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The Gilmer Free Press


The Gilmer Free Press

►  Heisman Rankings: Week 12

There’s lots of moving and shaking in the Week 12 version of the Heisman rankings, with a couple of newcomers making a splash and a historic performance skyrocketing another towards the top. However, the top spot remains unchanged despite a bye week for one superstar.


1. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon (last week: No. 1)—Despite the best efforts from the new No. 2 contender, Mariota was able to hang on to the top spot through his bye week. No one has been more consistently outstanding this season than the Ducks’ quarterback, who has 2,780 passing yards (on 67.1% completions), 524 rushing yards and 38 total touchdowns paired with just two interceptions. Oregon is firmly in the College Football Playoff if it can win its final two games plus the Pac-12 Championship, and assuming Mariota can put together a few more stellar performances along the way, it’ll be him hoisting the trophy over his head in New York next month.


2. Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin (last week: No. 4)—Gordon was already in the midst of a campaign that was likely to land him in New York as a Heisman finalist, but after a historic showing over the weekend, he’s now a legitimate threat to Mariota for the award. In Wisconsin’s 59-24 romp of Nebraska, Gordon pieced together a game never before seen at the highest level of competition, as he rushed for an FBS single-game record 408 yards and four touchdowns. What made the accomplishment even more incredible was he needed just 25 carries (16.3 ypc) to get there, breaking LaDainian Tomlinson’s previous record on a 26-yard touchdown run to close out the third quarter, his final carry of the game - all against a Cornhuskers’ squad that ranked in the top-25 nationally in rushing defense heading into the game. There’s now no question who the nation’s top running back is, as Gordon (1,909 yards, 23 TDs) is more than 200 yards clear of the field for the FBS rushing crown, and with two regular season games, a possible Big Ten Championship Game and a bowl still left, Barry Sanders’ single-season rushing record (2,628) could very well be in jeopardy.


3. Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU (last week: No. 3)—The Horned Frogs nearly had their hopes at a Big 12 championship and a College Football Playoff berth come to a disastrous end at Kansas, as they trailed by 10 in the third quarter to a three-win team, but thanks to the Boykin-led offense and a special-teams touchdown, they rallied for the 34-30 victory. The near fatal showing came in spite of a stellar performance by Boykin, who completed greater than 72% of his passes for 330 yards with a touchdown, although he did throw a costly interception and had his worst rushing performance of the season (11 carries, two yards). The dual-threat quarterback - who’s racked up 3,021 yards passing, 548 yards rushing, 31 touchdowns and just five interceptions - is still right in the mix as a favorite with TCU still in the thick of the College Football Playoff discussion.


4. J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State (last week: unranked)—When Braxton Miller, a preseason Heisman candidate, went down in the preseason, Ohio State’s hopes hinged on an unknown under center, but the fast-rising Barrett has exceeded all expectations to keep his team as the favorite in the Big Ten. He’s saved his best play for late in the season. In back-to-back road wins over Michigan State and Minnesota, Barrett has piled up 775 total yards and nine touchdowns, which included a 189-yard rushing effort over the weekend to push OSU to 9-1. Whether or not the Buckeyes can beat out TCU, Mississippi State and Baylor for the No. 4 spot in the College Football Playoff remains to be seen, but Barrett (2,356 passing yards, 771 rushing yards, 38 TDs, eight interceptions) has been more than good enough, setting a pace even better than Miller’s 2013 season (2,094 passing, 1,068 rushing, 36 TDs, seven INTs).


5. Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama (last week: No. 5)—While the Crimson Tide’s defense was the true star of their all-important 25-20 victory over Mississippi State - a triumph that put Alabama in the driver’s seat in the SEC Western Division - Cooper continued to be the team’s biggest difference maker on the offensive side of the ball. For the fourth straight week and the ninth time in 10 games this season, Cooper finished with eight receptions, totaling 88 yards while hauling in an outstanding touchdown catch in the second quarter. With defenses keying on Cooper as the Tide’s only dangerous pass- catching threat, he has come through week after week (87 receptions, 1,303 yards, 11 TDs).


6. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State (last week: 6)—The Seminoles faced yet another scare at Miami-Florida but used a fourth-quarter comeback to secure a 30-26 victory to remain undefeated, extending their winning streak to 26 and clinching the ACC Atlantic Division. Despite throwing for 304 yards and a touchdown, Winston wasn’t great, as he completed less than 60% of his passes and tossed an interception for the fourth straight game. The reigning winner’s numbers this season simple aren’t Heisman-worthy (2,844 yards, 18 TDs, 12 interceptions), but there’s something to be said about finding a way to win every week, and through all the controversy surrounding him over the past two seasons, he’s continued to keep FSU out of the loss column.


7. Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State (last week: No. 2)—Not only did the Bulldogs lose their grasp on the SEC Western Division, but Prescott’s Heisman campaign hit a brick wall against the ferocious Alabama defense. His final numbers were pretty impressive (290 passing yards, 82 rushing yards, two TDs), but the biggest difference in the game was his three interceptions (giving him eight picks in the last five games). Of course, facing Alabama in Tuscaloosa is one of the toughest tasks in college football, but Prescott’s performance simply wasn’t worthy of contender status regardless. His season has still been outstanding (2,521 passing yards, 861 rushing yards, 32 TDs, 10 interceptions), and he could still work his way back into finalist consideration with a strong finish, but Mississippi State no longer controls its own destiny certainly hurts.


8. Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska (last week: No. 7)—To say that Abdullah was overshadowed by Gordon in a highly anticipated battle between two of the nation’s best running backs would be putting things lightly. Returning from a minor knee injury suffered against Purdue on November 1, Abdullah rushed for just 69 yards on 18 carries and failed to score a touchdown for the first time this season in any full game he’s played. Abdullah’s campaign has lost all momentum, especially with Nebraska losing a step to Wisconsin in the race for the Big Ten West Division crown, but the running back has still rushed for 1,319 yards and scored 19 touchdowns, an outstanding season that deserves plenty of love.


9. Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA (last week: No. 9)—Although the Bruins didn’t play over the weekend, they were still big winners with Arizona State losing to Oregon State, meaning they now control their own destiny in the Pac-12 South Division, with Saturday’s matchup against cross-town rival USC likely determining who will play Oregon in the league championship game. Hundley, who’s completed 72.1% of his passes (tops in the nation) for 2,547 yards, 17 touchdowns to just four picks to go with impressive rushing totals (564 yards, seven TDs), has a couple more opportunities to move up the list at the last minute.


10. Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia (last week: unranked)—The Bulldogs’ welcomed back star tailback Todd Gurley after a four-game suspension and he did not disappoint (29 carries, 138 yards, TD), but disaster struck late in the game when he suffered a season-ending torn ACL. Luckily for Georgia, it has a contingency plan in Chubb, who still found time to produce even with Gurley back by picking up 144 yards and two scores on 19 carries. Chubb has done his best Gurley impression as the featured back, rushing for at least 140 yards in four straight to give him 1,039 yards and 11 touchdowns on the season, and he’ll be ready to carry the full load during the stretch run.


Dropped Out: Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor; Bo Wallace, QB, Ole Miss

Honorable Mention: Gerod Holliman, DB, Louisville



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Vikings’ Peterson suspended for the remainder of 2014 season

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has been suspended for at least the remainder of the 2014 season for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy.

The suspension, without pay, stems from the abusive discipline Peterson inflicted on his four-year-old son last May. He was charged with reckless or negligent injury to a child in Texas earlier this year, then pled no contest to a lesser charge on Nov. 4 and avoided jail time.

Peterson was placed on probation while receiving a $4,000 fine and an order to perform 80 hours of community service.

The NFL said Peterson will not be considered for reinstatement before April 15.


►  DEA sends high-profile warning to NFL

The seedy underbelly of the NFL was exposed Sunday when federal drug agents conducted surprise inspections of several team medical staffs as part of an ongoing investigation into prescription drug abuse in the league.

The “inspections” were carried out by Drug Enforcement Administration agents in cooperation with the Transportation Security Administration.

DEA spokesman Rusty Payne confirmed the existence of the investigation, which is being spearheaded by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. There were no arrests Sunday nor search warrants proffered, however.

Multiple reports surfaced that the San Francisco 49ers’ medical staff was checked at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, after they played the New York Giants and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ staff was questioned at Baltimore-Washington International airport after playing the Redskins. The Seattle Seahawks, who were in Kansas City, confirmed via the team’s Twitter account that they were checked as well. As many as six teams were scheduled to be inspected.

“The San Francisco 49ers organization was asked to participate in a random inspection with representatives from the DEA Sunday night at MetLife Stadium,“ 49ers spokesman Bob Lange said in a statement. “The 49ers medical staff complied, and the team departed the stadium as scheduled.“

The NFL also confirmed the investigation.

“Our teams cooperated with the DEA today and we have no information to indicate that irregularities were found,“ NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said.

The DEA is investigating charges that NFL teams are dispensing prescription drugs illegally in order to keep players on the field in violation of the Controlled Substances Act, something they could have learned from watching “North Dallas Forty” in 1979.

Jokes aside, sources say the DEA had specific cause to investigate the teams looked at on Sunday but the investigation is not just limited in scope to them.

The investigation is believed to focus on potential distribution of drugs without prescriptions or labels, and the dispensing of drugs by trainers without the OK of actual physicians. stemming from a class-action lawsuit filed in federal court in May by more than 1,300 retired NFL players.

Agents were reportedly looking for documentation from visiting teams’ medical staffs for any controlled substances in their possession.

The class-action suit alleges that NFL medical staffs regularly violate federal and state laws by providing addictive narcotics, sleeping pills and the non-addictive painkiller Toradol “without a prescription and with little regard for a player’s medical history or potentially fatal interactions with other medications.“

Federal law prohibits anyone but a physician or nurse practioner from distributing prescription drugs. It is also illegal for trainers to handle controlled substances, never mind dispense them.

If doggedly pursued this is the kind of explosive allegation that could envelop the entire league and dwarf any previous personal-conduct scandals, be it Ray Rice, Greg Hardy or Adrian Peterson.

But, this is really only a wink from the DEA in an attempt to alert the league to not be so overt with its dirty laundry, far from a real attempt to clean up the profession.

After all the DEA already has both anecdotal and concrete evidence that this behavior has been going on for years.

A 2010 study by the Washington University School of Medicine found that retired NFL players are four times more likely to abuse opioids than the general public.

Last year the New Orleans Saints were fined for failing to properly store, control and dispense medication after a 2010 incident in which security cameras showed assistant head coach/linebackers coach Joe Vitt removing handfuls of Vicodin from an unattended cabinet.

In 2010, the DEA was forced to raid the offices of the San Diego Chargers after safety Kevin Ellison was caught with 100 Vicodin pills during a traffic stop. The sweep resulted in the downfall of former team doctor David Chao, who wrote over 100 prescriptions to himself with the intent on dispensing the drugs to members of the team.

Chao was hardly an anomaly, though. He was a scapegoat.

Over the past year, the DEA has significantly ramped up its efforts to reduce what the administration describes as a national epidemic of painkiller abuse which in turns spawns into an increased use of heroin.

And it doesn’t want a brand as popular as the NFL willfully ignoring its stated goal or worse yet, flouting it.


►  Jags activate TE Lewis

The Jacksonville Jaguars activated tight end Marcedes Lewis from injured reserve on Monday.

Lewis was placed on the injured reserve with a designation to return in mid- September with a high ankle sprain.

In two games this season, Lewis has eight catches for 106 yards with one touchdown.

To make room on the roster, the Jags placed wide receiver Allen Robinson on injured reserve with a foot injury that will require surgery.

In 10 games this season, Robinson had 48 catches for 548 yards with two touchdowns.


►  Falcons’ Alford out 2-to-4 weeks

Atlanta Falcons starting cornerback Robert Alford is expected to miss 2-to-4 weeks due to a wrist injury.

Alford suffered the injury during the first quarter of Sunday’s win over the Carolina Panthers and did not return.

In starting all 10 games this season, Alford has posted 31 tackles and three interceptions.

The Falcons also announced that running back Antone Smith is out for the remainder of the season with a broken leg.

Smith’s season comes to end with 23 carries for 144 yards with two touchdowns.


►  Cardinals’ Fitzgerald has knee injury

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee.

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said Monday it was a Grade 2 sprain, but he also expects Fitzgerald to play in next Sunday’s NFC West showdown against Seattle.

Fitzgerald was hurt in the second quarter of this past Sunday’s game against Detroit and left the field to be examined, but returned to the contest. He had just two catches for 33 yards in the 14-6 win that improved the Cardinals to an NFL-best 9-1.

The 11th-year veteran leads the Cardinals with 46 receptions for 658 yards, but has just two touchdown catches.

Arians also said tight end Troy Niklas suffered a high ankle sprain is doubtful for next Sunday’s game.


►  NFL Game Results

(MONDAY, NOVEMBER 17)


Final Score: Pittsburgh 27, Tennessee 24

The Titans held Ben Roethlisberger in check, but they failed to contain Le’Veon Bell. Bell carried the ball 33 times for a career-high 204 yards and a touchdown in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 27-24 victory over Tennessee. The Steelers got touchdowns from Bell and Antonio Brown in the fourth quarter to avoid another upset. Pittsburgh was coming off a 20-13 loss to the two-win Jets. Roethlisberger completed 21- of-32 passes for 207 yards, one touchdown and an interception for the Steelers (7-4), who have a bye next week. Brown caught nine passes for 91 yards. Zach Mettenberger connected on 15-of-24 passes for 263 yards, two touchdowns and an interception for the Titans (2-8), who have lost four in a row. Bishop Sankey carried the ball 11 times for 38 yards and a score.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Things we learned on Week 11

Although most everyone already knew it, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers demonstrated once again how good he is.

He’s actually been too efficient for fantasy owners.

His Packers have demolished their last two opponents and Rodgers hasn’t been playing the full 60 minutes. On Sunday Green Bay posted a 53-spot on the Eagles for their second consecutive 50-plus point output.

Rookie Mike Evans did something that hasn’t been done since Randy Moss. Anytime you get mentioned in the same breath as a receiver like Moss, you must be doing pretty good.

Below are a few more things we observed:


Atlanta at Carolina

In what started as the “Boring Bowl” of the day, Atlanta and Carolina played an entertaining second half ... for the NFC South, anyway.

The Panthers offense did practically nothing through three quarters. Finally with 10 minutes left in the game, Cam Newton rushed for a 15-yard gain, and on the next play, found Kelvin Benjamin with a 22-yard touchdown strike.

Newton struck again hitting Philly Brown for a 47-yard touchdown. Newton finished 23-of-37 with 292 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He added 30 yards on the ground.

Benjamin continued to be Carolina’s best fantasy option as he had nine catches for 109 yards and the score. DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart disappointed with a combined 17 carries for 65 yards.

If not for a missed 46-yard field goal attempt from Graham Gano, Carolina likely would have won and moved into first place of the mediocre NFC South at 4-6-1. He had another opportunity from 63 yards in the final seconds, but that had no shot and was blocked.

Matt Ryan posted 268 yards and one touchdown. Despite the healthiness of his receivers this season, that seems to be the best Ryan owners can hope for from him week-to-week. There are worse fantasy quarterbacks, but he hardly seems like a championship quarterback in a league smaller than 12 teams.

Roddy White caught the solo Ryan touchdown, and he had eight catches for 75 yards. Julio Jones had six receptions for 59 yards,

Steven Jackson led the Falcons in rushing again, but that isn’t saying much. He had 41 yards on 17 carries.


Minnesota at Chicago

Fantasy owners hadn’t seen him in a few weeks, but the “good” Jay Cutler was back on the field in Week 11. He completed 31-of-43 passes for 330 yards and three touchdowns.

Cutler spread the ball pretty evenly between his two big receivers. Alshon Jeffery led the team with 17 targets, 11 catches and 135 yards while Brandon Marshall had seven receptions for 90 yards. Marshall also boxed out defenders on two short touchdown receptions. Jeffery had a score as well.

The Bears quarterback did throw two interceptions, but based on how the Chicago offense has struggled, fantasy owners will take it.

With the receivers getting all the attention in the red zone, Matt Forte didn’t get many chances to score. He did, however, finish with 175 yards on offense, including 117 rushing yards on 26 carries.

Minnesota’s leading rusher was Andrew Sendejo, who ran for 48 yards on a fake punt attempt. Being that Sendejo is a free safety, that says all owners really need to know about the Vikings offense on Sunday.

Teddy Bridgewater couldn’t do much and that was before Jarius Wright and Greg Jennings both left with injuries. Bridgewater threw for 158 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Tight end Rhett Ellison caught the touchdown, so that likely helped no one.

Jerick McKinnon had 12 touches for 58 yards. Matt Asiata was a non-factor.


Houston at Cleveland

J.J. Watt was at it again on Sunday, making both a positive and negative impact in Week 11 against the Browns. In the first quarter alone, Watt had three tackles, two for loss, a sack, and a touchdown catch. Can we please start this guy in offensive format leagues?

Playing special teams, Watt, not once, but twice, dove to block the punt attempt and roughed the kicker. The first penalty didn’t cost Watt and the Texans, but the second extended an eventual touchdown drive for the Browns.

Unfortunately for Browns fantasy owners, that was the team’s only score of the game. Brian Hoyer threw the ball 50 times and was successful on just 20 of them. He completed his touchdown to Andrew Hawkins, who was the only Browns player who made a fantasy impact. Hawkins caught six passes for 97 yards and scored. Taylor Gabriel caught five balls for 92 yards.

Isaiah Crowell led Cleveland with 14 carries and 61 rushing yards, but he lost a fumble. Terrance West and Ben Tate were basically invisible.

Great trivia question 20 years from now: who did Ryan Mallett throw his first career touchdown pass to? The answer would be Watt. Mallett threw his second touchdown to tight end Garrett Graham in the two-minute drill at the end of the second half.

Mallett finished 20-of-30 with 211 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Unlike Ryan Fitzpatrick, Mallett wasn’t afraid to let it rip down the field, which DeAndre Hopkins and Andre Johnson owners love to hear. Hopkins had four receptions for 80 yards and Johnson caught seven passes for 68 yards.


Seattle at Kansas City

Seattle returned to its bread-and-butter last week with over 350 rushing yards and four Marshawn Lynch touchdowns. They broke away from that game plan this week.

Yes, Seattle ran the ball 37 times versus 34 pass attempts in the game, but of the 12 plays the Seahawks had inside the Kansas City 10-yard line, Seattle threw it nine times. The Seahawks also elected to throw on fourth-and-goal at the 2-yard line, trailing by four late in the fourth quarter. The pass fell incomplete.

The Chiefs have yet to allow a rushing touchdown this season, and the Seahawks looked scared to test that. On the few occasions Seattle did challenge Kansas City with a short-yardage run, the Chiefs stuffed it.

Lynch rushed 25 times for 124 yards, but obviously did not score.

Russell Wilson did throw two of those nine pass attempts inside the 10-yard line for scores and finished with 178 passing yards, 71 rushing yards along with two passing touchdowns.

Doug Baldwin and Tony Moeaki caught the scores, and Jermaine Kearse led the team with five receptions and 54 yards. Too much balance for fantasy owners.

Jamaal Charles carried the ball 20 times for 159 yards, yet his owners walked away with the same feeling as Lynch owners: it could have been more. Charles scored two touchdowns in the first half, but Knile Davis “vultured” away a third touchdown.

Charles still had a smile and was jumping up and down when Davis scored. Maybe he had Davis in his fantasy lineup?

In addition to not allowing a rushing touchdown, Kansas City does not have a passing touchdown scored by a wide receiver, and that did not change Sunday. All three Chiefs touchdowns came on the ground.

Travis Kelce led Kansas City with three catches for 37 yards and lost a fumble, so he was disappointing. Alex Smith attempted just 16 passes, completed 11 of them for 108 yards.


Cincinnati at New Orleans

After one of the worst games in Bengals history and certainly his worst as a pro, Andy Dalton rebounded with a solid half quarter including a touchdown pass to Jermaine Gresham and a 13-3 lead. The two hooked up again early in the third quarter and Dalton finished with 220 yards and three scores.

A.J. Green carried the Bengals offense to their third touchdown with four big catches on the drive and cracked 100 yards for the first time since Week 3 (6-127-1). Welcome back to fantasy relevance Mr. Green.

Another monster day for Jeremy Hill (27-152-0). How can they keep this guy out of the lineup even when Giovani Bernard is ready to play?

Drew Brees completed 33-of-41 passes without an interception or fumble, yet managed to produce just 10 points.

Mark Ingram was held under 100 yards for the first time in four games, but it wasn’t because he shared the workload. He ran 23 times for just one for Travaris Cadet.


San Francisco at New York Giants

Frank Gore was seeing the same holes in the Giants defense as Marshawn Lynch did last weekend. But he’s not quite as good so only rushed for 95 yards.

The 49ers moved the ball well in the first half, but only had three Phil Dawson field goals to show for it.

Eli Manning being Eli threw a couple of bad first-half interceptions. The Giants just don’t have an offense that can overcome multiple turnovers. He finished with five interceptions for the second time in his career.

Rashad Jennings did about what we expected rushing 18 times, but for only 59 yards. He’ll have a better chance next week against the Cowboys run defense.


Denver at St. Louis

With Julius Thomas (ankle) and Emmanuel Sanders (concussion) out of the game, Peyton Manning and the Broncos passing game was severely tested in the second half. They came up woefully short scoring zero second-half points and just seven for the day.

Manning did throw for 389 yards, but was picked off twice. He’s now been intercepted two times in each of the last three games.

Both Demaryius Thomas and Sanders cracked the 100-yard mark. Thomas has earned the 100-yard bonus in seven consecutive games, while Sanders is three for his last four and six times this season.

Kenny Britt caught a long touchdown pass and finished with 128 yards and a touchdown, but the oft-injured receiver still missed time with an injury even in his best game of the season.

Shaun Hill was impressive in his return to the starting lineup, completing 20 of 29 passes for 220 yards and a score.


Tampa Bay at Washington

Evans has officially become the Bucs No. 1 fantasy receiver. He started the season behind Vincent Jackson, but after three big games the rookie has obviously surpassed the veteran. Today he posted monster numbers: seven receptions for 209 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The last rookie with three straight 100-yard games and a touchdown was Randy Moss in 1998.

In the backfield, it was Charles Sims rushing 13 times to just five for Bobby Rainey. Interesting.

Robert Griffin III was intercepted twice in his first seven passes to put his Redskins in a 13-0 second quarter hole for which they never could recover. A short throw to Roy Helu, who took it 30 yards for a score, made Griffin’s numbers look respectable.

For a supposedly mobile guy, RGIII was sacked six times.

DeSean Jackson’s statistics don’t look very good (four receptions for 35 yards), but twice he beat the defender deep and RGIII couldn’t deliver him the football.


Oakland at San Diego

If you start any Oakland Raiders players in your fantasy lineup, you must be really, really desperate.

The Oakland defense is usually good for an ailing quarterback. It certainly got Philip Rivers headed in the right direction after an ugly performance against Miami in his last game before the Chargers’ bye in Week 10. That is until he was rolled up on and seen walking with a significant limp. he finished with a pedestrian 193 yards and a touchdown, but no turnovers.

Ryan Mathews looked spry in his first action since Week 2, rushing for 70 yards on 16 carries. Branden Oliver owners saw their guy get 13 carries, but it’s Mathews’ job at this point.


Detroit at Arizona

Matthew Stafford and the offense could only generate two field goals and 137 yards of offense in the first half. They didn’t score at all in final two quarters.

Anyone who has been doubting the Cardinals defense should certainly be convinced by now. Heading into Week 11 they have given up more than 20 points just one time (Denver in Week 5).

Joique Bell was the only Lions player do put up decent fantasy totals, combining for 115 yards from scrimmage.

Drew Stanton’s 306 passing yards should calm the nerves of Cardinals fans and fantasy owners who picked him up to replace Carson Palmer.

Another dull afternoon from Andre Ellington (66 yards from scrimmage). fantasy owners can’t like where this is headed after a second consecutive poor output.

After being invisible for nearly a month, Cardinals wideout Michael Floyd reappeared against Detroit with a pair of first-half touchdowns.


Philadelphia at Green Bay

Mark Sanchez took a huge hit in the first half and the Eagles had Matt Barkley starting to throw. I’ll bet that sent shivers up fantasy owners and Eagles fans’ spine. Sanchez didn’t miss any plays, but he missed plenty of open receivers.

Still, in the Chip Kelly offense he put up 346 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns.

The Eagles secondary was no match for Aaron Rodgers who amassed almost 300 yards (actually 279) ... before half-time. He finished with 341 yards and three scores before watching the fourth quarter from the sidelines.

With Rodgers on fire, it’s no surprise that both Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, both over 100-yards receiving, posted big numbers.

It’s also no surprise that Eddie Lacy and the ground game wasn’t needed for much in the first half. Lacy did benefit from a pass interference call in the end zone to score from 1-yard out. And the big lead let the Packers run the ball in the third and fourth quarters, He also caught a 32-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter and totaled 114 yards from scrimmage.

The Packers put up three touchdowns from their defense/special teams.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Kings file protest over last-second loss to Grizzlies

The Sacramento Kings have filed a protest with the NBA over a last-second loss to Memphis on November 13.

Courtney Lee’s layup off an inbounds pass at the buzzer gave the Grizzlies a 111-110 win. The play was reviewed for several minutes before being upheld.

The Kings, in their protest with the league, believe the shot should have been disqualified because time should have expired.

Lee flew through the air to catch Vince Carter’s inbounds feed and got a reverse off-balance shot to fall as time expired, though television replays appeared to show the Kings’ Ryan Hollins getting a hand on the pass, which would have started a clock that had just 0.3 seconds showing at the start of the play.

Under protest procedures in the NBA’s constitution, Memphis and Sacramento each will have an opportunity to submit evidence in support of its position and the protest will be decided by December 02.


►  NBA Game Results

(Monday, November 17)


Final Score: Dallas 107, Charlotte 80

Monte Ellis paced a balanced Dallas offense with 18 points and the Mavericks kept on rolling with an easy 107-80 victory over the Charlotte Hornets. All five Dallas starters scored in double figures in the Mavericks’ fourth consecutive win. Chandler Parsons tallied 17 points along with nine rebounds and six assists, Tyson Chandler went 7-of-7 from the floor in a 14-point, nine-rebound effort and Dirk Nowitzki chipped in 13 points. Gerald Henderson scored a season-best 18 points for Charlotte, the lone bright spot in the Hornets’ second lopsided loss in three days. Kemba Walker and Jannero Pargo each finished with 11 points.


Final Score: Denver 106, Cleveland 97

Ty Lawson scored 24 points with 12 assists and the Denver Nuggets defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers, 106-97, on Monday. Arron Afflalo supplied 23 points and Timofey Mozgov registered 14 points with 11 rebounds for the Nuggets, who won two of three on their three-game road trip and avenged a home loss to the Cavs on Nov. 7. Denver is 8-3 in its last 11 trips to Quicken Loans Arena. LeBron James led Cleveland with 22 points to go along with nine rebounds and five assists, while Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters each tallied 20 points. The Cavs had their four-game losing streak snapped, a streak that started with their win in Denver.


Final Score: Phoenix 118, Boston 114

Eric Bledsoe’s third and final swipe was his biggest. Bledsoe’s steal and go-ahead layup with 29.5 seconds remaining lifted the Phoenix Suns to a 118-114 win over the Boston Celtics on Monday night. Boston had possession after Goran Dragic’s layup at the other end tied the game at 114-114, but Avery Bradley’s cross-court pass was intercepted by Bledsoe and his easy bucket put the Suns in front. Jeff Green’s right wing 3-pointer rattled in and out and Alex Len nailed a pair of foul shots to put the Suns up by four with 19.8 ticks left. Rajon Rondo was fouled on a triple, but missed all three foul shots to seal the outcome. Rondo finished 2-of-10 from the charity stripe.


Final Score: Miami 95, Brooklyn 83

Mario Chalmers delivered 22 points for a Miami Heat team that overcame a pair of key injuries to record a 95-83 win over the Brooklyn Nets in a matchup of struggling clubs. The Heat were able to halt a three-game skid and deal Brooklyn a fourth straight defeat despite playing without both Dwyane Wade (hamstring) and Luol Deng (wrist). Chalmers helped offset their absences with his big night and Chris Bosh did his part by totaling 15 points and nine rebounds. Norris Cole contributed 12 points and rookie Shabazz Napier had 11 off the bench for Miami, which outscored the Nets 57-40 over the final two quarters to erase a five-point halftime deficit. Brooklyn received a career high-tying 22 points out of Bojan Bogdanovic, but shot a poor 36.7 percent in the second half. Jarrett Jack had 15 points for the Nets and Deron Williams finished with 14 along with seven assists.


Final Score: Orlando 107, Detroit 93

Tobias Harris scored 14 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter to lift the Orlando Magic over the Detroit Pistons, 107-93, on Monday. Nikola Vucevic added 25 points and 14 rebounds for the Magic, who outscored Detroit by a 29-17 margin in the fourth. Evan Fournier and Channing Frye tallied 14 and 12 points, respectively. Caron Butler ended with 20 points and six boards for Detroit, which fell to 3-8 on the young season. Brandon Jennings had 18 points.


Final Score: Memphis 119, Houston 93

With one team unbeaten on the road and the other showcasing a flawless home record, add on that both teams were in the midst of three-game winning streaks, something had to give Monday night when the Houston Rockets visited the Memphis Grizzlies. Mike Conley led seven players in double figures with 19 points to help the Grizzlies to a season-high point total in a 119-93 drubbing of the Rockets in a matchup of the NBA’s two best records on Monday. Courtney Lee deposited 15 points and Zach Randolph supplied 14 points with seven rebounds for Memphis, which extended its home record to 6-0 and have now won 20 straight at FedEx Forum dating back to last season. Reserves Quincy Pondexter, Beno Udrih and Jon Leuer each netted 13 points in the triumph. Trevor Ariza paced Houston with 16 points and Dwight Howard chipped in with 15 points and nine rebounds in the setback. The Rockets have lost seven of their last eight in Memphis.


Final Score: San Antonio 100, Philadelphia 75

Matt Bonner had 18 points and the San Antonio Spurs defeated the Philadelphia 76ers, 100-75, on Monday night. Tim Duncan posted 10 points and nine rebounds, Aron Baynes tallied 12 points and nine boards and Cory Joseph added 14 points and five rebounds for the Spurs, who have won four of their last five games. Michael Carter-Williams provided 16 points for Philadelphia, which is off to an 0-10 start. The Sixers are off to their worst start since dropping their first 15 games to open the 1972-73 season, when they finished with an NBA-record 73 losses.


Final Score: Portland 102, New Orleans 93

Damian Lillard scored 24 points with seven assists to lead the Portland Trail Blazers to a 102-93 win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday. LaMarcus Aldridge returned from an illness to post 22 points and nine rebounds for the Blazers, who have won five straight. Wesley Matthews netted 16 and Chris Kaman notched 15 points with 10 rebounds in the win. Anthony Davis finished with season high-tying 31 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks for New Orleans, which has lost seven straight in Portland. Jrue Holiday scored 14, Tyreke Evans had 13 with eight assists and Ryan Anderson chipped in with 12 points off the bench.


Final Score: Chicago 105, LA Clippers 89

Jimmy Butler had 22 points, eight assists and two steals in the Chicago Bulls’ 105-89 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers. Taj Gibson added 20 points, six assists and two blocks for the Bulls, who are off to a 6-0 start on the road for the first time since the 1996-97 season, when they went 30-11 outside the Windy City. Mike Dunleavy tallied 19 points and seven rebounds for Chicago, which was without Derrick Rose for a second straight game due to a hamstring injury. Kirk Hinrich donated 14 points. Jamal Crawford had 24 points for the Clippers, who had won four straight against the Bulls. Blake Griffin tallied 19 points and 10 boards.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Jays name Brook Jacoby hitting coach

The Toronto Blue Jays have named Brook Jacoby as the team’s new hitting coach.

Jacoby, an 11-year major league player, spent last season as a minor league assistant hitting coordinator in the Texas Rangers’ organization after a seven-year run as the hitting coach for the Cincinnati Reds.

The 54-year-old Philadelphia native was a career .270 hitter in 1,311 big league games for Atlanta, Cleveland and Oakland from 1981-92. He spent all but 71 games of his career with the Indians and was an All-Star with the Tribe in 1986 and 1990.


►  Toronto inks Martin to mega deal

The Toronto Blue Jays have reportedly inked free agent catcher Russell Martin to a multi-year contract.

Multiple media outlets have revealed the new pact is worth $82 million over five years, does not carry a no-trade clause and will be completed upon Martin passing a physical.

Martin, born in Canada’s largest city but raised in Montreal, spent the last two seasons as the Pittsburgh Pirates’ primary backstop. He batted .290 with 11 home runs and 20 doubles, and drove in 67 over 111 games in 2014.

Since breaking into the majors with Los Angeles in 2006, Martin is a lifetime .259 hitter who has accumulated 119 homers, 191 doubles, 540 RBI and 550 runs scored over 1,163 appearances for the Dodgers, Yankees and Pirates.


►  Braves send Heyward to Cardinals for Miller

The Atlanta Braves traded outfielder Jason Heyward and relief pitcher Jordan Walden to the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for pitchers Shelby Miller and Tyrell Jenkins.

The trade is the first major move for the Braves under new general manager John Hart.

Heyward, 25, hit .271 with 11 homers and 58 RBI in 149 games last season with the Braves. A five-year veteran, Heyward is a two-time Gold Glove winner (2012, 2014) and owner of a .262 career batting mark with 84 home runs and 292 RBI to go along with 63 stolen bases.

Miller went 10-9 with a 3.74 ERA in 32 games (31 starts) last season. In 183 innings he struck out 127, walked 73 and allowed 160 hits.

In three big-league seasons, all with the Cardinals, Miller has a career 26-18 mark with a 3.33 ERA over 69 games (63 starts).

“Thank you to the Cardinals and their Fans for some great seasons and memories. Best of luck to the guys and the organization!“ said Miller via his Twitter account on Monday.

“Also very excited to be a part of the @Braves. Ready to meet my new teammates and have a successful 2015! #chop,“ he added.

Atlanta was in the market for young starting pitching and had a surplus of position-player talent.

Walden, 27, struck out 62 batters in 50.0 innings pitched, posting an 0-2 record with a 2.88 ERA and three saves over 58 outings. The hard-throwing right-hander, who in 2011 led the Angels in saves with 32, is also a five-year veteran.

Jenkins is a minor-league pitcher who has a career mark of 18-15 with a 4.23 ERA in 58 starts between rookie league and Single-A.


►  Marlins and Stanton reach long-term agreement

The Miami Marlins and Giancarlo Stanton reportedly have a long-term agreement in place.

According to CBSSports.com, the 25-year-old outfielder is close to signing a 13-year, $325 million contract. It would be the richest in North American sports history.

Speculation grew over the weekend that the two sides were working on the pact and Stanton was in Miami on Saturday night for the Florida State-Miami football game.

The Marlins, however, said an agreement was not imminent.

Stanton finished as the runner-up to Clayton Kershaw for NL MVP honors after a stellar 2014 season that included an NL-best 37 homers and a career-high 105 runs batted in.

His season was cut short in September after being hit in the face by a pitch from Milwaukee’s Mike Fiers. Stanton missed the final 2 1/2 weeks of the season after suffering multiple facial fractures, dental damage and lacerations that required stitches.

A two-time All-Star, Stanton has 154 homers and 399 RBI with a career .271 batting average in 634 games since making his big league debut with the Marlins in 2010.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Rangers’ AHL club releases Kaberle from PTO

NHL veteran defenseman Tomas Kaberle was released from his professional tryout agreement by the New York Rangers’ American Hockey League affiliate in Hartford.

Kaberle appeared in two games for the Wolf Pack after signing on Friday and had two assists.

The 36-year-old native of the Czech Republic has appeared in 984 NHL games over 14 seasons with Toronto, Boston, Carolina and Montreal. He last played in the NHL with the Canadiens during the 2012-13 season and spent last season playing in his home country.

Kaberle has amassed 87 goals and 476 assists for 563 points during his NHL tenure, winning a Stanley Cup with Boston in the spring of 2011. He played 11 full seasons with the Maple Leafs before a February 2011 trade to the Bruins.


►  NHL Game Results

(Monday, November 17)


Final Score: Tampa Bay 5, NY Rangers 1

Ryan Callahan scored two goals to lead the Tampa Bay Lightning in a 5-1 win over the New York Rangers on Monday. Callahan, along with fellow teammates Brian Boyle and Anton Stralman, played against their former Rangers team for the first time, while New York’s Martin St. Louis faced his former club for the first time as well. Steven Stamkos posted a goal and two assists while Alex Killorn and Nikita Kucherov also scored a goal for the Lightning, who have won their past two. Ben Bishop posted 15 stops in the win. St. Louis had the only goal of the game for the Rangers, who have lost their past three. Henrik Lundqvist allowed all five goals on 30 shots in the loss.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  2014 PGA Tour Year In Review

The 2014 PGA Tour season had different players in starring roles at different points in the season, and that made for some great action.

In the first-ever wrap-around season, Jimmy Walker won three times between October and February. Patrick Reed won in January and March, while Bubba Watson won his second title of the year at the Masters. Martin Kaymer won the Players Championship and U.S. Open to make his mark on the season.

But, the top player in the world, Rory McIlroy, won three straight starts to put his stamp on an outstanding season. Billy Horschel closed out the campaign winning the final two events of the season and the FedExCup.

They were not the only ones that had strong seasons.

Let’s look at who did what in 2014:


PLAYER OF THE YEAR—RORY MCILROY

With two major championship titles and a World Golf Championship victory, it was easy to pick Rory McIlroy as the Player of the Year.

McIlroy picked up three straight wins at the Open Championship, WGC- Bridgestone Invitational and PGA Championship. Prior to that run, he had six top-10 finishes.

The Ulsterman shared eighth at the Masters after a disappointing second-round 77. He went 7-over par over the final two rounds at the U.S. Open and fell into a tie for 23rd.

After a missed cut at the European Tour’s Irish Open, McIlroy shot par or better in 28 of his next 32 rounds. In his three straight victories, he broke par in all 12 rounds and shot in the 60s in 11 of those 12.

He led the PGA Tour with 12 top-10 finishes (in 17 starts) and tied for third- most top-5 finishes with six. While Jimmy Walker also had three wins in the 2013-14 season, Walker didn’t have another top-5 finish.

McIlroy put together a strong statistical year too. He led the PGA Tour in par breakers, scoring average and money earned to name a few categories. He also finished third in driving distance and sixth in greens in regulation percentage.

Put all that together, it’s not hard to see why he had on outstanding season.

Walker would have been the clear winner if the Player of the Year award had been handed out in March. The last of his three victories was at Pebble Beach in February.

Among those also considered were two-time winners Billy Horschel, U.S. Open champ Martin Kaymer, Patrick Reed and Masters champion Bubba Watson, while Rickie Fowler had the best season of a non-winner. He was the only player to finish inside the top-5 at all four majors.


TOURNAMENT OF THE YEAR—PGA CHAMPIONSHIP

Having won his previous two starts, and owning a 3-shot lead entering the final round of the season’s last major, it looked as though Rory McIlroy would cruise to his fourth major championship title.

Heading to the back nine, there was plenty of doubt that would happen as McIlroy had fallen three shots back on the front nine.

After Phil Mickelson, Henrik Stenson and Rickie Fowler swapped the lead between the seventh and 12th holes, McIlroy rallied with an eagle and two birdies on the inward nine to erase his deficit and win in a second straight major championship.

The battle between McIlroy, Mickelson, Stenson and Fowler was tense enough, and a looming thunderstorm made it even more nervy.

Some thought the officials controlled the last hole as an earlier weather delay pushed the conclusion right up against the sunset. And with dark clouds covering the sunset, the threat of an anticlimactic Monday finish loomed.

McIlroy birdied 17 to move two clear of Mickelson. After a wait on the 18th tee, Mickelson and Fowler allowed McIlroy and Victor Dubuisson to tee off as they walked to their tee shots.

There was much confusion the rest of the way. Mickelson and Fowler hit their second shots to the 18th green and started walking. Officials asked them to again step aside so the final group could hit up.

Mickelson seemed frustrated at having to allow McIlroy’s group to hit their second shots. Mickelson missed the green with his second to the par-5 closing hole, but got up and down for birdie to get within one.

McIlroy also missed the green with his second. After chipping on, he 2-putted for the victory as lightning flashed in the not-to-distant sky.

Drama, great action and threatening weather made for an exciting final round.

Also considered were The Honda Classic, which Russell Henley won in a 4-man playoff; the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, where Adam Scott beat Jason Dufner in a playoff; and the Open Championship, where McIlroy held off Sergio Garcia and Fowler.


ROOKIE OF YEAR—CHESSON HADLEY

It is not every year that a rookie wins on the PGA Tour, but that is exactly what Chesson Hadley did at the Puerto Rico Open.

Though it was played opposite the WGC-Cadillac Championship, there was a strong field that included six former majors champions and numerous past PGA Tour winners.

Hadley started that week with a 4-under 68, and that turned out to be his worst round. He followed with a second-round 65 and polished off his first PGA Tour title with back-to-back rounds of 67.

He beat Danny Lee by two strokes. It was one of Hadley’s four top-10 finishes on the season.

Hadley tied for ninth at the Deutsche Bank Championship and share 12th at the BMW Championship. He was the lone rookie to make it to the third FedExCup playoff event in 2014.

Brooks Koepka, Victor Dubuisson, Wes Roach, Will Wilcox and Andrew Loupe were among those that garnered consideration.


GOOD YEAR

- Masters winner Bubba Watson and U.S. Open champ Martin Kaymer both had two wins on the season, including the second major championship title for each.

- Matt Kuchar and Adam Scott won once apiece and tied for the second-most top-10 finishes with 11. Kuchar narrowly missed out on a second win as he lost in a playoff in Houston. Scott finished inside the top 15 at all four majors.

- Jim Furyk could be on the good and bad year lists. He did not win, but had four runner-up finishes and eight top-5 finishes, both of which led the tour. However, he did cough up two 54-hole leads. Dating back to the 2012 season, Furyk has blown his last eight third-round leads.

- Rickie Fowler had six top-5 finishes, four of which came in major championships. He was the only player to finish in the top 5 at all four majors and he tied for third-most top-10s with 10.

- Jimmy Walker matched Rory McIlroy’s three wins, but none were of the level of McIlroy. Walker made the cut in all four majors, and finished in the top-10 at three of them. Walker also went 1-1-3 in his first Ryder Cup appearance.


BAD YEAR

- Tiger Woods made just eight starts as he missed significant time after back surgery. His best finish was a tie for 25th at the WGC-Cadillac Championship. Woods played in the final two majors after missing the first two and he was over par in four of his five rounds in those two events.

- Phil Mickelson finished second at the PGA Championship, but that was his lone top-10 on the PGA Tour in 2014. Mickelson was not a factor in the other three majors.

- Mike Weir’s struggles continued as he made just nine cuts in 25 starts. The former Masters champion did card four rounds in the 60s en route to a second- place finish at the Byron Nelson Championship, but his next-best finish was a tie for 44th at the Masters.

- Padraig Harrington made seven cuts in 16 PGA Tour starts. The three-time majors champion’s best finish was a share of 22nd at the Byron Nelson. He finished 192nd on the money list.

The Gilmer Free Press


Reference
ABC - American Broadcasting Company
CBS - Columbia Broadcast System
FOX - Fox Entertainment Group
NBC - National Broadcasting Company
JIP - Joined in Progress
DSS - DIRECTV
TSN - Sports Network (Canada)
SNET/SN - Rogers SportsNet (Canada)
RDS - Reseau des sports
MSG - Madison Square Garden Network
TNT - Turner Network Television
TBS - Turner Broadcasting System
SNY - SportsNet New York
CBSSN - CBS - College Sports Network
CSN - Comcast SportsNet
TCN - The Comcast Network
NBCSN - NBC Sports Network
NESN - New England Sports Network
MASN - Mid-Atlantic Sports Network
ROOT - Root Sports (Pittsburgh, Northwest, Rocky Mountain)
CST - Cox Sports Television
FCS - FOX College Sports
FS - FOX Sports Regional
RSN - Regional Sports Networks
CPTV - Connecticut Public Broadcasting
TVG - Horse Racing Channel
FS1 - FOX Sports 1
TWC - Time Warner Cable Sports Channel
* - If Necessary


TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 2014


National Basketball Association
LA Lakers at Atlanta, 7:30 PM - Time Warner, SportSouth, DSS
New York at Milwaukee, 8:00 PM - MSG, FS-Wisconsin, DSS
Oklahoma City at Utah, 9:00 PM - FS-Oklahoma, ROOT-Northwest, DSS
New Orleans at Sacramento, 10:00 PM - FS-New Orleans, CSN-California, DSS


National Hockey League
Tampa Bay at NY Islanders, 7:00 PM - SunSports, MSG+, DSS
Detroit at Columbus, 7:00 PM - FS-Detroit, Ohio, DSS
St. Louis at Boston, 7:00 PM - TVA Sports, FS-Midwest, NESN, DSS
San Jose at Buffalo, 7:30 PM - NBCSN
Pittsburgh at Montreal, 7:30 PM - ROOT-Pittsburgh, RDS, DSS
Nashville at Toronto, 7:30 PM - FS-Tennessee, TSN4, DSS
New Jersey at Winnipeg, 8:00 PM - MSG+2, TSN3, DSS
Carolina at Dallas, 8:30 PM - SportSouth, FS-Southwest, DSS
Anaheim at Calgary, 9:00 PM - FS-Prime Ticket, SNET-WEst, DSS
Washington at Arizona, 9:00 PM - CSN-DC, FS-Arizona, DSS
Florida at Los Angeles, 10:30 PM - FS-Florida, West, DSS


College Basketball
High Point at Hawaii, 5:00 AM - ESPN 2
Iona at Wofford, 7:00 AM - ESPN 2
Northern Iowa at Stephen F. Austin, 9:00 AM - ESPN 2
Manhattan at Massachusetts, 11:00 AM - ESPN 2
Baylor at South Carolina, 12:00 PM - ESPN
Wichita State vs. Memphis, 2:00 PM - ESPN
Utah at San Diego State, 4:00 PM - ESPN
Toledo at VCU, 6:00 PM - ESPN U
Campbell at Davidson, 7:00 PM - SNY
Michigan State vs. Duke, 7:00 PM - ESPN
Northeastern at Florida State, 7:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Texas A&M-CC at Georgetown, 7:00 PM - FS2
Stony Brook at Georgia, 7:00 PM - SEC Network
Alabama A&M at Georgia Tech, 7:00 PM - ESPN3.com
SC State at Virginia, 7:00 PM - RSN
Long Beach State at Xavier, 7:00 PM - FS1
Marquette at Ohio State, 7:30 PM - ESPN 2
Canisius at Lehigh, 8:00 PM - Patriot League Network
Western Kentucky at Minnesota, 8:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Central Arkansas at Nebraska, 8:00 PM - ESPn3.com
NW Oklahoma State at Oklahoma State, 8:00 PM - FCS-Pacific
Richmond at Old Dominion, 8:00 PM - American Sports Network, MASN
Chattanooga at Butler, 9:00 PM - FS2
Drake at DePaul, 9:00 PM - FS1
Kansas vs. Kentucky, 9:00 PM - ESPN
Ark-Little Rock at BYU, 9:30 PM - BYUtv
Texas Tech at LSU, 9:30 PM - ESPN 2
Corban at Oregon State, 10:00 PM - Pac-12 Network


Women’s College Basketball
Jacksonville State at Alabama, 7:00 PM - SEC Network+


College Football
Northern Illinois at Ohio, 8:00 PM - ESPN U
Massachusetts at Akron, 8:00 PM - ESPN3.com


International Soccer
Austria vs. Brazil (Friendly), 12:50 PM - beIN Sport
Ireland vs. United States (Friendly), 2:30 PM - ESPN 2
Argentina vs. Portugal (Friendly), 2:55 PM - beIN Sport
Bolivia vs. Venezuela (Friendly), 5:50 PM - beIN Sport

Sports News   141117

The Gilmer Free Press


The Gilmer Free Press

►  High school Football Playoff Quarterfinal

Pairings and sites for the second round of the West Virginia high school football playoffs to be played this weekend:


CLASS AAA


FRIDAY, November 21 at 7:30 PM

#6 South Charleston (9-2) at #3 University (10-1)


SATURDAY, November 22 at 1:30 PM

#7 Huntington (8-3) at #2 Cabell Midland (10-1)

#5 Point Pleasant (10-0) at #4 Martinsburg (10-1)


SATURDAY, November 22 at 7:30 PM

#8 Wheeling Park (9-2) at #1 Capital (10-0)



CLASS AA


FRIDAY, November 21 at 7:30 PM

#7 Nicholas County (10-1) at #2 Frankfort (11-0)


SATURDAY, November 22 at 1:30 PM

#8 Robert C. Byrd (9-2) at #1 Bridgeport (10-1)

#5 Wayne (9-2) at #4 Mingo Central (10-1)

#14 Ravenswood (8-3) at #6 Westside (9-2)



CLASS A


FRIDAY, November 21 at 7:30 PM

#10 Buffalo (9-2) at #2 Tug Valley (10-1)


SATURDAY, November 22 at 1:30 PM

#9 Moorefield (9-2) at #1 St. Marys (11-0)

#12 Bishop Donahue (9-2) at #4 Clay-Battelle (10-1)


SATURDAY, November 22 at 7:30 PM

#14 East Hardy (8-3) at #6 Williamstown (9-2)



The Gilmer Free Press

►  MEC Week 11 Football Roundup

#12/15 Concord 29 vs. #17/21 Shepherd 20 | Final Stats

It took more than 60 minutes, but the Concord University football team prevailed Saturday with its first Mountain East Conference title game as it beat Shepherd 29-20 in overtime to record its second conference title in four seasons.

Concord completes an undefeated regular season at 11-0 overall and 10-0 in the MEC while Shepherd finishes 8-2 overall and 8-2 in league action.

After Shepherd scored tied the game at 20-20 with 39 seconds remaining in regulation, Concord was unable to score before the end of the fourth quarter forcing overtime between the two teams.

In overtime, junior kicker Andy Ellington converted on a 43-yard field attempt to put CU ahead 23-20. On Shepherd’s possession in overtime, the Rams elected to attmept a fourth-and-short instead of kicking a field early on. SU was successful, but after it was stopped inside the Concord 10-yard line, Shepherd chose to kick a short field goal. On the attempt, sophomore defensive lineman Darryl Johnson barrelled through the kick protection and blocked one of two Concord kicks on the day to seal the win for the Mountain Lions.

Redshirt freshman defensive back Jeremiah Johnson returned the failed attempt for a touchdown to ensure the Rams could not run the errant kick into the endzone to give Concord its final margin of victory 29-20.

The Mountain Lions were led offensively by the tandem of sophomore quarterback Brian Novak and freshman wide receiver TJ Smith. Novak tossed both of his touchdowns to Smith while breaking the single-season record at Concord for passing touchdowns (30). Novak finished the game with 227 yards passing on 13-for-22 passing and the two tossing scores. Meanwhile, Smith hauled in touchdown passes of 71 and 55 yards as he caught five total passes for a game-high 158 yards.

Junior running back Calvinaugh Jones rushed for a game-high 109 yards, marking the 10th time this season the Glen Burnie, Maryland native has gone over the century mark on the ground.

Junior linebacker Austin Dotson made a career-high 11 tackles to lead the Mountain Lions. Senior defensive linemanSilas Agyemang, Dotson, senior defensive lineman Will Greathouse and junior linebacker Nick Ortiz all recorded sacks for the Mountain Lions. Greathouse also added his team-leading third blocked kick of the season, keeping the score tied at 13-13 in the third quarter.

Not only did the Concord special teams make its presence known in the kicking game, but junior wide receiver Tiko Henderson also returned a 92-yard kickoff for a touchdown, marking the first time the Mountain Lions had a kickoff return for a touchdown since before the 2010 season and giving CU a 20-13 lead. Also on special teams, redshirt freshman punter Garrett Lee pinned a career-high four punts inside the 20-yard line as he averaged 39.1 yards per punt.

Along with the game-winning blocked kick, D. Johnson had five tackles and none were bigger than the three he made at the goal line in the third quarter when Shepherd was denied on three consecutive rushes from inside the five-yard line. The stops by D. Johson allowed CU to hang on to a 13-7 lead at the time.

As a unit, the Mountain Lions held Shepherd’s high-powered rushing attack, that entered the game averaging over 200 yard per game, to 82 yards on the ground. CU has now held opponents to under a 100-yard rushing in four of the last six games.
Concord appears poised for a berth in the NCAA Division II Playoffs. The NCAA selection show will be Sunday night at this link beginning at 5:00 PM  


Notre Dame vs. West Liberty | Final Stats

A gallant comeback came up just short for the West Liberty University football team here Saturday as host Notre Dame (Ohio) held on for a 33-27 win in their battle for third place in the final Mountain East Conference standings at frigid Mueller Field.

Turnover woes ultimately proved too much to overcome for Coach Roger Waialae‘s hard-luck Hilltoppers (6-5, 6-4) as a fumble and an interception in WLU territory helped the Falcons (7-4, 7-3) an early 21-0 lead.

After battling back to close the deficit to 24-17 midway through the third quarter, West Liberty QB Dakota Conwell appeared to have plunged into the end zone for the tying touchdown but was ruled to have had the ball stripped at the goal line with Notre Dame recovering in the end zone for a touchback.

The Falcons’ Kyle Kaplan capped the ensuing drive with a 40-yard field goal that pushed the count to 27-17 heading into the fourth quarter.

Conwell led West Liberty back downfield and scrambled into the end zone from 14 yards out to pull WLU within a field goal, 27-24, with 13:06 remaining.

Notre Dame QB Ray Russ answered with his fourth TD pass of the day – and 36th of the season – to WR C.J. Germany but West Liberty’s Darnell Vickersblocked the PAT to keep the score at 33-24.

The Hilltoppers drove back down inside the Falcon 5 but settled for a 21-yard field goal off the foot of Josh Wilson with just over 6 minutes to go.

The West Liberty defense forced a Notre Dame punt near midfield but the ball rolled out of bounds at the WLU 7, putting the offense in a hole with 4:31 to play. The Hilltoppers picked up a couple of first downs but the drive stalled at the West Liberty 30 with 2:57 remaining and the hosts were able to run out the clock.

Conwell completed 19-of-40 passes for 235 yards with a touchdown and an interception while picking up 54 rushing yards on 13 carries. Isiah Moody ran for 55 yards and a TD and had 2 catches for 22 yards and another score. Daree Goodwin caught 5 passes for 84 yards while Brandon Schroeder added 4 grabs for 69 yards. 

Marco Ricchetti and Alec Wood paced the defense. Ricchetti had 13 tackles, 2 pass breakups, an interception, a fumble recovery and a tackle-for-loss while Wood was charted with 11 tackles and a tackle-for-loss.

Russ completed 28-of-49 passes for 303 yards with 4 TDs and one interception while TB Alec Torgerson ran for 161 yards on 31 carries. Germany caught 5 passes for 90 yards and a pair of TDs.



Charleston vs. Urbana | Final Stats


The 8-3 football team from the University of Charleston won a battle between conference foes fighting to end their regular season on a three-game winning streak. On UC’s Senior Day, the Golden Eagles soared past Urbana University 69-34 to finish third in the final Mountain East Conference standings.

Despite the loss, Urbana ended its season on a high note, winning two of the final three contests after a 1-7 start. The Blue Knights went toe-to-toe on the road with the conference’s third best squad on a frigid Saturday afternoon.

At the end of the first half, Urbana was driving for a potentially game-tying score when the game’s first turnover changed the tide in the home team’s favor. The Golden Eagles turned the Blue Knight fumble into seven points with just five ticks left on the clock, and UC entered the break with a 35-20 lead.

The Blue Knight defense seemed poised to stop the Golden Eagles on their opening drive of the second half, but a perfectly executed fake punt led to another UC touchdown.

Near the end of the third quarter, Urbana scored a pair of touchdowns in a span of about two minutes to get within two scores at 49-34. That’s as close as the visitors could get down the stretch as UC found a way to shut out Urbana’s offense in the fourth quarter. The Golden Eagles also tacked on some insurance touchdowns late, scoring a school-record 69 points in a Senior Day to remember.
Charleston’s rushing attack was led by Josef Hinnant’s 132 on just 11 carries, scoring two touchdowns on the afternoon.  As a unit, UC totaled 368 yards on the ground on 63 attempts, averaging just under six yards per clip.  Jordan Paul was 16-for-23 through the air for 232 yards and three touchdowns.  The Golden Eagles receiving corps was paced by Joey Augustin’s seven catch, 99 yard performance that included a touchdown.


Glenville State vs. WV State | Final Stats 

The Glenville State Pioneer football team defeated the West Virginia State Yellow Jackets on a chilly afternoon at Morris Stadium, 30-7.

The Pioneers would jump out to a great start as they would score 23 unanswered points. However West Virginia State would find the endzone right before halftime as Glenville State took a 23-7 lead at the half.

In the second half of action GSC would score at the 7:25 minute mark of the third quarter as Dante Roberts scored on a three yard run as the Pioneers took a, 30-7 lead as GSC would go on to defeated the Yellow Jackets by that score as the GSC defense pitched a shutout in the second half of action in the final season game of the 2014 season.

The Pioneers rushed for 199 yards as a team, they ran a total of 63 plays for 382 yards while West Virginia State ran 80 plays for just 314 total yards.

The Pioneers finished the day with two turnovers while the Yellow Jackets turned it over four times. Oth teams had several penalties on the day Glenville State finished with seven penalties for 56 yards while West Virginia State had six penalties for 62 yards.

GSC running back Tevin Drake led the rushing attack as he rushed for 179 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns. Rahmann Lee did not play in the game due to an injured ankle.

Back-up quarterback Dante Roberts throw for 183 yards a he completed 12 passes with a touchdown pass and touchdown run. Roberts’s favorite target was wideout Dante Absher as he caught five passes for 105 yards.

Gary Henderson led the Pioneers defense with 11 total tackles and a sack on the day. Freshman defensive back Earon Settles chipped in with seven tackles.

West Virginia State was led by quarterback Matt Kinnick as he went 26 for 42 for 218 yards and a touchdown.

The Pioneers finish the 2014 season with 5-6 (5-5) record.


Fairmont State vs. UVa-Wise | Final Stats


Trent Martin booted an 18-yard field goal on the final play of Senior Day 2014 to send UVa-Wise’s nine seniors out victorious, 24-21, over Fairmont State on Saturday. Martin’s game-winning field goal was aided by a 31-yard run by Carlton Griffith on the drive and a nine-catch 142-yard three-touchdown day by junior wide receiver Terrence Younger

Fairmont State (3-7, 3-7 MEC) scored the first touchdown of the game as the Falcons took the opening kick and marched 59 yards on nine plays. Senior tailback Daniel Monore finished off the drive with a six-yard touchdown scamper. John Dearstine made the point after to put Fairmont State in front 7-0.

UVa-Wise (2-9, 1-8 MEC) responded as Jeremy Eubank found Younger on a 22-yard touchdown connection with 7:36 to play in the first quarter. Martin’s extra point tied the game at 7-7.

The score would remain tied until late in the first half when Monroe scored his second touchdown of the day, this time from one-yard out. Dearstine added the extra point to give the Falcons a 14-7 halftime lead.

Younger’s second touchdown reception of the day and subsequent kick from Martin tied the game with 10:59 to play in the third quarter. The score was a 19-yard pass from Eubank that ended a 10-play 77-yard drive.

Tied at 14, Falcons’ quarterback Cody Stevenson found Fabian Guerra with a 16-yard touchdown pass with 8:09 to go in the quarter to regain the lead for the visitors. Dearstine’s point after would put Fairmont State in front 21-14.

UVa-Wise would trail until 2:43 to go in the game. A five-play 58-yard scoring drive ended on yet another Eubank-to-Younger connection. A 13-yard strike that allowed the Cavs to tie the game following Martin’s PAT.

After the UVa-Wise defense held Fairmont State, coach Dewey Lusk‘s squad got the ball back with 1:40 on the clock, with two timeouts, and 73 yards of Carl Smith Stadium turf separating them from the end zone.

Griffith would put the Cavs in position to win by breaking numerous tackles on a 31-yard run to put the ball inside the five yard line. The run set Martin up for his game-winning field goal.

The game marked the second year in a row the Fairmont State – UVa-Wise game came down to the final moments. The Falcons won the inaugural battle 44-40 in Fairmont last season.

Eubank finished the contest with 265 passing yards to go along with this three touchdowns. The 142 receiving yards by Younger were a career-high.

Zack Blair finished the day with eight stops and a forced fumble, including his three stops behind the line of scrimmage. The sophomore linebacker finished his campaign with 95 total stops.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  A P Top 25 Ranking

1. Florida State

2. Alabama

3. Oregon

4. Mississippi State

5. TCU

6. Baylor

7. Ohio State

8. Ole Miss

9. Georgia

10. Michigan State

11. UCLA

12. Kansas State

13. Arizona State

14. Wisconsin

15. Arizona

16. Auburn

17. Georgia Tech

18. Marshall

19. Missouri

20. Utah

21. Nebraska

22. Colorado State

23. Oklahoma

24. Southern California

25. Duke



The Gilmer Free Press

►  NFL Game Results - Week 11

(SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 16)


Final Score: New England 42, Indianapolis 20

Billed as the matchup of Tom Brady vs. Andrew Luck, Jonas Gray stole the spotlight on Sunday night. It was quite a homecoming. Gray ran for four touchdowns as the New England Patriots cruised to a 42-20 victory over the Indianapolis Colts. The undrafted rookie out of Notre Dame didn’t have a touchdown coming in. Gray, who had 131 yards rushing in his first three games filling in for the injured Stevan Ridley, carried the ball 38 times for 199 yards in this one, averaging 5.2 yards a tote. Brady was 19-of-30 for 257 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, while Rob Gronkowski caught four passes for 71 yards and a score for the Patriots (8-2), who have won six straight since a 2-2 start. Luck finished 23-of-39 for 303 yards with two touchdowns and an interception for Indianapolis (6-4), which has dropped two of its last three on the heels of a five-game winning streak.


Final Score: Atlanta 19, Carolina 17

Matt Bryant connected on four field goals, including a 44-yarder late in the fourth quarter that gave the Atlanta Falcons a 19-17 victory over the Carolina Panthers in an NFC South matchup. Matt Ryan went 31-for-45 for 268 yards with a touchdown pass to Roddy White for the Falcons (4-6), who have won two straight to move into a tie with New Orleans for first place in the NFC South. Cam Newton struggled for much of the game, but did have two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter and finished the game 23-for-37 for 292 yards with two interceptions for the Panthers (3-7-1), who have lost five straight after tying a game against Cincinnati in Week 6.


Final Score: Chicago 21, Minnesota 13

Jay Cutler had three touchdown passes to lead the Chicago Bears in a 21-13 victory over the Minnesota Vikings in an NFC North battle on Sunday. Cutler was 31-of-43 for 330 yards with two interceptions, while Brandon Marshall had two touchdown catches and Alshon Jeffery caught the other score for the Bears (4-6), who snapped a three-game losing streak. Matt Forte rushed for 117 yards on 26 carries and added six catches for 58 yards for Chicago, which had lost by a combined 82 points during its skid. Teddy Bridgewater went 18-for-28 for 158 yards with a touchdown and an interception for the Vikings (4-6), who came into the game off their bye week after winning two straight.


Final Score: Houston 23, Cleveland 7

Ryan Mallett picked up a win in his first career start, completing 20-of-30 passes for 211 yards and two touchdowns, as the Houston Texans claimed a 23-7 victory over the Cleveland Browns in Week 11 action. Randy Bullock also converted three second-half field goals for the Texans (5-5), who have won two of their last three. Alfred Blue contributed a career- best 156 yards on 36 carries, while J.J. Watt and Garrett Graham posted a touchdown reception apiece. Brian Hoyer threw for 330 yards and a TD but connected on just 20-of-50 passes and was picked off once for the Browns (6-4), who slipped out of first place in the AFC North. Andrew Hawkins finished with 97 yards and the hosts’ lone score on six receptions, while Isaiah Crowell totaled 61 yards on 14 carries.


Final Score: Kansas City 24, Seattle 20

Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis combined for three rushing touchdowns and the Kansas City defense made some key stops down the stretch in a 24-20 victory over the Seattle Seahawks. Charles carried the ball 20 times for 159 yards and two touchdowns for the Chiefs (7-3), who have won five in a row. Davis’ 4-yard TD run with 13:41 to play gave Kansas City the lead. Alex Smith completed 11-of-16 passes for 108 yards for the Chiefs, who improved to 21-5 at Arrowhead Stadium against the Seahawks. Russell Wilson connected on 20-of-32 passes for 178 yards and two touchdowns for the Seahawks (6-4), who had a three-game winning streak snapped. He also carried the ball eight times for 71 yards. Marshawn Lynch rushed for 124 yards on 24 carries for Seattle, which lost center Max Unger to a leg injury in the fourth quarter.


Final Score: Cincinnati 27, New Orleans 10

Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals collectively bounced back from a terrible home loss to beat the New Orleans Saints 27-10 on Sunday at a suddenly winnable venue for road teams. Dalton completed 16-of-22 passes for 220 yards and three touchdowns. He had a passer rating of 2.0 while throwing for only 86 yards and three interceptions in a 24-3 home loss to Cleveland on Nov. 6. Rookie Jeremy Hill, who played at LSU, totaled 152 yards on 27 carries for Cincinnati (6-3-1), which moved into first place in the AFC North. Drew Brees had 255 yards and a touchdown on 33-of-41 passing for the Saints (4-6), who have lost consecutive games at the Superdome. The last time New Orleans dropped back-to-back home games came in 2012, when they lost the season opener to Washington and then to Kansas City in overtime in Week 3. Despite their record, the Saints remain tied for first in the underwhelming NFC South.


Final Score: San Francisco 16, NY Giants 10

Michael Crabtree scored San Francisco’s lone touchdown on a 48-yard reception and the 49ers intercepted Eli Manning five times in a 16-10 victory over the New York Giants on Sunday at MetLife Stadium. Chris Borland had two picks, including one at the goal line in the fourth quarter to thwart a late Giants threat, as the 49ers (6-4) held on for their second straight win. Manning completed just 22-of-45 passes for 280 yards with a touchdown, as the Giants (3-7) suffered their fifth consecutive loss. He had thrown just six interceptions all season entering the game. The Giants found a new way to implode in the fourth quarter after last week’s meltdown in Seattle. New York blew a 17-14 halftime lead in the 38-17 loss against the Seahawks, who scored 21 points in the fourth quarter. This Sunday, the Giants had opportunities against the Niners in the final 15 minutes, but two possessions inside San Francisco territory ended with Manning interceptions.


Final Score: St. Louis 22, Denver 7

Shaun Hill returned as the starter and helped lead the St. Louis Rams to a win over Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. How’s that for a shocker? Picked by Rams coach Jeff Fisher to start over Austin Davis, Hill passed for 220 yards and a touchdown and Greg Zuerlein kicked a career-high five field goals in Sunday’s 22-7 victory. The defense had a hand in the upset, too. Manning was intercepted twice in the fourth quarter as the Broncos tried to pull themselves out of a hole. He played much of the game without two of his favorite targets after tight end Julius Thomas was knocked out early with an ankle injury and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders suffered a concussion on the first series of the second half The five-time MVP finished 34-of-54 for 389 yards and a 42-yard touchdown pass to Sanders in the second quarter. It was only the second time the Broncos (7-3) were held under 10 points since signing Manning in 2012. The first was their 43-8 loss to Seattle in the Super Bowl. Hill ended 20-of-29 with a 63-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Britt, who had four catches for 128 yards—all in the first half. Rookie Tre Mason rushed for a career-high 113 yards on 29 carries for the Rams (4-6).


Final Score: Tampa Bay 27, Washington 7

Rookie Mike Evans caught a pair of second- half touchdown passes and went over 200 yards for the first time in his career as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Washington Redskins 27-7 at FedExField on Sunday. Evans, who had already made a strong case for Offensive Rookie of the Year, erupted for 209 yards on seven catches. The first-round draft pick from Texas A&M became the first rookie since Randy Moss in 1998 to have at least 100 yards receiving and a touchdown in three straight games. Josh McCown completed 15-of-23 passes for 288 in his second straight game under center for Tampa Bay (2-8). McCown, who thrived as Jay Cutler’s backup last season in Chicago, started three games for the Bucs before a thumb injury forced him to miss time. Mike Glennon’s struggles prompted Lovie Smith to give McCown another shot. The Redskins got 96 rushing yards from Alfred Morris but another uneven performance from Robert Griffin III, who like McCown, missed time with an injury earlier this season. Griffin threw two first-quarter interceptions, including a pick-six that spotted Tampa Bay an early lead. He finished 23- for-32 for 207 yards, a touchdown and two picks. After Colt McCoy led Washington (3-7) to consecutive wins, Griffin fell to 0-2 since regaining the starting job.


Final Score: San Diego 13, Oakland 6

The San Diego Chargers snapped their three-game losing streak, but it wasn’t pretty on offense. Fortunately for the Chargers, they faced an Oakland Raiders offense that was even more inept. Philip Rivers threw a touchdown pass, Nick Novak kicked two field goals and the Chargers posted a 13-6 home win on Sunday. A banged-up Rivers completed 22-of-34 passes for 193 yards, and Ryan Mathews rushed for 70 yards in his first action for San Diego (6-4) since suffering a right knee injury against Seattle on Sept. 14. Oakland rookie Derek Carr was 16-of-34 for 172 yards. His final completion, a 28-yarder to James Jones, converted a 4th-and-9 from the Oakland 13. After spiking the ball to stop the clock with 11 seconds remaining in the game, he threw a Hail Mary pass that was five yards short of the end zone. The Raiders (0-10) registered only nine first downs in their 16th consecutive loss, and they couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start.


Final Score: Arizona 14, Detroit 6

Drew Stanton threw touchdown passes to Michael Floyd on the first two drives of the game and the Arizona Cardinals held on to beat the Detroit Lions 14-6 on Sunday. Stanton stepped in again for Carson Palmer, who was lost for the season after suffering a torn ACL in his left knee last week. His touchdown throws of 42 and 12 yards to Floyd in the first nine minutes of the game stood up as the NFL-leading Cardinals (9-1) pushed their winning streak to six, their longest since 1977. It’s the first time the franchise won nine of its first 10 games since the Chicago Cardinals went 11-1 in 1948. Matt Prater kicked two field goals for the Lions (7-3), who had a four-game winning streak snapped—their longest since a 5-0 start to the 2011 season. Detroit’s Matthew Stafford threw for just 183 yards with an interception, but set an NFL passing record during the game. He became the quickest quarterback to reach 20,000 yards, doing it in 71 games—three fewer than Hall-of-Famer Dan Marino needed for the Miami Dolphins in the 1980s.


Final Score: Green Bay 53, Philadelphia 20

Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers used another big first half to stay hot at a chilly Lambeau Field with a commanding 53-20 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. Rodgers, who threw six first-half touchdowns last week in a 55-14 blowout of the Bears, threw for three touchdowns and 341 yards on a 22-of-36 completion rate for the Packers (7-3), who improved to 5-0 at home, where they have outscored opponents 219-85 this season. Eddie Lacy ran for 69 yards and a score on 10 carries, while also making three catches for 45 yards and a touchdown. Randall Cobb had a game-high 129 yards on 10 catches, Jordy Nelson made four grabs for 109 yards a score and Davante Adams also hauled in a TD catch in the win. It is the first time in franchise history that the Packers have scored 50-plus points in consecutive games. The Packers also moved into a tie for first in the NFC North after the Cardinals defeated the Lions, 14-6. Mark Sanchez completed 26-of-44 passes for 346 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions for the Eagles (7-3), who gave up the most points in a game since a 62-10 loss to the Giants on Nov. 26, 1972.


(THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 13)


Final Score: Miami 22, Buffalo 9

Ryan Tannehill had two touchdown passes in the second half and the Miami defense kept Buffalo out of the end zone, as the Dolphins downed the Bills, 22-9, on Thursday night. Tannehill finished the game 26-of-34 for 240 yards and his touchdown passes went to Jarvis Landry and Brandon Gibson as the Dolphins (6-4) bounced back from Sunday’s late loss at Detroit. Kyle Orton was a paltry 22-of-39 for 193 yards and Dan Carpenter kicked three field goals to account for all the points for the Bills (5-5), who have dropped their last two games.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Pioneers Suffer One Point Loss to Slippery Rock

The Glenville State men’s basketball team suffered a tough one point loss to Slippery Rock University in the final game of the MEC/PSAC Tip-Off Challenge.

In the first half of action the Pioneers and Slippery Rock would battle back and fourth with several lead changes however the Pioneers would take a one point lead into halftime, 30-29.

In the second half both teams would be neck and neck and it would go all the way down to the last possession. Slippery Rock would have a one point lead 63-62 but the Pioneers would have the ball with 30 seconds left to go.

Glenville State would call a timeout to set up a play. Donte Morales would get a good look but it would come up short. The Pioneers would have another chance at tip-in but it would not go down as Glenville State fell by one point to Slippery Rock, 63-62.

GSC’s Donte Morales scored a game high 26 points and grabbed a team high six rebounds. Also for the Pioneers newcomer Luke Campbell scored eight points while Sedric Nady and Kade Kager both chipped in with seven points each.

Slippery Rock was led by Antonio Butler as he had a double double with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

The Pioneers are 1-1 (0-0) on the season. Glenville State returns to action Tuesday, November 18th when Ohio Valley travels to Glenville. Tip-off is set for 7 PM.

Official Basketball Box Score

Official Basketball Box Score
Slippery Rock vs Glenville State
11.15.14 8:00 PM at WACO Center

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
VISITORS: Slippery Rock 2-0
                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
02 PRATT, Chaquille…. *  3-5    0-1    1-2    2  2  4   0   7  2  2  0  2  20
11 GOODWIN, Kelvin….. *  2-8    2-7    2-2    0  4  4   0   8  3  4  0  2  38
15 HOLLOWAY, Frank….. *  6-14   1-1    0-0    2  1  3   2  13  0  2  0  0  29
23 BUTLER, Antonio….. *  7-13   1-2    1-4    4  6 10   3  16  1  2  0  0  29
24 GATALI, Jamal….... *  3-8    0-2    1-2    7  5 12   2   7  2  2  1  0  33
01 RICHARDSON, Malcolm.    2-5    0-2    0-0    0  6  6   3   4  1  0  0  0  14
05 NICHOLSON, Desma….    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  0  0  0   2
10 KING, Abdul…......    2-2    0-0    0-0    2  0  2   1   4  0  2  0  0  14
30 BROWN, Cornelius….    0-1    0-0    1-2    1  4  5   2   1  0  0  1  0   9
44 RALEIGH, Erik…....    1-3    0-0    1-3    1  1  2   2   3  0  1  2  0  12
   Team….............                         2  3  5
   Totals…...........   26-59   4-15   7-15  21 32 53  15  63  9 15  4  4 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 12-28 42.9%   2nd Half: 14-31 45.2%   Game: 44.1%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  2-5  40.0%   2nd Half:  2-10 20.0%   Game: 26.7%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  3-7  42.9%   2nd Half:  4-8  50.0%   Game: 46.7%    3

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
HOME TEAM: Glenville State 1-1
                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
01 Sedric Nady…...... *  3-7    1-5    0-0    0  1  1   3   7  1  1  0  1  25
03 Donte Morales….... * 10-24   5-9    1-4    1  5  6   3  26  1  0  2  1  40
05 Kade Kager…....... *  3-6    1-3    0-0    1  1  2   0   7  0  1  0  1  28
12 Luke Campbell….... *  3-5    2-4    0-0    0  1  1   1   8  1  1  0  0  34
23 Brett Morris…..... *  2-5    0-2    2-2    0  1  1   3   6  2  1  0  0  22
00 Brien Winston…....    2-5    0-1    1-2    0  4  4   2   5  1  2  1  1  22
32 Juwan Wells…......    1-5    0-3    1-2    0  4  4   1   3  4  2  1  6  29
   TEAM….............                         3     3
   Totals…...........   24-57   9-27   5-10   5 17 22  13  62 10  8  4 10 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 11-29 37.9%   2nd Half: 13-28 46.4%   Game: 42.1%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  7-17 41.2%   2nd Half:  2-10 20.0%   Game: 33.3%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  1-2  50.0%   2nd Half:  4-8  50.0%   Game: 50.0%    1

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

Technical fouls: Slippery Rock-None. Glenville State-None.
Attendance: 489
Score by Periods                1st  2nd   Total
Slippery Rock…..............   29   34  -   63
Glenville State…............   30   32  -   62



The Gilmer Free Press

►  No. 17 WVU women handle Eastern Kentucky 67-42

Bria Holmes scored a game-high 23 points and the No. 17 West Virginia women’s basketball team buried Eastern Kentucky 67-42 on Saturday night in the opening round of the Preseason WNIT.

Linda Stepney scored 13 points and Averee Fields added 12 on combined 10-of-14 shooting, while Crystal Leary grabbed 11 rebounds and swatted away a career-high four blocks. Redshirt freshman Teana Muldrow finished with eight points and five rebounds.
West Virginia (1-0), which improved to 13-1 in season openers under coach Mike Carey, used a 12-point run to end the first half up 30-19.

The Colonels (0-1) never got closer than 11 in the second half.

The Mountaineers will face former Big East foe Seton Hall in the second round on Monday, November 17 at the WVU Coliseum. The Pirates (1-0) knocked off Rider 86-64.

EKU’s Michaela Hunter, Mariah Massengill and Shameekia Murray each had eight points for the Colonels.

The Mountaineers made 24-of-56 from the field for 42.9 percent, holding EKU to 27.5%. WVU held a slight rebounding edge 44-38.


►  West Virginia goes back to work against skilled, experienced Lafayette

West Virginia may have been expecting a pair of early-season tuneups, but this weekend tipped off with a jarring start.

After needing a laterally to beat Monmouth on Friday, the Mountaineers (1-0) prepare for a Sunday encore against a team that’s more skilled and more seasoned. Lafayette (1-0) built a 40-point lead in its season-opening win at Robert Morris and, with its entire rotation returning, may be built for its first NCAA tournament berth since 2000.

Tip time is 3 PM Sunday at the WVU Coliseum with local TV coverage by Root.

West Virginia, seeking to build an NCAA resume after falling short of the tournament the past two years, seemingly can’t afford a slip-up on its home court before heading off for three games in Puerto Rico.

Let’s take a deeper look at the Lafayette Leopards, whose roster includes seven guys 6-8 or taller and nine economics majors:

Lafayette last season: 11-20 overall, 6-12 in Patriot League

This season: Beat Robert Morris 77-50 in the opener after being picked fourth in 10-team Patriot League.

About the school: Located in Easton, Pa., Lafayette’s alums include former Princeton coach Pete Carril and “Red Badge of Courage” author Stephen Crane (one semester)

Coach: Fran O’Hanlon is 270-295 in his 20th season at Lafayette

Line: West Virginia favored by 13

Leopards to watch: 6-foot-8 guard Seth Hinrichs (16.4 points and six rebounds per game last season) scored 15 at Robert Morris, but Australian forward Dan Trist poured in 21 and sophomore point guard Nick Linder added 18. Joey Ptasinki (11.4 ppg) and Bryce Scott (11.5) round out a starting five that double figures “We’d better get better by Sunday, because they’re really good,” said Huggins.

Mountaineers to watch: Juwan Staten needed a while to get going against Monmouth and Jonathan Holton (1-of-9 shooting) never got going. Devin Williams had a double-double but made only 3-of-14 shots from close. The timetable is fuzzy for the return of BillyDee Williams, who suffered a broken orbital bone in practice last week.

Why an upset is possible: Because Lafayette has balanced scoring and proven 3-point shooters after ranking No. 8 nationally last season at 39.8%. West Virginia would struggle against any opponent when it shoots as poorly as it did against Monmouth on Friday.

Prediction: West Virginia 71-62   ~~  Alan Taylor ~~


►  Holton, Williams lead West Virginia over Lafayette

Jonathan Holton and Devin Williams finished with double-doubles to lift West Virginia over Lafayette 83-56 on Sunday afternoon.

Holton led West Virginia (2-0) with 18 points and 15 rebounds—a nice bounce-back after a 1-of-9 effort in Friday’s season opener against Monmouth.

“I just had to get back to the feeling of the game,” Holton said. “I felt more comfortable out there. (Monmouth) was really my first game back after (sitting out) last year.”

The Mountaineers shot 38.3 percent from the floor with Holton making 9-of-17.

“That was more of what we had expected,” said WVU coach Bob Huggins. “He was just so fired up on Friday. (Today) he slowed down and was more under control. He’s capable of being a whole lot better even than that. He’s a much more capable shooter than what he showed and he passes it better than what he has passed it to this point.”

Williams scored 15 points for the Mountaineers, while grabbing 11 rebounds. The two WVU big men inside accounted for 26 of West Virginia’s 50 rebounds on the day.

“We go at it ourselves,” Holton said. “Honestly, I don’t feel like the other team is out there, to me. I’m going against Devin Williams and Devin Williams is going against Jonathan Holton – that’s my rivalry in rebounding. I tell him to invite me to the part, you go to one side and I’ll go to the other. If we can win the boards, this team could win so many games.”

Those types of efforts from Holton and Williams will continue to be key moving forward as West Virginia was without Elijah Macon (whose mother is ill), Brandon Watkins and Billydee Williams (fracture in orbital bone of his right eye).

Sunday’s game was significantly improved from a 64-54 win over Monmouth on Friday where WVU shot just 26 percent. Point guard Juwan Staten finished with 10 points and eight assists and guard Jaysean Paige added 16 points on 6-of-13 shooting.

“We came out with a lot of intensity,” Paige said. “We were hitting shots and rebounding. Everyone was playing as a group. It’s a lot easier when you’re playing that way and everyone is on the same page.

“For me, I’m never satisfied. I feel like I can always play better. I started settling a little bit in the second half for jump shots and I probably should have been a little more aggressive—that’s on me. But overall, I feel like we’re in a good spot.”

WVU’s full-court pressure on the day resulted in 20 Lafayette turnovers, leading to 24 West Virginia points.

Up next for West Virginia is a matchup against George Mason on Thursday night in the opening-round game of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  NBA Game Results

(Sunday, November 16)


Final Score: New York 109, Denver 93

Carmelo Anthony scored 28 points and pulled down nine rebounds as the New York Knicks used a dominant second quarter to beat the Denver Nuggets, 109-93, on Sunday. J.R. Smith also tallied 28 points for the Knicks, who snapped a seven-game skid. New York outscored Denver by a 31-8 margin in the second stanza. The home team went 12-of-22 from the field in the period, while holding the Nuggets to 1-of-16 shooting. Arron Afflalo ended with 18 points for the Nuggets, who fell to 2-7 on the young season. Ty Lawson had 17 points and nine assists.


Final Score: Milwaukee 91, Miami 84

Brandon Knight scored nine of his 20 points in the fourth quarter to help the Milwaukee Bucks to a 91-84 win over the Miami Heat on Sunday. Knight, a South Florida native, hit successive 3-pointers as Miami was on the comeback trail late in the fourth to hold off the defending Eastern Conference champions and snap a five-game losing streak in the series. Jabari Parker supplied 13 points, while Larry Sanders and Giannis Antetokounmpo each added 11 for the Bucks, who have won three of their last four. Mario Chalmers led the Heat with 18 points and Shawne Williams deposited 13 points with 11 rebounds. Dwyane Wade missed his second straight game recovering from a hamstring injury. Chris Bosh and Luol Deng each had 10 points on a combined 5-for-28 shooting for Miami, which has lost three straight.


Final Score: Houston 69, Oklahoma City 65

James Harden’s had better days in Oklahoma City, but he still came up with the big shot when the Houston Rockets needed it. Harden’s go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:19 left lifted the Rockets to a 69-65 victory over the Thunder in a game where neither team shot better than 30 percent from the field. With the shot clock running down and the game tied at 65-65, Harden rose up from the top of the arc and nailed a triple to put Houston in front. After Reggie Jackson couldn’t get his layup to drop and Jeremy Lamb couldn’t connect from distance, Harden dribbled in traffic and lost the ball at the other end. The ball went out of bounds off Thunder center Steven Adams, however, following a brief scuffle. Harden’s straightaway trey didn’t drop this time, but Jackson’s long triple over Dwight Howard hit off the back of the rim and Harden split a pair of foul shots with 4.7 seconds left to seal the outcome.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Morneau powers MLB stars to first win in Japan

Justin Morneau clubbed a three-run homer and added an RBI double, as the Major League Baseball All-Stars picked up their first win of the 2014 Japan Series with a 6-1 triumph over Samurai Japan on Sunday.

