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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS | NORTHRIDGE FOOTBALL

Matadors' Game Film Earns Rage Reviews

October 20, 1998|FERNANDO DOMINGUEZ | TIMES STAFF WRITER

On the day after, Cal State Northridge football coaches watched film of their crash and burn at Cal State Sacramento, much like FAA investigators pour over a black box.

"It took us over five hours [to dissect]," Coach Ron Ponciano said. "We broke it down and it was amazing. We messed up in every facet of the game."

Northridge's 35-21 loss to the lowly Hornets on Saturday was a study on dismal ball-handling, with the Matadors losing four of six fumbles, twice deep in their territory.

The Hornets, 5-24 in the last three years, turned one Northridge fumble and an interception into touchdowns.

They also slapped Northridge with a reality check, which Ponciano says the Matadors better heed.

Northridge (4-2, 3-1 in Big Sky Conference) hosts Montana State (4-2, 2-1) on Saturday and plays at Weber State (5-2, 3-1) on Oct. 31 in make-or-break games for the championship.

"I don't think [the Matadors] will throw in the towel by any means," Ponciano said.

How did Northridge coaches spend Monday, a practice off-day?

"Preparation and recovery," Ponciano said. "Emotionally and physically."

*

The revolving door on the Northridge offensive line continues.

Center Beau Cherry suffered a sprained ankle and left tackle Mike Barnes a sprained shoulder at Sacramento, and Ponciano said he's uncertain about the availability of center Julio Alcala, whose mother died Friday.

"It doesn't look like [Barnes] is going to hit all week," Ponciano said. "It's another never-ending saga for us with the offensive line, trying to get five guys to play."

*

Somehow, Northridge is the highest-rated Big Sky team in the Sagarin Division I ratings.

The Matadors are No. 115 with a 59.48 rating, followed by No. 123 Montana State (57.52), No. 124 Eastern Washington (57.31) and No. 128 Weber State (56.56).

*

The Matadors dropped eight spots to No. 24 among Division I-AA teams in the Sports Network poll and nine rungs to No. 25 in the USA Today/ESPN poll.

Other Big Sky teams ranked are Weber State, No. 17 in both polls, and Montana State, No. 24 by USA Today/ESPN.

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