game to attend his grandfather's funeral in Houston.
Linebacker Ivy Calvin prevented the Broncos from tying the score when he burst through the middle and blocked the extra-point attempt. It was the fifth time this season the Matadors have blocked a kick.
Northridge quarterback Marty Fisher, who threw two first-quarter interceptions, got untracked on CSUN's ensuing possession with a 43-yard pass to Victor Prince.
Two plays later, from the four, Fisher found tight end Marlon McBride open in the end zone for a 14-6 lead.
Farmer and Trice did all the damage on the Matadors' next drive, including respective runs of 39 and 23 yards. Trice capped it with a six-yard run for a 21-6 advantage with 5 minutes 54 seconds left in the second quarter.
Treibatch, who needed nine tackles to become the school's all-time leading tackler, finished with five. . . . CSUN's 42 points equaled the combined point total of its previous five games. The Matadors' 376-yard rushing total is only eight yards short of their combined rushing total in their first five games. . . . Based on their efforts here, Burt said he likes his team's chances, "barring injury," in Western Football Conference play, beginning Saturday at home against Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. . . . Quarterbacks-wide receivers coach Dale Bunn wrenched his lower back in the first half when someone stepped on the cord attached to his head set.