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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Brady, Matadors Leave Montana State in Cold

College football: Quarterback passes for three touchdowns in Northridge's first Big Sky victory, 24-12.

October 22, 2000|VINCE KOWALICK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

BOZEMAN, Mont. — The way Cal State Northridge has played this season, it figured to be a mighty cold day before the Matadors posted a Big Sky Conference victory.

Saturday, it was. And the Matadors did.

In 38-degree weather and a steady snowstorm, Marcus Brady threw three touchdown passes to Drew Amerson and Northridge put the freeze on Montana State's offense in a 24-12 victory before 4,137 bundled spectators at Bobcat Stadium.

Northridge (2-5, 1-4 in Big Sky play), seizing a chance to avoid finishing last, for the first time this season was in control virtually from the start--although several of the Matadors might have wished they were somewhere else.

Frigid wind and wet conditions kept players shivering on the sideline and observers scrambling for shelter. Some players' teeth chattered while conducting postgame interviews.

"Marcus came in at halftime and he couldn't stop shaking," Northridge Coach Jeff Kearin said.

For many of the Matadors, the game marked the first time they had played in snow. That included Brady and Amerson, former teammates at San Diego Morse High.

For some, it was the first time they had come in contact with the frosty stuff.

"It's the first time I've ever seen snow," said linebacker Cos Abercrombie, who grew up in Torrance. "On TV it looks fun. Not today."

Said safety Travis Campbell: "This weather is miserable. I felt like I was snowboarding, but I wasn't."

Snapping a four-game losing streak against lowly Montana State (0-7, 0-4) did wonders to warm the Matadors.

"There is nothing like winning to cure your ills," Kearin said. "Regardless of all the weather, it was nice to come up here and win. We needed this so bad."

Northridge held Montana State to only 83 yards passing, limiting Farhaad Azimi, a former starter at Rio Mesa High and Moorpark College, to nine completions in 27 attempts and intercepting one of his passes. Four times Northridge foiled fourth-down attempts by the Bobcats.

"Our main drive was to stay out of last," Abercrombie said. "I think that brought this team together."

Northridge took a 7-0 lead on Brady's 15-yard pass to Amerson late in the first quarter. He connected again with Amerson on a 42-yard scoring play in the second quarter and a 12-yard scoring pass in the third.

Amerson had seven catches for 107 yards.

"They're always on kind of the same page," Kearin said. "They kind of speak to each other from a distance."

Brady had difficulty gripping the ball in the rain at Southwest Texas State last month. This time he performed well in spite of the elements.

He completed 17 of 31 passes--mostly on short routes over the middle--for 210 yards and no interceptions.

"That was our plan we were executing all week," Kearin said. "None of us were comfortable trying to wing it today down the field. So, we went to throws over the middle."

Brady engineered two lengthy drives that ended with scoring passes, including a 12-play, 80-yard march to begin the third quarter that gave the Matadors 21-6 lead.

Brady completed three of four on the drive, including a 16-yard pass to Gil Rodriguez on third down.

Brady's only costly miscue accounted for Montana State's first score when Kane Ioane returned a fumble 55 yards for a touchdown after Brady lost the ball while being sacked.

Montana State, its school-record losing streak extended to 13 games, pulled to within 7-6 early on the play in the second quarter.

"It's an experience to have under your belt, playing in this," Brady said. "But it made it much harder to throw."

Cameron King's one-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter cut the Northridge lead to 21-12.

For much of the game, the Bobcat offense--ranked last in the Big Sky--sputtered.

"We knew what [Northridge] was going to do and they did it," Coach Mike Kramer of Montana State said.

* NORTHRIDGE NOTEBOOK

Montana State assistant Aaron Flowers is disappointed his team took step back against his alma mater. D15

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