Evan Longoria also homered for the MLB All-Stars, who banged out 10 hits a day after being no-hit by four Japanese hurlers. Jose Altuve and Yasiel Puig, the top two batters in the lineup, each finished 3-for-4 in the victory.

Chris Capuano worked five strong innings to earn the win for the MLB stars, who had lost each of the first three in the five-game series that concludes on Tuesday in Sapporo. The lefty surrendered just a run on four hits with four strikeouts and no walks.

Puig made sure there would be no talk of a second no-hitter with a one-out double in the first inning. He then scored on Morneau’s two-bagger down the right field line for the MLB stars’ first lead of the series.

The Japanese stars tied it in the second on consecutive doubles by Nobuhiro Matsuda and Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, but Morneau’s blast in the third put the MLB All-Stars ahead for good.

Altuve started the go-ahead rally with a one-out single and Puig chased him to third with his second double of the game. Morneau then drilled a Shintaro Fujinami full-count offering over the right field wall for a 4-1 lead.

Longoria led off the sixth with a homer and the MLB stars tacked on another run in the eighth when Eduardo Nunez knocked in a run with a bases-loaded grounder.

The Japanese stars threatened in the seventh and eighth innings. Ryosuke Kikuchi lined out to center to leave two runners aboard in the seventh against Jerry Blevins, and Tommy Hunter worked around a pair of singles in the eighth with a called third strike on Matsuda.

Mark Melancon struck out two in a perfect ninth to close out the victory.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  NHL Game Results

(Sunday, November 16)


Final Score: San Jose 2, Carolina 0

The Sharks played more like passengers than Pacific Division contenders on Sunday. Good thing Troy Grosenick showed no fear in his first NHL appearance. Grosenick stopped all 45 shots he faced to record his first career shutout in his first-ever start, while Tomas Hertl supplied all the offense the rookie netminder needed, as San Jose claimed a 2-0 victory over Carolina Grosenick, 25, who helped lead Union College to the Frozen Four in 2012, had gone 7-2-1 with a 2.73 goals-against average in 10 games for Worcester of the American Hockey League. He was recalled on Nov. 12 due to an injury to backup Alex Stalock. Joe Thornton notched a late empty-net tally for the Sharks, who improved to 3-3-0 on their current seven- game road trip which ends on Tuesday in Buffalo. Anton Khudobin made 17 saves for the Hurricanes, who have lost three in a row and have scored just two goals during the skid.


Final Score: Minnesota 4, Winnipeg 3 (OT)

Marco Scandella scored 1:01 into overtime to lift the Minnesota Wild over the Winnipeg Jets, 4-3, on Sunday. After the Wild blew a three-goal lead in the third period, Scandella fired a shot from the point that beat traffic in front and got past Michael Hutchinson. Scandella had missed the previous two games with an illness. Minnesota forward Zach Parise had two goals in his return to the lineup after missing the past five games with a concussion. Nino Niederreiter also lit the lamp. Niklas Backstrom was pulled after giving up three goals in the third for the Wild, who have won three in a row. Darcy Kuemper made three saves in relief. Michael Frolik, Evander Kane and Andrew Ladd scored for the Jets, who have lost two straight. Ondrej Pavelec was pulled after giving up three goals on 11 shots in the first stanza.


Final Score: Montreal 4, Detroit 1

P.K. Subban and Brendan Gallagher each registered a goal and an assist to power the Montreal Canadiens to a sixth straight win with a 4-1 decision over the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday. Brandon Prust and Tomas Plekanec also scored for the Canadiens, who were coming off a 6-3 victory over Philadelphia on Saturday. Dustin Tokarski turned aside 28 shots in the win. Riley Sheahan notched a power-play goal for Detroit and Jimmy Howard allowed all four goals on 19 shots in defeat.


Final Score: Chicago 6, Dallas 2

Patrick Kane posted a goal and two assists in the Chicago Blackhawks’ 6-2 win over the Dallas Stars on Sunday. Kane scored 4:49 into the third period to break a 2-2 tie, and Chicago tallied three more times in the third to pull away. Jonathan Toews, Kris Versteeg and Brandon Saad also scored in the final period. Corey Crawford turned aside 22 shots as Chicago won for the third time in its last four. Shawn Horcoff and Curtis McKenzie scored for the Stars, who have dropped two straight on the heels of back-to-back wins. Kari Lehtonen surrendered all six goals on 47 shots.


Final Score: Florida 6, Anaheim 2

Nick Bjugstad finished with two goals and two assists to lead a potent offensive attack that powered the Florida Panthers to a 6-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday. Brad Boyes tallied two goals and an assist, Jonathan Huberdeau added a goal and a helper and Vincent Trocheck also scored for the Panthers, who exploded with four second- period goals to rebound from a 4-3 shootout loss to the Islanders on Friday. Al Montoya made 33 saves for his first win as a member of the Panthers. Hampus Lindholm and Andrew Cogliano each lit the lamp for Anaheim, while Frederik Andersen allowed four goals on 15 shots. Jason LaBarbera came on and gave up two goals on 14 shots in relief for the Ducks, who have lost five of their last six. Ducks forward Cory Perry returned to the ice after missing five games with the mumps, but was kept off the scoresheet to end his seven-game point streak.


Final Score: Arizona 2, Edmonton 1

Brandon Gormley scored his first NHL goal and Devan Dubnyk impressed in his return to Rexall Place as the Arizona Coyotes defeated the Edmonton Oilers 2-1 on Sunday. Dubnyk, who spent the majority of the past five seasons in an Edmonton jersey, turned aside 33 shots to beat his former team. The Arizona netminder was coming off a 35- save performance in a 5-0 win against Vancouver on Friday. Mikkel Boedker provided a goal for the Coyotes, which snapped a three-game skid. Taylor Hall netted Edmonton’s lone goal in his return to the lineup after missing six games with an MCL sprain in his right knee. Ben Scrivens allowed both goals on 28 shots for Edmonton, which has dropped seven of its last nine games. The Oilers are now winless in eight games against Western Conference opponents this season.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Kenseth wins Nationwide season-finale at Homestead

Matt Kenseth won Saturday’s season-ending race and the final one for Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor of NASCAR’s second-tier series after passing Kyle Larson for the lead with two laps to go at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead featured a green-white-checkered finish due to a multi-car crash in the closing laps. Larson took the lead from Kenseth just before the 11th and final caution.

After the last restart, Kenseth quickly pulled ahead of Larson to reclaim the top spot. Kenseth then held off Kyle Busch, his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, at the finish by 0.7 seconds. It was his 29th career Nationwide victory but his first since October 2013 at Kansas, snapping his 22-race winless streak in this series.

Kenseth remains winless in the Sprint Cup Series this season after leading that series with seven victories last year.

“It’s been a long time since I won a race in anything,“ said Kenseth, who drove the No. 20 Toyota for JGR in this race. “Kyle (Larson) got around me on that second-to-last restart, but when he chose the bottom there and I had Kyle (Busch) behind me, I knew that we had a shot. I just had to do a better job than I did the time before. So luckily we got that one last chance to redeem ourselves.“

Larson, who dominated most of this race by leading 111 laps, ended up finishing third. Ryan Blaney was fourth and Chris Buescher fifth.

Chase Elliott finished 17th and was officially crowned the 2014 Nationwide Series champion. The 18-year-old Elliott had already clinched the title with a fifth-place run in last weekend’s race at Phoenix. He concluded the season with a 42-point margin over second place and JR Motorsports teammate Regan Smith, who finished sixth at Homestead.

Elliott suffered a flat right-rear tire, which forced a caution with 13 laps to go. He pitted for new tires but remained on the lead lap.

“I know that was ugly, and we didn’t have that good of a run, but we’ll take it,“ Elliott said.

Elliott became the youngest driver to win a championship in any one of NASCAR’s three national touring series. He also became the first rookie to claim a series title. Elliott, the driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet for JRM, had three wins, 16 top-five finishes, 26 top-10s and three poles in 33 Nationwide races this season. JRM is co-owned by Sprint Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., his sister, Kelley Earnhardt Miller, and Sprint Cup team owner Rick Hendrick.

Elliott’s crew chief, Greg Ives, is moving over to Sprint Cup next year to serve as Earnhardt’s crew chief at Hendrick’s No. 88 team. Ives is replacing Steve Letarte, who is leaving the competition to serve as a NASCAR analyst for NBC Sports.

“It’s just been a very, very fun road,“ Elliott said. “I feel very fortunate to have not just this year with Greg and with Dale and Kelley and Mr. Hendrick, and just honestly, the best group of people that you could possibly have surrounding you in racing in the past five years that I’ve been short track racing and whatnot.“

Brad Keselowski’s eighth-place run allowed Team Penske’s No. 22 team to clinch the owners’ championship in the series for the second year in a row. Keselowski started on the pole but dealt with an electrical issue in the early going and was not a factor from there.

The No. 22 team scored six wins this season and ended the season 23 points ahead of JGR’s No. 54 team. Keselowski scored five victories, including last week at Phoenix, and Blaney had one win for the 22. Joey Logano, Michael McDowell and Alex Tagliani also drove the car for Penske this year.

Logano had originally been scheduled to drive the car at Homestead, but earlier this week, Penske replaced him with Keselowski, allowing Logano to focus on his Sprint Cup efforts. He is one of the four drivers battling for the championship in Sunday’s 400-mile race here.

“Brad ran a great race,“ team owner Roger Penske said. “When you think about five different drivers, it’s really a credit to Jeremy Bullins (crew chief for No. 22 team) and the job he’s done in preparing the car for different drivers. And with six wins, one with Ryan Blaney, it’s obvious the Nationwide means so much to us because it’s the proving ground.“

Starting next year, Comcast’s Xfinity will be the title sponsor of the series. The 2015 season begins on February 21 at Daytona.


►  Harvick wins at Homestead and claims first Sprint Cup title

Kevin Harvick captured his first championship in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series by winning Sunday’s season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Harvick, in his first season as driver of the No. 4 Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing, passed Denny Hamlin for the lead with eight laps remaining and then held off Ryan Newman following the last restart with three laps to go. He beat Newman to the finish line by a half-second for his fifth win of the season and the 28th of his Sprint Cup career.

Harvick’s crew chief, Rodney Childers, elected to make a four-tire change during his final pit stop with less than 20 laps left, dropping him to 12th in the field. But Harvick benefited from two cautions in the closing laps to move to the front.

“It came down to a pit call, and I thought we were in big trouble here, but Rodney Childers and all these guys (No. 4 team) did an amazing job,“ said Harvick, who led a total of 54 laps.

Last weekend, Harvick won at Phoenix—the elimination race in the Eliminator Round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup—to automatically advance into the final four for Homestead. Newman, Hamlin and Joey Logano were the other title contenders in this 400-mile event. Harvick came to Phoenix eighth in points.

In 2004, NASCAR instituted a playoff format to determine the championship for its premier series, but this year, NASCAR radically changed the format by expanding the field of drivers in the Chase to 16 and adding elimination rounds. The highest finisher of the final four title-eligible drivers at Homestead would win the title.

“I think this Chase is probably the best thing that has happened to this sport over the last decade, and this is probably going to shorten the drivers’ careers because it’s been so stressful,“ Harvick said.

Hamlin ended up finishing seventh, while Logano placed 16th. Logano had a mishap during a late-race round of pit stops. His car came off the jack stand during his tire change, dropping him as far back as 26th.

All four drivers had been running among the top-10 for a majority of this 267- lap, 400-mile race.

“It was a heck of a race up there,“ said Logano, who completed his second season with Team Penske. “I screwed up and hit the wall early, and we were able to recover. Then had the mistake on pit road, which didn’t give us enough time to recover from that. It is unfortunate. Execution was our strong point all year, and we just didn’t do it tonight.“

Newman, who was the only one of the four drivers that did not win a race this season, started 21st but patiently made his way through the field and became a contender to win this event in the closing laps. His second-place run marked his best finish of the season. This was Newman’s first season as driver of the No. 31 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing.

“I drove my heart out, there’s no doubt about that,“ Newman said. “The guys (No. 31 team) did an awesome job all year long. We fought back hard. We were one spot short and probably one caution too many for us. But that’s the way it happens. That’s part of racing. Kevin and those guys did a good job of putting themselves in position and had the better tires in the end and, it paid off for them.“

Hamlin ran strong in the late going but opted not to pit when Harvick, Newman and Logano came in for new tires during a caution. After a restart, Hamlin pulled ahead of Jeff Gordon for the lead, but several laps later, Harvick made his winning pass.

This race featured 13 cautions, including four within the final 30 laps.

“We had a championship-type car, championship-type effort, but those last breaks (cautions) just didn’t go our way,“ Hamlin said. “I thought once our car really came into its own as soon as it went dark, and I thought we had the best car, and we just struggled with restart speed.“

Hamlin has driven for Joe Gibbs Racing throughout his Sprint Cup career. He won last year’s season-finale at Homestead.

Brad Keselowski finished third, followed by Paul Menard, Jamie McMurray and Matt Kenseth. Gordon started on the pole and led 161 of 267 laps but faded in the late stages to finish 10th. Clint Bowyer placed eighth, and Jimmie Johnson, who won his sixth Sprint Cup championship one year ago, was ninth.

Harvick, a 38-year-old Bakersfield, California native, became the 30th different driver to win a championship in the 66-year history of the series. His maiden title occurred in his 14th season. He spent his first 13 years with Richard Childress Racing.

“Been trying for 13 years,“ Harvick said of winning a Sprint Cup championship. “I just have to thank (SHR co-owner) Tony Stewart and (fellow competitor) Jimmie Johnson for helping me through this week. Jimmie was in my trailer as much many of my teammates, and calling me and on the phone, doing all the things that it takes to tell me what I needed to do today…This new (Chase) format has been stressful, but the racing has been phenomenal.“

Harvick delivered SHR its second Sprint Cup owners’ championship. Stewart won the series title in 2011, beating Carl Edwards in a tiebreaker.

“You couldn’t ask for two guys that are cooler under pressure than Rodney Childers and Kevin Harvick,“ Stewart said. “I’m so proud of them. I have a small feeling this is just the beginning.“

Childers became the 37th different crew chief to win a championship. He had served as crew chief at Michael Waltrip Racing before he moved over to SHR prior to the start of this season to guide Harvick’s efforts.

“I felt good all weekend, and the guys did an excellent job,“ Childers said. “Kevin did an excellent job, and I felt like we came down here (to Homestead) as prepared as we could be, and I was actually okay if it went good or bad.“

Stewart finished 43rd after he experienced engine trouble late in the race. His 15-year streak of winning at least one race in a season came to an end. The three-time Cup champion has not been to victory lane since June 2013.

Kyle Larson, who placed 13th at Homestead, won rookie-of-the-year honors in the series.

“We’ve gotten better throughout the season, and it’s just a huge honor to win this title with all the other names that have won it,“ Larson said.

The Gilmer Free Press


Codes
ABC - American Broadcasting Company
CBS - Columbia Broadcast System
FOX - Fox Entertainment Group
NBC - National Broadcasting Company
JIP - Joined in Progress
DSS - DIRECTV
TSN - Sports Network (Canada)
SNET/SN - Rogers SportsNet (Canada)
RDS - Reseau des sports
MSG - Madison Square Garden Network
TNT - Turner Network Television
TBS - Turner Broadcasting System
SNY - SportsNet New York
CBSSN - CBS - College Sports Network
CSN - Comcast SportsNet
TCN - The Comcast Network
NBCSN - NBC Sports Network
NESN - New England Sports Network
MASN - Mid-Atlantic Sports Network
ROOT - Root Sports (Pittsburgh, Northwest, Rocky Mountain)
CST - Cox Sports Television
FCS - FOX College Sports
FS - FOX Sports Regional
RSN - Regional Sports Networks
CPTV - Connecticut Public Broadcasting
TVG - Horse Racing Channel
FS1 - FOX Sports 1
TWC - Time Warner Cable Sports Channel
* - If Necessary


MONDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2014


National Football League
Pittsburgh at Tennessee, 8:30 PM - ESPN


National Basketball Association
Dallas at Charlotte, 7:00 PM - FS-Southwest, SportSouth, DSS
Denver at Cleveland, 7:00 PM - Altitude, FS-Ohio, NBA TV, DSS
Orlando at Detroit, 7:30 PM - FS-Florida, Detroit, DSS
Phoenix at Boston, 7:30 PM - FS-Arizona, CSN-New England, DSS
Miami at Brooklyn, 7:30 PM - SunSports, YES, DSS
Houston at Memphis, 8:00 PM - CSN-Houston, SportSouth, DSS
Philadelphia at San Antonio, 8:30 PM - CSN-Philadelphila, FS-Southwest, DSS
New Orleans at Portland, 10:00 PM - FS-New Orleans, CSN-Northwest, DSS
Chicago at LA Clippers, 10:30 PM - CSN-Chicago, FS-Prime Ticket, NBA TV, DSS


National Hockey League
Tampa Bay at NY Rangers, 7:00 PM - TVA, SunSports, MSG, DSS


College Basketball
Texas Southern at Indiana, 6:00 PM - Big Ten Network
Louisiana Tech at Temple, 7:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Miami-Florida at Florida, 7:00 PM - ESPN U
MD-Eastern Shore at Villanova, 7:00 PM - FS1
Jacksonville St at Louisville, 7:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Delaware at Liberty, 7:00 PM - MASN, DSS
Winthrop at Clemson, 7:00 PM - RSN, ESPN3.com, DSS
UC Santa Barbara at Florida Gulf Coast, 7:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Hofstra at NC State, 7:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Tiffin at Cleveland State, 7:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Belmont at Lipscomb, 7:30 PM - ESPN3.com
Franklin Pierce at St. John’s, 7:30 PM - ESPN3.com
Central Conn St at Maryland, 7:30 PM - ESPN3.com
Gardner-Webb at Coll of Charleston, 7:30 PM - Charleston Sports Net
St Francis-PA at American Univ, 7:30 PM - Patriot League Network
MN-Crookston at Milwaukee, 8:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Western Ill at Ill-Chicago, 8:00 PM - CSN-Chicago, ESPN3.com, DSS
Wake Forest at Tulane, 8:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Washington St at TCU, 8:00 PM - FS-Southwest+, MASN2
Bucknell at Michigan, 8:00 PM - Big Ten Network
Miss Valley State at Miss State, 8:00 PM - SEC Network+
North Dakota St at Iowa, 8:00 PM - ESPN3.com
UMKC at Kansas State, 8:00 PM - FS-Midwest
Western Carolina at Alabama, 9:00 PM - SEC Network
Bethune-Cookman at Arizona State, 9:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
Binghamton at Providence, 9:00 PM - FS1
Georgia State at Iowa State, 9:00 PM - ESPN U
Louisiana at Tulsa, 9:30 PM - ESPN3.com
Bristol University at Fresno State, 10:00 PM - Mountain West Network
Detroit at Oregon, 11:00 PM - ESPN U
Tenn Tech at USC, 11:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
SMU at Gonzaga, 11:00 PM - ESPN 2
Auburn at Colorado, 1:00 AM - ESPN 2
New Mexico St at St Marys-CA, 3:05 AM - ESPN 2


Women’s College Basketball
Longwood at Florida, 4:15 PM - SEC Network+
Northern Illinois at Illinois-Chiacgo, 5:30 PM - ESPN3.com
Oral Roberts at Tennessee, 7:00 PM - SEC Network+
Grambling State at Auburn, 7:00 PM - SEC Network+
Baylor at Kentucky, 7:00 PM - ESPN 2
Green Bay at Vanderbilt, 8:00 PM - SEC Network+
SE Missouri State at Missouri, 8:00 PM - SEC Network+
Jackson State at LSU, 8:00 PM - SEC Network+
Connecticut at Stanford, 9:00 PM - ESPN 2

Sports News   141116

The Gilmer Free Press


The Gilmer Free Press

►  Pioneers Beat WV State in Final Game of the Season

The Glenville State Pioneer football team defeated the West Virginia State Yellow Jackets on a chilly afternoon at Morris Stadium, 30-7.

The Pioneers would jump out to a great start as they would score 23 unanswered points. However West Virginia State would find the endzone right before halftime as Glenville State took a 23-7 lead at the half.

In the second half of action GSC would score at the 7:25 minute mark of the third quarter as Dante Roberts scored on a three yard run as the Pioneers took a, 30-7 lead as GSC would go on to defeated the Yellow Jackets by that score as the GSC defense pitched a shutout in the second half of action in the final season game of the 2014 season.

The Pioneers rushed for 199 yards as a team, they ran a total of 63 plays for 382 yards while West Virginia State ran 80 plays for just 314 total yards.

The Pioneers finished the day with two turnovers while the Yellow Jackets turned it over four times. Oth teams had several penalties on the day Glenville State finished with seven penalties for 56 yards while West Virginia State had six penalties for 62 yards.

GSC running back Tevin Drake led the rushing attack as he rushed for 179 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns. Rahmann Lee did not play in the game due to an injured ankle.

Back-up quarterback Dante Roberts throw for 183 yards a he completed 12 passes with a touchdown pass and touchdown run. Roberts’s favorite target was wideout Dante Absher as he caught five passes for 105 yards.

Gary Henderson led the Pioneers defense with 11 total tackles and a sack on the day. Freshman defensive back Earon Settles chipped in with seven tackles.

West Virginia State was led by quarterback Matt Kinnick as he went 26 for 42 for 218 yards and a touchdown.

The Pioneers finish the 2014 season with 5-6 (5-5) record.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Cato sets TD pass mark as Marshall routs Rice

Rakeem Cato threw touchdown passes to four different receivers and 21st-ranked Marshall stayed unbeaten with a 41- 14 drubbing of Rice in a rematch of last year’s Conference-USA title game.

Marshall (10-0, 6-0 C-USA) avenged its loss to Rice last December and stayed on course for a perfect season. The Thundering Herd went 13-0 back in 1999 with Chad Pennington under center, and they will be favorites in their final two regular season games against UAB and Western Kentucky.

Cato, who broke Pennington’s school record for career touchdown passes, completed 23-of-37 attempts for 297 yards with an interception, while Devon Johnson ran for 199 yards and a score in the convincing victory.

Rice (6-4, 4-2) watched its six-game winning streak come to a crashing halt thanks to a grand total of 180 yards of offense. Driphus Jackson completed just 11-of-23 passes for 99 yards

Justin Haig’s 33-yard field goal accounted for the only points in the first quarter, and a pair of Cato touchdown passes in the second made it 17-0.

Cato hit Ryan Yurachek for a short TD off a play-action fake, then found Hyleck Foster on a deep post route for a 25-yard score.

A rare mistake by Cato led to Rice’s only productive drive of the opening half. Bryce Callahan intercepted an underthrown ball and returned it 28 yards to the Marshall 17-yard line, and Jowan Davis barreled across the goal line from three yards out with 2:04 left in the half.

Devon Johnson’s 42-yard run set up Haig’s 21-yard chip shot just before the break, and Cato hooked up with Eric Frohnapfel for a 30-yard TD early into the second half to eclipse Pennington’s 15-year old record.

Johnson’s 2-yard run made it 34-7 later in the third quarter, and Cato put an exclamation point on his big day with a 7-yard scoring strike to Deon-Tay McManus.

Rice’s Darik Dillard ran for a late touchdown.

Game Notes

Pennington threw 115 touchdown passes from 1995-99 ... Marshall has won 13 straight at home ... The Owls’ last win against a ranked opponent came on October 11, 1997 when they downed No. 21 BYU ... Frohnapfel led all receivers with 107 yards on six catches.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Top-25 College Football Game Results

Final Score: (4) Alabama 25, (1) Mississippi State 20

The Alabama defense picked off Dak Prescott three times and the fourth-ranked Crimson Tide took down the top- ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs, 25-20, in a key SEC West showdown. With the victory, Alabama (9-1, 6-1 SEC) is virtually guaranteed to move up in the College Football Playoff rankings. They were fifth coming into the game. Blake Sims completed 19-of-31 passes for 211 yards and one touchdown for the Crimson Tide, who have won seven straight against Mississippi State. T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry each scored a touchdown on the ground for Alabama, which has won 14 straight at home. Amari Cooper caught eight passes for 88 yards and a score. Prescott, a Heisman Trophy candidate, connected on 27-of-48 passes for 290 yards and two touchdowns for the Bulldogs (9-1, 5-1), who had a 12-game winning streak snapped. He also carried the ball 22 times for 82 yards.


Final Score: (2) Florida State 30, Miami-Florida 26

It once again was anything but easy, but Florida State survived yet another close call with a stirring second-half comeback. Dalvin Cook rushed for two touchdowns, including a 26-yarder with 3:05 remaining that capped a furious rally and kept the second-ranked Seminoles’ unbeaten streak intact with a thrilling 30-26 victory over Miami- Florida. Florida State (10-0, 7-0 ACC) fell behind 16-0 early in the second quarter and trailed the highly charged Hurricanes 23-7 late in the first half before fighting back for its 26th consecutive win behind another clutch performance from Jameis Winston and a defense that shut down Miami over the last two quarters. Winston helped the Seminoles overcome the deficit by throwing a touchdown pass to Karlos Williams in the third quarter and amassing 304 yards with one interception on a 25-of-42 completion rate. Cook finished with 92 yards on just seven carries in Florida State’s fifth triumph this season in which it was down at the half. Brad Kaaya passed for 316 yards for Miami (6-4, 3-3), but 240 of them came before halftime and the Hurricanes mustered just a field goal over the final 30 minutes.

Final Score: (5) TCU 34, Kansas 30

Trevone Boykin threw for 330 yards and a touchdown, Aaron Green ran for a pair of scores filling in for B.J. Catalon and the fifth-ranked TCU Horned Frogs staved off the upset-minded Kansas, 34-30. TCU ripped off 17 consecutive points after Kansas went up 27-17 midway through the third quarter to pull out the win. Boykin was 26-of-36 with an interception, Green carried the ball 19 times for 128 yards and caught four passes for 26 yards and Ty Slanina had six receptions for 95 yards and a score for TCU (9-1, 6-1), which has won five straight since its lone loss at Baylor on Oct. 11. Mike Cummings was 19-of-37 for 332 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, Jimmay Mundine posted seven catches for 137 yards and a score and Nigel King added 128 yards and a touchdown on five receptions for the Jayhawks (3-7, 1-6), who picked up their first conference win last week against Iowa State.


Final Score: Oregon State 35, (7) Arizona State 27

Jordan Villamin’s 67-yard touchdown put Oregon State ahead and Michael Doctor’s late 35-yard interception return sent the Beavers to a 35-27 upset of No. 7 Arizona State on Saturday. Terron Ward rushed for 148 yards and a score on 19 carries and Storm Woods added a touchdown and 125 yards on 11 totes for Oregon State (5-5, 2-5 Pac-12), which snapped a four-game skid. Sean Mannion completed 19-of-33 passes for 251 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, Villamin finished with 127 yards on four catches and Victor Bolden hauled in seven passes for 72 yards and a score in the win. Taylor Kelly threw for 264 yards on a 22- of-44 completion rate with two touchdowns and two interceptions for the Sun Devils (8-2, 5-2), who were coming off a 55-31 win over Notre Dame.


Final Score: (8) Ohio State 31, Minnesota 24

J.T. Barrett accounted for 389 yards and four touchdowns and No. 8 Ohio State held off upset-minded Minnesota, 31-24, on a snowy Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium. Barrett set the Ohio State record for touchdowns in a season with 38, breaking the mark set last year by the man he replaced—the injured Braxton Miller. The freshman QB threw for 200 yards and three scores and added 189 yards and a TD on the ground for the Buckeyes (9-1, 6-0 Big Ten), who avoided a letdown following their upset win over Michigan State last week. These teams can meet again in the Big Ten title game. The Buckeyes control their fate in the East Division, and Minnesota (7-3, 4-2) still has a chance in the West with road games against Nebraska and Wisconsin remaining. Senior David Cobb carried the Golden Gophers’ offense with 145 rushing yards and three touchdowns in his last home game, while Mitch Leidner completed just 7-of-19 passes for 85 yards and two interceptions in the frigid conditions.


Final Score: (16) Georgia 34, (9) Auburn 7

Todd Gurley looked sharp in his return from a four-game suspension, but left with a left knee injury late in the fourth quarter of No. 16 Georgia’s 34-7 win over ninth-ranked Auburn. Gurley took a handoff to the left side of the line with just over five minutes left and made a cut to his right off of his left leg before immediately grabbing at his knee. He was helped to the sideline and did not return. Gurley carried the ball 29 times for 138 yards and one touchdown for the Bulldogs (8-2, 6-2 SEC), who have won two in a row since a loss to Florida on Nov. 1. Nick Chubb rushed for 144 yards and two scores on 19 carries. Hutson Mason completed 10-of-19 passes for 123 yards and one touchdown for Georgia. Nick Marshall connected on 11-of-23 passes for 112 yards and an interception for the Tigers (7-3, 4-3), who have lost two straight. Cameron Artis-Payne carried the ball 20 times for 86 yards and a score.


Final Score: (22) Wisconsin 59, (11) Nebraska 24

Melvin Gordon bolstered his Heisman Trophy candidacy with a record 408 yards rushing and No. 22 Wisconsin ran away with a 59-24 win over No. 11 Nebraska in a key Big Ten West showdown on Saturday. Gordon, already the nation’s leading rusher entering play, ripped off seven runs of at least 26 yards and broke future NFL great LaDainian Tomlinson’s FBS record for rushing yards in a game. He and the Badgers (8-2, 5-1 Big Ten) both overcame ball security issues in the first half to score 56 straight points after trailing 17-3, picking up their fifth consecutive win. Nebraska (8-2, 4-2) and senior running back Ameer Abdullah, whose own Heisman bid is probably over, had a three-game winning streak snapped despite having a bye week to get ready for Gordon and the Badgers. Wisconsin took a one-game lead over Nebraska and Minnesota in the Big Ten West division with two regular- season games remaining against Iowa and Minnesota, which fell to Ohio State on Saturday.


Final Score: (12) Michigan State 37, Maryland 15

Connor Cook threw for 240 yards, Jeremy Langford had two rushing touchdowns and 12th-ranked Michigan State posted a 37-15 win over Maryland in the first meeting between the teams since 1950. Langford had 138 yards on 25 carries and capped his performance with a 25-yard score that put the Spartans up 30-7 about midway through the fourth quarter. Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown answered by throwing a 31-yard touchdown pass to Juwann Winfree, but Nick Hill sealed the win with a 33-yard TD run after Michigan State recovered an onside kick. The Spartans (8-2, 5-1 Big Ten) bounced back from last week’s disappointing home loss to Ohio State and won a school-record ninth straight conference road game. Brown finished with 246 passing yards and two touchdowns, but he had three interceptions, one of which was returned for a score. Maryland (6-4, 3-3) was held to 11 first downs and six rushing yards.


Final Score: Northwestern 43, (15) Notre Dame 40 (OT)

Northwestern trailed by 11 points late in regulation but rallied to force overtime and stunned No. 15 Notre Dame, 43-40. The Irish (7-3) made countless mistakes for the second straight week. After having their title hopes dashed by turning the ball over five times at Arizona State, the Fighting Irish committed four turnovers Saturday, including a fumble while trying to run the clock out with 1:28 remaining in regulation. Three straight Everett Golson incompletions on the first possession of overtime preceded Kyle Brindza pulling a field goal try wide left. Jack Mitchell, who forced OT with a 45-yard field goal with 19 seconds to go, calmly nailed a 41-yarder to snap Northwestern’s (4-6) four-game skid. Justin Jackson led the Wildcats with 149 rushing yards and a score, while Trevor Siemian threw for 284 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Golson threw three touchdown passes—all to William Fuller—and had a long TD run, but the embattled QB lost a fumble, threw an interception and completed just 21-of-40 passes for 287 yards.


Final Score: (17) Arizona 27, Washington 26

Casey Skowron hit two field goals in the fourth quarter, including a 47-yard attempt as time expired to give No. 17 Arizona a 27-26 victory over Washington on Saturday. Nick Wilson totaled 104 yards rushing and scored twice on 30 attempts for the Wildcats (8-2, 5-2 Pac-12), who have won two in a row since a loss at UCLA. It took the edge off a subpar performance from Anu Solomon, who completed only 17 of his 39 passes for 242 yards and two interceptions. Samajie Grant totaled 85 yards on four catches for Arizona, which also got an 18-yard touchdown on a fake field goal by Skowron. Cyler Miles passed for 223 yards on 20-of-29 attempts for the Huskies (6-5, 2-5), who skidded to their fourth loss in five. Dwayne Washington led the way with 148 yards and a pair of scores on 19 totes, while Joshua Perkins caught a TD pass from Marvin Hall in defeat.


Final Score: (24) Georgia Tech 28, (18) Clemson 6

Jamal Golden and Chris Milton returned interceptions for touchdowns, leading 24th-ranked Georgia Tech to a 28-6 victory over No. 18 Clemson on Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Clemson quarterback DeShaun Watson returned to the starting lineup after missing three games with a broken bone in his throwing hand, but the freshman left the contest late in the first quarter with a left knee injury. The Yellow Jackets (9-2, 6-2 ACC) dominated from there in their final league game and won their fourth straight to remain in the hunt for the ACC Coastal Division crown. Clemson (7-3, 6-2) also concluded its ACC slate and had a six-game winning streak stopped, handing the conference’s Atlantic Division crown to Florida State ahead of its big game with Miami-Florida on Saturday night.


Final Score: Virginia Tech 17, (19) Duke 16

Three Duke turnovers led to three Virginia Tech scores and the Hokies pulled off a 17-16 upset of the 19th-ranked Blue Devils on Saturday at Wallace Wade Stadium. Michael Brewer threw a pair of touchdown passes, including a 15-yard strike to Bucky Hodges for the go-ahead score early in the fourth quarter, as the Hokies (5-5, 2-4 ACC) snapped a three-game losing streak. Anthony Boone was intercepted twice and completed just 18-of-40 passes for 181 yards for Duke (8-2, 4-2), which had a four- game winning streak stopped and lost for the first time since a 22-10 setback at Miami-Florida in late September.


Final Score: Arkansas 17 (20) LSU 0

Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins each ran for a touchdown as Arkansas snapped its 17-game SEC losing streak with an emphatic 17-0 shutout of No. 20 LSU on Saturday. Arkansas’ last win against a conference opponent came in a 49-7 win over Kentucky on Oct. 13, 2012. Brandon Allen threw for 169 yards on 16-of-27 passing, Williams rushed for 55 yards on 18 carries and Collins compiled 46 yards on 16 totes for the Razorbacks (5-5, 1-5 SEC), who also won the Battle for the Boot, a rivalry between the two teams for a gold boot, which is in the shape of Arkansas and Louisiana. Anthony Jennings completed 12-of-22 passes for 87 yards and Terrance Magee ran for 24 yards on seven totes as the Tigers (7-4, 3-4) compiled just 123 yards of total offense. LSU, which entered the game 25-1 when following a loss under head coach Les Miles, lost its second game in a row after dropping a 20-13 decision to Alabama in overtime. The Tigers were also without running back Kenny Hilliard, who suffered a shoulder injury against the Crimson Tide.


Final Score: (21) Marshall 41, Rice 14

Rakeem Cato threw touchdown passes to four different receivers and 21st-ranked Marshall stayed unbeaten with a 41- 14 drubbing of Rice in a rematch of last year’s Conference-USA title game. Marshall (10-0, 6-0 C-USA) avenged its loss to Rice last December and stayed on course for a perfect season. The Thundering Herd went 13-0 back in 1999 with Chad Pennington under center, and they will be favorites in their final two regular season games against UAB and Western Kentucky. Cato, who broke Pennington’s school record for career touchdown passes, completed 23- of-37 attempts for 297 yards with an interception, while Devon Johnson ran for 199 yards and a score in the convincing victory. Rice (6-4, 4-2) watched its six-game winning streak come to a crashing halt thanks to a grand total of 180 yards of offense. Driphus Jackson completed just 11-of-23 passes for 99 yards.


Final Score: (25) Utah 20, Stanford 17 (2-OT)

Travis Wilson’s 3-yard touchdown pass to Kenneth Scott in the second overtime lifted No. 25 Utah to a 20-17 win over Stanford on Saturday. Wilson had a rushing touchdown in the second quarter that tied the score at 7-7, where it remained at the end of regulation. He found Kaelin Clay wide open behind cornerback Terrence Alexander for a 25-yard touchdown pass on the first play of overtime to give Utah a lead for the first time. Stanford came back with a play fake that set up Kevin Hogan’s 14-yard pass to Austin Hooper on the left side to tie the score—the Cardinal’s first points since they scored on the game’s opening drive. Jordan Williamson’s 51-yard field goal in the second overtime gave Stanford a 17-14 lead after Hogan’s overthrown pass was nearly picked off by Dominique Hatfield, whose feet were just out of bounds on the left sideline.But Utah picked up a first down on Wilson’s 10-yard pass to Westlee Tonga and won the game three plays later when Scott slid between two defenders for his catch in the end zone. It was Utah’s third overtime game of the season (2-1) and second win in double-overtime.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Jets’ Ryan fined $100K for profanity

New York Jets coach Rex Ryan was fined $100,000 by the NFL for a profane outburst that followed Sunday’s game against Pittsburgh and was caught on video.

After the Jets closed out their 20-13 win to end an eight-game losing streak, Ryan was shown on the TV broadcast apparently yelling, “(Expletive) you!“ to someone as he walked onto the field.

It’s unclear who Ryan’s target was. He later expressed frustration that the Steelers rushed Michael Vick while the Jets quarterback kneeled to run out the clock at the end of the game.

Ryan was fined twice in the past for public obscenities and was considered by the NFL to be a repeat offender.


►  Falcons try to stay perfect in NFC South play

The Atlanta Falcons finally found success on the road.

It remains to be seen if they can sustain it when they visit the Carolina Panthers Sunday in a battle between NFC South foes at Bank of America Stadium.

The Falcons defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 27-17, on Sunday and ended a five-game losing streak. It was Atlanta’s first win since a 56-14 demolition of the Bucs on September 18 at the Georgia Dome.

Steven Jackson ran for a season-high 81 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries for a Falcons team that is 24th in rushing with 97.2 yards per game. The Falcons had 110 yards on the ground and Matt Ryan threw for 219 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

“This was a team win across the board because everyone contributed to this,“ said Atlanta head coach Mike Smith. “We still have some ground to make up, but it starts with this victory.“

Julio Jones caught eight passes for 119 yards and Roddy White ended with six receptions for 72 yards and a score. White needs 73 yards for 10,000 in his career and has five touchdowns and 461 yards in the last four games against Carolina.

White needs three touchdowns to pass Michael Turner (61) for the most TDs in franchise history. Jones is 147 receiving yards short for his second career 1,000-yard season.

Atlanta, which improved to 3-0 in division play, is second in the NFC South despite a losing record at 3-6, but the New Orleans Saints lead the division with a 4-5 mark. Carolina is third at 3-6-1.

Ryan said it’s exciting to still be in the mix in the NFC South in November.

“We’ve got everything we want right in front of us,“ Ryan said.

Falcons wide receiver and special teams star Devin Hester suffered an ankle injury against Tampa Bay and is day-to-day. Wide receiver Harry Douglas is nursing a foot injury and should be healthy enough to contribute.

The last time the Falcons won two straight road games was in 2012. They are seventh in passing yards (272.4), eighth in total yards (369.7) and 13th in points scored with 24.3.

Carolina is on a short week after it was manhandled, 45-21, Monday night against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton didn’t look like himself and passed for 306 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. Newton was sacked a franchise-record nine times and appeared injured during some moments.

“He’s fine,“ Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. “That’s all I have to say on that issue.“

Newton, of course, entered the season after ankle surgery and a preseason rib fracture. He managed to run for six yards on two scrambles for Carolina, which committed five turnovers on the night, including two on the first two possessions.

“We can’t expect to win football games starting out like that,“ Newton said. “We put a lot of stress on our defense with excellent field position for them with back-to-back turnovers. I should have done a better job by checking the ball down or throwing the ball away.“

Newton said he’s not playing “good ball” right now and the Panthers have to put a better product on the field. Getting the offense going early against the Falcons is imperative, according to Newton, who reiterated to the media that questions surrounding his health wouldn’t exist if the team was winning.

Tight end Greg Olsen and rookie wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin were the lone bright spots in south Philly. Olsen caught six passes for 119 yards and Benjamin finished with three catches for 70 yards and two scores.

The Panthers have lost four in a row since their tie with Cincinnati on October 12, but still have a shot at repeating as NFC South champions. They are 18th in points scored (19.8), 19th in passing yards (225.4), 25th in total yards (320.8) and 27th in rushing yards (95.4).

Carolina’s defense was shaken up a bit Monday night, as defensive tackle Star Lotulelei left with an ankle injury and an MRI came back negative. His availability for Sunday’s game is unknown and may rest with the bye afterward.

“It’s not a high ankle sprain, which is good thing,“ Rivera said. “The way it was explained to me was that it was kind of like one you would get on a basketball court.

“He’s a big guy, and big guys tend to be a little bit slower on ankle sprains, but this is a low ankle sprain as opposed to the high ones, which are the worst ones.“

Rivera said defensive end Charles Johnson hyperextended his elbow in the first quarter. Johnson was able to return and should be fine for Atlanta coming in.

“It’s just sore, but he should be fine,“ Rivera said. “Plus, he loves playing Atlanta.“

Johnson has eight sacks in the last six meetings with Atlanta and nine in 12 career games. The Falcons lead the all-time series with the Panthers, 23-15, but have lost the last three meetings following a five-game win streak.

Smith owns a 7-5 record against the Panthers and is 21-18 against division opponents since 2008.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Both the Falcons and have Panthers have struggled on defense this season, so Sunday’s game could come down to who makes the most mistakes. Carolina learned that against the Eagles.

If Newton can shake off some rust and get more protection, the Panthers will be in good shape to stay within striking distance of the Saints in the NFC South. That’s easier said than done because Atlanta will pin its ears back Sunday in hopes of getting to the quarterback often.

Last week against the Bucs, the Falcons produced a season-high four sacks and added three takeaways. Defensive ends Osi Umenyiora and Kroy Biermann each posted 1 1/2 sacks and safeties Dwight Lowery and Kemal Ishmael both had an interception of Josh McCown.

“Kroy probably had his most productive game of the season,“ Smith said. “Of course, anytime when you win you have players that are recognized, and he was one of the players that was recognized with his performance. Not only against the run, he set the edge a couple of times and didn’t allow the ball to get outside. He put some pressure on the quarterback.“

McCown is definitely not like Newton, a big, strong presence in the pocket.

Sunday’s game is important for both division foes with the current situation.

“Anytime the Panthers, with our proximity, anytime we get together it’s usually a dang barn-burner, and I anticipate it will be,“ Smith said. “We’re looking forward to trying to continue playing well in our division because we know in the long haul that’s what we’ve got to do; we’ve got to take care of our division first.“

The Panthers are 23rd against the run (122.4) and pass (254.4), 25th in total yards allowed (376.8) and points allowed (28.1). They have allowed more than 25 points six times this season, and will see a steady dose of White and Jones. Jackson had 94 yards from scrimmage in the last meeting on December 29, but Carolina allowed a season-low 37 rushing yards on 23 carries Monday night.

Atlanta’s defense is much worse. It is 24th in both rushing yards allowed (124.0) and points allowed (26.4), 31st in total yards (404.8) and last in passing yards (280.8). Benjamin and Olsen could give the Falcons fits Sunday.

Benjamin leads all rookies with 659 yards and seven TDs.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

This is an important game for both NFC South foes and the Falcons will come out on top because they’re playing better at the moment and don’t have too many injury concerns.

Ryan has thrown for 3,017 yards with 20 TDs to 10 INTs in 10 career games against the Panthers. He also has two of the more talented wide receivers in the game. If Atlanta has any hopes of making a playoff run after a disastrous 2013 campaign, winning has to continue in Carolina.

Atlanta is known for its struggles on the road, but something is currently wrong with the Panthers.

Predicted outcome: Falcons 24, Panthers 21


►  Bears try to change Soldier Field fortunes against Vikings

There is plenty of blame to go around in Chicago.

Quarterback Jay Cutler, coach Marc Trestman, defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, general manager Phil Emery ... take your pick. Just understand Jim McMahon, Mike Ditka, Buddy Ryan and Jerry Vainisi aren’t coming through the door at Halas Hall to fix things.

The reeling Bears will try to halt a three-game losing streak and win for the first time at Soldier Field this season when they host the improving Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.

“This has been a very disturbing stretch of three weeks,“ Trestman understated. “There’s no doubt about it. But we’re focused in and the only way we can work our way out of this is to go get ready for Minnesota.“

Trestman is in charge of a team that suffered a 51-23 loss to New England prior to its bye week on October 26 and came back from the break even worse, surrendering 55 to Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay on “Sunday Night Football” in Week 10.

In doing do the Bears became the first team since the 1923 Rochester Jeffersons to allow 50 points or more in consecutive games. They’ve also allowed their opponents to hit the half-century mark three times in 11 games, after doing it only six times overall in the previous 93 years.

“We’re not a very good football team right now,“ Trestman said. “The level of play is not anywhere near where it needs to be and it starts with me.“

Observers looking for an easy scapegoat have focused on Tucker but Trestman has stuck by his defensive chief for now.

“(Mel) is doing everything he can under the circumstances to coach, to teach and to lead that side of the ball, and he’s got a very good staff with him,“ Trestman said.

Chicago has lost three straight and five of six overall, the latest of which was a 55-14 drubbing at the hands of its biggest rival during a national television showcase.

Rodgers threw all of his six touchdown passes in the first half, tying the Packers franchise record for touchdown passes in a game. The All-Pro finished with 315 yards on 18-of-27 passing and matched the NFL record for most TD passes in 30 minutes of football, which was originally set by Oakland’s Daryle Lamonica in 1969.

Cutler completed 22-of-37 passes for 272 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions in the setback while Brandon Marshall had eight catches for 112 yards and a score despite suffering a left ankle sprain. Chris Williams also returned a kickoff 101 yards for a touchdown for Chicago.

The Vikings, meanwhile, won two straight before their bye week, including a heart-stopping 29-26 win over Washington back on November 2.

Matt Asiata finished that game with just 26 rushing yards on 10 carries but his third touchdown of the contest proved to be the difference. Rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater went 26-for-42 for 268 yards with a touchdown for Minnesota.

“It was a great team victory and I’m really proud of the ways the guys fought,“ said Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer. “I feel like our team really grew up today in a lot of ways. We went down a couple of times, and kept fighting and fighting and it paid off.“

The Vikings lead their all-time series with the Bears by a 54-50-2 margin but have dropped six straight in Chicago dating back to October 14, 2007.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

The Bears probably aren’t allowing 50 points here simple because Bridgewater is a rookie going through the understandable growing pains and Minnesota remains without Adrian Peterson, who is still sidelined after pleading no contest to a misdemeanor reckless assault charge last week.

That doesn’t mean the Vikings can’t do some damage though. Chicago’s defense is allowing a league-high 30.8 points per game and ranks 28th against in the NFL against the pass, surrendering 268.6 yards per game.

Bridgewater, meanwhile, is starting to “get it,“ leading Minnesota to back-to- back fourth-quarter comebacks before the bye.

“I think we showed some resiliency there,“ Zimmer said. “I think our team grew up a little bit.“

Without Peterson the Vikings have relied on rookie speedster Jerick McKinnon, who leads all rookies in rushing with 446 yards and ranks sixth in the NFL at 5.0 yards per carry. When Minnesota gets inside the red zone, it turns to the tackle-busting Asiata, who has nine rushing TDs since Week 15 of last season, second in the league over that span.

Bridgewater could also be getting talented tight end tight end Kyle Rudolph back. The ex-Notre Dame star has missed the previous six games following sports hernia surgery.

“That’s up to coach Zimmer and Sugs (trainer Eric Sugarman),“ Rudolph said of returning. “I’m excited to be back. I’m excited to do what I can to help this team win and stay on a roll.“

The main issue for Chicago’s D has been the pass rush and ex-Vikings All-Pro Jared Allen has been a disappointment after signing a big-money free agent deal in the offseason. Allen, of the league’s most prolific pass rushers while in Minnesota, has just 1 1/2 sacks and has been slowed by injury and illness.

“It’s not like we don’t have talent,“ Allen said on a conference call. “We went, home opener on the road against the 49ers and were able to come back from 17 down. It’s in us.“

Allen has a chance to be revitalized this week because Vikings left tackle Matt Kalil is having a poor season, Bridgewater will hold onto the football longer than he should at times, and the veteran will likely bring an extra gear to show up his old ‘mates.

“I think from what I’ve seen so far, (Kalil’s) firing off well in the run game. He’s been beat a few times in the pass game but, you know, who doesn’t get beat a few times?“ Allen said. “He’s a good player, he still has good technique We’re going to have to take advantage of situations because he knows me, I know him and we’ll have to see whose technique is better Sunday.“

Under Zimmer the Vikings have been one of the most improved teams defensively. Minnesota is fourth in all of football against the pass thanks to a ferocious rush that has produced 20 sacks over the last four games.

Athletic defensive end Everson Griffen, Allen’s replacement, is the ringleader there with a career-high nine sacks. Griffen has recorded a sack in five consecutive games and has seven overall over that span.

Overall, the Vikings defense ranks ninth, allowing 316.4 yards per game and is sixth best at forcing three-and-outs.

Conversely Cutler has been responsible for 15 turnovers and has been sacked 23 times.

“I think the biggest thing is that Jay has got to play better,“ Trestman admitted. “He didn’t play well enough (against Green Bay) and I’m certain that he’d take accountability for that.“

Marshall expects to play despite the injury suffered against the Packers.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

Sometimes this game is all about confidence and little else.

Cutler and the Bears always lose to Rodgers and the Packers and arrived in Green Bay shoulders slumped, expecting to lose. Conversely, Mr. Cavallari has won six of his past seven starts against the Vikings and always beats them in the Second City. Figure on the Bears stopping the bleeding here, if only for one week.

“Through any career you have adversity,“ Trestman said. “When those times come you have to embrace it and move forward and be resilient, and that’s what we’re trying to do collectively and individually.“

Predicted outcome: Bears 23, Vikings 14


►  ‘Brady Backup Bowl’ Hoyer’s Browns host Mallett’s Texans

It’s more than 900 miles from the place he became a collegiate standout and more than 600 miles from where he was drafted - but as it turns out, the Ryan Mallett Era will officially begin at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland.

Now a fourth-year pro with precisely one completed pass to his name, Mallett will become an NFL starter this week when he takes the reins of the Houston Texans’ offense against the host Browns.

Mallett lost a yard on a single carry this season while serving as an understudy to Ryan Fitzpatrick through Houston’s first nine games, but was named the starter for the rest of the season by coach Bill O’Brien as the team emerged from its Week 10 bye. The former University of Arkansas star had spent his initial three seasons as Tom Brady’s caddy after the New England Patriots drafted him in 2010.

He was acquired by the Texans for a draft pick in August.

“I’ve been waiting four years for this,“ Mallett said. “Now it’s my time to have an opportunity to show what I can do.“

Fitzpatrick had failed to reach 300 passing yards in a single game this season and Houston is 28th among 32 teams with a per-game passing average of 209.7. Still, the Texans already have twice the wins this year (four) than they’d managed in 2013 (two) while being led at various times by Matt Schaub, Case Keenum and T.J. Yates - none of whom are still on the roster.

And wide receiver Andre Johnson, who had six 100-yard games last season but none this year, doesn’t pretend that the cure to all Houston’s ills - the team has lost four of five since a 3-1 start - is a regime change under center.

“Whoever is at quarterback, it doesn’t matter,“ he said. “We all have to go out and do our jobs. It’s not just going to be about him. It’s going to be about all of us. All of us need to step our game up and go out and play the way we know how to play.“

The Texans were beaten at home, 31-21, by Philadelphia in their last game before the week off.

Running back Arian Foster, who leads the AFC with 822 yards, left that game with a groin injury but is expected back to meet the Browns. Assuming he plays, he’ll be matched for the first time with former Houston understudy Ben Tate, who’s now in Cleveland.

Tate ran for a team-high 771 yards last season while Foster was limited to eight games by injury, and he began his stint with the Browns as the premier back, but now shares time with Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell. All three had rushing touchdowns in Cleveland’s 24-3 defeat of Cincinnati in Week 10.

“We’re winning,“ Tate said. “We’re 6-3 and in first place, that’s all that really matters.“

The Browns will start their own former Brady backup at quarterback in the form of Brian Hoyer, who’s been clinically efficient this season while throwing interceptions at a low rate (1.5% of his passes) that’s surpassed by only Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger and Carson Palmer.

He and Mallett were teammates in New England in 2011.

The Texans defense that will line up against him is in various levels of disarray thanks to a rash of injuries. Cornerback Kareem Jackson is not expected to play with a knee problem, though his fellow cornerback, Johnathan Joseph, has cleared concussion protocol and is eligible to return. Linebacker Brian Cushing has missed two games with a knee injury and rookie Jadeveon Clowney also had a knee injury before missing the Philadelphia game due to illness.

Cleveland’s presence in first place is its latest in any one season in 20 years.

It hasn’t seen the playoffs since 2002 and has lost at least 11 games in each of the last six years. A win Sunday would provide a four-game winning streak for the first time since 2009.

“There are no awards. There’s no prize for being 6-3,“ coach Mike Pettine said. “The only thing that’s done for us is our games are meaningful now. You still have to have the ability to put that one in a box and move onto the next one.“

The 21-point defeat of the Bengals was Cincinnati’s first regular-season home loss since December 2012 and saw the Browns limit the hosts to 165 total yards while forcing four turnovers. Cleveland allowed 79 yards passing - its fewest since 2011 - and its run defense has yielded 91.7 yards in the last three victories after being gashed for 155.5 in the season’s first six games.

“You have to be able to handle success,“ Browns linebacker Paul Kruger said. “Coach Pettine has done a better job than any coach I’ve even been around helping us understand that and making an emphasis on it, knowing how to handle a loss and bounce back and know how to handle a win - not overreact.“

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Will the Kid Be All Right?

Needless to say, all eyes will be on the strong-armed Mallett’s starting debut, particularly those of an opportunistic Cleveland defense. The Browns are second in the league with 13 interceptions and seventh overall with 17 takeaways. Mallett has thrown just four NFL passes - all with New England in 2012 - and was intercepted once.

Where’s 99?

While the Cleveland defense pays attention to Mallett, the offense will surely be focused on Houston defensive star J.J. Watt, who’s already amassed a season’s worth of stats through nine games. Watt has 8 1/2 sacks, seven pass deflections, 11 tackles for loss and 29 quarterback hits. And he’s become the first defensive lineman to score three touchdowns since William Perry in 1985.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

As impressive as the Browns looked in dismantling the Bengals, one need glance no farther back than Week 7 to discover reason for caution. Back then, coming off a 21-point rout of Pittsburgh, Cleveland was the toast of the Sunday preview shows - and then lost, 24-6, at winless Jacksonville.

If Mallett is as good as many think he is, the Texans have plenty of reasons to believe a road win is within reach.

Predicted outcome: Texans 21, Browns 20


►  Script flipped: Seahawks face tough road test in Kansas City

There isn’t much disputing that the Seattle Seahawks are one of the toughest teams to play on their home field.

That script has been flipped, though, when the Seahawks visit their former division rival in the Kansas City Chiefs.

Seattle hopes to pick up a rare victory in Kansas City this Sunday as the two 6-3 clubs aim to keep pace in their respective division in a clash at Arrowhead Stadium.

The Seahawks picked up their 21st victory in their past 23 home games last weekend, using a 21-point fourth quarter to rally past the New York Giants by a 38-17 margin.

Seattle ran for a franchise-record 350 yards, with Marshawn Lynch picked up 140 on 21 carries with a career-high four touchdown runs. Quarterback Russell Wilson joined him with 107 yards and a score on 14 carries as he threw for only 172 yards while getting picked off twice.

“I really liked the way we finished this football game in general,“ said Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll. “We came in at halftime down 17-14 and we just picked up and took off with it.“

Seattle won its third straight game to remain in second place in the NFC West, two games back of the 8-1 Arizona Cardinals.

The reigning Super Bowl champions don’t have an easy road in their quest to return to the postseason. The Seahawks’ next six games are all against playoff contenders, including two meetings each with Arizona and San Francisco as well as this road test versus Kansas City and a trip to Philadelphia in early December.

That makes picking up a victory this Sunday key, but Seattle is just 5-20 at Arrowhead Stadium.

The Chiefs are 32-18 all-time versus the Seahawks, who used to be in the AFC West with Kansas City prior to re-alignment in 2002, and have not lost to Seattle since at home since 1999.

Following an 0-2 start to the season, head coach Andy Reid’s Chiefs have won six of seven, including each of their last four games. They also rallied last weekend to pick up a win, overcoming a 10-point deficit to best the Buffalo Bills 17-13.

Running back Jamaal Charles and quarterback Alex Smith followed a similar mold to Seattle as both ran for touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Charles rushed for 98 yards on 15 carries, while Smith threw for 177 yards.

“There are games you’re gonna have like this where everything is not pretty and you’ve got to play through it,“ said Kansas City head coach Andy Reid. “There’s a certain toughness that it takes, not only to play in the National Football League, but to be able to come back from a deficit like that. Our guys showed that today.“

Kansas City has outscored its opponents 79-22 in the fourth quarter this season and is game back of 7-2 Denver for first place in the division.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

The ground game should factor heavily into this meeting, with both teams ranking in the top five to compliment a pair of passing attacks that are the bottom three in the league.

Seattle, in fact, is leading the NFL with 170.9 yards per game on the ground, while Kansas City is fifth at 135.8 YPG.

The Seahawks’ 350 rushing yards last weekend for the most by a team since Cleveland had 351 versus Kansas City in 2009, and Lynch became the first Seahawks player to rush for four touchdowns in one game since Shaun Alexander against Houston on October 16, 2005.

Lynch has six touchdowns in his past two games after having only three through his first seven and also hit the 100-yard mark for the first time since having 110 in Week 1 versus Green Bay.

“He’s playing his best football,“ said Wilson of Lynch. “When we get our passing game going, it’ll be really hard to stop us.“

The Seahawks became the first team in NFL history to have a running back rush for at least four touchdowns and a quarterback to run for more than 100 yards in the same game.

Seattle’s 350 yards were also the most allowed in a game since Kansas City ran for 352 yards against Indianapolis on December 23, 2012. Charles had 226 of those yards on the ground.

Charles has eight touchdowns, two of those receiving, in his last six games and ran for 173 yards and a score the only other time he faced Seattle.

Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe led the Chiefs with eight catches for 93 yards, both season highs, last week and had 13 receptions for 170 yards and three scores when the Chiefs beat the Seahawks 42-24 in Seattle on November 28, 2010.

“Dwayne is a tough matchup for people because of his size and strength so we thought we could utilize that (against the Bills),“ said Reid. “They were playing man coverage, so we tried to take advantage of that. Alex had another good game, had a lot of tight throws and he was under some pressure. That’s a good front. So he hung in there.“

Bowe may be needed for more production in this game given that Seattle ranks fourth in the NFL against the run, yielding only 79.8 yards per game.

However, Seattle lost defensive tackle Brandon Mebane for the rest of the season due to a hamstring injury suffered versus the Giants. The 311-pounder had 20 tackles in nine games and helped clog lanes up the middle.

Carroll noted that Kevin Williams, a former Pro Bowler with Minnesota, will see a bigger role with Mebane out along with Tony McDaniel and Jordan Hill.

“All those guys are good football players,“ said Carroll. “They’re all doing good stuff. Their makeup is a little different and their style. I mean there is nobody like Mebane. He’s a very unique player. He’s had, I think, the best season he’s had since he’s we’ve been here to this point—most consistent, best factor so that’s a big hit to take. But our guys that go in play good football too so we will expect them to play up and maintain the level.“

Carroll’s defense may also get safety Kam Chancellor and linebacker Malcolm Smith back this weekend after both were inactive versus the Giants due to groin injuries, while linebacker Bobby Wagner is close to returning from his toe issue.

Kansas City’s strength on defense is its pass defending as the club leads the NFL with just 205.3 yards allowed through the air. The Chiefs are second in the league with 16.8 points allowed per game, and though they are giving up 115.6 YPG on the ground, they have yet to allow a rushing touchdown or a 300- yard passer.

Linebacker Justin Houston leads the NFL with 12 sacks, posting 10 of those and a forced fumble in the last seven games, while the Chiefs as a whole are third with 28 sacks.

“Yeah, he does a pretty good job. Glad he’s on our team,“ Reid said of Houston.

The Chiefs have allowed just 12.4 points per game in their last four.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

These clubs are hitting their stride after some earlier struggles, but neither are without flaws. Both have struggled to consistently move the ball through the air and have masked some scoring issues with great defensive efforts.

While Lynch against Charles is a great individual battle, the mobility of Wilson over Smith could be the tipping point.

Seattle has not historically traveled well to Kansas City, but it has yet to play at Arrowhead Stadium in the Russell Wilson era. As long as Wilson is safe with the ball, the Seahawks should be able to steal a big game on the road.

Predicted outcome: Seahawks 20, Chiefs 17


►  Saints hope to regain Superdome mojo against Bengals

If you’re the New Orleans Saints, you’d love to be happy about your first-place standing in the jumbled NFC South with seven games to play.

But then you look at your record - 4-5 - and reality begins to creep in.

“In this league, you have to earn them each week,“ coach Sean Payton said. “There’s a number of games we won referencing other seasons, that easily could have went a different direction. It’s what drives you to get back to practice and get back to prepare and focus quickly on the best way to correct it. We have to continue to be teaching. We have to continue to covering the details and understand that this is a different team.“

New Orleans stumbled from the gate at 2-4, but whipped Green Bay and Carolina in weeks 8 and 9 to get back to .500 and regain the look of a would-be NFC contender. A Week 10 loss in overtime to San Francisco, however, again dipped the record below break-even and ended an 11-0 run at home.

The 49ers converted on a fourth down with less than two minutes remaining on a drive that tied the game, then pounced on a Drew Brees fumble in New Orleans territory in the extra session and ultimately kicked a decisive field goal.

The Saints have turned the ball over 18 times in nine games, and have led in the fourth quarter of four of their five losses. Brees has 10 interceptions this season after throwing 12 in all of 2013.

“Something’s got to get fixed,“ he said. “I’m not happy about it. I can’t turn the ball over at the rate I’m turning it over and I can’t turn it over in the situations that I’m turning it over. I’m aware of that.“

When it’s successful, the offense remains capable of big numbers.

New Orleans is second in the league in total yardage (435.0 yards per game) and third in passing yardage (304.8 yards per game). It’ll face a Cincinnati defense this week that will likely be without linebacker Vontaze Burfict after he underwent knee surgery in late October. Another linebacker, Rey Maualuga, is questionable with a hamstring problem that’s kept him out of four games.

The absences haven’t helped the Bengals statistically at all.

In fact, Cincinnati is now allowing yardage at a 391.9 rate per week, third from last in the league.

“We don’t have to turn anything, but turn ourselves, and right the ship, and go get ready to play in New Orleans,“ coach Marvin Lewis said. “We’ve got to go back and play football our way. We lost the football game. We didn’t fall off a cliff.“

Cincinnati was the league’s last unbeaten team at 3-0, but was humbled, 43-17, by New England in a Sunday night game in Week 5 and has gone a pedestrian 2-2 since. The Bengals scored 27 and 33 points in wins over Baltimore and Jacksonville, but managed a combined three in losses to Indianapolis and Cleveland.

The loss to the Browns last week dropped them behind the Browns in the AFC South.

Running back Giovani Bernard remains doubtful with a hip injury, though first- year man Jeremy Hill has managed 209 rushing yards and 5.8 yards per carry in the last two games. Bernard, who has 625 yards from scrimmage and has scored five times, did not practice on Wednesday.

Wide receiver A.J. Green, on the other hand, is expected to play for a third straight week after missing three games with a foot problem. He’s caught six passes for 67 yards and a touchdown in that pair.

Aerial mate Mohamed Sanu caught just two balls against the Browns, but has registered the NFL’s 10th-best yardage total in the last five weeks - since Green’s initial injury.

Quarterback Andy Dalton completed just 10 of 33 passes for 86 yards and was intercepted three times against Cleveland. His 2.0 passer rating for the game was fifth-worst in league history in a game with 30 or more passes, and it predictably ratcheted up the scrutiny on a player who signed a six-year, $115 million contract in August.

He’s on pace to fewer than 20 touchdowns for the first time in his career - now in its fourth season - and also trending toward 800 fewer yards than last season, which would be the first time he’s not exceeded the yardage total of the prior season.

“We’ve got to find a way to be consistent,“ Dalton said. “We haven’t been in the losses. That’s what it comes down to. Every week we have to come to play. We have to find a way to do that.“

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Foolin’ Dalton

The Browns wreaked havoc on a typically prolific Cincinnati quarterback by expertly disguising the way that their safeties would be utilized, sometimes right up until the snap of the ball. Upon the snap, they’d rotate positions and ultimately forced Dalton into the single worst game of his career and one of the worst by an NFL starter in decades. The Saints, however, are just 24th in the league in pass defense.

Work Your Weapons

Whether he’s in a funk or not, it’s clear that Brees has options to help share the load. His run game has been buffeted recently by the re-emergence of former college star Mark Ingram, who’s averaged 27 carries and 131 yards in his last three games. Ingram’s 4.8 yards per carry is ninth in the league. And then there’s always tight end Jimmy Graham, who leads the team in catches (56) and yards (594).

OVERALL ANALYSIS

At this point, it might come down to which team would you least like to be? Brees and the Saints have been a season-long enigma, while Dalton and the Bengals clearly haven’t been the same since the 26-point whipping administered by the Patriots in early October. When it comes to possible tie-breakers, look no further than the fact that New Orleans rarely loses at home. Translation: Brees gets it done late.

Predicted outcome: Saints 27, Bengals 23


►  Rams turn back to Hill with Peyton, Broncos looming

It all depends on how you look at things.

If you’re a statistics nut, you can look at the No. 27 ranking in points allowed per game (27.9) and No. 25 ranking in rushing yards allowed (124.2) and assume the St. Louis Rams are in a world of hurt this weekend when they host the Denver Broncos.

Or, you can recognize that the Rams have registered a league-best 16 sacks since Week 7, including eight against San Francisco in their first November outing and three more last week on the road against Arizona and think it might be Peyton Manning who’s in for a long day at the Edward Jones Dome.

Defensive end Robert Quinn has six of the aforementioned 16 sacks in the last four games and will be the leader of a pack whose aim on Sunday will be finding a way to slow down the preposterously prolific Manning in his 16th (healthy) NFL season.

The 38-year-old threw five touchdowns in a 41-17 defeat of Oakland last week, has at least two TD passes in 15 straight games and at least one in 48 straight - the third- longest streak in league history.

In three career meetings with the Rams, he’s got five touchdowns and one interception.

“I can’t remember a time when he was playing any better,“ Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. “He’s playing his best ball right now. He’s got great people around him, he’s really got a good feel, he’s not going to take a sack, he’s not going to make a bad decision. It’s very, very difficult to defend.“

Tight end Julius Thomas caught his 12th TD pass of the season against Oakland, tying Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Frank Clarke and Bill Groman as the only players to reach that number in nine games. No other tight end has ever caught 12 scoring passes in two straight seasons.

“They’ve done an outstanding job of putting outstanding players around (Manning),“ Fisher said. “This is the best cast of playmakers he’s ever had, and obviously the results are showing that.“

As for the Rams’ results, well… let’s just say they’re a little different.

St. Louis has averaged 11.3 points and 212.3 yards in its last three games, with quarterback Austin Davis completing just 57% of his passes for three touchdowns, five interceptions and 481 yards.

Fisher said Wednesday that veteran Shaun Hill will start against Denver.

In his lone appearance this season, Hill was 8-for-13 for 81 yards and an interception in a 34-6 loss to Minnesota in Week 1.

“Obviously it sparks your excitement a little bit and all those things,“ Hill said, “but as far as preparation goes, everything’s the same.“

Running the ball may not be an option for the Hill-led attack, considering that the Rams haven’t exceeded 91 yards on the ground in their last three games after going for 102 or better in four of their first six. Denver is the NFL’s best team at stopping the run, to the tune of 67 yards per game.

On the flip side, the Broncos have a handful of rushing options to complement Manning’s aerial circus act. Montee Ball is anticipated back for the first time since Week 5 and the Broncos are coming off a game in which C.J. Anderson accounted for 163 total yards against Oakland - including a 51-yard TD on a screen pass and a career-best 90 run yards on 13 carries.

It’s almost enough to make you forget that Ronnie Hillman, who has a pair of 100-yard rushing games this season, will miss the St. Louis contest with a sprained foot.

Denver is 26th in the league with an average of 96.8 rushing yards per game, but the Broncos have gone for 115 or more yards on the ground in four of the last five games - and have surpassed 100 yards in five of nine games. They only ran for 43 in a 43-21 loss at New England in Week 9.

“We’ve been pretty fortunate to have some guys stepping in and doing a good job,“ coach John Fox said. “It’s a tribute to those guys being on top of their craft.“

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Punish that Man(ning)

Last season, each of Denver’s three losses came in games where Manning’s yards per pass attempt were among his five lowest averages of the season. In order to stay remotely competitive this weekend, the Rams must create havoc and force No. 18 to deliver the ball before he wants to, thereby limiting his down-the-field options. Quinn frequently getting his hands on Manning is a must-have for St. Louis.

Running Men

Whether it’s by utilizing Zac Stacy and Tre Mason off the current roster - or finding someone who can channel the Eric Dickerson and Marshall Faulk efforts of years past - the Rams simply must find a way to run the ball. Hill hasn’t started since Week 1 and he’s not likely to win the game with his arm, so churning out yardage (and keeping Manning of the field) is the offensive key to the vault.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

OK, let’s be realistic here. Is it possible the Rams win? Sure. Even the best teams in the NFL typically lose three or four games every season. But given just about every existing reality, it seems awfully unlikely that St. Louis has the stuff to compete for 60 minutes. Unless there’s an injury or unless Denver starts producing turnovers at the rate it’s been producing points, it doesn’t look good for the home side.

Predicted outcome: Broncos 31, Rams 17



►  RG3, Redskins get back to work against lowly Bucs

Washington Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson isn’t known for his vocal leadership in the locker room and does his talking on the football field.

Jackson made news off the gridiron in regards to the situation surrounding Robert Griffin III and the Redskins hope to rally behind their quarterback Sunday versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at FedEx Field.

Amid reports of a divided locker room and Griffin allegedly alienating himself from his teammates, Jackson felt it was time to speak up.

“I just felt it was needed. Silence is sometimes a good thing, but if you have an opinion on a topic or a certain situation, then it needs to be spoken, and that’s what I felt,“ Jackson said. “You have to understand the importance of supporting one another. We’re in this locker room together. We work so hard. We compete and do all them great things. But if everyone’s not on one page, it’s hard to get the benefit of the doubt.“

Redskins first-year head coach Jay Gruden said the normally quiet Jackson usually sits with a hooded sweatshirt on.

“He’s starting to open up a little bit,“ Gruden said. “People have a lot of respect for him as a player for what he does when the lights are on. But, now that he’s starting to be a little more vocal behind the scenes, it’s good to see.“

Jackson leads the Redskins with 784 yards and four touchdowns on 61 receptions, and has recorded back-to-back 100-yard games. He had 120 yards and a score on four catches in a 29-26 loss at Minnesota on November 2, one week before the bye. Jackson, in his first season with Washington, has five games with 100 or more yards receiving.

Jackson leads the NFL with 21.8 yards per reception. He has never posted three straight 100-yard games in his career. D-Jack is the reason why the Redskins are sixth in passing yards (282.3) and seventh in total yards (386.9).

The Redskins, who are 3-6 on the season and tied for last in the NFC East with the New York Giants, are trying to surpass last year’s win total of three and come into Sunday’s game refreshed and energized.

“It was good for everybody to get away, see their families and get some quality time away from this building,“ Gruden said. “But now that everybody’s back, we’re focusing on what we’re doing and getting ready for Tampa.“

Washington was 3-6 at one point in 2012 and ripped off seven straight wins to win the division and reach the postseason.

“When you go back and just look at what’s going on, being 3-6, you look at the six losses and there’s a play here and a play there that we’re just so close to being 7-2 as opposed to 3-6,“ Gruden said. “That’s the way the NFL is right now.“

Tampa Bay is a disappointing 1-8 on the season, the first for head coach Lovie Smith. Smith’s Bucs lost for a fifth straight time in Sunday’s 27-17 setback to Atlanta at Raymond James Stadium.

The Buccaneers have been outscored, 83-31, in two games against Atlanta this season and actually had more yards (373) than the Falcons (322). Three turnovers hurt the Bucs and quarterback Josh McCown threw for 301 yards with a pair of touchdown passes and two interceptions.

“One-and-eight,“ McCown said. “One-and-eight. You want to show your teammates and the coaches and the fans and your family and everybody that you’re better than that, and it just hurts. We lost, and as the quarterback it starts with me. It’s disappointing.“

McCown was making his first start since September 18 after taking over for the ineffective Mike Glennon. McCown has thrown an INT in every game this season (6 total) and the Bucs are 0-4 in his starts.

Rookie wide receiver Mike Evans caught seven passes for 125 yards and a touchdown and is tied for third among rookies with five TD catches and 585 receiving yards. In a Week 9 loss at Cleveland, Evans became the youngest player in NFL history with at least 100 receiving yards (124) and two touchdowns (two) in a game.

“He’s got an unbelievable skill set and is super talented,“ McCown said. “But more than that, his focus and attention to detail are what give Mike an edge. To see what Mike is doing now and how he’s developing and coming along, that’s huge for us. It’s reflective of the way he works and the type of competitor that he is.“

The Buccaneers will play two straight and four of the next five games on the road, and their only win this season came in Pittsburgh on September 28.

Tampa Bay and Washington have split 18 meetings in the regular season and two games in the playoffs. In a 24-22 Redskins victory over the Bucs on September 30, 2012, Griffin threw for 323 yards and Alfred Morris compiled 113 rushing yards and a score. Vincent Jackson caught six balls for 100 yards and a touchdown in that one for Tampa Bay, which has lost two of three to the Redskins.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Griffin made his first start since Week 2 in the loss to the Vikings and completed 18-of-28 passes for 251 yards and one touchdown. He also threw an interception and added 24 rushing yards on seven carries.

The former Heisman Trophy winner threw some passes he would like back and many wonder if he’s fully recovered from a dislocated ankle. When healthy and on top of his game, Griffin can be a nightmare for opposing defenses. He keeps the defense honest with his scrambling ability, but putting RG3 in harm’s way is not a good idea at this point.

Washington has proven it can air it out and eat up yards. If only the Redskins could produce better results on the ground. Morris has 605 yards on the season and is on his way for a third straight 1,000-yard campaign. Morris, though, has yet to record 100 yards rushing in a game and had a season-high 92 yards and two TDs on 19 carries in Minnesota.

The Redskins are 28th in rushing yards with 90.0 ypg.

“I think the big thing is we’ve got to continue focusing on situational football,“ Gruden said. “Whether it’s third downs, whether it’s two-minute drills, whether it’s we got the ball at the plus-40 and all we need is 10 yards to get a field for overtime or a touchdown.“

Gruden said Washington just has to put it all together for 60 minutes and stay consistent in the week-to-week approach. The plug hasn’t been pulled on the Redskins just yet, but it’s definitely dangling in the socket.

An effective Morris will open the aerial assault for the Redskins, who will face a Bucs defense rated 31st against the pass (277.1 ypg). That should make Jackson and fellow receiver Pierre Garcon excited. Tampa Bay is also just 29th in total yards allowed (391.2) and 31st in points allowed (30.2). Only Chicago is worse with 30.8 points allowed.

The Bucs have two stout linebackers in leading tackler Lavonte David (103) and Danny Lansanah. Lansanah and cornerback Johnthan Banks have two interceptions apiece, while defensive tackle Gerald McCoy boasts a team-best five sacks.

McCoy isn’t too pleased with the current state of the Buccaneers.

“It’s really frustrating,“ McCoy said after the loss to the Falcons. “You can’t think of a reason behind it. It all comes down to just doing it. We’ve just got to do it. I don’t know man, I don’t know. I know we’re going to keep going.

“We’ve got to be more disciplined, because a lot of points in the game we were at because of penalties. We were a very undisciplined team, very undisciplined team.“

Tampa Bay was penalized 10 times for 79 yards last week. It cannot afford to give the Redskins chances Sunday or the Bucs will be 1-9 for the first time since starting the 2009 season 1-12.

Bobby Rainey leads the Bucs with 388 rushing yards and had only 14 on six carries last week. Rookie RB Charles Sims had a team-best eight carries for 23 yards versus Atlanta and could see a more extended role against a Washington team allowing more than 100 rushing yards a game (110.4).

The Redskins are tough against the pass, giving up 222.9 ypg, so it’s important Tampa Bay gets the ball rolling on the ground.

“Without going into detail (without) watching the video, if you don’t have production from your running game, you’re going to start with the offensive line first and everybody involved in that,“ Smith explained. “From there, though, as a running back, when you get a couple of holes, you need to make someone miss and be able to get yards that way.“

Bucs running back Doug Martin is questionable with an ankle injury and has missed the last two games. Martin has been a huge disappointment with 166 yards and only one TD on 58 carries in five games.

The Redskins will have a big body in the middle to help stop Tampa’s run game, as defensive tackle Barry Cofield was added to the active roster from the reserved/injured list. Cofield was placed on the short-term IR list September 9 after suffering a high ankle sprain in the team’s Week 1 loss to Houston.

“He just adds more depth,“ Gruden said of Cofield. “He’s obviously a good player. We think a lot of him, and in his absence guys have stepped up and done some good things. But it to add another big body to the mix, as far as rotations are concerned, it can’t hurt, especially one with his ability.“

OVERALL ANALYSIS

The Redskins have had plenty of time to lick their wounds, rest and prepare for the lowly Buccaneers. Giving Griffin another week will benefit a squad still clinging to hopes of making a turnaround for the second time in two years.

Look for Morris to get his first 100-yard rushing game of 2014 and Washington moving out of the NFC East basement.

Predicted outcome: Redskins 27, Buccaneers 17


►  Raiders aim to avoid 16th straight loss

Just when you think the New York Jets, Jacksonville Jaguars or Tampa Bay Buccaneers have cornered the NFL’s market on suffering, consider the Oakland Raiders.

The Silver and Black are 0-for-9 this season and 0 for their last 15 overall, which is the league’s longest streak of futility since St. Louis lost 17 consecutive games across the 2008 and 2009 seasons.

The Raiders have lost seven straight on the road heading into this weekend’s visit to AFC West rival San Diego, though the Chargers - who’ve lost three in a row of their own - are playing it predictably diplomatic by assuming their opponent’s “Commitment to Excellence” could return at any moment.

“Normally if it was a non-divisional game you might view it a little different,“ San Diego linebacker Jarret Johnson said. “But this is the Raiders. We know how talented they are, we know how hard they play and if you take them for granted, if you look at them just for the record, you’re a fool.“

Maybe so, but the level to which Oakland has stumbled was again revealed last week.

Their Week 10 home outing resulted in a 41-17 thrashing by the Denver Broncos in which the hosts churned out just 30 rushing yards and 222 yards of total offense. The paltry offensive numbers also included an inglorious stat - the Raiders didn’t muster a first down on the ground for the whole game, the first time that’s occurred since 2006.

“They’re looking for the gold at the end of the rainbow and it hasn’t been there,“ coach Tony Sparano said. “We have to stay the course and believe in the things that we’re doing and we’re getting better as a football team.“

Rookie quarterback Derek Carr continued an uneven first-year performance that’s yielded a 67.7 passer rating in his last four starts, while he’s completed 61.4% of his throws for four touchdowns, four interceptions and 386 yards.

In his initial meeting with the Chargers - a 31-28 loss in Week 5 - he had four TD passes, including a 77-yarder to Andre Holmes just three plays into the game.

“It’s not just Derek,“ Sparano said. “I know we want to make this just about Derek, but it’s not really about Derek.“

And in San Diego, it’s no longer about the five-game win streak that provided a nice playoff perch.

Instead, those riches have quickly been frittered by a skid that reached three games with an ugly 37-0 defeat at Miami two weeks ago, before the team had its bye in Week 10.

Since beating the Raiders on October 12, the Chargers have lost to Kansas City, Denver and the Dolphins by progressively worsening margins of three, 14 and 37 points. And, if the postseason tournament began today they would be on the outside looking in.

Not exactly what wide receiver Eddie Royal had in mind a month ago.

“As a competitor you just hate losing and you know that feeling and you never want to have it again,“ he said. “So that kind of motivates you to come out and work that much harder, study a little bit more film, just so you don’t have that feeling again.“

The only problem: The funk seems to be a team-wide malady, rather than an isolated one.

San Diego has turned the ball over seven times in the three losses after having one ball-losing miscue during the five wins. The Chargers averaged 245 yards against the Chiefs, Broncos and Dolphins after gaining just short of 400 per game (395.8) in the five-week winning stretch.

On defense, the yards allowed have jumped from 289.4 during the five wins to 410.3 in the three losses.

Also, the seven takeaways generated in the victories have been reduced to zero in the three defeats.

The loss in Miami was the franchise’s first via shutout since 1999.

Optimism could return thanks to the possible re-appearance of running back Ryan Mathews, who’s missed seven games with a knee injury but is expected to start against the Raiders. He entered this season after a career-high 1,255- yard performance in 2013, thanks to an average of 4.4 yards per carry. He has just 71 yards this season on 23 attempts.

Also anticipated back is linebacker Melvin Ingram, who’s also missed seven games with a hip problem.

But it’s not just about healthy returns.

Quarterback Philip Rivers has been picked off six times, completed 62.1% of his throws and compiled a 71.2 passer rating in the losing streak. In the five wins, he’d had a 126.8 rating, connected on 71.8% of his attempts and was intercepted only once.

In the October defeat of the Raiders, he was 22-for-34 for 313 yards and three TDs.

“You’re definitely excited but those two guys aren’t going to change everything we do,“ Chargers coach Mike McCoy said. “The other 10 guys on the field have got to play better with him. Ryan Mathews does not guarantee 200 yards rushing. It’s not just a couple guys coming back that all of a sudden you’re winning a football game. All 46 have got to play better, we’ve got to coach better.“

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Pick Your Poison

Three-game losing streak or not, it’s an embarrassment of riches for San Diego when it comes to statistical matchups with the Raiders. Oakland is last in the league in total offense and rushing, and third from last in points scored. On defense, the only category in which the Raiders emerge from the league’s bottom third is passing, where they are 15th overall.

Repeating History

Though the rivalry’s earliest days were dominated by the Raiders, the Chargers have definitively turned the tide since 2003 - going 18-5 in those 23 games, including a stretch of 13 consecutive wins between 2003 and 2009. Most recently, San Diego has won two in a row and five of the last six against Oakland, which has swept a season series just one time (2010) since 2001.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

Though San Diego’s Johnson was kind to the Raiders in his game-week commentary, this one has every conceivable sign of a get-well exercise for the Chargers. The hosts are better in every facet of the game and have gotten to the point in the season where victories - and the playoff positioning they’ll yield - are particularly important. It’s hard to fathom Oakland competing what that over 60 minutes.

Predicted outcome: Chargers 24, Raiders 14


►  ‘Next man up’ for 8-1 Cardinals

While the Detroit Lions got stronger last weekend with the return of their star wide receiver in Calvin Johnson, the Arizona Cardinals suffered a mighty blow to their special season with the loss of quarterback Carson Palmer.

The Cardinals turn to Drew Stanton this Sunday hoping the former Lion can add to their NFL-leading record in a home matchup with Detroit at University of Phoenix Stadium.

At 8-1, NFC West-leading Arizona has matched its best record ever through nine games (1925 and 1948) and has won its first five home games for the first time since 1976. The Cardinals’ current five-game winning streak is the longest for the franchise in a single season since a six-game run in 1977, but those runs must all be extended without Palmer.

The Cardinals starting quarterback suffered a season-ending left knee injury in Sunday’s 31-14 win over the St. Louis Rams as he tore his ACL while getting sacked by Rams safety Mark Barron.

“It’s just a shame it happened now, with this team,“ said Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians earlier this week.

Palmer, who has thrown for 1,626 yards and 11 touchdowns while missing three games earlier in the year with a shoulder injury, eventually walked off the field with a noticeable limp. He was then put on a cart and taken to the locker room.

The Cardinals were trailing 14-10 at the time of the injury, but Stanton came in and threw a 48-yard touchdown pass to rookie Josh Brown with 7:40 to play, and cornerback Patrick Peterson followed with a pair of interceptions, taking the second back 30 yards for a score.

