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The Gilmer Free Press


The Gilmer Free Press

►  Expect Sherman on Sunday

When it comes to Richard Sherman and playing in the Super Bowl there is no right or wrong answer unless you are talking about the math itself.

“You’ve gotta time your conception a little better, I would say,“ Jets wide receiver Eric Decker quipped Friday on WFAN Radio.

Sherman’s girlfriend, Ashley Moss, is pregnant and due to give Seattle’s All- Pro cornerback a son in the coming days but if the baby decides to make a break for it early on Sunday, Sherman will be forced to choose between his teammates and his duty as a father.

“I think he’s going to be a disciplined young man and stay in there until after the game,“ Sherman joked on Thursday. “He’s going to do his father his first favor and stay in there for another week or two.“

Sherman’s current quandary signals a sharp generational shift.

Years ago there would have been no discussion—you play if it’s a Week 4 game never mind the Super Bowl but things have changed in today’s society and Seahawks coach Pete Carroll made sure to give his star a wide berth.

“Whenever our players have a personal family issue that comes up, it’s always about the family first,“ Carroll said on Friday morning.

Moss told one television station that Sherman will be suiting up on Sunday no matter what.

“He’s very locked in; football comes first,“ Moss told Seattle’s KING 5.

Sherman has hedged far more, though.

“I’ve thought about the possibility of his coming during the game or coming before the game,“ Sherman said earlier this week. “We have things in place in case that happens. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

“I would not like to miss the birth of my first kid,“ he added. “Hopefully, and God willing, we won’t have to cross that bridge.“

Others don’t think it should be a choice.

“I couldn’t miss (the birth of a child),“ Decker said. “That’s the Super Bowl of my life.“

Decker’s wife, country singer Jessie James Decker, gave birth to their first child last March.

Pro golfer Hunter Mahan famously passed on a chance for a huge pay day when he left the 2013 Canadian Open while leading after his wife went into labor before the final round.

Phil Mickelson was also prepared to leave the 1999 U.S. Open early despite being in the hunt for what would have been his first major tourney win.

Golfers, though, are independent contractors and their decisions aren’t going to impact 52 other men who have fought and clawed through 18 games to play on football’s biggest stage.

“This opportunity is rare in itself and unique in itself,“ Carroll said of playing in the Super Bowl.

And that’s why the easiest prop bet on Super Bowl Sunday is Sherman suiting up for the Seahawks despite a hyperextended elbow and the potential stork visit.

“I guess we’ll have a Super Bowl baby,“ Moss said when asked what will happen if she goes into labor, “and if you see Richard heading for the locker room right after it hits zero in the fourth quarter, don’t be surprised.“



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Area High Schools Boys Basketball Game Results

(Saturday, January 31)


#5 Gilmer County 80     Wirt County 40

#2 Bridgeport 64     #5 Robert C. Byrd 57

#6 Lincoln 74     Frankfort 65

North Marion 65     Webster County 58 (OT)

Tygarts Valley 63     Greenbrier West 48

Weirton Madonna 63     Clay-Battelle 54

St. Marys 59     Meadow Bridge 42


►  Area High Schools Girls Basketball Game Results

(Saturday, January 31)


#7 Charleston Catholic 43     #8 Notre Dame 30

#5 Logan 79     #10 Buckhannon-Upshur 46

Parkersburg South 84     Parkersburg 79

St. Marys 62     Clay-Battelle 52


►  Big Atlantic Classic

Friday’s Results

Game 13 — Wyoming East 72, Oak Hill 42 (girls co-consolation)

Game 14 — Parkersburg South 83, Princeton 76 (boys AAA)

Game 15 — Martinsburg 57, Shady Spring 49 (boys AAA)

Game 16 — Greenbrier East 80, Hampshire 64 (boys AAA)

Game 17 — Woodrow Wilson 56, Washington 36 (boys AAA)


Saturday’s Results


Game 18 — Huntington 95, Oak Hill 19 (girls co-consolation)


Game 19 — Princeton 69, Shady Spring 61, 2 OT (boys AAA co-consolation)


Game 20 — Washington 46, Hampshire 40 (boys AAA co-consolation)


Game 21 — Westside 63, Scott 50 (boys AA championship)


Game 22 — Morgantown 56, Greenbrier East 42 (girls co-championship)


Game 23 — Parkersburg South 53, Martinsburg 52 (boys AAA co-championship)


Game 24 — St. Albans 65, George Washington 44 (girls co-championship)


Game 25 — Greenbrier East 65, Woodrow Wilson 64 (boys AAA co-championship)


►  Shootout at the Big House - At Charleston Civic Center

Monday, February 09

10:00 AM — Man vs. Paden City (boys)

11:30 AM — Liberty Raleigh vs. St. Marys (boys)

1:00 PM — Webster County vs. Petersburg (boys)

2:30 PM — Parkersburg vs. Oak Hill (boys)

4:00 PM — George Washington vs. Hurricane (girls)

5:30 PM — South Charleston vs. Logan (girls)

7:00 PM — Magnolia vs. Valley Fayette (boys)

8:30 PM — Woodrow Wilson vs. Wesley Christian, Ky. (boys)


Tuesday, February 10

10:00 AM — Lincoln County vs. Chapmanville (girls)

11:30 AM — Lincoln County vs. Clay County (boys)

1:00 PM — Chapmanville vs. Williamstown (boys)

2:30 PM — Ravenswood vs. Point Pleasant (boys)

4:00 PM — Nitro vs. Charleston Catholic (boys)

5:30 PM — Parkersburg South vs. Logan (girls)

7:00 PM — Parkersburg South vs. Logan (boys)

8:30 PM — George Washington vs. Perry Central, KY (boys)

10:00 PM — Huntington Prep vs. team TBA (boys)


Wednesday, February 11

10:00 AM — Greater Beckley Christian vs. St. Joseph (girls)

11:30 PM — Greater Beckley Christian vs. St. Joseph (boys)

1:00 PM — Ripley vs. Westside (boys)

2:30 PM — Frankfort vs. East Fairmont (boys)

4:00 PM — Scott vs. Buffalo (boys)

5:30 PM — Wyoming East vs. Robert C. Byrd (boys)

7:00 PM — South Charleston vs. Elkins (boys)

8:30 PM — Parkersburg vs. Spring Valley (girls)



The Gilmer Free Press

►  MEC Men’s Basketball Game Results

(Saturday, January 31)


Glenville State 82, Shepherd 76 | Final Stats

Glenville State got past Shepherd, 82-72, on Saturday at the Butcher Center.

