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No Cascade in Boise

College football: Matadors can't repeat opening victory of last year in 26-13 defeat.

September 06, 1998|FERNANDO DOMINGUEZ | TIMES STAFF WRITER

BOISE, Idaho — No explosive comeback this time. No improbable dismantling of a supposedly superior foe. Not much of anything.

Don't be fooled by the 26-13 score, because Cal State Northridge's nonconference loss to Boise State on Saturday night in front of 25,127 at Bronco Stadium wasn't that close.

"That's like every first game you play every year," Northridge running back Melvin Blue said. "You find out what you need to work on and we need to work on a lot."

The Division I-A Broncos, members of the Big West Conference, boasted before the game about blanking Northridge and properly avenging a 63-23 thumping in the opener last year, a game they later were awarded on a forfeit because the Matadors used an ineligible player.

They didn't get the shutout, but they got plenty of redemption by spoiling Ron Ponciano's debut as Northridge coach and leaving the Division I-AA Matadors bruised and battered.

Marcus Brady, Northridge's redshirt freshman quarterback, was pounded. He was sacked five times and was constantly pressured by a physical defensive front that overwhelmed Northridge's young offensive line.

"If the quarterback has one, two guys on his face, we're going to have problems," Ponciano said. "When they brought some five-man pressure, we didn't respond well."

The Matadors, with injuries on the offensive line, started two freshmen on the right side and tight end Ryan Schatz at left tackle.

Ponciano said before the game he might play two or three quarterbacks against Boise State, but stayed with Brady. He completed 25 of 46 passes for 289 yards and one touchdown, and earned Ponciano's praise.

"You could put anyone in his situation and they would have quit," Ponciano said.

The Matadors didn't quit, showing signs of life in the second half, but it was too late.

Brady hit Eric Carpenter on a five-yard touchdown pass with 6:10 to play for the final points, capping an 11-play, 85-yard drive.

With the offense shackled by Boise State's swarming defense, which yielded 74 yards to the Matadors in the first half, Northridge's defense cracked.

Boise State jumped ahead, 7-0, when Rodney Smith beat cornerback Chazz Moore on a 27-yard touchdown pass from Bart Hendricks with 9:01 to play in the half.

A bad snap by Robby Wadas to punter Ethan Beck, who was tackled by Mike Davisson at the Northridge 10, set up Boise State's second score.

Eron Hurley scored on a one-yard run and the Broncos led, 14-0, with 6:45 to go before the half.

The Broncos marched 99 plays on four plays to make the score 20-0, with Corey Nelson beating cornerback Mel Miller on a 79-yard pass play from Hendricks with 34 seconds left in the half.

Manny Marquez of Northridge kicked field goals of 29 and 26 yards.

Blue, a senior transfer from Utah State, carried 28 times for 67 yards and Aaron Arnold had six receptions for 100 yards..

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