Cal State Northridge is riding high after dismantling Northern Arizona, 41-10, on Saturday in the Big Sky Conference football opener for both teams. But beware, Matador first-year Coach Ron Ponciano says, Big Sky champion Eastern Washington is coming to town.
“They’re frustrated and angry, so they’re going to come in with both barrels blazing,” Ponciano said of the Eagles. “I think they’re pretty good.”
The Eagles (0-2, 0-1 in Big Sky play) meet Northridge (1-1, 1-0) on Saturday afternoon at North Campus Stadium. They had a bye last week after losing to Idaho, 31-14, in a nonconference game on Sept. 5 and to Portland State, 30-27, in overtime a week later.
Ponciano believes Eastern Washington presents a big challenge for the Matador defense.
“It looks like they’d rather run first,” Ponciano said. “We’re not stopping the run as well as we should.”
Northridge is allowing 182.0 yards rushing per game, a continuation of their defensive woes of last year, when the Matadors gave up 181.1 yards on the ground per game. The Matadors also have to contend with a physical Eastern Washington offensive line that averages 285 pounds.
“They’re a typical Eastern Washington team,” Ponciano said. “They’re very solid.”
Honors: Northridge quarterback Marcus Brady was selected Big Sky offensive co-player of the week and cornerback Chazz Moore was picked defensive co-player.
Brady, a redshirt freshman from Morse High in San Diego, completed 20 of 26 attempts for 236 yards and three touchdowns. He completed his first 15 passes.
Moore, a junior transfer from Hancock College, caused two fumbles, returning one 93 yards for a touchdown. He had five tackles, a sack and two pass deflections.
Injury update: The Matadors lost starting linebacker Cos Abercrombie for four to six weeks with a fractured jaw suffered late in the game at Northern Arizona.
Abercrombie, a sophomore from Verbum Dei High, made nine tackles against the Lumberjacks.
Ponciano said Jack Heaslet and Quinton Reed will take turns replacing Abercrombie, who last season played in six games before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury.
Wide receiver Eric Carpenter, a 6-1 senior from Granada Hills, sprained his right ankle against Northern Arizona and is expected to be out two to three weeks.