PORTLAND, Ore. — In the end, Cal State Northridge was done in by a back from its own back yard.
Charles "Chip" Dunn, from Pasadena Muir High, rushed for 270 yards and three touchdowns, and Portland State posted a 49-22 victory before 2,938 fans at chilly Hillsboro Stadium in Northridge's final game as a member of the Big Sky Conference.
Northridge (4-7, 2-6 in the Big Sky), buoyed by a late-season surge, struggled to move the chains in its season finale.
Dunn, the Big Sky's rushing leader, did not. And he might get the chance to do more damage.
Portland State (8-3, 5-3), locked in a four-way tie for second, will hope for an at-large bid today when the I-AA selection committee announces playoff pairings.
The Vikings, tied with Cal State Sacramento, Eastern Washington and Weber State, have more victories than the other three.
"That was a pretty impressive win there," Coach Tim Walsh of Portland State said. "I'd be surprised if we don't get in."
Dunn capped the Vikings' first three possessions with scoring runs of three, 24 and three yards while breaking the school's single-season rushing record.
With 55 seconds to play, Dunn received a standing ovation after leaving the game as the No. 3 rusher on the NCAA Division I-AA career list with 6,007 yards.
"I can't believe this has happened to me," Dunn said. "But I don't think I'm done yet."
The same cannot be said of Northridge, which will leave the Big Sky after five seasons and compete next season as an independent.
The Matadors, who had won three of their previous four, fell behind, 28-7, in the second quarter and barely threatened to make it a game after that.
Marcus Brady completed 20 of 36 passes for 269 yards, including touchdown passes of 51 yards to D.J. Hackett and nine yards to Drew Amerson.
As usual, Brady spread the completions among several receivers, with Amerson catching six to finish the season with a team-high 71.
Bruce Molock led a solid ground game with 108 yards rushing and one touchdown.
But, as has been the case much of the season, the Matador defense was exploited, this time by senior Jimmy Blanchard, who completed 18 of 21 passes--including his first 13--for 203 yards and three touchdowns.
For his part, Dunn raised his season rushing total to 1,792 yards, breaking the school record of 1,619 yards before the first quarter expired.
"I saw them run the ball like they've been running it all year," Northridge Coach Jeff Kearin said. "I think [Dunn] is the best back in the conference, the most physical and durable.
"I'm disappointed because I really thought the team was focused all week, specifically the last couple of days."
Northridge is scheduled to play Portland State next season and likely will remain playing nonconference games against some Big Sky teams.
But the Matadors are happy to see the last of Dunn, who has rushed for 787 yards in four games against Northridge.
Dunn, recruited by several schools as a defensive back, opted for Portland State because he was wanted as a ballcarrier.
Dunn remembers receiving a recruiting call from a representative from Northridge but said he already had set his sights on Oregon.
"I don't even remember who it was," Dunn said. "But it wasn't really a big effort [on their part]."
Dunn is among five former Muir players on the Portland State roster, which also includes several Southern California athletes.
"I have absolutely no regrets about coming to Portland," Dunn said. "It's been great."
Dunn carried six times for 26 yards on the game's opening drive as the Vikings marched 80 yards in 12 plays to take a 7-0 lead.
By the half, Dunn had 158 yards, including a 39-yard gain.
Brady's scoring pass to Hackett on a quick slant pulled Northridge to within 14-7 late in the first quarter.
But Dunn went back to work on the ensuing possession, capping a 59-yard drive with a three-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter.
Receiver Gil Rodriguez could join coaching staff at Northridge. D17