With the game tied at 70-70 with 2:30 to go, the Pioneers (16-4, 12-2) scored the next six points, capped by a Sedric Nady three-pointer that helped GSC pick up the victory. Both teams shot over 50% from the field, and Glenville State hit 12 threes while Shepherd made 11.

GSC’s Dontre Morales scored 30 points on 11-of-15 shooting and pulled down seven rebounds. Nady finished with 20 and Brett Morris scored 12.

Ryan McTavish scored 26 points to lead Shepherd (11-9, 6-8). Austin Cunningham had 18 and Morgan McDonald scored 10 points and had six rebounds.


Wheeling Jesuit 93, West Virginia State 89 | Final Stats

Wheeling Jesuit withstood a late charge from West Virginia State to pick up a 93-89 win over West Virginia State.

The Cardinals (11-7, 7-6) were led by 26 points from Justin Fritts. Eric Seifert scored 18 and Kyle Ritz tallied a double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds as WJU won its fifth-straight.

Markee Mazyck scored a game-high 27 points, 26 of which came in the second half, before fouling out. Damion Harris had 18 points and Dominic Phillips scored 12 as West Virginia State dropped to 3-18 overall and 3-10 in conference play.


Fairmont State 86, West Virginia Wesleyan 76 (OT) | Final Stats

Fairmont State needed overtime to pick up its league-best sixth-straight win, 86-76, over West Virginia Wesleyan at Joe Retton Arena.

After trailing by 14 early in the second half, WVWC battled all the way back to take a 66-63 lead with 1:07 to go after a Garrett Grantham layup. FSU forced overtime as Nick Harney laid it in with seven seconds left.

In the overtime session, Fairmont State hit 10-of-12 free throws and forced WVWC to go just 2-for-10 from the field to secure the victory.

FSU (14-6, 11-3) was led by 25 points and eight rebounds from Harney and 24 points from Jamel Morris. Shammgod Wells had 17 points, five rebounds and five assists.

Tanner McGrew scored 26 points and pulled down 15 rebounds for WVWC (8-12, 6-8). Grantham finished with 19 points and seven assists and Anthony Richards contributed 11.


#10 West Liberty 83, Charleston 65 | Final Stats

C.J. Hester scored 26 points and pulled down 14 rebounds to lead No. 10 West Liberty to an 83-65 win over Charleston on Saturday at Eddie King Gymnasium.

Seger Bonifant scored 17 and Devin Hoehn added 12 as West Liberty improved to 17-2 overall and 12-2 in league play.

Octavius Green came off the bench and scored 19 points to lead UC (14-6, 9-5). Jevonte Hughes contributed 14 points and Chris Evans tallied 11 points and five assists.


Concord 85, Notre Dame 72 | Final Stats

Concord broke a halftime tie by opening the second half on a 27-10 run to claim an 85-72 win over Notre Dame on Saturday at the Carter Center.

Aaron Miller scored 23 points, including 18 in the second half, to lead Concord (13-6, 9-5). Terry Hopewell scored 17 points and pulled down 16 rebounds, and Rob Reed added 17 points. Mike Boyd dished out eight assists to go with eight points.

Notre Dame (10-10, 6-8) was paced by 24 points from Tyree Gaiter. Lawrence DeArmond had 16 points and 10 rebounds, and Will Vorhees scored 16.


Urbana 76, UVa-Wise 64 | Final Stats

Urbana snapped a nine-game losing streak with a 76-64 win over UVa-Wise on Saturday at the Prior Center.

Urbana (5-15, 2-12) shot 48% from the field, committed just 10 turnovers and out-rebounded UVa-Wise, 41-34. Rodney Clark Jr. led a balanced attack for the Blue Knights with 14 points, and Carlas Jackson scored 12. Doug Hilson and Myles Busby each contributed 10 points.

Philip Owens led UVa-Wise (1-18, 0-14) with 21 points. Matt Day registered a double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds.


►  MEC Women’s Basketball Game Results

(Saturday, January 31)


West Virginia State 77, Wheeling Jesuit 74 | Final Stats

A 10-0 run midway through the second half sparked West Virginia State to a 77-74 win over Wheeling Jesuit.

The Yellow Jackets (6-12, 4-9) were led by 23 points and 11 rebounds from Shealyn Shafer. Alexus Hobbs added 16 points and seven rebounds and Aurreshae Hines added 10 points off the bench. WVSU shot 50% from the field and had just 13 turnovers in the game. 

Wheeling Jesuit (11-6, 8-5) had 22 points and five assists from Jaila Bryant in the losing effort. Jaana Motton had 10 points to go with nine rebounds, and Breanna Butler tallied 15.


West Liberty 90, Charleston 83 | Final Stats

West Liberty held off Charleston, 90-83, on Saturday afternoon at Eddie King Gymnasium

The Hilltoppers (13-7, 10-4) had a 10-point advantage at halftime and increased it to 16 points with 15:52 left, but Charleston (15-5, 10-4) fought its way back into the game, eventually drawing even at 72-72 with 5:27 left. WLU regained control of the game by scoring 13 of the game’s next 17 points to take the win.

West Liberty’s Liz Flowers poured in 27 points, and Kailee Howe scored 24 and dished out 11 assists. Hillary Southworth added 17 points for the ‘Toppers.

Kiara Johnson registered a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds. LeAnne Ross finished with 18 points, and Nichole Perry scored 14 of her 16 points in the second half to help spark the comeback.


Glenville State 77, Shepherd 66 | Final Stats

An 11-0 run midway through the second half broke a close game open as Glenville State picked up its fourth-straight win, 77-66, on the road at Shepherd.

Kayla Tibbs led all scorers with 19 points for Glenville State (10-8, 8-6). Keyanna Tate had a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds, and Brittany Jackson contributed 11 points.

Shepherd (13-7, 10-4) was paced by 15 points from Cara Mason. Briana Vaden had 13 points and seven rebounds, and Gabby Flinchum came off the bench to score 12.


Fairmont State 62, West Virginia Wesleyan 53 | Final Stats

Holding a narrow 52-51 with under three minutes left, Hailey Garrett scored eight of Fairmont State’s 10 points in a 10-0 run as the Falcons came away with a 62-53 win over West Virginia Wesleyan.

Garrett finished with 24 points and eight rebounds to lead FSU (16-4, 10-4). Hallie Gunnoe and Emily Lohr each added 14 in the victory.

Mari Stewart scored 21 and Adrian Cunningham finished with 10 points for the Bobcats (2-15, 2-12).