Arizona’s defense followed with another score after Kareem Martin sacked St. Louis quarterback Austin Davis. Cornerback Antonio Cromartie scooped up the loose ball and raced 14 yards the other way for a touchdown.

“As far as hitting our quarterback, we definitely took that personal,“ said Peterson. “When Carson went down, obviously it was a non-contact injury, but after he went down, we just wanted to win this ballgame that much more, and try and tee off on their quarterback.“

Larry Fitzgerald caught nine passes for 112 yards for Arizona, which is two games up on second-place Seattle in the division.

While the Cardinals are dealing with subtraction, the Lions got a big boost with Johnson’s return to the lineup. The star wide receiver had missed three games in a row due to a high ankle sprain and hauled in seven passes for 113 yards in a 20-16 win over the Miami Dolphins. Johnson also scored his first touchdown since Week 1, a 49-yard pass from Matthew Stafford.

Stafford rallied the Lions to the win by hitting running back Theo Riddick for an 11-yard score with 29 seconds remaining. The winning drive came after the Lions defense forced the Dolphins offense off the field after it took only 34 seconds off the clock.

Stafford was 8-of-11 for 79 yards on the winning drive and finished 25-of-40 for 280 yards with a pair of touchdowns and an interception for the Lions (7-2), who were coming off their bye and won their fourth straight game. The last three wins have come by a combined six points.

Golden Tate also had a big day with 11 catches for 109 yards to keep the 7-2 Lions a game ahead of Green Bay for first place in the NFC North.

“We’re not putting a ceiling on this season and just seeing as high as we can go,“ said Johnson. “We just stick to being smart out there on the field and hope things keep going the way they are.“

The Lions’ 7-2 record matches the team’s best nine-game start since it posted the same mark in 1993.

Detroit, though, has lost five in a row and 10 of its past 13 meetings with Arizona. That includes a 25-21 setback on the road last season, with the Cardinals scoring nine points in the fourth quarter to go ahead.

Johnson had a pair of touchdowns in that game, including a 72-yarder in the first quarter.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

The focus now shifts to Stanton, who will make his fourth start of the season—a career high—and has passed for 614 yards this season with three touchdowns and zero interceptions.

Stanton starred at Michigan State and was drafted in the second round by Detroit in 2007. He missed his rookie season with a knee injury and ended up playing in 12 games with four starts for the Lions between 2008-11.

“As far as our football team, everybody in the locker room, including myself, has all the confidence in the world in Drew,“ Arians said.

With Palmer out, Arians will have to decide who will serve as the No. 2 quarterback behind Stanton: either rookie Logan Thomas or Ryan Lindley, who was signed off San Diego’s practice squad this week.

Lindley started four games as a rookie in 2012 with Arizona and served as the team’s No. 3 quarterback last season.

While Fitzgerald is a solid passing option for Stanton, Brown has already flashed game-changing ability with an NFL rookie-record four game-winning touchdowns. He has five touchdowns in five home games this season.

Stanton won’t get much help on the ground either, as Arizona ranks 29th in the NFL with just 83.6 rushing yards per game.

Arizona’s defense will also need to step up as it ranks third in the league against the run but is yielding 274.2 passing yards per game. Peterson and Cromartie, along with safeties Tyrann Mathieu, Tony Jefferson and Rashad Johnson will have their hands full this weekend with Calvin Johnson and Tate.

“It’s a very tough situation for us,“ Rashad Johnson told Arizona’s website. “Carson is a leader, but as a defensive unit, this is the opportunity to take another step. We’ve been good, but now we have the opportunity to be great, to do something special, to carry a lot of the load on our side.“

Arizona’s defense will have a chance to make a statement against Calvin Johnson and Tate.

The Lions wide receiver is healthy and joined some nice company last weekend. He finished with 601 career catches, joining Herman Moore (670) as the only players in team history with at least 600, and his 70 career touchdowns is second in team annuals behind only Barry Sanders (109).

“Oh man, great to be back on the field,“ noted Calvin Johnson. “There’s nothing like being out there and winning with your teammates.“

Tate, meanwhile, set a new franchise record with six straight games of at least seven receptions and he should see plenty of open space now that Johnson is back.

“There’s quickness, obviously it’s something that jumps out at you right away,“ Lions coach Jim Caldwell said of Tate. “He’s quicker than the norm. He’s a guy that can avoid tackles, he has a great awareness about him.“

One thing working in Arizona’s favor is that duel-threat running back Reggie Bush may not play after aggravating an ankle injury versus the Dolphins. That will increase the workload for Joique Bell and Riddick.

Also, Detroit lost right guard Larry Warford versus Miami with a left knee injury and it is unknown when he will return.

Detroit owns the league’s top defense and is allowing just 283.4 yards per game, the only team in the NFL giving up under 300 a game. The Lions also rank second against the run and third versus the pass.

Lions defensive end Ezekiel Ansah has 4 1/2 sacks and three forced fumbles in his past four games.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

It’s a tough break for the Cardinals given their success this season, though they did go 2-1 under Stanton with wins over the New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers earlier in the season when Palmer was out. Still, the loss of the veteran has to be a blow to the club’s confidence on the field.

Detroit, meanwhile, should be full of confidence given the play of its defense and the return of Calvin Johnson, who makes the entire offense that much better.

The Lions and Cardinals both rank in the top five in points allowed this season, but Detroit has the potential to put points on the board even on the road.

Predicted outcome: Lions 17, Cardinals 13


►  Opportunistic Eagles take their turn at slowing down Rodgers

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has made the pocket his own personal carving station and will try to slice up the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday at Lambeau Field.

Rodgers is the reigning NFC Offensive Player of the Week and threw six touchdown passes, all in the first half, of Sunday’s 55-14 beatdown of the NFC North-rival Chicago Bears. He completed 18-of-27 passes for 315 yards, compiling a 145.8 passer rating, and was not sacked.

“Good win for us. We did a lot of good things on offense. We got into a rhythm early. The key tonight was the offensive line,“ said Rodgers, who leads the league with 11 completions of 40 yards or more. “I’m not surprised by our performance tonight.“

Rodgers, who has 25 TD passes to just three INTs, had four TD passes of 18 or more yards versus the Bears, including a 73-yard strike to red-hot wide receiver Jordy Nelson. Rodgers has led the Packers to a 6-3 record and five wins in the last six tries. Green Bay is only a game behind 7-2 Detroit for the division lead.

The Packers were able to rebound from a 44-23 loss in New Orleans on October 26 and are 4-0 at home. Rodgers has thrown three or more touchdown passes six times this season and has posted a passer rating of 100 or better five times. The former Cal standout has 15 TD passes at Lambeau Field.

Green Bay is 10th in passing yards with 256.4 per game and 12th in total yards (357.8). It is averaging 30.8 points and has scored more than 30 points in each of the first four home games (31, 42, 38, 55). The Packers have outscored their opponents, 166-65, at home this season.

Sunday’s game will be the second of four home games over a five-week stretch for Green Bay. Including this week, the Packers will face two teams over the next three games that won their division last season in Philadelphia and New England.

Another key for Green Bay’s success is that the team has scored a touchdown on the opening drive in five of the last six games and in each of the previous four. The Packers lead the NFL with 35 points on the first offensive possession and have scored 22 TDs in the first half of games this season to lead the league.

Nelson and Randall Cobb are expected to give the Eagles’ defense fits and both are on pace for 1,000-yard seasons. Nelson leads the Packers with 889 yards on 56 receptions, while Cobb has caught 44 passes for 650 yards and a team-high 10 receiving scores. Of the 25 touchdown passes for Rodgers, 18 have landed in the arms of Nelson or Cobb.

The Eagles have been playing well on defense and special teams, and hope that continues Sunday. They are 22nd against the pass, allowing 251.7 yards per game, and cornerbacks Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher are in for a tough challenge. The tandem played well in Monday’s 45-21 demolition of the Carolina Panthers, who committed five turnovers. Cam Newton threw three INTs, including one that was returned 34 yards for a score by Fletcher.

Philadelphia is facing a different beast in Rodgers and will need over-the-top help from safeties Malcolm Jenkins and Nate Allen.

“We know what’s ahead of us, but our thing is we have to just keep playing our game and doing what we’re doing,“ Eagles linebacker Brandon Graham said. “It’s really about us. It’s about playing football the way we know we are capable of playing and then we’ll see what happens after that.“

The Eagles are 19th against the rush and will have to slow down Packers running back Eddie Lacy. Lacy has 300 yards from scrimmage in the last two games and goes against a Philly defense allowing 115.2 rushing yards a game. He hasn’t ran for more than 63 yards in each of his past four games.

Philadelphia is allowing 22.0 points and sits 21st in total yards allowed (366.9) and 22nd in passing yards allowed (251.7). It has produced 32.0 sacks this season and 25.0 in the previous five games, including nine Monday.

Linebacker Connor Barwin had 3 1/2 sacks versus the Panthers and leads the NFC with 10 1/2 on the season.

The Eagles, who have won two in a row and four of five games, trail the all- time series with the Packers, 26-16. Philadelphia ended a three-game losing streak in this matchup with last season’s 27-13 win at Lambeau Field on November 10. Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper had 102 yards and two TDs.

Philly is 6-3 in the last nine games in this series, including the playoffs.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

The Eagles are first in the NFC East with a 7-2 record, just ahead of the idle Dallas Cowboys (7-3).

Rodgers isn’t the only quarterback under the spotlight, as Mark Sanchez will make his second start in as many weeks for the injured Nick Foles (clavicle). Sanchez made his Eagles debut versus the Panthers and was impressive, passing for 332 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions.

Sanchez said it was good to get back under center and is happy to be in head coach Chip Kelly’s system. The Panthers shut down Philly’s run game and forced Sanchez to beat them. He did convincingly and strengthened his rapport with rookie wide receiver Jordan Matthews, who caught seven passes (9 targets) for 138 yards and two TDs.

“Jordan finds a way to get open,“ Sanchez said. “Jordan had a heck of a night.“

Veteran tight end Brent Celek made an appearance with five catches for 116 yards, while leading receiver Jeremy Maclin was held to 38 yards on three catches. Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott said the key to stopping Philadelphia is stopping Maclin and running back LeSean McCoy. Maclin still has 828 yards and eight TDs on 48 receptions, and owns four touchdown catches in the past two on the road.

Look for Maclin, Matthews, Cooper and perhaps tight end Zach Ertz taking turns against Green Bay’s defense, which is ninth against the pass (229.1 ypg), 23rd in total yards (371.7 ypg) and 30th against the run (142.6 ypg). McCoy was held to only 19 yards on 12 carries Monday and had at least 80 yards, including two 100-yard efforts, in the previous four games.

Darren Sproles is another weapon for the Eagles and is the reigning NFC Special Teams Player of the Week. Sproles can help the Eagles offense set up in decent territory Sunday and gives them a change-of-pace back.

“You can’t look ahead and we’re not doing that,“ Celek said. “Beating Carolina was just a step. Now we have a short week to prepare for Green Bay. We need to get our bodies back and play our best football to beat the Packers. They’re a great team. It’s going to be a fun atmosphere on Sunday. I think everybody is excited about it.“

Green Bay’s defense has played extremely well and has given up 17 points or less in each of the last three home games (14, 17, 10). The Eagles are averaging 31.0 points this season and will have to protect Sanchez from the likes of Green Bay defensive stalwarts Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews.

Peppers leads the Packers with five sacks and Matthews is second with 3 1/2. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers has been moving Matthews around in order to challenge opposing offenses. Matthews will face his brother, Casey, again at Lambeau Field.

“We try not to treat the situation any bigger than it is,“ Casey said. “We just need to treat it like any other game week.“

The Packers are stingy against the pass, which could lure the Eagles right into their hands. Green Bay has outscored opponents at home 114-24 in the first half this season.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

Sunday’s game could effect the way the NFC playoffs unfold. Both the Eagles and Packers are battling for a division title and are the cream of the conference thus far.

Rodgers is on top of his game and is the best QB in the NFC.

Kelly expressed that sentiment.

“That’s the huge challenge,“ Kelly said of facing Rodgers. “I think, I said it to our guys yesterday, I think he’s playing as good as any quarterback in the league right now, and probably the best quarterback in the league right now. He’s on top of his game. It doesn’t seem like you can fool him. He’s always kind of a play ahead, a step ahead of defense and defensive coordinators. He always seems to find the open receiver, no matter how it kind of unveils itself pre-snap. He’s extremely accurate, as good a thrower as there is in this league. He can keep things alive because he’s such a good athlete. It’s an exciting challenge for us to go against the best.“

For how well the Eagles have been playing in recent weeks, they’re going to take one on the chin at Lambeau Field.

Predicted outcome: Packers 41, Eagles 21


►  Steelers look for consistency against Titans

All we need is Alex Trebek or John O’Hurley to say “will the real Pittsburgh Steelers please stand up.“ Or perhaps even former Steelers great Lynn Swann, who also hosted one of the many reboots of “To Tell the Truth” over the years.

Maybe they could help us explain the up-and-down nature of Mike Tomlin’s club, which will try to get back to its winning ways on “Monday Night Football” against the struggling Tennessee Titans.

Playing the two-win Titans with rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger set to make just his third career start may seem like a week off for the Steelers until you realize Pittsburgh has already suffered setbacks to the one-win Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the two-win New York Jets.

The Steelers began the season with a win-loss pattern that lasted through the first six games of the campaign until breaking it with three consecutive triumphs, starting with a win over Houston and finishing it with back-to-back six-touchdown games for Ben Roethlisberger against Indianapolis and Baltimore.

Any hopes the struggles were safely left behind in the rear-view mirror evaporated in Week 10, however, when Michael Vick turned back the clock and the hapless Jets snapped their eight-game losing streak at the expense of Pittsburgh.

Vick threw two touchdown passes in the first quarter and flashed his vintage rushing technique while leading the beleaguered Jets to a 20-13 victory. The upset over one of the NFL’s hottest teams came amid calls for New York’s leadership to be replaced and ended the franchise’s worst skid in 18 years.

It was as unlikely an outcome as there has been anywhere in the league this season, especially considering how good Roethlisberger was during his team’s three-game winning streak.

“Big Ben” set an NFL record by throwing 12 touchdown passes in the previous two games and hadn’t thrown an interception in over three games, but was picked off twice by Jets safety Jaiquawn Jarrett.

Even Antonio Brown, the sure-handed receiver who led the NFL in catches and receiving yards coming in, had a bad game. He had two fumbles in the first half. Jarrett recovered one of them.

Roethlisberger did throw for 343 yards, bringing his total to 1,470 in the last four games. He had an 80-yard touchdown throw to Martavis Bryant with 76 seconds left.

“The reality is we shot ourselves in the foot,“ said Tomlin. “You’re not going to win any football games minus-four in the turnover game.“

The loss left Pittsburgh one-half game behind first-place Cleveland entering the weekend in an ultra-tough AFC North where every team is at lest two games above .500.

“Everyone’s right there together,“ said veteran defensive lineman Brett Keisel when talking about the North, which is the first division in which every team is at least two games above water since the 1935 NFL Western Division. “We need to assert ourselves.“

The Titans, meanwhile, have dropped three in a row and seven of eight overall, including a 21-7 setback in Baltimore during Week 10.

Mettenberger completed 16 of his 27 attempts for one touchdown and a late interception in his second NFL start. Fellow rookie Bishop Sankey amassed 58 yards on 17 carries, while Leon Washington posted his club’s lone TD.

“He did some good things today, made some good throws,“ Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt, a former tight ends coach and offensive coordinator with the Steelers from 2001-2006, said of Mettenberger. “I think he did a nice job of operating today in this environment, which is not easy. But obviously, we have to be more productive.“

Pittsburgh leads its all-time series with the Titans franchise with a 41-31 mark. On Monday nights the Steelers are an imposing 41-24 and the Titans/Houston Oilers are 21-16.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Playing down to the competition has been an issue since Tomlin took over the Steelers back in 2007, especially away from Heinz Field where Pittsburgh has suffered six different defeats against teams who have been playing at less than a 30% clip.

Turnovers have been the main culprit in those hiccups and that same narrative doomed the Steelers in North Jersey against the lowly Jets.

“The ability is there, it’s just about going out and doing it,“ defensive lineman Cam Heyward said. “We have to have our focus and mindset on the Titans this week. We can’t forget what happened, but we have to move past it. We have to move in the right direction and clean up the stuff.“

The even bigger issue for Pittsburgh this season has been slow starts away from the Steel City. The Steelers have been outscored 88-26 in the first quarter of road games and have allowed an NFL-worst 36 points on their opponents’ first offensive possession.

“It’s the NFL, if you don’t show up ready to play your type of game, you’re going to lose,“ Pittsburgh wide receiver Lance Moore said. “Our last game was a perfect example of that. We’re hot. We came in high and mighty and a team came in and played better than us.“

None of that necessarily plays to the strength of the Titans, though, who have managed just one field goal in all of their opening drives. Tennessee did play well in the first quarter in Baltimore but slowed dramatically from there as the Ravens adjusted and threw more zone coverage at Mettenberger.

“Early in the first half we did a lot of good things to kind of counteract their guys,“ the rookie said. “We just got to continue to ... play like that for 60 minutes.“

Mettenberger, who was sacked five times by the Ravens, is intent on sharpening his reads and making quicker decisions.

“You try to have an internal clock, that lets you know when it’s time, but with the defensive linemen that they have, the clock goes a lot faster,“ Mettenberger said. “I know I need to play a lot smarter. This is a quarterback driven league.“

Mettenberger, has been OK in his first two starts, throwing for 478 yards and three touchdowns, will be facing a Pittsburgh defense that will likely be without several defensive starters.

With the Steelers’ bye week looming after this contest, veteran safety Troy Polamalu (knee), rookie inside linebacker Ryan Shazier (ankle) and cornerback Ike Taylor (forearm) are not expected to play against the Titans, who still plan on playing hard despite what looks like a lost season.

“I have worked too hard personally to listen to anybody that tells me to go out and tank a season,“ receiver Nate Washington, an ex-Steeler, told the Tennessean. “I wouldn’t know the meaning of that. To those naysayers who think we should go out and mail it in the rest the season, maybe they shouldn’t go to work for the next month and see if they expect a paycheck.

“Let’s see how it works out for them. I can’t see one individual in here that would be able to look at himself in mirror if they tanked it. Not one guy is comfortable with that. This is a prideful group of guys, and no matter what the scoreboard is everyone is going to give his all.“

The Steelers are obviously explosive but should look at relying on their running game a little bit now this week. Tennessee has struggled mightily against the run recently and Pittsburgh’s Le’Veon Bell has proven to be one of the most improved players in the NFL with LeGarrette Blount serving as an able change of pace.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

The only thing consistent about the Steelers this season has been their inconsistency but there is one trend that has stood the test of time, Dick LeBeau against rookie quarterbacks.

Since the Hall of Fame defensive coordinator returned to Pittsburgh in 2004, the Steelers are an imposing 18-2 against first-year signal callers.

Predicted outcome: Steelers 24, Titans 14


►  Giants place Hillis on IR

The New York Giants have placed running back Peyton Hillis on injured reserve because of a concussion.

Hillis suffered his second concussion in as many seasons last Sunday in a loss to Seattle. He also had a concussion last December in a loss to the Seahawks.

In nine games this season, Hillis ran for 115 yards on 26 carries and added 10 catches for 87 yards.

The Giants expect to have running back Rashad Jennings back in the lineup for Sunday’s game against San Francisco. He missed the previous four games with a knee injury.

To fill Hillis’ roster spot, the Giants promoted linebacker Justin Anderson from the practice squad.


►  Texans’ Foster to miss Browns game

Houston Texans running back Arian Foster will miss Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns due to a groin injury.

Foster, who suffered the setback during the Texans’ loss against the Philadelphia Eagles on November 2, was listed as questionable on Friday’s injury report.

He did not practice during Houston’s bye week nor during the days leading up to Sunday’s Week 11 tilt.

Foster has missed one other game this season due to injury. He suffered a hamstring injury in Houston’s Week 2 win at Oakland and missed the following contest against the New York Giants.

Rookie Alfred Blue will earn the start in the backfield.


►  Dolphins place Davis on IR; bring back Jalil Brown

The Miami Dolphins made it official Saturday and placed cornerback Will Davis on injured reserve because of a knee injury he suffered in Thursday’s game against Buffalo.

Davis was hurt while making a tackle on a Buffalo punt return in the third quarter of Miami’s 22-9 victory. The 2013 third-round pick out of Utah State played 10 games this season.

The Dolphins filled the roster spot by signing cornerback Jalil Brown, who spent time with Miami last season but did not appear in a game.

Brown played two games with Indianapolis this season before being released earlier this month. The fourth-year veteran appeared in 29 games for Kansas City in his first two seasons.


►  Chiefs sign DE Bailey to extension

The Kansas City Chiefs signed defensive end Allen Bailey to a contract extension on Saturday.

Terms of the contract were not released, but NFL.com reported the agreement to be a four-year deal worth $25 million.

Bailey has risen to being a full-time starter in his fourth season with the Chiefs and has totaled 27 tackles and four sacks through nine games.

“We are happy that we were able to reach an agreement to keep Allen in Kansas City,“ Chiefs general manager John Dorsey said. “He has developed into a good football player and a key member of our defense.“

The University of Miami-Florida product was selected in the third round of he 2011 draft and has amassed 72 tackles and six sacks over 50 career games.


►  Brady, Pats set to take temperature of upstart Colts

It wasn’t all that long ago that people were writing off the New England Patriots and Tom Brady.

That’s not happening anymore.

New England tries to further cement its status as the top team in the AFC on Sunday, as it goes after a sixth straight win against Andrew Luck and the up- and-coming Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The Patriots were beaten badly by the Kansas City Chiefs, 41-14, to fall to 2-2. Since then, though, they have reeled off five straight wins and have averaged 40.2 points per game in those wins.

New England enjoyed a bye last week, but that came after an impressive 43-21 win over the Denver Broncos in Week 9. Brady threw for 333 yards and four touchdowns in that win and moved past John Elway into fifth place on the all- time passing yards list.

Brady did throw an interception, his first in five games and only his third of the season.

Rob Gronkowski caught nine passes for 105 yards and one of Brady’s scoring strikes, with Julian Edelman adding nine receptions totaling 89 yards with a touchdown along with a huge punt return.

Over his last five games Gronkowski has 36 catches for 516 years and five touchdowns. Gronk has caught 18 balls in his last two games for 254 yards and four touchdowns.

“Tom’s spreading the ball around, but Rob’s a matchup nightmare,“ Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. “It’s all hands on deck to try to make sure that that guy doesn’t wreck a game. You see everybody trying to do that, but he finds a way to make unbelievable plays. He’s a great player and they’ve got a bunch of them, a bunch of skill guys that are making great plays.“

Since 2010, the Patriots are now a combined 30-3 in the second half of the regular season. In both 2010 and 2011, the Patriots were 8-0 in the second half of the year. New England was 7-1 in 2012 and 6-2 in 2013. Since Bill Belichick became Patriots head coach in 2000, New England is 90-23 in the second half of the season, and has gone 8-0 in the second half four times in Belichick’s tenure and 7-1 three times.

New England’s defense had Peyton Manning rattled all day in that one, forcing him into two interceptions. On the other hand, the Patriots have turned it over just six times all season and is tied for the NFL lead with a plus-12 turnover differential.

That could be bad news for Luck and the pass-happy Colts, who come into this contest averaging a league-best 32.2 points-per-game, but are even in turnover differential.

Luck has thrown nine picks on the season but is in the midst of what could be a record-setting campaign. The 25-year-old has set a franchise record with seven straight games of over 300 yards and leads the league with 3,085 yards and is on pace to narrowly surpass Manning’s record of 5,477.

Over his last seven games Luck has thrown 21 touchdowns and has averaged 363.3 yards for a 104.5 rating.

“Their offense is doing a great job this year. They score a lot of points, especially at home, and he’s kind of the ringleader,“ Brady said of Luck.

“... When you play another great offense, you’re going to have to put up a lot of points, similar to our last game. We realize we have a big job, too. You’re right, my focus is on the other side of the ball, but you also know you’re not going to be able to score 13 points and win the game.“

Like New England, Indianapolis is coming off a bye in Week 10, but was a big winner the previous week against the New York Giants.

Luck tossed three of his four touchdown passes in the third quarter and the Colts cruised to a 40-24 win in Week 9.

T.Y. Hilton hauled in three passes for 71 yards and a touchdown, Reggie Wayne posted four receptions for 70 yards and a score and Dwayne Allen had four catches for 48 yards and a score in the triumph.

Indianapolis has now won six of its last seven games after starting the year 0-2.

New England beat the Colts, 43-22, in an AFC Divisional Playoff game last year and has won six of the last 10 regular season matchups. New England has won the last three in the series, including the playoff game, but it has dropped the last two in Indianapolis.

The Patriots need one more victory to guarantee a finish of .500 or better for the 14th consecutive season. In fact since 2001, the Patriots are the only team to finish with a record above .500 in each of those seasons.

Every other NFL team has had at least one losing season between 2001 and 2013.

Since 2001 no team has more November wins than the 38 posted by both New England and Indianapolis.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

The Colts could be in for a long day defensively, as they have given up 31 passing plays of at least 20 yards and ranks 27th with an average of 263.6 yards passing allowed.

If Brady is given time, he could have a field day. With another 300-yard performance he could tie Hall of Famer Dan Marino (63) for the third-most such games all-time.

“They blitz quite a bit more than most of the teams that we’ve played, which is going to be, I would say, a very critical factor in the game, our ability to handle that,“ New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said.

Luck has been as good as any quarterback in the league this season, but New England’s revamped secondary with cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner is really starting to hit their stride.

“They are very talented,“ Colts wideout Reggie Wayne said. “They are ball- hungry. They are definitely talented. It gives them a little bit to where they can be a little bit more of risk-takers with blitzes and things of that nature.“

OVERALL ANALYSIS

This probably won’t be the last time these two teams square off. Another postseason matchup could be in the offing this January. But where that game is played might be decided this Sunday.

Brady has been terrific, almost playing with a chip on his shoulder since that Week 4 loss to the Chiefs. Luck has been tremendous as well, but look for Belichick to confuse him all night. The Patriots brought Revis in for games like the win over Denver and this one coming up. It might be a long night for Mr. Luck.

Predicted outcome: New England 35, Indianapolis 17


►  49ers welcome back Aldon Smith

The San Francisco 49ers will have All- Pro linebacker Aldon Smith on the field for the first time this season on Sunday.

Smith finished serving his nine-game suspension stemming from a series of off- the-field incidents, and the Niners added him to their 53-man roster for their Week 11 tilt against the New York Giants.

In August, the NFL penalized Smith for violations of both the substance-abuse policy and personal conduct policy. In July, Smith was sentenced to 11 days in jail and three years’ probation on weapons and DUI charges.

Since being selected with the seventh overall pick of the 2011 draft, Smith has been one of the league’s elite pass rushers. He has 42 sacks in just three seasons, but also numerous run-ins with the law.

Smith voluntarily took a leave of absence from the 49ers last year to seek help for a substance-abuse problem, missing five games.

To make room on the roster, the club placed rookie defensive back Jimmie Ward (foot) on injured reserve.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  C.J. Anderson: start him or sit him?

Owners who had a high waiver priority this week, most likely put in for Denver Broncos’ running back C.J. Anderson, after he broke out during Week 10 against the Oakland Raiders.

The question now becomes, is he worth starting for Week 11 against the St. Louis Rams?

I have a very tough time giving my blessing to fantasy owners, in regards to starting Anderson this week. There simply seems to be a revolving door in Denver’s backfield, and owners need to be aware that there is no guaranteed production from that position.

First, it was Broncos’ halfback Montee Ball, who was given the chance to thrive in this offense, but after averaging just 3.1 yards per carry and scoring one lone touchdown, Ball suffered a groin injury during Week 5, and running back Ronnie Hillman took over.

Hillman looked like an actual RB1 after Ball’s injury, rushing for over 100 yards twice and scoring four touchdowns, during a five-week span. Yet, during Week 10, he rushed for only 13 yards on six carries, and suffered a foot injury, which will most likely keep him sidelined for the next 2-to-3 weeks.

Enter C.J. Anderson.

Anderson shined during his first extended game-action in Week 11 against the Oakland Raiders, totaling 90 rushing yards on 13 carries, along with four receptions for 73 yards and a score.

So, it seems like an easy decision; Hillman is hurt, and Anderson played well last week, making it almost essential for owners to start Anderson.

Not so fast.

As a team, the Broncos are 27th in the NFL in rushing, with only 871 total yards. On top of that, Denver running backs are averaging just 3.7 yards per carry, and there is simply no telling which tailback will get the most reps for the duration of the season.

While Anderson is likely to get the start on Sunday, it has become increasingly clear that Denver will ride with the hot-hand. Not only will Broncos’ tailback Juwan Thompson be in the mix, but Ball is expected to return from his injury as well, leaving Anderson with very little wiggle room to make any mistakes.

One fumble or other miscue could easily result in Ball or Thompson seeing more reps, which in turn gives me reason to doubt Anderson’s value for Week 11. If owners have better RB2 options on their rosters, those players would be much safer plays, over Anderson.


►  Denard Robinson demands respect

I admit, I didn’t take you seriously.

Maybe it’s because your team has perhaps the least amount of tradition of any in the league. Maybe it’s because you play for arguably the third-best team in your state, which includes the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Maybe it’s because you were a small collegiate quarterback switching to the position with the shortest shelf life in the league.

Or maybe it was your team’s helmets that are only surpassed in hideousness by the Steelers jailbird, bumblebee jerseys.

For whatever reason, I did not take Denard Robinson seriously, and it’s time to give him fantasy respect.

Robinson took over the starting running back position for Jacksonville in Week 7. Coincidentally, that is the only game Jacksonville has won this season. Robinson rushed 22 times for 127 yards, both season-highs, against Cleveland to lead Jacksonville to a, 24-6, victory.

The former Michigan quarterback eclipsed 100 yards again the following week against Miami. The past two weeks, Robinson has not reached the century-mark in rushing yards again but has scored three rushing touchdowns.

Since Week 7, Robinson has rushed for 389 yards and four touchdowns with a 5.4 yards per carry average. Over that span, only DeMarco Murray and Mark Ingram have more rushing yards than Robinson does and only Arian Foster has rushed for a higher yards-per-carry average.

Even though it is a small sample size and Robinson’s yardage and rushing attempts have gradually dropped over the four game span, he has still shown his playmaking ability. He broke a 32-yard run for a touchdown against the Cowboys last week, and then when teammate Toby Gerhart could not convert a goal-line carry, the Jaguars turned to Robinson, and he scored his second touchdown.

So not only is Robinson receiving more carries than Gerhart, he is also scoring the touchdowns.

Fantasy owners shouldn’t beat themselves up if they doubted Robinson like myself; it is easy to see why there were question marks surrounding him coming out of college. Robinson threw just 10 more touchdowns than interceptions in his four years at Michigan and completed just 53% of his passes during his senior year. He did, however, rush for 4,495 yards with a 6.2 yards per carry average at Michigan as well.

Robinson was never going to be able to run the offense he ran in college at the professional level, so he never was going to be an NFL quarterback. Therefore, it was easy to say he wouldn’t be able to switch to another position, however, Jacksonville has found ways to utilize his skills.

The Jaguars first used him on kickoff returns and in the wild cat formation last season. Before this year, Robinson bulked up 15 pounds and became an option at running back as he maintained his speed.

He is now a great option for fantasy owners too. Robinson is still available 18% of Yahoo leagues, and if an owner was smart enough to claim him, it is time to start him with confidence, at least after his Week 11 bye.

The starting job is Robinson’s to keep and fantasy owners late to the party like myself need to start taking him seriously.  ~~  Dave Holcomb ~~


►  Two-Minute Warning - Week 11

It is once again a major issue for fantasy owners this weekend - teams on bye.

Week 11 is a “four-team bye week” with players from Baltimore, Dallas, Jacksonville and New York Jets all watching the action from their sofa or favorite watering hole, just like fans and fantasy owners.

The weather in Week 11 is pretty good for mid-November, though a bit colder than normal.

The hard cold truth is, by this time in the season, there are no completely healthy players, particularly at running back. All of them have aches and pains from playing this collision sport. Some are just more hurt than others.

Here is the latest information as we approach game-time. We will continue to update this story as the information changes all the way up to game-time.

Quarterbacks -

Carson Palmer, Arizona - If you have been out of the country for the past week you may not know that Palmer’s season ended last weekend due to a knee injury. Drew Stanton will take over the helm. He’s shown an affinity for No. 3 wideout John Brown who has caught all three of his touchdown passes in 2014.

Ryan Mallett, Houston - There are a couple of quarterback changes for this week which weren’t caused by injury. Mallett will take over for journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick in Houston. This move was inevitable from the moment he was acquired from New England in late August.

Shaun Hill, St. Louis - Hill will re-assume control of the Rams offense. He was injured/benched in Week 1 and Austin Davis took over, but after a couple of solid games regressed badly and the team will go back to Hill for a tough matchup with Peyton Manning and the Broncos.

Running Backs -

Arian Foster, Houston - Foster will not play in Week 11 due to a groin injury and will miss a tasty matchup against Cleveland. Alfred Blue should be the starter and primary running back and with a new quarterback under center should see plenty of work.

Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati - Bernard, like Foster, will miss another weekend. That gives Jeremy Hill another big opportunity and fantasy owners must start him.

Jamaal Charles, Kansas City - Charles is dealing with elbow and shoulder issues, but practiced in full and will play. Keep him in your starting lineup.

Rashad Jennings, New York Giants - Jennings is expected to return and will be an upgrade from Andre Williams, but the tougher question for fantasy owners is “how big the workload?“ We think it should be enough to make him a low-end fantasy starter.

Mark Ingram, New Orleans - Ingram was limited in practice by a shoulder issue, but it won’t stop him from playing Sunday. With Khiry Robinson and Pierre Thomas still sidelined, Ingram off three straight 100-yard games should be considered an RB1.

Ryan Mathews, San Diego - Mathews is expected to return from a knee injury that has kept him off the field since Week 2. He should resume his No. 1 status, but Branden Oliver will still get work, so Mathews shouldn’t see more than 15-18 touches and can be an RB2. Oliver should not be started.

Andre Ellington, Arizona - Ellington’s foot injury has been there all season and it hasn’t prevented the running back from producing most weekends. He struggled against the Rams and is likely to have another tough game against a strong Lions defense, but he will be out there.

Montee Ball, Denver - Ball appears to be healthy enough to play, but most think he won’t be the starter even with Ronnie Hillman declared out. C.J. Anderson is expected to start, but this backfield distribution is definitely up in the air.

Jonathan Stewart, Carolina - He’s listed as probable and should play, but with DeAngelo Williams also available and the threat of Cam Newton stealing goal line touchdowns isn’t a great option even against a Falcons’ team ranked in the bottom 10 defensively.

Reggie Bush, Detroit - He is not expected to play, but wasn’t performing at a high level even when out there this season. He has one double-digit game this season so fantasy owners should have adjusted to life without him.

Jerick McKinnon, Minnesota - He’s been dealing with a sore back, but Vikings coach Mike Zimmer confirmed Friday that McKinnon is “fine.“ His opponent, the Chicago Bears have given up a total of 106 points in the past two games.

Frank Gore, San Francisco - Gore has a sore hip, but will play and after the way the Seahawks ran through the Giants run defense, Gore could be in for a big day.

Marshawn Lynch, Seattle - A sore calf is unlikely to keep Lynch off the field and he’s a must start after last weekend’s monster performance.

Doug Martin, Tampa Bay - He’s already been ruled out for Week 11 and can be dropped from rosters. Bobby Rainey and Charles Sims should carry the Bucs ground game.

Wide Receivers -

Brandon Marshall, Chicago - A veteran who doesn’t practice on Wednesday isn’t a real story. Marshall returned to the practice field on Thursday and will be ready to go against the Vikings.

Donnie Avery, Kansas City - The Chiefs will be missing both Avery and A.J. Jenkins. That likely means Frankie Hammond gets the start opposite Dwayne Bowe, but facing the Seahawks secondary neither is a very good option.

Harry Douglas, Atlanta - The Falcons should have both their backup receivers back for Week 11, but as long as Julio Jones and Roddy White are healthy neither has any fantasy value.

Tight Ends -

Jordan Cameron, Cleveland - Cameron is out for Week 11. None of the Browns choices at tight end have any fantasy value even remotely close to Cameron and can’t be started.

Martellus Bennett, Chicago - Bennett caught just two passes last weekend and the hope is that he’s a week healthier and the ribs have healed so he can return to the high level of earlier in the season.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  WEST VIRGINIA OPENED THE SEASON WITH A 64-54 COMEBACK VICTORY

West Virginia coach Bob Huggins reflected on a tougher-than-expected 64-54 win over Monmouth in Friday night’s season opener.

“At the end of the day, you can say maybe we won one we weren’t supposed to win,” Huggins said. “But then, when you shoot it 31 more times than your opponent, you are supposed to win.”

Thanks to hefty edge in rebounding and forced turnovers, West Virginia attempted 69 shots to Monmouth’s 38. Yet the Mountaineers made only 18 field goals, one more than the Hawks.

“We had good shots and we threw it close like you’re supposed to,” Huggins said. “We just didn’t finish inside. But we can shoot it better than we showed today.”



The Gilmer Free Press

►  NBA Game Results

(Saturday, November 15)


Final Score: Washington 98, Orlando 93

Kris Humphries, Otto Porter and Rasual Butler carried the Wizards late as the reserves combined for 24 points in the fourth quarter to lead Washington over the Orlando Magic, 98-93, on Saturday. Humphries finished with 16 points, Porter netted 13, Butler added 10 for the Wizards, who have won three in a row and improved to 7-2 for their best start since the 1974-75 season. John Wall recorded a double-double with 15 points and 10 assists, while Nene added 16 points in the victory. All five Magic starters scored in double figures, led by Tobias Harris’ 19 points, but Orlando’s two-game winning streak came in an end.


Final Score: Cleveland 127, Atlanta 94

LeBron James scored 18 of his 32 points in the first half to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers’ offensive onslaught in a 127-94 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday. James, who also dished out seven assists with six rebounds, went 13-of-20 shooting, including 4-of-5 from beyond the arc, helping the Cavs to a fourth straight win. Cleveland also set a franchise record with 19 3-pointers made. Kyrie Irving deposited 20 points with five assists, Tristan Thompson netted 15 points and Kevin Love posted 13 points, six rebounds and five assists. The Cavs distributed 39 assists in snapping a four-game skid to Atlanta, with sixth man Dion Waiters’ eight helpers leading the way. Paul Millsap had 16 points with seven rebounds, while Mike Muscala supplied 13 points off the bench and Al Horford and John Jenkins each notched 12 for the Hawks, who had their four-game winning streak halted.


Final Score: Toronto 111, Utah 93

DeMar DeRozan had 27 points, while Jonas Valanciunas added 17 and 14 rebounds and the Toronto Raptors defeated the Utah Jazz 111-93 on Saturday night. Kyle Lowry posted 19 points for the Raptors, who were coming off a home loss to the Chicago Bulls on Thursday. Derrick Favors tallied 18 points and six boards, Enes Kanter netted 18 points and Alec Burks provided 10 points and 10 rebounds for Utah, which has dropped five of its last seven contests.


Final Score: Indiana 99, Chicago 90

Solomon Hill had 21 points and 12 rebounds, while A.J. Price added 21 points off the bench as the Indiana Pacers defeated the Derrick Rose-less Chicago Bulls 99-90 on Saturday night. Luis Scola posted 21 points and 11 boards for the Pacers, who have won three of their last four games on the heels of a six-game losing streak. Jimmy Butler tallied 30 points and six rebounds for Chicago, which had a brief two-game winning streak snapped. Rose missed the game after tweaking his hamstring during Thursday’s win in Toronto. He hasn’t played in five contests in all this year due to ankle and hamstring issues. Chicago fell to 3-2 without Rose in the lineup this season.


Final Score: Memphis 95, Detroit 88

Marc Gasol had 23 points and eight rebounds in the Memphis Grizzlies’ 95-88 win over the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night. Zach Randolph added 17 points and 22 rebounds for the Grizzlies (9-1), who have won a franchise-record 19 consecutive regular season home games. Mike Conley and Courtney Lee tallied 18 and 12 points, respectively. Kyle Singler made five 3-pointers en route to 21 points for the Pistons, who have lost four of five. Greg Monroe had 16 points and 11 rebounds.


Final Score: Dallas 131, Minnesota 117

Following their largest win in franchise history, the Dallas Mavericks kept the momentum going on Saturday night with a 131-117 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Monta Ellis had a season-high 30 points to lead the Mavs, who were coming off a 53-point win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday. Dirk Nowitzki deposited 15 points, while Tyson Chandler netted 12 points with a season-high 16 rebounds and Chandler Parsons added 12 in the win, Dallas’ third straight to wrap up its four- game homestand. J.J. Barea led the bench production with 14 points. Kevin Martin posted a season-high 34 points and Shabazz Muhammad tallied 18 points off the bench for Minnesota, which has lost five straight.


Final Score: Portland 97, Brooklyn 87

Damian Lillard poured in 28 points with 10 assists to lead the Portland Trail Blazers to a 97-87 win over the Brooklyn Nets. Chris Kaman had 12 points off the bench, while Wesley Matthews and Robin Lopez each contributed 10 for Portland, which has won four straight. Brook Lopez paced the Nets with 21 points, Joe Johnson supplied 19 and Deron Williams also netted 19 points with six assists for the Nets, who have lost three straight. Kevin Garnett went for 12 points and 12 rebounds in the setback. The Nets franchise fell to 6-34 all-time in Portland.


Final Score: Sacramento 94, San Antonio 91

DeMarcus Cousins scored 21 of his 25 points in the second half to lead the Sacramento Kings to a 94-91 breakthrough win over the San Antonio Spurs at Sleep Train Arena. Cousins’ monster performance, which included 10 rebounds, helped the Kings snap a nine-game losing streak against the reigning NBA champions and a three-game skid overall. Darren Collison added 19 points and Rudy Gay had 18 along with six assists in the victory, just Sacramento’s second in the last 23 meetings between the teams. Manu Ginobili dropped in 21 points off the bench for San Antonio, but the Spurs couldn’t hold onto a slim lead in the final minutes in the finale of a four-game road trip they began with three straight wins. Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green each finished with 16 points in the loss, with Tim Duncan posting 15 points and eight rebounds for the Spurs.


Final Score: Golden State 112, Charlotte 87

Klay Thompson had 21 points and headed a strong shooting display that carried the Golden State Warriors to a 112-87 rout of the Charlotte Hornets at ORACLE Arena. The Warriors shot 51.7 percent from the field and made 11-of-26 attempts from 3-point range, with Thompson knocking down 4-of-6 tries from beyond the arc and Harrison Barnes going 3- for-5 in a 17-point effort. Stephen Curry added 19 points and nine assists for Golden State, which led by as many as 34 in improving to 7-2 on the season. Al Jefferson had 19 points and Brian Roberts scored 17 off the bench to pace Charlotte. Lance Stephenson finished with 16 points as the Hornets concluded a four-game West Coast trip with a third loss.


Final Score: LA Clippers 120, Phoenix 107

Chris Paul scored 32 points with nine assists and five rebounds to lead the Los Angeles Clippers to a 120-107 win over the Phoenix Suns on Saturday. DeAndre Jordan helped the Clippers with a monster effort, scoring 12 with 18 rebounds and seven blocked shots. Blake Griffin deposited 19 points, while JJ Redick and Spencer Hawes each netted 14 in the win. Gerald Green led the Suns with 26 points off the bench and Goran Dragic notched 19 points for the Suns, who have lost two straight following a two-game winning streak.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  MLB stars no-hit in Japan

Takahiro Norimoto and three relievers combined on a no-hitter to lead Samurai Japan to a 4-0 win over the Major League Baseball All-Stars on Saturday in the 2014 Japan Series.

The Japanese stars have captured each of the first three in the five-game set that continues Sunday at the Tokyo Dome.

Norimoto struck out six and did not walk a batter in five perfect innings of work. He threw only 60 pitches, 20 shy of the 80-pitch limit for starters in the series.

Yuki Nishi issued a walk to Lucas Duda starting the sixth, but then set down the next three batters. He hit Robinson Cano leading off the seventh, but again retired the next three, including strikeouts of Justin Morneau and Yasiel Puig.

Kazuhisa Makita ran into trouble in the eighth when he walked Salvador Perez to start the inning and Dexter Fowler with one out. Alcides Escobar then struck out and Ben Zobrist grounded out.

Yuji Nishino had no problems in the ninth, fanning Jose Altuve and retiring Carlos Santana and Morneau on ground balls to complete the gem. Second baseman Ryosuke Kikuchi made a nice play on Santana’s hard-hit grounder, taking away a potential hit.

The Japanese stars did all their scoring against Jeremy Guthrie on a pair of two-run homers. Hayato Sakamoto followed a Sho Nakata double in the second with a blast over the left field wall, and Nakata drilled a shot over the center field wall in the third after a Nobuhiro Matsuda single.

Guthrie went the first five innings for the MLB stars.

After Sunday’s game in Tokyo, the teams will play the finale of the series on Tuesday in Sapporo.


►  D-backs obtain Hellickson from Rays

The Arizona Diamondbacks made their first offseason move towards bolstering their rotation on Friday, acquiring former American League Rookie of the Year Jeremy Hellickson from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for two minor league prospects.

The Diamondbacks sent infielder Andrew Velazquez and outfielder Justin Williams to Tampa Bay in the first trade orchestrated by new Arizona general manager Dave Stewart.

Hellickson was named the AL’s top rookie after compiling a 13-10 record with a 2.95 earned run average in 29 starts for the Rays in 2011. The 27-year-old followed up with back-to-back seasons of double-digit wins, but struggled to a 1-5 record with a 4.52 ERA during an injury-plagued 2014 campaign.

The right-hander was limited to just 13 starts last season after undergoing surgery in January to remove loose bodies from his elbow.

Hellickson owns a career 40-36 record with a 3.78 ERA over 115 major league games, all but seven of which have been starts. He’s due a salary increase in 2015 as a second-year arbitration-eligible player, which likely factored in the small-market and rebuilding Rays’ decision to make the deal.

Stewart had made improving a rotation that was among the worst in baseball in 2014 a high priority this offseason. The Diamondbacks’ 4.44 ERA from their starters was the second-worst mark in the National League and ranked 27th in the majors.

Velazquez and Williams were rated as the 12th and 14th-best prospects, respectively, in the Arizona system by MLB.com.

The 20-year-old Velazquez was named the 2014 Midwest League Prospect of the Year after hitting .290 with nine home runs, 56 RBI, 15 triples and 50 stolen bases at Low-A South Bend and reaching base safely in 74 consecutive games during the season.

Williams, 19, was the Diamondbacks’ second-round pick in the 2013 draft. The left-handed hitter batted .351 with four homers, 46 RBI and five triples over 74 games between South Bend and Missoula of the Rookie-Advanced Pioneer League.


►  Cano has broken toe

Seattle Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano reportedly suffered a broken toe when he was hit by a pitch in Saturday’s Japan Series game at the Tokyo Dome.

Cano was hit by a pitch from Yuki Nishi in the seventh inning and left the contest.

MLB.com cited a source as saying Cano suffered a non-displaced fracture of the pinkie toe on his right foot. He is expected to miss the remaining two games of the series and will likely need about 3-to-4 weeks to recover.

The MLB All-Stars were no-hit Saturday in a 4-0 loss and have dropped each of the first three games of the five-game set.

Cano, who was 2-for-10 in three games this week, batted .314 with 14 homers and 82 runs batted in over 157 games this past season, his first with the Mariners after signing a 10-year contract with Seattle as a free agent last December.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  NHL Game Results

(Saturday, November 15)


Final Score: Boston 2, Carolina 1

Tuukka Rask made 33 saves to lift the Boston Bruins to a 2-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday at TD Garden. Seth Griffith and Patrice Bergeron scored first-period goals for the Bruins, who halted a two-game skid and won for the sixth time in their last eight games. Jiri Tlusty scored for Carolina, which has lost two in a row and three of its last four after a four-game win streak. Cam Ward made 23 saves in defeat.


Final Score: Minnesota 2, Dallas 1

Mikael Granlund netted the winner early in the third period, backing a 27-save effort from Darcy Kuemper, and Minnesota clipped Dallas, 2-1, at American Airlines Center. Erik Haula provided the other meaningful offense for the Wild, who have won two in a row since dropping four straight. Antoine Roussel scored and Kari Lehtonen stopped 20 shots for the Stars, whose two-game win streak came to an end.


Final Score: Los Angeles 3, Anaheim 2 (OT)

Jarret Stoll scored on a power play at 2:19 of overtime to lift the Los Angeles Kings to a 3-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday. The Kings went on the man advantage 23 seconds into the extra session when Anaheim defenseman Hampus Lindholm was called for hooking. As the power play was winding down, Justin Williams led a rush down the left wing and dished out front to Stoll, who slid the puck between the pads of Frederik Andersen. Tyler Toffoli scored his fourth shorthanded goal of the season and Anze Kopitar added a power-play goal in the third period for the Kings, who snapped a two-game slide that included a 6-5 shootout loss at Anaheim on Wednesday. Jonathan Quick made 27 saves in the winning effort. Ryan Kesler and Emerson Etem scored and Andersen stopped 34 shots for Anaheim, which has seen its last five games be decided beyond regulation. The Ducks are 3-0-4 in their last seven games.


Final Score: Buffalo 6, Toronto 2

Zemgus Girgensons scored twice and the Buffalo Sabres cruised past the Toronto Maple Leafs, 6-2, on Saturday. Matt Moulson and Tyler Ennis each had one goal and two assists for the Sabres, who snapped a five-game skid. Drew Stafford and Tyler Myers also lit the lamp. Michal Neuvirth stopped 32-of-34 shots for Buffalo, which had allowed six goals in each of its last three games. David Clarkson and Phil Kessel scored for the Maple Leafs, who have lost two in a row since a three-game winning streak. James Reimer made 29 saves.


Final Score: Montreal 6, Philadelphia 3

P.A. Parenteau and Dale Weise each registered a pair of goals, and Michel Therrien gained his 300th win as an NHL head coach as the Montreal Canadiens doubled up the Philadelphia Flyers, 6-3, at Bell Centre. David Desharnais and P.K. Subban also lit the lamp for the Canadiens, who vaulted over Tampa Bay into first place in the Atlantic Division thanks to their fifth straight win. Alex Galchenyuk added three assists, with Tomas Plekanec, Sergei Gonchar, Max Pacioretty and Andrei Markov totaling two helpers each. Carey Price came up with a 26-save effort. Brayden Schenn tallied twice and Jakub Voracek added a pair of assists for the Flyers, who fell to 1-5-0 in three sets of back-to-back games on the young season. Voracek assumed the NHL scoring lead with 26 points, as Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby was held off the board in a 3-2 shootout win against the Rangers. Ray Emery was shelled for all six goals on 28 shots—the first time in his career he’s surrendered that many to Montreal.


Final Score: Tampa Bay 5, NY Islanders 2

Ben Bishop made 25 saves and five Tampa Bay Lightning players scored in a 5-2 win over the New York Islanders on Saturday. The goals by Ryan Callahan, Valtteri Filppula, Cedric Paquette, Tyler Johnson and Radko Gudas helped Tampa Bay snap New York’s five-game winning streak. Callahan and Filppula each had an assist and Jason Garrison added two helpers for the Lightning, who halted a two-game skid and improved to 7-1-1 in their last nine. They lead the NHL with 65 goals, including 39 in their last nine games. Brock Nelson and Josh Bailey scored for the Islanders and Chad Johnson gave up all five Tampa Bay goals on 28 shots.


Final Score: Colorado 3, New Jersey 2

Erik Johnson and Matt Duchene scored in the third period as the Colorado Avalanche rallied to beat the New Jersey Devils 3-2 at Prudential Center. John Mitchell also scored and Semyon Varlamov made 23 saves for the Avalanche, who have won consecutive games for the first time this season and concluded their four-game road trip at .500. Eric Gelinas and Martin Havlat supplied the goals for New Jersey, which had its two-game win streak snapped and lost for the fifth time in seven games. Cory Schneider stopped 26 shots in defeat.


Final Score: Pittsburgh 3, NY Rangers 2 (SO)

Brandon Sutter scored in the fourth round of the shootout to give the Pittsburgh Penguins a measure of revenge against the New York Rangers with a 3-2 victory. The win was Pittsburgh’s ninth in 10 games, with the only blemish over that stretch coming Tuesday at Madison Square to a Rangers team that also ended the Penguins’ 2013-14 season in seven games during the Eastern Conference semifinals. Evgeni Malkin contributed a goal and an assist for Pittsburgh and Blake Comeau also tallied in the triumph, with Marc-Andre Fleury coming up with 29 saves in a sharper effort than Tuesday’s 5-0 loss in New York. Henrik Lundqvist made 36 saves, including stops of Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang on breakaways in overtime, for the Rangers. Lee Stempniak and Martin St. Louis each had goals in the loss, New York’s fourth in its last five outings.


Final Score: Columbus 2, San Jose 1

Sergei Bobrovsky dazzled in his return to the ice, turning aside 36 shots to lead the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 2-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Saturday. Cam Atkinson’s power-play goal proved to be the difference and David Savard also lit the lamp for Columbus, which was coming off a 4-3 win over Philadelphia on Friday. Bobrovsky earned his 100th career win after missing eight games with a fractured finger on his left hand. Joe Pavelski netted San Jose’s lone goal and Antti Niemi made 26 saves in defeat.


Final Score: Nashville 2, Winnipeg 1

Craig Smith scored the game-winning goal with 2:02 left in regulation and head coach Peter Laviolette won his 400th game as the Nashville Predators defeated the Winnipeg Jets. 2-1, on Saturday. Calle Jarnkrok emerged from behind the net with the puck and fired a shot from the left circle. Jarnkrok retrieved the rebound in the high slot and dished the puck to Smith, who snapped a shot short side past a sliding Ondrej Pavelec for the deciding goal. The Jets pulled Pavelec with 1:44 to play, but were unable to force an extra session. James Neal tied the game in the second period and Pekka Rinne stopped 21-of-22 shots for Nashville, which has won four of its last five games. Blake Wheeler supplied Winnipeg’s lone marker and Pavelec made 27 saves in defeat. The Jets entered the game having registered at least a point in nine of their last 10 games (7-1-2).


Final Score: St. Louis 4, Washington 1

Brian Elliott made 24 saves and four St. Louis Blues scored in a 4-1 win over the Washington Capitals on Saturday. The goals by Jori Lehtera, Jaden Schwartz, David Backes and Patrik Berglund helped the Blues to their third consecutive win and a 10-1-0 record in their last 11 games. Schwartz, Backes and Berglund each added an assist and Kevin Shattenkirk had two helpers in the victory. Joel Ward scored and Justin Peters made 30 saves for the Capitals, who have dropped two in a row while scoring just one goal over that span.


Final Score: Calgary 4, Ottawa 2

Lance Bouma and Markus Granlund each scored and assisted on the other’s third-period goal as the Calgary Flames beat the Ottawa Senators 4-2 on Saturday. Josh Jooris also scored in the third and collected one assist for the Flames, who have opened their five-game homestand with consecutive wins. Karri Ramo stopped 23 of 25 Ottawa shots. Bobby Ryan and Clarke MacArthur had the goals in the Senators’ final stop on a three-game Western Canadian trip (1-1-1). Craig Anderson made 21 saves in defeat.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Gordon wins Homestead pole, Harvick tops among title contenders

Five days after he was eliminated from the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship, Jeff Gordon won the pole for the season-ending race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

While Gordon will start on the pole for Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead, three of the four drivers battling for the Sprint Cup Series championship will start in the top-10. Kevin Harvick, the winner of last weekend’s race at Phoenix, qualified fifth. Denny Hamlin, who won the 2013 season-finale at this 1.5-mile racetrack, took the eighth spot, and Joey Logano was ninth. Ryan Newman, who is the only one in the final four without a victory this season, will start 21st.

Gordon earned his third pole of the season and the 77th of his Cup career after making a lap at 180.747 mph during the third and final round of Friday’s knockout qualifying at Homestead. It’s his first pole in 16 races here as well. Gordon also gave Hendrick Motorsports its 200th pole in NASCAR’s premier series.

“I’m really excited about that pole,“ Gordon said. “I’ve never been on the pole here before, and to be the 200th pole for Hendrick Motorsports is really cool. I think the way we are looking at this weekend is we want to close out the season the absolute best we can. It has been a tremendous season. The No. 24 team has been incredible this year. We are disappointed that we aren’t in this thing for the championship, but that’s not going to stop us from trying to go out to win the pole and win the race.“

Gordon finished second at Phoenix but came up one point short of making into the Championship Round. Ryan Newman’s 11th-place finish there allowed him to top Gordon for the last spot in the final four. Newman bumped rookie Kyle Larson and put him into the wall while the two were battling for the 11th position on the final turn of the last lap.

Kurt Busch qualified second, followed by Matt Kenseth and Brad Keselowski, who set a new track qualifying record at Homestead with a lap at 181.238 mph during the first qualifying round.

The highest finisher among the four title contenders in this race will win the championship. Neither Hamlin, Harvick, Logano or Newman has yet to win a title in the series.

“Today was really about trying to get a solid starting spot,“ said Harvick, whose fifth-place in qualifying came with a lap at 179.946 mph. “We were able to do that with my Budweiser (sponsored) team. Just really proud of my guys. We had a really good day today. Just got to keep doing what we have to do and see where it all falls on Sunday.“

Newman finished among the top-10 in the opening round of qualifying but failed to advance beyond the second round after posting a lap at 178.241 mph.

“We just struggled there a little bit,“ Newman said. “My first run was pretty good. The second run wasn’t what we needed it to be. Our first run was where we were in practice. In the second run, we just weren’t where we needed to be. We missed it just a little bit on the balance.“

All 43 drivers who attempted qualifying made the starting field.


►  Crafton becomes first back-to-back champion in Truck Series

Matt Crafton clinched the 2014 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship with a ninth-place finish in Friday night’s season-ending Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Crafton became the first driver to win back-to-back titles in the 20-year history of the series. He ended the season 21 points ahead of his closest competitor, Ryan Blaney, who finished fifth in this race. Crafton entered the season-finale with a 25-point advantage over Blaney. A finish of 21st or better had guaranteed him the championship.

“It’s definitely an awesome feeling to say you’re back-to-back champion,“ Crafton said. “I definitely didn’t want to talk about it at all the last few weeks. Without a doubt, I wanted to go out there and do my job and try to win more races and lead more laps, and that’s what we did.

“I’m not going to lie, tonight’s race for me was not much fun having to sit there and ride around because I know the truck was a lot better, but I couldn’t put myself in any bad position. I just have to wait for everything to file out and just sit there and ride because I couldn’t take any chances of getting tore up.“

Crafton, a 38-year-old Tulare, California native, scored two wins, 13 top-five finishes and 17 top-10s in 22 races this season. He became the fourth driver to win multiple championships in the series, joining Ron Hornaday Jr. (1996, ‘98, 2007 and ‘09), Jack Sprague (1997, ‘99 and 2001) and Todd Bodine (2006 and ‘10).

“It’s awesome, and to be on the list with those guys is unreal,“ Crafton said. “I’ve watched Ron Hornaday race with my dad in the ‘80s, and he was an unreal race car driver, and to see Jack Sprague and all those guys win the championships. To say I’m on the list with them is pretty cool.“

Darrell Wallace Jr. won the race after passing his teammate and team owner, Kyle Busch, with 16 laps remaining and then holding off a hard-charging Kyle Larson in the final laps. Wallace beat Larson to the finish line by just 0.3 seconds for his fourth win of the season and the fifth of his Truck Series career.

It’s the first time Wallace has won a truck race on a 1.5-mile racetrack.

“I can’t thank my guys (No. 54 Kyle Busch Motorsports team) enough for continuing to come up each and every race and never give up and have that desire to win,“ Wallace said. “I told them before the race started, we want it more than anybody else. We don’t have a shot at the title, but we want this race more than anybody else. Let’s show that.

“I had to work for it there. I had to battle off Kyle (Larson) and Kyle (Busch), so a lot of things knocked off tonight in the mile-and-a-half win. We beat the boss finally. It was another battle with Larson like Eldora (July 23 race), running up against the fence like Eldora. Just had to be smart about it. Just had a lot of fun.“

Larson started on the pole and led 96 of the first 100 laps, but during the last round of pit stops under caution, he exited pit road in third. Larson made several attempts to overtake Wallace for the lead in the closing laps but could not make the pass.

“There was a couple times where I got a good run off of (turn) 4 and thought about doing a slide job and just thought better of it,“ Larson said. “I tried it one time there and wished the lap truck hadn’t been there so I could run it even deeper. (Wallace) was able to squeeze back around me, and that was about my last real shot. I tried something there the last lap, but I figured it wasn’t going to work.“

Timothy Peters finished third, while Busch ended up in fourth. Blaney had to overcome a broken shifter he experienced during a pit stop just past the halfway point to place fifth.

Busch’s No. 51 team clinched its second straight and third overall owners’ championship in the series. The No. 51 concluded the season 24 points in front of ThorSport Racing’s No. 88 team, with Crafton as their driver.

Busch drove the No. 51 Toyota in 10 races this season, while 18-year-old Erik Jones was behind the wheel of it in 12 events. Busch scored seven victories and Jones three, including last week’s race at Phoenix.

“It’s a great milestone for us and a great accomplishment just on the fact that it’s what we can race for,“ Busch said of the owners’ title. “Truly to have two drivers being able to compete and to have one (Jones) of those be a rookie and an up-and-coming driver in the series and in NASCAR and to be able to go out there and capture an owners’ championship, accumulating more points than the series champion says a lot about our team, a lot about our organization.“

KBM is the second team in the series to win consecutive owners’ title. Xpress Motorsports first did it from 2002-03.

The No. 51 and 54 teams for KBM combined for 14 wins in the 22 races this year. Toyota’s 18th victory this season tied Chevrolet (2010) for the series record of most wins by a manufacturer in a single season.

Ben Kennedy, the great-grandson of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., earned rookie-of-the-year honors in the series this season. Kennedy finished 17th in the race.

The Gilmer Free Press


Codes
ABC - American Broadcasting Company
CBS - Columbia Broadcast System
FOX - Fox Entertainment Group
NBC - National Broadcasting Company
JIP - Joined in Progress
DSS - DIRECTV
TSN - Sports Network (Canada)
SNET/SN - Rogers SportsNet (Canada)
RDS - Reseau des sports
MSG - Madison Square Garden Network
TNT - Turner Network Television
TBS - Turner Broadcasting System
SNY - SportsNet New York
CBSSN - CBS - College Sports Network
CSN - Comcast SportsNet
TCN - The Comcast Network
NBCSN - NBC Sports Network
NESN - New England Sports Network
MASN - Mid-Atlantic Sports Network
ROOT - Root Sports (Pittsburgh, Northwest, Rocky Mountain)
CST - Cox Sports Television
FCS - FOX College Sports
FS - FOX Sports Regional
RSN - Regional Sports Networks
CPTV - Connecticut Public Broadcasting
TVG - Horse Racing Channel
FS1 - FOX Sports 1
TWC - Time Warner Cable Sports Channel
* - If Necessary


SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 2014


National Football League
Atlanta at Carolina, 1:00 PM - FOX, DSS (705)
Seattle at Kansas City, 1:00 PM - FOX, DSS (706)
San Francisco at NY Giants, 1:00 PM - FOX, DSS (707)
Tampa Bay at Washington, 1:00 PM - FOX, DSS (708)
Minnesota at Chicago, 1:00 PM - FOX, DSS (709)
Houston at Cleveland, 1:00 PM - CBS, DSS (710)
Cincinnati at New Orleans, 1:00 PM - CBS, DSS (711)
Denver at St. Louis, 1:00 PM - CBS, DSS (712)
Oakland at San Diego, 4:05 PM - CBS, DSS (713)
Philadelphia at Green Bay, 4:25 PM - FOX, DSS (714)
Detroit at Arizona, 4:25 PM - FOX, DSS (715)
New England at Indianapolis, 8:30 PM - NBC


National Basketball Association
Denver at New York, 1:00 PM - Altitude, MSG, DSS
Milwaukee at Miami, 6:00 PM - FS-Wisconsin, SunSports, DSS
Houston at Oklahoma City, 7:00 PM - CSN-Houston, FS-Oklahoma, NBA TV, DSS
Golden State at LA Lakers, 9:30 PM - CSN-Bay, Time Warner, DSS


National Hockey League
San Jose at Carolina, 5:00 PM - CSN-California, SportSouth, DSS
Winnipeg at Minnesota, 5:00 PM - TSN3, FS-North, DSS
Montreal at Detroit, 7:00 PM - CITY-TV, RDS, FS-Detroit, DSS
Dallas at Chicago, 7:00 PM - FS-Southwest, WGN, TVA, DSS
Florida at Anaheim, 8:00 PM - FS-Florida, Prime Ticket, DSS
Arizona at Edmonton, 9:00 PM - FS-Arizona, SNET-West, DSS


Canadian Football League - Playoffs
British Columbia at Montreal, 1:00 PM - TSN, ESPN3.com
Saskatchewan at Edmonton, 4:30 PM - TSN, ESPN 2


College Basketball
Buffalo at Kentucky, 12:00 PM - ESPN U
Mercer at Seton Hall, 12:00 PM - FSN, YES
Boston University vs. Northeastern, 12:30 PM - NESN
Samford at Pittsburgh, 1:00 PM - RSN, ROOT-Pittsburgh, DSS
Chattanooga at Wisconsin, 1:00 PM - ESPNews
Northern Kentucky at Nebraska, 2:00 PM - Big Ten Network+
Navy at Notre Dame, 2:00 PM - ESPN3.com
UMass Lowell at Rhode Island, 2:00 PM - OSN, SNY, DSS
Jackson State at South Florida, 2:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Massachusetts vs. Boston College, 3:00 PM - NESN
SE Louisiana at Oklahoma, 3:00 PM - FS-Southwest+
Prairie View at Oklahoma State, 3:00 PM - FS-Southwest+
IUPUI at Purdue, 3:00 PM - Big Ten Network
Trevecca Nazarene at Vanderbilt, 3:00 PM - SEC Network+
Lafayette at West Virginia, 3:00 PM - ROOT-Pittsburgh
Cornell at Loyola-Maryland, 4:00 PM - Patriot League Network
Hampton at Syracuse, 4:00 PM - ESPN U
Fordham at Penn State, 5:00 PM - Big Ten Network
Chicago State at Creighton, 5:30 PM - FS1
Charlotte at Elon, 5:30 PM - ASN, WCCB
Harvard vs. Holy Cross, 5:30 PM - NESN
Coppin State at Illinois, 6:00 PM - Big Ten Network+
Valparaiso at Missouri, 6:00 PM - SEC Network
Robert Morris at North Carolina, 6:00 PM - ESPN U
South Dakota at Stanford, 6:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
Stetson at UCF, 6:00 PM - ESPN3.com
George Washington at Rutgers, 7:00 PM - Big Ten Network
Norfolk State at Virginia, 7:00 PM - RSN, DSS
CS-Northridge at Arizona, 8:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
Kennesaw State at California, 8:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
Alcorn State at Texas, 8:00 PM - ESPN U
Sam Houston State at UNLV, 8:00 PM - Mountain West Network
Cal State Fullerton at New Mexico, 9:00 PM - ROOT-Rocky Mountain
Coastal Carolina at UCLA, 10:00 PM - Pac-12 Network


Women’s College Basketball
Wagner at Maryland, 2:00 PM - Big Ten Network+
South Dakota at Kansas, 3:00 PM - Jayhawk TV, DSS
Robert Morris at Iowa, 3:00 PM - Mediacom
Duke at Alabama, 8:00 PM - SEC Network


International Soccer
Italian National Team vs. Croatia National Team, 2:30 PM - FS1


Golf
EUROPEAN - Turkish Airlines Open, 3:30 AM - Golf Channel
PGA -  OHL Classic at Mayakoba, 2:00 PM - Golf Channel
LPGA - Lorena Ochoa Invitational, 5:00 PM - Golf Channel


Tennis
ATP World Finals, 1:00 PM - ESPN 2


Auto Racing
SPRINT CUP - Ford EcoBoost 400, 3:00 PM - ESPN

Sports News   141115

The Gilmer Free Press


The Gilmer Free Press

►  Glenville State vs. West Virginia State

The Glenville State Pioneer football team dropped their second game in a row as they fell to Walsh University, 31-23, this Saturday on the road.

The Pioneers ran 74 total plays for 381 yards while Walsh ran 60 plays for 348 total yards.

GSC had four turnovers on the game while Walsh only turned it over twice. The Pioneers really struggled on third down as they converted just 5 of 15 while the Cavaliers went 8 of 13 on third down. The Pioneers however went 3 for 3 in the red zone scoring.

Tevin Drake led the ground attack for the Pioneers as he rushed for 126 yards on 25 carries and a touchdown. GSC’s outstanding running back Rahmann Lee only carried the ball once for seven yards before leaving the game due to an ankle injury, which he injured prior to the game.

Quarterback Dante Roberts, who replaced Sean Steele who is out due to an injury, threw for 241 yards as he went 20 for 39 with two touchdowns but had three costly interceptions.

Dante Absher was the team’s leading receiver as he caught seven passes for 68 yards and two touchdowns. Hunter McWhorter led the Pioneers defense with eight tackles while Devin Cain finished with seven tackles and one tackle-for-loss.

The Pioneers finish up the season next Saturday, November 15th when they return home to I.L. & Sue Morris Stadium as they take on West Virginia State University on Senior Day. Kick-off is set for 1:00 PM.

West Virginia State comes into the match-up after falling 24-10 at home. Matt Kinnick connected on 21-of-40 passes with 239 yards with a touchdown to lead WVSU. Shanin Bennefield had five catches for 107 yards. Trent Williamson had 10 tackles for the Yellow Jackets.

Last season the Pioneers defeated WV State on the road 17-12. Rahmann Lee rushed for 132 yards and a touochdown while quarterback Sean Steele threw for just 76 yards and a touchdown.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  No. 21 Marshall puts streak on line against Rice

With three games remaining in the regular season, the Marshall Thundering Herd will try to remain unbeaten as they clash with the defending Conference USA champion Rice Owls Saturday at Joan C. Edwards Stadium.

Marshall has won all nine games this season, and controls its own destiny in Conference USA going forward. The Thundering Herd moved up two spots in the AP Poll this week, sliding up from No. 23 to No. 21 after easily routing conference foe Southern Miss, 63-17 last weekend.

Other than Marshall, Rice is easily the hottest team in Conference USA at the moment, having won six straight games after starting the season 0-3 with losses to three formidable opponents. The Owls are 4-1 in league play with three games left on the slate, and trail Louisiana Tech in the West Division by a game and a half.

Marshall leads the brief all-time series against Rice, 3-2, although the Owls came away victorious in the Conference USA title game in last season’s head- to-head matchup. The Thundering Herd will be seeking revenge for the championship game loss.

Rice is coming off a narrow 17-7 victory over UTSA in last weekend’s C-USA contest. As the Owls get set to make a run at another title game, their schedule doesn’t bode well for a team needed to play catch-up in the league’s West Division. Marshall is on the slate this weekend, with a home contest against the red-hot UTEP Miners and a visit to currently 6-0 in conference Louisiana Tech to end the season.

Last weekend’s 10-point victory aside, Rice has been blowing opponents out offensively in its six-game win streak. The Owls scored 31, 41 and 41 points, respectively, in each of their three games prior to the meeting with the Roadrunners. Behind quarterback Driphus Jackson, Rice is averaging 29.8 ppg this season through nine games played.

Jackson has passed for 1,861 yards and 15 touchdowns this season against just four interceptions. He’s played in all nine games and has completed 58.6 percent of his passes. He’s a proven danger in the ground game as well, having gained 330 rushing yards with a touchdown via the rush this season. Watch for tailbacks Jowan Davis (748 yards, five touchdowns) and Darik Dillard (575 yards, seven touchdowns) to get a hefty amount of the work, while receivers Jordan Taylor (520 yards, four touchdown receptions) and Mario Hull (335 yards, four touchdowns) dominate the targets through the air.

The last time Rice’s defense allowed more than 23 points in a single game was back when the team last lost a contest - Sept. 20 against Old Dominion. Since then, the Owls have given up just 17.2 ppg to opponents in the team’s six-game win streak. The season average is 26 ppg allowed by Rice, with opponents averaging 360.2 offensive ypg. What’s more, opponents are averaging just over 25 minutes per game in time off possession against Rice. The Owls will be wise to keep the ball away from Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato.

The defense hasn’t loaded up statistically this season, with Alex Lyons leading the team with just 46 total tackles and Jaylon Finner right behind at 45. Defensive ends Brian Nordstrom and Zach Patt has each recorded 7.5 sacks on the year, with Nordstrom also recording 16.5 tackles for loss. Both of them will be extremely busy, along with tackle Christian Covington, trying to limit bruising running back Devon Johnson for the Herd.

Although Marshall has blown every opponent it has faced out of the water this season, Thundering Herd coach Doc Holliday won’t be taking Rice lightly at all, especially after what happened in last year’s conference championship bout.

“To have a team the caliber of Rice coming in, that’s big,“ Holliday said. “David Bailiff has them extremely well-coached. I don’t have to say anything to our guys. That’s the team that beat us (41-24) down at their place for the conference championship last year, beat us physically, beat us up.“

Marshall is looking to reverse the outcome this weekend at home, and plans on utilizing Johnson to his full capacity after the tight end convert sat out as a precaution with a left knee injury last weekend. Johnson has led the Marshall run game to 295.1 rushing ypg this season, and has personally gained 1,203 yards (ninth in FBS) and scored 15 touchdowns (fifth in FBS).

As was the case last season, Cato is the centerpiece of the Marshall offense. The senior signal caller has thrown for 2,316 yards and 22 touchdowns in nine games played with just six interceptions. With the dominance of Johnson in the run game, the Herd haven’t needed to air it out as much in years past. Though reliable targets Tommy Shuler (526 yards, six touchdowns) and freshman Angelo Jean-Louis (396 yards, four touchdowns) will be ready to go if Rice can control the run.

The Marshall defense has had to overcome a bit of a scare in three consecutive contests. The team trailed for the first time all season against FIU, then trailed at halftime against FAU two weeks ago. Last time out against Southern Miss, the Herd had to overcome a 14-point first-quarter deficit in order to gain the edge back. Still, the last time an opponent scored more than 17 points was back on Oct. 11 against Middle Tennessee. The Herd won the game, 49-24.

Allowing just 16.6 ppg to opponents (tied for sixth-best in the FBS), Marshall has given up more than 20 points just twice all season along, while the offense has scored fewer than 40 points only once. Linebacker Neville Hewitt paces the defense with 69 stops on the year, adding in eight tackles for loss and four sacks. Linemen Arnold Blackmon (9.5 tackles for loss, five sacks) and James Rouse (eight tackles for loss) will be spying Jackson in the Rice backfield.

“We’re going to have to play extremely well,“ Holliday said. “They’re coming here with six wins in a row, and I’m sure there’s a reason they’ve won six straight games. You know they’ll be well-prepared and we’ve got to be the same.“



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Steelers look for consistency against Titans

All we need is Alex Trebek or John O’Hurley to say “will the real Pittsburgh Steelers please stand up.“ Or perhaps even former Steelers great Lynn Swann, who also hosted one of the many reboots of “To Tell the Truth” over the years.

Maybe they could help us explain the up-and-down nature of Mike Tomlin’s club, which will try to get back to its winning ways on “Monday Night Football” against the struggling Tennessee Titans.

Playing the two-win Titans with rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger set to make just his third career start may seem like a week off for the Steelers until you realize Pittsburgh has already suffered setbacks to the one-win Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the two-win New York Jets.

The Steelers began the season with a win-loss pattern that lasted through the first six games of the campaign until breaking it with three consecutive triumphs, starting with a win over Houston and finishing it with back-to-back six-touchdown games for Ben Roethlisberger against Indianapolis and Baltimore.

Any hopes the struggles were safely left behind in the rear-view mirror evaporated in Week 10, however, when Michael Vick turned back the clock and the hapless Jets snapped their eight-game losing streak at the expense of Pittsburgh.

Vick threw two touchdown passes in the first quarter and flashed his vintage rushing technique while leading the beleaguered Jets to a 20-13 victory. The upset over one of the NFL’s hottest teams came amid calls for New York’s leadership to be replaced and ended the franchise’s worst skid in 18 years.

It was as unlikely an outcome as there has been anywhere in the league this season, especially considering how good Roethlisberger was during his team’s three-game winning streak.

“Big Ben” set an NFL record by throwing 12 touchdown passes in the previous two games and hadn’t thrown an interception in over three games, but was picked off twice by Jets safety Jaiquawn Jarrett.

Even Antonio Brown, the sure-handed receiver who led the NFL in catches and receiving yards coming in, had a bad game. He had two fumbles in the first half. Jarrett recovered one of them.

Roethlisberger did throw for 343 yards, bringing his total to 1,470 in the last four games. He had an 80-yard touchdown throw to Martavis Bryant with 76 seconds left.

“The reality is we shot ourselves in the foot,“ said Tomlin. “You’re not going to win any football games minus-four in the turnover game.“

The loss left Pittsburgh one-half game behind first-place Cleveland entering the weekend in an ultra-tough AFC North where every team is at lest two games above .500.

“Everyone’s right there together,“ said veteran defensive lineman Brett Keisel when talking about the North, which is the first division in which every team is at least two games above water since the 1935 NFL Western Division. “We need to assert ourselves.“

The Titans, meanwhile, have dropped three in a row and seven of eight overall, including a 21-7 setback in Baltimore during Week 10.

Mettenberger completed 16 of his 27 attempts for one touchdown and a late interception in his second NFL start. Fellow rookie Bishop Sankey amassed 58 yards on 17 carries, while Leon Washington posted his club’s lone TD.

“He did some good things today, made some good throws,“ Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt, a former tight ends coach and offensive coordinator with the Steelers from 2001-2006, said of Mettenberger. “I think he did a nice job of operating today in this environment, which is not easy. But obviously, we have to be more productive.“

Pittsburgh leads its all-time series with the Titans franchise with a 41-31 mark. On Monday nights the Steelers are an imposing 41-24 and the Titans/Houston Oilers are 21-16.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Playing down to the competition has been an issue since Tomlin took over the Steelers back in 2007, especially away from Heinz Field where Pittsburgh has suffered six different defeats against teams who have been playing at less than a 30 percent clip.

Turnovers have been the main culprit in those hiccups and that same narrative doomed the Steelers in North Jersey against the lowly Jets.

“The ability is there, it’s just about going out and doing it,“ defensive lineman Cam Heyward said. “We have to have our focus and mindset on the Titans this week. We can’t forget what happened, but we have to move past it. We have to move in the right direction and clean up the stuff.“

The even bigger issue for Pittsburgh this season has been slow starts away from the Steel City. The Steelers have been outscored 88-26 in the first quarter of road games and have allowed an NFL-worst 36 points on their opponents’ first offensive possession.

“It’s the NFL, if you don’t show up ready to play your type of game, you’re going to lose,“ Pittsburgh wide receiver Lance Moore said. “Our last game was a perfect example of that. We’re hot. We came in high and mighty and a team came in and played better than us.“

None of that necessarily plays to the strength of the Titans, though, who have managed just one field goal in all of their opening drives. Tennessee did play well in the first quarter in Baltimore but slowed dramatically from there as the Ravens adjusted and threw more zone coverage at Mettenberger.

“Early in the first half we did a lot of good things to kind of counteract their guys,“ the rookie said. “We just got to continue to ... play like that for 60 minutes.“

Mettenberger, who was sacked five times by the Ravens, is intent on sharpening his reads and making quicker decisions.

“You try to have an internal clock, that lets you know when it’s time, but with the defensive linemen that they have, the clock goes a lot faster,“ Mettenberger said. “I know I need to play a lot smarter. This is a quarterback driven league.“

Mettenberger, has been OK in his first two starts, throwing for 478 yards and three touchdowns, will be facing a Pittsburgh defense that will likely be without several defensive starters.

With the Steelers’ bye week looming after this contest, veteran safety Troy Polamalu (knee), rookie inside linebacker Ryan Shazier (ankle) and cornerback Ike Taylor (forearm) are not expected to play against the Titans, who still plan on playing hard despite what looks like a lost season.

“I have worked too hard personally to listen to anybody that tells me to go out and tank a season,“ receiver Nate Washington, an ex-Steeler, told the Tennessean. “I wouldn’t know the meaning of that. To those naysayers who think we should go out and mail it in the rest the season, maybe they shouldn’t go to work for the next month and see if they expect a paycheck.

“Let’s see how it works out for them. I can’t see one individual in here that would be able to look at himself in mirror if they tanked it. Not one guy is comfortable with that. This is a prideful group of guys, and no matter what the scoreboard is everyone is going to give his all.“

The Steelers are obviously explosive but should look at relying on their running game a little bit now this week. Tennessee has struggled mightily against the run recently and Pittsburgh’s Le’Veon Bell has proven to be one of the most improved players in the NFL with LeGarrette Blount serving as an able change of pace.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

The only thing consistent about the Steelers this season has been their inconsistency but there is one trend that has stood the test of time, Dick LeBeau against rookie quarterbacks.

Since the Hall of Fame defensive coordinator returned to Pittsburgh in 2004, the Steelers are an imposing 18-2 against first-year signal callers.

Predicted outcome: Steelers 24, Titans 14


►  Bills’ McKelvin suffers fractured ankle

Buffalo Bills cornerback Leodis McKelvin suffered a fractured ankle during Thursday’s game against the Miami Dolphins.

Bills coach Doug Marrone on Friday said the team is still weighing its options on McKelvin’s status going forward with just six games remaining.

McKelvin, the team’s starting left cornerback and punt returner, has 48 tackles and a team-best four interceptions in 10 games this season. He has also averaged 8.7 yards on 21 punt returns.

Selected by the Bills with the 11th overall pick of the 2008 draft, McKelvin has 11 career interceptions in 89 games.


►  Browns’ Cameron to miss third consecutive game

The Cleveland Browns have ruled out tight end Jordan Cameron for Sunday’s game against Houston as he continues to recover from an October concussion.

Cameron left Cleveland’s 23-13 win over Oakland on Oct. 26 in the second quarter after making his third catch of the game. Since then, he has missed games against Tampa Bay and Cincinnati, and he has not even been able to return to the practice field.

The fourth year veteran and 2013 Pro Bowl choice has struggled with injuries in 2014 and has managed to play in just six games, making 13 catches for 250 yards and one touchdown. Cameron missed Cleveland’s Week 2 game against New Orleans with a shoulder injury.

This concussion is the third Cameron has suffered since 2012.

Defensive tackle Phil Taylor, who returned last Thursday against Cincinnati after missing four games recovering from a knee procedure, was placed on injured reserve after suffering a different knee injury last Thursday against the Bengals.

He finished the year with 10 tackles and one forced fumble.


►  Dolphins CB Davis headed for IR

Miami Dolphins reserve cornerback Will Davis is headed for the injured reserve list due to a knee injury suffered in the team’s victory over the Buffalo Bills on Thursday.

Davis, a third-round pick in 2013, was hurt while making a tackle on a Buffalo punt return in the third quarter of Miami’s 22-9 victory.

The Utah State product played in 10 games this season.


►  Texans’ Foster questionable for Sunday

Houston Texans running back Arian Foster is questionable for Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns due to a groin injury.

Foster, who suffered the setback during the Texans’ loss against the Philadelphia Eagles on Nov. 2, did not practice all week.

Houston had a bye last week.

Foster has missed one other game this season due to injury. He suffered a hamstring injury in Houston’s Week 2 win at Oakland and missed the following contest against the New York Giants.

Cornerback Kareem Jackson has been ruled out with a knee injury.


►  Bengals’ Bernard, Burfict out Sunday

Cincinnati Bengals running back Giovani Bernard and linebacker Vontaze Burfict have been ruled out for Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints.

Bernard will miss his third consecutive game due to hip and shoulder injuries, while Burfict is still recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery on Oct. 29.

Cornerback Terrence Newman (knee) and linebacker Rey Maualuga (hamstring) are questionable. Newman did not practice all week, while Maualuga was limited on Wednesday and Thursday before participating fully in Friday’s session. Maualuga has missed the last four games.

In addition, right tackle Andre Smith (ankle) was listed as doubtful.


►  Giants RB Jennings probable for Sunday

New York Giants running back Rashad Jennings is probable for Sunday’s game against the San Francisco Giants.

Jennings has missed New York’s last four games since spraining his MCL in Week 5.

