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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS | FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK

Gardners Planted Miller, Edwards in Dirt for Matadors

October 15, 2000|Vince Kowalick

Brother, that was some pass rush Cal State Northridge displayed Saturday against Montana at North Campus Stadium.

The Matadors, motivated by a matchup with the first-place Grizzlies, sacked Drew Miller and John Edwards a combined six times for 45 yards in losses in a 34-30 Big Sky Conference defeat.

Siblings Erik and Isaac Gardner, a defensive tackle and linebacker, combined for three sacks, two by Erik.

Miller, the Big Sky's passing leader, was knocked out of the game in the second quarter after being hit by Isaac while delivering the ball.

"They weren't expecting us to run what we were running," Isaac said. "We just wanted to play hard, that's all. All together, our defense did a pretty good job."

Erik, a senior and two years older than his brother, had three tackles behind the line of scrimmage. On one sack, Gardner grabbed Miller's jersey and slammed him to the turf with one hand.

"It's a big rivalry," Gardner said. "We knew who we were going against. We stepped it up and played sound defense."

Linebacker Cos Abercrombie and safety Travis Campbell each had nine tackles to lead Northridge. Abercrombie had two sacks.

Northridge held Montana to one yard rushing.

"This effort is a good indication of what our defense is capable of," Northridge Coach Jeff Kearin said.

Coach Joe Glenn of Montana was impressed by the effort of the last-place Matadors.

"What did they have to play for?" Glenn said. "Still, their defense played their hearts out. If I was Jeff, I'd be very proud."

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Rumors swirled after the game that Miller, who has passed for 1,936 yards and 13 touchdowns, suffered a broken collarbone when hit by Gardner. Coaches said only that Miller injured his shoulder and will be examined by a doctor Monday.

Miller, his right shoulder wrapped in ice, was visibly in pain.

"It first happened in the first quarter when I got thrown down on my shoulder," Miller said. "In the second quarter, I was hit again. My arm was going forward and he hit me and made it go the other way."

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Despite a respectable performance, the Matadors (1-5, 0-4 in conference) are out of the Big Sky race, dashing dreams of a conference title before their move next season to independent status.

"The way we played [Saturday], there is no reason for us to lose another game," safety Travis Campbell said. "But 1-5 doesn't look good."

Nor do the Matadors need to be reminded.

Last month, coaches and players were irked by a student forum published by the Daily Sundial, Northridge's campus newspaper, in which criticism of the team was scathing. One student was quoted as saying, "I heard they suck."

Frustration boiled over after the loss to Montana, particularly when student reporters repeatedly questioned players about the lack of attendance at home games.

"Is this the only question you're going to ask me?" a visibly irritated Marcus Brady said.

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