UVa-Wise 75, Urbana 58 | Final Stats

Blair Harding scored 29 points and pulled down 13 rebounds to lead UVa-Wise to a 75-58 win over Urbana on Saturday at the Prior Center.

The Cavs (7-13, 6-8) forced 23 turnovers in the game and out-rebounded the Blue Knights 44-39. Taylor Sandidge scored 15 points and Kayla Carey added 12 for UVa-Wise in the win.

Urbana (1-19, 1-13) was led by 15 points apiece from Kennedy Boggs and Tori Purk. Kate Francisco had 13 points to go with five rebounds and four assists.


Notre Dame 76, Concord 62 | Final Stats

Notre Dame shot 50% from the field and Martha Nagbe went for 26 points to lead the Falcons to a 76-62 win over Concord.

In addition to 26 points, Nagbe had seven rebounds and four assists for NDC (13-7, 9-5). Kelsey Miller had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds and Lexi Hassing chipped in 10 points.

Kylie Molisee had 20 points and Jacqueline Kestner had 11 points and 10 rebounds for Concord (5-13, 5-9).



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Credit the Mountaineers with another 26 turnovers

Coach Tubby Smith hoped Texas Tech might better handle No. 17 West Virginia’s press the second time around.

Instead, the Red Raiders committed 26 turnovers, including 10 during a 6 1/2-minute span of the second half when the Mountaineers seized control on their way to a 77-58 romp Saturday.

“Awful. Just awful,” Smith said. “It was like we never saw it before.”

In fairness to Texas Tech’s flustered ballhandlers, West Virginia (18-3, 6-2 Big 12) has made numerous opponents look awful. The national leaders in steals grabbed 10 more and enjoyed a 33-9 edge in points off turnovers thanks to their tenacious press.

“It’s uncomfortable to play against,” said Bob Huggins. “If you were walking down the street and somebody just got in your face about 3 inches away for a few blocks, would that bother you? No one wants to play against that.”

Devin Williams scored 12 of his 18 points in the second half when West Virginia turned a six-point lead into a blowout. He also grabbed eight rebounds, sharing the team-high with Jonathan Holton.

Daxter Miles added 12 points and point guard Juwan Staten contributed 11 points and five assists as the Mountaineers surpassed last season’s win total before the end of January.

West Virginia opened the second half on a 16-2 run lined with transition layups and dunks fed by a flurry of turnovers. During one sequence Texas Tech coughed up the ball on five of seven possessions.

“We got inside their heads,” Miles said. “I heard them telling other players to come get the ball.”

Added Staten: “At halftime we talked about if you have a team down, you’ve got to put them away.”

Pressing company: Riddled by 22 turnovers earlier this month during a loss to West Virginia in Lubbock, Texas Tech (11-11, 1-8) aimed to be stronger and smarter with the basketball in the rematch. But the mistakes simply repeated themselves, with six Red Raiders committing at least three turnovers.

“We were overwhelmed by West Virginia’s pressure,” Smith said. “They stay after you. It reminds me of a team Billy Donovan had at Florida and some of the teams Rick Pitino coached at Louisville. They’re always attacking.”

From hot hand to forgotten man: Texas Tech guard Robert Turner scored 18 first-half points, keeping the deficit to 37-31, but was shut out during the final 20 minutes, smothered by the defense of WVU’s Gary Browne.

“We put Gary on him and said don’t let him catch it,” Huggins said.

After nearly matching his season-high of 19 points during the first half, Turner was 0-of-2 shooting after that in an additional 10 minutes.

Forward Aaron Ross scored 13 and Isaiah Manderson added 10 for Texas Tech, which was held to 16 fewer shot attempts overall and trailed by 21 points in the second half.

Browne finished with 10 for West Virginia, which led wire-to-wire and shot an atypical 51% in the second half.

Scuffling: After West Virginia ran off 12 unanswered to build a 30-14 lead, Turner was sent sprawling on a breakaway layup by Mountaineers forward Brandon Watkins. That led to a scuffle after which Texas Tech center Norense Odiase was ejected.

Along with Odiase’s technical, Ross was assessed a flagrant technical for swinging an elbow on a rebound, one of Texas Tech’s 15 first-half fouls.

The 31 first-half points must have felt like an avalanche after the Red Raiders managed only 36 in their previous loss at Oklahoma, setting a record for scoring futility in a Big 12 game.

Next up: West Virginia encounters the meat of its Big 12 schedule during the final regular-season 10 games, facing opponents with an average RPI of 26. That stretch starts Tuesday at Oklahoma.


►  Huggins: Team leaders rebuilt culture of commitment

West Virginia has won three straight games and six out of eight in the Big 12, which according to RPI calculations, is the deepest league in college basketball.

An NCAA tourney berth seems all but assured, after a two-year absence, and if grander dreams are your thing, the Mountaineers might—I say might—make a charge at Kansas for the conference championship.

Bob Huggins has fixed things, it appears, and he credits players being more committed and more immersed in the sport. After whipping Texas Tech 77-58 on Saturday, leadership commendations went to point guard Juwan Staten and forward Devin Williams, an inside-out duo who rebuilt the program from inside out.

“Leadership is not doing as I say, it’s doing as I do,” Huggins said. “Those are two guys who spend an enormous amount of time in the gym. So then you can get on somebody else about not improving and not working hard.

“That’s the culture we had here … and then we lost it.”

Blame Deniz Kilicli’s electric guitar. The Turkish forward enjoyed the Final Four as a freshman, a 13-19 sendoff as a senior and passion for music that spanned both. He was a multi-dimensional guy, but to hear Huggins tell it, basketball and rock-n-roll don’t mix.

“We had some guys who would rather go play in a band than they would play basketball,” the coach said. “When they’re your leaders and they can’t wait to sprint out of here to pick up a guitar … it creates the wrong culture.”

To be clear, this was Huggins appraising Kilicli, not bashing him, because the coach developed a somewhat paternal affinity for the big kid with the hook shot. “I love him to death and he’s one of my favorite people of all-time,” said Huggins, who just wished that Kilicli and others on the past two teams loved basketball more.

“I’ve had guys where that was their self-being, and when they didn’t play well they were miserable. Just miserable,” Huggins said. “But they did something about it.”

Things aren’t so miserable now. Starting 18-3 with a top-20 RPI makes all signs point up. The roster was recalibrated with players who are more single-minded. None of them have taken the stage at 123 Pleasant; their stage of preference arrives in March.

Huggins wants hobbies on hold. And as this West Virginia outfit transforms devotion into development, winning is the music they appreciate most.