In five games this season, Jennings has carried the ball 91 times for 396 yards and two touchdowns.

The Giants’ rushing combination of rookie Andre Williams and Peyton Hillis have struggled in Jennings’ absence, and New York will be facing a San Francisco defense that is allowing just 91.2 yards on the ground per game.


►  Lions RB Bush questionable vs. Cardinals

Detroit Lions running back Reggie Bush is questionable for Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals.

Bush, who aggravated a sprained ankle in last week’s win over the Miami Dolphins, was held out of practice this week.

The 29-year-old Bush has carried the ball 53 times for 191 yards and one touchdown in seven games this season. The USC product has also caught 26 passes for 169 yards.

If Bush can’t play, Joique Bell will get the bulk of the work in the backfield, with Theo Riddick playing a backup role.

Right guard Larry Warford and defensive tackle Nick Fairley are out with knee injuries.


►  Denver RB Ball set to return, Hillman out against Rams

Denver Broncos running back Montee Ball is set to return Sunday, while running back Ronnie Hillman will miss the game against the St. Louis Rams.

Ball was listed as probable after practicing all week. He missed the previous five games with a groin injury.

Hillman, meanwhile, suffered a foot injury against the Oakland Raiders last Sunday and did not practice this week.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Week 11 player fantasy rankings - quarterbacks

Last Sunday night, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers played about as good a first half as humanly possible as his Packers crushed the Chicago Bears. We expect Rodgers to continue that high level of production against Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon.

Here’s why.

So far this season, Rodgers’ record in Lambeau Field is a perfect 4-0 with an astonishing 140.1 quarterback rating. He’s thrown 15 touchdown passes without an interception.

Rodgers will face an Eagles defense, which while it looked good Monday night, is in reality just mediocre against the pass (15th) and coming off a short practice week.

What list would be complete without having Peyton Manning at, or very near, the top of the list. Manning “only” threw five touchdown passes last weekend, one less than Rodgers, but his Broncos travel to St. Louis where the indoor “weather conditions” will be perfectly conducive for another big day.

Andrew Luck matches up against Tom Brady on Sunday night in one of the feature games of Week 11. Young quarterbacks like Luck, when facing an elite quarterback such as Brady, frequently use it as a “measuring stick” to see how far they have progressed. That means we will see a fully focused Luck and we think that could end being mighty impressive considering he’s already the No. 1 fantasy quarterback after 10 Weeks.

You can see we were very impressed with Mark Sanchez’s first start since 2012. He jumped from No. 21 last weekend to No. 7 in Week 11. That likely won’t help his Eagles beat Green Bay, but fantasy owners should be happy with his results as he tries to keep pace with Rodgers.

Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford is a regular in the top-10, but not this weekend as he and the Lions travel to Arizona in what should be a tough, defensive battle between two of the three best scoring defenses in the league. Carson Palmer’s replacement in this game, Drew Stanton, barely makes the top-25 as the Lions are third against the pass (212.1 ypg) and No. 1 in points allowed (15.7 ppg).

We will see three new starting quarterbacks in Week 11. Stanton replaces the Palmer after he suffered a season-ending knee injury, while Shaun Hill (St. Louis) and Ryan Mallett (Houston) replace ineffective quarterbacks.

Top-25 Quarterback Rankings

—————————————-

1) Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay

2) Peyton Manning, Denver

3) Andrew Luck, Indianapolis

4) Drew Brees, New Orleans

5) Tom Brady, New England

6) Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh

7) Mark Sanchez, Philadelphia

8) Robert Griffin III, Washington

9) Philip Rivers, San Diego

10) Russell Wilson, Seattle

11) Matthew Stafford, Detroit

12) Jay Cutler, Chicago

13) Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco

14) Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota

15) Matt Ryan, Atlanta

16) Cam Newton, Carolina

17) Andy Dalton, Cincinnati

18) Eli Manning, New York Giants

19) Ryan Tannehill, Miami

20) Alex Smith, Kansas City

21) Josh McCown, Tampa Bay

22) Kyle Orton, Buffalo

23) Drew Stanton, Arizona

24) Shaun Hill, St. Louis

25) Ryan Mallett, Houston


►  Week 11 player fantasy rankings - running backs

Cheer up Chicago Bears’ fans, there is something to be happy about. Your star running back, Matt Forte, is our top- ranked tailback heading into Week 11 of the NFL season.

With Chicago positioned in the basement of the NFC North Division, Bears’ fans may be shifting gears and starting to solely worry about their fantasy teams, as opposed to wondering if their hometown team will make the playoffs.

Forte is coming off a subpar performance against the Green Bay Packers (17 carries, 54 yards and three catches, 27 yards), but we expect him to bounce back Sunday versus the Minnesota Vikings. According to Yahoo, Minnesota gives up the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing running backs (21.83 ppg), giving Forte a tremendous opportunity to have a big game.

After injuring his groin in Week 9, Houston Texans halfback Arian Foster looks like he is ready to roll coming off of his bye, and should suit up Sunday against the Cleveland Browns. This is a great sign for fantasy owners because before leaving Week 9’s contest versus the Philadelphia Eagles, Foster had rushed for at least 100 yards in four consecutive games, for the first time in his career. As long as he does not have any setbacks, we feel Foster will start another impressive streak during Week 11.

Kansas City Chiefs’ running back Jamaal Charles has been on a tear lately, totaling six touchdowns over his past four games. However, believe it or not, he has failed to rush for 100 yards in any game this season. We expect that trend to end in Week 11.

Even going up against a tough opponent in the Seattle Seahawks, Charles still comes in as our third-ranked tailback, because of the impact he provides to the Chiefs’ entire team. Kansas City has won four consecutive games (he has scored at least one touchdown in each game), and Charles has been arguably the biggest reason why. If The Chiefs want to continue their winning streak, they will need to feeding their stud running back the ball, which in turn will help fantasy owners.

The running back who will be lining up against Charles and the Chiefs, comes in as our fourth-ranked tailback. The Seahawks’ Marshawn Lynch is coming off his best game of 2014 after rushing for 140 yards and four touchdowns. The primary reason he is not ranked even higher, is because of the tough matchup against Kansas City. Heading into Arrowhead Stadium, Lynch will be facing a defense that gives up the fourth-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs (13.56 ppg). However, with Seattle recommitting themselves to establishing a ground game, we love Lynch’s chances to follow-up his Week 10 performance in a big way.

Another player we really like this week, who is coming off a knee injury, is San Diego Chargers’ halfback Ryan Mathews. After missing the previous seven games, Mathews is expected to see about 15 touches on Sunday (according to Michael Gehlken of The Union-Tribune), giving him clear RB2 status. The Chargers have lost three-consecutive games, and will need to re-establish their running game, and with a matchup against the Oakland Raiders, that opportunity may not have come at a better time. Oakland is the second-worst team versus fantasy running backs, allowing 24.16 points per game, which should allow Mathews and San Diego to take advantage. Owners need to make sure Mathews is back in all lineups.

Top-50 Running Back Rankings

——————————————

1) Matt Forte, Chicago

2) Arian Foster, Houston

3) Jamaal Charles, Kansas City

4) Marshawn Lynch, Seattle

5) Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh

6) LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia

7) Eddie Lacy, Green Bay

8) Frank Gore, San Francisco

9) Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati

10) Mark Ingram, New Orleans

11) Andre Ellington, Arizona

12) Alfred Morris, Washington

13) Ahmad Bradshaw, Indianapolis

14) Jerick McKinnon, Minnesota

15) C.J. Anderson, Denver

16) Terrance West, Cleveland

17) Rashad Jennings, New York Giants

18) Lamar Miller, Miami

19) Bobby Rainey, Tampa Bay

20) Joique Bell, Detroit

21) Trent Richardson, Indianapolis

22) Steven Jackson, Atlanta

23) Ryan Mathews, San Diego

24) Shane Vereen, New England

25) DeAngelo Williams, Carolina

26) Bishop Sankey, Tennessee

27) Reggie Bush, Detroit

28) Fred Jackson, Buffalo

29) Jonathan Stewart, Carolina

30) Anthony Dixon, Buffalo

31) Darren McFadden, Oakland

32) Darren Sproles, Philadelphia

33) Carlos Hyde, San Francisco

34) Tre Mason, St. Louis

35) Jonas Gray, New England

36) Ben Tate, Cleveland

37) Bryce Brown, Buffalo

38) Andre Williams, Houston

39) Isaiah Crowell, Cleveland

40) Matt Asiata, Minnesota

41) Montee Ball, Denver

42) Theo Riddick, Detroit

43) Charles Sims, Tampa Bay

44) LeGarrette Blount, Pittsburgh

45) Roy Helu, Washington

46) Benny Cunningham, St. Louis

47) James Starks, Green Bay

48) Antone Smith, Atlanta

49) Branden Oliver, San Diego

50) Juwan Thompson, Denver


►  Week 11 player fantasy rankings - wide receivers

Green Bay receiver Jordy Nelson only played about 30 minutes in Week 10, but that was all he needed to produce more fantasy points than any other wide receiver.

Nelson was mostly left uncovered during the first half against the Bears and he posted a 6-152-2 line, which included two long touchdown strikes. He should have another big afternoon when his Packers host the Eagles in Week 11.

We will give a pass to Pittsburgh receiver Antonio Brown after his unimpressive effort against the Jets last weekend. But he has always bounced back from a mediocre effort with a big one this season which is why he’s still the No. 1 fantasy receiver through Week 10. He’ll face the Titans in front of a national audience Monday night which should be enough incentive to return to his high level of production (he’s averaging 107 ypg).

What we learned in Mark Sanchez’s first start since 2012 is that he likes to throw to rookie Jordan Matthews. The combination was good in preseason and continued against Carolina as Matthews racked up 138 yards and a pair of scores. The pair should be good against Green Bay too, though we think Jeremy Maclin is still the Eagles’ No. 1 option. That could change, but for now Matthews sits at No. 16.

The most disappointing receiver in 2014 has to be Cincinnati wideout A.J. Green. We keep waiting for him to get healthy and produce as he has for the first three seasons, but he keeps letting up down. Instead of challenging Demaryius Thomas, Dez Bryant and Brown for the top spot he’s ranked 52nd among wideouts between former teammate Andrew Hawkins and rookie Markus Wheaton. He faces a Saints defense that can be beaten so he’s ranked at a generous No. 15.

Two other receivers who should be producing better numbers are San Francisco wideout Michael Crabtree and Seattle’s Doug Baldwin. Crabtree whined this week that he wasn’t being used enough and that usually results in a big day, but we think the 49ers will continue to run the ball and target Anquan Boldin before looking toward Crabtree. Baldwin has a similar problem. Though he’s the No. 1 receiving option in Seattle, it appears that the team is going back to basics which means Marshawn Lynch and the running game is featured at the expense of the passing game. Neither receiver cracks the top-35 in Week 11.

Top-50 Wide Receiver Rankings

——————————————-

1) Jordy Nelson, Green Bay

2) Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh

3) Demaryius Thomas, Denver

4) Randall Cobb, Green Bay

5) Julio Jones, Atlanta

6) Emmanuel Sanders, Denver

7) T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis

8) Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia

9) Calvin Johnson, Detroit

10) Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants

11) DeSean Jackson, Washington

12) DeAndre Hopkins, Houston

13) Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina

14) Brandon Marshall, Chicago

15) A.J. Green, Cincinnati

16) Jordan Matthews, Philadelphia

17) Mohamed Sanu, Cincinnati

18) Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay

19) Alshon Jeffery, Chicago

20) Sammy Watkins, Buffalo

21) Golden Tate, Detroit

22) Julian Edelman, New England

23) Anquan Boldin, San Francisco

24) Keenan Allen, San Diego

25) Roddy White, Atlanta

26) Andre Johnson, Houston

27) Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City

28) Brandon LaFell, New England

29) Mike Evans, Tampa Bay

30) Mike Wallace, Miami

31) Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona

32) Martavis Bryant, Pittsburgh

33) Percy Harvin, Seattle

34) Pierre Garcon, Washington

35) Brandin Cooks, New Orleans

36) Michael Crabtree, San Francisco

37) Greg Jennings, Minnesota

38) Reuben Randle, New York Giants

39) Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis

40) Kenny Britt, St. Louis

41) Doug Baldwin, Seattle

42) Cordarrelle Patterson, Minnesota

43) Davante Adams, Green Bay

44) Marques Colston, New Orleans

45) Andrew Hawkins, Cleveland

46) Justin Hunter, Tennessee

47) Kendall Wright, Tennessee

48) Stevie Johnson, San Francisco

49) John Brown, Arizona

50) Andre Holmes, Oakland


►  Week 11 player fantasy rankings - tight ends

It certainly looks like New England Patriots’ tight end Rob Gronkowski is back to dominating the entire NFL.

Over his past two games, Gronkowski has posted performances of nine receptions for 149 yards and three touchdowns, in Week 8 against the Chicago Bears, and followed that up with nine more catches for 105 yards and one touchdown versus the Denver Broncos. Now, coming out of his bye, we feel he will continue his strong play against the Indianapolis Colts. According to Yahoo, the Colts are giving up the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends (10.13 ppg), making it a juicy matchup for Gronkowski.

Our top-three tight ends are arguably all interchangeable, but New Orleans Saints’ pass-catcher Jimmy Graham is our second-ranked tight end heading into Week 11. His opponent, the Cincinnati Bengals give up the sixth-most fantasy points to tight ends (10.90 ppg), which should give Graham numerous opportunities to produce on Sunday. He has scored four touchdowns over the past three games, and with the Saints fighting for their playoff-lives, look for quarterback Drew Brees and head coach Sean Payton to get their star tight end involved early and often.

Denver Broncos’ tight end Julius Thomas is our third player who could easily be ranked higher. However, while Denver’s Week 11 opponent, the St. Louis Rams will not scare many people on the surface, they have played well against opposing tight ends in 2014 (6.08 fantasy ppg). With that being said, Thomas has recorded the most receiving touchdowns in the league (12), and with the way Broncos’ quarterback Peyton Manning is playing, owners should expect another big game from Thomas.

One of the biggest disappointments this season has been San Francisco 49ers’ tight end Vernon Davis. He caught his only two touchdown passes in Week 1 and has not topped 44 yards in 2014. While we don’t expect him to fully breakout for the rest of the year, we do like his matchup this week against the New York Giants. New York has given up the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends (11.60 ppg), and if there was ever a game to get back on track, it will be this week for Davis.

Another guy who has not performed in 2014, has been Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz. Unlike Davis, however, we suggest that fantasy owners stay away from Ertz in Week 11. Over the past two weeks, he has played just 24 snaps and 31 snaps, respectively, and was even outplayed by fellow TE Brent Celek (five catches, 116 yards) last weekend. Ertz totaled 77 yards and a touchdown during Week 1, and 86 yards in Week 2, but since that point he has failed to produce more than 48 yards in a game, and has only one score over that span. Moving forward, owners need to take a wait-and-see approach with Ertz.

Top-25 Tight End Rankings

————————————-

1) Rob Gronkowski, New England

2) Jimmy Graham, New Orleans

3) Julius Thomas, Denver

4) Greg Olsen, Carolina

5) Martellus Bennett, Chicago

6) Antonio Gates, San Diego

7) Vernon Davis, San Francisco

8) Charles Clay, Miami

9) Travis Kelce, Kansas City

10) Larry Donnell, New York Giants

11) Heath Miller, Pittsburgh

12) Jordan Reed, Washington

13) Dwayne Allen, Indianapolis

14) Zach Ertz, Philadelphia

15) Jared Cook, St. Louis

16) Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati

17) Coby Fleener, Indianapolis

18) Mychal Rivera, Oakland

19) Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Tampa Bay

20) Tim Wright, New England

21) Levine Toilolo, Atlanta

22) Scott Chandler, Buffalo

23) Brent Celek, Philadelphia

24) Luke Wilson, Seattle

25) Andrew Quarless, Green Bay


►  Week 11 player fantasy rankings - kickers

Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski returns from his team’s bye week and thus, has also returned to The Sports Network’s top spot on the weekly kicker rankings.

Since that ugly game at Kansas City in Week 4, where Gostkowski kicked just two extra-points, Gostkowski has averaged 15.4 ppg in standard leagues and has not scored below nine points in any given week.

Adam Vinatieri, Cody Parkey, Caleb Sturgis, and Mason Crosby round out the top five for Week 11.

Vinatieri is right behind Gostkowski for total fantasy points scored this season. In 20 field goal attempts, Vinatieri has not missed, and he has also made all 32 extra points.

Parkey and Crosby will kick opposite each other at Lambeau Field and barring a snowstorm in Wisconsin, the game has “shootout” written all over it. In other words, it will be a field goal kicker’s dream.

As for Caleb Sturgis, he has made 8-of-9 field goals over the past three weeks and all eight extra points. He should continue to see a lot of attempts against Buffalo on Thursday and nail them in warm Miami.

Rookie Chandler Catanzaro finally missed a field goal after hitting the first 17 attempts of his career. The miss came right after Carson Palmer suffered his ACL injury, so perhaps Catanzaro wasn’t in the right mind set to kick a 53-yard field goal. He should continue to start in every league.

After two subpar fantasy weeks, Matt Bryant hit four field goals and an extra point to return to fantasy relevancy. The Falcons’ offense should continue to benefit from the weak division schedule down the stretch.

Top-25 Kicker Rankings

———————————

1) Stephen Gostkowski, New England

2) Adam Vinatieri, Indianapolis

3) Cody Parkey, Philadelphia

4) Caleb Sturgis, Miami

5) Mason Crosby, Green Bay

6) Brandon McManus, Denver

7) Steven Hauschka, Seattle

8) Chandler Catanzaro, Arizona

9) Matt Prater, Detroit

10) Shayne Graham, New Orleans

11) Shaun Suisham, Pittsburgh

12) Nick Novak, San Diego

13) Blair Walsh, Minnesota

14) Matt Bryant, Atlanta

15) Phil Dawson, San Francisco

16) Dan Carpenter, Buffalo

17) Cairo Santos, Kansas City

18) Billy Cundiff, Cleveland

19) Josh Brown, New York Giants

20) Kai Forbath, Washington

21) Randy Bullock, Houston

22) Patrick Murray, Tampa Bay

23) Graham Gano, Carolina

24) Mike Nugent, Cincinnati

25) Greg Zuerlein, St. Louis


►  Week 11 player fantasy rankings - defense

It is hard to come by a really juicy matchup for any defense in Week 11. The top defensive units all seem to have tough matchups and the bottom offensive units face below average defenses.

As we have advised before, it is a better move to go with a good fantasy defense against a good offense than a below average defense versus a poor offense.

That’s why the Cardinals, Eagles, Lions and Patriots all land in the top 10 on this week’s rankings.

Arizona and Detroit play each other and both offenses give the ball away fewer than 1.35 times per game. Actually, only New England has fewer giveaways than Arizona. But on defense, Detroit is third in yards allowed per game and Arizona is third in takeaways. Do not be afraid to start either defense.

The Eagles defense scored an incredible 31 fantasy points in standard leagues on Monday night against the Panthers. It will be difficult to repeat that against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, who are fresh off drubbing the rival Chicago. With the Eagles ability to score on special teams, however, fantasy owners cannot afford to sit them.

Philadelphia has an unbelievable nine return touchdowns in the first nine games of 2014. Their defense is boom-or-bust in fantasy, but more often than not, it is a boom.

The Patriots defense has a tough matchup against Indianapolis, but in Andrew Luck’s two career starts against New England, he has thrown four touchdowns and seven interceptions. Even though this will be the first time Luck faces the Patriots at home, New England’s defense is still a solid start in Week 11.

Minnesota is the sleeper defense of the week. The Vikings are coming off their bye and have 20 sacks in their last four games. They are poised for another big day against the battered Bears.

Although Seattle’s defense has averaged over 11 fantasy points the last three weeks, the Seahawks still score nearly six more fantasy points at home than on the road. The matchup in Kansas City is not a favorable one.

The offenses in Washington and Tampa Bay have struggled, while their defenses rank in the bottom-10 in fantasy points allowed this season. Something has to give.

Top-25 Defense/Special Teams Rankings

——————————————————-

1) Miami Dolphins

2) Denver Broncos

3) Arizona Cardinals

4) Philadelphia Eagles

5) Detroit Lions

6) Buffalo Bills

7) New England Patriots

8) San Francisco 49ers

9) Minnesota Vikings

10) Kansas City Chiefs

11) Cleveland Browns

12) Pittsburgh Steelers

13) Houston Texans

14) Washington Redskins

15) San Diego Chargers

16) Green Bay Packers

17) New York Giants

18) New Orleans Saints

19) Tampa Bay Buccaneers

20) Tennessee Titans

21) Seattle Seahawks

22) Atlanta Falcons

23) Indianapolis Colts

24) Carolina Panthers

25) St. Louis Rams



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Nothin’ but Net: Might be time to rethink the plan

It’s amazing what a 53-point loss will do to the mind.

Count me in the group officially questioning Sam Hinkie’s plan for the Philadelphia 76ers. What were once hypothetical questions you figured would get answered in time, have become legitimate roadblocks to future success.

I didn’t see the warts. I saw an interesting rebuild. I still believe that. I had reservations, but now, it’s so easy to be down on the Sixers. They’ve earned it.

And all because the 76ers lost a professional (at least halfway professional) basketball game by 53 points.

That’s humiliating. It’s shameful. Talent is talent, yes, but to lose by 53 indicated an organizational failure.

Where’s the teaching moment in that? What did these young kids, who probably quit about four minutes into this game, learn from this? Was there any other outcome but personal shame? Is that necessary when the Sixers are certainly well-versed in the lessons learned from losing?

The Sixers can thank Hinkie for that. The abstract outlines of the plan remain solid. Be bad, get good picks, make correct picks, excel in time, party down Broad Street.

There’s more to it than that. Hinkie is failing at the little moves and the little moves, my friends, they are what can kill you.

With millions and millions of dollars freed up, it’s curious why Hinkie never tried to acquire any kind of veterans to help these kids out. Head coach Brett Brown is a fabulous teacher and someone who knows the score about what his team is trying to do. But there are no professional, experienced players on this roster, with all due respect to Luc Mbah a Moute, who could instruct these young players on the little details.

This is not a suggestion that the Sixers should have wasted money on a long- term deal for Shawn Marion, or Mo Williams. However, a larger veteran presence could help teach these pups that bagging a game four minutes into it provides no benefit. Anything, any veteran could impart on this Sixers’ roster would be valuable.

Hinkie hasn’t appeared interested in going down that road. He sold veterans for second-round picks. Trading the likes of Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes made sense. Getting nothing but second-round picks in exchange was almost getting nothing. This isn’t the NFL where guys go to the Hall of Fame from the second round.

Know where guys go who get selected in the second round of the NBA Draft? Istanbul.

Those second-round assets are nowhere to be seen at this point, other than K.J. McDaniels, who looks decent. These “assets” are stashed overseas like a mobster’s money and why couldn’t any of them play on a roster loaded with Chris Johnson, Henry Sims, Brandon Davies and Alexey Shved?

Interesting question. Can’t be about playing time. There’s plenty of it available with the current roster composition. Do they provide value to the team, or were they just taken because the Sixers had to draft someone? Are the Sixers concerned the second-rounders will help them win games? Should Philly want to let these investments toil on the big stage instead of the aforementioned stiffs who won’t be in town next season?

From a basketball perspective, the specifics of the plan are dicier than Yahtzee. There are no guarantees on players, obviously, but the Sixers are selecting injured players so frequently, you wonder if Hinkie is actually an evil medical doctor interested in experimentation on athletes’ legs.

Nerlens Noel missed all of last season after an ACL tear at Kentucky. Joel Embiid is most likely going to miss this season with a foot injury. That’s a dangerous amount of injured pieces to plug in, not just the lineup, but to plug in as cornerstone building blocks.

Embiid appears injury-prone. Noel missed two games this season already. Michael Carter-Williams, the third piece of the pie, had shoulder surgery. Injuries happen. The Sixers need to be a little weary of this as a potential albatross.

Once healthy, if you like this nucleus or not, it’s going to be a large team. Carter-Williams is listed at 6-foot-6. That’s big for a point guard and Embiid and Noel will be two centers on the floor at once. Throw in 6-foot-10 Dario Saric, a perfect Sixers prospect since he won’t be playing for the team for years, and that group will be the tallest in the league.

Never mind that at least two of them will be playing out of position (one center will be a forward and Saric will play small forward when he’s a power forward), the Sixers will be huge in an era dominated by point guards and wings. The NBA is no longer a big-man league and the Sixers better pray they make the trends revert back.

All of these flaws are real and potentially perilous. Nothing can stop the biggest anchor that will doom Hinkie’s hopes and a city’s patience - this is a loser franchise.

The label was meant literally, not as harsh as it sounds. No one in the Sixers could argue the point, they are the ones trying to lose games. Thus, losing is what now defines the Philadelphia 76ers.

What free agent will want to come here? Unless Embiid becomes Hakeem Olajuwon, this organization has branded itself a loser, so the players of this league laugh at the Sixers. They laugh at 53-point losses. The Sixers will have buckets of cash to throw at people and no one will come. There is no building block stud, unless, again, Embiid pans out spectacularly.

What are the Sixers telling their dwindling, yet passionate fan base? Essentially the message is, accept losing because it’ll work out in the end. Hopefully.

I was a supporter, never swayed by the arguments against the Sixers’ plan.

My father asks why anyone would go. My predecessor, John McMullen, first theorized about the lack of development for these second-round guys, and my friend Matt, who was in Dallas and went to that pitiful debacle Thursday night, articulated the point about veterans. (Size of team was always a theory of mine.)

These points have been made before, but I dismissed, keeping my eyes firmly on the future prize. Now, I doubt anyone can be totally on board, not after 53- point losses. People can stomach setback in the infancy of something grander. People can’t stomach something wretched going on for years.

I’m still a tentative believer in what Hinkie is doing, but this plan needs some reworking.

RANDOM THOUGHTS

- Derrick Rose brought all of these questions about his dedication and commitment on himself. By not playing two seasons ago, despite the Bulls declaring him healthy, and the comments about his life after basketball, Rose has invited all to question his desire. I think Rose wants to play and wants to win. He’s injury-prone. That happens, but when you see some old-time football players who can’t walk because of what they played through, it makes Rose look softish.

- Commissioner Adam Silver’s feeling about legalized gambling is progressive. People in charge of sports need to stop acting like gambling is the worst thing in the world. Fantasy sports is ostensibly gambling, yet the leagues love it. The NBA acknowledges things like this better than other leagues. They bought into FanDuel, which is a daily fantasy sports site.

- I don’t care what inside handshake Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving have. I don’t care what it looks like or what it means. Anything to bring twirling a mustache back into society, I say. Been too long. Rollie Fingers and pirates.

- The NBA will release jerseys with first names on the back TO SELL THEM AND MAKE MORE MONEY. You know this people. Take a stand this time. Don’t buy a jersey because it says “Kevin.“ There are a billion Kevins.

- Finally, after Michele Roberts took a blowtorch to NBA owners, and Silver responded strongly, is there any chance we aren’t headed to a labor dispute in a few years?

- Movie moment - I’ve written before that “Dumb and Dumber To” is a brilliant title. I have almost no expectations for this movie, so one big laugh might be enough for me.

- TV moment - “Oh man, can’t believe TNT canceled ‘Franklin & Bash,‘“ said no one, not even Franklin, or Bash.  ~~  Jim Brighters ~~


►  NBA Game Results

(Friday, November 14)


Final Score: Denver 108, Indiana 87

Arron Afflalo led a balanced scoring attack with 17 points as the Denver Nuggets snapped a six-game losing streak with a thorough 108-87 victory over the Indiana Pacers. The Nuggets won their season opener against Detroit two weeks ago and proceeded to lose six in a row by an average of 13.3 points, including an embarrassing home loss to Portland on Wednesday when they surrendered 84 points in the first half alone. The table was turned on Friday, as Denver committed just eight turnovers, shot 49.4 percent from the floor and led by as many as 33. Seven Nuggets scored in double figures. Ty Lawson totaled 11 points and 10 assists while Wilson Chandler and Gary Harris each chipped in with 13 points. A.J. Price’s 14 points led the way for Indiana.


Final Score: Orlando 101, Milwaukee 85

Tobias Harris had 26 points and 10 rebounds as the Orlando Magic defeated the Milwaukee Bucks, 101-85, on Friday night. Nik Vucevic posted 18 points and nine rebounds and Evan Fournier netted 15 points for the Magic, who have won four of their last six games on the heels of an 0-4 start. Victor Oladipo made his season debut after missing the first nine games, and tallied 13 points. Oladipo has had a pair of injuries, first spraining his MCL during a Magic team scrimmage last month and then suffering a facial fracture during practice a few days prior to the start of the season. Brandon Knight provided 24 points, six boards and five assists, while Giannis Antetokounmpo added 19 points and seven rebounds for Milwaukee, which had a brief two-game winning streak snapped. Milwaukee has lost 17 straight at Orlando.


Final Score: Atlanta 114, Miami 103

Paul Millsap scored 19 points with nine rebounds to lead eight Atlanta players in double figures, and the Hawks defeated the Miami Heat, 114-103, on Friday. Al Horford also tallied 19 with six rebounds and four assists and Jeff Teague supplied 16 points with nine assists for Atlanta, which has won four straight. Thabo Sefolosha, Shelvin Mack and Kyle Korver each deposited 12 points, while Mike Scott and Dennis Schroder added 11 and 10, respectively, as the Hawks shot 42-of-75 as a team. Mario Chalmers led the Heat with 23 points to go along with 11 assists, Shawne Williams had 21 points and Chris Bosh finished with 20 points with eight rebounds. Chalmers played a bigger role for Miami because Dwyane Wade rested his sore right knee.


Final Score: Cleveland 122, Boston 121

LeBron James scored a season-high 41 points and the Cleveland Cavaliers overcame a 19-point deficit in the fourth quarter to beat the Boston Celtics 122-121 on Friday night. Kyrie Irving scored 15 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter for Cleveland, including 12 during a big run, but missed a one-handed floater to give the ball back to Boston with seven seconds remaining and a chance to win the game. But Celtics guard Rajon Rondo bobbled his dribble against Shawn Marion at the other end and didn’t get a shot off before the buzzer, giving Cavaliers coach and Boston native David Blatt a win in his first game in his home town. Anderson Varejao scored 16 and Kevin Love had 12 points and 15 rebounds for the Cavaliers, who have won three in a row since a 1-3 start. James scored a season high four days after going for 32 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists against New Orleans. (He was originally credited with a triple-double before the NBA took back one rebound and one assist.) Kelly Olynyk scored 21 points in a well-balanced attack for the Celtics, who have lost two in a row to open a three-game homestand.


Final Score: Utah 102, New York 100

Trey Burke hit a turnaround jumper at the buzzer for the game-winning points as the Utah Jazz posted a 102-100 decision over the reeling New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks were dealt a seventh consecutive loss despite 46 points from Carmelo Anthony, the last three coming on a contested step-back shot with 2.3 seconds remaining that forged a 100-100 tie. Utah then got the ball to Burke out of a timeout and the second-year guard knocked down a 19-footer with J.R. Smith’s hand in his face to halt Utah’s two-game skid. Burke finished with 13 points and Gordon Hayward poured in 33 for the Jazzwith Derrick Favors contributing a 21- point double-double of 21 points and 12 rebounds to the victory.


Final Score: Houston 88, Philadelphia 87

The Philadelphia 76ers will presumably win a game this season, but the Houston Rockets made sure they were not their first victim by surviving the NBA’s only winless club in an 88-87 thriller Friday. James Harden made a go-ahead layup with 9.0 seconds remaining, and Michael Carter-Williams missed a potential game-winner at the buzzer to end a surprisingly tight contest. The embattled Sixers, whose overt rebuilding strategy has produced a bevy of detractors, went into Toyota Center and stood toe-to-toe with a one-loss Houston club following an embarrassing 123-70 loss in Dallas the night before. They led 87-84 after a Tony Wroten 3-pointer and had the ball with under 40 seconds to play, but turnovers on consecutive possessions—their 25th and 26th of the night—doomed their chances for an upset. Harden made two free throws to pull the Rockets within one, 87-86, then used a high screen from Dwight Howard to drive for the eventual winning basket. Carter-Williams’ miss from just above the right elbow sent the Sixers to 0-9. Harden finished with 35 points, and Howard totaled 21 points, 16 rebounds and seven blocks for Houston, which improved to 8-1. Wroten paced the Sixes with 19 points and eight assists.


Final Score: New Orleans 139, Minnesota 91

Jrue Holiday scored 24 points with nine assists to lead the New Orleans Pelicans to their best offensive game in franchise history, a 139-91 rout of the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday. Anthony Davis deposited 22 points, Austin Rivers supplied 17 and Tyreke Evans added 16 for the Pelicans, who set franchise records for points in a game, points in a half, margin of victory and field goal percentage (66.7). They also tied the franchise mark with 15 3-pointers made. Ryan Anderson made four of those 3s in his 16-point effort, while Luke Babbitt and Eric Gordon added 12 and 11 points, respectively. Andrew Wiggins paced the Timberwolves with 20 points and Corey Brewer netted 18 off the bench. Minnesota has lost four straight overall and three in a row in New Orleans.


Final Score: Detroit 96, Oklahoma City 89 (OT)

Brandon Jennings scored eight of his game-high 29 points in overtime to send Detroit to a 96-89 triumph over Oklahoma City on Friday night. Josh Smith ended with 18 points and Greg Monroe tallied 14 points with nine rebounds for the Pistons, who snapped a 10-game skid to the Thunder. It was their first victory against Oklahoma City since Dec. 26, 2008. Jeremy Lamb notched the first double-double of his career with 24 points and 10 rebounds, but the Thunder failed to build on a 15-point comeback win at Boston Wednesday night. Reggie Jackson had 20 points and 12 assists, and Serge Ibaka chipped in 19 points and 10 rebounds. Oklahoma City went 12-of-36 from 3-point range and made just 1-of-6 from the foul line.


Final Score: Charlotte 103, Phoenix 95

Kemba Walker scored 19 points and the Charlotte Hornets pulled away for a 103-95 win over the Phoenix Suns on Friday night to snap a five-game losing streak in the series. Gary Neal scored 12 of his 14 points in a big fourth quarter for the Hornets, including a pair of 3- pointers during a 12-2 run that gave them a 10-point lead with six minutes left. The Suns, who led by as many as 14 in the game, got as close as four down the stretch but three straight layups by Charlotte and four free throws from Neal sealed the Hornets’ first road win of the season (1-4). Al Jefferson also scored 14 and Lance Stephenson had 13 points for Charlotte, which hadn’t beaten Phoenix since Jan. 26, 2011. Bismack Biyombo chipped in 11 points and 10 rebounds in the win, Charlotte’s first in three games. Eric Bledsoe had 22 points and 11 rebounds for the Suns and Marcus Morris had 17 points. Markieff Morris, Miles Plumlee and Goran Dragic scored 12 apiece in the loss, which dropped Phoenix to 2-3 on a five-game homestand after two straight wins. The Suns bench was outscored 43-20 by Charlotte’s.


Final Score: San Antonio 93, LA Lakers 80

San Antonio’s defense blanketed Kobe Bryant, holding the NBA’s leading scorer to single digits on a night the Spurs dominated the Los Angeles Lakers. Tim Duncan registered 13 points and 11 rebounds and the Spurs won 93-80 Friday night at Staples Center. Cory Joseph had 14 points, Kawhi Leonard scored 12 and Tony Parker chipped in 11 points and nine assists for the defending NBA champions, who have won three in a row since a 2-3 start to the season. Bryant, who entered play averaging 27.5 points per game, was limited to just nine on 1-of-14 shooting from the field. He missed all five of his 3-point attempts. Carlos Boozer scored 19 and Jordan Hill had 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Lakers, who fell to 1-8 on the season, their worst start in franchise history. Jeremy Lin had 15 points for Los Angeles, which shot 37.3 percent from the field. Bryant was 0-for-10 entering the fourth quarter.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  NHL Game Results

(Friday, November 14)


Final Score: Columbus 4, Philadelphia 3

James Wisniewski and Nick Foligno each scored two goals to give the Columbus Blue Jackets a much-needed 4-3 victory in Scott Hartnell’s return to Philadelphia. Hartnell spent seven seasons in Philadelphia before getting shipped to Columbus in June for fellow forward R. J. Umberger and a fourth-round draft pick. Umberger, who is in his second stint with the Flyers, spent six seasons with the Blue Jackets. The crowd gave Hartnell, who ended with six shots, a standing ovation midway through the first period when the Flyers played a video tribute of his highlights in a Philadelphia uniform. Curtis McElhinney stopped 24-of-27 shots for the Blue Jackets, who snapped a nine-game skid. Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek and Michael Del Zotto lit the lamp for the Flyers, who had a three-game winning streak snapped. Steve Mason, a former Blue Jacket, made 34 saves.


Final Score: New Jersey 1, Washington 0

Cory Schneider made 30 saves to backstop the visiting New Jersey Devils to a 1-0 win over the Washington Capitals on Friday. Schneider, who was pulled after giving up five goals in a 6-2 loss in the Devils’ last trip to Verizon Center on Oct. 16, registered his first shutout of the season and 13th of his career. Mike Cammalleri supplied the lone goal as New Jersey won its second straight after a four-game slide. The loss snapped Washington’s win streak at three games. Braden Holtby played well in defeat, making 27 saves.


Final Score: Pittsburgh 2, Toronto 1

Thomas Greiss stopped 30 shots to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins in a 2-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday. Pascal Dupuis had both goals for the Penguins, who were coming off a 5-0 loss to the New York Rangers on Tuesday. Cody Franson had the lone goal of the game for the Maple Leafs, who had a three-game winning streak stopped. Jonathan Bernier allowed both goals on 41 shots.


Final Score: Detroit 4, Chicago 1

Luke Glendening tallied a goal and an assist to lead the Detroit Red Wings to a 4-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday. Johan Franzen, Tomas Tatar and Brendan Smith also scored for Detroit, which was coming off a four-day rest since suffering a 4-3 shootout loss to Tampa Bay on Sunday. Jimmy Howard made 25 saves in the win. Patrick Kane supplied Chicago’s lone marker and Corey Crawford made 33 saves in defeat. The Blackhawks suffered their first regulation loss in Detroit since Dec. 8, 2009 and had registered a point in 12 straight games, dating back to the start of the 2011-12 season.


Final Score: NY Islanders 4, Florida 3 (SO)

The New York Islanders gave up a goal, but they extended their winning streak. Kyle Okposo scored the decisive shootout goal as the Islanders beat the Florida Panthers 4-3 on Friday. The second New York shooter, Okposo deked and slipped the puck past Roberto Luongo. Jaroslav Halak then turned away bids from Jussi Jokinen and Brad Boyes to secure the extra point. John Tavares, Ryan Strome and Nikolay Kulemin scored for the Islanders, who posted their fifth straight victory and tied a franchise record by winning 11 of their first 16 games. Halak, coming off consecutive shutouts, finished with 35 saves. The Panthers erased a 3-1 deficit in the third period on goals from Brian Campbell and 2014 No. 1 draft pick Aaron Ekblad. Luongo stopped 31 shots for Florida, which has dropped four of its last five games.


Final Score: Arizona 5, Vancouver 0

Martin Hanzal notched a hat trick and Devan Dubnyk posted a 35-save shutout to lead the Arizona Coyotes in a 5-0 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Friday. Keith Yandle had a goal and two assists while Shane Doan also lit the lamp for the Coyotes, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Ryan Miller allowed all five goals on 23 shots for the Canucks, who had won four of five coming in. Hanzal scored his first goal at 14:56 of the first period as Yandle brought the puck down the right wing and passed it over to the left circle, where Hanzal wristed it home.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Pirates sign A.J. Burnett

After a one year separation, the Pittsburgh Pirates signed free agent right-handed pitcher A.J. Burnett on Friday.

The one-year deal is reportedly worth $8.5 million.

Burnett, 37, pitched for the Pirates from 2012-13, helping them to their first winning season and playoff appearance since 1992. In those two seasons, he compiled a 26-21 record, totaling 393 1/3 innings over 61 starts. He struck out 389 batters in that span and led the National League in strikeouts per nine innings in 2013.

In 2014, Burnett pitched for the Philadelphia Phillies but was not as successful. Despite leading the National League with 34 starts, he also led with 18 losses, 96 walks and a career high 109 earned runs allowed. He had an 8-18 record and 190 strikeouts in 213 2/3 innings. Last month, Burnett underwent hernia surgery after suffering an injury in April that he managed to pitch through during the season.


►  Rangers extend contracts for Daniels and Levine

The Texas Rangers announced contract extensions for president of baseball operations and general manager Jon Daniels and assistant general manager Thad Levine on Friday.

According to multiple reports, the new deal keeps both under contract with the Rangers through 2018.

Daniels, who joined the Rangers organization in 2002, was named general manager in 2005. The youngest general manager when he started in 2005, Daniels was promoted to president of baseball operations in 2013.

His tenure with the team includes three playoff appearances and two American League pennants.

Levine was hired by Daniels to be an assistant general manager in 2005, and in the wake of assistant general manager A.J. Preller being hired by the San Diego Padres, Levine will take on an expanded role in the front office.

“Getting our baseball leadership secured for the foreseeable future was a top priority this offseason and very important for the continuity of the organization,“ commented Rangers Co-Chairmen Ray Davis and Bob Simpson. “Under Jon’s and Thad’s leadership, the Rangers have created a strong overall organization that has combined major league success with a productive scouting and player development operation over a number of years. Jon and Thad are skilled executives who are well respected around the game and completely committed to once again delivering a winning team for our fans.“

Over the last five seasons, the Rangers’ 437-374 record gives them the sixth best winning percentage in the majors during that span. Prior to this past season’s 67-95 record, the Rangers won 90 games in four consecutive years.


►  Cubs, Cardinals to open 2015 season on Sunday night

The Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals will play Major League Baseball’s 2015 season opener on Sunday night, April 5.

The long-time rivals were originally set to start the season on Monday, April 6, but will now do so in a nationally televised, stand-alone game on ESPN2. The game is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. ET.

It will be the first season-opening night game in Wrigley Field history.

The teams will then take Monday off before resuming the three-game series on Tuesday and concluding it on Wednesday afternoon. The original schedule called for Monday afternoon and Tuesday off before games on Wednesday and Thursday.


►  Tigers, Victor Martinez agree to terms

The Detroit Tigers re-signed designated hitter Victor Martinez to a four-year contract on Friday.

The team did not disclose financial terms, but multiple reports indicate that it’s worth $68 million.

Martinez, who turns 36 on Dec. 23, is coming off a career season in which he batted .335 with a career-high 32 home runs and 103 RBI in 151 games. He was named to his fifth All-Star team, won his second Silver Slugger and finished second in the AL MVP voting to Mike Trout.

“Victor’s presence both on the field and in the clubhouse is an essential part of this club,“ Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. “I have never seen a hitter more focused in the batter’s box than Victor, and I couldn’t be more excited to welcome him back.“

Detroit general manager Dave Dombrowski stated Tuesday that inking Martinez was the team’s top priority this offseason.

“Victor is one of the premier hitters in the league and we are thrilled that he will continue his career in a Tigers uniform,“ Dombrowski said. “His production in the middle of our lineup and veteran leadership are invaluable to our ballclub.“

The Tigers originally signed Martinez to a four-year contract prior to the 2011 season. Detroit extended a qualifying offer to Martinez in October, ensuring it would receive draft pick compensation if he were to sign elsewhere.


►  Nats agree to terms with Frandsen

The Washington Nationals have agreed to terms on a one-year contract with utility man Kevin Frandsen, avoiding salary arbitration.

Frandsen joined the Nationals last March and batted .259 in 105 games last season, leading the club with 11 pinch hits. He started 42 games, playing mostly third base, second base, left field and first base.

The 32-year-old veteran is a career .259 hitter with 15 homers and 110 RBI in 507 big league games over eight seasons with the Nationals, Phillies, Angels and Giants.


►  Japanese stars rough up Iwakuma

Seattle Mariners right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma made the start for the Major League Baseball All-Stars against his countrymen in Game 2 of the 2014 Japan Series and was promptly knocked around in an 8-4 win for Samurai Japan on Friday.

Iwakuma, who pitched 11 seasons in Japan before joining the Mariners in 2012, was tagged for five runs on 10 hits in just four innings. Fellow Japanese MLB All-Star Tsuyoshi Wada of the Chicago Cubs surrendered a homer to Nobuhiro Matsuda in his 1 2/3 innings of relief.

Yuki Yanagita went 3-for-4 with a walk and four runs batted in, finishing a homer shy of the cycle, and Ryosuke Kikuchi added three hits with two RBI for Samurai Japan, which also took the opener of the five-game series on Wednesday by a 2-0 score.

Iwakuma worked around a Kikuchi single in the first inning and retired the first two batters of the second. Matsuda, Ginju Akaminai and Hikaru Itoh followed with consecutive singles to produce one run and Yanagita tripled two more home for a 3-0 lead.

The MLB stars, who mustered just three hits in the opener, answered in the bottom of the second when Justin Morneau followed an Evan Longoria single with a home run. Ben Zobrist tripled to lead off the third and scored on a Jose Altuve grounder to tie it, but Japan scored twice more in the fourth to move in front for good.

Matsuda again started the rally with a one-out single and Itoh singled with two outs. Yanagita’s base hit chased home a run and Kikuchi added another RBI single for a 5-3 lead. Yanagita walked with two outs in the sixth against Rob Wooten, stole second and scored on a Kikuchi single for a three-run advantage.

Matsuda’s lead off homer in the eighth was later followed by a Yanagita RBI double to make it 8-3. Zobrist doubled in the bottom of the inning and scored the final run of the game on a single by Robinson Cano.

Chihiro Kaneko picked up the win for Samurai Japan, allowing three runs on three hits with two walks and five strikeouts in five innings.

The series continues Saturday and Sunday at the Tokyo Dome before concluding on Tuesday in Sapporo.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Homestead: Who will become a first-time Sprint Cup champion?

One thing is for sure, NASCAR will have a new champion in its premier series when Sunday’s season-ending race has concluded at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Who that champion will be is anyone’s guess.

Four drivers—Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano and Ryan Newman—enter the last race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, the Championship Round, with 5,000 points each. They are the final four in the first year of NASCAR’s new playoff format for the Sprint Cup Series.

Prior to the start of this season, NASCAR radically changed the Chase format by expanding the field of drivers to 16 and including a series of elimination rounds to determine its champion.

Following last weekend’s elimination race in the Eliminator Round, held at Phoenix, Hamlin, Harvick, Logano and Newman clinched the final four spots for the Championship Round.

Harvick had been last in the eight-driver Chase point standings for the Eliminator Round, but his victory at Phoenix automatically advanced him into the Championship Round.

The highest finisher among these four drivers in Sunday’s 400-mile race at Homestead will win his first Sprint Cup championship. Bonus points for laps led will not apply in this event, so the official finishing position alone will decide the title.

“I think the biggest key for this whole scenario is you’re not behind,“ Harvick said. “You’re on even footing with the other three guys. So for us, I think we’ve had a great year. We’ve led a bunch of laps and won races and done what we’ve needed to do, and all in all, it’s just been a great year. Looking forward to Sunday afternoon.“

Harvick, in his first season driving for Stewart-Haas Racing, has four wins, including two in the Chase, and 19 top-10 finishes in 2014. His total of 2,083 laps led this year is more than any other driver. Harvick has also finished higher than Hamlin, Logano and Newman in 11 races, which is the most of the final four.

Logano was the highest finisher of the four in 10 races. Hamlin did it in eight events, and Newman in six.

If Harvick wins the championship, he would join Bobby Labonte and Brad Keselowski as the only drivers who have claimed titles in both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series. He would also give SHR its second Sprint Cup championship in the organization’s six-year history. Tony Stewart delivered SHR’s first title in 2011.

In the first nine Chase races this season, Logano has the best average finish—5.3. Two of his five wins this year have occurred in the playoffs. But Logano has the worst previous statistics of the four title contenders at Homestead, finishing in the top-10 here only once in five starts. His eighth- place run at this 1.5-mile track last year came in his first season driving for Team Penske.

Of the 10 Sprint Cup races contested on mile and a halfs this season, Logano has recorded two wins (Texas in April and Kansas in October), six top-five finishes and seven top-10s.

“Just go race,“ Logano said. “Our team motto all year has been ‘Do What You Do.‘ What we have done is go out there and raced our guts out and gotten the best finish we can no matter what the race deals us. We have been able to do that.

“We have fought hard, and last week (at Phoenix), we had a little mishap and were able to overcome that. I finished sixth after all that. This week, we can’t make mistakes, but if we do, we do whatever we can to overcome them. We take whatever the race will throw at us and find a way to make it happen. That is the same thing we have been doing all year. We won’t change a thing.“

If Logano wins the championship, at age 24 years, 5 months and 23 days old, he would become the third youngest driver to do so. Bill Rexford set the record in 1950 when he won his first title at the age of 23 years, 7 months, and 15 days. Jeff Gordon is next in line, claiming his 1995 championship when he was 24 years, 3 months, and 8 days old.

Hamlin is the only one of the four that has won a Sprint Cup race at Homestead in the past. His first victory here occurred in 2009. Winless in the first 35 races last year, Hamlin took the checkered flag at this track to salvage his streak of winning at least one race in each of his eight full seasons in the series. He has been with Joe Gibbs Racing since his Cup career began.

In 2010, Hamlin entered the season-finale at Homestead with the points lead. But he started 37th and spun out in the early going, which led to a 14th-place finish. Jimmie Johnson placed second in that race and clinched his record- extending fifth straight championship.

“It’s about execution and not making mistakes, and all these teams (in the Championship Round) have made some kind of mistake throughout this Chase,“ Hamlin said. “Of the four of us, your winner is probably going to be the one that doesn’t make any mistakes. It’s a fully-executed race from pit stops to pit lane to restarts and obviously green-flag speed, so hopefully all the pieces of the puzzle of that are put together.“

Unable to compete in Fontana, California in March due to an injury caused by a piece of metal lodged into the back of his eye, Hamlin can become the first driver in NASCAR’s top series to miss a race and still win the championship. Richard Petty missed two races but captured the title in 1971.

Hamlin can also deliver Toyota its first Sprint Cup championship.

His lone victory this season happened in May at Talladega.

In his first season with Richard Childress Racing, Newman has yet to win a race this year but consistency has got him to this point in the championship battle.

During the final lap at Phoenix, Newman was on the verge of being eliminated from the Chase, but he bumped into rookie Kyle Larson while the two were battling for position, causing Larson to make contact with the wall in turn 4. Newman went on to finish 11th, allowing him to advance into the Championship Round by only one point over Gordon.

Newman has been an underdog throughout the Chase. He squeaked into the playoffs, clinching the 16th and final spot following his ninth-place run in the regular-season-ending race at Richmond in September.

“We’ve gone into every race with the intention of winning it and leading the most laps and winning the pole and everything else that goes along with it,“ Newman said. “We just haven’t been as successful as some of these other guys. But our consistency has been there, so we just have to be there at the end.“

If Newman were to win the championship, he would be the only driver other than Dale Earnhardt to claim a title for RCR in the series. Earnhardt won six of his seven championships with RCR. Earnhardt’s last title with the team occurred in 1994.

No matter where Newman finishes at Homestead, he will achieve his career-best finish in points. His previous high in points was sixth—a feat he achieved three times (2002, ‘03 and ‘06).

Forty-three teams are on the entry list for the Ford EcoBoost 400.

Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup. Date: Sunday, Nov. 16. Race: Ford EcoBoost 400. Site: Homestead-Miami Speedway. Track: 1.5-mile oval. Start time: 3 p.m. ET. Laps: 267. Miles: 400.5. 2013 Winner: Denny Hamlin. Television: ESPN. Radio: Motor Racing Network (MRN)/SIRIUS NASCAR Radio.


►  Crafton aiming for his second straight Truck Series title

No driver has ever won back-to-back championships in the Camping World Truck Series since its inception in 1995.

That could change on Friday night, as the series concludes its season at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Matt Crafton is in position to become the first driver to win consecutive titles in the series. If Crafton finishes 21st or better, or 22nd with at least one lap led, or 23rd and the most laps led, he will clinch the championship, regardless of any other driver’s performance.

Crafton, the driver of the No. 88 Toyota for ThorSport Racing, enters the season-finale with a 25-point lead over second-place Ryan Blaney.

Last year, Crafton clinched his first truck championship by a 40-point margin over Ty Dillon, who is now a rookie in the Nationwide Series. Crafton won the title despite a 21st-place finish at Homestead. He came to this South Florida track with a 46-point advantage over Dillon, which meant he only needed to start the race to clinch.

Crafton will need to do more than just start this race to secure the championship, so how confident is he in his attempt to win a second straight title?

“It’s something I haven’t thought about, something I don’t really put a lot of thought into,“ Crafton said. “If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it wasn’t meant to be.“

Crafton, a 38-year-old Tulare, California native, has scored two wins (Martinsville in March and Texas in June), 13 top-five finishes and 16 top-10s in 21 races this season. In 2013, he recorded only one victory (Kansas) but had 16 consecutive top-10 finishes to open the season. He also set a series record as the only driver who finished on the lead lap in each of the 22 races, completing all 3,391 laps run during the season.

“I feel a ton less pressure on me,“ Crafton said of contending for this year’s championship compared to last year. “There is not one sleepless night that I’ve worried about if we’re going to win this championship, how can we screw this thing up, how can we lose this thing. Last year, every two hours I would wake up from about mid-season on, but now, if it’s meant to be it will be.

“It’s all about having fast trucks, and we’ve had some very, very fast race trucks this year.“

Crafton has finished outside the top-20 in just two races this season—23rd at Dover and 26th at Gateway. Both of those finishes were due to accidents. Last Friday, he placed second to Erik Jones at Phoenix.

Blaney, the 20-year-old son of NASCAR veteran Dave Blaney, is in his second full-season as driver of the No. 29 Ford for Brad Keselowski Racing. He has one win (Canada in August), 11 top-five finishes and 16 top-10s.

“If we don’t win the championship, it’s been a good year for us,“ Blaney said. “It’s been great to be able to work with Brad Keselowski Racing again and even be in contention for it. For all (team owner) Brad (Keselowski) has done with me, the best thing I can do is to try to win a championship for him and (crew chief) Chad (Kendrick) and everyone at the race shop has done a great job putting us in the spots where hopefully we can even be in contention.“

If Blaney were to win the title, he would become the youngest champion in series history.

Thirty-six teams are on the entry list for the Ford EcoBoost 200. Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson are those Sprint Cup regulars scheduled to compete in this race. Busch won last year’s event at Homestead.

Series: NASCAR Camping World. Date: Friday, Nov. 14. Race: Ford EcoBoost 200. Site: Homestead-Miami Speedway. Track: 1.5-mile oval. Start time: 8 p.m. ET. Laps: 134. Miles: 201. 2013 Winner: Kyle Busch. Television: FOX Sports 1. Radio: Motor Racing Network (MRN)/SIRIUS NASCAR Radio.

The Gilmer Free Press


SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2014


National Basketball Association
Orlando at Washington, 7:00 PM - FS-Florida, CSN-DC, DSS
Utah at Toronto, 7:30 PM - ROOT-Northwest, SNET-One, DSS
Atlanta at Cleveland, 7:30 PM - SportSouth, FS-Ohio, DSS
Indiana at Chicago, 8:00 PM - FS-Indiana, WGN, DSS
Detroit at Memphis, 8:00 PM - FS-Detroit, SportSouth, DSS
Minnesota at Dallas, 8:30 PM - FS-North, Southwest, DSS
Brooklyn at Portland, 10:00 PM - YES, CSN-Northwest, NBA TV, DSS
San Antonio at Sacramento, 10:00 PM - FS-Southwest, CSN-California, DSS
Phoenix at LA Clippers, 10:30 PM - FS-Arizona, Prime Ticket, DSS
Charlotte at Golden State, 10:30 PM - SportSouth, CSN-Bay, DSS


National Hockey League
Carolina at Boston, 1:00 PM - SportSouth, NESN, DSS
Minnesota at Dallas, 2:00 PM - FS-North, Southwest, DSS
Anaheim at Los Angeles, 4:00 PM - FS-Prime Ticket, West, DSS
Winnipeg at Nashville, 7:00 PM - CBC, FS-Tennessee, DSS
San Jose at Columbus, 7:00 PM - CSN-California, FS-Ohio, DSS
Toronto at Buffalo, 7:00 PM - CBC, MSG-Buffalo, DSS
NY Islanders at Tampa Bay, 7:00 PM - CBC, MSG+2, SunSports, DSS
NY Rangers at Pittsburgh, 7:00 PM - MSG, ROOT-Pittsburgh, NHL Network, DSS
Philadelphia at Montreal, 7:00 PM - CSN-Philadelphia, CBC, DSS
Colorado at New Jersey, 7:00 PM - Altitude, MSG+, DSS
Washington at St. Louis, 8:00 PM - CSN-DC+, FS-Midwest, DSS
Ottawa at Calgary, 10:00 PM - CBC, TVA Sports, DSS


College Basketball
St. Francis (NY) at Georgetown, 12:00 PM - SportSouth, SunSports, FS-Ohio, MSG
Manhattan at Florida State, 1:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Gardner-Webb at LSU, 1:00 PM - SEC Network+
Nova SE at Fla Gulf Coast, 2:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Hillsdale at Michigan, 2:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Ill-Springfield at Green Bay, 4:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Maine at Butler, 4:30 PM - FS2
Albany at Providence, 7:00 PM - FS2
Florida A&M at USC Upstate, 7:30 PM - ESPN3.com
Fairfield at Duke, 8:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Tulsa at Oral Roberts, 8:00 PM - ESPN3.com, DSS
Southern Ill at Saint Louis, 8:00 PM - FS-Midwest+
Montana at Colorado State, 10:00 PM - ROOT-Rocky Mountain
Portland State at USC, 10:30 PM - Pac-12 Network


Women’s College Basketball
UTSA at Texas, 3:00 PM - Longhorn Network
USC at South Carolina, 7:00 PM - SEC Network+


College Football
Virginia Tech at Duke, 12:00 PM - ESPN U
Iowa at Illinois, 12:00 PM - Big Ten Network
Temple at Penn State, 12:00 PM - ESPN 2
Clemson at Georgia Tech, 12:00 PM - ESPN
Army at Western Ky, 12:00 PM - CBSSN
So Carolina at Florida, 12:00 PM - SEC Network
Ohio State at Minnesota, 12:00 PM - ABC
Brown at Dartmouth, 12:00 PM - SNY, CSN-Philadelphia, New England, Bay
Wofford at Furman, 12:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Presbyterian at Gardner-Webb, 12:00 PM - American Sports Network
Bryant at Sacred Heart, 12:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Pittsburgh at North Carolina, 12:30 PM - ACC Network, DSS
Cornell at Columbia, 12:30 PM - FS-Atlantic
Bucknell at Holy Cross, 12:30 PM - Charter TV3
James Madison at Richmond, 12:30 PM - NBCSN
Miami-Ohio at Central Mich, 1:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Nevada at Air Force, 2:00 PM - ROOT-Rocky Mountain
Eastern Mich at Western Mich, 2:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Warner at Mercer, 2:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Rice at Marshall, 2:30 PM - SportSouth, FS-Florida, Ohio, Detroit, Midwest
Appalachian St at Arkansas State, 3:00 PM - ESPN3.com
TCU at Kansas, 3:00 PM - FS1
Wake Forest at NC State, 3:00 PM - RSN, FS-South, SunSports, DSS
Monmouth at Coastal Carolina, 3:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Northern Iowa at Southern Ill, 3:00 PM - Missouri Valley TV, ESPN3.com
WM & Mary at Towson, 3:00 PM - CSN-Baltimore, Northwest, Bay, SNY
Montana at Southern Utah, 3:05 PM - Cowles Montana Media
Washington at Arizona, 3:30 PM - FOX
Ga Southern at Navy, 3:30 PM - CBSSN
Indiana at Rutgers, 3:30 PM - Big Ten Network
Nebraska at Wisconsin, 3:30 PM - ABC
Miss State at Alabama, 3:30 PM - CBS
Middle Tennessee at FIU, 3:30 PM - American Sports Network
Oklahoma at Texas Tech, 3:30 PM - ESPN
Northwestern at Notre Dame, 3:30 PM - NBC
Memphis at Tulane, 3:30 PM - ESPN U
Charleston Southern at Liberty, 3:30 PM - LFSN, ESPN3.com, DSS
Idaho State at Montana State, 3:40 PM - ROOT-Northwest, Rocky Mountain
New Mexico at Utah State, 4:00 PM - ESPNews
Kentucky at Tennessee, 4:00 PM - SEC Network
Eastern Ill at Jacksonville State, 4:00 PM - ESPN3.com
McNeese State at SE Louisiana, 4:00 PM - Southland TV, ESPN3.com
Hawaii at San Jose St, 4:30 PM - Oceanic PPV
Troy at Idaho, 5:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Utah at Stanford, 6:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
Louisiana at ULM, 7:00 PM - SBC Network, ESPN3.com
UNLV at BYU, 7:00 PM - ESPN U
MVSU at Southern, 7:00 PM - COX Sports
Albany at Villanova, 7:00 PM - American Sports Network, SNY
Auburn at Georgia, 7:15 PM - ESPN
Missouri at Texas A&M, 7:30 PM - SEC Network
Texas State at South Alabama, 7:30 PM - ESPN3.com
Texas at Oklahoma State, 7:30 PM - FOX
Michigan State at Maryland, 8:00 PM - Big Ten Network
LSU at Arkansas, 8:00 PM - ESPN 2
So Florida at SMU, 8:00 PM - CBSSN
Florida State at Miami-Florida, 8:00 PM - ABC
North Texas at Texas-El Paso, 10:00 PM - FS1
San Diego St at Boise State, 10:15 PM - ESPN U
Arizona State at Oregon State, 10:45 PM - ESPN


College Hockey
Minnesota at Minnesota Duluth, 8:00 PM - FSN, FCS


International Soccer
Uganda vs. Ghana, 7:50 AM - beIN Sport
France vs. Albania (Friendly), 9:30 AM - FS2
Egypt vs. Senegal, 11:55 AM - beIN Sport
Algeria vs. Ethiopia, 2:25 PM - beIN Sport


Golf
EUROPEAN - Turkish Airlines Open, 4:00 AM - Golf Channel
PGA -  OHL Classic at Mayakoba, 2:00 PM - Golf Channel
LPGA - Lorena Ochoa Invitational, 5:00 PM - Golf Channel


Tennis
ATP World Finals, 7:00 AM - Tennis Channel
ATP World Finals, 9:00 AM - Tennis Channel
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The Gilmer Free Press


The Gilmer Free Press

►  WV State Football Playoffs

Class A Playoffs

The opening round of the WV High School Football Playoffs is set.  Here is a look at the Class A matchups:


FRIDAY NIGHT:

#10 Buffalo at #7 Doddridge County 7:30 PM


SATURDAY AFTERNOON:

#16 Wahama at #1 St. Marys 1:30 PM

#15 Man at #2 Tug Valley- played at Mingo Central 1:30 PM

#13 Greenbrier West at #4 Clay-Battelle 1:30 PM

#12 Bishop Donahue at #5 Meadow Bridge 1:30 PM

#11 Pendleton County at #6 Williamstown 1:30 PM

#9 Moorefield at #8 Tyler Consolidated 1:30 PM


SATURDAY NIGHT:

#14 East Hardy at #3 Notre Dame played at Bridgeport 7:30 PM





Class AA Playoffs

The opening round of the WV High School Football Playoffs is set.

Here is a look at the AA matchups:


FRIDAY NIGHT:

#16 Liberty (Raleigh) at #1 Bridgeport 7:30 PM

#13 Sissonville at #4 Mingo Central 7:30 PM

#10 Scott at #7 Nicholas County 7:30 PM

#9 Keyser at #8 Robert C. Byrd 7:30 PM


SATURDAY AFTERNOON:

#15 Wyoming East at #2 Frankfort 1:30 PM

#14 Ravenswood at #3 Bluefield 1:30 PM

#12 Fairmont Senior at #5 Wayne 1:30 PM

#11 Weir at #6 Westside 1:30 PM





Class AAA Playoffs

The opening round of the WV High School Football Playoffs is set.  Here is a look at the AAA matchups:


FRIDAY NIGHT:

#16 Parkersburg South at #1 Capital 7:30 PM

#11 Spring Valley at #6 South Charleston 7:30 PM


SATURDAY AFTERNOON:

#15 Parkersburg at #2 Cabell Midland 1:30 PM

#14 Woodrow Wilson at #3 University 1:30 PM

#12 Jefferson at #5 Point Pleasant 1:30 PM

#10 Hurricane at #7 Huntington 1:30 PM

#9 Lewis County at #8 Wheeling Park 1:30 PM


SATURDAY NIGHT:

#13 Buckhannon-Upshur at #4 Martinsburg 7:30 PM



The Gilmer Free Press

►  MEC Week 11 Football Preview

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 15

#12/15 Concord (10-0, 9-9) at #17/21 Shepherd (8-1, 8-1), Noon
Video | Live Stats
Last Year
: Shepherd won 41-33
Notes: Concord has already clinched a share of the MEC title, but can earn it outright with a win ... Shepherd can earn a share with a victory ... both teams were ranked among the top six in the Super Region 1 rankings last week ... Saturday’s game will mark the first time that two ranked MEC teams will play each other ... CU has the top-ranked scoring and rushing offense, while SU is the best against the run and has best scoring defense in the league ... Concord’s last conference title was in 2011 ... CU has not had 11 wins in a season since 1980 ... sophomore quarterbacks Brian Novak (CU) and Jeff Ziemba (SU) are both ranked in the top five in the country in passing efficiency ... Shepherd has won each of the last two meetings ... Concord is +12 in turnover margin, Shepherd is +9.


West Liberty (6-4, 6-3) at Notre Dame (6-4, 6-3), Noon
Live Stats
Last Year
: Notre Dame won, 30-13
Notes: Notre Dame held West Liberty to just 2-of-17 on third down last year ... WLU has secured an eighth winning season in 10 years under Roger Waialae, and NDC has clinched its first winning season the program’s five-year history ... NDC’s Ray Russ is averaging 409 passing yards per game over the last five ... WLU’s Dakota Conwell is tied for the most touchdown passes at West Liberty by a player not named “Amedro.“


Urbana (3-7, 2-7) at Charleston (7-3, 6-3), 1 PM
Video | Live Stats
Last Year
: Urbana won 24-21
Notes: Urbana scored a touchdown with just 23 seconds left to get the win over Charleston ... the Blue Knights come into Saturday’s game having won back-to-back games ... UU has scored over 30 points in each of its last three games ... Charleston has scored 42 points in each of its last two games ... the Golden Eagles have over 300 yards rushing in each of those contests ... UC is second in the league in rushing, while Urbana is fifth in the MEC against the run ... UU’s D’Gary Wallace leads the league in tackles (95).


Fairmont State (3-6, 3-6) at UVa-Wise (1-9, 1-8)
Video | Live Stats 
Last Year:
Fairmont State won 47-44
Notes: Las year’s game featured 12 touchdowns ... the Falcons scored the game-winning TD with 40 seconds left ... UVa-Wise’s Carlton Griffith has gone over 100 yards rushing in each of the last three games ... Fairmont State is 7-3 in regular season finales since 2004.


West Virginia State (2-8, 1-8) at Glenville State (4-5, 4-6)
Video | Live Stats | Audio
Last Year
: Glenville State won 17-12
Notes: GSC’s 14 first quarter points stood up in a win over the Yellow Jackets last year ... WVSU’s defense allowed just three red zone scores in seven chances last week against Shepherd ... GSC’s Rahmann Lee left last week’s game with an injury during the team’s first offensive possession ... the Pioneers are third in the league in total offense, while the Yellow Jackets rank fifth in total defense.

Team News & Notes:

CHARLESTON  
RB Marvin Elam needs just 36 more yards to go over 1,000 for the season ... Elam leads the MEC in rushing touchdowns with 13 ... UC’s defense has held opponents to under 20 points on five different occasions this season ... the Golden Eagles are 5-0 in those games ... Justin Avery and Matt Duncan lead the squad with 10.5 tackles for a loss and 4.5 sacks each ... QB Jermaine Kelly is averaging 112.1 yards of total offense per game.

CONCORD  
The Mountain Lions are ranked 15th by d2football.com and 12th by the AFCA ... it’s the sixth-straight week they’ve been ranked in both polls ... CU is also ranked second in the third edition of the NCAA Super Region 1 rankings ... Concord has scored over 50 points six different times this season ... RB Calvinaugh Jones can wrap up the MEC rushing title this week ... he has 1,263 rushing yards ... QB Brian Novak has a 3:1 touchdown to interception ratio ... CU has had two different players score four touchdowns in a game this year (Angus Harper and Ryan Stewart) ... Derrick Johnson is tied for the league lead with five interceptions.

FAIRMONT STATE  
Fairmont State QB Cody Stephensen was 21-of-29 in his first start for the Falcons ... he had 254 yards and one touchdown with no interceptions ... RB Austin White has rushed for a touchdown in each of hte last four games.

GLENVILLE STATE  
Fourth quarter turnovers doomed the Pioneers in a non-conference loss last week ... GSC also lost its leading rusher Rahmann Lee in the game ...Tevin Drake filled in and rushed for 126 yards and two scores ... GSC leads the league in kick return defense allowing just 14.8 yards per return.

NOTRE DAME  
QB Ray Russ extended his streak of games with at least a touchdown pass to 21 games last week ... Russ established a new MEC single season mark for passing yards and needs one more to do the same for touchdowns ... Mitchell Shegos was named Academic All-District ... he ranks among the national leaders in receiving yards, receptions and receptions per game ... NDC has not lost two-straight games this season.

SHEPHERD  
The Rams are ranked 21st in the AFCA poll and 17th in the D2Football.com poll ... SU moved up one spot to sixth in the mos recent NCAA Super Region 1 rankings ... SU had a pair of running backs rush for over 100 yards (Jabre Lolley and Allen Cross) for the first time this season last week ... Shepherd’s defense is first in the country against the run and in scoring defense.

URBANA  
The Blue Knights extended their winning streak to two games last week with a home win over West Virginia Wesleyan ... UU has scored over 30 points in each of its last three games ... freshman QB Colby Speice directed the offense throwing for 306 yards and four touchdowns ... D’Gary Wallace is in the top five in the MEC in tackles, sacks and tackles for a loss.

UVa-WISE  
The Cavs scored a season-high 20 points last week in a loss against West Liberty ... Trent Martin is 6-of-9 in field goals this season ... Zack Blair’s 23.5 tackles for a loss are the second-most in school history ... Carlton Griffith has gone over 100 yards rushing in each of the last three games and had a season-high 32 carries last week.

WEST LIBERTY  
WLU is 2-3 on the road this year ... QB Dakota Conwell is third in the MEC in touchdown passes with 22 ... WR Dylan Potts is second in the league with nine touchdown receptions ... P Griffin Yocum is the only player in the MEC to average over 40 yards per punt.

WEST VIRGINIA STATE  
The Yellow Jackets held Shepherd to their lowest point total last week ... QB Matt Kinnick is second in the league with 193 completions .. Wenley Belliard is sixth in the league with 13.5 tackles for a loss ... WVSU is in the top half of the league in scoring defense.

WEST VIRGINIA WESLEYAN  
WVWC concluded its season last week at Urbana ... the Bobcats finished the year with a 4-6 record ... WR Zach Schademan shares the league lead with 10 touchdown receptions ... QB Jeremy Musselman is third in the MEC in total offense with 237.4 yards per game. 



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Broncos place starting LB Irving on IR

The Denver Broncos placed starting middle linebacker Nate Irving on injured reserve Thursday.

Irving injured his right knee at New England on November 2 and will be sidelined for the rest of the season.

The 26-year-old started Denver’s first eight games of the season and totaled 46 tackles and one sack.

To fill his roster spot, the Broncos claimed rookie linebacker Todd Davis off waivers from the Saints. Davis went undrafted out of Sacramento State.


►  Peterson hearing set for Monday

Adrian Peterson could be moving closer towards a return to the field, though the embattled Minnesota Vikings running back will have to wait at least one more week to do so.

The NFL has scheduled Peterson’s hearing for reinstatement from the Commissioner’s Exempt list for Monday at 2 PM ET, NFL.com reported Thursday.

Peterson, who has not played since the Vikings’ season opener on September 7 after being charged with reckless or negligent injury to a child in his native Texas, had been seeking an immediate reinstatement after reaching a plea deal in his case last week.

The 2012 NFL MVP avoided jail time by pleading no contest to a lesser charge of one count of misdemeanor reckless assault. Peterson was placed on probation while receiving a $4,000 fine and an order to perform 80 hours of community service.

On Monday, the NFL Players Association filed an expedited, non-injury grievance to have Peterson put back on the Vikings’ active roster immediately.

Peterson was indicted by a grand jury in Montgomery County, Texas, back in September on accusations he used a wooden tree branch to strike his 4-year-old son as a disciplinary measure. The Vikings placed him on the exempt list shortly afterward and temporarily activated him following the team’s Week 2 game against New England, but quickly reversed course after a wave of negative backlash from sponsors, fans and Minnesota governor Mark Dayton.

The All-Pro back still faces a possible suspension under the NFL’s personal conduct policy that could last for an additional six games. However, NFL.com reported that Peterson’s punishment will likely be reduced due to time previously served.

The NFL rejected the union’s motion for an instant reinstatement, saying in a statement that it had yet to receive “relevant information” it requested from Peterson’s camp.

“We have honored our commitment to Mr. Peterson and the NFLPA not to process or impose any discipline until the criminal charges pending in Texas were resolved,“ the statement read. “When Mr. Peterson decided not to contest criminal charges, we promptly advised both him and the NFLPA that we were prepared to consider what, if any, discipline should now be imposed under the personal conduct policy.

“We asked Mr. Peterson and his representatives, including the NFLPA, for relevant information. We have not received any of the requested information, but remain prepared to schedule a hearing and make a determination as quickly as possible based on as much information as available.“


►  Watt highlights USAA’s Salute to Service nominees

The NFL and USAA, the NFL’s Official Military Appreciation Sponsor, announced nominees for the fourth annual Salute to Service Award and Houston’s J.J. Watt headlines the list.

Other notable players and club personnel who were nominated include Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera, New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham and Chicago Bears defensive lineman Jared Allen.

Teams nominated players, coaches, personnel and alumni who demonstrate an exemplary commitment to honoring and supporting the military community. A list of the 2014 Salute to Service Award nominees is below.

Finalists for the Salute to Service Award presented by USAA will be announced in January, and the winner will be recognized at the “4th Annual NFL Honors” awards show in Arizona on NBC on Saturday, January 31, the night before Super Bowl XLIX.

Baltimore Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh was last year’s award winner. USAA, a leading provider of insurance and other services to U.S. military members, veterans and their families, contributed $25,000 in his honor to the official aid societies representing all five military branches.

Harbaugh invites wounded warriors as his guests to every Ravens home game and helped institute Military Appreciation Day, an annual event that takes place during Baltimore’s training camp. In 2012, he was presented the Outstanding Civilian Service Award by Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno.

Fans everywhere can join USAA in honoring military by visiting SaluteToService.com throughout the season to view digital content featuring military and NFL players, coaches and legends—including Robert Griffin II, Ron Rovera, Roger Staubach and Charles Tillman.

2014 SALUTE TO SERVICE TEAM NOMINEES

TEAM NOMINEE

Arizona Cardinals Larry Fitzgerald Jr. (WR)

Atlanta Falcons Joe Hawley (C)

Baltimore Ravens Morgan Cox (LS)

Buffalo Bills Doug Marrone (Head Coach)

Carolina Panthers Ron Rivera (Head Coach)

Chicago Bears Jared Allen (DE)

Cincinnati Bengals John Sawyer (VP/Board Member)

Cleveland Browns Alex Mack (C)

Dallas Cowboys Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders

Denver Broncos Ben Garland (G)

Green Bay Packers Tom Bakken (Assistant Equipment Manager)

Houston Texans J.J. Watt (DE)

Indianapolis Colts Pat McAfee (P)

Jacksonville Jaguars Roy Miller (DT)

Kansas City Chiefs Derrick Johnson (LB)

Miami Dolphins Lousaka Polite (Former FB)

Minnesota Vikings Jeff Locke (P)

New Orleans Saints Jimmy Graham (TE)

New York Giants Tom Coughlin (Head Coach)

New York Jets Robert Wood Johnson IV (Owner)

Oakland Raiders Oakland Raiders Foundation

Philadelphia Eagles Philadelphia Eagles Cheerleaders

Pittsburgh Steelers Troy Polamalu (S)

St. Louis Rams Jeff Fisher (Head Coach)

San Diego Chargers Nick Hardwick (C)

Seattle Seahawks Dan Quinn (Defensive Coordinator)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Vincent Jackson (WR)

Washington Redskins Darrel Young (FB)


►  ‘Next man up’ for 8-1 Cardinals

While the Detroit Lions got stronger last weekend with the return of their star wide receiver in Calvin Johnson, the Arizona Cardinals suffered a mighty blow to their special season with the loss of quarterback Carson Palmer.

The Cardinals turn to Drew Stanton this Sunday hoping the former Lion can add to their NFL-leading record in a home matchup with Detroit at University of Phoenix Stadium.

At 8-1, NFC West-leading Arizona has matched its best record ever through nine games (1925 and 1948) and has won its first five home games for the first time since 1976. The Cardinals’ current five-game winning streak is the longest for the franchise in a single season since a six-game run in 1977, but those runs must all be extended without Palmer.

The Cardinals starting quarterback suffered a season-ending left knee injury in Sunday’s 31-14 win over the St. Louis Rams as he tore his ACL while getting sacked by Rams safety Mark Barron.

“It’s just a shame it happened now, with this team,“ said Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians earlier this week.

Palmer, who has thrown for 1,626 yards and 11 touchdowns while missing three games earlier in the year with a shoulder injury, eventually walked off the field with a noticeable limp. He was then put on a cart and taken to the locker room.

The Cardinals were trailing 14-10 at the time of the injury, but Stanton came in and threw a 48-yard touchdown pass to rookie Josh Brown with 7:40 to play, and cornerback Patrick Peterson followed with a pair of interceptions, taking the second back 30 yards for a score.

Arizona’s defense followed with another score after Kareem Martin sacked St. Louis quarterback Austin Davis. Cornerback Antonio Cromartie scooped up the loose ball and raced 14 yards the other way for a touchdown.

“As far as hitting our quarterback, we definitely took that personal,“ said Peterson. “When Carson went down, obviously it was a non-contact injury, but after he went down, we just wanted to win this ballgame that much more, and try and tee off on their quarterback.“

Larry Fitzgerald caught nine passes for 112 yards for Arizona, which is two games up on second-place Seattle in the division.

While the Cardinals are dealing with subtraction, the Lions got a big boost with Johnson’s return to the lineup. The star wide receiver had missed three games in a row due to a high ankle sprain and hauled in seven passes for 113 yards in a 20-16 win over the Miami Dolphins. Johnson also scored his first touchdown since Week 1, a 49-yard pass from Matthew Stafford.

Stafford rallied the Lions to the win by hitting running back Theo Riddick for an 11-yard score with 29 seconds remaining. The winning drive came after the Lions defense forced the Dolphins offense off the field after it took only 34 seconds off the clock.

Stafford was 8-of-11 for 79 yards on the winning drive and finished 25-of-40 for 280 yards with a pair of touchdowns and an interception for the Lions (7-2), who were coming off their bye and won their fourth straight game. The last three wins have come by a combined six points.

Golden Tate also had a big day with 11 catches for 109 yards to keep the 7-2 Lions a game ahead of Green Bay for first place in the NFC North.

“We’re not putting a ceiling on this season and just seeing as high as we can go,“ said Johnson. “We just stick to being smart out there on the field and hope things keep going the way they are.“

The Lions’ 7-2 record matches the team’s best nine-game start since it posted the same mark in 1993.

Detroit, though, has lost five in a row and 10 of its past 13 meetings with Arizona. That includes a 25-21 setback on the road last season, with the Cardinals scoring nine points in the fourth quarter to go ahead.

Johnson had a pair of touchdowns in that game, including a 72-yarder in the first quarter.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

The focus now shifts to Stanton, who will make his fourth start of the season—a career high—and has passed for 614 yards this season with three touchdowns and zero interceptions.

Stanton starred at Michigan State and was drafted in the second round by Detroit in 2007. He missed his rookie season with a knee injury and ended up playing in 12 games with four starts for the Lions between 2008-11.

“As far as our football team, everybody in the locker room, including myself, has all the confidence in the world in Drew,“ Arians said.

With Palmer out, Arians will have to decide who will serve as the No. 2 quarterback behind Stanton: either rookie Logan Thomas or Ryan Lindley, who was signed off San Diego’s practice squad this week.

Lindley started four games as a rookie in 2012 with Arizona and served as the team’s No. 3 quarterback last season.

While Fitzgerald is a solid passing option for Stanton, Brown has already flashed game-changing ability with an NFL rookie-record four game-winning touchdowns. He has five touchdowns in five home games this season.

Stanton won’t get much help on the ground either, as Arizona ranks 29th in the NFL with just 83.6 rushing yards per game.

Arizona’s defense will also need to step up as it ranks third in the league against the run but is yielding 274.2 passing yards per game. Peterson and Cromartie, along with safeties Tyrann Mathieu, Tony Jefferson and Rashad Johnson will have their hands full this weekend with Calvin Johnson and Tate.

“It’s a very tough situation for us,“ Rashad Johnson told Arizona’s website. “Carson is a leader, but as a defensive unit, this is the opportunity to take another step. We’ve been good, but now we have the opportunity to be great, to do something special, to carry a lot of the load on our side.“

Arizona’s defense will have a chance to make a statement against Calvin Johnson and Tate.

The Lions wide receiver is healthy and joined some nice company last weekend. He finished with 601 career catches, joining Herman Moore (670) as the only players in team history with at least 600, and his 70 career touchdowns is second in team annuals behind only Barry Sanders (109).

“Oh man, great to be back on the field,“ noted Calvin Johnson. “There’s nothing like being out there and winning with your teammates.“

Tate, meanwhile, set a new franchise record with six straight games of at least seven receptions and he should see plenty of open space now that Johnson is back.

“There’s quickness, obviously it’s something that jumps out at you right away,“ Lions coach Jim Caldwell said of Tate. “He’s quicker than the norm. He’s a guy that can avoid tackles, he has a great awareness about him.“

One thing working in Arizona’s favor is that duel-threat running back Reggie Bush may not play after aggravating an ankle injury versus the Dolphins. That will increase the workload for Joique Bell and Riddick.

Also, Detroit lost right guard Larry Warford versus Miami with a left knee injury and it is unknown when he will return.

Detroit owns the league’s top defense and is allowing just 283.4 yards per game, the only team in the NFL giving up under 300 a game. The Lions also rank second against the run and third versus the pass.

Lions defensive end Ezekiel Ansah has 4 1/2 sacks and three forced fumbles in his past four games.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

It’s a tough break for the Cardinals given their success this season, though they did go 2-1 under Stanton with wins over the New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers earlier in the season when Palmer was out. Still, the loss of the veteran has to be a blow to the club’s confidence on the field.

Detroit, meanwhile, should be full of confidence given the play of its defense and the return of Calvin Johnson, who makes the entire offense that much better.

The Lions and Cardinals both rank in the top five in points allowed this season, but Detroit has the potential to put points on the board even on the road.

Predicted outcome: Lions 17, Cardinals 13


►  Brady, Pats set to take temperature of upstart Colts

It wasn’t all that long ago that people were writing off the New England Patriots and Tom Brady.

That’s not happening anymore.

New England tries to further cement its status as the top team in the AFC on Sunday, as it goes after a sixth straight win against Andrew Luck and the up- and-coming Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The Patriots were beaten badly by the Kansas City Chiefs, 41-14, to fall to 2-2. Since then, though, they have reeled off five straight wins and have averaged 40.2 points per game in those wins.

New England enjoyed a bye last week, but that came after an impressive 43-21 win over the Denver Broncos in Week 9. Brady threw for 333 yards and four touchdowns in that win and moved past John Elway into fifth place on the all- time passing yards list.

Brady did throw an interception, his first in five games and only his third of the season.

Rob Gronkowski caught nine passes for 105 yards and one of Brady’s scoring strikes, with Julian Edelman adding nine receptions totaling 89 yards with a touchdown along with a huge punt return.

Over his last five games Gronkowski has 36 catches for 516 years and five touchdowns. Gronk has caught 18 balls in his last two games for 254 years and four touchdowns.

