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Northridge Gives Chico Eye-Opener, 47-17 : College football: O'Laughlin passes for 247 yards and three touchdowns. Vaughn adds two interceptions, one for a score.


NORTHRIDGE — A no-look pass in a football game?

For Cal State Chico, perhaps the whole affair would have been better with blinders, if not dark sunglasses, over their eyes.

Cal State Northridge scored on five consecutive possessions through the second and third quarters and rolled over Chico, 47-17, in a nonconference game before 2,509 at North Campus Stadium.

To encapsulate the Chico experience, consider this humbling third-quarter blunder: Quarterback Chris Zermeno faded back and tossed the ball to receiver Raymond Adkins, who was streaking downfield.

Adkins never turned around, the pass hit him in the back and caromed into the arms of Northridge linebacker Andrew Rose, who rumbled 16 yards to the Chico 31-yard line to set up a field goal.

Last week Rose, the long snapper at the time, twice hiked the ball over the head of the punter to set up 10 points in a 28-23 loss to Southwest Texas State.

"I'll take what I can get," Rose said. "Last week, they took what they could get."

Adkins, who later dropped a potential touchdown pass in the end zone, never knew what hit him--which pretty much covered the feeling for his mates.

It all left the Matadors with a very homey feeling. Northridge (2-2) has outscored the opposition, 99-30, in two home games, both victories.

"If you gave me a choice, I'd rather be at home," Northridge Coach Bob Burt said. "When we were in Texas last week, I'd rather have been in Philadelphia."

Chico (1-3) rallied briefly in the third quarter, but couldn't erase a 33-3 lead Northridge built after a 37-yard field goal by sophomore Matt Ornelaz with 9 minutes 3 seconds left in the third. The score was set up by Rose's interception, one of three by the Northridge defense.

Leading, 23-3, Northridge took the opening kickoff of the second half and moved downfield on the arm of quarterback J.J. O'Laughlin.

O'Laughlin completed passes of 23 and 18 yards, then hit tight end Travis Hall with a 12-yard scoring pass that gave the Matadors a 30-3 lead.

O'Laughlin completed 17 of 31 for 247 yards and three touchdowns, which seemed to open things up for 10 other guys on offense. Even the ground game showed signs of life. Tailback Mark Harper, who entered the game with a team-high 99 rushing yards, finished with 101 in 17 carries.

Darren Walton, starting for the first time at fullback, gave Northridge a shot in the arm on the first play of the fourth quarter. Walton, a junior from Dorsey High, scored on a 71-yard run to extend Northridge's lead to 40-17 with 14:48 left. It was the team's longest run this season.

Walton, who also scored on a 52-yard pass play from O'Laughlin in the first half, finished with a career-high 81 yards in only three carries.

Northridge racked up a season-high 542 yards. The Matadors had more yards on the ground (286) than in three previous games (274).

The first half started in what could be considered predictable fashion for the Matadors--on an interception by senior safety Joseph Vaughn.

Vaughn, who returned interceptions for touchdowns in each of the first two games, did it again for the Matadors' first touchdown. Zermeno, flushed from the pocket, threw a flutterball down the right sideline that Vaughn grabbed before racing 29 yards for a score with 13:57 left in the first quarter.

Vaughn intercepted another pass later in the first quarter, raising his season total to five and tying him with 10 others for eighth place on the school single-season list. Vaughn dropped a ball that hit him squarely in the chest in the second quarter.

Zermeno passed for 191 yards, but didn't exactly have a leisurely night. He was sacked six times and finished with minus-47 yards rushing.

Rafik Thorossian, a tailback from Glendale College, led Chico with 113 yards in 19 carries.

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