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Things Amiss for CSUN

College football: Brown's kick goes wide left and Matadors lose in overtime to Idaho State, 31-30.

October 01, 2000|VINCE KOWALICK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

NORTHRIDGE — No one was going to kick Derek Brown while he was down. Or try to pump him up.

No one had the chance.

Brown, a sophomore kicker for Cal State Northridge, was inconsolable and nowhere to be found after his missed extra point in overtime allowed Idaho State to escape with a 31-30 Big Sky Conference victory before 2,750 Saturday at North Campus Stadium.

Brown's kick, following a 15-yard touchdown run by Bruce Molock, sailed wide left, leaving the Matadors (1-3, 0-2 in conference play) devastated after an inspired, near-flawless effort to get back into the Big Sky race.

Of course, no one felt worse than Brown.

Brown, The Times' All-Valley kicker of the year in 1997 as a senior at Highland High, lay on his back near the 10-yard line for several minutes while Idaho State players celebrated their first victory in 11 road games.

Dejected Northridge coaches and players walked slowly to their locker room. After a brief meeting, somber faces emerged, none of them Brown's.

"He blew outta here," Coach Jeff Kearin of Northridge said. "I can't find him anywhere."

Jason Stone, whose 12-yard touchdown reception from Marcus Brady with 1:10 to play pulled Northridge even, 24-24, said he barely was able to offer a word of comfort before Brown disappeared.

"He just up and left," Stone said.

The same might be said for the Matadors' chances of winning the conference title in their final season in the Big Sky.

Idaho State (3-1, 2-1), led by a 333-yard passing performance from Shane Griggs, handed Northridge its third consecutive loss on its home field dating to last season and placed the Matadors in a near-insurmountable predicament.

Northridge faces a short week in preparation for a Thursday night game at Weber State, then returns home to play defending champion Montana.

"We've got a lot to prove right now," Brady said. "It doesn't look good."

For most of the game, Brady and the Matadors did. Brady completed 17 of 30 passes for 224 yards and two touchdowns and had a four-yard scoring run in the third quarter that tied the score, 17-17.

Brady's 50-yard touchdown pass play to Stone gave Northridge its first lead, 10-6, with three minutes to play in the half.

For the first time this season, Brady did not throw an interception and Northridge did not commit a turnover. Save for a bad snap on a 25-yard field-goal attempt by Brown in the third quarter, Northridge avoided costly miscues.

Until the climax.

Nick Whitworth ran 25 yards for a touchdown on the first play of overtime and Javier Garcia's extra point gave the Bengals a 31-24 lead. Molock, who rushed for 199 yards in 36 carries, scored on the fourth play of the Matadors' possession.

Brown, who made a 28-yard field goal in the second quarter to cut the Bengals' lead to 6-3, narrowly missed the extra point. He had made four of six extra points in the first three games and made all three against the Bengals before the miss.

The snap and hold appeared trouble-free.

"I really feel for Derek right now," holder Gil Rodriguez said. "He's young and he's going to bounce back. It may be a plus."

Kearin said he planned to contact Brown before the team practices today.

"I'll tell him, 'It's only one play in your career,' " Kearin said. " 'I need you to come back.' "

Said Brady: "I don't have any words for him. He just missed. It hurts to lose like this."

Griggs, in a career performance, repeatedly made completions despite tight coverage. He connected with eight receivers. Both his touchdown passes were to DeRonn Finley, including an 18-yard lob in the corner that gave the Bengals a 6-0 first-quarter lead.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Griggs found Finley behind Travis Campbell and Cory Oggs for a 51-yard scoring pass.

Griggs completed 26 of 47 passes and had two interceptions. Linebacker Lewis Blanton made both interceptions, the second with 35 seconds to play at the Northridge 25.

Finley, whose last-minute scoring catch denied the Matadors a Big Sky title in 1998, had seven receptions for 111 yards.

D.J. Hackett led Northridge with six receptions for 55 yards. Stone had four catches for 85 yards and two touchdowns.

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