“Tom’s spreading the ball around, but Rob’s a matchup nightmare,“ Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. “It’s all hands on deck to try to make sure that that guy doesn’t wreck a game. You see everybody trying to do that, but he finds a way to make unbelievable plays. He’s a great player and they’ve got a bunch of them, a bunch of skill guys that are making great plays.“

Since 2010, the Patriots are now a combined 30-3 in the second half of the regular season. In both 2010 and 2011, the Patriots were 8-0 in the second half of the year. New England was 7-1 in 2012 and 6-2 in 2013. Since Bill Belichick became Patriots head coach in 2000, New England is 90-23 in the second half of the season, and has gone 8-0 in the second half four times in Belichick’s tenure and 7-1 three times.

New England’s defense had Peyton Manning rattled all day in that one, forcing him into two interceptions. On the other hand, the Patriots have turned it over just six times all season and is tied for the NFL lead with a plus-12 turnover differential.

That could be bad news for Luck and the pass-happy Colts, who come into this contest averaging a league-best 32.2 points-per-game, but are even in turnover differential.

Luck has thrown nine picks on the season but is in the midst of what could be a record-setting campaign. The 25-year-old has set a franchise record with seven straight games of over 300 yards and leads the league with 3,085 yards and is on pace to narrowly surpass Manning’s record of 5,477.

Over his last seven games Luck has thrown 21 touchdowns and has averaged 363.3 yards for a 104.5 rating.

“Their offense is doing a great job this year. They score a lot of points, especially at home, and he’s kind of the ringleader,“ Brady said of Luck.

“... When you play another great offense, you’re going to have to put up a lot of points, similar to our last game. We realize we have a big job, too. You’re right, my focus is on the other side of the ball, but you also know you’re not going to be able to score 13 points and win the game.“

Like New England, Indianapolis is coming off a bye in Week 10, but was a big winner the previous week against the New York Giants.

Luck tossed three of his four touchdown passes in the third quarter and the Colts cruised to a 40-24 win in Week 9.

T.Y. Hilton hauled in three passes for 71 yards and a touchdown, Reggie Wayne posted four receptions for 70 yards and a score and Dwayne Allen had four catches for 48 yards and a score in the triumph.

Indianapolis has now won six of its last seven games after starting the year 0-2.

New England beat the Colts, 43-22, in an AFC Divisional Playoff game last year and has won six of the last 10 regular season matchups. New England has won the last three in the series, including the playoff game, but it has dropped the last two in Indianapolis.

The Patriots need one more victory to guarantee a finish of .500 or better for the 14th consecutive season. In fact since 2001, the Patriots are the only team to finish with a record above .500 in each of those seasons.

Every other NFL team has had at least one losing season between 2001 and 2013.

Since 2001 no team has more November wins than the 38 posted by both New England and Indianapolis.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

The Colts could be in for a long day defensively, as they have given up 31 passing plays of at least 20 yards and ranks 27th with an average of 263.6 yards passing allowed.

If Brady is given time, he could have a field day. With another 300-yard performance he could tie Hall of Famer Dan Marino (63) for the third-most such games all-time.

“They blitz quite a bit more than most of the teams that we’ve played, which is going to be, I would say, a very critical factor in the game, our ability to handle that,“ New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said.

Luck has been as good as any quarterback in the league this season, but New England’s revamped secondary with cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner is really starting to hit their stride.

“They are very talented,“ Colts wideout Reggie Wayne said. “They are ball- hungry. They are definitely talented. It gives them a little bit to where they can be a little bit more of risk-takers with blitzes and things of that nature.“

OVERALL ANALYSIS

This probably won’t be the last time these two teams square off. Another postseason matchup could be in the offing this January. But where that game is played might be decided this Sunday.

Brady has been terrific, almost playing with a chip on his shoulder since that Week 4 loss to the Chiefs. Luck has been tremendous as well, but look for Belichick to confuse him all night. The Patriots brought Revis in for games like the win over Denver and this one coming up. It might be a long night for Mr. Luck.

Predicted outcome: New England 35, Indianapolis 17


►  Opportunistic Eagles take their turn at slowing down Rodgers

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has made the pocket his own personal carving station and will try to slice up the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday at Lambeau Field.

Rodgers is the reigning NFC Offensive Player of the Week and threw six touchdown passes, all in the first half, of Sunday’s 55-14 beatdown of the NFC North-rival Chicago Bears. He completed 18-of-27 passes for 315 yards, compiling a 145.8 passer rating, and was not sacked.

“Good win for us. We did a lot of good things on offense. We got into a rhythm early. The key tonight was the offensive line,“ said Rodgers, who leads the league with 11 completions of 40 yards or more. “I’m not surprised by our performance tonight.“

Rodgers, who has 25 TD passes to just three INTs, had four TD passes of 18 or more yards versus the Bears, including a 73-yard strike to red-hot wide receiver Jordy Nelson. Rodgers has led the Packers to a 6-3 record and five wins in the last six tries. Green Bay is only a game behind 7-2 Detroit for the division lead.

The Packers were able to rebound from a 44-23 loss in New Orleans on October 26 and are 4-0 at home. Rodgers has thrown three or more touchdown passes six times this season and has posted a passer rating of 100 or better five times. The former Cal standout has 15 TD passes at Lambeau Field.

Green Bay is 10th in passing yards with 256.4 per game and 12th in total yards (357.8). It is averaging 30.8 points and has scored more than 30 points in each of the first four home games (31, 42, 38, 55). The Packers have outscored their opponents, 166-65, at home this season.

Sunday’s game will be the second of four home games over a five-week stretch for Green Bay. Including this week, the Packers will face two teams over the next three games that won their division last season in Philadelphia and New England.

Another key for Green Bay’s success is that the team has scored a touchdown on the opening drive in five of the last six games and in each of the previous four. The Packers lead the NFL with 35 points on the first offensive possession and have scored 22 TDs in the first half of games this season to lead the league.

Nelson and Randall Cobb are expected to give the Eagles’ defense fits and both are on pace for 1,000-yard seasons. Nelson leads the Packers with 889 yards on 56 receptions, while Cobb has caught 44 passes for 650 yards and a team-high 10 receiving scores. Of the 25 touchdown passes for Rodgers, 18 have landed in the arms of Nelson or Cobb.

The Eagles have been playing well on defense and special teams, and hope that continues Sunday. They are 22nd against the pass, allowing 251.7 yards per game, and cornerbacks Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher are in for a tough challenge. The tandem played well in Monday’s 45-21 demolition of the Carolina Panthers, who committed five turnovers. Cam Newton threw three INTs, including one that was returned 34 yards for a score by Fletcher.

Philadelphia is facing a different beast in Rodgers and will need over-the-top help from safeties Malcolm Jenkins and Nate Allen.

“We know what’s ahead of us, but our thing is we have to just keep playing our game and doing what we’re doing,“ Eagles linebacker Brandon Graham said. “It’s really about us. It’s about playing football the way we know we are capable of playing and then we’ll see what happens after that.“

The Eagles are 19th against the rush and will have to slow down Packers running back Eddie Lacy. Lacy has 300 yards from scrimmage in the last two games and goes against a Philly defense allowing 115.2 rushing yards a game. He hasn’t ran for more than 63 yards in each of his past four games.

Philadelphia is allowing 22.0 points and sits 21st in total yards allowed (366.9) and 22nd in passing yards allowed (251.7). It has produced 32.0 sacks this season and 25.0 in the previous five games, including nine Monday.

Linebacker Connor Barwin had 3 1/2 sacks versus the Panthers and leads the NFC with 10 1/2 on the season.

The Eagles, who have won two in a row and four of five games, trail the all- time series with the Packers, 26-16. Philadelphia ended a three-game losing streak in this matchup with last season’s 27-13 win at Lambeau Field on November 10. Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper had 102 yards and two TDs.

Philly is 6-3 in the last nine games in this series, including the playoffs.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

The Eagles are first in the NFC East with a 7-2 record, just ahead of the idle Dallas Cowboys (7-3).

Rodgers isn’t the only quarterback under the spotlight, as Mark Sanchez will make his second start in as many weeks for the injured Nick Foles (clavicle). Sanchez made his Eagles debut versus the Panthers and was impressive, passing for 332 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions.

Sanchez said it was good to get back under center and is happy to be in head coach Chip Kelly’s system. The Panthers shut down Philly’s run game and forced Sanchez to beat them. He did convincingly and strengthened his rapport with rookie wide receiver Jordan Matthews, who caught seven passes (9 targets) for 138 yards and two TDs.

“Jordan finds a way to get open,“ Sanchez said. “Jordan had a heck of a night.“

Veteran tight end Brent Celek made an appearance with five catches for 116 yards, while leading receiver Jeremy Maclin was held to 38 yards on three catches. Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott said the key to stopping Philadelphia is stopping Maclin and running back LeSean McCoy. Maclin still has 828 yards and eight TDs on 48 receptions, and owns four touchdown catches in the past two on the road.

Look for Maclin, Matthews, Cooper and perhaps tight end Zach Ertz taking turns against Green Bay’s defense, which is ninth against the pass (229.1 ypg), 23rd in total yards (371.7 ypg) and 30th against the run (142.6 ypg). McCoy was held to only 19 yards on 12 carries Monday and had at least 80 yards, including two 100-yard efforts, in the previous four games.

Darren Sproles is another weapon for the Eagles and is the reigning NFC Special Teams Player of the Week. Sproles can help the Eagles offense set up in decent territory Sunday and gives them a change-of-pace back.

“You can’t look ahead and we’re not doing that,“ Celek said. “Beating Carolina was just a step. Now we have a short week to prepare for Green Bay. We need to get our bodies back and play our best football to beat the Packers. They’re a great team. It’s going to be a fun atmosphere on Sunday. I think everybody is excited about it.“

Green Bay’s defense has played extremely well and has given up 17 points or less in each of the last three home games (14, 17, 10). The Eagles are averaging 31.0 points this season and will have to protect Sanchez from the likes of Green Bay defensive stalwarts Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews.

Peppers leads the Packers with five sacks and Matthews is second with 3 1/2. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers has been moving Matthews around in order to challenge opposing offenses. Matthews will face his brother, Casey, again at Lambeau Field.

“We try not to treat the situation any bigger than it is,“ Casey said. “We just need to treat it like any other game week.“

The Packers are stingy against the pass, which could lure the Eagles right into their hands. Green Bay has outscored opponents at home 114-24 in the first half this season.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

Sunday’s game could effect the way the NFC playoffs unfold. Both the Eagles and Packers are battling for a division title and are the cream of the conference thus far.

Rodgers is on top of his game and is the best QB in the NFC.

Kelly expressed that sentiment.

“That’s the huge challenge,“ Kelly said of facing Rodgers. “I think, I said it to our guys yesterday, I think he’s playing as good as any quarterback in the league right now, and probably the best quarterback in the league right now. He’s on top of his game. It doesn’t seem like you can fool him. He’s always kind of a play ahead, a step ahead of defense and defensive coordinators. He always seems to find the open receiver, no matter how it kind of unveils itself pre-snap. He’s extremely accurate, as good a thrower as there is in this league. He can keep things alive because he’s such a good athlete. It’s an exciting challenge for us to go against the best.“

For how well the Eagles have been playing in recent weeks, they’re going to take one on the chin at Lambeau Field.

Predicted outcome: Packers 41, Eagles 21


►  RG3, Redskins get back to work against lowly Bucs

Washington Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson isn’t known for his vocal leadership in the locker room and does his talking on the football field.

Jackson made news off the gridiron in regards to the situation surrounding Robert Griffin III and the Redskins hope to rally behind their quarterback Sunday versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at FedEx Field.

Amid reports of a divided locker room and Griffin allegedly alienating himself from his teammates, Jackson felt it was time to speak up.

“I just felt it was needed. Silence is sometimes a good thing, but if you have an opinion on a topic or a certain situation, then it needs to be spoken, and that’s what I felt,“ Jackson said. “You have to understand the importance of supporting one another. We’re in this locker room together. We work so hard. We compete and do all them great things. But if everyone’s not on one page, it’s hard to get the benefit of the doubt.“

Redskins first-year head coach Jay Gruden said the normally quiet Jackson usually sits with a hooded sweatshirt on.

“He’s starting to open up a little bit,“ Gruden said. “People have a lot of respect for him as a player for what he does when the lights are on. But, now that he’s starting to be a little more vocal behind the scenes, it’s good to see.“

Jackson leads the Redskins with 784 yards and four touchdowns on 61 receptions, and has recorded back-to-back 100-yard games. He had 120 yards and a score on four catches in a 29-26 loss at Minnesota on November 2, one week before the bye. Jackson, in his first season with Washington, has five games with 100 or more yards receiving.

Jackson leads the NFL with 21.8 yards per reception. He has never posted three straight 100-yard games in his career. D-Jack is the reason why the Redskins are sixth in passing yards (282.3) and seventh in total yards (386.9).

The Redskins, who are 3-6 on the season and tied for last in the NFC East with the New York Giants, are trying to surpass last year’s win total of three and come into Sunday’s game refreshed and energized.

“It was good for everybody to get away, see their families and get some quality time away from this building,“ Gruden said. “But now that everybody’s back, we’re focusing on what we’re doing and getting ready for Tampa.“

Washington was 3-6 at one point in 2012 and ripped off seven straight wins to win the division and reach the postseason.

“When you go back and just look at what’s going on, being 3-6, you look at the six losses and there’s a play here and a play there that we’re just so close to being 7-2 as opposed to 3-6,“ Gruden said. “That’s the way the NFL is right now.“

Tampa Bay is a disappointing 1-8 on the season, the first for head coach Lovie Smith. Smith’s Bucs lost for a fifth straight time in Sunday’s 27-17 setback to Atlanta at Raymond James Stadium.

The Buccaneers have been outscored, 83-31, in two games against Atlanta this season and actually had more yards (373) than the Falcons (322). Three turnovers hurt the Bucs and quarterback Josh McCown threw for 301 yards with a pair of touchdown passes and two interceptions.

“One-and-eight,“ McCown said. “One-and-eight. You want to show your teammates and the coaches and the fans and your family and everybody that you’re better than that, and it just hurts. We lost, and as the quarterback it starts with me. It’s disappointing.“

McCown was making his first start since September 18 after taking over for the ineffective Mike Glennon. McCown has thrown an INT in every game this season (6 total) and the Bucs are 0-4 in his starts.

Rookie wide receiver Mike Evans caught seven passes for 125 yards and a touchdown and is tied for third among rookies with five TD catches and 585 receiving yards. In a Week 9 loss at Cleveland, Evans became the youngest player in NFL history with at least 100 receiving yards (124) and two touchdowns (two) in a game.

“He’s got an unbelievable skill set and is super talented,“ McCown said. “But more than that, his focus and attention to detail are what give Mike an edge. To see what Mike is doing now and how he’s developing and coming along, that’s huge for us. It’s reflective of the way he works and the type of competitor that he is.“

The Buccaneers will play two straight and four of the next five games on the road, and their only win this season came in Pittsburgh on September 28.

Tampa Bay and Washington have split 18 meetings in the regular season and two games in the playoffs. In a 24-22 Redskins victory over the Bucs on September 30, 2012, Griffin threw for 323 yards and Alfred Morris compiled 113 rushing yards and a score. Vincent Jackson caught six balls for 100 yards and a touchdown in that one for Tampa Bay, which has lost two of three to the Redskins.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Griffin made his first start since Week 2 in the loss to the Vikings and completed 18-of-28 passes for 251 yards and one touchdown. He also threw an interception and added 24 rushing yards on seven carries.

The former Heisman Trophy winner threw some passes he would like back and many wonder if he’s fully recovered from a dislocated ankle. When healthy and on top of his game, Griffin can be a nightmare for opposing defenses. He keeps the defense honest with his scrambling ability, but putting RG3 in harm’s way is not a good idea at this point.

Washington has proven it can air it out and eat up yards. If only the Redskins could produce better results on the ground. Morris has 605 yards on the season and is on his way for a third straight 1,000-yard campaign. Morris, though, has yet to record 100 yards rushing in a game and had a season-high 92 yards and two TDs on 19 carries in Minnesota.

The Redskins are 28th in rushing yards with 90.0 ypg.

“I think the big thing is we’ve got to continue focusing on situational football,“ Gruden said. “Whether it’s third downs, whether it’s two-minute drills, whether it’s we got the ball at the plus-40 and all we need is 10 yards to get a field for overtime or a touchdown.“

Gruden said Washington just has to put it all together for 60 minutes and stay consistent in the week-to-week approach. The plug hasn’t been pulled on the Redskins just yet, but it’s definitely dangling in the socket.

An effective Morris will open the aerial assault for the Redskins, who will face a Bucs defense rated 31st against the pass (277.1 ypg). That should make Jackson and fellow receiver Pierre Garcon excited. Tampa Bay is also just 29th in total yards allowed (391.2) and 31st in points allowed (30.2). Only Chicago is worse with 30.8 points allowed.

The Bucs have two stout linebackers in leading tackler Lavonte David (103) and Danny Lansanah. Lansanah and cornerback Johnthan Banks have two interceptions apiece, while defensive tackle Gerald McCoy boasts a team-best five sacks.

McCoy isn’t too pleased with the current state of the Buccaneers.

“It’s really frustrating,“ McCoy said after the loss to the Falcons. “You can’t think of a reason behind it. It all comes down to just doing it. We’ve just got to do it. I don’t know man, I don’t know. I know we’re going to keep going.

“We’ve got to be more disciplined, because a lot of points in the game we were at because of penalties. We were a very undisciplined team, very undisciplined team.“

Tampa Bay was penalized 10 times for 79 yards last week. It cannot afford to give the Redskins chances Sunday or the Bucs will be 1-9 for the first time since starting the 2009 season 1-12.

Bobby Rainey leads the Bucs with 388 rushing yards and had only 14 on six carries last week. Rookie RB Charles Sims had a team-best eight carries for 23 yards versus Atlanta and could see a more extended role against a Washington team allowing more than 100 rushing yards a game (110.4).

The Redskins are tough against the pass, giving up 222.9 ypg, so it’s important Tampa Bay gets the ball rolling on the ground.

“Without going into detail (without) watching the video, if you don’t have production from your running game, you’re going to start with the offensive line first and everybody involved in that,“ Smith explained. “From there, though, as a running back, when you get a couple of holes, you need to make someone miss and be able to get yards that way.“

Bucs running back Doug Martin is questionable with an ankle injury and has missed the last two games. Martin has been a huge disappointment with 166 yards and only one TD on 58 carries in five games.

The Redskins will have a big body in the middle to help stop Tampa’s run game, as defensive tackle Barry Cofield was added to the active roster from the reserved/injured list. Cofield was placed on the short-term IR list September 9 after suffering a high ankle sprain in the team’s Week 1 loss to Houston.

“He just adds more depth,“ Gruden said of Cofield. “He’s obviously a good player. We think a lot of him, and in his absence guys have stepped up and done some good things. But it to add another big body to the mix, as far as rotations are concerned, it can’t hurt, especially one with his ability.“

OVERALL ANALYSIS

The Redskins have had plenty of time to lick their wounds, rest and prepare for the lowly Buccaneers. Giving Griffin another week will benefit a squad still clinging to hopes of making a turnaround for the second time in two years.

Look for Morris to get his first 100-yard rushing game of 2014 and Washington moving out of the NFC East basement.

Predicted outcome: Redskins 27, Buccaneers 17


►  Falcons try to stay perfect in NFC South play

The Atlanta Falcons finally found success on the road.

It remains to be seen if they can sustain it when they visit the Carolina Panthers Sunday in a battle between NFC South foes at Bank of America Stadium.

The Falcons defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 27-17, on Sunday and ended a five-game losing streak. It was Atlanta’s first win since a 56-14 demolition of the Bucs on September 18 at the Georgia Dome.

Steven Jackson ran for a season-high 81 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries for a Falcons team that is 24th in rushing with 97.2 yards per game. The Falcons had 110 yards on the ground and Matt Ryan threw for 219 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

“This was a team win across the board because everyone contributed to this,“ said Atlanta head coach Mike Smith. “We still have some ground to make up, but it starts with this victory.“

Julio Jones caught eight passes for 119 yards and Roddy White ended with six receptions for 72 yards and a score. White needs 73 yards for 10,000 in his career and has five touchdowns and 461 yards in the last four games against Carolina.

White needs three touchdowns to pass Michael Turner (61) for the most TDs in franchise history. Jones is 147 receiving yards short for his second career 1,000-yard season.

Atlanta, which improved to 3-0 in division play, is second in the NFC South despite a losing record at 3-6, but the New Orleans Saints lead the division with a 4-5 mark. Carolina is third at 3-6-1.

Ryan said it’s exciting to still be in the mix in the NFC South in November.

“We’ve got everything we want right in front of us,“ Ryan said.

Falcons wide receiver and special teams star Devin Hester suffered an ankle injury against Tampa Bay and is day-to-day. Wide receiver Harry Douglas is nursing a foot injury and should be healthy enough to contribute.

The last time the Falcons won two straight road games was in 2012. They are seventh in passing yards (272.4), eighth in total yards (369.7) and 13th in points scored with 24.3.

Carolina is on a short week after it was manhandled, 45-21, Monday night against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton didn’t look like himself and passed for 306 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. Newton was sacked a franchise-record nine times and appeared injured during some moments.

“He’s fine,“ Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. “That’s all I have to say on that issue.“

Newton, of course, entered the season after ankle surgery and a preseason rib fracture. He managed to run for six yards on two scrambles for Carolina, which committed five turnovers on the night, including two on the first two possessions.

“We can’t expect to win football games starting out like that,“ Newton said. “We put a lot of stress on our defense with excellent field position for them with back-to-back turnovers. I should have done a better job by checking the ball down or throwing the ball away.“

Newton said he’s not playing “good ball” right now and the Panthers have to put a better product on the field. Getting the offense going early against the Falcons is imperative, according to Newton, who reiterated to the media that questions surrounding his health wouldn’t exist if the team was winning.

Tight end Greg Olsen and rookie wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin were the lone bright spots in south Philly. Olsen caught six passes for 119 yards and Benjamin finished with three catches for 70 yards and two scores.

The Panthers have lost four in a row since their tie with Cincinnati on October 12, but still have a shot at repeating as NFC South champions. They are 18th in points scored (19.8), 19th in passing yards (225.4), 25th in total yards (320.8) and 27th in rushing yards (95.4).

Carolina’s defense was shaken up a bit Monday night, as defensive tackle Star Lotulelei left with an ankle injury and an MRI came back negative. His availability for Sunday’s game is unknown and may rest with the bye afterward.

“It’s not a high ankle sprain, which is good thing,“ Rivera said. “The way it was explained to me was that it was kind of like one you would get on a basketball court.

“He’s a big guy, and big guys tend to be a little bit slower on ankle sprains, but this is a low ankle sprain as opposed to the high ones, which are the worst ones.“

Rivera said defensive end Charles Johnson hyperextended his elbow in the first quarter. Johnson was able to return and should be fine for Atlanta coming in.

“It’s just sore, but he should be fine,“ Rivera said. “Plus, he loves playing Atlanta.“

Johnson has eight sacks in the last six meetings with Atlanta and nine in 12 career games. The Falcons lead the all-time series with the Panthers, 23-15, but have lost the last three meetings following a five-game win streak.

Smith owns a 7-5 record against the Panthers and is 21-18 against division opponents since 2008.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Both the Falcons and have Panthers have struggled on defense this season, so Sunday’s game could come down to who makes the most mistakes. Carolina learned that against the Eagles.

If Newton can shake off some rust and get more protection, the Panthers will be in good shape to stay within striking distance of the Saints in the NFC South. That’s easier said than done because Atlanta will pin its ears back Sunday in hopes of getting to the quarterback often.

Last week against the Bucs, the Falcons produced a season-high four sacks and added three takeaways. Defensive ends Osi Umenyiora and Kroy Biermann each posted 1 1/2 sacks and safeties Dwight Lowery and Kemal Ishmael both had an interception of Josh McCown.

“Kroy probably had his most productive game of the season,“ Smith said. “Of course, anytime when you win you have players that are recognized, and he was one of the players that was recognized with his performance. Not only against the run, he set the edge a couple of times and didn’t allow the ball to get outside. He put some pressure on the quarterback.“

McCown is definitely not like Newton, a big, strong presence in the pocket.

Sunday’s game is important for both division foes with the current situation.

“Anytime the Panthers, with our proximity, anytime we get together it’s usually a dang barn-burner, and I anticipate it will be,“ Smith said. “We’re looking forward to trying to continue playing well in our division because we know in the long haul that’s what we’ve got to do; we’ve got to take care of our division first.“

The Panthers are 23rd against the run (122.4) and pass (254.4), 25th in total yards allowed (376.8) and points allowed (28.1). They have allowed more than 25 points six times this season, and will see a steady dose of White and Jones. Jackson had 94 yards from scrimmage in the last meeting on December 29, but Carolina allowed a season-low 37 rushing yards on 23 carries Monday night.

Atlanta’s defense is much worse. It is 24th in both rushing yards allowed (124.0) and points allowed (26.4), 31st in total yards (404.8) and last in passing yards (280.8). Benjamin and Olsen could give the Falcons fits Sunday.

Benjamin leads all rookies with 659 yards and seven TDs.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

This is an important game for both NFC South foes and the Falcons will come out on top because they’re playing better at the moment and don’t have too many injury concerns.

Ryan has thrown for 3,017 yards with 20 TDs to 10 INTs in 10 career games against the Panthers. He also has two of the more talented wide receivers in the game. If Atlanta has any hopes of making a playoff run after a disastrous 2013 campaign, winning has to continue in Carolina.

Atlanta is known for its struggles on the road, but something is currently wrong with the Panthers.

Predicted outcome: Falcons 24, Panthers 21


►  Niners shoot for another big road win, visit slumping Giants

A thrilling finish helped the San Francisco 49ers keep pace in the NFC playoff hunt.

A second-half dud kept the New York Giants on track for a third straight year without postseason football.

The Niners hope to pick up another key road victory and hand the Giants a fifth straight setback this Sunday when the clubs meet at MetLife Stadium.

San Francisco snapped a two-game slide with a 27-24 overtime victory against the New Orleans Saints last weekend, with kicker Phil Dawson coming up with a pair of clutch field goals.

His first from 45 yards out tied the game with 44 seconds remaining and came after Colin Kaepernick hit Michael Crabtree for a 51-yard pass on 4th-and-10.

Dawson later came out to kick a 35-yard winner with 5:14 left in overtime following Ahamd Brooks’ sack of Saints quarterback Drew Brees that caused a fumble that Chris Borland recovered.

Dawson almost never got a chance to make his clutch play as Saints tight end Jimmy Graham appeared to haul in his third touchdown catch of the game on a Hail Mary as time expired in regulation, but he was called for offensive pass interference.

“We were out there playing in a do-or-die situation, and we had guys out there who came up big at the right time,“ 49ers wide receiver Anquan Boldin remarked. “We said it all week, that we felt our backs were against the wall. This was a must-win game for us and that’s what you saw.“

Kaepernick threw for 210 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown strike to Boldin, who ended with six catches on 95 yards. Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde ran for touchdowns in the first quarter and cornerback Chris Culliver and safety Antoine Bethea came up with interceptions.

San Francisco improved to 5-4 on the season, one game back of Seattle for second place in the NFC West and three behind first-place Arizona.

The Giants, meanwhile, are tied for last place in the NFC East, with Sunday’s 38-17 defeat at the hands of the Seahawks giving New York a fourth loss in a row.

The Giants have allowed an average of 34 points over the slide and lost each game by double-digits.

New York led Sunday’s game 17-14 at halftime, but was shut out in the second half and allowed Seattle to run for a franchise-record 350 yards.

Eli Manning completed 29-of-44 attempts for 283 yards with a touchdown and an interception for New York.

“In the second half we continued to not tackle very well and not be able to contain the quarterback,“ said Giants head coach Tom Coughlin. “We had a couple of different schemes that were utilized in regard to that, but none of them seemed to work. And offensively, we had the ball in the middle of the field three or four times and didn’t push it beyond that and obviously didn’t score. It’s hard to believe what you saw in the second half.“

Odell Beckham finished with 108 yards on seven catches with Preston Parker accumulating 79 yards and a touchdown on seven receptions.

Linebacker Jameel McClain had a game-high 12 tackles, but was part of a Giants defense that allowed Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch to score four rushing touchdowns.

The Giants have won four of their past five meetings with the Niners and that does not include an overtime victory in San Francisco to win the NFC Championship Game during the 2011 season.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Even after giving up 423 yards to the Saints, the 49ers still rank second in the NFL in total defense (306.4 yards allowed per game) and fifth against the pass at 215.2 YPG.

San Francisco is known for its front seven on defense and has had success despite a new look at linebacker. That won’t change this weekend as linebacker Patrick Willis was officially placed on injured reserve due to a toe injury that has held him out of the past three games.

His official loss comes in the same week that Aldon Smith returns to the roster after serving a nine-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse and personal conduct policies.

Though Smith has not been with the club for the entire regular season up to this point, he is still slated to make his season debut versus the Giants. He’ll try to immediately boost San Francisco’s sack total, which stands at 15, and has amassed 42 career sacks over three seasons.

“A big lift,“ said Kaepernick of Smith’s return. “He’s a freak of nature on the field. He’s a huge component to our defense. So, very happy to have him back.“

San Francisco also has been without linebacker NaVarro Bowman all season due to a knee injury, but inside linebackers Michael Wilhoite and the rookie Borland have more than held their own. Borland has 35 tackles in his past two games, including 17 versus the Saints.

“He’s doing a great job. He does have a ... sense for the ball,“ noted Niners head coach Jim Harbaugh of Borland. “I’ve been watching it in practice and you watch it in the games he’s like a thief in the night, he’s going to get under somebody, get around somebody.“

While Kaepernick didn’t put up outstanding numbers last weekend, he continues to click with Boldin, who was targeted 15 times. The wideout’s 95 receiving yards made him one of 12 players in NFL history to register 12 seasons of at least 600 yards. He also joined Jerry Rice as the only players in league history to reach the mark in each of his first 12 seasons.

The Giants, meanwhile, have their own emerging wide receiver in Beckham, who last weekend became the first Giants rookie to have consecutive 100-yard receiving games since Byron Williams in 1983. No rookie in team history has ever reached the mark in three straight games.

San Francisco’s secondary will have to watch Beckham and tight end Larry Donnell, who has led New York in receiving in four of nine games this season.

New York should also get a boost with the return of running back Rashad Jennings, who has sat out this entire losing streak due to a knee injury suffered on October 5. His return comes at a great time, with running back Michael Cox landing on IR due to a leg issue and Peyton Hillis out with a concussion.

Jennings still leads the Giants with 396 yards on 91 carries for a 4.4 yards per carry average. Rookie running back Andre Williams does lead all NFC rookies with four rushing touchdowns, but averages just 2.9 yards a carry.

“Having Rashad back will definitely be helpful,“ said Manning. “Andre’s done a great job at running back but having that one-two punch is going to be a good combination. He was playing well for us before he got injured, does a lot of things in the pass game and in the run game, so it will be good to have both guys in there.“

New York will need to slow down the Niners’ own 1-2 punch of Gore and Hyde, but come in ranking dead last in the NFL with 404.9 yards allowed per game and 144.7 on the ground.

“(The 49ers) are going to run. That is their deal,“ said Coughlin. “They are going to set things up with the run. You have to be very, very good and very, very strong. We need turnovers. We need field position. We need all the things we always talk about.“

The Giants allowed Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson to run for over 100 yards and face another mobile signal-caller in Kaepernick.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

San Francisco’s offense has been motored by its ground game and has the chance to expand on its numbers against a struggling Giants front line.

Stopping Kaepernick and Gore will be key for New York, which is tied for second in the NFL with 13 interceptions but won’t get a chance to make those plays in the secondary if San Francisco has no issues moving the ball on the ground.

Manning, meanwhile, has the unfortunate task of facing a motivated and fresh Smith, who should be in the quarterback’s face all day long. That should make a healthy Jennings a big focus to the offense, but the Giants can’t afford to fall behind.

Predicted outcome: 49ers 23, Giants 16


►  Script flipped: Seahawks face tough road test in Kansas City

There isn’t much disputing that the Seattle Seahawks are one of the toughest teams to play on their home field.

That script has been flipped, though, when the Seahawks visit their former division rival in the Kansas City Chiefs.

Seattle hopes to pick up a rare victory in Kansas City this Sunday as the two 6-3 clubs aim to keep pace in their respective division in a clash at Arrowhead Stadium.

The Seahawks picked up their 21st victory in their past 23 home games last weekend, using a 21-point fourth quarter to rally past the New York Giants by a 38-17 margin.

Seattle ran for a franchise-record 350 yards, with Marshawn Lynch picked up 140 on 21 carries with a career-high four touchdown runs. Quarterback Russell Wilson joined him with 107 yards and a score on 14 carries as he threw for only 172 yards while getting picked off twice.

“I really liked the way we finished this football game in general,“ said Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll. “We came in at halftime down 17-14 and we just picked up and took off with it.“

Seattle won its third straight game to remain in second place in the NFC West, two games back of the 8-1 Arizona Cardinals.

The reigning Super Bowl champions don’t have an easy road in their quest to return to the postseason. The Seahawks’ next six games are all against playoff contenders, including two meetings each with Arizona and San Francisco as well as this road test versus Kansas City and a trip to Philadelphia in early December.

That makes picking up a victory this Sunday key, but Seattle is just 5-20 at Arrowhead Stadium.

The Chiefs are 32-18 all-time versus the Seahawks, who used to be in the AFC West with Kansas City prior to re-alignment in 2002, and have not lost to Seattle since at home since 1999.

Following an 0-2 start to the season, head coach Andy Reid’s Chiefs have won six of seven, including each of their last four games. They also rallied last weekend to pick up a win, overcoming a 10-point deficit to best the Buffalo Bills 17-13.

Running back Jamaal Charles and quarterback Alex Smith followed a similar mold to Seattle as both ran for touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Charles rushed for 98 yards on 15 carries, while Smith threw for 177 yards.

“There are games you’re gonna have like this where everything is not pretty and you’ve got to play through it,“ said Kansas City head coach Andy Reid. “There’s a certain toughness that it takes, not only to play in the National Football League, but to be able to come back from a deficit like that. Our guys showed that today.“

Kansas City has outscored its opponents 79-22 in the fourth quarter this season and is game back of 7-2 Denver for first place in the division.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

The ground game should factor heavily into this meeting, with both teams ranking in the top five to compliment a pair of passing attacks that are the bottom three in the league.

Seattle, in fact, is leading the NFL with 170.9 yards per game on the ground, while Kansas City is fifth at 135.8 YPG.

The Seahawks’ 350 rushing yards last weekend for the most by a team since Cleveland had 351 versus Kansas City in 2009, and Lynch became the first Seahawks player to rush for four touchdowns in one game since Shaun Alexander against Houston on October 16, 2005.

Lynch has six touchdowns in his past two games after having only three through his first seven and also hit the 100-yard mark for the first time since having 110 in Week 1 versus Green Bay.

“He’s playing his best football,“ said Wilson of Lynch. “When we get our passing game going, it’ll be really hard to stop us.“

The Seahawks became the first team in NFL history to have a running back rush for at least four touchdowns and a quarterback to run for more than 100 yards in the same game.

Seattle’s 350 yards were also the most allowed in a game since Kansas City ran for 352 yards against Indianapolis on December 23, 2012. Charles had 226 of those yards on the ground.

Charles has eight touchdowns, two of those receiving, in his last six games and ran for 173 yards and a score the only other time he faced Seattle.

Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe led the Chiefs with eight catches for 93 yards, both season highs, last week and had 13 receptions for 170 yards and three scores when the Chiefs beat the Seahawks 42-24 in Seattle on November 28, 2010.

“Dwayne is a tough matchup for people because of his size and strength so we thought we could utilize that (against the Bills),“ said Reid. “They were playing man coverage, so we tried to take advantage of that. Alex had another good game, had a lot of tight throws and he was under some pressure. That’s a good front. So he hung in there.“

Bowe may be needed for more production in this game given that Seattle ranks fourth in the NFL against the run, yielding only 79.8 yards per game.

However, Seattle lost defensive tackle Brandon Mebane for the rest of the season due to a hamstring injury suffered versus the Giants. The 311-pounder had 20 tackles in nine games and helped clog lanes up the middle.

Carroll noted that Kevin Williams, a former Pro Bowler with Minnesota, will see a bigger role with Mebane out along with Tony McDaniel and Jordan Hill.

“All those guys are good football players,“ said Carroll. “They’re all doing good stuff. Their makeup is a little different and their style. I mean there is nobody like Mebane. He’s a very unique player. He’s had, I think, the best season he’s had since he’s we’ve been here to this point—most consistent, best factor so that’s a big hit to take. But our guys that go in play good football too so we will expect them to play up and maintain the level.“

Carroll’s defense may also get safety Kam Chancellor and linebacker Malcolm Smith back this weekend after both were inactive versus the Giants due to groin injuries, while linebacker Bobby Wagner is close to returning from his toe issue.

Kansas City’s strength on defense is its pass defending as the club leads the NFL with just 205.3 yards allowed through the air. The Chiefs are second in the league with 16.8 points allowed per game, and though they are giving up 115.6 YPG on the ground, they have yet to allow a rushing touchdown or a 300- yard passer.

Linebacker Justin Houston leads the NFL with 12 sacks, posting 10 of those and a forced fumble in the last seven games, while the Chiefs as a whole are third with 28 sacks.

“Yeah, he does a pretty good job. Glad he’s on our team,“ Reid said of Houston.

The Chiefs have allowed just 12.4 points per game in their last four.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

These clubs are hitting their stride after some earlier struggles, but neither are without flaws. Both have struggled to consistently move the ball through the air and have masked some scoring issues with great defensive efforts.

While Lynch against Charles is a great individual battle, the mobility of Wilson over Smith could be the tipping point.

Seattle has not historically traveled well to Kansas City, but it has yet to play at Arrowhead Stadium in the Russell Wilson era. As long as Wilson is safe with the ball, the Seahawks should be able to steal a big game on the road.

Predicted outcome: Seahawks 20, Chiefs 17


►  Raiders aim to avoid 16th straight loss

Just when you think the New York Jets, Jacksonville Jaguars or Tampa Bay Buccaneers have cornered the NFL’s market on suffering, consider the Oakland Raiders.

The Silver and Black are 0-for-9 this season and 0 for their last 15 overall, which is the league’s longest streak of futility since St. Louis lost 17 consecutive games across the 2008 and 2009 seasons.

The Raiders have lost seven straight on the road heading into this weekend’s visit to AFC West rival San Diego, though the Chargers - who’ve lost three in a row of their own - are playing it predictably diplomatic by assuming their opponent’s “Commitment to Excellence” could return at any moment.

“Normally if it was a non-divisional game you might view it a little different,“ San Diego linebacker Jarret Johnson said. “But this is the Raiders. We know how talented they are, we know how hard they play and if you take them for granted, if you look at them just for the record, you’re a fool.“

Maybe so, but the level to which Oakland has stumbled was again revealed last week.

Their Week 10 home outing resulted in a 41-17 thrashing by the Denver Broncos in which the hosts churned out just 30 rushing yards and 222 yards of total offense. The paltry offensive numbers also included an inglorious stat - the Raiders didn’t muster a first down on the ground for the whole game, the first time that’s occurred since 2006.

“They’re looking for the gold at the end of the rainbow and it hasn’t been there,“ coach Tony Sparano said. “We have to stay the course and believe in the things that we’re doing and we’re getting better as a football team.“

Rookie quarterback Derek Carr continued an uneven first-year performance that’s yielded a 67.7 passer rating in his last four starts, while he’s completed 61.4% of his throws for four touchdowns, four interceptions and 386 yards.

In his initial meeting with the Chargers - a 31-28 loss in Week 5 - he had four TD passes, including a 77-yarder to Andre Holmes just three plays into the game.

“It’s not just Derek,“ Sparano said. “I know we want to make this just about Derek, but it’s not really about Derek.“

And in San Diego, it’s no longer about the five-game win streak that provided a nice playoff perch.

Instead, those riches have quickly been frittered by a skid that reached three games with an ugly 37-0 defeat at Miami two weeks ago, before the team had its bye in Week 10.

Since beating the Raiders on October 12, the Chargers have lost to Kansas City, Denver and the Dolphins by progressively worsening margins of three, 14 and 37 points. And, if the postseason tournament began today they would be on the outside looking in.

Not exactly what wide receiver Eddie Royal had in mind a month ago.

“As a competitor you just hate losing and you know that feeling and you never want to have it again,“ he said. “So that kind of motivates you to come out and work that much harder, study a little bit more film, just so you don’t have that feeling again.“

The only problem: The funk seems to be a team-wide malady, rather than an isolated one.

San Diego has turned the ball over seven times in the three losses after having one ball-losing miscue during the five wins. The Chargers averaged 245 yards against the Chiefs, Broncos and Dolphins after gaining just short of 400 per game (395.8) in the five-week winning stretch.

On defense, the yards allowed have jumped from 289.4 during the five wins to 410.3 in the three losses.

Also, the seven takeaways generated in the victories have been reduced to zero in the three defeats.

The loss in Miami was the franchise’s first via shutout since 1999.

Optimism could return thanks to the possible re-appearance of running back Ryan Mathews, who’s missed seven games with a knee injury but is expected to start against the Raiders. He entered this season after a career-high 1,255- yard performance in 2013, thanks to an average of 4.4 yards per carry. He has just 71 yards this season on 23 attempts.

Also anticipated back is linebacker Melvin Ingram, who’s also missed seven games with a hip problem.

But it’s not just about healthy returns.

Quarterback Philip Rivers has been picked off six times, completed 62.1% of his throws and compiled a 71.2 passer rating in the losing streak. In the five wins, he’d had a 126.8 rating, connected on 71.8% of his attempts and was intercepted only once.

In the October defeat of the Raiders, he was 22-for-34 for 313 yards and three TDs.

“You’re definitely excited but those two guys aren’t going to change everything we do,“ Chargers coach Mike McCoy said. “The other 10 guys on the field have got to play better with him. Ryan Mathews does not guarantee 200 yards rushing. It’s not just a couple guys coming back that all of a sudden you’re winning a football game. All 46 have got to play better, we’ve got to coach better.“

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Pick Your Poison

Three-game losing streak or not, it’s an embarrassment of riches for San Diego when it comes to statistical matchups with the Raiders. Oakland is last in the league in total offense and rushing, and third from last in points scored. On defense, the only category in which the Raiders emerge from the league’s bottom third is passing, where they are 15th overall.

Repeating History

Though the rivalry’s earliest days were dominated by the Raiders, the Chargers have definitively turned the tide since 2003 - going 18-5 in those 23 games, including a stretch of 13 consecutive wins between 2003 and 2009. Most recently, San Diego has won two in a row and five of the last six against Oakland, which has swept a season series just one time (2010) since 2001.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

Though San Diego’s Johnson was kind to the Raiders in his game-week commentary, this one has every conceivable sign of a get-well exercise for the Chargers. The hosts are better in every facet of the game and have gotten to the point in the season where victories - and the playoff positioning they’ll yield - are particularly important. It’s hard to fathom Oakland competing what that over 60 minutes.

Predicted outcome: Chargers 24, Raiders 14


►  Rams turn back to Hill with Peyton, Broncos looming

It all depends on how you look at things.

If you’re a statistics nut, you can look at the No. 27 ranking in points allowed per game (27.9) and No. 25 ranking in rushing yards allowed (124.2) and assume the St. Louis Rams are in a world of hurt this weekend when they host the Denver Broncos.

Or, you can recognize that the Rams have registered a league-best 16 sacks since Week 7, including eight against San Francisco in their first November outing and three more last week on the road against Arizona and think it might be Peyton Manning who’s in for a long day at the Edward Jones Dome.

Defensive end Robert Quinn has six of the aforementioned 16 sacks in the last four games and will be the leader of a pack whose aim on Sunday will be finding a way to slow down the preposterously prolific Manning in his 16th (healthy) NFL season.

The 38-year-old threw five touchdowns in a 41-17 defeat of Oakland last week, has at least two TD passes in 15 straight games and at least one in 48 straight - the third- longest streak in league history.

In three career meetings with the Rams, he’s got five touchdowns and one interception.

“I can’t remember a time when he was playing any better,“ Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. “He’s playing his best ball right now. He’s got great people around him, he’s really got a good feel, he’s not going to take a sack, he’s not going to make a bad decision. It’s very, very difficult to defend.“

Tight end Julius Thomas caught his 12th TD pass of the season against Oakland, tying Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Frank Clarke and Bill Groman as the only players to reach that number in nine games. No other tight end has ever caught 12 scoring passes in two straight seasons.

“They’ve done an outstanding job of putting outstanding players around (Manning),“ Fisher said. “This is the best cast of playmakers he’s ever had, and obviously the results are showing that.“

As for the Rams’ results, well… let’s just say they’re a little different.

St. Louis has averaged 11.3 points and 212.3 yards in its last three games, with quarterback Austin Davis completing just 57% of his passes for three touchdowns, five interceptions and 481 yards.

Fisher said Wednesday that veteran Shaun Hill will start against Denver.

In his lone appearance this season, Hill was 8-for-13 for 81 yards and an interception in a 34-6 loss to Minnesota in Week 1.

“Obviously it sparks your excitement a little bit and all those things,“ Hill said, “but as far as preparation goes, everything’s the same.“

Running the ball may not be an option for the Hill-led attack, considering that the Rams haven’t exceeded 91 yards on the ground in their last three games after going for 102 or better in four of their first six. Denver is the NFL’s best team at stopping the run, to the tune of 67 yards per game.

On the flip side, the Broncos have a handful of rushing options to complement Manning’s aerial circus act. Montee Ball is anticipated back for the first time since Week 5 and the Broncos are coming off a game in which C.J. Anderson accounted for 163 total yards against Oakland - including a 51-yard TD on a screen pass and a career-best 90 run yards on 13 carries.

It’s almost enough to make you forget that Ronnie Hillman, who has a pair of 100-yard rushing games this season, will miss the St. Louis contest with a sprained foot.

Denver is 26th in the league with an average of 96.8 rushing yards per game, but the Broncos have gone for 115 or more yards on the ground in four of the last five games - and have surpassed 100 yards in five of nine games. They only ran for 43 in a 43-21 loss at New England in Week 9.

“We’ve been pretty fortunate to have some guys stepping in and doing a good job,“ coach John Fox said. “It’s a tribute to those guys being on top of their craft.“

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Punish that Man(ning)

Last season, each of Denver’s three losses came in games where Manning’s yards per pass attempt were among his five lowest averages of the season. In order to stay remotely competitive this weekend, the Rams must create havoc and force No. 18 to deliver the ball before he wants to, thereby limiting his down-the-field options. Quinn frequently getting his hands on Manning is a must-have for St. Louis.

Running Men

Whether it’s by utilizing Zac Stacy and Tre Mason off the current roster - or finding someone who can channel the Eric Dickerson and Marshall Faulk efforts of years past - the Rams simply must find a way to run the ball. Hill hasn’t started since Week 1 and he’s not likely to win the game with his arm, so churning out yardage (and keeping Manning of the field) is the offensive key to the vault.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

OK, let’s be realistic here. Is it possible the Rams win? Sure. Even the best teams in the NFL typically lose three or four games every season. But given just about every existing reality, it seems awfully unlikely that St. Louis has the stuff to compete for 60 minutes. Unless there’s an injury or unless Denver starts producing turnovers at the rate it’s been producing points, it doesn’t look good for the home side.

Predicted outcome: Broncos 31, Rams 17


►  ‘Brady Backup Bowl’ Hoyer’s Browns host Mallett’s Texans

It’s more than 900 miles from the place he became a collegiate standout and more than 600 miles from where he was drafted - but as it turns out, the Ryan Mallett Era will officially begin at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland.

Now a fourth-year pro with precisely one completed pass to his name, Mallett will become an NFL starter this week when he takes the reins of the Houston Texans’ offense against the host Browns.

Mallett lost a yard on a single carry this season while serving as an understudy to Ryan Fitzpatrick through Houston’s first nine games, but was named the starter for the rest of the season by coach Bill O’Brien as the team emerged from its Week 10 bye. The former University of Arkansas star had spent his initial three seasons as Tom Brady’s caddy after the New England Patriots drafted him in 2010.

He was acquired by the Texans for a draft pick in August.

“I’ve been waiting four years for this,“ Mallett said. “Now it’s my time to have an opportunity to show what I can do.“

Fitzpatrick had failed to reach 300 passing yards in a single game this season and Houston is 28th among 32 teams with a per-game passing average of 209.7. Still, the Texans already have twice the wins this year (four) than they’d managed in 2013 (two) while being led at various times by Matt Schaub, Case Keenum and T.J. Yates - none of whom are still on the roster.

And wide receiver Andre Johnson, who had six 100-yard games last season but none this year, doesn’t pretend that the cure to all Houston’s ills - the team has lost four of five since a 3-1 start - is a regime change under center.

“Whoever is at quarterback, it doesn’t matter,“ he said. “We all have to go out and do our jobs. It’s not just going to be about him. It’s going to be about all of us. All of us need to step our game up and go out and play the way we know how to play.“

The Texans were beaten at home, 31-21, by Philadelphia in their last game before the week off.

Running back Arian Foster, who leads the AFC with 822 yards, left that game with a groin injury but is expected back to meet the Browns. Assuming he plays, he’ll be matched for the first time with former Houston understudy Ben Tate, who’s now in Cleveland.

Tate ran for a team-high 771 yards last season while Foster was limited to eight games by injury, and he began his stint with the Browns as the premier back, but now shares time with Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell. All three had rushing touchdowns in Cleveland’s 24-3 defeat of Cincinnati in Week 10.

“We’re winning,“ Tate said. “We’re 6-3 and in first place, that’s all that really matters.“

The Browns will start their own former Brady backup at quarterback in the form of Brian Hoyer, who’s been clinically efficient this season while throwing interceptions at a low rate (1.5% of his passes) that’s surpassed by only Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger and Carson Palmer.

He and Mallett were teammates in New England in 2011.

The Texans defense that will line up against him is in various levels of disarray thanks to a rash of injuries. Cornerback Kareem Jackson is not expected to play with a knee problem, though his fellow cornerback, Johnathan Joseph, has cleared concussion protocol and is eligible to return. Linebacker Brian Cushing has missed two games with a knee injury and rookie Jadeveon Clowney also had a knee injury before missing the Philadelphia game due to illness.

Cleveland’s presence in first place is its latest in any one season in 20 years.

It hasn’t seen the playoffs since 2002 and has lost at least 11 games in each of the last six years. A win Sunday would provide a four-game winning streak for the first time since 2009.

“There are no awards. There’s no prize for being 6-3,“ coach Mike Pettine said. “The only thing that’s done for us is our games are meaningful now. You still have to have the ability to put that one in a box and move onto the next one.“

The 21-point defeat of the Bengals was Cincinnati’s first regular-season home loss since December 2012 and saw the Browns limit the hosts to 165 total yards while forcing four turnovers. Cleveland allowed 79 yards passing - its fewest since 2011 - and its run defense has yielded 91.7 yards in the last three victories after being gashed for 155.5 in the season’s first six games.

“You have to be able to handle success,“ Browns linebacker Paul Kruger said. “Coach Pettine has done a better job than any coach I’ve even been around helping us understand that and making an emphasis on it, knowing how to handle a loss and bounce back and know how to handle a win - not overreact.“

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Will the Kid Be All Right?

Needless to say, all eyes will be on the strong-armed Mallett’s starting debut, particularly those of an opportunistic Cleveland defense. The Browns are second in the league with 13 interceptions and seventh overall with 17 takeaways. Mallett has thrown just four NFL passes - all with New England in 2012 - and was intercepted once.

Where’s 99?

While the Cleveland defense pays attention to Mallett, the offense will surely be focused on Houston defensive star J.J. Watt, who’s already amassed a season’s worth of stats through nine games. Watt has 8 1/2 sacks, seven pass deflections, 11 tackles for loss and 29 quarterback hits. And he’s become the first defensive lineman to score three touchdowns since William Perry in 1985.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

As impressive as the Browns looked in dismantling the Bengals, one need glance no farther back than Week 7 to discover reason for caution. Back then, coming off a 21-point rout of Pittsburgh, Cleveland was the toast of the Sunday preview shows - and then lost, 24-6, at winless Jacksonville.

If Mallett is as good as many think he is, the Texans have plenty of reasons to believe a road win is within reach.

Predicted outcome: Texans 21, Browns 20


►  Saints hope to regain Superdome mojo against Bengals

If you’re the New Orleans Saints, you’d love to be happy about your first-place standing in the jumbled NFC South with seven games to play.

But then you look at your record - 4-5 - and reality begins to creep in.

“In this league, you have to earn them each week,“ coach Sean Payton said. “There’s a number of games we won referencing other seasons, that easily could have went a different direction. It’s what drives you to get back to practice and get back to prepare and focus quickly on the best way to correct it. We have to continue to be teaching. We have to continue to covering the details and understand that this is a different team.“

New Orleans stumbled from the gate at 2-4, but whipped Green Bay and Carolina in weeks 8 and 9 to get back to .500 and regain the look of a would-be NFC contender. A Week 10 loss in overtime to San Francisco, however, again dipped the record below break-even and ended an 11-0 run at home.

The 49ers converted on a fourth down with less than two minutes remaining on a drive that tied the game, then pounced on a Drew Brees fumble in New Orleans territory in the extra session and ultimately kicked a decisive field goal.

The Saints have turned the ball over 18 times in nine games, and have led in the fourth quarter of four of their five losses. Brees has 10 interceptions this season after throwing 12 in all of 2013.

“Something’s got to get fixed,“ he said. “I’m not happy about it. I can’t turn the ball over at the rate I’m turning it over and I can’t turn it over in the situations that I’m turning it over. I’m aware of that.“

When it’s successful, the offense remains capable of big numbers.

New Orleans is second in the league in total yardage (435.0 yards per game) and third in passing yardage (304.8 yards per game). It’ll face a Cincinnati defense this week that will likely be without linebacker Vontaze Burfict after he underwent knee surgery in late October. Another linebacker, Rey Maualuga, is questionable with a hamstring problem that’s kept him out of four games.

The absences haven’t helped the Bengals statistically at all.

In fact, Cincinnati is now allowing yardage at a 391.9 rate per week, third from last in the league.

“We don’t have to turn anything, but turn ourselves, and right the ship, and go get ready to play in New Orleans,“ coach Marvin Lewis said. “We’ve got to go back and play football our way. We lost the football game. We didn’t fall off a cliff.“

Cincinnati was the league’s last unbeaten team at 3-0, but was humbled, 43-17, by New England in a Sunday night game in Week 5 and has gone a pedestrian 2-2 since. The Bengals scored 27 and 33 points in wins over Baltimore and Jacksonville, but managed a combined three in losses to Indianapolis and Cleveland.

The loss to the Browns last week dropped them behind the Browns in the AFC South.

Running back Giovani Bernard remains doubtful with a hip injury, though first- year man Jeremy Hill has managed 209 rushing yards and 5.8 yards per carry in the last two games. Bernard, who has 625 yards from scrimmage and has scored five times, did not practice on Wednesday.

Wide receiver A.J. Green, on the other hand, is expected to play for a third straight week after missing three games with a foot problem. He’s caught six passes for 67 yards and a touchdown in that pair.

Aerial mate Mohamed Sanu caught just two balls against the Browns, but has registered the NFL’s 10th-best yardage total in the last five weeks - since Green’s initial injury.

Quarterback Andy Dalton completed just 10 of 33 passes for 86 yards and was intercepted three times against Cleveland. His 2.0 passer rating for the game was fifth-worst in league history in a game with 30 or more passes, and it predictably ratcheted up the scrutiny on a player who signed a six-year, $115 million contract in August.

He’s on pace to fewer than 20 touchdowns for the first time in his career - now in its fourth season - and also trending toward 800 fewer yards than last season, which would be the first time he’s not exceeded the yardage total of the prior season.

“We’ve got to find a way to be consistent,“ Dalton said. “We haven’t been in the losses. That’s what it comes down to. Every week we have to come to play. We have to find a way to do that.“

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Foolin’ Dalton

The Browns wreaked havoc on a typically prolific Cincinnati quarterback by expertly disguising the way that their safeties would be utilized, sometimes right up until the snap of the ball. Upon the snap, they’d rotate positions and ultimately forced Dalton into the single worst game of his career and one of the worst by an NFL starter in decades. The Saints, however, are just 24th in the league in pass defense.

Work Your Weapons

Whether he’s in a funk or not, it’s clear that Brees has options to help share the load. His run game has been buffeted recently by the re-emergence of former college star Mark Ingram, who’s averaged 27 carries and 131 yards in his last three games. Ingram’s 4.8 yards per carry is ninth in the league. And then there’s always tight end Jimmy Graham, who leads the team in catches (56) and yards (594).

OVERALL ANALYSIS

At this point, it might come down to which team would you least like to be? Brees and the Saints have been a season-long enigma, while Dalton and the Bengals clearly haven’t been the same since the 26-point whipping administered by the Patriots in early October. When it comes to possible tie-breakers, look no further than the fact that New Orleans rarely loses at home. Translation: Brees gets it done late.

Predicted outcome: Saints 27, Bengals 23


►  Bears try to change Soldier Field fortunes against Vikings

There is plenty of blame to go around in Chicago.

Quarterback Jay Cutler, coach Marc Trestman, defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, general manager Phil Emery ... take your pick. Just understand Jim McMahon, Mike Ditka, Buddy Ryan and Jerry Vainisi aren’t coming through the door at Halas Hall to fix things.

The reeling Bears will try to halt a three-game losing streak and win for the first time at Soldier Field this season when they host the improving Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.

“This has been a very disturbing stretch of three weeks,“ Trestman understated. “There’s no doubt about it. But we’re focused in and the only way we can work our way out of this is to go get ready for Minnesota.“

Trestman is in charge of a team that suffered a 51-23 loss to New England prior to its bye week on October 26 and came back from the break even worse, surrendering 55 to Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay on “Sunday Night Football” in Week 10.

In doing do the Bears became the first team since the 1923 Rochester Jeffersons to allow 50 points or more in consecutive games. They’ve also allowed their opponents to hit the half-century mark three times in 11 games, after doing it only six times overall in the previous 93 years.

“We’re not a very good football team right now,“ Trestman said. “The level of play is not anywhere near where it needs to be and it starts with me.“

Observers looking for an easy scapegoat have focused on Tucker but Trestman has stuck by his defensive chief for now.

“(Mel) is doing everything he can under the circumstances to coach, to teach and to lead that side of the ball, and he’s got a very good staff with him,“ Trestman said.

Chicago has lost three straight and five of six overall, the latest of which was a 55-14 drubbing at the hands of its biggest rival during a national television showcase.

Rodgers threw all of his six touchdown passes in the first half, tying the Packers franchise record for touchdown passes in a game. The All-Pro finished with 315 yards on 18-of-27 passing and matched the NFL record for most TD passes in 30 minutes of football, which was originally set by Oakland’s Daryle Lamonica in 1969.

Cutler completed 22-of-37 passes for 272 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions in the setback while Brandon Marshall had eight catches for 112 yards and a score despite suffering a left ankle sprain. Chris Williams also returned a kickoff 101 yards for a touchdown for Chicago.

The Vikings, meanwhile, won two straight before their bye week, including a heart-stopping 29-26 win over Washington back on November 2.

Matt Asiata finished that game with just 26 rushing yards on 10 carries but his third touchdown of the contest proved to be the difference. Rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater went 26-for-42 for 268 yards with a touchdown for Minnesota.

“It was a great team victory and I’m really proud of the ways the guys fought,“ said Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer. “I feel like our team really grew up today in a lot of ways. We went down a couple of times, and kept fighting and fighting and it paid off.“

The Vikings lead their all-time series with the Bears by a 54-50-2 margin but have dropped six straight in Chicago dating back to October 14, 2007.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

The Bears probably aren’t allowing 50 points here simple because Bridgewater is a rookie going through the understandable growing pains and Minnesota remains without Adrian Peterson, who is still sidelined after pleading no contest to a misdemeanor reckless assault charge last week.

That doesn’t mean the Vikings can’t do some damage though. Chicago’s defense is allowing a league-high 30.8 points per game and ranks 28th against in the NFL against the pass, surrendering 268.6 yards per game.

Bridgewater, meanwhile, is starting to “get it,“ leading Minnesota to back-to- back fourth-quarter comebacks before the bye.

“I think we showed some resiliency there,“ Zimmer said. “I think our team grew up a little bit.“

Without Peterson the Vikings have relied on rookie speedster Jerick McKinnon, who leads all rookies in rushing with 446 yards and ranks sixth in the NFL at 5.0 yards per carry. When Minnesota gets inside the red zone, it turns to the tackle-busting Asiata, who has nine rushing TDs since Week 15 of last season, second in the league over that span.

Bridgewater could also be getting talented tight end tight end Kyle Rudolph back. The ex-Notre Dame star has missed the previous six games following sports hernia surgery.

“That’s up to coach Zimmer and Sugs (trainer Eric Sugarman),“ Rudolph said of returning. “I’m excited to be back. I’m excited to do what I can to help this team win and stay on a roll.“

The main issue for Chicago’s D has been the pass rush and ex-Vikings All-Pro Jared Allen has been a disappointment after signing a big-money free agent deal in the offseason. Allen, of the league’s most prolific pass rushers while in Minnesota, has just 1 1/2 sacks and has been slowed by injury and illness.

“It’s not like we don’t have talent,“ Allen said on a conference call. “We went, home opener on the road against the 49ers and were able to come back from 17 down. It’s in us.“

Allen has a chance to be revitalized this week because Vikings left tackle Matt Kalil is having a poor season, Bridgewater will hold onto the football longer than he should at times, and the veteran will likely bring an extra gear to show up his old ‘mates.

“I think from what I’ve seen so far, (Kalil’s) firing off well in the run game. He’s been beat a few times in the pass game but, you know, who doesn’t get beat a few times?“ Allen said. “He’s a good player, he still has good technique We’re going to have to take advantage of situations because he knows me, I know him and we’ll have to see whose technique is better Sunday.“

Under Zimmer the Vikings have been one of the most improved teams defensively. Minnesota is fourth in all of football against the pass thanks to a ferocious rush that has produced 20 sacks over the last four games.

Athletic defensive end Everson Griffen, Allen’s replacement, is the ringleader there with a career-high nine sacks. Griffen has recorded a sack in five consecutive games and has seven overall over that span.

Overall, the Vikings defense ranks ninth, allowing 316.4 yards per game and is sixth best at forcing three-and-outs.

Conversely Cutler has been responsible for 15 turnovers and has been sacked 23 times.

“I think the biggest thing is that Jay has got to play better,“ Trestman admitted. “He didn’t play well enough (against Green Bay) and I’m certain that he’d take accountability for that.“

Marshall expects to play despite the injury suffered against the Packers.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

Sometimes this game is all about confidence and little else.

Cutler and the Bears always lose to Rodgers and the Packers and arrived in Green Bay shoulders slumped, expecting to lose. Conversely, Mr. Cavallari has won six of his past seven starts against the Vikings and always beats them in the Second City. Figure on the Bears stopping the bleeding here, if only for one week.

“Through any career you have adversity,“ Trestman said. “When those times come you have to embrace it and move forward and be resilient, and that’s what we’re trying to do collectively and individually.“

Predicted outcome: Bears 23, Vikings 14

►  NFL Game Results - Week 11

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 13


Final Score: Miami 22, Buffalo 9

Ryan Tannehill had two touchdown passes in the second half and the Miami defense kept Buffalo out of the end zone, as the Dolphins downed the Bills, 22-9, on Thursday night. Tannehill finished the game 26-of-34 for 240 yards and his touchdown passes went to Jarvis Landry and Brandon Gibson as the Dolphins (6-4) bounced back from Sunday’s late loss at Detroit. The win moves Miami to 1 1/2 games back of New England for the top spot in the AFC East, and also kept the team in the thick of the wild card race. Kyle Orton was a paltry 22-of-39 for 193 yards and Dan Carpenter kicked three field goals to account for all the points for the Bills (5-5), who have dropped their last two games.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Darren Sproles: the most overrated fantasy player

Let me make this perfectly clear; this article is not a knock on Philadelphia Eagles’ running back Darren Sproles as an NFL player, as opposed to it being an evaluation of him, as a fantasy football player.

He is an integral part to the success of the Eagles, but with that being said, Sproles is also one of the riskiest plays of the 2014 fantasy football season.

According to Yahoo, Sproles is tied with teammate, Philadelphia LeSean McCoy, for 17th among running backs, with 83.3 fantasy points. This is pretty impressive considering the fact that McCoy has 194 total offensive-touches, compared to Sproles’ 57 touches.

However, the reason why Sproles has been able to stay on par with McCoy is a result of two punt returns for touchdowns, along with a 6.6 yards per carry average (McCoy is averaging 3.7 yards per carry).

While fantasy owners are thrilled with the production he is giving them through the first 10 weeks, does that still mean Sproles is a reliable play for the duration of the season?

I say, absolutely not.

Over the first two weeks of the season when he accumulated 15 touches (non- special team touches) for 85 yards and a touchdown, and 11 touches for 178 yards, respectively, Sproles has failed to total more than seven attempts in any game. There is no denying the explosiveness he brings with the potential to score on any play, but with so much uncertainty with how many times Sproles will touch the ball week-to-week, he is turning into the ultimate boom-or-bust candidate.

Two games that Sproles really stood out in, both occurred on Monday Night Football, resulting in more national exposure, which in turn allowed more fantasy owners to see how dynamic he really is. Yet, while owners should always consider starting a big-play guy, it is essential to be aware of the player’s overall numbers.

Since the start of Week 3, Sproles is averaging just 5.1 touches per game and only 38.3 yards per game from scrimmage, while scoring two offensive touchdowns during that span.

To go along with those numbers, Sproles has recorded more than 10 fantasy points just once since Week 2. That occurrence was this past week, during Week 10 (14.1 points), but owners need to be aware that six of those points came on a punt return for a touchdown, along with having only two total touches from scrimmage.

Sproles will continue to be a player that will give owners big plays, but for a guy who has totaled over 10 fantasy points just three times in 2014, it is hard to assume he will have more than one or two big games, during the remaining seven weeks. When a player is averaging only 5.1 touches per game, over the past eight weeks (six total games due to bye week and knee injury), my recommendation would be to keep that player on the bench.  ~~  Max Zelenko ~~



The Gilmer Free Press

►  MEC Preseason All-America Honors

West Liberty’s C.J. Hester and Notre Dame’s Lawrence DeArmond have recently garnered preseason All-America honors from several outlets.

Hester, a senior from West Mifflin, PA, earned All-America honors from Basketball Times and The Sporting News in addition to being named one of D2Bulletin.com’s “Super 16.“ Hester helped the Hilltoppers to the NCAA Finals last year averaging 14.8 points and 8.4 rebounds per game.

DeArmond, a senior from Cincinnati, Ohio, earned preseason All-America honors by The Sporting News. DeArmond is the league’s leading returning scorer after averaging 21.5 points per game last season.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  NBA Game Results

(Thursday, November 13)


Final Score: Memphis 111, Sacramento 110

Courtney Lee’s remarkable, albeit controversial, layup at the buzzer capped a furious fourth-quarter comeback that lifted the Memphis Grizzlies to a thrilling 111-110 victory over the Sacramento Kings. Lee flew through the air to catch Vince Carter’s inbounds feed and got a reverse off-balance shot to fall as time expired, though television replays appeared to show the Kings’ Ryan Hollins getting a hand on the pass, which would have started a clock that had just 0.3 seconds showing at the start of the play. After a review that lasted several minutes, the basket was upheld to give the Grizzlies their 18th consecutive regular-season home win dating back to the 2013-14 campaign. Lee finished with 16 points and Mike Conley had 22 with 11 assists for Memphis, which overcame a 24-point third-quarter deficit and trailed 103-86 with under 7 1/2 minutes left before rallying back.


Final Score: Chicago 100, Toronto 93

Pau Gasol kept the Bulls in striking distance early and a lopsided third quarter helped give Chicago a hard-earned 100-93 road victory over the Toronto Raptors. The Bulls were cruising after outscoring the Raptors, 35-14, in the third and were ahead by 18 points with under five minutes left in regulation. A 14-1 Raptors run and another Derrick Rose injury scare provided some late drama, but Chicago held on and improved to 5-0 on the road for the first time since the 1996-97 season. Rose, who was playing consecutive games for just the second time this season, netted 20 points but sat the final two minutes after appearing to roll his already injured left ankle. The Bulls initially called it a hamstring injury. Gasol scored 19 of his 27 points in the first half and added 11 rebounds for the Bulls, who received 21 points from Jimmy Butler and 14 from Mike Dunleavy.


Final Score: Dallas 123, Philadelphia 70

Dirk Nowitzki needed just eight shots to score 21 points and the Dallas Mavericks embarrassed the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday, 123-70, at American Airlines Center. Monta Ellis netted 17 points, Chandler Parsons and Brandan Wright both added 14 and Tyson Chandler pulled down 10 rebounds in Dallas’ ninth straight home win over Philadelphia. Dallas surpassed its biggest margin of victory in franchise history, which was 50. The 76ers, who remained the lone winless team in the NBA, welcomed back reigning rookie of the year Michael Carter-Williams, but his return to the hardwood took a backseat to the beating Philadelphia was handed. Carter- Williams missed the entire preseason and the team’s first seven regular season games after undergoing surgery on his right shoulder in May. He came off the bench and scored a team-high 19 points on 6-of-19 shooting.


Final Score: Golden State 107, Brooklyn 99

Klay Thompson scored 25 points and the Golden State Warriors fended off a late rally to top the Brooklyn Nets, 107-99, on Thursday. Draymond Green scored 17 points with eight rebounds and a career-best seven assists and Andrew Bogut did a little bit of everything, contributing 11 points, 14 rebounds, five assists and four blocked shots. Steph Curry also scored 17 with five assists, a pedestrian night by his lofty standards, as the Warriors got back in the win column following consecutive defeats. The Nets got 23 points from Jarrett Jack, who made all 10 of his shots off the bench, and 18 points apiece by Brook Lopez and Deron Williams. They shot just 3-of-16 from behind the arc.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Rounding Third: Kershaw hopes to add to his trophy case

Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw has already won the National League Cy Young Award. On Thursday he could add a Most Valuable Player Trophy to his mantel.

The Baseball Writers’ Association of American will close out its postseason awards slate when it names both the AL and NL MVP.

Kershaw became the fifth NL pitcher to win the Cy Young Award in consecutive seasons and 14th to do it unanimously on Wednesday.

Now he’ll try to become the first NL pitcher to win an MVP Award since Bob Gibson in 1968. In fact there hasn’t even been a pitcher finish in the top-3 in MVP voting since Greg Maddux finished third in 1995.

Of course, Detroit’s Justin Verlander captured both of the AL Awards in 2011.

Kershaw was simply magnificent this season, as he led the majors with a 21-3 record, an .875 winning percentage, a 1.77 ERA and an 0.86 WHIP. He was also second in the NL with 239 strikeouts, three behind Johnny Cueto of the Reds and Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals, in 27 starts.

It was the fifth consecutive season that Kershaw tallied 200 or more strikeouts. He also allowed a .197 batting average to right-handed hitters and just .193 to left-handed hitters.

Quite simply, he was the most important player on any team this season.

The argument against him will be that he only appeared in 27 games opposed to the other two NL finalists, Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen and Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins, who played in 146 and 145 games, respectively.

McCutchen, who won this award last season, put up another spectacular year for the wild card-winning Pirates, but also served time on the disabled list for the first time in his career.

Still, his numbers were almost identical to his MVP campaign from a year ago, as he batted .314 with 25 home runs, 83 RBI and a league-best .410 on-base percentage.

Pittsburgh was just 5-9 without him, while he nursed a rib fracture, then went 24-13 once McCutchen returned.

He was also the driving force for the Bucs’ second straight run to the postseason, batting .344 over his final 35 games, with an on-base percentage of .430 and an OPS of 1.024.

Stanton is trying to become the Marlins’ first-ever MVP after helping his team to a 15-win improvement from a year ago. The 6-foot-6, 240-pound outfielder led the league with 37 home runs and his 105 RBI were second in the NL.

He did miss most of the final month of the season, though, after getting hit in the face with a fastball on September 11. Stanton suffered numerous facial fractures and also lost five teeth.

Over in the American League, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim phenom Mike Trout figures to have the inside track on winning his first MVP after finishing as the runner-up to Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera the last two years.

Trout had MVP numbers the last two seasons, but the deciding factor in most voters’ eyes was the fact that Cabrera’s Tigers reached the postseason, while the Angels sat home in October.

This year, though, Trout almost willed the Halos to the postseason, as he hit .287 to go along with a league-best 115 runs scored, while setting career- highs with 36 home runs and 111 RBI. He also stole 16 bases in 18 attempts

However, he did lead the AL with 184 strikeouts, but for the third year in a row led all of baseball with a 7.9 WAR. His 338 total bases, 137 runs created and 84 extra-base hits also topped the AL.

You could make the case that this was the worst of his three seasons, but regardless, the 23-year-old is headed toward his first of what could be many AL MVP Awards.

Cleveland’s Michael Brantley and Victor Martinez of Detroit were the other AL finalists.

Brantley became the first player in Indians history to end a season with at least 20 home runs, 20 stolen bases, 45 doubles and 200 hits. He was also just the sixth player in big league history to have at least a .320 average, 20 homers, 20 steals, 40 doubles, 90 RBIs and 200 hits in one season.

Martinez, who just signed a new 4-year, $68 million deal with the Tigers batted .335 as the Tigers’ designated hitter, with 32 home runs and 103 RBI.

THE PICK: AL MVP - MIKE TROUT, LA ANGELS

NL MVP - CLAYTON KERSHAW, LA DODGERS


►  Blue Jays deal Gose to Tigers for 2B prospect Travis

The Toronto Blue Jays have acquired prospect Devon Travis from the Detroit Tigers in exchange for outfielder Anthony Gose.

Travis spent the 2014 season with Double-A Erie, where he hit .298 with 20 doubles, seven triples, 10 home runs and 52 RBI. The right-handed hitter posted a .358 on-base percentage and stole 16 bases.

Selected by Detroit in the 13th round of the 2012 first year player draft, the second baseman was recently recognized by Baseball America as the No. 1 prospect in the Tigers’ organization. Travis was named the Tigers Minor League Player of the Year in 2013.

Gose batted .226 with two homers, 13 RBI and 15 stolen bases in 94 games with the Blue Jays last season. He saw action at all three outfield positions, including 11 games at left field, 65 games at center field and 14 games at right field.

“Anthony is a true center fielder than can provide us with above average defense in center field with a good arm,“ said Tigers president, chief executive officer and general manager David Dombrowski. “He possesses above average speed and can steal bases at the major league level. He swings the bat from the left side and we feel that he will continue to improve his offensive game.“

In 202 career games with Toronto, Gose batted .234 with 71 runs scored, 21 doubles, five home runs and 36 RBI.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  NHL Game Results

(Thursday, November 13)


Final Score: Colorado 4, NY Rangers 3 (SO)

Alex Tanguay scored the decisive shootout goal as the visiting Colorado Avalanche topped the New York Rangers 4-3 on Thursday night. Tanguay hit the post late in overtime, but he wasn’t denied in the tiebreaker. The third shooter for Colorado, Tanguay faked a shot to get New York goaltender Henrik Lundqvist down and roofed the puck. Semyon Varlamov, who made two saves in the final three seconds of regulation, then stopped Lee Stempniak as Colorado celebrated just its fifth win of the season. Nathan MacKinnon tied the game with a power-play goal in the third period for the Avalanche, who rebounded from Tuesday’s 6-0 road loss to the New York Islanders. Matt Duchene scored and assisted on Tanguay’s goal, while Varlamov finished with 30 saves. All three Rangers goals came in the second period with Derek Stepan, Dan Girardi and Kevin Hayes each scoring. Lundqvist made 26 saves for New York, which was coming off an impressive 5-0 home win over Pittsburgh on Tuesday. The loss was the fifth in the last seven games for the Manhattanites.


Final Score: Winnipeg 3, Carolina 1

Blake Wheeler’s two goals and 22 saves from Michael Hutchinson enabled the Winnipeg Jets to halt the Carolina Hurricanes’ recent surge with a 3-1 victory at PNC Arena. Michael Frolik tacked on an empty-net goal, while Mark Scheifele and Mark Stuart each recorded two assists as the Jets dealt Carolina its first regulation loss in November. The Hurricanes began the month on a 5-0-1 tear after going winless in October. Elias Lindholm had the lone goal for Carolina on a second-period power play. Cam Ward stopped 34-of-36 shots in defeat.


Final Score: Montreal 5, Boston 1

Max Pacioretty potted a pair of goals as the Montreal Canadiens bested the Boston Bruins by a 5-1 count at Bell Centre. Dale Weise scored on a penalty shot, with Lars Eller and Jiri Sekac adding a tally each for the Canadiens, who tied a season high by winning their fourth straight game. Carey Price came up with 21 saves for the win, as Montreal took both home contests in the season series against their bitter rivals. Dougie Hamilton picked up the lone score for the Bruins, who failed both ends of their eastern Canadian road trip. Niklas Svedberg was on the hook for all five goals on 34 shots.


Final Score: San Jose 2, Tampa Bay 1

Antti Niemi held down the NHL’s top scoring team with 32 saves as the San Jose Sharks topped the Tampa Bay Lightning, 2-1, on Thursday. Tyler Kennedy and Joe Thornton provided goals for the Sharks, who improved to 2-2-0 on their seven-game road trip. Ben Bishop made 37 saves and Steven Stamkos scored the lone goal for the Lightning, who were edged by the Blackhawks in a shootout on Tuesday but had not lost in regulation since Oct. 25 in Minnesota.


Final Score: St. Louis 4, Nashville 3

Paul Stastny broke a tie with 5:54 remaining in the third period, and the St. Louis Blues beat the Nashville Predators 4-3 at Scottrade Center. Stastny won a faceoff and then deflected Kevin Shattenkirk’s shot from the right point past Pekka Rinne for the go- ahead tally. T.J. Oshie returned to the lineup after missing the last seven St. Louis games with a concussion and scored his first goal of the season. Vladimir Tarasenko and Carl Gunnarsson both registered a goal and an assist and Jake Allen made 22 saves for the Blues, who have won nine of their last 10 games. The lone loss was to the same visiting Predators last Saturday. Filip Forsberg scored in his sixth straight game and picked up two assists for Nashville, which had its win streak snapped at three games. Roman Josi joined Forsberg with three points, while Rinne stopped 23 shots.


Final Score: Minnesota 6, Buffalo 3

Nino Niederreiter recorded his first career hat trick as Minnesota rode a four-goal first period to a 6-3 triumph over Buffalo at Xcel Energy Center. Kyle Brodziak, Ryan Carter and Jared Spurgeon also lit the lamp for the Wild, who put a four-game losing streak to rest. Charlie Coyle and Justin Fontaine each chipped in a pair of assists. Darcy Kuemper was yanked 6:24 into the contest after allowing goals on the only two shots he faced. Niklas Backstrom picked up the win in relief by making 25 stops the rest of the way. Rasmus Ristolainen, Zemgus Girgensons and Torrey Mitchell scored for the Sabres, losers in five straight and eight of nine. Jhonas Enroth allowed five goals on 38 shots in defeat.


Final Score: Calgary 5, Arizona 3

Paul Byron tallied twice and Sven Baertschi added two assists as Calgary dropped Arizona by a 5-3 count at the Saddledome on Thursday. Mark Giordano, David Jones and Sean Monahan provided supplemental offense for the Flames, winners in five of their last seven outings. Jonas Hiller improved to 8-4-1 thanks to a 20-save effort. Shane Doan and Antoine Vermette registered a goal and helper each for the Coyotes, losers of three straight and six of nine. Joe Vitale also scored, but Mike Smith was beaten five times on just 25 shots in the setback.


Final Score: Ottawa 4, Edmonton 3 (OT)

Mike Hoffman scored at 2:39 of overtime to lift the Ottawa Senators to a 4-3 win over the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place. It was the second goal for Hoffman, who scored along with Alex Chiasson and Milan Michalek during a dominant first period for the Senators. The Oilers battled back with a goal in the second period and a pair in the third. They had a power play late in regulation, but couldn’t convert. On the game-winner, Hoffman buried a wrist shot from the high slot. Craig Anderson made 34 saves for the Senators, who snapped a three-game slide (0-1-2). Rookie Leon Draisaitl, Jordan Eberle and Jeff Petry scored for the Oilers, who have dropped six of eight. Ben Scrivens stopped 26 shots in the setback.


Final Score: Dallas 2, Los Angeles 0

Kari Lehtonen posted 27 stops for his first shutout of the year to lead the Dallas Stars in a 2-0 win over the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday. Ryan Garbutt and Jason Spezza scored for the Stars, who have won their past two after dropping seven in a row. Martin Jones allowed both goals on 27 shots for the Kings, who have lost seven of their last nine games.

