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Faulk Doesn't Have His Way With CSUN

September 05, 1993|MIKE HISERMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SAN DIEGO — So much for an opportunity at infamy.

Cal State Northridge blew its chance of making history in its NCAA Division I-AA football debut--by playing too well .

Given the chance to join the likes of Al Downing--he who offered up Henry Aaron's 715th home run--the Matadors did not become the answer to anyone's trivia question.

Northridge did lose, as it was expected to, against San Diego State. But the Matadors hung surprisingly close before falling, 34-17, Saturday night at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium in front of 40,872 fans--a crowd more than twice the size of any to watch Northridge football.

And the yardage gained by Heisman Trophy contender Marshall Faulk? He finished with 27 carries for 170 yards--a scant total, considering some of the predictions made before the game.

"That was speculation by you guys," said Faulk, scolding a gathering of reporters afterward. "You guys said they wouldn't be a good team."

Tony Sands, the Kansas running back who rushed for 396 yards against Missouri in 1991, had his NCAA record live another week.

Faulk scored three touchdowns, but his longest run was 21 yards, a fact not lost on Northridge linebacker O.J. Ojomoh.

"You've got to have some pride against a back like that," Ojomoh said. "He's very scary to play against. You let him loose and he'll break your back."

Victor Myles, a Northridge defensive end, was impressed but not overwhelmed.

"He's a good back, but I thought he'd be more like Emmitt Smith," Myles said. "Don't believe the hype."

Was Faulk not as good as his press clippings?

"Not against us," Myles said.

In last season's opener against USC, Faulk gained 220 yards and scored three touchdowns in the same number of carries he had against Northridge. Against the Trojans, he ripped off a 59-yard run.

"I felt we could compete all along," Northridge cornerback Ralph Henderson said. "The media and San Diego State fans made us out to be pushovers, but we knew in our hearts we have the ability to play with these type of guys."

Faulk, who carried only twice in San Diego's final two games of last season because of a knee injury, kept alive a streak of 15 games rushing for more than 100 yards when playing the whole game.

"I felt like me," Faulk said of his return to action. "But I don't know if I looked like me."

Faulk accounted for the majority of his 103 first-half rushing yards on San Diego's first series.

Henderson, a 5-foot-10, 200-pound senior, gained a measure of redemption by covering Faulk's fumble and earned a modicum of respect by cutting the speedy junior down on a sweep around right end for the two-yard loss.

As Faulk bounded up after being hurtled out of bounds, he patted Henderson's hind quarters.

"I pat my opponent on the back if they make a great play or a great hit or a tackle in the open field," Faulk said. "That means they out-executed me."

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