<The Gilmer Free Press

►  Top-25 College Men’s Basketball Game Results

(Saturday, January 31)


Final Score: (1) Kentucky 70, Alabama 55

Willie Cauley-Stein and Karl-Anthony Towns each scored 12 points in the top-ranked Kentucky Wildcats’ 70-55 victory over the Alabama Crimson Tide. The Wildcats (21-0, 8-0 SEC), who are off their best start since beginning 23-0 in 1965-66, became the lone unbeaten team left in the country after No. 2 Virginia lost to fourth-ranked Duke on Saturday. Devin Booker and Aaron Harrison added 11 and 10 points, respectively, for Kentucky, which shot 58.5% from the field.


Final Score: (4) Duke 69, (2) Virginia 63

No. 4 Duke missed 10 of its first 11 looks from behind the arc and trailed by nine points late in the second half. Then the shots started falling. Quinn Cook made three 3-pointers in the final 4:38, Tyus Jones put the game away with a deep 3 with 10 seconds left and the Blue Devils went into Charlottesville and rallied late to stun No. 2 Virginia, 69-63, handing the Cavaliers their first loss of the season. Jones finished with 17 points while Cook and Justise Winslow netted 15 apiece for the Blue Devils (18-3, 5-3 ACC), who were primed to fall three games back in the ACC standings before closing the game on an 11-0 run. Malcolm Brogdon paced Virginia (19-1, 7-1) with 17 points, and Justin Anderson added 11.


Final Score: (3) Gonzaga 82, Memphis 64

Przemek Karnowski scored 17 points with six rebounds as No. 3 Gonzaga extended a pair of winning streaks with an 82-64 win over Memphis on Saturday. The Bulldogs (22-1) have won their last 15 games since their lone blemish on the season, a 66-63 overtime loss to Arizona on December 6, and are undefeated in their last 38 games at home, the longest current streak of its kind in the nation. Kyle Wiltjer had 15 points and seven boards, Domantas Sabonis netted 13 points with 11 rebounds and Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr. scored 11 and 10 points, respectively, in the win. Nick King paced the Tigers (13-8) with 13 points and four steals and Austin Nichols provided 12 points in defeat.


Final Score: (5) Wisconsin 74, Iowa 63

Frank Kaminsky scored 24 points and Nigel Hayes added 14, leading fifth-ranked Wisconsin to a 74-63 victory over Iowa on Saturday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Josh Gasser and Sam Dekker each chipped in 11 for the Badgers (19-2, 7-1 Big Ten), who have won four straight since a stunning loss at Rutgers on January 11. Kaminsky, who missed the game against the Scarlet Knights because of a concussion, also grabbed a game-high nine rebounds on Saturday while making half of his field goal attempts and 8-of-9 from the free throw line. Wisconsin has won 12 of its last 13, including a season sweep of Iowa. The Badgers rolled to an 82-50 rout of the Hawkeyes just 11 days ago in Madison and have won five straight in the series. Aaron White scored 15 to lead Iowa (13-8, 4-4), which has lost three in a row. White had played just seven minutes in last week’s loss to Purdue because of a stinger.


Final Score: (7) Villanova 68, DePaul 55

Ryan Arcidiacono scored all of his 18 points in the second half to lead No. 7 Villanova to a 68-55 win over DePaul on Saturday. JayVaughn Pinkston went 10-for-10 from the free throw line on his way to 14 points, Darrun Hilliard added 11 points and Daniel Ochefu posted seven points with 12 rebounds in the win. The Wildcats (19-2, 6-2 Big East) have won six of their last seven contests. Billy Garrett Jr. netted 14 points and was the only double-figure scoring effort for the Blue Demons (11-12, 5-5), who have lost three straight.


Final Score: Pittsburgh 76, (8) Notre Dame 72

Robinson made a tough go-ahead runner in the lane with 12 seconds remaining as Pittsburgh took down No. 8 Notre Dame 76-72 in a wild finish on Saturday afternoon. The Fighting Irish nearly pulled off an improbable comeback when Jerian Grant shook off a slow start and went on a personal 9-0 run inside the final three minutes. Grant’s two free throws with 31.2 seconds left gave Notre Dame a 72-71 lead, but Robinson drove right, gained some space with a spin move and scored over Pat Connaughton for what proved to be the deciding bucket. Grant passed up a shot at the other end with Steve Vasturia open in the corner, and Vasturia’s shot was off the mark. Jamel Artis grabbed the rebound, made two free throws, and Pitt stole the ensuing inbounds pass to end its three-game losing streak. Artis finished with 20 points and eight rebounds, and Robinson added 15 points with 10 assists for the Panthers (14-8, 4-5 ACC), who shot 68% from the field in the second half and 59% overall. Demetrius Jackson led Notre Dame with 15 points, Grant chipped in with 14, and Vasturia and Zach Auguste each netted 12 in a losing cause. Notre Dame (20-3, 8-2) had won five in a row—four in comeback fashion—and was fresh off a signature victory over No. 4 Duke.


Final Score: (9) Kansas 68, Kansas State 57

Ellis had 16 points and 12 rebounds in the ninth-ranked Kansas Jayhawks’ 68-57 win over the Kansas State Wildcats on Saturday. Wayne Selden Jr. added 14 points and four blocks for the Jayhawks (18-3, 7-1 Big 12), who have won four in a row and sit atop the Big 12 standings. Brannen Greene tallied 11 points off the bench. Thomas Gipson and Marcus Foster each scored 19 points for the Wildcats (12-10, 5-4), who have lost three of four.


Final Score: (10) Louisville 78, (13) North Carolina 68 (OT)

Montrezl Harrell had 22 points and 15 rebounds and No. 10 Louisville rallied from 18 down in the second half to beat No. 13 North Carolina 78-68 on Saturday. Louisville outscored the North Carolina 53-25 over the last 22 1/2 minutes of the game to snap a six-game Tar Heels winning streak that began with a one-point victory over the Cardinals in Chapel Hill on January 10. Terry Rozier added 22 points and 10 rebounds, scoring eight in overtime to help Louisville (18-3, 6-2 ACC) pick up its third consecutive win since a loss to Duke two weeks ago. Chris Jones scored seven of his 17 points in overtime for the Cardinals. Marcus Paige had 15 points to lead North Carolina (17-5, 7-2) and J.P. Tokoto added 11 with 11 rebounds. Brice Johnson had two points and 10 rebounds before fouling out. The Tar Heels shot 43.3% from the field, down from a 50.8% mark during their winning streak. They are 0-3 all-time against the Cardinals in Louisville, also losing games in 1929 and 1999.


