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Northridge Finally Puts It Together

College football: Offense, defense and special teams play impressively in 45-27 victory over San Luis Obispo.


NORTHRIDGE — No suspense this time.

None of that back-and-forth, last-man-with-the-ball-wins drama of the previous week.

Cal State Northridge pulled away from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo early in the second quarter and cruised to a 45-27 nonconference victory Saturday at North Campus Stadium.

The Matadors momentarily put aside--they might never be able to totally erase--the memory of a 64-61 Big Sky Conference loss at Cal State Sacramento last week that set an NCAA record for most combined points.

In what might have been their best all-around effort this season, the Matadors (4-6) had little trouble moving the ball against San Luis Obispo (3-7) and buckled down significantly on defense.

"Our defense came to hit somebody [Saturday]," Coach Jeff Kearin said.

Northridge out-gained the Mustangs, 523 yards to 406, had six sacks and intercepted two passes.

And that doesn't include the special teams, which blocked a field-goal attempt, a punt and recovered a fumbled kickoff to set up a touchdown.

It was sweet redemption for a defensive unit that took plenty of heat after the Sacramento game, a defense that was allowing 461.6 yards per game.

"Last week we put up 61 points and didn't come away with a win," free safety Travis Campbell said. "You had to put the finger somewhere. Personally, I put it on the defense."

Campbell, a sophomore from Westlake High, found better use for his fingers against San Luis Obispo, intercepting two passes by Seth Burford.

The first set up an eight-play, 48-yard drive capped by an 18-yard touchdown pass from Marcus Brady to Jason Stone that put the Matadors ahead, 21-7, with 9:34 to play in the first half.

Brady was highly efficient, completing 20 of 33 passes for 284 yards and five touchdowns with one interception.

"I feel we are in a zone [offensively] right now," Brady said.

He got the Matadors rolling on the opening drive with a nine-yard fade pass to Drew Amerson for a 7-0 lead with 10:40 to play in the first quarter. Brady ran for 17 yards on the previous play.

After San Luis Obispo tied the score, 7-7, on Charles Bell's two-yard run early in the second quarter, Brady hooked up with D.J. Hackett on a crossing pattern for a 72-yard touchdown and a 14-7 lead less than a minute later.

Brady, a junior who is the career passing leader at Northridge, threw scoring passes of one yard to Gil Rodriguez and 15 yards to Jamaal Perry, the latter giving the Matadors a 45-20 advantage with 13:20 to play.

It was Brady's final play. He was replaced on Northridge's next possession by senior Mitch Ryerson, who had not played a down in three seasons with the Matadors.

Ryerson completed his two passes for 35 yards and came close to scoring, but could not get across the goal line on three consecutive runs from the one.

"It's been a long time coming," Ryerson said.

The pass-oriented Matadors were successful running the ball, with Terrelus Wright rushing for 79 yards and a touchdown in 13 carries, and Bruce Molock gaining 60 yards in 15 carries.

"I feel like we have to fight in this [offensive] scheme for whatever we can get, and when they give us the chance to run, we have to take it," Wright said.

Amerson finished with 12 receptions for 150 yards.

Burford, who took a pounding, completed 14 of 29 passes for 269 yards. He had to leave after a hard hit during San Luis Obispo's final scoring drive late in the fourth quarter.

"I got to give it to him, he kept getting up," Matador defensive tackle Erik Gardner said.

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