Matadors Win Turning Over New Leaf, 26-10
For once, Cal State Northridge used turnovers to its advantage.
With the help of two Weber State mistakes, the Matadors pulled off a 26-10 victory Saturday in front of 5,813 at muddy Stewart Stadium to stay alive in the Big Sky Conference title chase.
The Matadors (5-3, 4-2 in conference play) moved into a three-way tie with Portland State and Montana for second place, one-half game behind Montana State (4-1).
“These past two weeks, we’ve all been feeling down,” Northridge quarterback Marcus Brady said. “We still got a chance to win the conference.”
The Matadors turned a fumble and interception by Weber State (5-4, 3-3) into touchdowns, a significant turnabout after giving away the ball nine times the last two weeks in losses to Cal State Sacramento and Montana State.
Rashard Magee of Weber State fumbled Ethan Beck’s punt at the Wildcat 39 and Eric Carpenter recovered. Two plays later, Brady hit Mike Ogas on 35-yard post pattern to put Northridge ahead, 14-7, late in the first quarter.
On the first series of the third quarter, linebacker Shayne Blakey picked off Chris Wallace’s pass intended for running back Bryan Rubin in the right flat and returned it 76 yards for a touchdown and a 20-7 lead.
“I had [Rubin] in man coverage,” Blakey said. “He pretended he was blocking, then flared out. I cut in front of him and took it to the house.”
The Matadors forced five turnovers, including another fumble recovery and interceptions by free safety Jeremy Golden on the last play of the first quarter and by cornerback Donnell Day in the end zone in the fourth quarter.
Northridge fell behind, 7-0, when the Wildcats covered 50 yards in three plays on their first possession, with Morgan Welch’s 31-yard run capping the drive.
The Matadors answered immediately, marching 82 yards in 14 plays and tying the score, 7-7, on Brady’s three-yard pass to Aaron Arnold, who made a diving catch in the right corner of the end zone.
After Weber State’s first possession, Northridge held Welch, the fifth-leading rusher in Division I-AA with 1,310 yards, to 30 yards.
“We were crowding people at the line of scrimmage,” said Craig Wall, the Northridge defensive coordinator. “We were going to force them to beat us with the pass.”
Wallace completed 17 of 35 passes for 264 yards with two interceptions. Brady completed 27 of 39 for 264 yards with one interception.
Brady’s third touchdown pass came on a 23-yard sideline toss to Anthony Ramos with 39 seconds left in the third quarter, increasing Northridge’s lead to 26-10.
Weber State, which lost its fourth in a row, had the Big Sky’s top-rated defense, but allowed 312 yards. The Wildcats, ranked No. 23 in one poll, gained 396 yards.