Final Score: (18) Northern Iowa 70, (12) Wichita State 54

Northern Iowa and Wichita State played the first Missouri Valley game between ranked opponents in 33 years. And it was the 18th-ranked Panthers who picked up a solid home win to snap No. 12 Wichita State’s 27-game regular-season winning streak in conference. Seth Tuttle scored a career-high 29 points with seven rebounds as Northern Iowa defeated Wichita State, 70-54, on Saturday. The Panthers (20-2, 9-1 MVC) made 60% of their field goals and converted 5-of-7 shots from beyond the arc in their ninth straight win. Fred VanVleet led the Shockers (19-3, 9-1) with 18 points and Ron Baker chipped in with 12 points on just 2-of-10 shooting from 3-point range.


Final Score: Richmond 64, (14) VCU 55

Kendall Anthony scored 22 points, and the Richmond Spiders upset cross-town rival No. 14 VCU, 64-55, on Saturday. The Spiders (12-9, 5-3 Atlantic 10) handled the Rams’ Havoc defense in a 42-point second half. The Rams shot just 40.7% overall and made just 3-of-20 attempts from 3-point range. Terry Allen added 15 points and seven rebounds for Richmond. VCU (17-4, 7-1) saw its 12-game winning streak come to an end. Treveon Graham paced the Rams with 18 points on 6-of-11 shooting and seven boards. Briante Weber chipped in 11 before leaving late in the game with a knee injury.


Final Score: (15) Iowa State 83, TCU 66

Georges Niang poured in 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, leading 15th-ranked Iowa State to an 83-66 victory over TCU on Saturday at Hilton Coliseum. Monte Morris contributed 16 points and six assists for the Cyclones (16-4, 6-2 Big 12), who were coming off a three- point win on Monday against Texas and extended their home winning streak to 19 consecutive games. Iowa State owns the 10th-longest home winning streak in the country. Bryce Dejean-Jones also scored 16 points and Dustin Hogue added 12 in the victory. Each of the Cyclones’ first seven conference games had been decided by single digits, but Iowa State used a couple of second- half runs to make it a laugher after leading by only two at halftime. Trey Zeigler scored 14 points for TCU (14-7, 1-7), which has lost four in a row. The Horned Frogs were 13-0 before conference play began in January.


Final Score: (17) West Virginia 77, Texas Tech 58

Devin Williams contributed 18 points with eight rebounds in 17th-ranked West Virginia’s 77-58 win over Texas Tech on Saturday. Daxter Miles Jr. chipped in with 12 points and Juwan Staten scored 11 with five assists for the Mountaineers (18-3, 6-2 Big 12), who have won three straight and four of their last five. Robert Turner supplied 18 points for the Red Raiders (11-11, 1-8), while Aaron Ross and Isaiah Manderson went for 13 and 10, respectively, off the bench in the loss.


Final Score: (20) Baylor 83, (19) Texas 60

Kenny Chery totaled 23 points thanks to a 5- of-7 performance from long range, and Royce O’Neale added 20 with eight rebounds as No. 20 Baylor topped 19th-ranked Texas, 83-60, at the Ferrell Center. Taurean Price and Johnathan Motley each contributed 13 points for the Bears (16-5, 4-4 Big 12), while Rico Gathers clocked in with eight points and 15 boards as the Bears won for the third time in their last four. Jonathan Holmes had 17 points for the Longhorns (14-7, 3-5), who received 16 points and 10 assists from Isaiah Taylor in a losing effort.


Final Score: (21) Georgetown 67, Creighton 40

D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera and Jabril Trawick nearly outscored Creighton by themselves, combining for 39 points as No. 21 Georgetown cruised to a 67-40 victory over the cold-shooting Bluejays. Smith- Rivera totaled 24 points, Trawick added 15 and the Hoyas (15-6, 7-3 Big East) emphatically rebounded from Tuesday’s home loss to Xavier with a stout defensive showing. Creighton (10-13, 1-9) followed up its first Big East win with its worst shooting performance of the season. The Bluejays shot an embarrassing 21% (11-for-53) from the floor and did not have a single player score in double figures. Avery Dingman led the way with eight points.


Final Score: (22) Indiana 72, Rutgers 64

James Blackmon Jr. scored 20 points with five rebounds to help No. 22 Indiana in a 72-64 win over Rutgers on Saturday. Yogi Ferrell and Troy Williams each netted 14 points for the Hoosiers (16-6, 6-3 Big Ten), with Williams adding 11 rebounds in the win. Indiana snapped its two-game losing streak. Myles Mack did all he could for the Scarlet Knights (10-13, 2-8), scoring 24 points and handing out eight assists.


Final Score: (24) Oklahoma 64, Oklahoma State 56

Jordan Woodard led four Oklahoma players in double digits with 17 points as the No. 24 Sooners rebounded from a big early deficit and downed rival Oklahoma State, 64-56, at Gallagher-Iba Arena. Buddy Hield picked up 15 points, Ryan Spangler 13 with nine rebounds and six assists while TaShawn Thomas poured in 12 for the Sooners (14-7, 5-4 Big 12). Phil Forte recorded 15 points for the Cowboys (14-7, 4-5). Le’Bryan Nash had 12 and Anthony Hickey added 10 points for the hosts.


Final Score: (25) Butler 72, Marquette 68 (OT)

Andrew Chrabascz had 30 points and seven rebounds to lead No. 25 Butler to a 72-68 victory over Marquette on Saturday. Kellen Dunham posted 17 points, Alex Barlow scored 15 with five rebounds and five assists, and Kameron Woods had 18 rebounds for the Bulldogs (16-6, 6-3 Big East), who have won three straight. Matt Carlino and Duane Wilson each scored 18 points, Luke Fischer added 12 points and six rebounds and Juan Anderson had 10 and eight for the Golden Eagles (10-11, 2-7), who have lost their past five.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  NBA Game Results

(Saturday, January 31)


Final Score: Sacramento 99, Indiana 94

Rudy Gay scored 31 points, DeMarcus Cousins had another double-double and the Sacramento Kings snapped an eight- game losing skid with a 99-94 win over the Indiana Pacers on Saturday. Darren Collison scored 23 points with five rebounds and five assists, and Cousins overcame his worst shooting night of the season to post 20 points and 19 rebounds. The trio of Gay, Collison and Cousins combined for nearly 75% of Sacramento’s points. Cousins shot 6-for-24 from the floor and turned the ball over four times before fouling out late in the fourth quarter. C.J. Miles and David West had 17 points apiece to lead Indiana, while George Hill gave 14, six boards and four assists in limited minutes off the bench.


