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Hicks Battle Also Was One-Sided

September 03, 2000|VINCE KOWALICK

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — It was a bittersweet reunion for Matt and Jon Hicks--off the field.

The brothers from North Hollywood High suited up for opposing teams Saturday at Falcon Stadium--Matt for Cal State Northridge, Jon for Air Force--with hopes of coming facemask-to-facemask on the field.

Matt, a freshman running back who transferred from Air Force to Northridge last month, did not play, a decision based on his lack of preparation since joining practice this week.

Jon, a sophomore nose guard, played considerably.

Their only meeting on the field was during post-game handshakes.

"He just asked me if I played at all and I said, 'No,' " Matt said. "He wasn't sure. I didn't expect to play much since I just started practicing this week. I would have liked to have played. But it's just the beginning of the season."

Jon was credited with two tackles. Too bad, he said, he didn't get the chance to put a lick on his younger brother.

"Yeah, I was looking forward to it," Jon said. "There's been some talking on the phone. But mostly I was just focused on the game."

*

Expect to see Hicks in action next weekend when Northridge plays at Southwest Texas.

"We were debating putting him in, down at the end by so much," Kearin said. "But I was more concerned with protection and things. He will play next week."

The Matadors' running back situation is a concern, considering Alan Taylor suffered a season-ending ankle injury last week.

Freshman Bruce Molock and junior Terrelus Wright shared duty against Air Force, each carrying nine times and combining for 110 of the Matadors' 125 yards rushing.

Of course, 54 came on one run by Molock.

"I think we'll be OK at running back," Kearin said.

Meanwhile, the meat and potatoes of the offense remain quarterback Marcus Brady and receiver Drew Amerson.

Amerson, who led the Big Sky Conference with 72 receptions last season, caught nine of Brady's 15 completions for 52 yards against Air Force.

Said Kearin: "Any time we're struggling, our answer will be a quick pass to Amerson."

*

Northridge faced a few unprecedented circumstances against Air Force, not the least of which was the military pageantry that surrounded the game.

The Matadors traveled to Colorado Springs on Friday and awakened early for an 11 a.m. kickoff.

Moments before the game, festivities included an Air Force flyover, four parachutists landing at midfield and the national anthem performed by the Air Force band while hundreds of cadets stood in formation on the field.

Were the Matadors distracted?

"Actually, all that got me more pumped up for the game," safety Travis Campbell said. "We had a lot of mental energy. I've been waiting my whole life to play on Saturday before 50,000 people."

Still, jitters appeared evident. Receiver D.J. Hackett fumbled twice, and Wright and Molock both fumbled the ball away.

"I think some of the younger guys might have had some butterflies," Amerson said. "We've got to learn to turn that into positive energy."

*

Northridge emerged with few injuries. Cornerback Sean Atkins limped off the field in the first half with a contusion on his right knee. Defensive end Joseph Roberson suffered a knee strain and cornerback Karalus Doyle, who had the Matadors' only interception, suffered a hip pointer. All are expected to play next week.

*

Northridge was the most-penalized Big Sky team last season, causing Kearin to call for change.

So far, so good. Northridge was penalized twice for 10 yards against Air Force.

Last season, the Matadors were penalized 15 times for 148 yards in their season opener against Western Oregon. In a 71-14 loss at Kansas, Northridge committed eight penalties.

Noticeably missing were personal fouls, committed frequently last season by the Matadors.

"This team won't do that," Kearin said. "We will play between the whistles and between the lines."

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