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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Matadors Given the Slip

College football: Northridge commits four turnovers and Northern Arizona pulls away, 49-26.

September 17, 2000|VINCE KOWALICK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

About the only thing Cal State Northridge can't seem to turn over this season is a new leaf.

The Matadors certainly have mastered giving away the football. Saturday, they gave away a lot more.

Northern Arizona, capitalizing on four Northridge turnovers and the Matadors' increasingly lethargic ways, turned the tide in the second half and turned a tie game into a 49-26 rout in a Big Sky Conference opener before 3,085 at North Campus Stadium.

The first-half ended with the score 21-21 and Northridge (1-2) took a 24-21 lead early in the third quarter on a 21-yard field goal by Derek Brown.

But from there the Matadors bumbled.

Northridge lost two third-quarter fumbles that led to touchdowns by the Lumberjacks (2-0), including a 38-yard return for a score by Pisa Magele after an errant pitch by quarterback Marcus Brady.

Brady, who threw two first-quarter touchdown bombs to D.J. Hackett, played offensive catalyst, as usual, but struggled to move the offense down the stretch. He resorted to scrambling that resulted in gains of 50 and 51 yards.

Brady completed 22 of 40 passes for 352 yards and became the Matadors' career passing leader with a seven-yard touchdown pass to Gil Rodriguez in the second quarter.

However, he threw two interceptions and was sacked five times.

Northridge's only other second-half score was a safety on a blocked punt.

All of which clearly frustrated Coach Jeff Kearin of Northridge, whose team had five turnovers last week at Southwest Texas State. Northridge has 12 turnovers this season.

"The turnovers are devastating," Kearin said. "This is a carry-over from last year. We cannot turn the ball over. If we continue to do that, we will have a lot more days like we had [Saturday]."

Turnovers were only part of it. The Matadors' defense was exploited and embarrassed by a balanced Lumberjack attack that amassed 553 yards.

Two of four touchdown runs by Marcus Kings of Northern Arizona came on fourth and one.

The first, a 61-yard burst up the middle, gave the Lumberjacks their first lead, 28-24.

The second, a 20-yard sweep, came only 1:32 later after receiver Jason Stone fumbled the ball away on the first play of a Northridge series.

King rushed for 180 yards in 28 carries.

The Lumberjacks caught Northridge napping on fourth down in the fourth quarter when David Moran ran 36 yards up the middle on a fake punt.

"Mistake after mistake," Brady said. "The only thing I can [attribute it to] is lack of concentration."

Brady provided the game's first score with a towering 76-yard touchdown bomb to Hackett, who made a stumbling catch at the 20-yard line and maintained his balance.

Brady and Hackett teamed for a 52-yard scoring play along the opposite sideline that gave Northridge a 14-7 lead.

Brady's strike to Rodriguez gave Northridge a 21-14 lead.

But Northern Arizona matched the Matadors score for score in the first half, pulling even for the third time with 12 seconds to play on a 12-yard pass from Preston Parsons to Stuart Crandall.

Parsons completed 22 of 39 for 282 yards.

"We definitely had a lot of adversity in the first half," Coach Jerome Souers of Northern Arizona said. "We just needed some time to get into a rhythm."

Brady led Northridge in rushing with 62 yards in 15 carries.

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Canyons routs Antelope Valley. Page 12

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