The Gilmer Free Press


FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 14, 2014


National Basketball Association
Denver at Indiana, 7:00 PM - Altitude, FS-Indiana, NBA TV, DSS
Milwaukee at Orlando, 7:00 PM - FS-Wisconsin, Florida, DSS
Utah at New York, 7:30 PM - ROOT-Northwest, MSG, DSS
Cleveland at Boston, 7:30 PM - FS-Ohio, CSN-New England, DSS
Miami at Atlanta, 7:30 PM - SunSports, SportSouth, DSS
Philadelphia at Houston, 8:00 PM - CSN-Philadelphia, Houston, DSS
Detroit at Oklahoma City, 8:00 PM - FS-Detroit+, Oklahoma, DSS
Minnesota at New Orleans, 8:00 PM - FS-North, New Orleans, DSS
Charlotte at Phoenix, 9:00 PM - SportSouth, FS-Arizona, DSS
San Antonio at LA Lakers, 10:00 PM - KENS, Time Warner, ESPN


National Hockey League
New Jersey at Washington, 7:00 PM - MSG+, CSN-DC, DSS
Columbus at Philadelphia, 7:00 PM - FS-Ohio, TCN-Philadelphia, DSS
Pittsburgh at Toronto, 7:30 PM - ROOT-Pittsburgh, TSN4, TVA, DSS
Chicago at Detroit, 7:30 PM - CSN-Chicago, FS-Detroit, DSS
NY Islanders at Florida, 7:30 PM - MSG+2, FS-Florida, DSS
Arizona at Vancouver, 10:00 PM - FS-Arizona+, SNET-Pacific, DSS


College Basketball
Air Force at Army, 4:00 PM - Patriot League Network
Presbyterian at Duke, 6:00 PM - ESPN U
WM & Mary at Florida, 6:00 PM - SEC Network
Tennessee vs. VCU, 6:30 PM - CBSSN
Bryant at Connecticut, 7:00 PM - SNY, DSS
Samford at Purdue, 7:00 PM - Big Ten Network+
Florida A&M at Clemson, 7:00 PM - ESPn3.com
New Hampshire at Boston College, 7:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Howard at Miami-Florida, 7:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Belmont at Wright State, 7:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Georgia at Georgia Tech, 7:00 PM - RSN, ESPN3.com, DSS
Pace at Rhode Island, 7:00 PM - Ocean State Network
Monmouth at West Virginia, 7:00 PM - ROOT-Pittsburgh
Charleston Southern at Ole Miss, 7:00 PM - SEC Network+
Miss Valley State at Indiana, 7:00 PM - Big Ten Network
MIT at Harvard, 7:00 PM - Ivy League Digital
North Florida at South Carolina, 7:00 PM - SEC Network+
Rider at Princeton, 7:00 PM - Ivy League Digital
UMass Lowell at Ohio State, 7:00 PM - Big Ten Network+
Minnesota at Louisville, 7:00 PM - ESPN
NJIT at St. John’s, 7:00 PM - FSN
Rochester at Detroit, 7:00 PM - ESPN3.com, DSS
Northern Arizona at Xavier, 7:00 PM - FCS
Niagara at Pittsburgh, 7:00 PM - ESPN3.com
UNC Asheville at Wake Forest, 7:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Manchester at IUPU-Ft Wayne, 7:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Morgan State at Penn State, 7:00 PM - Big Ten Network+
Kennesaw State at Syracuse, 7:00 PM - ESPN3.com
MD-Eastern Shore at Virginia Tech, 7:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Alabama A&M at Dayton, 7:00 PM - WHIO
Piedmont at Mercer, 7:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Jackson State at NC State, 7:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Marist at Bucknell, 7:00 PM - Patriot League Network
FAU at Elon, 7:30 PM - American Sports Network
American University at Temple, 7:30 PM - ESPN3.com
Wagner at Maryland, 7:30 PM - ESPN3.com
South Dakota State at Buffalo, 7:30 PM - ESPN3.com
UC Santa Barbara at Kansas, 8:00 PM - ESPN3.com, DSS
Northwestern State at Texas A&M, 8:00 PM - SEC Network+
Lehigh at Villanova, 8:00 PM - FS2
North Dakota State at Texas, 8:00 PM - Longhorn Network
Georgia Southern at Illinois, 8:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Grand Canyon at Kentucky, 8:00 PM - SEC Network
Mount St. Mary’s at Arizona, 8:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
Drexel at Colorado, 8:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
College of Charleston at Furman, 8:00 PM - ESPN3.com, DSS
Edward Waters at Stetson, 8:00 PM - ESPN3.com
St. Francis (PA) at Cincinnati, 8:00 PM - ESPN3.com
NC Central at North Carolina, 8:00 PM - ESPN U
ETSU at Valparaiso, 8:30 PM - ESPN3.com
Michigan State at Navy, 9:00 PM - CBSSN
Binghamton at Notre Dame, 9:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Berry College at Lipscomb, 9:00 PM - Atlantic Sun TV
New Mexico State at Wichita State, 9:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Towson at Alabama, 9:00 PM - SEC Network
Northern Kentucky at Wisconsin, 9:00 PM - Big Ten Network
Central Arkansas at Creighton, 9:00 PM - FSN
UMKC vs. Missouri, 9:00 PM - SEC Network+
Georgia Southern at Illinois, 9:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Lamar at SMU, 9:30 PM - ESPN3.com
UT Martin at Marquette, 9:30 PM - FS-Wisconsin
Hampton at Iowa, 9:30 PM - ESPN3.com
McNeese State at Baylor, 9:30 PM - FS-Southwest
Rice at Oregon State, 10:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
CS-Northridge at San Diego State, 10:00 PM - FS-San Diego
Milwaukee at Auburn, 10:00 PM - ESPN U
Illinois-Chicago at DePaul, 10:00 PM - FS2
Ball State at Utah, 10:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
SC State at Washington, 10:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
Idaho State at New Mexico, 10:00 PM - ROOT-Rocky Mountain
Morehead State at UNLV, 10:00 PM - Mountain West Network
Chicago State at Arizona State, 10:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
Sacramento State at Gonzaga, 10:00 PM - ROOT-Northwest
Alcorn State at California, 10:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
Coppin State at Oregon, 12:00 AM - Pac-12 Network
Wofford at Stanford, 12:00 AM - Pac-12 Network
Montana State at UCLA, 12:00 AM - Pac-12 Network


Women’s College Basketball
Mount St. Mary’s at Maryland, 11:00 AM - Big Ten Network+
Nicholls at Arkansas, 12:00 PM - SEC Network+
Grambling State at Ole Miss, 12:00 PM - SEC Network+
Arkansas-Little Rock at LSU, 12:30 PM - SEC Network+
Jacksonville at Florida, 3:15 PM - SEC Network+
Siena at Buffalo, 5:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Bethune-Cookman at Stetson, 5:30 PM - ESPN3.com
Charlotte at Liberty, 6:00 PM - ESPN3.com, DSS
Florida A&M at Alabama, 6:30 PM - SEC Network+
Jacksonville State at Texas Tech, 6:30 PM - FS-Southwest+
Troy at Auburn, 7:00 PM - SEC Network+
Oral Roberts at Baylor, 7:00 PM - FS-Southwest+
Appalachian State at Kentucky, 7:00 PM - SEC Network+
George Washington at Florida Gulf Coast, 7:00 PM - ESPN3.com
College of Charleston at Kennesaw State, 7:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Penn at Tennessee, 7:00 PM - SEC Network+
Morgan State at Georgia, 7:00 PM - SEC Network+
UAB at Florida State, 7:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Illinois State at Northern Ill, 7:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Toledo at Cleveland State, 7:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Belmont at Vanderbilt, 8:00 PM - SEC Network+
Washington at Oklahoma, 8:00 PM - Sooner TV
Bradley at Illinois-Chicago, 8:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Mercer at Miss State, 9:00 PM - SEC Network+
Connecticut at UC Davis, 10:00 PM - ESPN3.com


College Football
Tulsa at UCF, 8:00 PM - ESPN 2


College Hockey
Boston University at Maine, 7:30 PM - FCS
Minnesota-Duluth at Minnesota, 8:00 PM - FS-North+


International Soccer
Sierra Leone vs. Ivory Coast, 9:55 AM - beIN Sport
United States vs. Columbia (Friendly), 2:30 PM - ESPN
Paraguay vs. Peru (Friendly), 5:55 PM - beIN Sport


Golf
EUROPEAN - Turkish Airlines Open, 4:00 AM - Golf Channel
PGA -  OHL Classic at Mayakoba, 2:00 PM - Golf Channel
LPGA - Lorena Ochoa Invitational, 5:00 PM - Golf Channel


Tennis
ATP World Finals, 7:00 AM - Tennis Channel
ATP World Finals, 12:45 PM - Tennis Channel
ATP World Finals, 3:00 PM - ESPN 2


Auto Racing
NATIONWIDE - Ford EcoBoost 300 practice, 11:30 AM - FS1
SPRINT CUP - Ford EcoBoost 400 practice, 12:30 PM - FS1
CAMPING WORLD - Ford EcoBoost 200 qualifying, 2:30 PM - FS1
NATIONWIDE - Ford EcoBoost 300 practice, 4:00 PM - FS1
SPRINT CUP - Ford EcoBoost 400 qualifying, 6:00 PM - ESPN 2
CAMPING WORLD - Ford EcoBoost 200, 8:00 PM - FS1

Sports News   141113

The Gilmer Free Press


The Gilmer Free Press

►  College Football Playoff Rankings – Week 12

Rank
Team
Record
1  Mississippi State 9-0
2  Oregon 9-1
3  Florida State 9-0
4  TCU 8-1
5  Alabama 8-1
6  Arizona State 8-1
7  Baylor 8-1
8  Ohio State 8-1
9  Auburn 7-2
10  Mississippi 8-2
11  UCLA 8-2
12  Michigan State 7-2
13  Kansas State 7-2
14  Arizona 7-2
15  Georgia 7-2
16  Nebraska 8-1
17  LSU 7-3
18  Notre Dame 7-2
19  Clemson 7-2
20  Wisconsin 7-2
21  Duke 8-1
22  Georgia Tech 8-2
23  Utah 6-3
24  Texas A&M 7-3
25  Minnesota 7-2


►  Breaking down the CFP rankings

The latest College Football Playoff rankings were released after the most recent slate of games, with an interesting twist.

TCU leapfrogged No. 5 Alabama in the playoff rankings to take the fourth spot, which would mean if the postseason began today, the Horned Frogs would be playing in the first-ever FBS playoff system and vying for a national title. Alabama, the fourth-ranked team in the AP Top 25 poll, would not.

Mississippi State, the nation’s top-ranked team, naturally remained first in the rankings, while Oregon (No. 2) and Florida State (No. 3) round out the top spots.

Alabama is the first team out of the playoff rankings at No. 5, while 8-1 Arizona State (ranked seventh in the AP poll) is the No. 6 team, two spots outside the playoffs.

The decision to move TCU up into the fourth position was one that was scrutinized by many, including Baylor supporters who argued the fact that the Bears (seventh in the CFP rankings) defeated the Horned Frogs (61-58) earlier this season. Playoff committee chairman Jeff Long explained the decision to move TCU into the top four following the release of the latest rankings, saying TCU’s two Top 25 wins versus Baylor’s one, and TCU’s loss to a Top 10 team both worked in the Horned Frogs’ favor.

“We spent a lot of time discussing the merits of the top teams this week,“ Long said. “We clearly look at the win-loss record, but we also look beyond the record to other factors indicating overall strength. Our thinking is consistent. Strength of schedule and body of work are important. Week in and week out, we will begin with a fresh look at all the teams and a clean sheet of paper, which provides us with new perspective.“

The Horned Frogs have been a bit of a surprise this season out of the Big 12 Conference, having dominated most competition, including a 41-20 beatdown of previously No. 9-ranked Kansas State last weekend. Quarterback Trevone Boykin has launched himself into the discussion for the Heisman Trophy come season’s end. TCU’s remaining three games in the Big 12 are pretty light, with Kansas, Texas and Iowa State still left.

Baylor’s fans weren’t the only ones griping against the latest rankings. Despite holding the No. 4 ranking in the AP poll, Alabama stayed pat at the fifth spot in the playoff release. Coming off a 20-13 win over LSU, Tide fans may have justified concerns.

But here’s the thing: At this point in the season, the playoff rankings don’t mean squat.

Most teams have three games remaining on the regular season schedule, including the Crimson Tide, who have two immensely important contests against SEC foes left that will catapult them into the rankings should they come away victorious.

Perhaps the biggest game of the college football season is taking place this weekend in Tuscaloosa between the Tide and top-ranked Mississippi State. The Bulldogs are one of just three remaining unbeaten teams in the country, and a win for Alabama would be the ultimate in terms of a resume boost. So complaints against the latest College Football Playoff rankings are completely unfounded at the moment with a quarter of the team’s schedule still left to be played.

Undefeated Florida State fell back one spot behind Oregon in the latest ranking release, despite the better record and higher AP Top 25 ranking, for the same reason TCU moved into the top four - the Ducks have a stronger resume. Oregon (9-1) has defeated three Top 25 teams this season in Michigan State, UCLA and Utah, while the Seminoles have just two Top 25 wins to their credit (Notre Dame and Clemson).

Long said the committee placed significant value on the quality of wins for the Ducks, which allowed them to move past Florida State.

But Oregon has a potential monster of a challenge waiting when the Ducks make it to the Pac-12 Conference championship game. If the Sun Devils can win out (against Oregon State, Washington State and Arizona), they’ll take on Oregon in the league’s title game with a possible shot at the playoffs on the line.

This season, Arizona State has lost just one game to UCLA (a 62-27 blowout), but has notable wins over USC, Stanford, Utah and Notre Dame. Non-conference scheduling has already been a reason noted for keeping teams either up or down in the playoff rankings, and both Arizona State and Baylor haven’t played particularly difficult non-conference slates.

Auburn had been a member of the top four in the playoff rankings in the first few releases, but fell back to No. 9 in the playoff standings and in the AP poll after a loss to Texas A&M last weekend. The Tigers’ playoff hopes have almost certainly been dashed with two losses on the season, but they can make up some ground with outside help plus wins over Georgia and Alabama in the final few weeks.

The team controlling its own destiny moving forward is unquestionably Alabama. It’s pointless for Tide fans to be upset about the current playoff rankings with two of the biggest games of the season standing in the way of the postseason. With a win over Mississippi State this weekend, the next CFP rankings will look considerably different.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Hill set to return as Rams’ starting QB

St. Louis Rams quarterback Shaun Hill will return to the starter’s role for Sunday’s game against Denver.

Rams coach Jeff Fisher decided to make the switch back to his original starter after Austin Davis struggled in the fourth quarter of last week’s game against Arizona.

In the 31-14 loss to the Cardinals, Davis committed three fourth-quarter turnovers, two of which were returned for touchdowns.

In nine games this season, including eight starts, Davis completed 180-of-284 passes for 2,001 yards with 12 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He also lost three fumbles.

Hill was named the St. Louis starting quarterback prior to the season after Sam Bradford tore his left ACL in the preseason. Hill left the Week 1 game against Minnesota with a thigh injury after completing 8-of-13 passes for 81 yards with an interception in the 34-6 loss.


►  Giants place KR Cox on IR

The New York Giants placed kick returner Michael Cox on injured reserve because of a fractured leg.

Cox was hurt late in Sunday’s game against Seattle after catching a pass on the Giants’ final offensive series. He averaged a team-best 23.7 yards on 11 kickoff returns and saw limited snaps on offense, rushing for 33 yards on four carries while adding two receptions for nine yards.

The Giants filled the roster spot by signing running back Orleans Darkwa off the Miami Dolphins’ practice squad.

Darkwa appeared in four games for the Dolphins earlier this season, playing mostly on special teams. He had three catches for 31 yards in a Week 2 game against Buffalo and added four carries for two yards two weeks later against Oakland.

Miami waived the Tulane product on October 06 and signed him to the practice squad two days later.

The Giants also made a practice squad move, releasing safety Kyle Sebetic and signing cornerback Josh Victorian.


►  Seahawks’ Miller to be placed on IR

Seattle Seahawks tight end Zach Miller will be placed on season-ending injured reserve due to an ankle injury.

Miller, who has been sidelined since Week 3, underwent surgery on his ankle soon after the injury but the procedure wasn’t successful and he will need a second surgery, according to Seahawks coach Pete Carroll.

The eight-year veteran recorded six receptions for 76 yards in three games this season.

The Seahawks’ depth chart at tight end now consists of Tony Moeaki, Luke Wilson and Cooper Helfet.


►  Forsett, Jarrett, Sherman nab AFC weekly honors

Baltimore Ravens running back Justin Forsett, New York Jets safety Jaiquan Jarrett and Kansas City’s Anthony Sherman have been selected as the AFC’s top players for Week 10 of the NFL season.

Forsett ended Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s two-week stint as the top offensive player after rushing for 112 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries in the Ravens’ 21-7 win over Tennessee. All but 20 of his rushing yards came in the second half when Baltimore held the ball for more than 20 of the 30 minutes.

Jarrett also helped end Roethlisberger’s run in the Jets’ 20-13 win over the Steelers. He picked up the defensive award after recording a pair of interceptions and a fumble recovery while also making 10 tackles with a sack.

Sherman was tabbed as the top special teams player, notching three tackles while forcing a fumble and recovering the loose ball in Kansas City’s 17-13 win over Buffalo. He forced Bills’ punt returner Leodis McKelvin to fumble and his recovery set up Kansas City’s go-ahead score in the fourth quarter.

Others considered for the offensive award included Denver quarterback Peyton Manning, who threw for 340 yards with five touchdowns in a 41-17 romp over winless Oakland; and Jets quarterback Michael Vick, who threw for 132 yards and two scores to help New York end an eight-game losing streak.

Defensive consideration went to Denver linebacker Brandon Marshall, who had 13 tackles in the win over the Raiders; and Cleveland cornerback Buster Skrine, who posted two interceptions and three tackles in a 24-3 win at Cincinnati.

Baltimore punter Sam Koch was nominated for the special teams award after he averaged 45.3 yards on seven punts, four of which finished inside the 20-yard line, against the Titans.


►  Rodgers highlights NFC Players of the Week

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson and Philadelphia Eagles running back Darren Sproles were named NFC Players of the week in their teams’ Week 10 wins.

Rodgers was awarded his third Offensive Player of the Week in 2014 with his six-touchdown effort in Green Bay’s 55-14 win over the Chicago Bears. All six touchdowns came in the first half, joining Oakland’s Daryle Lamonica as the only players with six TD throws in a half. He finished the game with 315 yards on 18-of-27 passing and no interceptions.

Entering the game with no interceptions on the season, Peterson picked off St. Louis quarterback Austin Davis twice in the fourth quarter to preserve the lead in Arizona’s 31-14 win over the Rams. His second was returned 30 yards for a touchdown, the fifth return touchdown of his career. This is Peterson’s fourth career Player of the Week award and the second on defense.

Sproles’ 65-yard punt return for a touchdown in the first quarter of Philadelphia’s 45-21 win over Carolina was his second of the season. Earlier in the quarter, he rushed for an 8-yard touchdown, making him the first player in NFL history to rush for a touchdown and return a punt for a touchdown in the first quarter of a game. This is his third Player of the Week award of 2014. He previously won the offensive honor in Week 2 and the special teams award in Week 4.



<The Gilmer Free Press

►  Top NCAA Basketball Games Before January

Thursday, December 04: LSU at West Virginia

Johnny Jones at LSU, like Mike Anderson at Arkansas, is still trying to make his first NCAA Tournament at the school where he was once an assistant. Also like Anderson, this should be the season in which he does it thanks to the return of Jordan Mickey and Jarell Martin.

Here are some other notable match-ups including SEC teams from Parrish’s article:

Tuesday, November 18: No. 1 Kentucky vs. No. 5 Kansas (in Indianapolis, Indiana)

Thursday, December 04: Arkansas at No. 14 Iowa State

Thursday, December 04: LSU at West Virginia

Friday, December 5: No. 7 Florida at No. 5 Kansas

Friday, December 05: No. 10 Texas at No. 1 Kentucky

Saturday, December 13: No. 6 North Carolina at No. 1 Kentucky

Saturday, December 20: No. 1 Kentucky vs. UCLA (in Chicago, Illinois)

Saturday, December 27: No. 1 Kentucky at No. 8 Louisville



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Pulse of the NBA

Pau Gasol has been released from basketball hell, which is more popularly known as playing under Mike D’Antoni, and he looks again like the player who helped the Los Angeles Lakers win two world championships.

Gasol decided on a completely fresh start over the summer and left Hollywood via free agency. The four-time All- Star then signed a three year, $22.35 million dollar contract with the Chicago Bulls.

So far, it looks like a perfect match for Gasol and his new team as the Bulls are off to a 6-2 start with Gasol clearly being their best player and playing like an All-Star.

The 13-year veteran, who is averaging 18.4 points and 11.1 rebounds, has quickly gained the respect of his new teammates and coach.

“I’m following his lead now,“ said Jimmy Butler. I think he has more [40- minute] games under his belt than I do right now. He’s playing out of his mind right now. Double-double after double-double, passing the ball, rebounding. He’s a helluva player for us.“

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau loves Gasol’s mindset and all the skills he brings to the table. “He plays for the team and to win,“ Thibodeau said. “He gets as much pleasure out of passing and doing dirty work, rebounding, as scoring. I’m just glad we have him.“

David Schuster, who covers the Bulls for WSCR radio in Chicago, says Gasol has been a perfect fit and even surprised him in one area of his game.

“His teammates absolutely love him. How can you not? His play on the court has been exactly what this team needed-a low post scorer- and on top of that he’s extremely unselfish.“

And he adds, “The most impressive thing so far is his defense. He’s never been noted for that side of the court but under Thibodeau you either play defense or you don’t play at all. His shot blocking and protection of the rim has been better than I anticipated.“

Gasol is third in the league in blocked shots, averaging 2.38 per game.

ELSEWHERE AROUND THE LEAGUE

The Blazers’ second unit averaged a league low in points (24.7) and minutes (14.2) last season, and we’ve seen a drop in their bench scoring over the first eight games, as the reserves are putting up just 23.1 points per game in 15 minutes.

The addition of free agent center Chris Kaman should be helpful, but replacing Mo Williams with Steve Blake is definitely a downgrade.

I’ve never been a fan of Blake’s game for the simple reason he is a poor shot creator and playmaker, a mediocre defender, and he almost never gets to the line as evidenced by the fact he’s averaged just 0.8 free throw attempts for his career.

I thought Portland GM Neil Olshey made a huge mistake in signing Blake over the likes of D.J. Augustin, who played so well for the Bulls last season, and Aaron Brooks, who is off to a tremendous start with Chicago, averaging 12.6 points, while shooting 52.2% from the field and 57.7% from three-point range.

With the Blazers having such little depth, Olshey better hope his starters are as durable as last year, when, with the exception of LaMarcus Aldridge, they played in all 82 games.

Speaking of benches, I think the Los Angeles Clippers took a bit of a hit there when free agent Darren Collison left to sign with the Sacramento Kings. The Clippers filled that void by signing Jordan Farmar, who previously won two championships with the Los Angeles Lakers.

I think Farmar will be a capable backup for Chris Paul, but I don’t think he’ll play up to the level of his predecessor.

Last season, Collison averaged 11.4 points and 3.7 assists and shot an impressive 46.7% from the floor and 37.6% from long range. Plus, he filled in very admirably during Paul’s 18-game absence due to a shoulder injury, when he averaged 13.3 points, 6.5 assists while shooting 47.4% from the field and 43.1% from three-point range.

In Farmar’s first seven games with the Clippers, he’s putting up only 3.9 points in just over 13 minutes a game, and is shooting 33.3% from the field.

The Memphis Grizzlies thought enough of Vince Carter that they signed the 37- year old free agent in the offseason to a three-year contract worth over four million dollars per year. And even though Carter was a key contributor off the bench for the Dallas Mavericks, Grizzlies’ coach Dave Joerger is once again making the foolish mistake of playing a long, washed up Tayshaun Prince way too many minutes and giving him more time on the floor than the eight-time All Star.

Last season for the Mavs, Carter averaged 11.9 points in just over 24 minutes a game and shot 39.4% from three-point range, while Prince averaged just 6 points in nearly 26 minutes per game and shot an abysmal 29% from downtown along with 56.7% from the line.

Carter is playing just over 15 minutes per game with Memphis, which includes one game where he was a DNP-coaches decision.

I could simply say it’s insanity the way Joerger is handling “Vinsanity”, but what it’s really called is bad coaching and not knowing your players.


►  Hawks’ Carroll out with groin strain

Atlanta Hawks forwards DeMarre Carroll and Mike Scott will miss Wednesday’s game against Utah due to injuries.

Carroll is nursing a groin strain, while Scott has a lower back contusion.

In six games this season, all starts, Carroll is averaging 12.0 points and 6.3 rebounds per contest.

Scott, one of the team’s top reserves, is averaging 9.7 points and 2.5 rebounds.


►  NBA Game Results

(Wednesday, November 12)


Final Score: Washington 107, Detroit 103

John Wall had 27 points and 11 assists and the Washington Wizards beat the Detroit Pistons 107-103 on Wednesday night for their best start to a season in almost 40 years. Rasual Butler added 18 points off the bench, Paul Pierce scored 13 and Marcin Gortat had 14 points and 13 rebounds in the win, which moved the Wizards to 6-2 for the first time since the start of the 1975-76 season. Brandon Jennings scored a game-high 32 points for the Pistons. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 20 points and Greg Monroe scored 18 in Detroit’s third straight loss.


Final Score: Atlanta 100, Utah 97

Paul Millsap and Kyle Korver burned their former team on Wednesday, combining for 47 points in the Atlanta Hawks’ 100-97 win over the Utah Jazz. Millsap, who spent the first seven years of his career with the Jazz, went for season highs of 30 points and 17 rebounds. Korver stuffed the stat sheet with 17 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. It was his 3-pointer with 58 seconds left that put the Hawks in front for good. Alec Burks paced Utah with 22 points, Derrick Favors scored 20 and Trey Burke posted 11 points with 11 assists.


Final Score: Oklahoma City 109, Boston 94

Anthony Morrow scored 19 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 109-94 win over the Boston Celtics on Wednesday. Reggie Jackson deposited 20 of his 28 points after halftime, a night after setting a career high of 29 in a loss to Milwaukee. Nick Collison supplied 12 points off the bench and Lance Thomas set career highs with 13 rebounds and six assists for Oklahoma City, which erased an early 15-point deficit to snap a two-game losing streak. Rajon Rondo returned from a one-game hiatus and filled it up with 20 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds for the Celtics, who had their two-game winning streak snapped in losing their fourth straight against the Thunder. Avery Bradley tallied 17 points and Jared Sullinger recorded 14 points with 11 rebounds. Kelly Olynyk and Jeff Green added 14 points apiece in the loss.


Final Score: Indiana 81, Miami 75

The Indiana Pacers pounded the glass against their nemesis of the last three seasons to exact just a tad of revenge. Chris Copeland’s layup with 42.8 seconds remaining gave the Pacers a late lead and they sunk their foul shots in the closing moments to hang on for an 81-75 victory over the Miami Heat on Wednesday night. Indiana, which had fallen to Miami in the past three playoffs, including the last two Eastern Conference finals, outrebounded Miami 53-28, held a 16-6 advantage on the offensive glass and posted a 19-8 spread in second chance points. Roy Hibbert tallied 16 points and 15 rebounds, Copeland netted 17 and Donald Sloan added 15 points and six boards for the Pacers, who have won two straight on the heels of a six-game losing streak. Dwyane Wade had 20 points and Shawne Williams hit four 3-pointers en route to 15 points for Miami, which has dropped three of its last five since beginning the year 3-0.


Final Score: Orlando 97, New York 95

Evan Fournier had a career-high 28 points, Nikola Vucevic scored 20 with 13 rebounds and the Orlando Magic held on to deal the New York Knicks their sixth consecutive loss on Wednesday night. The Magic survived for the 97-95 victory when a last-second 3-point attempt by J.R. Smith missed the mark. Smith was guarded by Fournier on the inbound play with 3.5 seconds left and fired the shot from several feet beyond the arc. Tobias Harris added 12 points and Elfrid Payton had eight assists for the Magic, who snapped a four-game losing streak at Madison Square Garden with only their second win in the last 10 meetings with New York. Carmelo Anthony scored 27 points to lead the home team and Smith had 19 points off the bench.


Final Score: New Orleans 109, LA Lakers 102

Anthony Davis scored 25 points with 12 rebounds and six blocks to lead the New Orleans Pelicans to a 109-102 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday. Tyreke Evans supplied 19 points with 11 assists, while Jrue Holiday and Ryan Anderson each netted 17 points for New Orleans, which has defeated the Lakers in three of its last four meetings. Kobe Bryant led all scorers with 33 points on 10-of-28 shooting and Carlos Boozer added 16 points and six rebounds in the setback. Los Angeles has lost two straight after snapping a five-game skid, and it has gone 0-for-4 on the road on the young season.


Final Score: Portland 130, Denver 113

Damian Lillard had 27 points and nine assists and the Portland Trail Blazers used a historic first half to roll to a 130-113 rout of the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday. The Blazers scored 39 points in the first quarter and 45 in the second, matching a franchise record for points in a second quarter set back in 1973. They were just the third team since 1992 to score at least 84 points in a first half. Robin Lopez netted 15 of his 19 points in the first half and LaMarcus Aldridge had nine of his 12 while blocking six shots in just over 18 first-half minutes. Aldridge finished one block shy of his career-high, set in 2010 against Denver. Ty Lawson was the lone bright spot for the Nuggets, who have given up at least 110 points in five straight games. Lawson scored a game-high 32 points and handed out six assists.


Final Score: Phoenix 112, Brooklyn 104

Phoenix’s bench led the way for the Suns again. Gerald Green netted 28 points and Isaiah Thomas added 21 off the bench as the Suns defeated the Brooklyn Nets 112-104 on Wednesday night. Goran Dragic had 18 points and six assists to lead the starters for the Suns, who have won two straight on the heels of a 1-3 stretch. The Suns’ bench, which is the third highest scoring unit in the NBA, outscored Brooklyn’s 60-27. Joe Johnson posted 21 points, while Kevin Garnett supplied 12 points and 10 rebounds for Brooklyn, which had won four of its last five coming in.


Final Score: Houston 113, Minnesota 101

Dwight Howard returned to the court and posted 22 points with 10 rebounds, leading the Houston Rockets in a 113-101 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves in Mexico City. Howard also blocked four shots for the Rockets, who improved to 7-0 this season when the eight- time All-Star is in the lineup. He missed Saturday’s 98-87 loss to the Warriors with flu-like symptoms. James Harden overcame a difficult night shooting, finishing with 23 points and 10 assists on 8-of-23 from the floor. Houston also became the first team in NBA history to make 10 or more 3- pointers in each its first eight games. Corey Brewer scored 18 points off the bench and Andrew Wiggins had 15 for Minnesota, which has not won since point guard Ricky Rubio went down with an ankle injury in Friday’s overtime loss to Orlando.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Interchangeable guards

For fantasy owners that failed to listen to fellow fantasy writer Max Zelenko’s advice regarding Mo Williams and the point guard situation in Minnesota, here’s another shot at a point guard.

Rockets starting point man Patrick Beverley has missed four of the first seven games of the 2014-2015 season. He played in the first two games of the year, missed the next two, returned for a game, then went back out and has yet to return.

His replacement, Isaiah Canaan, has played well with the opportunity, as he scored 21 points and sunk three 3-pointers on Saturday against the Warriors. In his four starts this season, Canaan has averaged 13.8 ppg and 2.8 3- pointers per game.

That’s right on line with Beverley’s production, and actually exceeds it on some level. Beverley averaged 10.3 ppg and 2.3 3-pointers in his three starts this season.

The numbers are comparable in the other categories too. Beverley is averaging 3.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 0.3 steals. Meanwhile, Canaan has averaged 3.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.5 steals.

Obviously it is a really small sample size, but Canaan has proved he can be a fantasy factor if he receives enough playing time.

With the Rockets’ offense centering around James Harden and Dwight Howard, the point guard in Houston does not have to take on too many responsibilities. Of course, that hurts Canaan’s upside, but it almost makes him interchangeable with Beverley, at least on the stat line.

Any point guard in Houston will earn some assists playing with Harden and Howard. Plus, with so much attention to those superstars, other players can get open for long jumpers or drives to the hoop.

Canaan is shooting over 46% from downtown and nearly 49% from the field this month. Unfortunately, he hasn’t gotten to the free-throw line very often, but again, he is comparable to Beverley as he didn’t either.

Therefore, if one is in need of a point guard, Canaan should be a consideration right with Mo Williams of Minnesota. The biggest difference between the two situations is Ricky Rubio has already been ruled out for seven-to-eight weeks whereas Beverley is out just this week.

Beverley is aiming to return next Monday against the Grizzlies, but hamstring injuries can be tricky. Even though it was never officially reported, Beverley likely suffered a setback during the game he played in between his two absences.

Perhaps his hamstring becomes a lingering issue, and it keeps him out longer or affects him down the road. That would give Canaan quite a bit more fantasy value.

For now, Canaan is just a nice short-term solution for fantasy owners struggling at guard, but the potential for more is there. At the very least, owners should keep an eye on him. He will start again Wednesday versus, ironically, Minnesota.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  MLB All-Stars blanked in Japan opener

Kenta Maeda and three relievers combined on a three-hit shutout, leading Samurai Japan to a 2-0 win over the Major League Baseball All-Stars in the opener of the 2014 Japan Series.

Maeda threw five innings of two-hit ball, walked two and struck out two. He yielded a first-inning single to Robinson Cano and a double by Dexter Fowler with two outs in the fifth.

Ben Zobrist grounded out to end the fifth inning and the MLB All-Stars managed just one more hit, a one-out single in the ninth by Evan Longoria. Justin Morneau then lined to first and Tetsuto Yamada turned it into a game-ending unassisted double play.

Matt Shoemaker, runner-up for the American League Rookie of the Year, took the loss for the MLB All-Stars. The Angels hurler yielded two runs on six hits with a walk and five strikeouts over five innings.

The Japanese stars reached Shoemaker for a run in the second when Seiichi Uchikawa led off with a single, took second on a double by Hayato Sakamoto and scored on a sacrifice fly by Nobuhiro Matsuda. Sakamoto singled with one out in the fourth and was erased on a fielder’s choice by Matsuda, who then stole second and scored on a single by Yamada to make it 2-0.

Tommy Hunter worked around a pair of two-out singles in the sixth and Hector Santiago pitched a scoreless seventh despite a pair of walks. Mark Melancon allowed a leadoff single in the eighth, but got a force out and a double play to give the MLB All-Stars a chance in the ninth.

The teams will take Thursday off to travel to Tokyo for three games this weekend. The five-game series will then conclude on Tuesday in Sapporo.


►  Royals sign Ryan Roberts

The Kansas City Royals have signed infielder Ryan Roberts to a minor league deal with an invite to major league spring training.

Roberts, 34, appeared in eight games last season for the Boston Red Sox, but managed just two hits in 22 at-bats. However, he did hit .277 with seven homers, 32 RBI and a .337 on-base percentage in 72 games for Triple-A Pawtucket.

A career .243 hitter, Roberts has racked up 46 homers, 169 RBI and 35 stolen bases over parts of nine seasons with Toronto, Texas, Arizona, Tampa Bay and Boston.

The Royals also signed relief pitcher Joe Paterson to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training. The left-hander appeared in just three games last season with the Diamondbacks, posting a lofty 33.75 ERA. In 73 career games, all with Arizona, Paterson is 0-3 with a 6.25 ERA.


►  Cubs claim Roach

The Chicago Cubs claimed pitcher Donn Roach off waivers from the San Diego Padres on Wednesday.

Roach made his major league debut with San Diego in 2014 by appearing in 16 games, including one start, and owned a 1-0 record with a 4.75 ERA. He spent most of 2014 with Triple-A El Paso, where he posted a 4-6 record with a 5.24 ERA in 19 games.

The 24-year-old right-hander was designated for assignment by the Padres on November 3.

Roach was selected by the Angels in the third round of the 2010 draft. San Diego acquired him on May 3, 2012, from the Angels along with infielder Alexi Amarista for right-handed pitcher Ernesto Frieri.


►  Former A’s 1B Moore dies at 57

Former Oakland Athletics first baseman Kelvin Moore has died at the age of 57, the team announced Wednesday.

The A’s said Moore died Sunday of cardiac arrest at his home in Covington, Georgia, after suffering from multiple illnesses during the past several years, including diabetes.

Moore was a rookie in 1981 when the A’s won the American League West. He made 16 plate appearances in five postseason games that year, hitting two singles in the AL Championship Series against the New York Yankees, who swept the A’s in three games.

He batted .223 with eight home runs, 25 RBI and a .277 on-base percentage over 76 games for the A’s between 1981-83, his only three seasons in the majors.

Moore is survived by his wife, Patricia, two daughters and one son.


►  Rounding Third: Kershaw headed toward another NL Cy Young Award

There have been 10 unanimous National League Cy Young Award winners.

Clayton Kershaw could become No. 11 on Wednesday when the Baseball Writers’ Association of America continues to hand out its postseason awards, as the top pitchers in both the American and National League are revealed.

Kershaw, who also won this award last year and in 2011, is a heavy favorite to nail down his third NL Cy Young after another dominating season for the NL West champion Los Angeles Dodgers.

The talented left-hander is also a finalist for an NL MVP Award, which will be handed out on Thursday.

Kershaw was nearly a unanimous winner last season, as he garnered 29 of the 30 first-place votes. This year he should get all 30 after leading the majors with a 21-3 record, an .875 winning percentage, a 1.77 ERA and an 0.86 WHIP.

He was also second in the NL with 239 strikeouts, three behind Johnny Cueto of the Reds and Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals, in 27 starts.

The highlight of Kershaw’s season came on June 18 when he struck out 15 in a no-hitter against the Colorado Rockies.

It was the fifth consecutive season that Kershaw tallied 200 or more strikeouts. He also allowed a .197 batting average to right-handed hitters and just .193 to left-handed hitters.

Essentially, it’s not a matter of if he will win, it’ll be a matter of by how much. And when he does get the honor, he’ll join Sandy Koufax (1963, ‘65, ‘66) as the only Dodgers pitcher to win the award three times.

He’ll also join Randy Johnson, Greg Maddux, Steve Carlton and Tom Seaver as three-time NL winners.

Kershaw’s main competition figures to come from St. Louis righty Adam Wainwright, who was 20-9 with a 2.38 ERA.

Cueto is the other NL finalist.

While Kershaw figures to be a runaway winner in the NL, it’s a little less clear cut in the American League, but Seattle right- hander Felix Hernandez appears to have the inside track on both Cleveland righty Corey Kluber and Chicago left-hander Chris Sale.

It was a historic season for King Felix, as he put forth the best statistical season of his career and a new major-league record with 16 consecutive starts in which he allowed two or fewer runs in at least seven innings of work.

Hernandez, who won this award in 2010, was 15-6 this season and led the league with a 2.14 ERA and a 0.915 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) over 34 starts.He was also fourth in the league with 248 strikeouts and held opponents to a league low average of .200.

As we have seen in the past the key to winning these awards is how you perform in September. Well, Hernandez posted a 1.66 ERA over his final six starts.

Kluber enjoyed a breakout season for the Tribe, going 18-9 with a 2.44 ERA and 269 strikeouts in 235 2/3 innings. His 7.4 Wins Above Replacement ranked first among AL starting pitchers, and he ended the season with a league-best 2.35 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching).

He also became just the third pitcher in Indians history to have at least 21 starts with eight or more strikeouts and the fourth pitcher in team history to post at least 11 double-digit strikeout performances in one season.

Kluber will try to join Cliff Lee (2008), CC Sabathia (2007) and Gaylord Perry (1972) as other Indians to win an AL Cy Young.

Sale, meanwhile, was as dominant as any pitcher in the game, but he missed time between April 17 and May 22 because of a flexor muscle strain and was only 11-14.

Still, his 2.17 ERA and 0.97 WHIP was second only to Hernandez. He struck out 208, walked 39 and yielded a mere 129 hits in 174 innings.

THE PICK:

NL CY YOUNG - CLAYTON KERSHAW, LOS ANGELES AL CY YOUNG - FELIX HERNANDEZ, SEATTLE



The Gilmer Free Press

►  NHL Game Results

(Wednesday, November 12)


Final Score: Toronto 6, Boston 1

Phil Kessel netted a pair of goals and Jonathan Bernier stopped 25 shots as the Toronto Maple Leafs ripped apart the Boston Bruins, 6-1, at Air Canada Centre. James van Riemsdyk and Tyler Bozak both registered a score and two assists for the Maple Leafs, who have taken three in a row and posted their most decisive victory of the season. Peter Holland and Morgan Rielly added markers as Toronto pumped home a season- high three power-play goals. Dennis Seidenberg provided the lone offense for the Bruins, whose five-game win streak was put to rest in their largest margin of defeat thus far. Tuukka Rask took the loss after allowing four goals on 16 shots in 23-plus minutes. Niklas Svedberg finished up making 15 saves on 17 shots.


Final Score: Anaheim 6, Los Angeles 5 (SO)

Ryan Kesler scored a pair of third-period goals and added the winner in the shootout as the Anaheim Ducks stole a 6-5 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday. The first meeting of last season’s Western Conference second-round series had the feel of a playoff game, especially after the clubs combined for five goals in a wild third period. Ryan Getzlaf scored with 1:39 left in regulation to force overtime, and goals from Jakob Silfverberg and Kesler in the shootout ended the Ducks’ three-game slide. Jason LaBarbera took over for an ineffective Frederik Andersen midway through the second period and made 14 saves before stopping Jeff Carter and Anze Kopitar in the shootout. Jonathan Quick made 44 saves in the loss, but the Kings fell for the sixth time in their last eight games.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Ko named LPGA’s top rookie

Lydia Ko was named the LPGA Rookie of the Year on Wednesday.

Ko locked up the honor with three events still remaining on the schedule. She is already a two-time winner on the tour this year, finished as the runner-up twice and has added nine other top-10 results.

“It’s really been a dream rookie season for me,“ said Ko in a statement released by the LPGA. “I learned so much and am glad to have achieved some of my goals along the way. It’s an honor to have my name now etched alongside such amazing players and legends of the game on the list of Rookie of the Year winners.“

Ko, just 17 years old, became the eighth Rookie of the Year winner since the award’s inception in 1962 to have multiple wins in her first year. She enters this week’s Lorena Ochoa Invitational ranked third in the Race to the CME Globe and fourth on the official money list with $1.564 million.

In addition, Ko’s streak of 40 straight made cuts is the best on tour and she became the youngest winner of a tour event. Laura Baugh, at age 18 in 1973, had been the youngest.

Nine previous Rookie of the Year winners have gone on to Hall of Fame careers: Joanne Carner (1970), Amy Alcott (1975), Nancy Lopez (1978), Beth Daniel (1979), Patty Sheehan (1981), Juli Inkster (1984), Annika Sorenstam (1994), Karrie Webb (1996) and Se Ri Pak (1998).



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Djokovic wins again in London

Two-time reigning and three-time overall champion Novak Djokovic posted another round-robin victory Wednesday at the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals in London.

The hot world No. 1 star whipped third-seeded Australian Open champ Stan Wawrinka 6-3, 6-0 in 65 minutes at this exclusive eight-player event at The O2 Arena.

Djokovic improved to 16-3 lifetime against Wawrinka, who stunned the Serb in a brilliant five-set quarterfinal at the Aussie Open back in January. Djokovic beat the Swiss in a semifinal here at last year’s Tour Finals.

The Wimbledon titlist Djokovic is now 2-0 in his four-player “Group A,“ which also features Wawrinka (1-1), Tomas Berdych (1-1) and Marin Cilic (0-2).

The 27-year-old Djokovic, who topped Rafael Nadal in last year’s finale in London, is now just one win away from clinching the year-end No. 1 ranking for the third time in four years.

Also on Day 4, the sixth-seeded Berdych blew past the eighth-seeded U.S. Open champion Cilic 6-3, 6-1 in 75 minutes. The Czech Berdych tallied four service breaks, compared to zero for his Croatian counterpart.

Berdych is now 6-4 lifetime against Cilic, including 2-2 this season.

Surprisingly, all eight matches so far this week have ended in straight sets.

A four-player “Group B” boasts second-seeded Wimbledon champion Roger Federer (2-0), fourth-seeded U.S. Open runner-up Kei Nishikori (1-1), fifth- seeded British favorite Andy Murray (1-1) and seventh-seeded Canadian slugger Milos Raonic (0-2).

The 17-time Grand Slam king Federer will battle Murray and Nishikori will take on Raonic in some more round-robin play on Thursday. Federer and Murray have split 22 career matchups, but Federer is 2-0 this year and 3-0 versus Murray all-time at the ATP Finals.

Federer, who is making a record 13th consecutive appearance at this event and still has an outside chance of capturing the year-end No. 1 ranking, holds the record for the most titles at this prestigious tournament with six.

If Federer can qualify for his 12th career Finals semifinal, it would tie a record set by Ivan Lendl. The 33-year-old Swiss icon would also be the oldest player to advance to the last four at this event since Andre Agassi finished as a runner-up back in 2003.

Nishikori, Raonic and Cilic are making their ATP Finals debuts this week.

Round-robin action will be staged through Friday, followed by the semifinals on Saturday and lucrative final on Sunday.

The Gilmer Free Press


THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 13, 2014


National Football League
Buffalo at Miami, 8:25 PM - NFL Network


National Basketball Association
Sacramento at Memphis, 8:00 PM - CSN-California, SportSouth, DSS
Chicago at Toronto, 8:00 PM - TNT, TSN2
Philadelphia at Dallas, 8:30 PM - CSN-Philadelphia, FS-Southwest, DSS
Brooklyn at Golden State, 10:30 PM - CSN-Bay, TNT


National Hockey League
Colorado at NY Rangers, 7:00 PM - Altitude, MSG, NHL Network, DSS
Winnipeg at Carolina, 7:00 PM - TSN3, FS-Carolina, DSS
Boston at Montreal, 7:30 PM - NESN, RDS, SNET-360, DSS
San Jose at Tampa Bay, 7:30 PM - CSN-California, SunSports, DSS
Nashville at St. Louis, 8:00 PM - FS-Tennessee, Midwest, DSS
Buffalo at Minnesota, 8:00 PM - MSG-Buffalo, FS-North, DSS
Arizona at Calgary, 9:00 PM - FS-Arizona, SNET-Flames, DSS
Ottawa at Edmonton, 9:30 PM - RDS2, TSN5, SNET-Oilers, DSS
Dallas at Los Angeles, 10:30 PM - FS-Southwest+, West, DSS


College Football
East Carolina vs. Cincinnati, 7:00 PM - ESPN 2
Bethune-Cookman at Hampton, 7:30 PM - ESPN U
Southern Miss at UTSA, 8:00 PM - CBSSN
California at USC, 9:00 PM - ESPN


Golf
EUROPEAN - Turkish Airlines Open, 4:00 AM - Golf Channel
PGA -  OHL Classic at Mayakoba, 2:00 PM - Golf Channel
LPGA - Lorena Ochoa Invitational, 5:00 PM - Golf Channel


Tennis
ATP World Finals, 7:00 AM - Tennis Channel
ATP World Finals, 1:00 PM - Tennis Channel
ATP World Finals, 3:00 PM - ESPN 2

Sports News - 11.12.14

The Gilmer Free Press


The Gilmer Free Press

►  Season over for 49ers LB Willis

The San Francisco 49ers will place linebacker Patrick Willis on season-ending injured reserve, multiple media outlets reported Tuesday.

The seven-time Pro Bowler has missed the 49ers’ last three games with a toe injury suffered in a win at St. Louis on October 13.

Willis registered 34 tackles and one interception in six games this season.


►  Cardinals place QB Palmer on IR

The Arizona Cardinals placed quarterback Carson Palmer on season-ending injured reserve Tuesday.

The move comes one day after Cards coach Bruce Arians confirmed Palmer tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee when he was sacked by Rams safety Mark Barron early in the fourth quarter of Arizona’s 31-14 win over St. Louis on Sunday.

Drew Stanton threw a late touchdown pass in relief of Palmer, helping the Cardinals improve to 8-1 and remain perfect in five home games this season. Stanton will be under center for the Cardinals the rest of the year.

Palmer, who missed three games earlier this season with a shoulder injury, had reconstructive surgery on the same knee in 2006 as a member of the Bengals. Both of his ACL tears came just days after signing lucrative contract extensions.

On December 29, 2005, Palmer agreed to a six-year extension with Cincinnati. Ten days later, the Bengals met Pittsburgh in the first round of the AFC playoffs and Palmer lasted just one play, injuring his knee on a 66-yard pass to rookie Chris Henry.

Palmer signed a three-year, $50 million contract extension with Arizona last Friday.

Arizona signed quarterback Ryan Lindley off the San Diego Chargers’ practice squad to fill the spot on the active roster.


►  Jaguars WR Robinson to miss rest of season

Jacksonville Jaguars rookie wide receiver Allen Robinson will miss the rest of the season with a stress fracture in his foot, the team announced on Tuesday.

Robinson was the Jaguars’ leading pass catcher with team-high totals of 48 receptions and 548 receiving yards in 10 games.

Jacksonville selected the Penn State product in the second round of May’s draft.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  NFL Fantasy Player of the Week - Week 10

Six or more touchdown passes in a game used to be a rarity. In fact, over the last 93 and-a-half NFL seasons, and more than 15,000 games, I have found only 43 instances.

In 2014, however, it has been done on three consecutive weekends!

Ben Roethlisberger started off in Week 8, repeated the feat in Week 9 and Sunday night Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers completed “The Devil’s Hat Trick” against the “not so Monsters of the Midway” Chicago Bears.

The following players were the best at their positions in Week 10.


Quarterbacks -

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay - The efficient Mr. Rodgers needed just 29 minutes and 41 seconds of the first half to post 315 passing yards and six touchdowns. He took most of the second half off to enjoy the beautiful Wisconsin evening after racking up 44 fantasy points.

Peyton Manning, Denver - Manning wasn’t sharp early on, throwing two first- half interceptions. But not only is he supremely talented, but he’s the ultimate grinder. He finished the day with 340 yards and five touchdowns ... and didn’t play in the fourth quarter. OK, it WAS against the Raiders.


Running Backs -

Marshawn Lynch, Seattle - Sunday was the first time since opening night that Lynch played in full “Beast Mode.“ He rushed for 140 yards and a career-best four touchdowns worth 43 fantasy points.

Justin Forsett, Baltimore - Sunday’s 112-yard, two-touchdown effort was Forsett’s best output since November 2009 when he played in Seattle. It’s time to admit that the Ravens backfield is not an RBBC situation. Bernard Pierce and Lorenzo Taliaferro are clearly playing second fiddle to Forsett.


Wide Receivers -

Jordy Nelson, Green Bay - Like most of the Packers first-team, Nelson did all his work in the first 30 minutes. The Bears secondary didn’t cover him much, particularly in a three minute span in which he caught 73- and 40-yard touchdown passes. He finished the night with six receptions for 152 yards and the two scores to earn 36 fantasy points.

Dez Bryant, Dallas - Like Nelson, Dez Bryant did all his work in a short amount of time. In one monster of a second quarter, Bryant caught all six of his receptions for 158 yards and two long catch-and-run touchdowns worth 35 fantasy points.


Tight Ends -

Jimmy Graham, New Orleans - Anyone who has watched the Saints for the last three games has seen that Graham is as healthy as he has been all season. Sunday he caught a season-high 10 passes for 76 yards and two touchdowns worth 25 fantasy points.

Julius Thomas, Denver - The Broncos offensive coordinator promised to use Thomas for more than touchdowns and kept his word, Oh, he still scored twice against Oakland, but finished with six receptions for 63 yards to collect 21 fantasy points.


Kickers -

Matt Bryant, Atlanta - The Falcons moved the ball well, but couldn’t manage to finish off their drives with a touchdown, so Bryant was called upon four times and he was good on all of them for 15 fantasy points.


Defense/Special Teams

Philadelphia Eagles - The Eagles special teams, with the addition of Darren Sproles as the punt returner, has become scary good. Add in how poorly Cam Newton looked Monday night in getting sacked nine times and throwing a “pick- six” among his three interceptions and the Eagles totaled a position-leading 31 points to edge out the Arizona Cardinals for the top spot.

And the winner of the TSN Fantasy Player of the Week for Week 10 is ... Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers came into the game with questions about his health (hamstring), but answered them on the very first drive and kept answering them until he had thrown for a stunning six touchdowns in less than a half of football. The only question left to ask is “Who will throw for six touchdowns in Week 11?“


►  The flier quarterback

For a second straight week, fantasy owners lost a QB1 to a long-term injury. First, Eagles quarterback Nick Foles cracked his collarbone last week and this Sunday, Carson Palmer tore his ACL.

In a 12-team or two-quarterback league, both injuries could derail any potential championship season. So, let’s take a look at potential long-term replacements at quarterback.


Mark Sanchez and Drew Stanton

The most obvious replacement for any fantasy quarterback is the real-life backup. Mark Sanchez will make his first start in nearly two years on Monday night and Drew Stanton will reassume the starting quarterback role in Arizona.

Sanchez did a decent job in relief for Foles in Week 9, throwing for 202 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions against Houston. In Chip Kelly’s “quarterback-friendly” offensive system, owners looking for a new quarterback at this point could certainly do worse. Sanchez has a decent schedule down the stretch with games against Dallas and Washington during the fantasy playoffs in Weeks 15 and 16.

Stanton started three games this season when Palmer was out with a nerve injury. He was mostly used as a “game manager,“ but did throw for 244 yards and two touchdowns against the 49ers.

Based on Arizona’s schedule though, Sanchez is the better pickup. Stanton will have to face Detroit, Kansas City, San Francisco and Seattle twice, including a matchup with the Seahawks in Week 16, when most fantasy championships occur.

Sanchez and Stanton are available in 57- and 99-percent of Yahoo leagues, respectively.


Best of the Rest

Sticking with the 12-team or two-quarterback league theme, I’m going to assume quarterbacks such as Alex Smith, Kyle Orton and Brian Hoyer are not available even though they are free agents in at least half of Yahoo leagues. Smith is the best option of the three with Orton following closely behind him.

In very deep leagues, owners are looking at Teddy Bridgewater, Michael Vick, Derek Carr, Austin Davis and Josh McCown as the “best available.“

With those limited options, owners must play matchups and McCown has the most favorable schedule down the stretch. In his last seven games, four of them will be against defenses ranked in the bottom-10 in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks.

McCown threw for 301 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions on Sunday in his first start since Week 3. That is his best fantasy output this year.

Bridgewater is the next best choice among those five quarterbacks. He has three straight games with a touchdown pass and has not thrown an interception the past two games. He has a favorable schedule until Weeks 15 and 16, when the Vikings play the Lions and Dolphins on the road. Avoid those matchups at all cost.

Vick has also played well the last two weeks, throwing for 328 yards and three touchdowns since taking over for Geno Smith. Fantasy owners will have to count on Vick remaining healthy, however, to make an impact in the fantasy playoffs.


Ryan Mallett

The wild card is Ryan Mallett. He has yet to appear on the field in 2014, and with zero points scored, he will be on the bottom of any waiver wire list.

But of the quarterbacks already discussed, Mallett is in the best situation. He has Arian Foster to help carry the offense and two weapons on the outside, Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins, to throw to.

Fitzpatrick was a serviceable fantasy quarterback in deep leagues; he averaged 16.33 points in standard scoring in the last three games. Owners would like to think Mallett would do even better since the quarterback change was due to a coach’s decision and not injury.

For that reason, despite being in a run-first offense, Mallett has the biggest upside of all those quarterbacks.

In an ideal situation, owners who lost Palmer this past weekend should add a quarterback from the best of the rest list and Mallett. Hopefully those fantasy teams already have a backup quarterback they could slide into the starting lineup. Then, if those teams picked up, for example, McCown and Mallett, McCown would be a backup and Mallett a flier with upside. In a two- quarterback league, McCown would start and Mallett would be a backup/flier.

After a couple weeks, reassess the quarterback situation and perhaps cut either McCown or Mallett based on their play or needs at other positions.

It might be tough to dedicate three roster spots to quarterbacks this late in the season, but with the worst of the bye weeks over, Mallett is worth the risk. That’s if one is in dire need of a quarterback.



<The Gilmer Free Press

►  Preseason honor roll

There are 218 days separating us from Shabazz Napier and the Connecticut Huskies’ National Championship win over the Kentucky Wildcats.

Now there are only three days between us and the start of the next college basketball season. Seems as good a time as any to make some predictions about who will be taking home postseason hardware.

Award predictions have been made especially difficult this season because not a lot of would-be returning candidates are, well, returning. You could have written Doug McDermott’s name in permanent marker on most voters’ player of the year ballot last November and no one would have been upset. There are not as many clear-cut favorites this season. Making the crystal ball even murkier, not a single player from last season’s AP All-American first, second or third team is still playing hoops at the collegiate level.

With that said, let’s take a look at the favorites for some of the prestigious awards that are handed out at the end of each season.


PLAYER OF THE YEAR - Montrezl Harrell, Louisville

There are a lot of great players this season and a few that might seem to have a better shot at this title than Harrell. For example, Frank Kaminsky at Wisconsin and Aaron Harrison at Kentucky, who both had big moments in the 2014 NCAA Tournament, are worthy contenders.

However, Harrison still has to share the ball with the litany of scorers on Kentucky’s roster, and Kaminsky can’t realistically get much better than he was last season. Meanwhile, Harrell is the go-to guy at Louisville now and a player with still so much untapped potential.

Last season, the 6-foot-8 power forward averaged 14 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. He was second on the team in scoring, but will likely be given more chances now that Russ Smith has moved on to the NBA. That should work out just fine for the Cardinals, as Harrell was an extremely efficient scorer, finishing on 60.9% of his field goal attempts in 2013-14. To be fair, that was largely due to the ease of his scoring chances, which were mostly dunks, layups and short jumpers.

Word out of Louisville is that Harrell has been working hard to polish his offensive game, which should strike fear into the hearts of his new ACC adversaries, and the nation as a whole.


DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR - Briante Weber, VCU

Harrell is a contender for this award as well, but the speedy guard from VCU has the edge entering the season.

Although this is an honor that generally goes to frontcourt players, two of the last three have gone to guards, including Ohio State’s Aaron Craft last season. In the previous 10 seasons, the trophy went to a power forward or a center.

Weber’s ability to disrupt opposing backcourts and ruin a foe’s hopes at controlling the tempo make him a much more important defensive player than someone who can swat shots into the stands. Last season, Weber led the country in steals with 121. UCLA’s Jordan Adams was second in the category with 95. Weber also was a standout in more advanced statistics, ranking second in the country in defensive rating (85.6), and tying for seventh in defensive win shares (3.1).

Also aiding Weber’s chances is the fact that he plays in a system that puts a premium on his style of play. VCU coach Shaka Smart’s now famed HAVOC defensive scheme is all about creating turnovers and putting pressure on the ball from baseline to baseline. Weber is the anchor for the Rams at both ends. Expect him to continue to rack up steals this season, and a few pieces for the VCU trophy case as well.


FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR - Jahlil Okafor, Duke

Players like Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Aaron Gordon made last year’s crop of freshmen one of the best in history. Okafor leads a group that could be even better.

Considered the No. 1 recruit in the country by most scouting sources, Okafor chose to follow Parker to Duke, where he is set up to thrive from day one. He is built to withstand any number of post defenders, standing at 6-foot-11 and weighing 270 pounds. Even as a freshman he will be able to get to any spot in the paint and move players around to secure rebounds and utilize his bevy of offensive moves. That is one of the most enticing aspects of his game. Whereas some frontcourt prospects need time to learn how to score efficiently, Okafor already projects as a big-time scorer because he is just that dangerous on the low block. During his senior year in high school, he averaged 24.1 points per game, to go along with 11.3 caroms per contest.

Those numbers may dip some, but not by much. Okafor has already been showing off his skill in Duke’s preseason exhibitions. In two contest he has already scored 30 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and blocked seven shots in 45 combined minutes. The ceiling is so high for Okafor that freshman-only awards aren’t the only honors he could earn.


COACH OF THE YEAR - Larry Krystkowiak, Utah

Greg Marshall won this award last season after he led his Wichita State Shockers to a 35-0 start to the campaign and earned the mid-major powerhouse a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Krystkowiak and the Utes aren’t going to go 35-0. That would be a nearly impossible feat for any program, especially one that plays in the Pac-12, which means there are two games against Arizona on the schedule.

Still, in his third season in Salt Lake City, Krystkowiak has his best team. For those who have not been paying attention to Utah basketball recently, and there’s little reason why you would have, Krystkowiak has been slowly building a contender. The team went 6-25 in his first season, 15-18 in his second, and last season finished at 21-12.

That upward trajectory should continue, especially if multi-faceted guard Delon Wright ascends to stardom and the rest of the experienced roster, which features four returning starters, continues to play well. If it all comes together, Utah won’t just be among the field of 68 this season, it will be in the national spotlight for most of the season. Krystkowiak will, and should be given a lot of the credit when that happens.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Good for you, Phil

Overreaction can be ugly.

Overreacting makes the one who overreacts look petty and unable to take the joke.

I hate overreactions.

So why did Phil Jackson’s borderline overreaction to comments by Commissioner Adam Silver strike me as a noble crusade?

Let’s start from the beginning. Silver said this about the New York Knicks:

“Clearly, they’re still learning the triangle,“ Silver said. “I still don’t understand it, but they’re learning it. But that’s what the game is all about. You have a new coach, you have a new president of basketball operations in Phil Jackson; you have a couple new players on the team.“

By all accounts, Silver said this whimsically and should not be confused with astute analysis.

Jackson responded: “I wasn’t so humored by the commissioner actually jumping in on top of that, too,“ he said. “He doesn’t need to get in on that. There’s enough focus on triangle. It’s not anything. It’s a system. It’s simple basketball. Just play the game. We’re over the triangle; let’s get to business and play the right way.“

Silver’s comments needed no response, but Jackson’s message was clear: EVERYONE, STOP TAKING SHOTS AT MY TEAM!

The Knicks are playing very poorly. A simple check of some factual information makes that clear without the interpretation of the commissioner.

The Knickerbockers have dropped five straight, including a home-and-home series with the very average Atlanta Hawks. This swoon has sent them to 2-6, which is good for fourth in the Atlantic Division.

Thank the grace of God for the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Knicks have not scored over 100 points one time this season. They rank 30th in scoring in the league at 91.1 ppg. Any literate person can see that the Knicks’ offense, the vaunted triangle, is not working well.

Carmelo Anthony, the game’s second-best natural scorer, has been neutered to some degree. He is averaging 20.3 ppg, which is 17th in the NBA. Anthony hasn’t averaged so few points for a season in 10 years.

Melo is also shooting 39% from the field, which would be his lowest ever. Anthony has attempted 161 field goals, which is 19 more than the next- highest player. He’s attempted 20.1 field goals per game, which is No. 2 in the NBA.

Something is clearly amiss in Madison Square Garden. Offensively, the Knicks are a bit of a disaster. Those statistics are readily available with minimal clicks.

Therefore, does the NBA Commissioner really need to pile on? Yes, it was jokey, but Jackson doesn’t want his team to be the butt of any jokes any longer, let alone from the most independent bystander of professional basketball.

That’s called taking a stand for your guys. It may seem like childish bickering, but Jackson has told the NBA that it’s not okay for anyone, let along the highest person in charge of the sport, to take any kind of shots against his guys.

Was the commissioner out of line? Maybe, a little. It’s not overly professional for the head of the league to mock a team in the league, but it was innocent. Jackson simply said, “enough of everyone in the world criticizing my team.“

It’s also Jackson’s offense taking water. He didn’t create it, but Jackson has supplanted Pythagoras as the face of the triangle.

Jackson was right saying the triangle isn’t a revolutionary concept. It’s a movement and cutting-based offense and it’s not working at the moment. Do the Knicks have the correct personnel for it?

At the moment, the Knicks haven’t seen Jose Calderon, the starting point guard Jackson traded for in the offseason. He’s been hurt as has primary backup Pablo Prigioni. It’s hard to run a new offense without either of your ball handlers.

The sample size is small as well. A team can’t master a new offensive structure in six weeks. It’ll come.

What Jackson is trying to see go, is the Knicks living life under a daily punching-bag status. The Knicks have earned it to some degree with questionable basketball decisions, but Jackson doesn’t care. He publicly said so.

Remember when Jackson took the job and some of us opined it would be hard to run the New York Knicks from a ranch in Montana? Jackson has dismissed the notion that he would be indifferent to the job. Jackson is always the smartest guy in the room. He’s calculated.

This was nothing different. Jackson defended his boys. The Knicks are trying to do something, evolve, and Jackson is at the forefront of that movement. He is the architect. It’s his offense, his plan.

It’s his job to defend his baby against constant, semi-warranted attacks. Jackson tried to put an end to it.  ~~  Jim Brighters ~~


►  NBA Game Results

(Tuesday, November 11)


Final Score: Toronto 104, Orlando 100

Kyle Lowry scored 19 points with seven assists as the Toronto Raptors defeated the Orlando Magic, 104-100, on Tuesday. DeMar DeRozan scored 16 points, Terrence Ross hit four triples en route to 15 and James Johnson grabbed 10 rebounds off the bench for the Raptors. Johnson also played tough defense on Tobias Harris on the game’s decisive possession, forcing a miss with 1.9 seconds left. DeRozan hit two free throws with 0.5 seconds remaining to put the game out of reach. The 7-1 Raptors are the lone one-loss team in the Eastern Conference.


Final Score: Memphis 107, LA Lakers 102

Mike Conley scored 23 points and the Memphis Grizzlies nearly coughed up a huge fourth-quarter lead before holding on to best the Los Angeles Lakers, 107-102, at FedExForum. Memphis got a huge boost from its bench, which was ranked among the worst units in the league entering Tuesday’s game. Beno Udrih and Kosta Koufos shot a combined 13-for-16 from the floor for 16 and 14 points, respectively, as the Grizzlies got back in the win column following their first loss of the season on Saturday. Zach Randolph posted his sixth double-double in eight games with 11 points and 10 rebounds, getting there with a putback layup in the final seconds that sealed the victory. Marc Gasol did a little bit of everything, contributing eight points, nine assists and eight boards. Kobe Bryant found himself on the wrong side of history during the loss. At 6:22 of the fourth quarter, Bryant missed his 13th shot of the game and passed Celtics legend John Havlicek for the most missed field goals in NBA history with his 13,418th.


Final Score: Milwaukee 85, Oklahoma City 78

O.J. Mayo scored 19 points off the bench to help the Milwaukee Bucks to a 85-78 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday. Brandon Knight knocked in 16 points with four assists and Giannis Antetokounmpo added 14 points in a reserve role for the Bucks, who have won back-to-back games for the first time since March of the 2012-13 season. Reggie Jackson poured in 29 points for Oklahoma City, while Serge Ibaka and Anthony Morrow tallied 12 and 10, respectively. The Thunder have dropped four of their last five overall and their last seven straight on the road dating back to last season.


Final Score: Dallas 106, Sacramento 98

Dirk Nowitzki entered the history books on Tuesday and helped his team complete a monumental comeback in the process. Nowitzki scored 23 points, passing Hakeem Olajuwon for ninth on the NBA’s all- time scoring list, and the Dallas Mavericks erased a 24-point deficit en route to a 106-98 win over the Sacramento Kings. In addition to moving up the scoring list, Nowitzki, who needed 17 points to pass Olajuwon (26,946), became the NBA’s all-time leader in scoring for a foreign born player. Chandler Parsons supplied 19 points and Monta Ellis scored all of his 14 points in the second half to fuel the comeback for Dallas, which has won 21 straight at home over the Kings. Rudy Gay paced Sacramento with 26 points, Ramon Sessions had 18 in place of Darren Collison and DeMarcus Cousins finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds in a second straight loss. Collison did not play due to shoulder stiffness.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Showalter eyes third AL Manager of Year Award

Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter hopes to add a third Manager of the Year Award to his mantel on Tuesday when the Baseball Writers’ Association of America continues to dole out its postseason honors.

Showalter seems to win one of these awards every 10 years. He won in 1994 with the New York Yankees, then again in 2004 with the Texas Rangers. And wouldn’t you know it, he could be headed toward a third this year after guiding the Orioles to their first AL East title since 1997.

Despite injuries to Manny Machado and Matt Wieters, as well as an amphetamine suspension for Chris Davis, Baltimore was still able to exceed expectations, going 96-66.

Should he win, Showalter would become just the second manager to win the BBWAA award with three different organizations. Tony La Russa, a four-time winner, won with the Chicago White Sox (1983), Oakland Athletics (1988 and 1992) and the St. Louis Cardinals (2002).

Showalter’s main competition figures to come from Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim skipper Mike Scioscia, who guided his team back into the postseason for the first time since 2009 after winning an MLB-best 98 games.

While Showalter was forced to make due with a cast of under-the-radar players, Scioscia had the luxury of filling out a lineup chock full of All-Stars on a nightly basis.

In fact, of the 28 Manager of the Year Awards handed out by the BBWAA since 2000, only five have gone to skippers of a team that finished among the top 10 in payroll.

Los Angeles had the 10th-highest payroll in the league.

But like Showalter, Scioscia had to deal with his share of injuries, as young Tyler Skaggs was lost to Tommy John surgery in late July, while breakout ace Garrett Richards suffered a season-ending left knee injury on August 20.

The Angels responded, though, winning 20 of their next 27 games in a stretch that ultimately won them an AL West crown.

Scioscia has previously won two AL Manager of the Year Awards—in 2002 and ‘09.

Kansas City’s Ned Yost is the third AL finalist and figures to finish behind both Showalter and Scioscia, despite getting the Royals back into the playoffs for the first time since 1985.

Of course, Yost led the Royals all the way to the World Series, but voting took place before the postseason began.

Meanwhile, the National League Award is equally up for grabs, as Washington’s Matt Williams, Pittsburgh’s Clint Hurdle and San Francisco skipper Bruce Bochy can all make cases to win the award.

Had the voting took place over the weekend, Bochy would likely have been a landslide winner thanks to his third World Series title in five years, but he is nominated for a regular season that saw the Giants go 88-74 and win the NL wild card.

Bochy won this award in 1996 with San Diego.

Hurdle’s Pirates also won 88 games and lost to the Giants in the wild card game. Hamstrung by one of the lowest payrolls in baseball, Hurdle, who won this award a year ago, has transformed the perennial doormat Bucs into a team that has now reached the postseason in consecutive years.

As deserving as Hurdle may be, the odds are against him, as there has only been one manager in either league to repeat since the award joined the BBWAA’s formal awards lineup in 1983: Bobby Cox of the Braves in 2004-05.

Luckily for Williams these awards are in fact voted on before the start of the playoffs.

While his Nationals may have flamed out in the postseason, Williams did guide them to an NL East title with a league-best 96 wins in his first year as the team’s skipper.

The one knock on Williams is that he clearly walked into a terrific situation, as the talented Nationals just underperformed a year ago under Davey Johnson. But, he also had to deal with a ton of injuries throughout the season and is the only one of the three finalists to have won a division.

THE PICKS:

AL MANAGER - BUCK SHOWALTER, BALTIMORE

NL MANAGER - MATT WILLIAMS, WASHINGTON


►  Cards sign INF Anna

The St. Louis Cardinals signed free agent infielder Dean Anna to a major league contract and three other players to minor league deals on Tuesday.

Anna participated in 12 games for the New York Yankees last season, batting .136 (3-for-22) with one home run and three RBI. He was claimed off waivers by the Pirates on July 5, but did not make an appearance in the major leagues for the remainder of the year.

The Cards also agreed to terms with pitchers Marcus Hatley and Miguel Socolovich and infielder Scott Moore to minor league contracts.

Socolovich did not record a decision while posting a 6.06 ERA in 12 appearances with the Orioles and Cubs in 2012.

Moore is a lifetime .242 hitter who has collected 16 home runs and 53 RBI over 152 games with the Cubs, Astros and Orioles from 2006-12.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Perry, Beauchemin dealing with viral infection

Anaheim Ducks forward Corey Perry and defenseman Francois Beauchemin are out with viral gland infections, the team announced on Tuesday.

Both Perry and Beauchemin initially suffered from flu-like symptoms and have begun undergoing various testing. The results are expected by Wednesday, according to the Orange County Register.

Perry, who is tied for the league lead in goals with 11, was placed on injured reserve Sunday. Beauchemin has recorded four assists in 15 games.

The Ducks host the Kings Wednesday night, then play in Los Angeles on Saturday.


►  NHL Game Results

(Tuesday, November 11)


Final Score: New Jersey 3, Minnesota 1

Mike Cammalleri scored the eventual game- winning goal midway through the second period and the New Jersey Devils snapped their losing steak with a 3-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild. Tuomo Ruutu also potted a goal for the Devils, who ended a four-game skid despite going 0-for-6 on the power play prior to Travis Zajac’s empty-netter on a 5-on-4 situation. Cory Schneider picked up the win with a 23-save performance, including several acrobatic denials in the closing minutes. Ryan Carter scored a short-handed goal and Darcy Kuemper made 20 saves in Minnesota’s fourth straight setback.


Final Score: NY Islanders 6, Colorado 0

The New York Islanders had payback on their minds when they took on the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday. Jaroslav Halak posted his second straight shutout and the Islanders claimed a 6-0 decision to avenge an earlier loss to the Avalanche. The Islanders traveled to Colorado on October 30 and lost 5-0, their biggest margin of defeat this season. But Tuesday was a much different outcome thanks to Halak’s 20 saves and a balanced offensive attack. Halak kept Arizona off the board in a 1-0 win on Saturday. Tuesday’s victory was the 150th of his career. It was also his 32nd career shutout. Nick Leddy, Anders Lee, Travis Hamonic, Nikolay Kulemin, Casey Cizikas and Ryan Strome each scored for New York, which has won four in a row. Semyon Varlamov made 40 saves for the Avs, who fell to 4-8-5 on the season.


Final Score: NY Rangers 5, Pittsburgh 0

Mats Zuccarello, Martin St. Louis and Kevin Klein all scored during a three-goal first period, and the New York Rangers sent the Pittsburgh Penguins’ seven-game win streak to a screeching halt with a 5-0 rout at Madison Square Garden. Rick Nash recorded a goal and two assists and Henrik Lundqvist turned back all 33 shots he faced as the Rangers bounced back strongly from back-to-back defeats over the weekend. Derick Brassard added a goal and both Derek Stepan and Marc Staal had two assists to help New York deny the Penguins an opportunity to avenge their seven- game loss to the Rangers in last season’s Eastern Conference semifinals. Marc- Andre Fleury finished with 30 saves for Pittsburgh, which had allowed just eight goals total during its seven-game surge.


Final Score: Washington 4, Columbus 2

Alex Ovechkin and Marcus Johansson each scored twice to lead the Washington Capitals in a 4-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday. Nicklas Backstrom and Andre Burakovsky each posted two assists, while Braden Holtby stopped 24 shots for the Capitals, who have won three straight. Cam Atkinson and David Savard lit the lamp for the Blue Jackets, who have matched a franchise record by dropping their ninth straight game. Curtis McElhinney allowed all four goals on 32 shots


Final Score: Montreal 3, Winnipeg 0

Carey Price made 29 saves for his first shutout of the season and the Montreal Canadiens snapped the Winnipeg Jets’ eight-game point streak with a 3-0 victory on Tuesday. Tomas Plekanec, Lars Eller and Alex Galchenyuk lit the lamp for the Canadiens, who have won three in a row. Ondrej Pavelec stopped 24-of-26 shots for the Jets, who had gone 6-0-2 since a regulation loss to Tampa Bay on October 24.


Final Score: Florida 4, San Jose 1

Jimmy Hayes and Aleksander Barkov recorded first-period goals that propelled the Florida Panthers to a 4-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks at BB&T Center. Derek MacKenzie and Tomas Fleischmann scored later on to support a 21-save effort from Roberto Luongo that helped the Panthers halt an 0-2-1 stretch. Joe Thornton accounted for San Jose’s lone goal during the third period and Antti Niemi finished with 26 saves for the Sharks, who fell to 1-2-0 on their current seven-game road swing.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  This Week in Golf—November 13-16

PGA TOUR - OHL CLASSIC AT MAYAKOBA, El Camaleon Golf Club, Playa del Carmen, Mexico - The PGA Tour is in Mexico this week for the final official event of the fall.

Harris English returns to El Camaleon Golf Course to defend his title. It was a long final day last year for English.

After weather problems earlier in the week, English played the final 29 holes of the tournament on Sunday. He trailed Robert Karlsson by one entering the final round, but English fired a 6-under 65 to cruise to a 4-stroke win.

The victory was the second of the season and second of his career for English. Karlsson stumbled to a 1-over 72 in the final round and fell into a share of sixth place.

English has struggled of late. Dating to the Open Championship, he has missed the cut in six of his last nine starts. He did tie for 16th in Las Vegas, but followed with a missed cut at The McGladrey Classic.

The field this week includes former major champions Angel Cabrera, Padraig Harrington, Lucas Glover, Justin Leonard, Davis Love III and Mike Weir. While that group will be among the headliners, five other players—Brice Garnett, James Hahn, Jeff Overton, Heath Slocum and Nicholas Thompson—will all be playing their sixth straight fall event.

Golf Channel will have coverage of all four rounds from 2-5 PM ET.

The next PGA Tour event is the Hero World Challenge, hosted by Tiger Woods. Zach Johnson beat Woods in a playoff last year in California, and he will defend his title at Isleworth Golf & Country Club as the event moves to Florida this year.


EUROPEAN TOUR

TURKISH AIRLINES OPEN, Montgomerie Maxx Royal course, Antalya, Turkey - The European Tour is in Turkey this week for the third event of the finals series, the Turkish Airlines Open.

Last year, Victor Dubuisson fired four rounds in the 60s en route to a 2- stroke win over Jamie Donaldson. Justin Rose and Tiger Woods shared third place, four strokes off the pace.

Dubuisson had never finished better than third on the European Tour before winning this event last year. He is still searching for his second victory.

The Frenchman has had seven top-10 finishes since January, including three runner-ups finishes. He shared ninth at the Open Championship and tied for seventh at the PGA Championship. Those top finishes helped Dubuisson make his first European Ryder Cup team, where he went 2-0-1.

Dubuisson had to withdraw last week at the WGC-HSBC Champions with a back injury, so he status for this week is in question.

Course designer Colin Montgomerie will be in the field this week along with Jamie Donaldson, Sergio Garcia, Marcel Siem, Martin Kaymer, Henrik Stenson, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood.

Donaldson, Garcia and Siem can still catch Rory McIlroy for the top spot in the Race to Dubai standings, but they would have to win this event and next week in Dubai as well.

Golf Channel will have early morning coverage of all four rounds this week.

The last event of the finals series, the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, is next week. Henrik Stenson rolled to a 6-stroke win last year as he won the final event on both the PGA and European Tours and won the big bonuses that came with winning the FedExCup and the Race to Dubai.


LPGA TOUR

LORENA OCHOA INVITATIONAL, Club de Golf Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico - The LPGA Tour has completed its six-week Asian swing, but still remains outside the United States as the tour is in Mexico this week.

Lexi Thompson won the Lorena Ochoa Invitational last year as she closed with a 69 to fend off Stacy Lewis. Thompson needed to birdie the final hole to claim the title.

The victory was Thompson’s second of 2013 and third of her career. She added her first major championship title earlier this year when she won the Kraft Nabisco Championship. Thompson is among 12 players that have won this year on the LPGA Tour that are in the field this week.

The 36-player field this week includes 14 of the top-20 players in the world, including eight of the top 10. Five of the six previous winners—Thompson, Cristie Kerr, Catriona Matthew, Michelle Wie and Angela Stanford—are playing as well.

Golf Channel will have coverage from 5-7 PM ET all four days.

The LPGA Tour returns to the U.S. next week for the final official event of 2014, the CME Group Titleholders. Shanshan Feng rallied for a narrow 1-shot win over Gerina Piller at that event last year.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Federer will lead Swiss in Davis Cup final

Roger Federer will lead visiting Switzerland against host France in next week’s 2014 Davis Cup final.

The Swiss squad will feature the world No. 2 Wimbledon runner-up Federer, fourth-ranked Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka, Marco Chiudinelli and Michael Lammer, but Federer and Wawrinka are expected to play in all the meaningful rubbers.

Team France will counter with No. 12 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Richard Gasquet, Gael Monfils and Julien Benneteau.

Switzerland is captained by Severin Luthi, while the French are guided by former Aussie Open runner-up Arnaud Clement.

The best-of—five tie will be staged on indoor red clay at Stade Pierre Mauroy in Lille, France.

The French are 10-2 all-time versus the Swiss in Davis Cup play. The two nations last met in a 2004 quarterfinal that was won by France.

The nine-time champion French are seeking their first Davis Cup title in 13 years, while Switzerland and the 33-year-old 17-time Grand Slam champion Federer have never hoisted the coveted 114-year-old chalice.

The Gilmer Free Press


WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 2014


National Basketball Association
Detroit at Washington, 7:00 PM - FS-Detroit, CSN-DC, DSS
Indiana at Miami, 7:30 PM - FS-Indiana, SunSports, ESPN
Orlando at New York, 7:30 PM - FS-Florida, MSG, DSS
Utah at Atlanta, 7:30 PM - ROOT-Northwest, SportSouth, DSS
Oklahoma City at Boston, 7:30 PM - FS-Oklahoma, CSN-New England, DSS
LA Lakers at New Orleans, 8:00 PM - Time Warner, FS-New Orleans, DSS
Brooklyn at Phoenix, 9:00 PM - YES, FS-Arizona, DSS
Portland at Denver, 9:00 PM - KGW, Altitude, DSS
Houston at Minnesota, 10:00 PM - CSN-Houston, ESPN


National Hockey League
Boston at Toronto, 8:00 PM - NBCSN
Los Angeles at Anaheim, 10:30 PM - NBCSN


College Football
Kent State at Bowling Green, 8:00 PM - ESPN 2
Ball State at Massachusetts, 8:00 PM - ESPN U


International Soccer
Turkey vs. Brazil (Friendly), 1:20 PM - beIN Sport
Netherlands vs. Mexico (Friendly), 2:25 PM - ESPN 2
Atletico-MG vs. Cruzeiro, 6:55 PM - beIN Sport

Sports News - 11.11.14

The Gilmer Free Press


The Gilmer Free Press

►  State Playoff Schedule

Class A Playoffs

The opening round of the WV High School Football Playoffs is set.  Here is a look at the Class A matchups:


FRIDAY NIGHT:

#10 Buffalo at #7 Doddridge County 7:30 PM


SATURDAY AFTERNOON:

#16 Wahama at #1 St. Marys 1:30 PM

#15 Man at #2 Tug Valley- played at Mingo Central 1:30 PM

#13 Greenbrier West at #4 Clay-Battelle 1:30 PM

#12 Bishop Donahue at #5 Meadow Bridge 1:30 PM

#11 Pendleton County at #6 Williamstown 1:30 PM

#9 Moorefield at #8 Tyler Consolidated 1:30 PM


SATURDAY NIGHT:

#14 East Hardy at #3 Notre Dame played at Bridgeport 7:30 PM





Class AA Playoffs

The opening round of the WV High School Football Playoffs is set.

Here is a look at the AA matchups:


FRIDAY NIGHT:

#16 Liberty (Raleigh) at #1 Bridgeport 7:30 PM

#13 Sissonville at #4 Mingo Central 7:30 PM

#10 Scott at #7 Nicholas County 7:30 PM

#9 Keyser at #8 Robert C. Byrd 7:30 PM


SATURDAY AFTERNOON:

#15 Wyoming East at #2 Frankfort 1:30 PM

#14 Ravenswood at #3 Bluefield 1:30 PM

#12 Fairmont Senior at #5 Wayne 1:30 PM

#11 Weir at #6 Westside 1:30 PM





Class AAA Playoffs

The opening round of the WV High School Football Playoffs is set.  Here is a look at the AAA matchups:


FRIDAY NIGHT:

#16 Parkersburg South at #1 Capital 7:30 PM

#11 Spring Valley at #6 South Charleston 7:30 PM


SATURDAY AFTERNOON:

#15 Parkersburg at #2 Cabell Midland 1:30 PM

#14 Woodrow Wilson at #3 University 1:30 PM

#12 Jefferson at #5 Point Pleasant 1:30 PM

#10 Hurricane at #7 Huntington 1:30 PM

#9 Lewis County at #8 Wheeling Park 1:30 PM


SATURDAY NIGHT:

#13 Buckhannon-Upshur at #4 Martinsburg 7:30 PM



The Gilmer Free Press

►  West Virginia’s offense has tale of two halves

Clint Trickett was “spooked” Saturday night, according to coach Dana Holgorsen, and it’s no surprise, either. On Halloween weekend, West Virginia’s offense was a perfect recreation of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

The Mountaineers (6-3, 4-2 Big 12) jumped to an early 13-point lead against then-No. 10 TCU (7-1, 4-1) at Milan Puskar Stadium but was suddenly anemic after halftime as the Horned Frogs squeaked out a 31-30 victory on a 37-yard field goal as time expired.

West Virginia’s offense turned the ball over five times on its side of the 50, was shut out in the final 14:56 of the game and gained minus-2 yards in the fourth quarter.

No offensive players were made available to media after the game, but the numbers spoke for themselves.

“I take responsibility for what happened offensively,” Holgorsen said. “It was bad. It’s not acceptable. It’s not going to win football games.”

Criticism of the Mountaineers’ play-calling late in the game has centered on their last drive, which began with 3:46 left and West Virginia clinging to a two-point lead after the defense made a crucial fourth-down stop.

The drive consisted of three Andrew Buie runs totaling minus-2 yards and was the offense’s third three-and-out in a row — its fifth of the game.

It was a dreadful final act to a true tale of two halves.

The box score tells the story of West Virginia’s offense, which came into the game averaging 36.9 points and 527.1 total yards per game, disappearing in the second half.

• First downs: 13 in the first half, four in the second.

• Offensive plays: 53 in the first half, 27 in the second.

• Total yards: 236 in the first half, 121 in the second.

• Third-down conversions: 5 of 12 in the first half, 1 of 7 in the second.

• Time of possession: 20:22 in the first half, 12:43 in the second.

Trickett completed 13 of 21 passes in the first half but attempted just five passes, completing two, in the second half. His 162 passing yards, 2 interceptions and 1 touchdown all either matched or became his season-low.

Trickett battled wind, rain and cold all night, opting to wear gloves and then swapping them out for a different pair after his first interception. He entered the game as the No. 6 passer in Division I, averaging 345.4 passing yards per game, but whether by design or by the weather itself, he wasn’t his usual threat in the downfield passing game.

Holgorsen called the running backs “extremely average.” Buie, Dreamius Smith, Wendell Smallwood and Rushel Shell combined to carry 47 times for 211 yards, though a large chunk came on a single Smith run, a 50-yard gain that was more than 40 percent of the offense’s total second-half yardage.

“When we can’t run the ball into a favorable box, we’re going to get beat,” Holgorsen said.

Smallwood and Shell each fumbled once and were used sparingly the rest of the way. Offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson wouldn’t say whether the drops affected playing time.

“It was a struggle the whole game,” Dawson said. “We just didn’t play very well. I don’t know what else to say.

“We didn’t play well enough to win.”  ~~  Stephen J. Nesbitt ~~



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Heisman Rankings: Week 11

While there’s a couple of newcomers to the list and one signal caller made a huge leap to put himself in the finalist conversation, the No. 1 player in the Heisman Rankings continues to assert himself as the clear favorite.


1. Marcus
Mariota, QB, Oregon (last week: No. 1)—The Ducks’ quarterback continued to do his thing over the weekend by separating himself from the field with yet another outstanding performance. Oregon got off to a shaky start against Utah but eventually smoothed things out en route to an easy 51-27 victory thanks in no small part to the efforts of Mariota, who completed 17-of-29 passes for 239 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions while simultaneously putting together his most impressive rushing output of the season (18 carries, 114 yards, TD). On the season, Mariota has amassed 3,330 total yards, and his 38 total touchdowns are just two shy of the career high set last season. The Ducks’ final two regular season games (versus Colorado on Nov. 22, at Oregon State on Nov. 29) are non-threatening, and if they can come out victorious in the Pac-12 title game and earn a spot in the College Football Playoff, Mariota will likely be the award’s runaway winner next month.


2. Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State (last week: No. 2)—Playing a soft matchup against Tennessee-Martin in the Bulldogs’ Homecoming Game, Prescott didn’t have much to gain but still put together a fine performance, completing 14-of-23 passes for 206 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions to go with 54 rushing yards and an additional score. Despite Mississippi State’s reign as the No. 1 team in the nation and Prescott’s outstanding campaign (3,045 total yards, 30 TDs), the dual-threat signal caller has fallen further behind Mariota in recent weeks. He’ll have a golden opportunity to gain ground in Tuscaloosa on Saturday in a matchup with Alabama that will likely determine the SEC Western Division champion.


3. Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU (last week: No. 9)—No one’s stock has sky- rocketed in recent weeks more than Boykin’s, who helped the Horned Frogs collect another signature win over the weekend by downing nationally-ranked Kansas State, 41-20. Boykin bounced back from a disappointing showing on Nov. 1 at West Virginia by putting together an astounding performance, completing greater than 67 percent of his passes (23-of-34) for 219 yards, a touchdown and zero interceptions, while dazzling with his legs as well with 123 rushing yards and three touchdowns, leaving him with eye-popping year-to-date numbers (2,691 passing yards, 546 rushing yards, 30 TDs, four interceptions). Boykin’s status as a finalist could depend on the thrilling stretch run in store for the Big 12, as TCU, Baylor and Kansas State all sit at 5-1 in the conference. The Horned Frogs have the easiest remaining schedule of the three (at Kansas, at Texas, versus. Iowa State) but do not control their own destiny, having lost to Baylor back on Oct. 11 (61-58).


4. Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin (last week: No. 5)—The Badgers’ stud running back continued to terrorize Big Ten opponents over the weekend with another huge performance. Gordon was the primary reason Wisconsin was able to cruise to a 34-16 victory at Purdue, as he rushed for 205 yards and a touchdown on 25 attempts, while adding a 27-yard touchdown reception. He continued to display plenty of explosion and with a 47-yard run he became the FBS leader in runs of 40 or more yards this season with 10. Gordon has been a model of consistency over the past two months with seven straight 100-yard games (including three 200-yard performances), and he now sits with 21 total touchdowns on the season and an FBS-leading 1,501 yards, a comfortable 140 yards ahead of second place Tevin Coleman of Indiana.


5. Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama (last week: No. 4)—It’s always an instant classic when Alabama and LSU meet, and Saturday’s heavyweight bout lived up to the hype as the Crimson Tide fought back in the final minute of regulation to tie the game on a field goal and went on to win in overtime, 20-13, to stay alive in the SEC Western Division hunt. For just the third time this season, Cooper was held under 100 yards receiving, but he still hauled in eight passes for 83 yards and a touchdown as he continued to act as the Tide’s only viable receiving option. Alabama now controls its own destiny in the SEC West - its last two league matchups against Mississippi State and Auburn are very difficult but both are at home - and it would be hard to imagine the squad achieving such success without Cooper’s incredible season (79 receptions, 1,215 yards, 10 TDs).


6. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State—The Seminoles just keep winning. Following a 34-20 triumph over Virginia, they became the 25th team in NCAA history to win 25 games in a row, and they have a clear path to the College Football Playoff barring an unforeseen slip up en route to an ACC Championship. Despite FSU’s sustained excellence however, Winston simply hasn’t played as well as a reigning Heisman Trophy winner should. He scored a pair of touchdowns in the UVA victory, but he also tossed two interceptions, giving him five over the past two weeks. Winston’s winning track record could very well earn him a spot in New York as a finalist, but his less-than- outstanding numbers (2,540 passing yards, 20 TDs, 11 interceptions) simply aren’t good enough to become a repeat winner.


7. Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska (last week: No. 7)—The Cornhuskers escaped potential disaster on Nov. 1 when learning Abdullah’s knee has no structural damage after suffering an injury against Purdue. After healing up on a well- timed bye week, Abdullah (1,250 rushing yards, 169 receiving yards, 19 TDs) is expected to be at full strength for Saturday’s matchup against the Gordon-led Badgers in a highly-anticipated contest between the nation’s best running backs.


8. Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor (last week: unranked)—Petty, a preseason favorite, fell off the radar last month following Baylor’s 41-27 loss at West Virginia, but a historic win over Oklahoma has put the squad back in thick of the Big 12 Conference race. In the Bears’ first-ever win over Oklahoma in Norman and their first road win over a ranked team in their last 38 tries, Petty completed greater than 76 percent of his passes (32-of-42) for 387 yards with a touchdown an no interceptions. Petty is falling well short of his pace from last season, when he threw for 4,200 yards and accounted for 46 touchdowns, so his showing this season (2,421 passing yards, 24 touchdowns) isn’t likely to turn voters’ heads, but he still has time to improve his stock as Baylor makes a late push at a conference title and a potential College Football Playoff berth.


9. Bo Wallace, QB, Ole Miss (last week: No. 10)—The Rebels are all but dead in the race for the SEC Western Division crown, and a homecoming rout of FCS squad Presbyterian (48-0) can only do so much to lift their spirits. Wallace’s chances to become a finalist for the award are slim, but after adding another three-touchdown performance in the victory, his outstanding season still deserves some love. The senior is completing 64 percent of his passes for 2,556 yards, 22 touchdowns and eight interceptions and has piled up solid rushing totals as well (233 yards, four TDs) in leading Ole Miss to an improbable strong season.


10. Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA (last week: unranked)—Much like Petty, Hundley was also a preseason favorite that fell out of favor early in the season due to injury and underperforming numbers, but with the spotlight off him in recent weeks he has returned to form for the surging Bruins. He was outstanding in UCLA’s 44-30 win at Washington, completing greater than 80 percent of his passes (29-of-36) for 306 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions, and while he rushed for just 18 yards after picking up 424 yards on the ground in the previous four, he still found time to rush for a pair of touchdowns. Hundley has 24 total touchdowns to just seven picks and has amassed 3,120 total yards. At 5-2 in the Pac-12, UCLA still needs help to win the South Division, but if it can earn itself a rematch against Oregon in the conference title game, Hundley will have a big opportunity for a late surge at the award.
Dropped Out: Nick Marshall, QB, Auburn; Everett Golson, QB, Notre Dame

Honorable Mention: Gerod Holliman, DB, Louisville


►  MSU, FSU still 1-2; Baylor, Arizona St and Ohio St move up

Mississippi State and Florida State remained the top teams in the latest Associated Press college football poll, but big wins for Baylor, Arizona State and Ohio State allowed those three teams to move up in the rankings.

Mississippi State had no trouble in its rout of UT Martin on Saturday in advance of next week’s mammoth showdown with Alabama in Tuscaloosa, while Florida State rebounded from a tough first quarter to pull away from Virginia.

The Bulldogs received 48 first-place votes—three more than last week—and a total of 1,488 points from a nationwide media panel to keep the top spot, while the Seminoles lost three No. votes and now have 12.

Oregon jumped past Alabama into third after a win over Utah, while the Crimson Tide gutted out a victory at LSU and stayed fourth. TCU also moved up one spot into fifth after a blowout of Kansas State in Fort Worth.

Baylor’s surprisingly easy win at Oklahoma moved the Bears four places from 10th to sixth and Arizona State’s victory over Notre Dame pushed the Sun Devils four spots from 11th to seventh. Ohio State vaulted five places from 13th to eighth after outscoring Michigan State in East Lansing.

Auburn tumbled six spots from third to ninth after a 41-38 home loss to Texas A&M, a setback that will likely cost the Tigers their spot among the top four teams in the College Football Playoff rankings when they are announced Tuesday.

Ole Miss rounds out this week’s top 10, while Nebraska starts the second 10 and is followed by Michigan State, Kansas State, UCLA, Notre Dame, Georgia, Arizona, Clemson, Duke and LSU.

Michigan State dipped five places from seventh after its home loss and K-State dropped four spots from ninth after losing at TCU, while the Fighting Irish had the biggest drop within the poll, falling seven spots from eighth after its loss in Tempe. LSU tumbled six places from 14th after the overtime loss to Alabama.

The last five teams ranked this week are Marshall, Wisconsin, Colorado State, Georgia Tech and Utah. The Utes dropped five spots after losing to Oregon.

Colorado State and Georgia Tech are this week’s newcomers. The Rams are 9-1 with eight straight wins, while the Yellow Jackets are 8-2.

Oklahoma and West Virginia dropped out of this week’s rankings. The Sooners were 16th and the Mountaineers were 24th.

In addition to this week’s battle between Mississippi State and Alabama, three other ranked matchups are on the docket. Auburn will visit Georgia in the SEC, while first place in the Big Ten West is up for grabs when Nebraska travels to Wisconsin. Also, Georgia Tech hosts Clemson in the ACC.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Former Vikings DB Orlando Thomas dies

Former Minnesota Vikings defensive back Orlando Thomas has died after a battle with ALS. He was 42 years old.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune cited agent Mark Bartelstein as saying Thomas died at his home in Louisiana after a seven-year fight with arterial lateral sclerosis, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Bartelstein told the paper Thomas weighed just 70 pounds upon his death. He had revealed his diagnosis in June 2007.

“The Vikings are deeply saddened by the loss of Orlando Thomas,“ the team said in a statement Monday. “Orlando was an outstanding player for the Vikings for seven years, but more importantly, he represented the franchise and the state of Minnesota with the utmost dignity and class. While his outgoing personality made him a favorite among his teammates, Orlando’s involvement in the community made him a favorite outside of Winter Park.

“Since 2007, Orlando fought this disease with tenacity and optimism. Throughout his difficult battle, he refused to allow ALS to define him, instead putting others’ needs in front of his and focusing on making those around him smile.

“Orlando will always remain a member of the Minnesota Vikings family. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Demetra and their family.“

Thomas played each of his seven NFL seasons with the Vikings and led the NFL with nine interceptions as a rookie in 1995. He helped Minnesota to the NFC title game after the 1998 season and finished his career in 2001 with 22 interceptions in 98 games.


►  Dolphins’ Albert to miss remainder of season

Miami Dolphins left tackle Branden Albert will miss the remainder of the season with a right knee injury.

Albert was hurt in the second quarter of Sunday’s game against Detroit when a player rolled up on his right leg. He remained on the turf for a short time before exiting on a cart.

Dolphins coach Joe Philbin did not reveal the specific nature of the injury during a media session Monday, but reports have indicated it to be a torn ACL and possibly an MCL tear. He said evaluations are still ongoing and a decision on whether surgery is necessary has not yet been reached.

“We’re going to put Branden Albert on injured reserve,“ Philbin said Monday. “Unfortunately injuries are part of the game. That’s part of football.“

Albert was Miami’s big free agent acquisition in the offseason, signing a five-year contract worth a reported $47 million. He spent his first six NFL seasons with Kansas City and earned his first Pro Bowl nod last year.

“He’s a professional. He’s a hard worker,“ Philbin added about Albert’s contributions to the team. “I thought he set a great example for the other guys.“

The Dolphins moved rookie first-round pick Ja’Waun James from right tackle to left tackle after Albert’s injury. Dallas Thomas, starting at left guard in place of the injured Daryn Colledge, moved to right tackle and Shelley Smith took over at guard.

Philbin said the revamped line from Sunday would likely be the starting unit that takes the field for Thursday’s big AFC East showdown at home against the Buffalo Bills.


►  Vikings awaiting league’s ruling on Peterson

The Minnesota Vikings returned from their bye to begin preparations for Sunday’s game against Chicago and said Monday they will await the league’s review on the status of running back Adrian Peterson.

Peterson has been on the commissioner’s reserve/exempt list since September after being indicted on felony charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child in his native Texas, and will remain off the Vikings’ active roster until the NFL completes an investigation under the league’s personal conduct policy.

“In regards to Adrian Peterson’s status with the Minnesota Vikings, at this time his potential reinstatement is under NFL guidelines,“ the team said in a statement Monday. “As an organization, we respect and understand the league’s process. In the interim, our focus is on the team and preparing for this weekend’s game against the Bears.“

The 2012 NFL MVP avoided jail time by reaching a plea agreement with Montgomery County (Texas) prosecutors last Tuesday. According to multiple reports, Peterson pleaded no contest to a lesser charge of one count of misdemeanor reckless assault and will receive probation along with a $4,000 fine and an order to serve 80 hours of community service.

Peterson was accused of using a wooden tree branch to hit his 4-year-old son as a disciplinary measure, resulting in visible injuries to the child.

He and his attorneys had lobbied commissioner Roger Goodell for immediate reinstatement following his plea deal, but the request was denied.

Instead, Peterson could face an additional suspension if found to have been in violation of the personal conduct policy.

The NFL Players Association issued a statement on the matter last Thursday evening, with the union threatening to take legal action if further punishment is issued.

Peterson has not played since Minnesota’s season opener on Sept. 7. The All- Pro back was briefly reinstated by the Vikings after being deactivated for the team’s Week 2 game against New England, but the club quickly reversed course and placed him on the exempt list after a wave of negative backlash from sponsors, fans and Minnesota governor Mark Dayton.

The two-time league rushing champion also admitted to a court staffer that he had used marijuana prior to taking a drug test after his initial hearing back in October, which could factor into whether Goodell imposes any further discipline.


►  Cardinals QB Palmer has torn ACL

Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians confirmed Monday that quarterback Carson Palmer tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and will be placed on injured reserve.

Palmer, 34, suffered the injury when he was sacked by Rams safety Mark Barron early in the fourth quarter of Arizona’s 31-14 win over St. Louis on Sunday.

“It’s just a shame it happened now, with this team,“ said Arians.

Palmer remained on the ground in obvious pain before limping off the field. He was then carted back to the locker room. Drew Stanton threw a late touchdown pass in relief of Palmer, helping the Cardinals improve to 8-1 and remain perfect in five home games this season.

Stanton will be under center for the Cardinals the rest of the season.

“As far as our football team, everybody in the locker room, including myself, has all the confidence in the world in Drew,“ Arians added.

Palmer, who missed three games earlier this season with a shoulder injury, had reconstructive surgery on the same knee in 2006 as a member of the Bengals. Both of his ACL tears came just days after signing lucrative contract extensions.

On Dec. 29, 2005, Palmer agreed to a six-year extension with Cincinnati. On Jan. 8, 2006, the Bengals met Pittsburgh in the first round of the AFC playoffs and Palmer lasted just one play, injuring his knee on a 66-yard pass to rookie Chris Henry.

Palmer signed a three-year, $50 million contract extension with Arizona last Friday.

Arians said Palmer is expected to return to football in June or July.


►  49ers’ McDonald won’t face domestic violence charges

San Francisco 49ers defensive end Ray McDonald will not face charges of domestic violence stemming from an August arrest.

The Santa Clara County district attorney’s office on Monday declined to file charges in the case because of insufficient evidence.

McDonald was booked into Santa Clara County jail on Aug. 31 for “inflicting injury on a spouse or cohabitant,“ according to the Santa Clara Department of Corrections. He was later released from custody after posting bail.

According to Monday’s statement from the Santa Clara County D.A., there were conflicting versions of the incident, a lack of verifiable eyewitnesses and a significant lack of cooperation by the alleged victim, McDonald’s fiancee—later referred to as ‘Jane Doe’ in the district attorney’s statement.

“All domestic violence complaints deserve our concern, sensitivity and careful review,“ said district attorney Jeff Rosen on Monday. “After our thorough review of all the facts, we do not have evidence sufficient to convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. McDonald committed a crime against Jane Doe.“

The district attorney said the incident occurred in the early morning of Aug. 31 during a birthday party McDonald threw for himself at his San Jose home. An investigation determined that, during an argument, Jane Doe struck McDonald, who then tried to physically restrain her. The two scuffled.

McDonald then forcibly attempted to remove her from the home and called a San Jose police officer, saying he needed to get “a female” out of his house. Two minutes later, Jane Doe called 911, resulting in McDonald’s arrest.

The legal and factual analysis by the district attorney’s office determined the incident consisted of a physical struggle between two parties, each party blaming the other, no verifiable eyewitness accounts, and no one left with significant injuries.

McDonald’s arrest came just days after NFL commissioner Roger Goodell instituted harsher penalties for players and league personnel over domestic violence offenses, a response to criticism over the two-game suspension he initially handed Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice for an altercation with his now-wife in a New Jersey casino back in February.

The 49ers, despite some criticism, allowed McDonald to continue playing during the investigation. He has started all nine games for the team this season.


►  NFL Game Results

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 10


Final Score: Philadelphia 45, Carolina 21

Mark Sanchez made his Philadelphia debut in style, as he threw two touchdown passes and the Eagles defense did the rest in a 45-21 dismantling of the Carolina Panthers on Monday night. Starting for the first time due to Nick Foles being down with an injury, Sanchez was 20-of-37 for 332 yards. He signed with the Eagles (7-2) in the offseason after a tumultuous run with the New York Jets. He came in relief of Foles last week in a win over Houston and this was his first start since the final week of 2012. He sat out last season with a shoulder injury. Philadelphia’s defense, though, was all over Cam Newton throughout the game, totaling nine sacks, picking him off three times and causing him to fumble twice, losing one. Darren Sproles contributed two scores in the contest, one on the ground and another on a punt return to help Philadelphia win its second straight game. Newton had a pair of touchdown passes to Kelvin Benjamin in the fourth quarter and finished the game 25-of-40 for 306 yards for the Panthers (3-6-1), who have dropped four straight since a tie against Cincinnati in Week 6.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Things we learned from Week 10

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s two-game streak of six touchdown passes and being the TSN Fantasy Player of the Week came to its inevitable end. Meanwhile, Peyton Manning threw for 340 yards and five scores and will be one of the favorites for the Week 10 award.

Marshawn Lynch was pretty good too.

Below are a few more things we observed:


Tennessee at Baltimore

It certainly seems that tailback Bishop Sankey is now the “lead dog” for the Tennessee Titans’ running game. After Shonn Greene fumbled on Baltimore’s one- yard line in the first quarter, Sankey received an even bigger workload than many anticipated, though he failed to capitalize. He rushed for 58 yards on 17 carries (3.4 yards per carry). The bad news is that halfback Leon Washington vultured a three-yard score away from Sankey.

The guy who tossed the score to Washington was rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger, however, that was the lone highlight of his afternoon. Mettenberger finished the day 16-of-27 for 179 yards, one touchdown, one interception, and only averaged 6.6 yards per completion. We feel sorry for owners who were stuck starting Tennessee’s signal caller this week.

Mettenberger’s counterpart, Ravens’ quarterback Joe Flacco, were not much better, totaling only 169 passing yards, but at least he did not turn the ball over. Flacco salvaged something when he threw a 32-yard fourth-quarter touchdown. He has a total of 17 touchdown passes in 10 games after throwing 19 in 16 games last season.

Baltimore wide receiver Torrey Smith was the recipient of Flacco’s scoring pass, but even more importantly, he was the one pass-catcher on the Ravens to produce on Sunday. Smith finished the day with five receptions for 75 yards, on eight targets, and after Steve Smith Sr. (three catches, 17 yards) flew out of the gate early this season, it is looking more and more that Torrey Smith is back to being Baltimore’s go-to guy.

Not many players had dynamic fantasy production in this one, including all of Tennessee’s wide receivers. Kendall Wright led the team in receiving, but totaled an under-whelming 53 yards on four catches.

The one player who did break loose was Ravens’ running back Justin Forsett. He scored Baltimore’s first touchdown of the game, on a fourth-and- one run in the second quarter, then went on to have an even bigger game. Forsett scored again in the third quarter, and finished with 20 carries for a season-high 112 yards.


Kansas City at Buffalo

Raise your hand if you had Buffalo Bills’ wide receiver Chris Hogan on your fantasy team. Any owner raising your hand; I want your autograph. While tailback Bryce Brown led the team in receiving (six catches, 65 yards), Hogan had the most productive day, among Bills’ pass-catchers, totaling five receptions for 57 yards and a touchdown.

With receiver Sammy Watkins hampered by a groin injury, many thought that receiver Robert Woods would shoulder the load for Buffalo, however it was Hogan who made a name for himself.

Buffalo tailback Fred Jackson was surprisingly active Sunday against the Kansas City, but his presence hurt fantasy owners more than helped. Anthony Dixon (9-62-0), Brown (7-35-0), and Jackson (10 yards rushing, 39 yards receiving) all saw action, but none of the three were able to distinguish themselves. We feel that Jackson will be the workhorse moving forward, but in no way have owners seen the last of Dixon and Brown.

Although Buffalo’s running game failed to get going, Kansas City did not have much of an issue in that department, as tailback Jamaal Charles rushed 15 times for 98 yards and a score. He also chipped in three receptions for 20 yards, and is clearly running like one of the best backs in the NFL. Too bad he couldn’t find two more rushing yards.

While Charles’ production should not surprise many owners, Chiefs’ receiver Dwayne Bowe’s day, should. For the first time in 2014, he recorded over 90 yards in a game (8-93-0) on 12 targets after racking up 10 targets a week ago, Bowe is a name that owners should consider buying low.

Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith continued to play the dreaded “game- manager” role, completing 17-of-29 pass attempts for only 177 yards, zero touchdowns and zero interceptions. However, Smith was able to produce on the ground, rushing four times for 25 yards and the game-winning fourth- quarter touchdown.

Bills’ signal-caller Kyle Orton was much more productive, from a fantasy standpoint, throwing for 259 yards and one score. Since he took over the starting job for quarterback E.J. Manuel, Orton has pleasantly surprised owners, with 10 touchdowns and only three interceptions.


Miami at Detroit

Whenever a team gets one of their best playmakers back from injury, it inevitably helps the offense, but when the Detroit Lions get wide receiver Calvin Johnson back, it adds a completely different element. Johnson showed how valuable he is, along with the mismatches he provides, by scoring the first touchdown of the game, on a first quarter 49-yard pass. He went on to finish the game with seven receptions for 113 yards on 15 targets, and more importantly, looked 100-percent healthy.

Owners who thought the return of Johnson would hurt the production of Detroit receiver Golden Tate, were mistaken. Not only did he have 109 receiving yards but caught a team-leading 11 balls on 13 targets. The duo of Tate and Johnson may be the best receiving tandem in the league.

The player who benefited most from Detroit’s two forceful receivers, was obviously signal caller Matthew Stafford. He had a solid afternoon, throwing for 280 yards and two touchdowns. The team has surrounded him with great playmakers and he should be considered a very good option for the remainder of the season.

Johnson was not the only Lion to return from injury on Sunday. Tailback Reggie Bush came back from an ankle ailment, and while he helped Detroit as a team, he clearly clouded the backfield situation for fantasy owners.

Bush only totaled five touches for 25 yards, but adding him to the backfield with Joique Bell (12 touches 77 yards) and Theo Riddick (five touches, one touchdown) will make it tough for owners to find a fantasy-worthy option in this three-way RBBC.

With Bush and Johnson returning to the field, it may have made sense for the Dolphins to keep running back Lamar Miller off of it. Dealing with a shoulder injury, owners were unsure of how much work Miller would receive, and the outcome did not please many people. He rushed only four times for 10 yards, and caught one pass for minus-four yards, making it Miller’s worst performance of the season. Damien Williams led Miami in rushing with seven carries for 34 yards, but the unimpressive line should keep him on the waiver wire.

Coming off, what was arguably his best performance of the year during Week 9 (288 yards, three touchdowns), quarterback Ryan Tannehill was unable to duplicate it in Week 10. He threw for just 201 yards, one touchdown, one interception, and averaged just 5.3 yards per completion. To go along with the subpar passing outing, Tannehill did little to contribute on the ground, after rushing for at least 35 yards in each of his past five games.

Tannehill’s production clearly affected Miami’s wide receivers, and only Mike Wallace was able to salvage a day for fantasy owners. He had five receptions for 51 yards and a touchdown, and after a poor first season with the Dolphins, Wallace has bounced back in 2014 with 40 catches for 519 yards and six scores.


Dallas at Jacksonville

On Romo’s first quarter touchdown pass to Jason Witten, a healthy Romo would have run the ball into the right front corner of the end zone. Witten owners finally catch a break and his third touchdown in five games.

Romo has a touchdown pass in 37 straight games after throwing three more against Jacksonville. Getting rid of the ball quicker was very good for Romo and the Cowboys passing game as he went 20-of-27 for 246 yards, 3 TDs and no turnovers.

Dez Bryant is impossible to tackle after the catch, scoring twice and racking up 158 second quarter receiving yards. Unfortunately, he had nothing in the other three quarters.

Denard Robinson, a.k.a. “The Weapon” is showing how explosive he can be these last few games and against Dallas he got off to a great start with a 32-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. He is reading his blocks much better than in the past we could be seeing a fantasy star in the making. he also scored a late garbage-time touchdown.

Typical Blake Bortles throwing for decent yards, but more interceptions than touchdowns. In this case one INT, zero touchdowns. He’s not fantasy worthy.

Cecil Shorts came in at less than 100 percent, but was the Jaguars best receiver (5-119-0).


San Francisco at New Orleans

In one of my leagues the bye week schedule forced me to start both Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde. Who knew that might be a winning strategy as both scored in the first stanza?

In case you haven’t noticed, Anquan Boldin, not Michael Crabtree or Vernon Davis, is Colin Kaepernick’s first option.

With rookies you draft you expect up and downs. This was apparently an “up” week for Saints rookie Brandin Cooks.

Drew Brees has touchdown passes in 83 of his last 84 games. He owned a record 54-games streak, missed a game and now has a 29-game streak. That’s the definition of a consistent fantasy stud.

Tight end Jimmy Graham gave the Saints their first lead of the day on the first play after the two-minute warning. Like Rob Gronkowski, he’s impossible to guard with one guy in the red zone.

Mark Ingram continued to produce. it will be interesting to see what Sean Payton does when Pierre Thomas and Khiry Robinson are ready to return.


Pittsburgh at New York Jets

Roethlisberger had 12 touchdowns in the previous two weeks, but the Jets opened up a 17-0 lead in the first quarter and only gave the Steelers quarterback a garbage-time touchdown? I just can’t figure this game out.

Ben did finally connect for a score ... in the final 20 seconds on an 80-yard bomb to Martavis Bryant. Bryant caught his sixth touchdown pass in four games and led the team in receiving yards (143). Another youngster turning into a fantasy star.

A rare “clunker” for Le’Veon Bell. He managed just 69 totals yards. He gets a pass based on his first nine-game resume.

For those asking who is this T.J. Graham? He’s the guy who played a couple of seasons in Buffalo, but was waived by the Titans in late September. It’s his first catch since Week 6, so it’s no wonder no one started him.

If that’s getting Percy Harvin involved in the offense, I’m not impressed. Harvin saw just five targets for 23 yards and rushed six times for 33 yards.


Atlanta at Tampa Bay

Steven Jackson has posted fantasy-worthy numbers in two straight games combining for 95 yards and a touchdown. Was it worth the wait? I don’t think so.

Julio Jones got the big yards (119), but Roddy White scored the red-zone touchdown.

After sitting for seven weeks due to injury and backing up Mike Glennon, Josh McCown began the game with a solid scoring drive going 7-of-11 for 52 yards. he finished with 301 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, but it’s another loss for the Bucs.

Mike Evans caught another touchdown pass among his seven receptions for 125 yards. That’s two games in a row and four of the last five. It’s officially a “trend.“


Denver at Oakland

Manning was not sharp early on, throwing two first-half interceptions. But not only is he supremely talented, but he’s the ultimate grinder. He finished the day with 340 yards and five touchdowns ... and didn’t play in the fourth quarter. OK, it WAS against the Raiders.

C.J. Anderson saw more work than normal and produced very well, including taking a screen pass 51 yards for a touchdown. The team gave Hillman (foot) a rest in the second half and Anderson finished the day with 163 yards from scrimmage.

The Broncos promised they would try to get the ball to Julius Thomas more often and they were true to their word. He caught 6-of-7 targets for 63 yards and two touchdowns.

I’m not sure which is worse, the Oakland offensive line or their running backs. Either way, you shouldn’t be using anyone involved in the Raiders running game.

Mychal Rivera scored for the third time in two games and may be playing himself into a low-end fantasy option.


St. Louis at Arizona

Tre Mason was the “workhorse” running back, though that didn’t produce much for fantasy owners. He finished with a combined 81 yards from scrimmage.

Austin Davis tries, but he’s not the answer for fantasy owners or the Rams.

Andre Ellington got the touches we expect from him (23), but struggled to produce (42 combined yards) other than one short second-quarter touchdown run.

Larry Fitzgerald is one of the league’s best possession receivers and that’s not an insult. We just wish he would score more often. Except for the games he plays against the Eagles, who he “owns,“ Fitzgerald should be thought of as a WR2.

John Brown appears to be the Cardinals new deep threat beating the Rams from 48 yards away to give Arizona the lead in the fourth quarter. He’s already caught two game-winners this season - against San Diego and Philadelphia.

Chandler Catanzaro missed his first field goal attempt of the season, but it was from 53-yards out. He hit his first 17 career attempts.

The Cardinals defense has been stout all season, now add touchdown-maker to their attributes. They gave up two touchdowns Sunday, and scored twice themselves.


New York Giants at Seattle

When the Giants, and in particular Eli Manning, don’t turn the ball over they can be competitive. That was the first half. In the second, Manning fumbled once and was intercepted once and the Seahawks outscored New York 24-0.

Odell Beckham (7-108-0) has put together three solid games and should now be thought of as an everyday starter with RB1 upside.

A short touchdown run from Andre Williams helped fantasy owners, but those owners should have no expectations of fantasy value once Rashad Jennings returns to the lineup in Week 11. Not with a 2.9 ypc average.

Marshawn Lynch was our top running back in the Week 11 rankings because 40 percent of his starting offensive line was expected back and we got exactly what we were hoping for from “Beast Mode.“ Good tough running capped by short touchdown runs. He finished the day with 140 yards and four touchdowns.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  2014 West Virginia men’s basketball preview

1. Step right up, backups

Seven months ago, it appeared West Virginia would open the 2014-15 season with one of the deepest rosters in the country. But coach Bob Huggins’s squad dripped talent like a leaky faucet this summer, as three of the team’s top five scorers left Morgantown forgreener pastures other schools. Guard Eron Harris (17.2ppg points per game) transferred to Michigan State, guard Terry Henderson (11.7 ppg) left for N.C.orth Carolina State and forward Rémi Dibo (7.3 ppg) shipped off to his native France to pursue a professional career. That trio combined for 62 starts last season. The Mountaineers will need to plug those holes in a hurry. They have the pieces to put together a nice starting five, but the would-be depth is shot — an early injury could be crippling.

2. Ticket to Staten island

There is reason for optimism, and his name is Juwan Staten. Say what you will about the offseason departures, but West Virginia still boasts one of the top talents in college basketball. Staten, a 2015 Bob Cousy Award nominee for the nation’s top point guard, developed into a complete package last season, averaging 18.1 points, 5.8 assists and 5.6 rebounds per game. He stands just 6-foot- feet 1, but led the team with 158 defensive rebounds in 2013-14. With the ball in Staten’s hands every trip up the court, the Mountaineers will have a shot against anybody in the Big 12. Staten, now a senior, will get help on the perimeter from guard Gary Browne and junior-college transfers Tarik Phillip and Jaysean Paige.

3. Young bigs must play big role

West Virginia will lean on 6-foot-9 sophomores Nathan Adrian, Devin Williams and Brandon Watkins to provide some scoring punch in the paint. Williams started 31 games as a freshman and led the team with 7.2 rebounds per game. Adrian started 18 games, averaging 5.4 points per game, and proved his ability to space the floor. The sophomore trio joins senior Kevin Noreen in the frontcourt. Noreen has played in 94 games at West Virginia and is a rather known commodityat this point — he isn’t a scoring threat (2.0 ppg) or on the glass (2.7 rpg), but provides a physical presence. The Mountaineers were a weak rebounding team last year, averaging 35.6 reboundsperseason game.  ~~  Stephen J. Nesbitt ~~



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Curry, Deron Williams named NBA Players of the Week

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry and Brooklyn Nets guard Deron Williams have been named the Western and Eastern Conference Players of the Week, respectively, for the week ending on Nov. 9.

Curry averaged 30.0 points in three games last week, matching Kobe Bryant for the league lead. He also led the NBA in steals with 3.33 per game and ranked fifth in the West with 7.3 assists.

Curry hit 14 of his 27 attempts from 3-point range over those three games, including a 6-for-9 effort in a win over the Rockets. Though Golden State lost its first game of the season against Phoenix on Sunday, Curry collected 28 points, 10 assists and five steals.

Williams led the Nets to a 3-1 week to earn Player of the Week honors for the fourth time in his career and first with Brooklyn. He averaged 20.8 points and 7.0 assists on 56.9 percent shooting.

Williams notched at least 17 points and six assists while shooting better than 50 percent from the floor in all four games last week. He did that just 11 times all last season.

Houston’s James Harden, Los Angeles’s Bryant, New Orleans’ Anthony Davis and Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins, among others, were also considered for the award.


►  Blazers’ Batum out Tuesday

The Portland Trail Blazers confirmed that forward Nicolas Batum will miss Tuesday’s game against the Charlotte Hornets with a right knee contusion.

Batum hurt his knee late in Sunday’s 116-100 win over the Denver Nuggets. An MRI after the game revealed no structural damage.

The 25-year-old swingman is averaging 9.0 points, 7.7 rebounds and 5.7 assists for Portland this season. He will be reevaluated later in the week.


►  NBA Game Results

(Monday, November 10)


Final Score: Cleveland 118, New Orleans 111

LeBron James delivered a triple-double in his second home game back in Cleveland, and the Cavaliers continued to make strides by coming through with a hard-earned 118-111 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans. James tallied 32 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists and the Cavs also received huge contributions from their two other stars en route to a second straight win following a sluggish 1-3 start. Kyrie Irving scored 27 of his 32 points in the second half and Kevin Love buried four 3- pointers in the fourth quarter while chipping in 22 points for Cleveland, which hit on 13-of-27 attempts from beyond the arc for the game. Ryan Anderson went 8-of-12 from long distance for New Orleans and totaled 32 points, but only nine came after halftime. Anthony Davis posted 27 points and 14 rebounds and Jrue Holiday finished with 16 points in the loss.


Final Score: Indiana 97, Utah 86

Roy Hibbert scored a season-high 29 points two days after leaving a game with an injured knee and the Indiana Pacers snapped a six-game losing streak with a 97-86 win over the Utah Jazz on Monday night. Hibbert scored 11 of his 29 points in the first quarter after suffering a knee bruise in the first quarter of Saturday’s game against Washington. A.J. Price scored 22 points off the bench four days after the banged-up Pacers signed him to bolster their depleted backcourt. Price, who played his first three NBA seasons with the Pacers from 2009-12, made two 3-pointers during a 13-2 run in the fourth quarter that turned a three- point deficit into an eight-point lead. The Pacers never trailed by fewer than five points after the run and avoided what would have been their longest losing streak in almost five years. Solomon Hill added 13 points and Lavoy Allen scored 12 with a game-high 15 rebounds off the bench. Indianapolis native Gordon Hayward poured in 30 points for Utah. Enes Kanter had 18 points and Derrick Favors scored 13 in the loss. Indiana won for the first time since its season opener against Philadelphia on Oct. 29. Each of its six straight losses came by 10 points or fewer.


Final Score: Atlanta 91, New York 85

Paul Millsap had 19 points and the Atlanta Hawks defeated the New York Knicks 91-85 to sweep a home-and-home series on Monday night. The Hawks beat New York 103-96 Saturday in Atlanta. Kyle Korver netted 17 points to go with eight rebounds and Al Horford posted 12 points and six boards for the Hawks, who moved to 3-3 on the young season. Carmelo Anthony tallied 25 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, Iman Shumpert supplied 18 points and Tim Hardaway Jr. added 15 for New York, which has dropped five straight. Anthony was 11-of-25 from the field. He’s now taken at least 20 shots in his last six games, but has just shot 50 percent or better just once.


Final Score: Chicago 102, Detroit 91

Derrick Rose played for the second time in six games since spraining both of his ankles and scored 24 points to lead the Chicago Bulls to a 102-91 win over the Detroit Pistons on Monday night. The Bulls held on down the stretch after leading by as many as 19 points in the second quarter and 17 in the third, winning for the fifth time in their six games since Rose was hurt against Cleveland on Oct. 31. Rose, who sat out the previous two games, set up a key basket when he drew a double team near the paint and threw a no-look pass back to Jimmy Butler for a 3-pointer that gave the Bulls a 95-88 lead with 1:56 remaining. The former NBA MVP had seven assists in 32 minutes and Butler scored 19 as the Bulls beat the Pistons for the 22nd time in their last 24 meetings. Pau Gasol added 17 points and 15 rebounds and Joakim Noah scored 13 with 14 boards. Josh Smith had 19 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Pistons, who have dropped their last two. Greg Monroe added 16 points and 10 rebounds and D.J. Augustin added 16 points off the bench.


Final Score: San Antonio 89, LA Clippers 85

San Antonio’s defense clamped down in the final minutes and took its first lead with less than two minutes left. Outplayed throughout, the Spurs figured out a way to avoid their worst start in six years. Kawhi Leonard netted 26 points to go with 10 rebounds and forced a pair of key steals late to lift the Spurs to an 89-85 triumph over the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night. Chris Paul’s runner staked the Clippers to an 82-75 advantage with 5:49 left, but endured a five-plus minute scoreless drought as San Antonio ripped off 12 unanswered points. Jamal Crawford was fouled on a 3-point attempt with 25.8 ticks remaining and made all three to pull LA within 87-85 before Manu Ginobili missed a pair of free throws at the other end. Paul’s driving layup, however, didn’t drop and Blake Griffin was called for a technical foul while he attempted to call a timeout on the floor with 1.4 seconds to go. The Clippers didn’t have any timeouts left. Tony Parker missed the technical freebie, but Leonard sunk two foul shots to seal the outcome. Tim Duncan posted 18 points and 11 rebounds and Parker added 13 points and five assists for the Spurs, who moved to 3-3 on the young campaign. The team was on the verge of getting off to their worst start since beginning the 2008-09 season 2-5. San Antonio won despite going just 2-of-19 from beyond the arc.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Abreu, deGrom favorites to snag rookie awards

Election Day may have been last week, but there are still some winners who have yet to be revealed.

The Baseball Writers’ Association of America will hand out their first two postseason awards on Monday when the American and National League Rookies of the Year will be announced.

It might be a unanimous choice in the AL, as Chicago first baseman Jose Abreu figures to win the award easily. The Cuban defector has picked up every other rookie award following an outstanding initial campaign.

Abreu, a three-time AL Rookie of the Month winner, hit .317 and led all rookies with 36 HR, 107 RBI, 176 hits, 35 doubles, 80 runs scored, a .383 on-base percentage, .581 slugging percentage and a .964 OPS.

He was not only the AL Rookie of the Month in April, but also the Player of the Month, as he swatted a rookie record 10 home runs in the month along with 31 RBI, also a record. He also received the dual honor in July becoming the first player in big league history to win both monthly awards twice.

Abreu was also the first rookie in baseball history to rank among the Top 5 in his league in each Triple Crown category and joined Hal Trosky (1934), Ted Williams (1939) and Albert Pujols (2001) as the only rookies to record 30 doubles, 30 homers and 100 RBI in a season.

His main competition figures to come from Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim righty Matt Shoemaker, who won his final seven decisions and was 9-1 over his final 11 games with a 1.49 ERA. In all, Shoemaker made 20 starts, going 14-3 with a 2.89 ERA in those games. He also won twice in relief, and his 16 total victories set an Angels rookie record.

New York Yankees reliever Dellin Betances is the other finalist in the AL. The right-hander was amazing all season as the Yankees setup man, pitching to a 1.40 ERA and truly dominant 13.50 K/9 over 90 innings.

The NL Award may be less clear-cut, but Mets righty Jacob deGrom figures to have the upper hand on Cincinnati outfielder Billy Hamilton and St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong.

Everyone knew the Mets had a wealth of young pitching and most thought a lot of that talent would start to come to the forefront last season. But, the pitcher who impressed the most was certainly not the one anyone would have expected.

When deGrom was recalled in May the thought was he would help out of the bullpen. Injuries, though, thrust him into the rotation and he excelled, going 9-6 with a 2.69 ERA in 22 starts.

He won nine of his final 11 decisions and pitched to a 1.90 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 10.0 K/9 over his last 15 starts.

While he may not have been very highly thought of at the start of last season, he’ll enter the 2015 campaign as part of the organization’s backbone in the starting rotation, along with Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler.

Hamilton, meanwhile, led all NL rookies in runs (72), hits (141), steals (56), RBI (48), doubles (25), extra-base hits (39) and total bases (200).

He also led NL center fielders with 10 assists and a .994 fielding percentage, a 20.1 ultimate zone rating (UZR) and 14 defensive runs saved.

Wong was a star for the Cardinals this postseason, but, of course, this award is voted on prior to the playoffs. Still, Wong hit .248 during the season and drove in 42 runs, while swiping 20 stolen bases.

PICK: AL ROOKIE - JOSE ABREU, CHICAGO WHITE SOX

NL ROOKIE - JACOB dEGROM, NY METS


►  Mets ink Cuddyer to 2-year contract

The New York Mets made the first big splash of the offseason Monday by signing veteran outfielder Michael Cuddyer to a two-year contract.

Cuddyer, 36, rejected Colorado’s $15.3 million qualifying offer at Monday’s deadline and instead elected to sign with the Mets, who will forfeit the 15th overall pick in next year’s draft with the signing.

The two-year pact is reportedly worth $21 million, according to the New York Post.

“Michael is a tremendous addition to the middle of our lineup,“ Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said. “He is a proven offensive threat who also brings versatility in the field with the ability to play multiple positions.“

Cuddyer won the National League’s batting title in 2013 and was an All-Star in 2011 and 2013. He also reached the postseason six times during his tenure with the Minnesota Twins and helped the team reach the ALCS in 2002, and has hit .338 in 22 career postseason games.

The Virginia native was limited to just 49 games last season for the Rockies due to a lingering hamstring strain and a strained shoulder. He compiled a .332 batting average with 10 home runs and 31 RBI in his third season with the team.

Cuddyer spent his first 11 seasons with Minnesota before signing a three-year, $31.5 million contract with Colorado prior to the 2012 season.

Over 14 seasons, Cuddyer owns a .279 batting average with 187 home runs and 753 RBI in 1,419 games.


►  Braves add OF Almonte

The Atlanta Braves signed outfielder Zoilo Almonte to a one-year contract Monday while bringing in a pair of veteran pitchers on minor league deals.

Almonte had spent his entire career in the Yankees organization and hit .211 with two home runs and 12 RBI over 47 major league games spread across two seasons with New York. The switch-hitting Dominican had been outrighted off the Yankees’ 40-man roster in September.

The 25-year-old spent much of the 2014 campaign at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre, batting .261 with 18 homers and 69 RBI in 105 games with the RailRiders.

Atlanta also signed right-hander Chien-Ming Wang and lefty reliever Donnie Veal to minor league contracts with invitations to spring training.

Wang, a 19-game winner for the Yankees in both 2006 and 2007, pitched in Triple A for both the White Sox and Reds organizations last season. The 34- year-old compiled a 13-8 record with a 4.12 ERA over 28 overall starts.

Veal has appeared in 100 major league games, including 50 with the White Sox in 2013. He went 4-5 with a 5.94 ERA and four saves over 37 outings with Triple-A Charlotte last season.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Giordano, Anderson, Tarasenko claim NHL weekly honors

Calgary Flames defenseman Mark Giordano, Ottawa Senators goaltender Craig Anderson and St. Louis Blues right wing Vladimir Tarasenko have been selected as the NHL’s top players for last week.

Giordano earned the First Star after leading the NHL with seven points, scoring two goals with five assists in three games last week. He currently owns a six-game point streak, including four straight multiple-point outings, and leads all NHL defensemen with 18 points this season.

Anderson picked up the Second Star with a brilliant week in net that included a record of 2-0-1 with a goals-against average of 0.65 and a .981 save percentage. He notched his 28th career shutout last Tuesday by stopping 35 shots in a 3-0 win over Minnesota.

Tarasenko was honored as the Third Star, following up his First Star award from the previous week. He posted three goals and three assists in four games last week, notching the shootout winner last Monday in a victory over the New York Rangers before scoring the lone goal in a 1-0 win at New Jersey the following night.


►  NHL Game Results

(Monday, November 10)


Final Score: Boston 4, New Jersey 2

Patrice Bergeron had a goal and two assists to lift the Boston Bruins to a 4-2 win over the New Jersey Devils. Reilly Smith had a goal and an assist while Carl Soderberg and Seth Griffith also scored for the Bruins, who have won five straight. Tuukka Rask stopped 26 shots in the win. Travis Zajac had a goal and an assist while Jaromir Jagr also scored for the Devils, who have lost their last four games. Cory Schneider allowed all four goals on 23 shots in defeat.


Final Score: Carolina 4, Calgary 1

Justin Faulk tallied the go-ahead goal and two assists to lead the Carolina Hurricanes to a 4-1 victory over the Calgary Flames on Monday. Jeff Skinner supplied a goal and an assist and Zach Boychuk and Tim Gleason both scored for the Hurricanes, who have registered at least a point in their last six games (5-0-1). Cam Ward turned aside 22 shots to win his fifth straight start. David Jones netted Calgary’s lone goal and Jonas Hiller made 27 saves in defeat.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Watson up to third in world rankings

Bubba Watson claimed his first World Golf Championship event on Sunday in China and that helped him move to No. 3 in this week’s world rankings.

Watson, who improved four spots in the rankings, became the 14th player to win a WGC and a major championship. Watson won his second Masters title back in April.

Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott again remained the top two players in the world, and were followed by Watson.

Watson’s move bumped Sergio Garcia, Jim Furyk, Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose down one spot apiece and they rank fourth through seventh. Jason Day was No. 8 again this week.

Rickie Fowler and Matt Kuchar exchanged spots with Fowler, who shared third at the WGC-HSBC Champions, inching up to ninth and Kuchar dipping to 10th. Phil Mickelson held steady at No. 11.

Martin Kaymer shared sixth place behind Watson and improved one spot to 12th. Billy Horschel dipped a spot to 13th, while Jordan Spieth was 14th again this week.

Graeme McDowell tied for third with Fowler and that helped the former U.S. Open champ improve two spots to 15th. That move bumped Dustin Johnson and Zach Johnson down to 16th and 17th.

Jimmy Walker held steady at No. 18, while Chris Kirk and Hunter Mahan both improved two places to 19th and 20th. Those moves pushed Victor Dubuisson and Tiger Woods out of the top 20 and down three spots each to 22nd and 23rd.

Nick Taylor earned his first PGA Tour win at the Sanderson Farms Championship and he skyrocketed 356 places to No. 210 this week.


►  Mi Hyang Lee jumps to 50th in rankings

Mi Hyang Lee needed five extra holes to earn her first LPGA Tour title on Sunday and that win propelled her to 50th in the latest women’s world golf rankings.

Lee beat fellow Korean Ilhee Lee and Japan’s Kotono Kozuma to win the Mizuno Classic. Mi Hyang Lee jumped 25 spots in the rankings thanks to the win.

The top six in the rankings remained the same with No. 1 Inbee Park followed by Stacy Lewis, Lydia Ko, Suzann Pettersen, Shanshan Feng and Michelle Wie.

So Yeon Ryu inched up one to seventh and that bumped Karrie Webb down a spot to No. 8 despite the fact that she missed the playoff by one shot in Japan.

Hyo-Joo Kim held steady at No. 9 and was again trailed by Lexi Thompson, Anna Nordqvist, Kyu Jung Baek, Cristie Kerr, Sun Ju Ahn, Azahara Munoz, Na Yeon Choi, Mirim Lee and Paula Creamer.

Brittany Lincicome jumped two spots to 19th, while Angela Stanford stayed put at No. 20. Lincicome’s moved bumped Amy Yang out of the top 20 as she dropped a pair to 21st.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Who to watch for in 2015 World Cup Skiing

The leaves are turning, there’s a chill behind the mountain air and those dreamy photos of Ushuaia are tucked away for another year. Yes, it must be time for Solden.

After the rollercoaster highs and lows of Olympic year, the world’s top alpine ski racers are back in Europe and preparing for the first races of the new World Cup season up on the Rettenbach glacier, at the crossroads of three countries and the changing seasons.

And though it’s just October, Christmas has already come early for race fans around the world with the news that both Lindsey Vonn and Bode Miller, the sport’s two pre-eminent global stars, are planning to stick around - knee ligaments permitting - for the foreseeable future.

Vonn, the four-time overall World Cup champion and former Laureus world sportswoman of the year, is plotting a gentle comeback from an injury-plagued two years, but still aims for the four World Cup victories she needs to finally overhaul Annemarie Moser-Proll’s longstanding record of 62 on the women’s tour.

Miller - well, he’s just Miller, continuing to draw and dazzle crowds around the world with his unconventional approach to genius, and thrillingly unprepared to call it a day when injury and age would have seen off lesser mortals long ago. No wins and four podiums seemed an unjust return for the 37- year-old’s performances on comeback last year, and few who gasped at those astonishing training runs in Kitzbuhel and Sochi will begrudge him a 34th career World Cup victory.

The overall World Cup titles, though, are likely to prove beyond both Miller and Vonn, with defending champions Marcel Hirscher and Anna Fenninger, of Austria, leading the charge for another rot-weiss-rot lockout of the standings.

Hirscher once more starts the year as favorite to scoop his fourth successive big globe, and at just 25, appears to have Marc Girardelli’s all-time men’s record of five within his reach. The unfortunate injury to Norwegian speed veteran Aksel Lund Svindal, by far his toughest competitor in recent years, certainly makes the job easier.

Do not rule out challenges, though, from the likes of Alexis Pinturault, the Frenchman long tipped as a rising star of the sport, and GS uber-champion Ted Ligety, the American, if they prove able to grab a few more points in the Super-G.

On the ultra-competitive women’s tour, the race, as ever, is wide open. After a pre-Olympic coaching change paid handsome dividends with two gold medals in Sochi on the back of a sub-par season, Tina Maze starts as the favorite on paper.

Few ski races, though, are run on paper, and at 31, after winning all the sport has to offer, only the Slovenian knows whether the motivation remains to pursue her record-breaking haul of 2,414 points from two years ago.

And there are no shortage of challengers for the women’s Overall crown, dramatically snatched with a late-season surge by Fenninger earlier this year. It is indeed a striking compliment to the health of women’s skiing that despite the summer retirements of longtime superstars Marlies Schild and Maria Hofl-Riesch, a new generation is seamlessly filling their places.

In particular, an emerging three-way rivalry between speedsters Fenninger (25), Lara Gut (23) and Tina Weirather (25) seems likely to endure for many years, while such is the precocious slalom dominance of Mikaela Shiffrin - still only nineteen - that it would require only a modest improvement in GS consistency for the American to join the action as a viable big-globe contender.

Happily for Shiffrin and her compatriots, there’s a distinct North American twang to this season’s calendar. The regular November speed races in Beaver Creek and Lake Louise are complemented this year by women’s technical events in Aspen, scheduled in preparation for the World Cup finals of 2015/16.

And in February, all runways will again lead to Colorado for the return of the FIS World Championships to the Vail Valley after 16 years: how Vonn and Miller, cast as returning heroes, would love to bag a gold medal on home snow. (Warning: expect Raptors, BIG jumps and eagles with a terrifyingly large wingspan.)

First, though, we eagerly await a the thrills and spills of a new World Cup season. Amongst the many highlights of the calendar, watch out in particular for another installment of 3-Tre history under the floodlights in Madonna di Campiglio in December; a city event in Munich on New Year’s Day; men’s and women’s speed races in Kitzbuhel and St Moritz, the two traditional sporting capitals of the Alps, on the same weekend in late January; and the hard-fought crystal globes being settled at the Finals in Meribel next March.

It promises to be another thrilling season. So ladies and gentlemen, buy your tickets now: the White Circus is coming to a town near you.

The Gilmer Free Press


TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2014


National Basketball Association
Orlando at Toronto, 7:30 PM - FS-Florida, TSN2, DSS
Oklahoma City at Milwaukee, 8:00 PM - FS-Oklahoma, Wisconsin, DSS
LA Lakers at Memphis, 8:00 PM - Time Warner, SportSouth, DSS
Sacramento at Dallas, 8:30 PM - CSN-California, FS-Southwest, DSS
Charlotte at Portland, 10:00 PM - SportSouth, CSN-Northwest, DSS
San Antonio at Golden State, 10:30 PM - FS-Southwest, CSN-Bay, DSS


National Hockey League
Minnesota at New Jersey, 7:00 PM - FS-North, MSG+, DSS
Colorado at NY Islanders, 7:00 PM - Altitude, MSG+2, DSS
Pittsburgh at NY Rangers, 7:00 PM - ROOT-Pittsburgh, MSG, DSS
Columbus at Washington, 7:00 PM - FS-Ohio, CSN-DC, DSS
Winnipeg at Montreal, 7:30 PM - TSN3, RDS, DSS
San Jose at Florida, 7:30 PM - CSN-California, FS-Florida, DSS
Buffalo at St. Louis, 8:00 PM - NBCSN
Edmonton at Nashville, 8:00 PM - SNET-West, DSS
Tampa Bay at Chicago, 8:30 PM - SunSports, CSN-Chicago, DSS
Dallas at Arizona, 9:00 PM - FS-Southwest+, Arizona, DSS
Ottawa at Vancouver, 10:00 PM - RDS, TSN5, SNET-Pacific, DSS


College Football
Akron at Buffalo, 8:00 PM - ESPN U
Toledo at Northern Illinois, 8:00 PM - ESPN 2

Sports News - 11.10.14

The Gilmer Free Press


The Gilmer Free Press

►  MEC Week 10 Football Game Results

#13/15 Concord 51, Notre Dame 14 | Final Stats

Brian Novak was 22-of-29 passing for 390 yards and four touchdowns to lead No. 13 Concord to a 51-14 win over Notre Dame College on Saturday at Callaghan Stadium.

Concord improved to 10-0 overall and 9-0 in the MEC and clinched at least a share of the conference championship. The Mountain Lions can win the conference title outright next week on the road at Shepherd. Notre Dame fell to 6-4 overall and 6-3 in the MEC.

The Mountain Lions had 622 yards of total offense on the day led by Novak. Receiver T.J. Smith had eight catches for 212 yards and three touchdowns. Calvinaugh Jones added 16 carries for 188 yards and a touchdown. Jermain Johnson led the team with six tackles (five solo) and broke up three passes.

NDC quarterback Ray Russ was 26-of-52 for 266 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. It was the first time this season that he’s not thrown at least two touchdowns in a game. Emmanuel Smith had a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to provide NDC’s other score. George Berry had a game-high 13 tackles for the Falcons.


Urbana 35, West Virginia Wesleyan 17 | Final Stats

Urbana rolled up 534 yards of total offense and Colby Speice had four first half touchdown passes as the Blue Knights defeated West Virginia Wesleyan 35-17 at UU Stadium. 

With the win, Urbana moved its record to 3-7 overall and 2-7 in conference play. West Virginia Wesleyan fell to 4-7 overall and in the MEC.

Speice finished the game 19-of-37 for 306 yards with the four touchdown passes and no interceptions. David Hill had 92 yards rushing and Cedric Presley added 85 yards and a score. Joseph Saffold had three TD receptions.

D’Gary Wallace led the Blue Knights on defense with eight tackles (five solo) with two sacks and 4.5 tackles for a loss. 

WVWC quarterback Jeremy Musselman was 9-of-20 for 118 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Michael Anderson had 17 carries for 56 yards and a touchdown and also added 49 yards receiving. Mike Savage led the Bobcats on defense with nine tackles, including two for a loss and one sack. 


West Liberty 35, UVa-Wise 20 | Final Stats

A 14-point third quarter helped West Liberty get past UVa-Wise, 35-20, on Saturday at West Family Stadium. 

The win improves West Liberty’s record to 6-4 overall and 6-3 in the MEC. UVa-Wise dropped to 1-9 overall and 1-8 in the conference.

Dakota Conwell tied a career-high with four touchdown passes to lead the ‘Toppers. WLU also had 180 on 38 carries, led by Isiah Moody’s 77 yards. Quinton Sifford and Alec Wood led the West Liberty defense with 10 tackles each. Sifford had three tackles for a loss and a sack, while Wood was credited with three pass break-ups.

UVa-Wise quarterback Jeremy Eubank completed 16-of-30 passes for 211 yards while freshman Carlton Griffith notched his third straight 100-yard rushing game with 32 carries for 105 yards. Juwaine Massenburg led all receivers with seven catches for 99 yards. Zack Blair had seven solo tackles and a tackle for a loss for the Cavs.


#17/21 Shepherd 24, West Virginia State 10 | Final Stats

Shepherd quarterback Jeff Ziemba completed 15-of-29 passes for 227 yards and two touchdowns, while sophomore running back Jabre Lolley and junior running back Allen Cross each rushed for over 100 yards to lead Shepherd University to a 24-10 win over West Virginia State in MEC football action at West Virginia State on Saturday.

Shepherd improved to 8-1 overall and in the MEC and will play for a share of the conference title next week at home against Concord. West Virginia State dropped to 2-8 overall and 1-8 in conference play. 

The Rams finished with 544 yards of total offense, 317 of which came on the ground. SU also held the Yellow Jackets to just 23 rushing yards. Shepherd had the ball for over 38 minutes in the game.

DeOntre Johnson had eight tackles and had two broken up passes. 

Matt Kinnick connected on 21-of-40 passes with 239 yards with a touchdown to lead WVSU. Shanin Bennefield had five catches for 107 yards. Trent Williamson had 10 tackles for the Yellow Jackets. 


Charleston 42, Fairmont State 17 | Final Stats 

Charleston rushed for over 300 yards on its way to a 42-17 victory over Fairmont State on Saturday at Duvall-Rosier Field.

The Golden Eagles, which entered the week ranked 10th in the Atlantic Region, improved to 7-3 overall and 6-3 in conference play. Fairmont State fell to 3-6 both overall and in the MEC.

Marvin Elam had 13 carries for 101 yards and had two of UC’s five rushing touchdowns. Jermaine Kelly had 63 yards rushing and a touchdown and was 6-of-12 passing for 70 yards and another score. Justin Avery led the defensive effort with 12 tackles (11 solo) with two tackles for a loss and one sack.

Quarterback Cody Stevenson got the start and was 21-of-28 for 254 yards with one touchdown. Fabian Guerra had seven catches for 96 yards and Austin White had 21 carries for 63 yards. Marcus Porter had 12 tackles (eight solo) for the Falcons on defense. 


Walsh 31, Glenville State 23 | Final Stats

Two fourth quarter interceptions doomed Glenville State in a 31-23 non-conference loss to Walsh.

Tevin Drake had 25 carries for 126 yards on the ground to lead the Pioneers (4-6). Dante Roberts stepped in at quarterback for the injured Sean Steele and was 20-of-39 for 241 yards with two touchdowns but three interceptions. Dante Absher was on the receiving end of both of Roberts’ TD tosses.

Hunter McWhorter led GSC with eight tackles, and DeMarcus Davis and Milton Gilchrist each had interceptions.

Glenville State had more yards of total offense (381-348) and more first downs (20-17) than the Cavaliers. 

Aaron Male led Walsh with 112 yards rushing and two touchdowns. 



The Gilmer Free Press

►  AP College Football Rankings

Rank
Teams
Points
1
Mississippi State Bulldogs (48)
Overall: (9-0)
1488
2
Florida State Seminoles (12)
Overall: (9-0)
1446
3
Oregon Ducks
Overall: (9-1)
1334
4
Alabama Crimson Tide
Overall: (8-1)
1326
5
TCU Horned Frogs
Overall: (8-1)
1273
6
Baylor Bears
Overall: (8-1)
1193
7
Arizona State Sun Devils
Overall: (8-1)
1142
8
Ohio State Buckeyes
Overall: (8-1)
1086
9
Auburn Tigers
981
10
Ole Miss Rebels
948
11
Nebraska Cornhuskers
Overall: (8-1)
830
12
Michigan State Spartans
Overall: (7-2)
782
13
Kansas State Wildcats
Overall: (7-2)
742
14
UCLA Bruins
Overall: (8-2)
691
15
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Overall: (7-2)
630
16
Georgia Bulldogs
Overall: (7-2)
622
17
Arizona Wildcats
Overall: (7-2)
471
18
Clemson Tigers
Overall: (7-2)
457
19
Duke Blue Devils
Overall: (8-1)
431
20
LSU Tigers
Overall: (7-3)
429
21
Marshall Thundering Herd
Overall: (9-0)
297
22
Wisconsin Badgers
Overall: (7-2)
225
23
Colorado State Rams
Overall: (9-1)
128
24
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Overall: (8-2)
127
25
Utah Utes
Overall: (6-3)
87
Others Receiving Votes: Oklahoma (6-3) 85; Texas A&M (7-3) 83; Missouri (7-2) 68; Southern California (6-3) 47; Minnesota (7-2) 26; Louisville (7-3) 12; West Virginia (6-4) 6; Stanford (5-4) 4; Miami (Fla.) (6-3) 1; Boise State (7-2) 1; Georgia Southern (8-2) 1


The Gilmer Free Press

►  NFL Game Results

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 09


Final Score: Baltimore 21, Tennessee 7

- Justin Forsett rushed for 112 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 20 carries and the Baltimore Ravens posted a 21-7 win over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. Joe Flacco finished 16-of-27 for 169 yards and one score to Torrey Smith for the Ravens (6-4), who shook off a pair of road division losses to Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. Zach Mettenberger also completed 16 of his 27 attempts for one touchdown and a late interception for the Titans (2-7), who have dropped three in a row since beating Jacksonville. Bishop Sankey was limited to 58 yards on 17 carries for Tennessee, while Leon Washington posted his club’s lone TD.


Final Score: Kansas City 17, Buffalo 13

Jamaal Charles and Alex Smith both ran for touchdowns in the fourth quarter as the visiting Kansas City Chiefs rallied to beat the Buffalo Bills 17-13 on Sunday. Smith completed 17-of-29 passes for 177 yards and Charles finished with 98 yards on 15 carries for the Chiefs (6-3), who have won four straight games and six of seven after a slow start. Kyle Orton was 29-of-48 for 259 yards and a touchdown for Buffalo (5-4), which carried a 10-point edge into the fourth quarter and squandered opportunities to put the Chiefs away.


Final Score: Detroit 20, Miami 16

Matthew Stafford threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Theo Riddick with 29 seconds remaining to lift the Detroit Lions to a 20-16 victory over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday at Ford Field. The Dolphins had a three-point lead with 3:47 to play, but managed to take just 34 seconds off the clock before punting it back to Detroit. Stafford moved the Lions into Miami territory with consecutive passes of 17 yards to Golden Tate and 18 yards to Calvin Johnson at the two-minute warning. Tate then hauled in a pass on 3rd-and-10 and got just far enough for a first down at the Miami 17 with a little over a minute left. Detroit faced another third down soon after and Stafford was forced to move out of the pocket to his left before flinging a pass to the end zone for Riddick, who made a sliding grab for the touchdown. The Dolphins were out of timeouts and reached their own 40 before a completion and a series of laterals ended out of bounds as time expired. Stafford was 8-of-11 for 79 yards on the winning drive and finished 25-of-40 for 280 yards with a pair of touchdowns and an interception for the Lions (7-2), who were coming off their bye and won their fourth straight game. The last three wins have come by a combined six points. Johnson returned for Detroit after a three-game absence because of a high ankle sprain and caught seven passes for 113 yards, including a 49-yard touchdown. Tate also had a big day with 11 catches for 109 yards. The Dolphins (5-4) had a three-game winning streak stopped, falling for the first time since a loss to Green Bay in similar fashion back in Week 6. Miami had a chance to run the clock out against the Packers on Oct. 12, but could not and Aaron Rodgers threw a touchdown pass with three seconds to play in a 27-24 Green Bay win. Miami remained tied with Buffalo in a tight AFC playoff race and will host the Bills in a big matchup on Thursday night.


Final Score: Dallas 31, Jacksonville 17

Tony Romo returned early from a back injury and threw three touchdown passes, leading the Dallas Cowboys to a 31-17 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium. Romo was diagnosed with two small fractures in his back following a loss to the Redskins on Oct. 27. He was held out of last week’s 28-17 home loss to Arizona but made the trip to London and showed no ill-effects from the injury, completing 20- of-27 passes for 246 yards. Dez Bryant had six receptions for 158 yards and two touchdowns—all in the first half—good for the second best receiving game of his career. Jason Witten also made a touchdown catch and DeMarco Murray ran for 100 yards. Murray, the league’s leading rusher, has gone over 100 yards on the ground in nine of 10 games this season. Dallas (7-3) improved to 4-0 away from home. Denard Robinson had another productive day running the football for Jacksonville (1-9) in his fifth straight start, carrying 15 times for 60 yards and two touchdowns. Blake Bortles threw for 290 yards with an interception, and Cecil Shorts III caught five passes for 119 yards in the setback.


Final Score: San Francisco 27, New Orleans 24 (OT)

Phil Dawson’s 35-yard field goal with 5:14 remaining in overtime completed a stirring San Francisco comeback that lifted the 49ers to a crucial 27-24 victory over the New Orleans Saints. Dawson’s game-winning kick came one play after Ahmad Brooks sacked Drew Brees deep in New Orleans territory to cause a fumble that Chris Borland recovered at the Saints’ 17-yard line. Dawson also knocked through a clutch 45-yard field goal with 44 seconds left in regulation to force extra time, a boot set up by Colin Kaepernick’s 51-yard pass to Michael Crabtree on 4th-and-10 with just over a minute to play. San Francisco (5-4) came up with a pair of interceptions of Brees earlier that helped the Niners halt a two-game skid and avoid falling further behind in the NFC playoff race. Brees shook off the early picks to throw for 292 yards and three touchdowns, two of which went to Jimmy Graham. The second of those catches had given New Orleans a brief 24-21 lead with 1:52 left in the fourth quarter. Graham very nearly had a third touchdown after hauling in Brees’ desperation Hail Mary heave as time expired in regulation, but the All-Pro tight end was called for offensive pass interference. He finished with 10 receptions totaling 76 yards. Kaepernick threw for 210 yards and a touchdown to Anquan Boldin, who amassed 95 yards on six catches. Frank Gore added 81 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries in the win. Mark Ingram rushed for 120 yards on 27 attempts for New Orleans (4-5), while Brandin Cooks had 90 yards on five catches and caught Brees’ other touchdown toss.


Final Score: NY Jets 20, Pittsburgh 13

Michael Vick turned back the clock and the New York Jets snapped their eight-game losing streak. But was it enough to call off the planes? Vick threw two touchdown passes in the first quarter and flashed a vintage running game while leading the beleaguered Jets to a 20-13 victory over Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. The upset over one of the NFL’s hottest teams came amid calls for the Jets leadership to be replaced and ended the franchise’s worst losing streak in 18 years. It was as unlikely an outcome as there has been this season, especially considering how good Roethlisberger was during a three- game winning streak. Big Ben set an NFL record by throwing 12 touchdown passes in the last two games, six each in wins over Indianapolis and Baltimore. He hadn’t thrown an interception in over three games, but was picked off twice by Jets safety Jaiquawn Jarrett. On the other side of the ball, Vick rushed for 39 yards and threw for 132 in his second straight start. His touchdown passes to T.J. Graham and Jace Amaro in the opening quarter included a 67-yard bomb to Graham. Roethlisberger passed for 343 yards, bringing his total to 1,470 in the last four games. He had an 80- yard touchdown throw to Martavis Bryant with 76 seconds left. The Jets (2-8) will head into their bye week coming off a win instead of what could have been a franchise-worst losing streak. The lead up to Sunday’s game against Pittsburgh (6-4) sure wasn’t pretty. A plane circling Jets practice Wednesday pulled a banner calling for general manager John Idzik to be fired. Head coach Rex Ryan responded by having a toy helicopter tow a “Go Jets” banner during an indoor practice. On Sunday, a second plane: This one flew over MetLife Stadium towing a banner that read “Jets Rebuilding Since 1969,“ according to pictures posted online.


Final Score: Atlanta 27, Tampa Bay 17

Matt Ryan’s touchdown pass to Roddy White in the fourth quarter helped the Atlanta Falcons to a 27-17 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. Ryan went 20-for-31 for 219 yards, while Steven Jackson added 81 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries for the Falcons (3-6), who snapped a five-game losing streak and won for the first time since a 56-14 victory over Tampa Bay on Sept. 18. White had six catches for 72 yards and Julio Jones caught eight passes for 119 yards in the victory. Josh McCown, returning to the starting quarterback role for the first time since the September loss to the Falcons, was 27-for-43 for 301 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions for the Buccaneers (1-8), who have lost their last five games. Mike Evans and Austin Seferian-Jenkins each caught a touchdown pass in defeat.


Final Score: Denver 41, Oakland 17

Peyton Manning threw five touchdown passes in a span of just under 17 minutes as the Denver Broncos posted a 41-17 win over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday. Manning shook off two interceptions to complete 31-of-44 passes for 340 yards before sitting out the entire fourth quarter with the Broncos in firm control. It was the ninth five-touchdown game of Manning’s career, one more than Drew Brees for the most in NFL history. Emmanuel Sanders and Julius Thomas both caught two touchdown passes as the Broncos (7-2) rebounded from last week’s loss at New England. Oakland rookie Derek Carr compiled 30 completions on 47 attempts, but finished with only 192 yards. He threw two touchdown passes and was picked off twice. The Raiders (0-9) registered only 10 first downs in their 15th straight loss, the longest streak in team history since a 19-game slide between 1961-62.


Final Score: Arizona 31, St. Louis 14

The Arizona Cardinals were trailing when quarterback Carson Palmer exited with a left knee injury early in the fourth quarter. Instead of falling apart, the best team in the NFL rallied around Drew Stanton and scored two defensive touchdowns to beat the St. Louis Rams, 31-14, on Sunday. Trailing 14-10, Palmer, who signed a three-year, $50 million contract extension earlier this week, went down in obvious pain when he was sacked by Rams safety Mark Barron. Palmer eventually walked off the field with a noticeable limp. He was then put on a cart and taken to the locker room. The Cardinals have won five in a row and are off to an 8-1 start for the first time since 1948 when the franchise was based in Chicago. Palmer completed 25-of-36 passes for 241 yards and an interception before leaving. Stanton connected on 3-of-5 passes for 85 yards. Arizona coach Bruce Arians said after the game the team wouldn’t know Palmer’s prognosis until more tests are done. According to NFL.com, the team believes the quarterback tore his ACL. Larry Fitzgerald caught nine passes for 112 yards for Arizona, which is off to a 5-0 start at home for the first time since 1976 while based in St. Louis. Andre Ellington carried the ball 18 times for 23 yards and a score. Davis completed 17-of-30 passes for 216 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions for the Rams (3-6). Jared Cook caught two passes for 84 yards and a score.


Final Score: Seattle 38, NY Giants 17

Marshawn Lynch scored four touchdowns and fronted a punishing ground attack that carried the Seattle Seahawks to a 38-17 victory over the New York Giants at CenturyLink Field. Lynch accounted for 140 of the Seahawks’ franchise-record 350 rushing yards in an exceptional 21-carry performance, with quarterback Russell Wilson contributing 107 and a touchdown on 14 totes to help Seattle (6-3) pull away late for a third straight triumph. The reigning Super Bowl champions’ 21st win in their last 23 games at home didn’t come quite as easy as the final score indicated, as the Seahawks trailed 17-14 at halftime before scoring 24 unanswered points. Wilson added 172 yards through the air and was intercepted twice on a 10-of-17 passing effort that played second fiddle to his work with his legs. Eli Manning completed 29-of-44 attempts for 283 yards with a touchdown and an interception for New York (3-6), but was shut down along with the rest of the Giants’ offense during a scoreless second half. Odell Beckham finished with 108 yards on seven catches in New York’s fourth straight double-digit defeat, with Preston Parker accumulating 79 yards and a touchdown on seven receptions.


Final Score: Green Bay 55, Chicago 14

The Chicago Bears had two weeks to get ready for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, but apparently, it wasn’t nearly enough time. Rodgers threw six touchdown passes in the first half to lead Green Bay to a 55-14 rout of its NFC North rival on Sunday. Rodgers, who tied the franchise record for touchdown passes in a game, finished with 315 yards on 18-of-27 passing. He also tied the NFL record for most TD passes in a half, which was set by Oakland’s Daryle Lamonica in 1969. Jordy Nelson caught six passes for 152 yards and two touchdowns, and Randall Cobb totaled 72 yards and a score on four catches for the Packers (6-3), who improved to 4-0 at home this season. Eddie Lacy caught three passes for 68 yards and a score and also ran the ball for 50 yards on 14 totes. Andrew Quarless and Brandon Bostick each caught a touchdown in the win. Jay Cutler completed 22- of-37 passes for 272 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions, Brandon Marshall had eight catches for 112 yards and a score and Chris Williams returned a kickoff 101 yards for a touchdown for Chicago (3-6), which has been outscored by a 106-37 margin over its last two games. The Bears, who suffered a 51-23 loss to New England prior to their bye, joined the 1923 Rochester Jeffersons as the only two teams in NFL history to allow 50 or more points in consecutive games.


THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 06


Final Score: Cleveland 24, Cincinnati 3

The Cleveland Browns’ last road win against an AFC North opponent coming into Thursday occurred more than six years ago. So they wouldn’t snap their 17-game road division skid against a Cincinnati team that had been rather dominant on its home turf, right? Wrong. Cleveland’s three-headed rushing attack of Terrance West, Ben Tate and Isaiah Crowell each scored rushing touchdowns to help the Browns to a 24-3 win over the Bengals, halting a losing streak that dated back to Sept. 28, 2008 coincidentally with a win at Cincinnati. Brian Hoyer did a solid job managing the offense for Cleveland (6-3), which enters the weekend tied with Pittsburgh atop the division, and threw for 198 yards on 15-of-23 efficiency. The Browns rushed for 170 yards, with West leading the charge at 94 yards on a career-high 26 carries. Andy Dalton had a dreadful game for the Bengals (5-3-1), who had their 14-game home unbeaten streak snapped. Dalton went 10-for-33 for 86 yards with three interceptions. Cleveland’s defense did an excellent job throughout the game, and it wasn’t more evident in cornerback Joe Haden’s play against AJ Green, who was limited to three receptions on 10 targets for 23 yards.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  NBA Games Results

(Sunday, November 09)


Final Score: Brooklyn 104, Orlando 96

Rookie Bojan Bogdanovic scored an NBA career-high 22 points to lead the Brooklyn Nets to a 104-96 win over the Orlando Magic on Sunday. Deron Williams added 18 points and seven assists and Joe Johnson scored 13 for the Nets, who took control with a big run in the third quarter and then held the Magic to just 19 points in the fourth to finish off a winning homestand. Nikola Vucevic led all players with 27 points and 12 rebounds but the Magic had a two-game winning streak snapped. Evan Fournier added 19 points in the loss and Channing Frye scored 13.


Final Score: Utah 97, Detroit 96

Gordon Hayward scored 11 of his team- high 17 points in the fourth quarter and the Utah Jazz rallied past the Detroit Pistons, 97-96. Hayward helped lead the Jazz back from a nine- point deficit in the fourth; however he missed an isolation 3-pointer from the top of the key with 5.9 seconds left, giving the Pistons one last look at the basket. Out of a timeout, Brandon Jennings took the inbounds pass, blew by Alec Burks and tried a floater, but it was off the mark as the buzzer sounded. Derrick Favors had 16 points and 12 rebounds for the Jazz while Burks and Enes Kanter added 14 apiece.


Final Score: Oklahoma City 101, Sacramento 93

Reggie Jackson scored 11 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter, lifting the Oklahoma City Thunder over the Sacramento Kings, 101-93, on Sunday. Jeremy Lamb added 17 points and nine rebounds for the Thunder, who have won 11 straight against the Kings. Serge Ibaka tallied 14 points, nine boards and four blocks. Sebastian Telfair and Nick Collison donated 14 and 10 points, respectively, for Oklahoma City, which snapped a three-game skid. Rudy Gay ended with 23 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and two steals for the Kings, who had a five-game winning streak snapped. DeMarcus Cousins and Ben McLemore each had 16 points. Sacramento has lost all 12 meetings in Oklahoma City.


Final Score: Toronto 120, Philadelphia 88

DeMar DeRozan scored 24 points in limited action as the Toronto Raptors rolled to a 120-88 rout of the winless Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday. DeRozan shot 8-of-12 before sitting the entire fourth quarter with the game well in hand. Terrence Ross had 17 points and Louis Williams dropped 16 off the bench against his former team. Toronto led by 41 late in the fourth, one point shy of the biggest win in franchise history, but the Sixers closed the gap with a 13-4 run to finish the game. The Raptors beat Miami 96-54 in 2008. Tony Wroten led Philly with 18 points and Chris Johnson finished with 16 off the bench. The Sixers fell to 0-7 on the season with the dreaded Texas road trip on deck, as meetings with Dallas, Houston and San Antonio are next on the schedule.


Final Score: Miami 105, Dallas 96

Luol Deng turned in his best game as a member of the Miami Heat, scoring 30 points, to lead them to a 105-96 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday. Deng’s previous high this season was 18, but he filled it up against the Mavs as Miami’s new Big Three all contributed to the victory. Dwyane Wade supplied 20 points with 10 assists and Chris Bosh posted 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Heat, who have won two straight following a two-game skid. Monta Ellis paced the Mavs with 23 points and Dirk Nowitzki added 17. Tyson Chandler deposited a 16-point, 15-rebound double-double in the setback.


Final Score: Phoenix 107, Golden State 95

Isaiah Thomas scored 22 points and dished out seven assists as the Phoenix Suns used a huge fourth quarter to beat the previously unbeaten Golden State Warriors, 107-95, on Sunday. Gerald Green and Goran Dragic each had 19 points for the Suns, who outscored Golden State by a 36-16 margin in the final stanza. Marcus Morris added 17 points and nine rebounds. Stephen Curry ended with 28 points and 10 assists for the Warriors (5-1), who played without guard Klay Thompson due to a sprained right hand. Draymond Green tallied 22 points, nine boards and four blocks.


Final Score: Portland 116, Denver 100

LaMarcus Aldridge had 28 points and nine rebounds in the Portland Trail Blazers’ 116-100 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Sunday. Wesley Matthews added 21 points and six boards for the Blazers, who improved to 4-3 on the young season. Robin Lopez and Chris Kaman each tallied 12 points. Kenneth Faried ended with 19 points, seven rebounds and three blocks for the Nuggets (1-5), who have lost five in a row. Arron Afflalo and Ty Lawson each donated 18 points.


Final Score: LA Lakers 107, Charlotte 92

The Los Angeles Lakers had four days off in between games. That little break proved to be beneficial as they finally got in the win column with a solid team effort on Sunday. Kobe Bryant and Jeremy Lin each scored 21 points to help Los Angeles to a 107-92 victory over the Charlotte Hornets. The Lakers (1-5), who were off to their worst start in Los Angeles history, hadn’t lost six straight to open the season since the 1957-58 Minneapolis team dropped its first seven. Carlos Boozer finished with 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting, Jordan Hill netted 12 and Ed Davis added 10. Al Jefferson paced the Hornets with 23 points, while Kemba Walker and Marvin Williams scored 17 and 11, respectively. Lance Stephenson pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Yankees keep Chris Young

The New York Yankees have re-signed outfielder Chris Young to a one-year contract.

Financial terms were not disclosed, but the New York Daily News reported it to be worth $2.5 million plus incentives.

Young had a successful final month of the season for the Yankees, who signed the veteran in late August after he had been designated for assignment by the Mets earlier that month.

In 23 games for the Yankees, Young hit .282 with three homers and 10 runs batted in. He batted just .222 with 11 homers and 38 RBI overall in 111 games during 2014.

The 31-year-old veteran owns a career .234 average with 155 homers and 486 RBI in 1,103 games over nine big league seasons with Arizona (2006-12), Oakland (2013), the Mets and Yankees. He was a National League All-Star in 2010 with the Diamondbacks.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  NHL Game Results

(Sunday, November 09)


Final Score: Tampa Bay 4, Detroit 3 (SO)

Callahan recorded the lone score in the shootout, as Tampa Bay claimed a 4-3 victory over Detroit at Joe Louis Arena. Steven Stamkos picked up a pair of goals and Tyler Johnson netted the other for the Lightning, who have won six in a row for the first time in more than three years. Ben Bishop made 17 saves and stopped all three Detroit shooters in the shootout, upping his record to 9-1-1 on the season. Johan Franzen, Darren Helm and Gustav Nyquist supplied the offense for the Red Wings, who saw their four-game home win streak come to an end. Jimmy Howard made 27 saves in defeat.


Final Score: Edmonton 3, NY Rangers 1

Viktor Fasth stopped 20 shots to help the Edmonton Oilers to a 3-1 win over the New York Rangers on Sunday. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Benoit Pouliot each posted a goal and an assist for the Oilers, who have won two straight after dropping four in a row. Teddy Purcell added an empty-net goal in the win. Carl Hagelin scored the only goal of the game for the Rangers, who have lost four of their last five. Henrik Lundqvist allowed two goals on 32 shots in the loss.


Final Score: Toronto 5, Ottawa 3

Mike Santorelli’s short-handed goal in the second period was part of three unanswered scores and put the Toronto Maple Leafs ahead for good en route to a 5-3 win over the Ottawa Senators on Sunday. The rivals met for the first time this season after the original game date was postponed back on Oct. 22 when Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was tragically shot and killed while standing guard at the National War Memorial on Parliament Hill. Peter Holland scored a goal with an assist, while James van Riemsdyk, Josh Leivo and David Clarkson each lit the lamp for Toronto, which has won two straight on the heels of a two-game skid. James Reimer made 37 saves in the win. Mike Hoffman, Kule Turris and Mark Stone supplied Ottawa with a goal apiece, and Robin Lehner was saddled with the loss after saving only 25-of-30 shots.


Final Score: Chicago 5, San Jose 2

Niklas Hjalmarsson’s goal capped a first- period scoring barrage to lead the Chicago Blackhawks to a 5-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Sunday. Jonathan Toews finished with a goal and an assist, Trevor van Riemsdyk scored his first career goal and Brent Seabrook and Bryan Bickell also lit the lamp for the Blackhawks, who snapped a three- game home skid. Corey Crawford turned aside 32 shots in the win. Joe Pavelski supplied both of San Jose’s goals, Joe Thornton tallied two assists and Antti Niemi allowed four goals on 36 shots in defeat.


Final Score: Vancouver 2, Anaheim 1 (SO)

Nick Bonino scored the lone goal of the shootout to lead the Vancouver Canucks to a 2-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday. Bonino, who was acquired by the Canucks from the Ducks in the offseason for prized forward Ryan Kesler, moved the puck from his forehand to his backhand before slipping the puck through the pads of Frederik Andersen. Kesler, the third and final shooter for Anaheim, rang a shot off the post to seal the outcome. Alexandre Burrows scored a goal in regulation, while Eddie Lack made 28 saves and stopped all three Ducks in the shootout for Vancouver, which snapped a six-game losing streak to the Ducks. Andersen made 34 stops and Sami Vatanen netted the lone goal in Anaheim’s third straight defeat. The Ducks were without a major part of their offense as forward Corey Perry was placed on injured reserve on Sunday due to the flu. Perry is tied with Rangers forward Rick Nash for league-lead in goals with 11.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Rosberg holds off Hamilton for Brazilian GP win

Nico Rosberg from Mercedes gave his Formula One title hopes a huge boost by winning Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix and trimming teammate Lewis Hamilton’s lead in the world championship standings to 17 points with only one race remaining.

Rosberg held off Hamilton at the finish by 1.4 seconds for his fifth win of the season and the eighth of his F1 career. He also ended Hamilton’s streak of five consecutive grand prix victories.

Williams driver and Brazilian Felipe Massa finished third in front of his home crowd, while Jenson Button from McLaren placed fourth and Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel, the four-time F1 world champion and winner of last year’s Brazilian GP, was fifth.

Rosberg was dominant at this 2.677-mile (4.3-kilometer) Interlagos circuit throughout the weekend. The German posted the quickest lap in all three practice sessions and then edged Hamilton in qualifying to take the pole for this 71-lap race.

“I’m very happy with the whole weekend,“ said Rosberg, who won his first grand prix since July 20 in Germany. “I felt comfortable in the car the whole weekend. I was able to attack and control the gap to Lewis in the race. So that worked out great.“

With Hamilton only one second behind him, Rosberg pitted from the lead for new tires on lap 27. Hamilton took over the top spot, but on the following lap, he spun off track at turn 4. He recovered and pitted.

Hamilton exited pit lane in second but trailed Rosberg by 7.4 seconds at the time. He attempted to catch Rosberg for the lead and, at one point, was only 0.5 seconds behind.

