UC Davis Still Owns CSUN, 24-7

TIMES STAFF WRITER

It was a night for nostalgia.

Homecoming at UC Davis attracted hundreds of alumni, an alumni band--even alumni cheerleaders--to Toomey Field for Saturday night's nonconference game against Cal State Northridge.

And, sure enough, what they saw was a blast from the past.

Davis, as it always seems to do, manhandled Northridge, 24-7, before about 7,100 spectators, who should have expected as much.

It was the Aggies' eighth consecutive win over the Matadors, and six of those decisions have come by at least 17 points.

The loss, CSUN's second in a row, dropped the Matadors to 4-4 overall and dimmed their hopes for a National Collegiate Athletic Assn. Division II playoff berth. Davis, ranked 12th in Division II, improved to 6-1.

Northridge is still technically in the running for a share of a championship--Portland State, the Western Football Conference leader, was upset by Southern Utah, 36-26, on Saturday--should the Matadors regroup to win their final three games.

But the way CSUN looked in the second half against Davis, the chances of that are slim as well.

"We were pathetic," said Albert Fann, the Northridge tailback. "We had holding penalties. We had offsides penalties. We did things Pop Warner teams don't do."

Indeed, the Matadors were penalized 11 times for 90 yards in losses, including a defensive holding call that led to Davis' go-ahead touchdown.

Most of Northridge's problems came on offense. In addition to four holding penalties, Northridge was stymied by two Sherdrick Bonner interceptions.

"We had opportunities presented to us by our defense," said Bob Burt, CSUN's coach. "We just haven't put the ball in the end zone."

The Matadors, leading 7-3, seemed about to do just that when it all started to unravel.

After a fumbled punt gave CSUN the ball deep in Aggie territory early in the third quarter, the Matadors gave it right back as Linton Hall intercepted a Bonner pass intended for Joe Rice in the end zone.

Northridge crossed midfield only one time after that.

Davis, which outgained CSUN 402 yards to 242, took the lead on a one-yard dive by Jim Tomasin with 51 seconds left in the third quarter.

On Northridge's next play from scrimmage, Bonner, again looking for Rice, was once more intercepted. This time it was Elijah Hall who did the honors.

It was Bonner's 11th interception of the season (he has five touchdowns) and it gave Davis the ball at the CSUN 19.

On the Aggies' second play after the turnover, Tomasin scrambled into the end zone from nine yards. The point-after kick put Davis up, 17-7.

Northridge responded with back-to-back possessions of 1-2-3 punt, 1-2-3 punt.

Fann, the leading rusher in the conference coming in, ran for 86 yards in 21 carries. Only 37 of those yards came in the second half when the Matadors totaled 73.

Northridge made another mistake that resulted in Davis' final score.

After a roughing-the-punter call on Matador linebacker Daved Benefield sustained a drive, the Aggies cashed it in on a 26-yard pass from Jeff Bridewell to Craig Jones with 5:06 left.

It was one of a handful of Bridewell passes that traveled more than 15 yards in the air. But the short-gain strategy worked. He completed 21 of 33 attempts for 229 yards.

CSUN's only touchdown came midway through the second quarter when Bonner scrambled in from five yards to cap an eight-play, 60-yard drive.

In addition to scoring himself, Bonner hooked up with split end Tony Young on a 33-yard third-down pass play, which was the key play of the drive.

In its four wins, the Matadors have trailed at the half. In its losses, CSUN has led. The Matadors were in front, 7-3, at the intermission Saturday.

Bridewell, who was sidelined for a series with blurry vision after catching a throw-back pass, completed 15 of 20 first-half passing attempts.

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