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at Today's Key Matchups

October 17, 1998



At Hornet Stadium, 6:05 p.m. Radio: KCSN-FM (88.5)

Guarding against a letdown after an emotional 21-7 victory over perennial power Montana last week is among Northridge's main tasks. The Matadors, ranked No. 16 in both polls and leading the Big Sky Conference for the first time since joining in 1996, meet a hungry program that could wreck their championship chase. The Hornets are 1-18 in Big Sky games and 4-24 overall the last three years and might be winless this season if not for Charles Roberts. A 5-foot-6 sophomore, Roberts ranks second in Division I-AA in rushing at 182.7 yards a game and has scored 10 of Sacramento's 16 touchdowns. He has 150 or more yards in five consecutive games and has 1,096 yards rushing. Roberts last week rushed for 185 yards in Sacramento's 58-31 loss at Portland State, among the weaker rushing defenses in the Big Sky. Northridge's defense is improving every week and was at its best against Montana, holding the Grizzlies to 267 yards. Montana had not been shut out in the first half since 1994. The Matadors lead the Big Sky and are fifth in I-AA with a 1.40 turnover margin per game. Redshirt freshman Marcus Brady, who is averaging 267.6 yards passing, is facing a Sacramento defense that ranks last against the pass in the Big Sky, yielding 149.9 yards a game. Northridge has won four in a row, its longest winning streak since a seven-game string in 1990. The Matadors escaped with a 45-38 overtime victory over Sacramento last year.


* CAL LUTHERAN (3-2, 0-1) vs. CLAREMONT-MUDD (0-4, 0-2)

At Zinda Field, Claremont, 7 p.m.

After a 10-6 nonconference victory over Chapman, the Kingsmen return to Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play seeking to extend a two-game winning streak with their first SCIAC victory. Modest though it is, Cal Lutheran's streak is better than the one the Stags are on. Claremont-Mudd has lost 16 consecutive games. Cal Lutheran has struggled offensively in recent games, and starter Zack Hernandez and backup Nick Odenath have shared the quarterback duties. They may struggle against Claremont-Mudd's pass defense, which is the best in the conference and surrenders just 93.8 yards a game. The Kingsmen, however, can turn to their running game, which is averaging 170.8 yards thanks to Dorian Stitt and Fredrik Nanhed, both averaging 4.6 yards a carry. Nanhed moved into second place last week among Cal Lutheran's career rushing leaders. Claremont-Mudd's rush defense surrenders a conference-high average of 186 yards. By contrast, the Kingsmen's defense is on a roll, allowing just 15.2 points and 274.8 yards, including only 66.8 yards on the ground.


* HANCOCK (5-0, 1-0) vs. CANYONS (4-1, 1-0)

At Canyons, 7 p.m.

Surprising Canyons will be playing for a share of first place in the Western State Conference Northern Division game. However, the Cougars have yet to face a team of Hancock's caliber. The Bulldogs are ranked No. 5 in th state and No. 3 in Southern California, and are coming off a 56-3 drubbing of Santa Barbara. Canyons' offense ranks third in the WSC. But tailback Jason Parks, who rushed for 137 yards and a school-record five touchdowns last week against Pierce, is questionable because of a hip injury. Kevin Carrasco, who won a three-way battle for the starting quarterback job, has thrown for 929 yards and eight touchdowns while completing more than 60% of his passes. Defensive tackle Travis Knowles likely is lost for the season because of torn knee ligaments. Sophomore Jeff McCoy of Hancock has passed for 670 yards and six touchdowns, and has had only one pass intercepted in 106 attempts. But the Bulldogs' strength is its running game. Handoffs are divided almost equally among Matt Daniels, Tyler Otis and Chris Lester, who have combined for 998 yards. Hancock has allowed only 55 points, fewest in the WSC.


BAKERSFIELD (2-2, 0-0) vs. VENTURA (5-0, 1-0)

At Ventura., 7 p.m.

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