“It was an amazing race, and I had a great time,“ Hamilton said. “Obviously, I had a big mistake in the middle of the race. But otherwise, the car was fantastic. The team did an amazing job. It was a great race for Nico, and it’s great to see Felipe up here (on the podium).“

Hamilton, with 10 wins this season, has accumulated 334 points to 317 for Rosberg. The November 23 season-ending Abu Dhabi will award double the amount of points, with the race winner collecting 50 points and the second-place finisher receiving 36. If Hamilton finishes second or better there, regardless if Rosberg wins, he will clinch his second F1 world championship. His first title came in 2008, which he clinched by only one point over Massa in the season-finale in Brazil.

“It’s everything to play for in the last race,“ Hamilton said of Abu Dhabi.

Rosberg scored his first victory and podium appearance in the Brazilian GP, while Hamilton has yet to win this race in eight starts.

Mercedes broke two F1 records and matched one in this event. It’s the 11th time this season the team has finished 1-2 in a grand prix, topping McLaren’s 1988 record. Mercedes also claimed its 30th podium of the year, beating Ferrari’s 29 podiums set in 2004.

In addition, Mercedes’ 15th win in 2014 matched the season record set by McLaren in ‘88 and Ferrari in both 2002 and ‘04.

Massa bounced back from a five-second stop-go penalty for speeding on pit lane during his first stop.

“I am so happy for the race, even though there were so many mistakes,“ Massa said. “I had that five-second penalty for speeding (on pit lane). I also stopped in the wrong (pit stall) because they were a similar color. But the car was fantastic. I am so happy to have the pace.“

Massa’s last victory in F1 occurred in the ‘08 Brazilian GP, driving for Ferrari at the time.

Ferrari teammates Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen finished sixth and seventh, respectively, while Nico Hulkenberg from Force India, McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen and Valtteri Bottas from Williams completed the top-10.

Daniel Ricciardo from Red Bull was the first driver to retire when he experienced suspension failure just past the halfway point. Lotus’ Romain Grosjean pulled off the track and retired with a handful of laps remaining.


►  Harvick makes it into Chase final four with Phoenix win

Kevin Harvick put on a dominating performance to win Sunday’s Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway and automatically clinch one of the four spots for next week’s championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Harvick led 264 of 312 laps to win a Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix for the third consecutive time. It was also his record-extending sixth victory at this 1-mile racetrack.

Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin and Ryan Newman will join Harvick as the four drivers battling for the Sprint Cup title on Nov. 16 at Homestead. Jeff Gordon, the four-time series champion, Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski, the 2012 titleholder, were eliminated from the Chase.

Phoenix was the elimination race in the Eliminator Round of the Chase.

Hamlin finished fifth and Logano sixth after both drivers rebounded from one- lap deficits earlier in the race. Newman bumped rookie Kyle Larson out of the way on the last turn of the final lap to take 11th place, which allowed him to advance to the final four by only one point over Gordon, who finished second.

Kenseth finished third and Keselowski fourth, but Kenseth missed the cut by just three points and Keselowski by eight. Edwards’ 15th-place run put him 15 points short of advancing.

The Gilmer Free Press


MONDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 2014


National Football League
Carolina at Philadelphia, 8:30 PM - ESPN


National Basketball Association
Utah at Indiana, 7:00 PM - ROOT-Northwest, FS-Indiana, DSS
New Orleans at Cleveland, 7:00 PM - FS-New Orleans, Ohio, DSS
Atlanta at New York, 7:30 PM - SportSouth, MSG, NBA TV, DSS
Detroit at Chicago, 8:00 PM - FS-Detroit, CSN-Chicago, DSS
San Antonio at LA Clippers, 10:30 PM - FS-Southwest, Prime Ticket, NBA TV, DSS


National Hockey League
New Jersey at Boston, 7:00 PM - TVA Sports, MSG+, NESN, DSS
Calgary at Carolina, 7:00 PM - SNET-West, FS-Carolina, DSS


Major League Soccer - Playoffs
FC Dallas at Seattle, 10:30 PM - NBCSN

Sports News - 11.09.14

The Gilmer Free Press


The Gilmer Free Press

►  Pioneers Fall at Walsh, 31-23

The Glenville State Pioneer football team dropped their second game in a row as they fell to Walsh University, 31-23, this Saturday on the road.

In the first quarter action the Pioneers saw Walsh take the opening drive 54 yards on 10 plays as the Cavaliers hit a 38 yard field goal from Michael Dudics to go up, 3-0. The Pioneers would come up short on their first possession of the game as GSC would fail on a fourth down conversion giving the ball back to Walsh.

The Cavaliers would then make the Pioneers pay. Walsh would take their next possession 71 yards on nine plays as quarterback Jason Fracassa completed a 16 yard touchdown pass to Anthony Schrock at the 1:16 minute mark of the first quarter as Walsh lead the Pioneers, 10-0.

The Pioneers would get on the scoreboard at the 4:38 minute mark of the second quarter as Tanner Wright hit a 21 yard field goal as GSC pulled within seven points, 10-3.

Late in the second quarter Walsh’s quarterback Jason Fracassa would be picked off by GSC’s cornerback DeMarcus Davis at the Walsh 32 yard line with just 32 second left till halftime. The Pioneers would then turn the Walsh turnover into points as quarterback Dante Roberts hit Dante Absher on a one yard touchdown pass as GSC tied it up at 10-10 as they headed into halftime.

In the third quarter Walsh would add seven points at the 7:35 minute mark as Aaron Male scored on a nine yard run as Pioneers fell behind, 17-10. But GSC would answer right back as Tevin Drake would score from 12 yards out as the Pioneers tied it up at 17-17.

However Walsh again would add another touchdown as the Cavaliers took a, 24-17 lead as we headed into the fourth quarter. The Pioneers again would answer as Dante Absher caught his second touchdown pass of the day from Dante Roberts, this touchdown pass coming from 16 yards out, but GSC would still be behind by one point, 24-23, after Tanner Wright’s PAT was blocked.

The Cavaliers would then take command of the game with just 4:41 left in the game as Aaron Male scored on a 43 yard touchdown run as Walsh took an eight point lead, 31-23.

The Pioneers would have another possession to try and tie it up but on first down and ten Dante Roberts would be picked off by Jamaris Brown as the Cavaliers would then hold on to the ball and run out the clock as the Pioneers fell on the road to Walsh, 31-23.

The Pioneers ran 74 total plays for 381 yards while Walsh ran 60 plays for 348 total yards.

GSC had four turnovers on the game while Walsh only turned it over twice. The Pioneers really struggled on third down as they converted just 5 of 15 while the Cavaliers went 8 of 13 on third down.

The Pioneers however went 3 for 3 in the red zone scoring.

Tevin Drake led the ground attack for the Pioneers as he rushed for 126 yards on 25 carries and a touchdown. GSC’s outstanding running back Rahmann Lee only carried the ball once for seven yards before leaving the game due to an ankle injury, which he injured prior to the game.

Quarterback Dante Roberts, who replaced Sean Steele who is out due to an injury, threw for 241 yards as he went 20 for 39 with two touchdowns but had three costly interceptions.

Dante Absher was the teams leading receiver as he caught seven passes for 68 yards and two touchdowns. Eric Kyle caught just three passes but finished with 68 yards.

Hunter McWhorter led the Pioneers defense with eight tackles while Devin Cain finished with seven tackles and one tackle-for-loss.

The Pioneers finish up the season next Saturday, November 15th when they return home to I.L. & Sue Morris Stadium as they take on West Virginia State University on Senior Day. Kick-off is set for 1:00 PM.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  WVU adds home-and-home against Mizzou starting in 2016

West Virginia took another step toward beefing up its nonconference schedule by setting up a two-game series against Missouri, a team whose realignment opened up a spot in the Big 12 for the Mountaineers.

While some far-off series are scheduled a decade in advance, this one will be upon us relatively soon, with West Virginia hosting the Tigers in the 2016 season opener on September 03.

That gives West Virginia a second marquee nonconference game in 2016, with BYU slated for a neutral-site showdown in Landover, MD, on September 24.

The return game in Columbia, MO, won’t occur until 2019.

Oliver Luck had talked for weeks about finalizing a series against an SEC East opponent, though this one stems from a place that still feels a little like Big 12 country. Missouri, which surprisingly won the SEC East last season and owns the inside track for a repeat, hasn’t had time to develop a rivalry on par with Kansas. West Virginia fans can relate, considering the frequency with which they suggest what Pitt should eat.

“I believe this home-and-home series with Missouri will be great for both schools,” Luck said Friday. “Each program will benefit from playing a nonconference game against a team from a highly visible conference, and the fans will be entertained from what I think will be two highly competitive games.”

Missouri leads the all-time series 3-2 and won the most recent meeting 34-31 in 1998 at the Insight.com Bowl.

West Virginia’s other upcoming games against power-five programs include hosting Maryland next season, meeting Virginia Tech at FedEx Field in 2017 and facing Tennessee in Charlotte in 2018. (The Hokies and WVU also play a home-and-home in 2021-22.)

There’s also a two-game set against NC State in 2018-19, two more with the Terps in 2020-21 and a renewal of the Penn State series in 2023-24.


►  Texas roll past West Virginia

Johnathan Gray led a potent Texas rushing attack with a career-high three touchdowns as the Longhorns rolled past 24th- ranked West Virginia by a 33-16 score on Saturday.

Gray finished with 101 yards on 10 carries and Malcolm Brown ran 20 times for 90 yards for a Longhorns ground game that garnered 227 yards.

Tyrone Swoopes threw for 124 yards with a touchdown and interception on 11- of-29 passing and Geoff Swaim hauled in a short TD pass for Texas (5-5, 4-3 Big 12), which has won three of its last four games.

Clint Trickett completed 36-of-49 passes for 248 yards with an interception and Dreamius Smith and Wendell Smallwood each ran in a score for the Mountaineers (6-4, 4-3), who had scored at least 30 points in their previous eight games.

Texas scored 17 unanswered points in the second quarter to seize control of the game.

Gray broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage and exploded down the left sideline, keeping his feet inbounds and diving into the end zone for a 39-yard score to make it a 14-3 game with 8:56 left until half.

The Longhorns went up 21-3 on their next drive. Brown ran for 25 yards and Gray found a hole up the middle for a 40-yard run. A defensive pass interference call set up Gray’s 2-yard TD run with 6:19 to go.

Quandre Diggs picked off Trickett and returned the ball to West Virginia’s 22. Nick Rose then kicked a 39-yard field goal just inside the right upright to give the Longhorns a 24-3 lead heading into halftime.

West Virginia moved the ball down to the Texas 8 on its first drive of the second half, but its offense stalled as Trickett’s pass to Kevin White on 4th- and-7 was for a loss.

Josh Lambert’s 40-yard field goal attempt steered wide left with 4:02 left in the third.

Smith got West Virginia on the board for the first time since the first quarter with a 9-yard TD run to cap a 14-play, 75-yard trek early in the final stanza.

The Mountaineers were pinned down at their own 2-yard line after a 63-yard punt and a holding call. On the first play of the drive, Trickett dropped back and was sacked by Cedric Reed in the end zone for a safety.

Reed continued to plague Trickett, this time by stripping the WVU quarterback of the ball to force a fumble, which was recovered by Paul Boyette Jr. at the Mountaineers’ 26.

Swoopes, however, was picked off by Daryl Worley three plays later. Smith raced 62 yards down the field and caught an 11-yard pass on the next play to set the Mountaineers up at the Texas 7. Smallwood ran for four yards before plunging into the end zone from three yards out for a 26-16 game with 6:38 to play. West Virginia’s two-point conversion attempt failed.

The Mountaineers turned the ball over on downs at their own 15 with 3:11 to play and Gray ran 15 yards for a touchdown on the very next play to seal the win.

Texas marched 90 yards down the field in 11 plays on its first drive of the day. Terrell Chestnut was called for defensive pass interference on John Harris in the end zone to set up the Longhorns at the 2-yard line. Swoopes lofted a pass to Swaim in the back of the end zone for a 7-0 lead with 6:35 left in the first quarter.

After Mario Alford’s 48-yard kick return, Rushel Shell ran for 11 yards and White hauled in a 19-yard pass to push West Virginia deep into its opponents territory, but Texas stuffed Smallwood on third down at the 1-yard line. West Virginia lined up to go for it, but was called for a false start, which led to a 22-yard Lambert field goal.

Game Notes

West Virginia lost its first road game of the season after starting out 3-0 ... White caught 16 passes for 132 yards ... Trickett was sacked three times ... The Mountaineers were 3-of-5 on fourth down tries, while the Longhorns were unsuccessful in their one instance ... Texas evened the all-time series at two wins apiece ... West Virginia outgained Texas, 448-351.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Marshall pummels Southern Miss, moves to 9-0

Rakeem Cato threw two touchdown passes and ran for another as 23rd-ranked Marshall steam rolled Southern Miss, 63-17, to remain unbeaten.

Cato completed 13-of-19 passes for 186 yards as the Thundering Herd (9-0, 5-0 C-USA) moved one step closer towards a perfect season.

Marshall was without star running back Devon Johnson, who was held out with an injury, but Remi Watson, Steward Butler and Cato were able to carry the load. Watson scored three times on the ground, Butler carried five times for 118 yards and two touchdowns and Cato picked up 92 yards on nine runs.

“We had a little adversity early on,“ Marshall coach Doc Holliday said. “We came back from that and played well throughout the rest of the game.“

Tommy Shuler and Watson had touchdown grabs for Marshall, which has won every game this season by at least 15 points.

Ito Smith gained 141 yards on 27 carries and scored two first-quarter touchdowns for Southern Miss (3-7, 1-5), which saw backup quarterback Cole Weeks complete 11 passes to nine different receivers. Weeks got his second straight start in place of injured starter Nick Mullens.

Southern Miss landed the first blow, as Smith carried 10 times and Weeks completed all three of his passes during a 13-play drive. Jalen Richard’s 19- yard completion highlighted the trek and Smith capped it with a short TD run.

Tez Parks then recovered a surprise onsides kick and the Golden Eagles found the end zone for a second time. Smith ran five times for 37 yards, scoring again from two yards out.

“If we would have gotten that other one, we would have kicked another one after we scored. We are not good enough in one given area to compete against a team like that,“ Southern Miss coach Todd Monken said.

Marshall then ran off 21 straight points to take control. Cato hit Watson for a short TD pass late in the first quarter. Southern Miss then went three- and-out, and on the first play of the second, Butler busted through the hole for a 30-yard touchdown.

Watson capped a short drive on the next possession with his 7-yard touchdown run.

Corey Acosta’s 35-yard field goal made it 21-17, but Cato’s 2-yard TD to Shuler sent the Herd into halftime with a 28-17 lead.

Jermaine Holmes recovered a Weeks fumble early in the third quarter and Cato put a stamp on the ensuing drive with his 10-yard QB keeper.

Weeks lost another fumble on the next USM series and again Marshall capitalized, turning the turnover into points. Cato had runs of 14 and 33 yards to set up Watson’s 7-yard score.

Butler busted out an 83-yard touchdown early in the fourth. Watson and Tony Pittman added touchdown runs to cap another dominant win.

Game Notes

Marshall has won four straight meetings with Southern Miss ... Cato has thrown a touchdown pass in 41 consecutive games. Cato also broke Chad Pennington’s program record for completions and pass attempts ... Marshall ran for 335 yards. Southern Miss had held its last three opponents to 245 combined rushing yards ... Marshall has three regular-season games remaining on its schedule.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Top-25 College Football Game Scores

(Saturday, November 08)


Final Score: (1) Mississippi State 45, UT Martin 16

Dak Prescott had two touchdown passes and ran in another as top-ranked Mississippi State thumped UT Martin, 45-16. Prescott went 14-of-23 for 206 yards and added 54 yards on six carries for the Bulldogs (9-0), who also got rushing touchdowns from Ashton Shumpert and Brandon Holloway. Mississippi State has a big matchup next week at Alabama. Jarod Neal had 159 yards on 14-of-27 attempts with a touchdown passing and running for the Skyhawks (5-6), who had won four straight coming in.


Final Score: (2) Florida State 34, Virginia 20

Jameis Winston accounted for two touchdowns and No. 2 Florida State extended its winning streak to 25 games with a 34-20 victory over Virginia on Saturday. Winston overcame two early interceptions and completed 22-of-35 passes for 261 yards and a touchdown, while also adding a score on the ground for the Seminoles (9-0, 6-0 ACC), who have won 21 consecutive games against conference foes. Rashad Greene caught 13 passes for 136 yards and a score, and Karlos Williams rushed for 70 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries. Greyson Lambert threw for 220 yards and three touchdowns with an interception on 20-of-35 efficiency, while Canaan Severin, Darius Jennings and Andre Levrone each hauled in a TD pass for the Cavaliers (4-6, 2-4), who lost their fourth straight game.


Final Score: Texas A&M 41, (3) Auburn 38

Kyle Allen threw four first-half touchdowns and Auburn lost a pair of fumbles in the final minutes, as Texas A&M produced a 41-38 victory over the No. 3 Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday. Allen ended up with 277 yards passing on 19-of-29 attempts for the Aggies (7-3, 3-3 SEC), as Josh Reynolds posted two TD receptions and Malcome Kennedy and Ricky Seals-Jones one apiece. Kennedy led all receivers with 118 yards on just four grabs, while Reynolds totaled six catches for 88 yards. Nick Marshall completed 15-of-21 passes for 219 yards, two scores, an interception and a costly fumble for the Tigers (7-2, 4-2), who nearly completed a comeback from a 35-17 halftime deficit. He also ran for 67 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Cameron Artis-Payne rumbled to 221 yards and two TDs on 30 carries, but coughed up the ball twice, the final time on a potential go-ahead scoring chance with 2 1/2 minutes left in regulation.


Final Score: (4) Alabama 20, (14) LSU 13 (OT)

Despite a late fourth-quarter turnover, Alabama is still alive in the national championship race. Blake Sims threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to DeAndrew White in overtime to boost the fourth- ranked Crimson Tide to a 20-13 win over No. 14 LSU Saturday night. T.J. Yeldon fumbled at the Alabama 6 with 1:13 left, and Colby Delahoussaye kicked a 39-yard field goal to give LSU the lead with 50 seconds left. Sims, though, led Alabama down the field with some clutch plays and Adam Griffith’s 27-yard field goal with three seconds left forced OT. The Crimson Tide got the ball first in OT, and White caught Sims’ looping pass on the right side of the end zone. Anthony Jennings then threw four straight incompletions to end the game. The final attempt to the end zone was knocked away to finish the fourth overtime game since 2005 between the foes. The victory for Alabama (8-1, 5-1 SEC) came on a day Auburn lost to Texas A&M. Auburn entered the week No. 3 in the College Football Playoff Selection Committee Rankings, while Alabama was fifth. Alabama welcomes No. 1 Mississippi State to Bryant-Denny Stadium next Saturday. Mississippi State (5-0 SEC) is barely ahead of Alabama in the Western Division. Sims completed 20-of-45 passes for 209 yards with a pair of TDs, and Amari Cooper had eight receptions for 83 yards and a score. Anthony Jennings connected on 8-of-26 throws for 76 yards with a TD and an interception for LSU (7-3, 3-3), which won its previous three contests.

Final Score: (6) TCU 41, (9) Kansas State 20

Fort Worth, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - Trevone Boykin failed to stick the landing on a somersault into the end zone, but it was an otherwise flawless performance for the TCU quarterback on Saturday. Boykin accounted for 342 yards and four touchdowns and No. 6 TCU made its national title case by routing No. 9 Kansas State, 41-20, in a Big 12 showdown. What was billed as an elimination game for the inaugural college football playoff turned into a one-sided affair, with the Horned Frogs (8-1, 5-1 Big 12) gashing the Wildcats’ vaunted defense for 553 yards. Boykin did most of the damage with 219 yards and a TD on 23-of-34 passing while adding 123 yards and three scores on the ground, including an acrobatic run early in the third quarter that ended with him being flipped into the end zone. Aaron Green ran for 171 yards and a touchdown for TCU, which forced a three-way tie atop the conference. The Horned Frogs will be heavy favorites against Kansas, Texas and Iowa State the rest of the way and will likely move up from No. 6 in the playoff rankings. Jake Waters threw for 291 yards with two touchdowns and an interception for Kansas State (7-2, 5-1), which had allowed just 17 points per game during its five-game winning streak coming in.


Final Score: (13) Ohio State 49, (7) Michigan State 37

J.T. Barrett threw three touchdown passes and added two scores on the ground, leading the 13th-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes to a 49-37 victory over No. 7 Michigan State in the first-ever November night game at Spartan Stadium. Ohio State avenged its loss to Michigan State in last year’s Big Ten Championship Game and now has the inside track at reaching this year’s title game. The Buckeyes also remained in the mix for college football’s four-team playoff. Barrett completed 16- of-26 passes for 300 yards for the Buckeyes (8-1, 5-0 Big Ten), who set a Big Ten record with their 21st straight regular-season conference win. Barrett also carried the ball 14 times for 86 yards. Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 154 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries for Ohio State, which has won seven in a row. Devin Smith caught six passes for 129 yards and a score. Connor Cook connected on 25-of-45 passes for 358 yards and two touchdowns for the Spartans (7-2, 4-1), who had won 13 straight Big Ten games. Jeremy Langford carried the ball 18 times for 137 yards and three touchdowns for Michigan State, which had a six-game winning streak snapped. Langford has surpassed 100 yards rushing in six straight games.


Final Score: (11) Arizona State 55, (8) Notre Dame 31

Taylor Kelly accounted for four touchdowns to outduel a mistake-prone Everett Golson, and 11th-ranked Arizona State vaulted itself into the College Football Playoff conversation with a thrilling 55-31 victory over No. 8 Notre Dame. Golson threw a career-high four interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns by Damarious Randall and Lloyd Carrington, and lost a fumble to offset a 446-yard passing day and likely end Notre Dame’s hopes for a selection in the end-of-the-year playoff. The Irish (7-2) entered the matchup 10th in the latest playoff rankings, one spot behind Arizona State (8-1), which also got seven sacks from its swarming defense in addition to the five takeaways. Kelly threw for 224 yards and three touchdowns on a 17-of-28 completion rate while adding a late score on the ground. Demario Richard added a rushing and receiving touchdown in the Sun Devils’ fourth triumph over a ranked opponent since a lopsided loss to UCLA on Sept. 25, with D.J. Foster contributing 120 rushing yards on 21 carries. Golson did connect on touchdown passes to Will Fuller and Amir Carlisle while hitting on 22-of-41 attempts. Fuller finished with 95 yards on six catches and Carlisle had three receptions for 92 yards.


Final Score: (10) Baylor 48, (16) Oklahoma 14

Devin Chafin and Shock Linwood both ran for two touchdowns as 10th-ranked Baylor posted an impressive 48-14 win over No. 16 Oklahoma on Saturday. Bryce Petty set a career high with 32 completions and finished with 387 passing yards and one touchdown for the Bears (8-1, 5-1 Big 12), who scored the final 45 points en route to posting the program’s first-ever win in 12 trips to Norman. Corey Coleman caught 15 passes for 224 yards, the second-highest totals in a game in Baylor history, and scored two touchdowns. Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight completed 12- of-27 passes for 146 yards with two touchdowns and one interception before being forced out of the game on a fourth-quarter sack. Knight was placed on a backboard and pointed to the sky as he was being removed on a cart. Alex Ross amassed 71 yards on six carries for Oklahoma (6-3, 3-3), which had produced at least 30 points in 12 straight games.


Final Score: (12) Ole Miss 48, Presbyterian 0

Following tough losses against two SEC West foes, Ole Miss let off some steam against an FCS opponent. Bo Wallace passed for 140 yards and two touchdowns, all in the first half, and the No. 12 Rebels rolled to a 48-0 win over Presbyterian on Saturday. Wallace threw touchdown passes of 66 and 23 yards to Vince Sanders in the first quarter and rushed for a score during a 21-point second quarter as the Rebels (8-2) shook off losses to LSU and Auburn with their first win since Oct. 18. Mark Dodson rushed for 128 yards for the Rebels in the first half, almost all of it coming on touchdown carries of 65 and 62 yards in the second quarter. Jordan Wilkins added 10 carries for 171 yards, including a 73-yard touchdown. Heys McMath was 9-of-17 passing for 59 yards for Presbyterian (5-5) and Ed Britt intercepted Wallace in the second quarter.


Final Score: (17) Georgia 63, Kentucky 31

Isaiah McKenzie returned the game’s opening kickoff for a touchdown and scored on a punt return as No. 17 Georgia blasted Kentucky 63-31 on Saturday. Hutson Mason threw a career-high four touchdown passes despite not playing one snap in the fourth quarter for Georgia (7-2, 5-2 SEC), which rebounded from last week’s 38-20 loss to Florida. Mason was 13-of-16 for 174 yards, and Nick Chubb rushed for 170 yards and a touchdown in the bounce-back win. The Bulldogs had a three- touchdown lead just over 10 minutes into the game. Patrick Towles totaled 139 yards with a touchdown pass and ran for another score for the Wildcats (5-5, 2-5), who suffered their fourth straight loss. Towles completed 16- of-31 passes with one interception and added 60 yards on the ground.


Final Score: (21) Arizona 38, Colorado 20

Anu Solomon tossed two of his four touchdown passes to Semajie Grant and No. 21 Arizona pulled away in the fourth quarter to defeat Colorado 38-20 on Saturday night. Solomon was 21-of-38 for 211 yards and added 105 yards on the ground, while Grant recorded 83 yards receiving on six catches for Arizona (7-2, 4-2 Pac-12), which had dropped two of its previous three games coming in. Nick Wilson posted 153 of the Wildcats’ 288 rushing yards in the triumph. Sefo Liufau completed 24-of-33 passes for 252 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions for the Buffaloes (2-8, 0-7), who have lost six in a row.


Final Score: (22) Duke 27, Syracuse 10

Syracuse, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Jamison Crowder scored on a 52-yard punt return to break a tie and spark a big fourth quarter that lifted No. 22 Duke to a 27-10 win over Syracuse on Saturday. Anthony Boone passed for 161 yards with two touchdown throws to Issac Blakeney and the Blue Devils (8-1, 4-1 ACC) scored 17 unanswered points in the last 12:45 of the game to finish off their fourth straight win. They moved to 16-1 in their last 17 regular-season games. The Orange (3-7, 1-5) have lost three in a row. It was the first football game between the two traditional basketball powerhouses since 1939.

Final Score: (23) Marshall 63, Southern Miss 17

Rakeem Cato threw two touchdown passes and ran for another as 23rd-ranked Marshall steam rolled Southern Miss, 63-17, to remain unbeaten. Cato completed 13-of-19 passes for 186 yards as the Thundering Herd (9-0, 5-0 C-USA) moved one step closer towards a perfect season. Marshall was without star running back Devon Johnson, who was held out with an injury, but Remi Watson, Steward Butler and Cato were able to carry the load. Watson scored three times on the ground, Butler carried five times for 118 yards and two touchdowns and Cato picked up 92 yards on nine runs. Tommy Shuler and Watson had touchdown grabs for Marshall, which has won every game this season by at least 15 points. Ito Smith gained 141 yards on 27 carries and scored two first-quarter touchdowns for Southern Miss (3-7, 1-5), which saw backup quarterback Cole Weeks complete 11 passes to nine different receivers. Weeks got his second straight start in place of injured starter Nick Mullens.


Final Score: Texas 33, (24) West Virginia 16

Johnathan Gray led a potent Texas rushing attack with a career-high three touchdowns as the Longhorns rolled past 24th- ranked West Virginia by a 33-16 score on Saturday. Gray finished with 101 yards on 10 carries and Malcolm Brown ran 20 times for 90 yards for a Longhorns ground game that garnered 227 yards. Tyrone Swoopes threw for 124 yards with a touchdown and interception on 11-of-29 passing and Geoff Swaim hauled in a short TD pass for Texas (5-5, 4-3 Big 12), which has won three of its last four games. Clint Trickett completed 36-of-49 passes for 248 yards with an interception and Dreamius Smith and Wendell Smallwood each ran in a score for the Mountaineers (6-4, 4-3), who had scored at least 30 points in their previous eight games.


Final Score: (25) Wisconsin 34, Purdue 16

Melvin Gordon rushed for 205 yards and a touchdown and No. 25 Wisconsin beat Purdue 34-16 on Saturday. Joel Stave passed for 219 yards and two touchdowns in the win, most of it in the first half as the Badgers (7-2, 4-1 Big Ten) played their first game as a ranked team in over a month. They overcame a shaky start to the second half, which included Gordon’s fumble and failed fourth-down run and a near-onside kick recovery by the Boilermakers after Austin Appleby’s 79-yard touchdown pass to Akeem Hunt got them within 24-16. Appleby passed for 204 yards for Purdue (3-7, 1-5), which has lost three in a row. Paul Griggs kicked three field goals in the loss, including two over 50 yards.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Bears TE Bennett questionable for Sunday

Chicago Bears tight end Martellus Bennett is questionable for Sunday night’s game against the Green Bay Packers.

Bennett appeared on the injury report for the first time on Thursday as a limited participant in practice due to a rib injury. He missed practice on Friday.

The 27-year-old Bennett has 47 catches for 517 yards and five touchdowns on the season.

The Bears also announced that Michael Ola will start at left guard in place of Matt Slauson, who tore his pectoral muscle. Jordan Mills will remain at right tackle.

Linebacker Darryl Sharpton (hamstring) and guard Eben Britton (illness) have been ruled out.


►  Lions WR Johnson probable for Sunday

Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson practiced fully all week and is probable for Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins.

Johnson has been held out of the Lions’ last three games due to a nagging high ankle sprain. The All-Pro wideout has not played since Detroit’s 17-14 loss to the Bills on October 5.

The 29-year-old Johnson has 22 catches for 348 yards and two touchdowns in five games this season.

Tight ends Brandon Pettigrew (foot) and Joseph Fauria (ankle) are listed as questionable. Fellow tight end Eric Ebron (hamstring) is doubtful.

Pettigrew missed the game in London game two weeks ago and Fauria has missed the last five games. Ebron, the team’s top draft pick in May, has sat out the past two games.

Running back Reggie Bush is probable. The ex-Dolphin missed two of Detroit’s previous three games prior to its bye due to an ankle injury.

Defensive end George Johnson (hamstring) sat out practice Friday after being a full participant Wednesday and Thursday, but is listed as probable for Sunday.

Starting defensive tackle Nick Fairley’s injured right knee will not require surgery. He will miss Sunday’s game.


►  Niners LB Willis questionable for Sunday

San Francisco 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis is questionable for Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints.

Willis, who has missed the last two games with a toe injury, sat out of practice this week. The eight-year veteran has totaled 34 tackles and one interception through six games this season.

If Willis can’t play, rookie Chris Borland would make his third straight start.

Cornerback Tramaine Brock (toe), defensive tackle Quinton Dial (eye), wide receiver Brandon Lloyd (hamstring) and linebacker Dan Skuta (ankle) have also been listed as questionable.


►  Cardinals, Palmer agree to 3-year extension

The Arizona Cardinals on Friday signed quarterback Carson Palmer to a three-year contract extension.

No financial terms were disclosed, but CBSSports.com reported that the former USC product stands to make $50 million from the new pact.

“Carson has played at an incredibly high level and has been a huge part of the team’s success,“ said Cards general manager Steve Keim. “When you combine his on-field performance with the leadership, stability and professionalism he brings to our team, there was no question that we wanted to extend the relationship and we are excited he felt the same way.“

Palmer, who was scheduled to become a free agent at the end of the season, has led the Cards to their best eight-game record (7-1) since 1974 when the team was based in St. Louis. Since arriving from Oakland prior to the start of last season, he has compiled a 15-6 mark as starter, best in modern franchise history.

In five games this season, he has completed 116-of-188 passes for 1,385 yards, 11 touchdowns and two interceptions for a passer rating of 99.3.

The two-time Pro Bowl selection has thrown for 35,124 yards, 224 TDs and 154 interceptions in 143 games for the Bengals, Raiders and Cardinals.


►  Chiefs activate LB Mays from short-term IR

The Kansas City Chiefs activated linebacker Joe Mays from short-term injured reserve on Saturday.

Mays, who signed a two-year contract with the Chiefs in the offseason, had been recovering from August wrist surgery.

The 29-year-old North Dakota State product started 13 games for Houston last season and has registered 194 tackles and 1 1/2 sacks over 61 career games with the Philadelphia Eagles, Denver Broncos and Texans.

Linebacker Jerry Franklin was waived to open a roster spot for Mays.


►  Vrabel says 3 Super Bowl rings stolen

Houston Texans linebackers coach Mike Vrabel says the three Super Bowl rings he won with the New England Patriots have been stolen.

“To all the Houston area pawn shops: 3 super bowl rings are headed your way. Courtesy of the (expletive) who smashed our back door in,“ Vrabel tweeted from his verified account on Saturday.

Vrabel played 14 NFL seasons, much of them with the Patriots from 2001-08. He retired following the 2010 season after playing his last two years with Kansas City.


►  Bears’ Slauson lands on IR

The Chicago Bears placed left guard Matt Slauson on injured reserve Saturday due to a torn pectoral muscle.

Slauson sustained the injury during Chicago’s 51-23 loss at New England on October 26. The six-year veteran missed three games earlier in the campaign after spraining his ankle in the season opener.

The 28-year-old had started all 16 games in each of the previous four seasons, the first three of which were spent with the New York Jets.

Either Brian de la Puente or Michael Ola will replace Slauson in the starting lineup for Sunday’s game at Green Bay.

Tight end Blake Annen was promoted from the practice squad to fill the available roster spot.


►  Seahawks take CB Lane off IR

The Seattle Seahawks have activated Jeremy Lane from injured reserve/designated to return, with the nickel back eligible to participate in Sunday’s game against the New York Giants.

Lane injured his groin in Seattle’s season-opening win over Green Bay and missed the team’s last seven games as a result.

The third-year pro’s return is welcome news for a Seahawks secondary that could be without a pair of starters for Sunday’s tilt. Safety Kam Chancellor is listed as doubtful with a groin strain and cornerback Byron Maxwell is questionable with a calf injury that’s kept him out of Seattle’s past three contests.

Backup center Stephen Schilling was placed on injured reserve in a corresponding move after hurting his knee against Oakland last week.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Streaking in the negatives

Fantasy owners have seen some fantastic quarterback play this season. Twelve quarterbacks are on pace for 4,000-yard passing seasons and three of those quarterbacks are on pace for 5,000 yards.

That doesn’t even include Nick Foles, Kyle Orton and Kirk Cousins, who, at their current yards per game average, would also hit 4,000 yards if they played a full season.

In addition, six quarterbacks are on pace for 35-plus touchdown seasons. Last season, only five quarterbacks even reached 30 touchdowns, and all of them had at least 10 interceptions. Three of those six quarterbacks on pace for at least 35 touchdowns also have a chance to throw for fewer than double-digit interceptions.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean owners have avoided the occasional fantasy quarterback dud.

Andy Dalton certainly laid a dud on Thursday, completing just 10-of-33 passes for 86 yards and tossed three interceptions. Fantasy owners would have been better off leaving the starting position blank because that stat line rewarded owners with negative 1.8 points.

Dalton is not the only quarterback, however, taking points away from his fantasy team this season. In fact, Week 10 is the third straight week owners have seen quarterbacks dip into the minus numbers.

Last week, Philip Rivers actually topped (or is it bottomed?) Dalton’s low score with negative 2.2 points. Rivers threw for more yards than Dalton, 138, but also threw three interceptions and lost a fumble, which resulted in a lower score.

As painful as Dalton’s score was, Rivers was even worse for owners to take because he had been a hidden fantasy gem for most of this season. Even with the negative score, Rivers is still averaging 18.1 points per game.

Neither one of those scores, however, is the lowest from a quarterback this season. In fact, Geno Smith’s “record-low” beats those totals even if one combined them. Normally, beating two combined scores is a good thing, but not when it comes to talking negatives and career-lows.

Smith threw for a horrendous five yards and three interceptions in one quarter before the Jets pulled him from a game against the Bills in Week 8. That added up to negative 5.8 fantasy points.

Fortunately, Smith was likely just starting for desperate owners in two- quarterback leagues. Smith is the only quarterback with two negative scores this year.

Will the streak stop at three? Let’s hope so because owners cannot afford losing more points at the position that is supposed to score the most in fantasy.


►  Two minute warning - Week 10

It is once again a major issue for fantasy owners this weekend - teams on bye.

Week 10 is another “six-team bye week” with players from Houston, Indianapolis, Minnesota, New England, San Diego and Washington all watching the action from their sofa or favorite watering hole, just like fans and fantasy owners.

The loss of the league’s leading scoring, Andrew Luck, will test his fantasy owners who have been leaning heavily on his monster fantasy totals for the first nine games. He’ll grab a seat along with Tom Brady, Philip Rivers and Robert Griffin III, making the quarterback position particularly challenging in Week 10.

The weather in Week 10 appears to be pretty good for a mid-November afternoon with just a chance of showers in London and Seattle (no surprises there).

Here is the latest information as we approach game-time. We will continue to update this story as the information changes all the way up to game-time.

Quarterbacks -

Tony Romo, Dallas - Whether it’s the smart long-term thing to do or not, the Cowboys plan to start Romo (back) on Sunday in London. Fantasy owners hope he gets through this game without further damage against a 1-8 Jaguars team they likely could beat even with backup Brandon Weeden under center. Latest Update: Romo is active.

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay - There has never been any question about Rodgers playing in Week 10, but he may not be as mobile as usual. His arm is still 100 percent, so fantasy owners need to keep him in the starting lineup.

Blake Bortles, Jacksonville - The wrist injury is to his non-throwing left hand, so we expect Bortles to play. He’s been too turnover-prone to start in most fantasy leagues. Latest Update: Bortles is active.

Michael Vick, New York Jets - Vick is dealing with a sore foot, but will start. Vick is always nicked up in one way or the other, that’s just a part of being a running quarterback. Deal with it. Latest Update: Vick is active.

Running Backs -

Marshawn Lynch, Seattle - With the return of two of his key offensive lineman, Lynch should be the focal point of the Seahawks offense against the Giants and should have a big day. His calf problem shouldn’t be an issue, despite sitting out Thursday’s practice.

Andre Ellington, Arizona - Ellington and fantasy owners know he’ll be less than 100 percent all season due to the foot issue, but it hasn’t stopped him from averaging 22.6 touches per game and 109 yards. He’s a must start.

Reggie Bush, Detroit - The oft-injured Bush is expected to return, but finds it tough going against a strong Miami defense and as part of a three-man Lions backfield rotation. Latest Update: Bush is active.

Mark Ingram, New Orleans - He was limited in practice all week due to a shoulder issue, but local writers expect him to play. The way he’s been running over the last two weeks, there is no way he doesn’t get on the field. With Khiry Robinson still sidelined, Ingram is a must start. Latest Update: Ingram is active.

Rashad Jennings, New York Giants - Jennings is getting closer, but is officially out for Week 10. Andre Williams and Peyton Hillis will handle the workload for one more weekend.

Frank Gore, San Francisco - Gore was limited in practice by a hip injury, but will be on the field Sunday and likely be the focus of the offensive game plan after being “missing-in-action” for the past three games. Latest Update: Gore is active.

Doug Martin, Tampa Bay - Martin is doubtful for Week 10, making Bobby Rainey a solid option. Beware, rookie Charles Sims is expected to play and be the third-down receiving back. Latest Update: Martin is inactive.

Fred Jackson, Buffalo - He’s improved drastically over the week and the team is now optimistic that he can play. He’ll be a true game-time decision, but if he gets the nod he’ll still share the workload with Anthony Dixon and Bryce Brown making him a less-than-ideal option. Latest Update: Jackson is active.

Montee Ball, Denver - Ball is not expected to return until Week 11 according to a Denver Post report, but even then it will be in a backup role to Ronnie Hillman. Expecting any more than 6-10 touches would be unwise and he’s not a viable fantasy option.

Lamar Miller, Miami - Miller’s shoulder injury has him listed as questionable and he’ll face one of the best defenses in the league. This may be a shared situation with Daniel Thomas and Damien Williams and not an very good play in Week 10. Latest Update: Miller is active.

Wide Receivers -

Calvin Johnson, Detroit - He’s finally near 100 percent and all fantasy owners should re-install him into their lineup despite the Dolphins owning the No. 2 pass defense (201.2 ypg). Latest Update: Johnson is active.

Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay - Jackson finally earned a full participant tag on Friday and should play Sunday. He hasn’t scored since Week 4, but gets quarterback Josh McCown back under center. Latest Update: Jackson is active.

Sammy Watkins, Buffalo - It’ll be a crap shoot, as he missed both Thursday and Friday’s practice. You will have to wait for inactives to be announced if you want to start him. Latest Update: Watkins is active.

Wes Welker, Denver - Welker has a back issue, but more importantly to fantasy owners he has a “target issue” ... as in not enough of them. Emmanuel Sanders has taken over as the “chain mover” for Peyton Manning and Welker owners are left holding an empty bag.

Cecil Shorts, Jacksonville - Shorts injured his hamstring in Wednesday’s practice, but did return for Friday’s session and should be ready to go. We’d rather start Allen Robinson or even No. 3 receiver Allen Hurns. Latest Update: Shorts is active.

Percy Harvin, New York Jets - When is Harvin not hurt or dealing with migraine headaches? He’s got a heel issue this time, but should be ready to play and be a featured receiver in the Jets game plan. Latest Update: Harvin is active.

Harry Dougles, Atlanta - Douglas is active.

Tight Ends -

Martellus Bennett, Chicago - It’s bad news that he missed Friday’s practice and the team pulled a tight end off the practice squad to activate. He’ll be a game-time decision, but if he plays he’s been too productive to leave on the bench.

Eric Ebron, Detroit - Ebron is doubtful for Sunday and two other Lions tight ends, Brandon Pettigrew and Joseph Fauria, are questionable. Avoid them all as the targets should go to Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate. Latest Update: Ebron is inactive, but Pettigrew is active

Charles Clay, Miami - Clay has a knee issue, but is expected to play. He’s scored in two of the last three games and against a tough Lions pass rush could be a useful outlet receiver. Latest Update: Clay is active.

Travis Kelce, Kansas City - Kelce has been dealing with bruised ribs, but is active.

Others -

Max Unger, Seattle - One of the reasons we like Marshawn Lynch so much this weekend is the return of Unger (inactive since Week 5) and Russell Okung to the offensive line.

Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh - Polamalu will miss this game along with fellow defensive starter Ryan Shazier and two other safeties - Shamarko Thomas and Ross Ventrone. Ben Roethlisberger may have to throw six more touchdowns in this one.


►  Bobby Rainey: start him or sit him?

With six NFL teams on a bye this week, fantasy owners could be in a bind, regarding their starting lineups.

There are difficult decisions to make each and every week, but with the fantasy playoffs right around the corner, many owners can ill-afford to make poor decisions heading into the final weeks of the regular season.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ running back Bobby Rainey is an intriguing name, entering Week 10 of the season. With tailback Doug Martin sidelined due to an ankle injury, Rainey is coming off his second-most productive game of 2014, as he totaled 19 carries for 87 yards and one reception for 34 yards.

Should owners assume his production will continue?

If six separate teams were not off this week, then sitting Rainey may make more sense, but with the combination of the way he is running, along with the fact that Tampa Bay does not have a legitimate backup halfback for Week 10, Rainey is a borderline must-start player.

Not many NFL teams ride with only one running back these days, and while rookie tailback Charlie Sims is expected to be active for the first time this season, it is hard to assume that he will take many touches away from Rainey.

As a result, Rainey will head into the week with a tremendous opportunity to see at least 20 touches.

Running backs that are guaranteed almost 20 touches need to be in all lineups, and even more so, those backs need to be in lineups against teams that are giving up a ton of points to opposing halfbacks.

The Buccaneers’ opponent for Week 10 is the Atlanta Falcons, who have given up the most fantasy points (according to Yahoo) to running backs (26.9 points per game) in 2014. To go more in depth, Atlanta allows 117.1 rushing yards per game to tailbacks, and have surrendered a league-high 13 rushing touchdowns.

The Falcons clearly have deficiencies on defense, which has been a major reason why the team is off to a 2-8 start this season. However, Rainey- owners should not care about Atlanta’s rough start, and should simply be excited about the potential Tampa Bay’s starting Week 10 running back has Sunday against the Falcons.

Fantasy owners, start Rainey this week against Atlanta.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  NBA Game Results

(Saturday, November 08)


Final Score: LA Clippers 106, Portland 102

Chris Paul tallied 22 points and 11 assists as the Los Angeles Clippers overcame a rough start to edge the Portland Trail Blazers 106-102 on Saturday at Staples Center. J.J. Redick contributed a season-high 30 points on 11-of-13 shooting and Jamal Crawford, making his first start of the season in place of Matt Barnes, added 20. DeAndre Jordan had 14 rebounds, including the biggest play of the game late in the fourth quarter. Steve Blake pressured Paul into a tough baseline jumper with the Clippers leading by two and time winding down. Wes Matthews had Jordan boxed out, but the 7-footer jumped over Matthews’ back and tipped the ball out to Crawford, who made two free throws with 7.2 seconds left to seal the outcome. Damian Lillard scored 25 points with eight assists and seven rebounds for Portland, which lost to the Clippers in Los Angles for the sixth straight time. Nicolas Batum also stuffed the stat sheet with 10 points, eight assists and eight boards and LeMarcus Aldridge went for 21 points and 10 rebounds. Neither bench factored into the decision, with Portland’s reserves outscoring their counterparts, 13-5. LA’s starters had 101 points.


Final Score: Washington 97, Indiana 90

John Wall scored 18 points and the Washington Wizards held off Indiana, 97-90, to beat the injury-riddled Pacers for the second time this week. Nene did a little bit of everything, finishing with 17 points, seven rebounds, five assists and a big steal with 30 seconds remaining that helped the Wizards hold off a late rally by the Pacers. Kevin Seraphin chipped in 13 points off the bench for Washington, which bounced back from a humbling 19-point loss to Toronto on Friday and had lost 12 straight regular-season games in Indianapolis. Indiana battled despite losing center Roy Hibbert to a knee injury in the first quarter. Solomon Hill poured in a career-high 28 points and Chris Copeland scored 14. The Pacers have lost six straight games after opening the season with a win over Philadelphia. They are 1-6 for the first time since the 1993-94 season.


Final Score: Atlanta 103, New York 96

Kyle Korver scored 27 points and helped lead a second-half rally that propelled the Atlanta Hawks to a 103-96 victory over the New York Knicks in the opener of a home-and-home series. Korver knocked down 6-of-9 attempts from 3-point range, with four of those makes occurring after halftime, as the Hawks overcame a 13-point deficit at the break to halt a two-game skid and send the Knicks to a fourth consecutive loss. Atlanta also held Carmelo Anthony in check over the final two quarters to come back, with just six of the All-Star forward’s 20 points coming after intermission. Jeff Teague added 19 points for Atlanta and Paul Millsap recorded a double- double of 11 points and 13 rebounds. Iman Shumpert finished with 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting for slumping New York, which received 15 points from Tim Hardaway Jr. Anthony tallied nine rebounds in addition to his 20-point effort.


Final Score: Miami 102, Minnesota 92

Dwyane Wade had 25 points and eight assists, Chris Bosh added 24 points and seven boards and the Miami Heat defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves 102-92 on Saturday night. Luol Deng netted 14 points for the Heat, who snapped a two-game skid after beginning 3-0. Nikola Pekovic posted 19 points and 11 rebounds, and Thaddeus Young supplied 16 points and six boards for Minnesota, which was without its young point guard Ricky Rubio for the first time this season.


Final Score: Boston 106, Chicago 101

Evan Turner started in place of Rajon Rondo and totaled 19 points, six assists and five rebounds as the Boston Celtics escaped United Center with a 106-101 win over the Chicago Bulls on Saturday. The Celtics shot 52 percent from the floor and saw seven players score in double figures. Kelly Olynyk contributed 18 points and 11 rebounds, and Jeff Green added 14 points in Boston’s second straight victory. Aaron Brooks scored 19 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter to help cut Chicago’s 19- point deficit down to two in the final minute, but the comeback fell short. Pau Gasol and Jimmy Butler netted 19 and 16 points, respectively, but the Bulls’ four-game winning streak came to halt.


Final Score: Golden State 98, Houston 87

Stephen Curry scored 14 of his game-high 34 points in the fourth quarter to help the Golden State Warriors fend off the Houston Rockets, 98-87, to remain unbeaten on the season. Curry made 13 of his 19 shots, including 6-of-9 from behind the arc, grabbed 10 rebounds and handed out five assists for the Warriors, who are 5-0 for the first time since the 1994-95 season. Andre Iguodala and Draymond Green added 15 and 14 points, respectively, while Andrew Bogut pulled down a game-high 18 rebounds and blocked four shots in the victory. James Harden had 22 points, seven rebounds and seven assists and Isaiah Canaan scored a career-high 21 points for the previously-unbeaten Rockets, who were missing three starters as they suffered their first setback of the season. Terrence Jones (leg) missed his third straight game, Patrick Beverley (hamstring) has been held out of four of five and Dwight Howard was a late scratch with flu-like symptoms.


Final Score: Milwaukee 93, Memphis 92

Brandon Knight’s 3-point play with just 1.1 seconds remaining sent the Memphis Grizzlies to their first loss of the season, a 93-92 setback to the Milwaukee Bucks at the Bradley Center. Knight finished with 14 points and six assists and Giannis Antetokounmpo tallied 18 key points off the bench for the Bucks, who rallied from a 10-point third- quarter deficit to halt a two-game losing streak. Zach Randolph amassed 22 points and 14 rebounds in Memphis’ first defeat after a franchise-best 6-0 start. Marc Gasol added 18 points, but the Grizzlies shot a poor 35.4 percent as a team on the evening.


Final Score: New Orleans 100, San Antonio 99

Anthony Davis drove past Aron Baynes for the go-ahead layup with 6.6 seconds remaining, as the New Orleans Pelicans pulled out a 100-99 victory over the San Antonio Spurs. Davis had 27 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks for the Pelicans, who have won two straight games. New Orleans, which had lost seven straight at San Antonio, also got 18 points from Tyreke Evans, who came up with a key block on Kawhi Leonard’s 3-point try from the left corner in the closing seconds. Leonard got the ball back, but his shot from the left baseline bounced off the rim as time expired. Jrue Holiday totaled 15 points and 11 assists for New Orleans. Tony Parker scored 28 for the Spurs, who lost to the Pelicans for only the third time in the last 16 meetings. Danny Green scored 16, and Leonard ended with 14 points and 14 rebounds. Tim Duncan supplied 11 points and 10 boards in San Antonio’s second straight loss.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  NHL Game Results

(Saturday, November 08)


Final Score: Calgary 6, Florida 4

Johnny Gaudreau and Mark Giordano each posted a goal and two assists, as Calgary scored three times in the third period to claim a 6-4 victory over Florida on Saturday. Lance Bouma provided the go-ahead goal for the Flames, who also received tallies from David Jones, Jiri Hudler and Sean Monahan to win for the fourth time in their last five contests. Jonas Hiller earned the win in relief by stopping all nine shots he faced. Karri Ramo was pulled in the second period after giving up four goals on 22 shots. Scottie Upshall registered two goals and one assist for the Panthers, who tied a season-high by losing three straight games. Jimmy Hayes and Nick Bjugstad added offense, while Aaron Ekblad picked up two helpers. Al Montoya was on the hook for five goals on 24 shots in defeat.


Final Score: Pittsburgh 6, Buffalo 1

With the holiday season right around the corner, Sidney Crosby got into the giving spirit Saturday night. Crosby had five assists in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ 6-1 rout of the Buffalo Sabres, extending his league-best totals to 17 helpers and 24 points. The captain of the Penguins now has a 19-game point streak against the Sabres, upping his ledger to 10 goals and 26 assists in those contests. Kris Letang added two goals and two assists for Pittsburgh, which has won seven in a row for the first time since Dec. 9-21 of last season. Patric Hornqvist had two goals and an assist. Marc-Andre Fleury made 20 saves for the Penguins, who have won five consecutive games against the Sabres, outscoring them 23-3 in that stretch. That includes a 5-0 win Nov. 1 in Pittsburgh. Zemgus Girgensons scored the lone goal for Buffalo, which has lost three in a row. Jhonas Enroth stopped 33-of-39 shots in defeat.


Final Score: Toronto 5, NY Rangers 4

Leo Komarov scored the go-ahead goal with 5:34 remaining in the third period to boost the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 5-4 victory over the New York Rangers. Richard Panik, Peter Holland, Roman Polak and Phil Kessel also lit the lamp for the Maple Leafs, who snapped a two- game skid. Jonathan Bernier made 31 saves in the win. Chris Kreider and Mats Zuccarello each had a goal and an assist for the Rangers. Rick Nash and Carl Hagelin also scored for New York, which is 1-1-2 in its last four contests. Cam Talbot turned aside 26 shots in defeat.


Final Score: Montreal 4, Minnesota 1

Jiri Sekac and Lars Eller each had a goal and an assist to lead the Montreal Canadiens to a 4-1 win over the Minnesota Wild. Brendan Gallagher and Max Pacioretty each had a goal for the Canadiens, who have won two straight following a three-game skid. Carey Price stopped 30 shots in the win. Jason Pominville had the only goal of the game for the Wild, who have dropped three straight. Darcy Kuemper was charged with all four goals on 31 shots.


Final Score: Winnipeg 2, Ottawa 1 (SO)

Matthew Perreault scored in the sixth round of the shootout to lift the Winnipeg Jets to a 2-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Saturday. After Colin Greening’s backhander was stopped in tight by Ondrej Pavelec, Perreault, the 12th and final shooter, skated slowly up the slot and wristed a shot past Craig Anderson on the blocker side for the win. Tobias Enstrom scored Winnipeg’s lone goal in regulation and Pavelec made 37 saves for the Jets, who bounced back from a 4-3 shootout loss to Pittsburgh on Thursday. The Jets have registered at least a point eight straight games (6-0-2) and have not lost in regulation since a 4-2 loss to Tampa Bay on Oct. 24. Chris Neil tallied a power-play goal and Anderson turned aside 36 shots for Ottawa, which had a two-game winning streak come to an end.


Final Score: Philadelphia 4, Colorado 3

Claude Giroux picked up a pair of goals and Jakub Voracek added three assists, as the Philadelphia Flyers gutted out a 4-3 decision over the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday. Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn also lit the lamp for the Flyers, who won their fifth consecutive home contest despite nearly wasting a 4-0 lead. Steve Mason allowed three goals in the third, but ended up with the win by making 36 saves. Max Talbot, Alex Tanguay and Zach Redmond registered one score each for the Avalanche, who opened up a road trip by losing for the fourth time in their last five overall. Reto Berra made 23 stops in the setback, Colorado’s sixth straight away from home.


Final Score: Tampa Bay 7, Columbus 4

The Tampa Bay Lightning used a great start and six different goal scorers to extend their winning streak with a 7-4 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Lightning have recorded 27 goals on their five-game run and saw 15 players record at least one point on Saturday. Tyler Johnson scored two goals, Ryan Callahan posted a goal and two assists, and Evgeni Nabokov made 28 saves to pick up his second win of the season. Scott Hartnell scored two goals for the second straight night for the Blue Jackets, who are 0-7-1 over their last eight games—their worst stretch since starting the 2011-12 season with the same record. Anton Forsberg was overmatched in his second career start and was pulled after giving up four goals on 15 shots in the opening period. Curtis McElhinney stopped 20-of-22 shots in relief.


Final Score: Washington 4, Carolina 3 (OT)

Nicklas Backstrom netted the winning score with 14 seconds remaining in overtime, giving Washington a 4-3 decision over Carolina at Verizon Center. Alexander Ovechkin carried the puck over the blue line from the right wing and uncorked a long shot which Anton Khudobin kicked away, but Backstrom was alone on the left wing to shuttle the rebound home to end the contest. Troy Brouwer, Jay Beagle and Eric Fehr also lit the lamp for the Capitals, while Justin Peters contributed 24 stops in the club’s second straight win. Riley Nash, Eric Staal and Elias Lindholm tallied for the Hurricanes, whose four-game win streak came to a halt. Khudobin finished with 35 saves.


Final Score: Nashville 2, St. Louis 1

James Neal scored the winning goal with 6:28 to play as the Nashville Predators edged the St. Louis Blues, 2-1, on Saturday. Filip Forsberg posted a goal and an assist, as did Neal, while Pekka Rinne made 28 stops for the Predators, who have won three of four. Jori Lehtera scored the only goal of the game for the Blues, who had a seven-game winning streak broken. Brian Elliott stopped 33 shots in the loss.


Final Score: San Jose 5, Dallas 3

Brent Burns scored two of San Jose’s four third-period goals as the Sharks rallied past the Dallas Stars, 5-3. Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton also lit the lamp in the third stanza for the Sharks, who started a seven-game road trip on Saturday. James Sheppard added one goal and an assist. Alex Stalock made 37 saves for San Jose. Tyler Seguin recorded a hat trick for the Stars, who have lost seven in a row (0-5-2). Anders Lindback stopped 24-of-28 shots.


Final Score: NY Islanders 1, Arizona 0

Frans Nielsen’s goal with 2:31 left in regulation lifted the New York Islanders to a 1-0 victory over the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday. Jaroslav Halak made 19 saves for his first shutout of the season. Mikhail Grabovski and Thomas Hickey each registered an assist for the Islanders, who have won three straight games and finished a five-game road trip at 3-2-0. Mike Smith stopped 31-of-32 shots for Arizona, which entered the game with a three straight wins.


Final Score: Los Angeles 5, Vancouver 1

Tyler Toffoli posted a goal and two assists as the Los Angeles Kings downed the Vancouver Canucks, 5-1, on Saturday. Jake Muzzin, Anze Kopitar, Marian Gaborik and Jeff Carter each added a goal and an assist for the Kings, who had lost five of six coming in. Jonathan Quick stopped 18 shots in the win. Chris Higgins scored the only goal of the game for the Canucks, who had won six of seven. Ryan Miller allowed four goals on 22 shots in two periods, while Eddie Lack allowed a goal on 14 shots in the third period.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  This Week in Auto Racing November 07 - 09

All three of NASCAR’s national touring series are running at Phoenix International Raceway this weekend, culminating with Sunday’s elimination race in the Eliminator Round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.

NASCAR

Sprint Cup Series

Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 - Phoenix Int’l Raceway - Avondale, Arizona

The elimination race in the Eliminator Round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship takes place this Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway.

Phoenix, a flat 1-mile racetrack, will decide which four drivers will battle for the Sprint Cup Series championship in the November 16 season-ending race at Homestead.

None of the eight drivers who are currently in championship contention won at either Martinsville (October 26) or Texas (last Sunday). That means at least three of the four positions for Homestead will be determined by points. If none of the title contenders wins at Phoenix, then all four will be decided by points.

Entering Sunday’s race at Phoenix, Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin are tied in points (4,072 each), while Ryan Newman is just two points behind them.

Logano and Hamlin can both clinch a final four spot for Homestead with finishes of 11th or better, 12th with at least one lap led or 13th with the most laps led. Newman’s clinching scenario is finishing ninth or better, 10th with one lap led or 11th with the most laps led.

When the series most recently competed at Phoenix in March, Logano finished fourth, Newman seventh and Hamlin 19th.

“Basically, we want to do what we did here in the spring,“ Logano said. “We had a good car that started up front and led some laps. We were able to have a solid day and finish fourth. All we have to do is finish 11th, but our goal is to come out here and win the race. If our goal was only 11th, we may not finish there, so we have to make sure we set our goals high like we’ve been doing for the rest of the season.“

Jeff Gordon is presently fourth in the Chase point standings (-12), while fifth-place Matt Kenseth and sixth-place Carl Edwards are both only one point behind Gordon. Brad Keselowski is seventh in the rankings (-17), followed by Kevin Harvick (-18).

Harvick has the most victories in the series at Phoenix with five. He has won three of the last four races here, including the previous two. Harvick is also the only driver with a season-sweep at this track (2006).

Can he get another season-sweep here?

Harvick finished 33rd at Martinsville and fell 33 points behind the leader, but he bounced back nicely with a second-place run at Texas.

“We’re excited,“ Harvick said. “I think last week was a little bit unexpected just for the fact that we made up a lot more ground than I think we anticipated going in (to Texas). Came up a little bit short on the win, but we couldn’t pick a better racetrack for us to come to next and need to try and win a race. The team is in good spirits, and we are looking forward to this weekend’s challenges.“

In Friday’s lone Sprint Cup practice at Phoenix, Harvick had the quickest lap at 141.521 mph.

“I think you need to win this weekend,“ he said. “I think it would leave a lot less in everybody else’s hands. I think we are very capable of winning this race, and we have been fortunate to have a lot of success here in the past from my driving side and the first race this year. That would be the easiest way to do it.“

Gordon came to Texas as the points leader and appeared to be on his way to victory there when he held the lead late in the race, but Gordon suffered a flat tire and spun out after Keselowski bumped into him while battling for position following the restart for the first of two green-white-checkered finishes. Gordon ended up finishing one lap down in 29th, while Keselowski placed third.

After the race, Gordon had heated words with Keselowski on pit road while crew members from both of their teams were engaged in a shoving match. Then Harvick approached Keselowski from behind and pushed him. It sparked a huge brawl with plenty of punches being thrown. Harvick was also irritated with Keselowski for his actions on the track.

Both Gordon and Keselowski suffered cuts and bruises to their faces and lips during the altercation.

On Tuesday, NASCAR suspended and fined three crew members from Gordon’s No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team and one member from Kasey Kahne’s No. 5 Hendrick team for their involvement in the physical altercation. Gordon, Harvick and Keselowski were not penalized.

“The thing that I feel terrible about is getting my guys involved with it,“ Gordon said. “I feel like if we could have just had a face-to-face (conversation), there would have been no incident.

“Kevin played a role. There’s no doubt about that. I didn’t realize who it was at the time. I thought it was him, but it wasn’t until I went back and saw it later on video. I got a good chuckle out of that one.“

Gordon, at age 43, is attempting to win his fifth championship in the series but his first since 2001. He finished fifth at Phoenix earlier this year.

“We did have a good run here earlier in the year, and we had a good test here a couple of weeks ago,“ he said. “I feel like we had a lot of confidence coming out of that test, and in practice (Friday), the track was reacting different than what we had expected. It’s not going to be easy. This team doesn’t seem to like to do anything the easy way, but we’re highly motivated and excited about our chances.“

For the second time in this Chase, Keselowski is on the verge of being eliminated from the championship. During the Contender Round, the No. 2 Team Penske Ford driver and 2012 Sprint Cup champion finished 36th at Kansas and then 16th at Charlotte before winning the Talladega race, which automatically advanced him into the Eliminator Round.

Keselowski began the Eliminator Round with a 31st-place finish at Martinsville. He leads the series with six wins this season.

“If this team is in the race, then we are more than capable of winning,“ Keselowski said. “We’ve demonstrated all year long that we can contend for wins and that we are a viable threat to win every weekend…We are going into the Phoenix race with our heads up, our hearts pure and our eyes focused. It’s going to be fun.“

Keselowski started on the pole and finished third in the spring race at Phoenix.

Forty-four teams are on the entry list for the Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500.

Nationwide Series

DAV 200 Honoring America’s Veterans - Phoenix Int’l Raceway - Avondale, Ariz.

Chase Elliott could make NASCAR history this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway.

Elliott, the 18-year old son of former NASCAR Cup Series champion Bill Elliott, is on the verge of clinching the driver’s championship in the Nationwide Series. He enters Saturday’s 200-mile race at Phoenix—the penultimate event of the season—with a 48-point lead over second-place and JR Motorsports teammate Regan Smith.

If Elliott, a rookie this season, leaves Phoenix with a 48-point lead or higher, he will clinch the championship, regardless of any other driver’s performance at either Phoenix or the November 15 season-finale at Homestead.

Last Saturday, Elliott finished fourth at Texas and added six points to his lead.

He is set to become the first driver in NASCAR national touring series history to claim a series title and rookie-of-the-year honors in the same season.

The Elliotts (Bill and Chase) are destined to become the fourth father/son combo to win NASCAR national series championships, joining the Jarretts (Ned and Dale), Pettys (Lee and Richard) and Earnhardts (Dale and Dale Jr.).

“It would be phenomenal,“ Chase Elliott said of his opportunity to win the Nationwide Series championship this year. “It would mean the world to me, and not just me, but our team and our sponsors, NAPA, and everybody that makes it happen. We’ll give it our best shot to do so.

“We’d still like to have another win or two before the year is out, so that’s our main goal. The biggest thing about the points, I think, is keeping it as simple as knowing you get the most points for finishing highest up at the end of the day. I think that’s about as simple and as much as you need to worry about it.“

Elliott drives the No. 9 Chevrolet for JRM, a Nationwide team co-owned by Sprint Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., his sister, Kelley Earnhardt Miller, and NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick.

Forty-one teams are on the entry list for the DAV 200 Honoring America’s Veterans. Alex Bowman, Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski and Kyle Larson are those Sprint Cup regulars scheduled to compete in this race. Busch has won the last three Nationwide events at Phoenix.

Camping World Truck Series

Lucas Oil 150 - Phoenix Int’l Raceway - Avondale, Arizona

The Camping World Truck Series will kick off NASCAR’s tripleheader weekend at Phoenix International Raceway on Friday night.

When the series competed at this flat 1-mile track one year ago, Erik Jones made NASCAR history by becoming the youngest driver to win a national touring series race. Jones was 17 years, 5 months and 9 days old when he took the checkered flag for the 150-mile event here.

In September, 16-year-old Cole Custer surpassed Jones’ record when he won the Truck Series race at New Hampshire.

Jones is in his second season as part-time driver of the No. 51 Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports. His first win in the series last year came in just his fifth start.

“That’s a memory that I don’t think will ever fade away for me, coming here and just picking up our first win in the Truck Series,“ Jones said. “We ran five races that year, and to pick up a win in one of those five starts was a goal I had set for myself. It was a tall order really the whole year. To get it done and to pick up a win was pretty special. It really helped the 51 (team) pounce towards an owner’s championship too.“

On Thursday, Kyle Busch Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing jointly announced that Jones will compete full time for KBM in the Truck Series and run a partial schedule for JGR in the Xfinity (now known as Nationwide) Series.

Ryan “Rudy” Fugle will serve as Jones’ crew chief in trucks next year, but his entry number and team sponsor in that series have yet to be decided.

This season, Jones has scored two wins (Iowa and Las Vegas) and seven top-10 finishes as well as one pole (Eldora) in 11 truck starts. He also made his first two career Nationwide starts this year, driving the No. 20 JGR Toyota to a seventh-place finish at Chicagoland in July and then an eighth-place run at Bristol the following month.

“We’ve been working hard over the past probably three months now to get this deal done, and it’s finally come together to where I’ll be in the full season next year for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the Truck Series as well as Joe Gibbs Racing for some Nationwide races too,“ Jones said. “Definitely an exciting year ahead for me.

“I felt like it was coming, but we all worked hard for it and to finally have it come together and get to run a full season in one of the NASCAR series is pretty special for me. Happy to see it all come together and really looking forward to it.“

Last weekend, Kyle Busch drove the No. 51 to victory at Texas. It was the ninth win for the team this season. The No. 51 currently holds a 12-point lead over ThorSport Racing’s No. 88 team, with driver Matt Crafton, in the owner’s standings.

With just two races to go, Crafton, the defending series champion, has a 23- point advantage over second-place Ryan Blaney. The season will conclude on November 14 at Homestead.

Thirty-four teams are on the entry list for the Lucas Oil 150.


►  Deciding the Chase final four at Phoenix


The elimination race in the Eliminator Round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship takes place this Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway.

Phoenix, a flat 1-mile racetrack, will decide which four drivers will battle for the Sprint Cup Series championship in the November 16 season-ending race at Homestead.

None of the eight drivers who are currently in championship contention won at either Martinsville (October 26) or Texas (last Sunday). That means at least three of the four positions for Homestead will be determined by points. If none of the title contenders wins at Phoenix, then all four will be decided by points.

Entering Sunday’s race at Phoenix, Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin are tied in points (4,072 each), while Ryan Newman is just two points behind them.

Logano and Hamlin can both clinch a final four spot for Homestead with finishes of 11th or better, 12th with at least one lap led or 13th with the most laps led. Newman’s clinching scenario is finishing ninth or better, 10th with one lap led or 11th with the most laps led.

When the series most recently competed at Phoenix in March, Logano finished fourth, Newman seventh and Hamlin 19th.

“Basically, we want to do what we did here in the spring,“ Logano said. “We had a good car that started up front and led some laps. We were able to have a solid day and finish fourth. All we have to do is finish 11th, but our goal is to come out here and win the race. If our goal was only 11th, we may not finish there, so we have to make sure we set our goals high like we’ve been doing for the rest of the season.“

Jeff Gordon is presently fourth in the Chase point standings (-12), while fifth-place Matt Kenseth and sixth-place Carl Edwards are both only one point behind Gordon. Brad Keselowski is seventh in the rankings (-17), followed by Kevin Harvick (-18).

Harvick has the most victories in the series at Phoenix with five. He has won three of the last four races here, including the previous two. Harvick is also the only driver with a season-sweep at this track (2006).

Can he get another season-sweep here?

Harvick finished 33rd at Martinsville and fell 33 points behind the leader, but he bounced back nicely with a second-place run at Texas.

“We’re excited,“ Harvick said. “I think last week was a little bit unexpected just for the fact that we made up a lot more ground than I think we anticipated going in (to Texas). Came up a little bit short on the win, but we couldn’t pick a better racetrack for us to come to next and need to try and win a race. The team is in good spirits, and we are looking forward to this weekend’s challenges.“

In Friday’s lone Sprint Cup practice at Phoenix, Harvick had the quickest lap at 141.521 mph.

“I think you need to win this weekend,“ he said. “I think it would leave a lot less in everybody else’s hands. I think we are very capable of winning this race, and we have been fortunate to have a lot of success here in the past from my driving side and the first race this year. That would be the easiest way to do it.“

Gordon came to Texas as the points leader and appeared to be on his way to victory there when he held the lead late in the race, but Gordon suffered a flat tire and spun out after Keselowski bumped into him while battling for position following the restart for the first of two green-white-checkered finishes. Gordon ended up finishing one lap down in 29th, while Keselowski placed third.

After the race, Gordon had heated words with Keselowski on pit road while crew members from both of their teams were engaged in a shoving match. Then Harvick approached Keselowski from behind and pushed him. It sparked a huge brawl with plenty of punches being thrown. Harvick was also irritated with Keselowski for his actions on the track.

Both Gordon and Keselowski suffered cuts and bruises to their faces and lips during the altercation.

On Tuesday, NASCAR suspended and fined three crew members from Gordon’s No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team and one member from Kasey Kahne’s No. 5 Hendrick team for their involvement in the physical altercation. Gordon, Harvick and Keselowski were not penalized.

“The thing that I feel terrible about is getting my guys involved with it,“ Gordon said. “I feel like if we could have just had a face-to-face (conversation), there would have been no incident.

“Kevin played a role. There’s no doubt about that. I didn’t realize who it was at the time. I thought it was him, but it wasn’t until I went back and saw it later on video. I got a good chuckle out of that one.“

Gordon, at age 43, is attempting to win his fifth championship in the series but his first since 2001. He finished fifth at Phoenix earlier this year.

“We did have a good run here earlier in the year, and we had a good test here a couple of weeks ago,“ he said. “I feel like we had a lot of confidence coming out of that test, and in practice (Friday), the track was reacting different than what we had expected. It’s not going to be easy. This team doesn’t seem to like to do anything the easy way, but we’re highly motivated and excited about our chances.“

For the second time in this Chase, Keselowski is on the verge of being eliminated from the championship. During the Contender Round, the No. 2 Team Penske Ford driver and 2012 Sprint Cup champion finished 36th at Kansas and then 16th at Charlotte before winning the Talladega race, which automatically advanced him into the Eliminator Round.

Keselowski began the Eliminator Round with a 31st-place finish at Martinsville. He leads the series with six wins this season.

“If this team is in the race, then we are more than capable of winning,“ Keselowski said. “We’ve demonstrated all year long that we can contend for wins and that we are a viable threat to win every weekend…We are going into the Phoenix race with our heads up, our hearts pure and our eyes focused. It’s going to be fun.“

Keselowski started on the pole and finished third in the spring race at Phoenix.

Forty-four teams are on the entry list for the Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500.

Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup. Date: Sunday, November 09. Race: Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500. Site: Phoenix International Raceway. Track: 1-mile oval. Start time: 3 PM ET. Laps: 312. Miles: 312. 2013 Winner: Kevin Harvick. Television: ESPN. Radio: Motor Racing Network (MRN)/SIRIUS NASCAR Radio.


►  Hamlin claims pole for Chase elimination race at Phoenix

Denny Hamlin will start on the pole for the Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500—the elimination race in the Eliminator Round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship—after topping the charts in Friday’s qualifying at Phoenix International Raceway.

Hamlin, who is one of the eight drivers remaining in the Chase, posted a lap at 142.113 mph for his third pole of the season and the 20th of his Sprint Cup Series career. It’s also his second pole in 19 races at Phoenix. He has one victory in the series at this flat 1-mile track (March 2012).

“I hit my marks perfectly, and the adjustments just kept getting better and better,“ said Hamlin, the driver of the No. 11 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing. “(Crew chief) Darian (Grubb) and the whole FedEx (sponsor) team kept making my Camry better. That allowed me to drive harder and harder. That’s a big surprise.“

Phoenix will decide which four drivers will battle for the Sprint Cup championship in the November 16 season-ending race at Homestead.

None of the title contenders won at either Martinsville (October 26) or Texas (last Sunday). That means at least three of the four positions for Homestead will be determined by points. If none of them wins at Phoenix, then all four will be decided by points.

Just 18 points separate the eight drivers heading into Sunday’s 312-mile race at Phoenix. Joey Logano and Hamlin share the points lead.

“A day like (Friday) just gives you a huge momentum boost going into not only Sunday, but tomorrow (Saturday’s final practice),“ Hamlin said. “We know what my pit crew can do, and now we give them the number-one pit stall - a lot of big bonuses there that gets included with getting this pole. Not only that, but it also shows us that our car has got some speed.“

Brad Keselowski, currently seventh in Chase points (-17), will start alongside Hamlin on the front row after making a lap at 142.079 mph. When the series raced here in March, Keselowski started on the pole and finished third.

“We just missed it I guess by a couple thousandths of a second,“ Keselowski said. “We were close but was just a little bit off. Either way, it’s a good start. We like that, and we’ve got to make the most of it come Sunday.“

Kevin Harvick, a record five-time race winner at Phoenix, qualified third at 141.995 mph. Harvick recorded the fastest lap in practice here earlier in the day. He has won the last two races at this track.

“I just missed it by a little bit, but our Budweiser Chevrolet is really good in race trim,“ Harvick said. “We have to keep tweaking on it tomorrow (in practice).“

Harvick is eighth in points (-18).

Logano will start fourth. In the first of the two qualifying rounds here, Logano set a new track record with a lap at 142.141 mph. The previous record at Phoenix was 139.384 mph, set by his Team Penske teammate, Keselowski, earlier this year.

“It’s a decent place to start,“ Logano said. “We know what we have to do, but this is the second time we came here and set a track record but didn’t start first. We’re good at that this year. We’re good at going fast in the first round and then it’s something we’re missing in the second round. We don’t carry the speed over as well as others do, so we’ll figure it out.“

Matt Kenseth, who is fifth in the Chase standings (-13), qualified fifth, followed by Kyle Busch, his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, and Jeff Gordon, who is fourth in points (-12).

Finishing eighth through 12th in the final round of qualifying were: rookie Kyle Larson, Brian Vickers, Kurt Busch, Paul Menard and Casey Mears.

The remaining Chase drivers and their starting positions are Carl Edwards (13th) and Ryan Newman (20th).

Newman is just two points behind Logano and Hamlin, while Edwards trails the leaders by 13.

Clay Rogers was the only driver who failed to qualify for the race.


►  Jones wins Phoenix truck race, Crafton adds to points lead

Erik Jones put on a dominating performance but benefited from a power outage with 24 laps remaining to win Friday’s Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix International Raceway.

The start of the 150-lap truck race at this 1-mile oval was delayed more than an hour due to an outage at the track and the surrounding areas. The track’s lights went out. The lighting system was knocked out again on lap 126, forcing the seventh and final caution. NASCAR officials called the race shortly after.

Jones, who is driving the No. 51 Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports in a partial schedule this season, started on the pole and led 114 of 126 laps. His KBM teammate, Darrell Wallace Jr., led the other 12 laps, which occurred during a round of green-flag pit stops in the late going.

The 18-year-old Jones scored his third win in his 12th truck start this season. One year ago, he became the youngest driver to win a NASCAR national touring series race by taking the checkered flag for the truck event at Phoenix, doing so at age 17 years, 5 months and 9 days.

“It’s pretty cool to pick up another win here at Phoenix, and it’s definitely a great way to top off the year for me in this truck,“ Jones said. “I wish we could have raced 24 more laps. I felt like we definitely had a dominant truck, and we could have brought it home.“

In September, 16-year-old Cole Custer surpassed Jones’ record when he won the truck race at New Hampshire.

Jones also gave KBM its record 13th victory in the Truck Series this season. Kyle Busch has won seven races in the No. 51, while Jones and Wallace have three victories each. Wallace is in his second full season driving the No. 54 for the team.

“It’s awesome to break the truck record, 13 wins in a season,“ Jones said. “Cool to be the one who got to do that.“

On Thursday, KBM and Joe Gibbs Racing jointly announced that Jones will compete full time for KBM in the Truck Series and run a partial schedule for JGR in the Xfinity (now known as Nationwide) Series.

Ryan “Rudy” Fugle will serve as Jones’ crew chief in trucks next year, but his entry number and team sponsor in that series have yet to be decided.

Matt Crafton’s second-place finish coupled with a fourth-place run for Ryan Blaney allowed Crafton to widen his points lead to 25 over Blaney. The series will conclude its season next Friday at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

“It’s a damn shame that the lights went out,“ Crafton said. “I guarantee it was going to be exciting on the next restart.“

Blaney was one of many drivers who was disappointed that NASCAR called the race short of its scheduled distance.

“I would have liked to race the last (24) laps,“ Blaney said. “I’m not sure why we called it. We were going to restart in a pretty good lane. I thought we could have at least got to second. We were that good. So I don’t know why we called it.“

All Crafton needs to do is finish 21st or better at Homestead, and he will become the first driver in the 20-year history of the series to win consecutive championships.

Custer finished third, while Ben Rhodes placed fifth.

Wallace, John H. Nemechek, Austin Dillon, the only Sprint Cup Series regular who competed in this race, Johnny Sauter and Tyler Reddick completed the top-10.

In addition to the power outages, this race featured numerous wrecks, including a four-truck incident on the opening lap. After the green flag had waved, John Wes Townley, German Quiroga and Justin Jennings piled up. Track cleanup was extensive, forcing 17 laps of caution.

Then on lap 27, Timothy Peters, Jeb Burton and Spencer Gallagher were involved in an accident in turn 3.


►  F1 title fight between Hamilton, Rosberg continues in Brazil

One week after running the United States Grand Prix in Austin, Formula One is in South America for the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Sunday’s Brazilian GP in Sao Paulo is the penultimate race of the season. F1 has been competing at this 2.677-mile (4.3-kilometer), 15-turn Interlagos circuit each year since 1990.

After winning his fifth consecutive grand prix this past Sunday, Lewis Hamilton holds a 24-point lead over teammate and championship rival Nico Rosberg.

The 2014 F1 season concludes with the November 23 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, a race that will award double the amount of points. The winner of the Brazilian GP will receive 25 points, while the winner of the Abu Dhabi will collect 50.

Hamilton is attempting to win his second F1 world championship.

“I do not come to the last two races with a particular game plan,“ Hamilton said. “I come to this race (Brazilian GP) with the same approach as the last few races, or even the whole season. I want to win a championship by winning races, and not necessarily by finishing fifth or whatever other result. It is probably the most intense part of the season right now.“

In 2008 while driving for McLaren, Hamilton finished fifth in the season- ending Brazilian GP and clinched his first title by only one point over Felipe Massa, who drove for Ferrari at the time. Massa, a Brazilian, won his home race that year.

On Friday, Rosberg led the way in both practice sessions for the Brazilian GP. He topped the charts in P1 with a lap in 1 minute, 12.764 seconds and again in P2 (1:12.123). Rain is in the forecast for Saturday’s qualifying session here.

“That was a good day, and we are very quick again at this circuit,“ Rosberg said. “The track has a new surface, which made it quite tricky. It’s smooth and not quite so bumpy, as it has been in the past. But the tires were blistering because of the high temperatures and the new asphalt. That was a bit worrying. We are expecting it to be a bit cooler over the weekend. I’m looking forward to tomorrow. It should be a great battle.“

Hamilton’s best lap in P1 was 0.221 seconds behind Rosberg. He trailed Rosberg by 0.213 seconds in P2.

“The car felt good today,“ Hamilton said. “There are a few improvements we can make, but I just didn’t manage to put a lap together out there. That’s not a big issue, though. It’s just practice, so that’s what we’re out there trying to do.“

Series: Formula One. Date: Sunday, November 09. Race: Brazilian Grand Prix. Site: Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace in Interlagos. Track: 2.677-mile (4.309-kilometer), 15-turn road course. Start Time: 11 AM ET. Laps: 71. Miles: 190.067 (305.909 km). 2013 Winner: Sebastian Vettel. Television: NBC.

The Gilmer Free Press


SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 09, 2014


National Football League
Tennessee at Baltimore, 1:00 PM - CBS, DSS (705)
Kansas City at Buffalo, 1:00 PM - CBS, DSS (706)
Miami at Detroit, 1:00 PM - CBS, DSS (707)
Pittsburgh at NY Jets, 1:00 PM - CBS, DSS (708)
Dallas at Jacksonville, 1:00 PM - FOX, DSS (709)
San Francisco at New Orleans, 1:00 PM - FOX, DSS (710)
Atlanta at Tampa Bay, 1:00 PM - FOX, DSS (711)
Denver at Oakland, 4:05 PM - CBS, DSS (712)
St. Louis at Arizona, 4:25 PM - FOX, DSS (713)
NY Giants at Seattle, 4:25 PM - FOX, DSS (714)
Chicago at Green Bay, 8:30 PM - NBC


National Basketball Association
Orlando at Brooklyn, 3:30 PM - FS-Florida, YES, DSS
Utah at Detroit, 6:00 PM - ROOT-Northwest, FS-Detroit, DSS
Sacramento at Oklahoma City, 7:00 PM - CSN-California, FS-Oklahoma, DSS
Philadelphia at Toronto, 7:00 PM - CSN-Philadelphia, SunSports, DSS
Miami at Dallas, 7:30 PM - SunSports, FS-Southwest, NBA TV, DSS
Golden State at Phoenix, 8:00 PM - CSN-Bay, FS-Arizona, DSS
Denver at Portland, 9:00 PM - Altitude, CSN-Northwest, DSS
Charlotte at LA Lakers, 9:30 PM - SportSouth, Time Warner, DSS


National Hockey League
Toronto at Ottawa, 6:00 PM - TVA Sports, SNET, DSS
Edmonton at NY Rangers, 6:00 PM - SNET-West, MSG, NHL Network, DSS
Tampa Bay at Detroit, 6:00 PM - SunSports, FS-Detroit+, DSS
San Jose at Chicago, 7:00 PM - CSN-California, WGN, TVA Sports, DSS
Vancouver at Anaheim, 9:00 PM - City TV, FS-Prime Ticket, DSS


College Hockey
Notre Dame at Minnesota, 5:00 PM - ESPN U


Major League Soccer - Playoffs
Columbus at New England, 5:00 PM - ESPN 2
Real Salt Lake at Los Angeles, 7:30 PM - ESPN 2


International Soccer
Sunderland vs. Everton, 8:30 PM - NBCSN
Juventus FC vs. Parma FC, 8:55 AM - beIN Sport
Swansea City vs. Arsenal, 11:00 AM - NBCSN
ACF Fiorentina vs. SSC Napoli, 11:55 AM - beIN Sport
Paris Saint-Germain FC vs. Olympique de Marseille, 2:55 PM - beIN Sport


Golf
PGA - Sanderson Farms Championship, 2:00 PM - Golf Channel


Tennis
ATP World Tour Finals, 7:00 AM-11:00 AM - Tennis Channel
ATP World Tour Finals, 1:00 PM-5:00 PM - Tennis Channel


Auto Racing
FORMULA ONE - Brazilian Grand Prix, 11:00 AM - CNBC
SPRINT CUP - Quicken Loans 500, 3:00 PM - ESPN

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