Final Score: Dallas 108, Orlando 93

In the absence of Rajon Rondo, Monta Ellis scored 25 points and handed out 13 assists to help the Dallas Mavericks top the Orlando Magic, 108-93, on Saturday. Just 1 1/2 minutes into the game, Rondo went down with a head injury and would not return. Leading by as much as 27, the Mavericks’ edge was cut to as little as five in the fourth quarter before they pulled away again. Tyson Chandler added 20 points and nine rebounds for Dallas in its second straight win, and Dirk Nowitzki netted 11 points. Orlando lost its eighth straight game despite a 17-point, 16-rebound effort from Nikola Vucevic. Evan Fournier and Willie Green each scored 15 points.


Final Score: Toronto 120, Washington 116 (OT)

Kyle Lowry scored seven of his 23 points in overtime and the Toronto Raptors escaped with a 120-116 win over the Washington Wizards on Saturday night. The Wizards rallied from 21 points down with 14 minutes left in the game, tying the score on Paul Pierce’s 3-pointer with 25 seconds remaining in regulation. Washington’s only lead in the game came 56 seconds into overtime on a free throw by Pierce. But Lowry scored four points during a quick 6-0 run that put the Atlantic Division-leading Raptors ahead for good on the way to a sixth consecutive win—their third winning streak of that length this season. It came a day after Toronto led Brooklyn by 17 points in the third quarter but needed overtime to knock off the Nets 127-122 Friday night. Lou Williams added 19 points in this one for Toronto, Amir Johnson scored 17, Patrick Patterson had 16 and DeMar DeRozan netted 15 with 10 rebounds. Greivis Vasquez added 12 points to finish off six Raptors players in double figures. John Wall flirted with a triple-double, scoring 28 points with 12 assists and eight rebounds for the Wizards, who have dropped two in a row and four of the last six. Bradley Beal added 26 points in the loss, Pierce scored 19 and Nene had 16 points. Kris Humphries added 10 points and 14 rebounds off the bench.


Final Score: Atlanta 91, Philadelphia 85

Al Horford had 23 points and 11 rebounds and the Atlanta Hawks held on to beat the Philadelphia 76ers 91-85 on Saturday night for their 19th consecutive win. The NBA-leading Hawks wrapped up a perfect 17-0 January, but it came harder than expected. They had to battle to stay ahead down the stretch despite leading by 21 points in the second quarter and 15 in the third. Michael Carter-Williams, Luc Mbah a Moute and Jerami Grant scored 13 points apiece for the Sixers, who were attempting to win three consecutive games for the first time this season.


Final Score: Detroit 114, Houston 101

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and D.J. Augustin each scored 28 points as the Detroit Pistons beat the Houston Rockets 114-101 on Saturday night. Augustin added 12 assists for one of three double- doubles by the Pistons. Greg Monroe had 19 points and 12 rebounds, while Andre Drummond finished with 11 points and 16 boards. Kyle Singler scored 14 points and Anthony Tolliver supplied 12 for Detroit, which snapped a four-game losing streak and ended a seven-game skid against Houston. James Harden left the game late in the second quarter with a bruised left knee, but returned for the Rockets at the start of the second half and went on to score 26 points with nine assists and seven rebounds. Donatas Motiejunas had 21 points and Trevor Ariza added 15 for the Rockets, who had won four games in a row. Josh Smith missed eight shots while scoring just seven points in his first game against the Pistons since they waived him in December.


Final Score: Memphis 85, Oklahoma City 74

Durant was not effective in his return after a two-game absence, and the Memphis Grizzlies’ tough defense shut down the Oklahoma City Thunder, 85-74, on Saturday. Durant and Russell Westbrook each shot 5-of-16 for Oklahoma City, losers in four of its last five. The Grizzlies were led by their frontcourt duo of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. Randolph paced the game with 21 points and 18 rebounds, and Gasol added 15 points, 12 boards and five assists. In his own return from a two-game absence, Mike Conley scored 10 points for Memphis, which has won six in a row.


Final Score: Cleveland 106, Minnesota 90

In his first game in Minnesota since being traded, Cavaliers forward Kevin Love got the boos he expected when he was introduced before the game. Love, who was booed every time he touched the ball, had 14 points and 17 rebounds in Cleveland’s 106-90 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday. After playing his first six NBA seasons for the Timberwolves, Love was dealt to Cleveland as part of a three-team deal in the offseason. Minnesota acquired Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett, the last two No. 1 overall picks in the draft. Wiggins himself a career night in a losing cause, scoring 33 points on 14- of-25 shooting. The 19-year-old matched the franchise record for most points by a teenager. All storylines aside, it was LeBron James who stole the show in the fourth quarter. James scored 16 of his 36 points in the final frame for the Cavaliers, who have won 10 in a row. Thaddeus Young ended with 19 points for the Timberwolves, who fell to 8-39 on the season. Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin had 14 points apiece, with Pekovic also pulling down 12 rebounds.


Final Score: Milwaukee 95, Portland 88

Jared Dudley scored 18 points with six rebounds to power the Milwaukee Bucks in a 95-88 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday. O.J. Mayo finished with 17 points and seven rebounds, John Henson supplied 14 points, eight boards and four blocks while Brandon Knight and Jerryd Bayless each netted 11 in the Bucks’ third straight win. Wesley Matthews and Damian Lillard each scored 19 points apiece for Portland, which has lost three in a row.


Final Score: Charlotte 104, Denver 86

Cody Zeller had 21 points and the Charlotte Hornets rolled to a 104-86 win over the Denver Nuggets on Saturday night. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist added 17 points and 13 rebounds and Al Jefferson and Jason Maxiell each scored 14 for the Hornets, who missed all 11 of their 3- point attempts but led by as many as 36. Danilo Gallinari had 15 points to lead the Nuggets, who have lost nine of their last 10.


Final Score: LA Clippers 105, San Antonio 85

Blake Griffin posted 31 points, 13 rebounds and five assists, and the Los Angeles Clippers got back on track with a 105-85 win over the San Antonio Spurs. Chris Paul had 20 points and six assists and DeAndre Jordan led a dominant effort on the glass with 19 rebounds. The Clippers, who improved to 2-1 on their season-long eight game road trip, outrebounded the Spurs 56-36. They were coming off a 108-103 loss to the Pelicans on Friday. San Antonio, which took the first two games in the season series, stumbled out of the gate and never recovered as its three-game win streak was snapped.


