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Game Injuries Blamed on Illegal Chop Blocks


Video recorders were busy Monday in Cal State Northridge's football office, making copies of the team's 44-17 victory over Southern Utah on Saturday, in which several Matadors were hurt.

Northridge coaches say the players were injured by illegal chop blocking and the school is sending video to the Big Sky Conference office in Ogden, Utah.

The Big Sky has no jurisdiction over Southern Utah, a Division I-AA independent, but Northridge wants fellow members alerted.

"Hopefully, it'll save Idaho State and Eastern Washington some players," Northridge Coach Ron Ponciano said.

Southern Utah plays at Idaho State on Oct. 24 and hosts Eastern Washington on Nov. 21.

The Matadors also are looking into canceling their game at Southern Utah next season, even if they have to pay a $10,000 penalty to the Thunderbirds for pulling out.

Northridge would recover the money and then some by playing a I-A team or a top-notch I-AA opponent.

"I spoke with [Southern Utah Athletic Director] Jack [Bishop] and I told him I thought some actions by his coach [C. Ray Gregory] were inappropriate," said Paul Bubb, Northridge's athletic director. "I think it's a real possibility we won't play the game next year."

The Matadors on Saturday lost nose guard Sean Beard and at least two other players to injuries Northridge coaches attributed to illegal high-low blocking. Beard is out four to six weeks with a fractured right fibula.

"The film shows exactly what we thought," Ponciano said. "They chopped a bunch. We're just lucky more guys weren't injured. It was out of control."

Gregory said the Thunderbirds did nothing wrong.

"That's ridiculous," Gregory said. "That's not anything we coach or teach. We didn't go out there to hurt anyone."

On Saturday, Southern Utah had 18 penalties for 200 yards, including 11 for illegal blocks, personal fouls or unsportsmanlike conduct.

Other Big Sky schools aren't happy with Southern Utah. Montana, which plays at Northridge on Saturday, sent video to the conference office, complaining about chop blocking by the Thunderbirds during their game Sept. 12.

And Idaho State is on the lookout.

"There was some of that [chop blocking] toward the end of our game last year," said Lance Anderson, an Idaho State assistant. "It appears that they do it every week."


Ponciano said 6-foot-2, 270-pound linebacker Quinton Reed is moving to nose guard and will share playing time with Jacob Mageo, who is expected to return this week from an injury.

"[Reed] is a beast," Ponciano said. "He could have a huge impact on our defense."


The Matadors (3-1) cracked the top 25 for the first time since moving to Division I-AA in 1993.

Northridge is ranked No. 23 by the Sports Network and No. 24 by USA Today/ESPN.

In the Sagarin Division I ratings, the Matadors are 97th with a 62.65 rating. No. 92 Montana State, at 63.13, is the only Big Sky team rated higher.

Thirteen of the 120 I-AA teams listed are rated higher than the Matadors.


Northridge redshirt freshman Marcus Brady leads I-AA in passing efficiency with a 169.7 rating.

Brady has completed 82 of 118 passes for 10 touchdowns and one interception.

He passed for 257 yards and three touchdowns against Southern Utah on Saturday.

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