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Flowers Makes Pass at Montana, Barely Fails


NORTHRIDGE — Aaron Flowers sat at his locker room cubicle, looking not at all like a player who had just passed for a school-record 457 yards.

His head was down, his shoulders slumped.

His voice, at times, was barely above a whisper.

The topic was moral victories. Reporter talk.

Flowers wanted none of it.

Despite his best efforts, Cal State Northridge had allowed No. 2-ranked Montana to escape with a 43-36 victory Saturday night in a Big Sky Conference game at North Campus Stadium.

"This is a loss," Flowers muttered. Not a special oh-we-were-so-close a loss. Just a loss.

"We should have won that football game," he said.

Flowers completed 29 of 52 passes. He threw for four touchdowns. He didn't have a pass intercepted.

Matched against Montana's Brian Ah Yat, the nation's total offense leader, he had out-gunned the cannon.

Ah Yat, who passed for more than 500 yards in consecutive games, completed a paltry--relatively speaking of course--21 of 40 passes for 265 yards.

Flowers would gladly have traded. Ah Yat got the victory.

Flowers kicked his game up a couple of notches. So had many of his teammates. It wasn't enough.

"We're not going to get to the next level until we win one of these games," Flowers said.

A few feet away sat Northridge safety Steve Standifer.

"It would have meant everything if we would have won," Standifer said.

And to come up a touchdown short?

"That doesn't make it better, to be close," he said. "Our guys played as hard as they could. We did some good things, but. . . . "

His voice trailed off.

Standifer and the rest of the Northridge defense gave up 43 points--about Montana's average. But they played far better than that.

Montana's offense has a habit of making defensive backs look like stray cats of the Autoban. Only once did a Grizzly receiver break completely free, and of course Ah Yat converted it into a 33-yard scoring play to Raul Pacheco.

"We were a play or two away," Northridge corner back Benny Herron said.

A play or two.

How about a player or two?

Northridge Coach Dave Baldwin seemed to be torn between being proud and disappointed.

"Sixty-three scholarships and we can win it," he said, referring to a conference championship. "We can be a Montana. We're doing it on 40 right now."

Over the course of a long season, there is more than a couple of players or a couple of players separating the programs.

Northridge served notice that it's getting there, as much with a statement made after the game.

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