Final Score: Golden State 106, Phoenix 87

Steph Curry tallied 25 points and seven assists as the Golden State Warriors snapped a two-game slide with a convincing 106-87 win over the Phoenix Suns. Klay Thompson netted 22 points and Leandro Barbosa added 14 in his second straight strong bench effort for Golden State, which endured its third two-game losing streak of the season but has still not dropped three straight games. Draymond Green added 11 rebounds and four assists while Harrison Barnes and Andre Igoudala gave 13 and 12 points, respectively. Markieff Morris posted his second straight double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds for Phoenix, which hadn’t been away from home since an overtime loss to Memphis on January 11. The Suns have dropped three of five overall and lost three straight road games.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  NHL Game Results

(Saturday, January 31)


Final Score: Montreal 1, Washington 0 (OT)

Max Pacioretty scored the game’s only goal with 1:52 remaining in overtime to lift the Montreal Canadiens past the Washington Capitals 1-0 on Saturday afternoon. Pacioretty’s goal, coupled with Carey Price’s second consecutive shutout, ended Washington’s seven- game winning streak in Montreal and sent the Canadiens to a fifth straight victory. Price followed up his whitewash of the Rangers on Thursday with 36 saves. He improved to 10-1-1 since December 20, thanks in part to Pacioretty chipping in Tomas Plekanec’s centering feed in OT. Plekanec was skating down the right boards when he sent a backhand on net that a lunging Pacioretty got enough of to send over Braden Holtby’s left shoulder. Holtby, who was coming off his own shutout of the Penguins, made 29 saves in an otherwise stellar performance.


Final Score: Detroit 4, NY Islanders 1

Petr Mrazek stopped 22 shots and the Detroit Red Wings grabbed a 4-1 victory over the New York Islanders on Saturday. Brendan Smith, Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar and Jonathan Ericsson each lit the lamp for the Red Wings, who rebounded from a loss at Tampa Bay on Thursday to win for a seventh time in their past eight games. Lubomir Visnovsky had the only goal of the game for the Islanders, who have dropped their past two contests. Chad Johnson allowed all four goals on just 19 shots in the loss.


Final Score: Ottawa 7, Arizona 2

Robin Lehner made 35 saves, and the Ottawa Senators scored four goals in a 5 1/2 minute span in their 7-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday afternoon. Milan Michalek and Mark Stone each scored in the closing minutes of the second period, and Bobby Ryan and Jean- Gabriel Pageau added goals very early in the third period. Ottawa also got goals from Mike Hoffman, Erik Karlsson and Mika Zibanejad to win for the second time in three games. Marc Methot tallied a career-high three assists. Mike Smith allowed five Senators goals on 20 shots against him before getting the hook in the third period. Zbynek Michalek and Sam Gagner scored Arizona’s goals as the Coyotes fell to 1-3-2 on their ongoing eight- game road trip.


Final Score: Boston 3, Los Angeles 1

Brad Marchand scored two goals to lift the Boston Bruins to a 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday. Chris Kelly tallied the game-winning goal late in the third and Tuukka Rask made 30 saves for the Bruins, who were coming off a 5-2 win over the Islanders on Thursday. Jordan Nolan lit the lamp and Jonathan Quick stopped 30-of-32 shots for the Kings, who have dropped five of their last six games.


Final Score: New Jersey 3, Florida 1

Keith Kinkaid made 26 saves to backstop the New Jersey Devils to a 3-1 win over visiting the Florida Panthers on Saturday night. Kinkaid was bidding for his first NHL shutout, but allowed a goal to Brandon Pirri with 1:29 remaining. Steve Bernier had scored an empty-net goal a minute earlier to seal the Devils’ third win in four games. Jaromir Jagr and Mike Cammalleri had first-period goals for New Jersey, which registered just one shot in the second and two in the third. Roberto Luongo stopped 11 shots as the Panthers suffered their sixth loss in seven games.


Final Score: NY Rangers 4, Carolina 1

Henrik Lundqvist stopped 31 shots to lead the New York Rangers in a 4-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Chris Kreider, Dan Boyle, Dominic Moore and Rick Nash all lit the lamp for the Rangers, who snapped a two-game slide. Brad Malone had the only goal of the game for the Hurricanes, who have dropped their last two games. Cam Ward allowed all four goals on 37 shots in the loss.


Final Score: Philadelphia 1, Toronto 0

Michael Del Zotto recorded the game’s lone goal and Steve Mason stopped 30 shots as Philadelphia claimed a 1-0 decision over Toronto on Saturday. Mason made his 100th career appearance for the club a memorable one, recording his second shutout of the season and 25th career whitewash for the Flyers, who have won a season-high four straight games. James Reimer made 17 saves for the Maple Leafs, whose losing skid reached nine consecutive outings.


Final Score: Dallas 5, Winnipeg 2

Klingberg had two goals and two assists in the Dallas Stars’ 5-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday. Shawn Horcoff, Patrick Eaves and Jason Spezza also lit the lamp for the Stars, who have won two in a row since a two-game skid. Kari Lehtonen made 38 saves. Dallas went 4-for-8 on the power play, while Winnipeg went 0-for-2. Andrew Ladd and Toby Enstrom scored for the Jets, who have lost three straight for the first time since a season-high four-game slide from October 11-19. Michael Hutchinson gave up all five goals on 32 shots.


Final Score: Tampa Bay 3, Columbus 1

Ben Bishop turned aside 34 shots to lead the Tampa Bay Lightning in a 3-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Cedric Paquette, Brett Connolly and Valtteri Filppula each lit the lamp for the Lightning, who have won five of their last six games. Ryan Johansen had the only marker for the Blue Jackets, who have lost three of their last four. Curtis McElhinney allowed all three goals on 34 shots in defeat.


Final Score: Calgary 4, Edmonton 2

Lance Bouma scored twice in a four-goal third period which lifted Calgary over Edmonton, 4-2, at the Saddledome. Paul Byron and Sean Monahan also tallied while Mikael Backlund and David Jones chipped in two assists each for the Flames, who had lost two of three coming in and have now taken six of eight overall. Jonas Hiller stopped 17-of-19 shots for the victory. Jordan Eberle and Benoit Pouliot scored for the Oilers, who have dropped five of their last eight. Ben Scrivens made 29 saves in the setback.


Final Score: San Jose 2, Chicago 0

Antti Niemi stopped 31 shots as the San Jose Sharks blanked the Chicago Blackhawks 2-0 on Saturday night. Joe Thornton and Melker Karlsson each had a goal and one assist for the Sharks, who have won three straight and improved to 5-1-1 in their last seven games. Antti Raanta made 18 saves for Chicago, which dropped two of three games in California. The Blackhawks were coming off Friday’s 4-1 win over Anaheim after beginning the stretch with Wednesday’s 4-3 loss to Los Angeles.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Serena wins another Aussie crown

Serena Williams is again the Australian Open champion.

