La Mesa, Calif. • The Mamas & The Papas once sang about California Dreamin', but Northridge's trip to San Diego turned into a nightmare for the Knights' special teams.
After a scheduled 30-minute bus ride from the team hotel to the stadium turned into a two-hour ordeal, Northridge lost 32-0 at Helix High on Friday night as part of the Under Armour Brothers in Arms Classic.
The Knights turned over the ball four times and allowed Helix to score twice on special teams.
"We were challenged with their speed," Northridge coach Erik Thompson said.
Northridge faced a powerful program out of San Diego's east county that produced former Utah quarterback Alex Smith and Heisman winning tailback Reggie Bush.
But it was punt returner Jalen Davis tormenting Northridge and the Knights' special teams Friday night.
Davis returned a punt 54 yards at the end of the second quarter to set up a one-play touchdown drive to put Helix up 12-0 at halftime.
Davis returned a punt 40 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
"They had some big plays on special teams that led to four scores," Thompson said. "We fought and stayed positive, but it was too much to overcome."
Northridge also allowed a touchdown on the first series of the game when a snap to the punter was short and low. The ball rolled into the end zone, where Helix pounced to take a 6-0 lead.
Dayan Lake fumbled a punt inside his own 5-yard line during the second half, but a Northridge defensive stand kept Helix from scoring.
Turnovers are becoming a big issue for Northridge. The Knights coughed up the ball 10 times combined in losses to Logan and Olympus to open the season and now have committed 14 turnovers in just three games.
"The guys are learning that little mistakes can cost us games," Thompson said.
But he also said that the trip to Southern California was an overall success.
"We got on the road, had fun and bonded," Thompson said. "We've grown a lot in our first three games, and I think we are better prepared for the rest of the season and our games in Region 1."