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Romines Takes Davis Defense for Long Ride

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

You wouldn’t think a guy who caught 10 passes last week would find himself single-covered so often. Then again, you wouldn’t think the Cal State Northridge football team would beat anyone by 25 points.

Both happened Saturday night, when receiver David Romines constantly beat one-on-one coverage to catch 18 passes for 219 yards as the Matadors beat UC Davis, 56-31, before 4,264 at North Campus Stadium.

“We take what the defense gives us,” said Matador quarterback Aaron Flowers. “I didn’t they’d give us Dave. They gambled and it worked in our favor.”

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The Matadors (1-1), who scored their most points since 1987, isolated Romines on one side, drawing most of the coverage to the opposite side with three receivers. Facing one-on-one coverage, Romines constantly worked himself open on five- to 15-yard patterns.

Flowers and Romines in particular executed Coach Dave Baldwin’s offense to perfection, picking apart the defense with a variety of short passes as the Matadors methodically marched down the field.

Flowers completed 29 of 40 passes for 369 yards and four touchdowns in three quarters. He also scored two touchdowns on sneaks.

Running back Chad Marsalek also ran for a touchdown and 105 of Northridge’s 542 yards of offense, but most of the Matador attack came on variations of the same play: Flowers to Romines.

“For a receiver, this offense is a dream,” Romines said. “Play the pass like the run. Just catch short passes and then run with it.”

By playing their first game against a team they played last season, the Matadors gave a quantifiable indication of just how much better they are. Davis beat Northridge, 38-8, last season.

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Another indication of the difference between last year’s team and this year’s: The 33 first-half points Northridge scored Saturday were nearly half of the 67 the team scored in 10 first halves in 1995.

The game began with shades of last season, as Northridge fell behind almost instantly.

On the first play from scrimmage, Aggie quarterback Mark Grieb threw over the middle to Ira Porchia, who was tightly covered by Doug Varner. Varner batted the ball in the air, but receiver Brian Favors darted by and grabbed the floating ball on his way to an 86-yard touchdown.

Northridge quickly answered, taking its first possession 78 yards, capping the drive on Marsalek’s 17-yard run.

After one more wacky play--the extra point was blocked and returned by the Aggies for a two-point defensive conversion--the Matadors dominated.

Bennie Herron’s interception at the Northridge 18 gave the ball back to the Matadors, who drove 82 yards for a touchdown, taking a 12-9 lead after a failed two-point conversion attempt.

Minutes later, the Matadors scored again on an impressive two-play drive. Flowers hit Jeramie Thomas with a 43-yard bomb and then floated a 22-yard touchdown pass over leaping Aggie safety Colin Hardesty and into the hands of Romines.

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The Aggies (0-1) responded with a touchdown drive, pulling within 19-15, but Northridge finished the half with touchdown drives of 76 and 72 yards, taking a 33-15 lead into the locker room.

Northridge carried the momentum into the second half, when linebacker James Woods forced a fumble at the Davis 25. Linebacker Marc Goodson scooped up the ball and ran it to the 4, setting up a one-yard touchdown run by Flowers for a 40-15 lead.

Matador Notes

Safety Steve Standifer, one of the Matadors’ defensive captains, missed most of the game after injuring his right hamstring on a kickoff early in the game. “I’ll probably just sit out practice this week and then come back and try to help my team win,” Standifer said. . . . Safety Donnell Day bruised his right shoulder and missed most of the second half.

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