The top-seeded American earned her sixth Aussie Open title and 19th career Grand Slam championship with a 6-3, 7-6 (7-5) triumph over Maria Sharapova on Saturday at Rod Laver Arena.

Williams won in Melbourne for the first time since 2010, finishing the match with an ace in the second-set tiebreaker on her third championship point. She now owns the second-most women’s Grand Slam titles in the Open Era, surpassing legends Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova. Only Steffi Graf has more with 22.

“Standing here with 19 majors is something I never thought would happen,“ said Williams during the trophy ceremony.

Sharapova was trying for a second Australian Open title. She fell to 2-17 lifetime against Williams and has lost the last 16 meetings.

“I haven’t beaten her in a really long time, but I love playing her because you want to play the best,“ said Sharapova. “And she’s the best.“

The 33-year-old Williams notched her 65th career title and has captured the last two Grand Slam events, taking the U.S. Open crown last September.

Williams had a break point opportunity in the opening game of the match when Sharapova fired a backhand wide. A double fault quickly gave Williams the early advantage.

The players were locked at 30-30 in the sixth game when rain forced the closing of the roof.

Williams, who was bothered by a cold and a cough, hardly seemed affected by the wait, following an ace with a strong forehand winner to complete the hold for a 4-2 lead. She actually threw up during the delay.

“I guess there’s a first time for anything,“ said Williams about vomiting. “I think in a way that just helped me—I felt better after that. My chest was really stuck at that point.“

A double fault gave Williams three break points in the next game, but she only needed one as Sharapova fired a backhand long. Sharapova broke back, but Williams responded to the poor service game with a break at love to take the first set.

Williams continued her strong play into the second set with a hold at love, then had two more break points in the next game. Sharapova, though, regrouped and managed to save both before holding.

Each player had a break chance midway through the second set, but Williams failed to convert her opportunity with a wide backhand in the sixth game and Sharapova sent a forehand wide in the seventh game.

Another Sharapova forehand error gave Williams her first championship point in the 10th game, but the Russian came up with a big serve that Williams barely returned. Sharapova followed with a blistering forehand that drew applause from the American.

“The match definitely got tough in the second set,“ said Williams. “Maria started playing a lot better. She started being a little more aggressive. I think I got a little more passive. Was just trying to get the ball back in play. But I also started serving better in the second set because I knew if I wasn’t having my groundstrokes where I wanted them to be, I knew I could serve it out.“

After Williams held with an ace, Sharapova held at love to force the tiebreak.

Sharapova won the first point of the tiebreak with a forehand return winner, but Williams won the next four to take control. At 6-4, Sharapova came up with a forehand that Williams could not return to save a second championship point.

Williams then blasted what appeared to be an ace to win the title, but it was ruled a let. She dropped her racket in disbelief, then followed with the same serve. This one did not tip the tape and she dropped her racket again, but in exultation.

“I thought after the let, ‘Man, I am not meant to win this tournament.‘ I had a couple of match points. She played great on those match points,“ said Williams, who excitedly jumped around the court after winning.

Sharapova fell to 5-5 all-time in Grand Slam finals, including 1-3 against Williams. The only victory came in the 2004 Wimbledon title match. Williams also beat Sharapova for the 2007 Australian Open crown and for the 2013 French Open title.

“It’s always tough getting to a final stage of an event where it’s down to two players and you end up the one that’s going home with the smaller trophy, there’s no doubt about it,“ Sharapova lamented. “No matter how you played, well or not, whatever the score line is, it’s always tough. But it will be all right.“

The 27-year-old Sharapova’s lone Australian Open championship came in 2008 against Ana Ivanovic. She also lost the 2012 final against Victoria Azarenka.


►  Bolelli and Fognini capture Australian Open men’s doubles

Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini won the men’s doubles title on Saturday at the Australian Open.

The Italian duo came away with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over the French tandem of Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut in the final. They became the first Italian pairing to win a Grand Slam doubles crown since Nicola Pietrangeli and Orlando Sirola captured the French Open title in 1959.

It’s the third overall doubles title for Bolelli and Fognini, who teamed for trophies at Umag in 2011 and Buenos Aires in 2013.

Herbert and Mahut were trying to give France its first men’s doubles title in Melbourne since Michael Llodra and Fabrice Santoro claimed the 2004 crown.


►  Australian Open Men’s Doubles Tennis Update – January 31

Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia

Total Prize Money: $2,600,000

SATURDAY’S FINAL MATCH

S.Bolelli/F.Fognini defeated P.Herbert/N.Mahut, 6-4, 6-4


►  Australian Open Women’s Tennis Update – January 31

Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia

Total Prize Money: $14,000,000

FINAL MATCH

Serena Williams (1) defeated Maria Sharapova (2), 6-3, 7-6 (7-5)
SEMIFINAL MATCHES

Serena Williams (1) defeated Madison Keys, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2
Maria Sharapova (2) defeated Ekaterina Makarova (10), 6-3, 6-2
QUARTERFINAL MATCHES

Serena Williams (1) defeated Dominika Cibulkova (11), 6-2, 6-2
Maria Sharapova (2) defeated Eugenie Bouchard (7), 6-3, 6-2
Ekaterina Makarova (10) defeated Simona Halep (3), 6-4, 6-0
Madison Keys defeated Venus Williams (18), 6-3, 4-6, 6-4
FOURTH ROUND MATCHES

Serena Williams (1) defeated Garbine Muguruza (24), 2-6, 6-3, 6-2
Maria Sharapova (2) defeated Peng Shuai (21), 6-3, 6-0
Simona Halep (3) defeated Yanina Wickmayer, 6-4, 6-2
Venus Williams (18) defeated Agnieszka Radwanska (6), 6-3, 2-6, 6-1
Eugenie Bouchard (7) defeated Irina-Camelia Begu, 6-1, 5-7, 6-2
Ekaterina Makarova (10) defeated Julia Goerges, 6-3, 6-2
Dominika Cibulkova (11) defeated Victoria Azarenka, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3
Madison Keys defeated Madison Brengle, 6-2, 6-4
THIRD ROUND MATCHES

Serena Williams (1) defeated Elina Svitolina (26), 4-6, 6-2, 6-0
Maria Sharapova (2) defeated Zarina Diyas (31), 6-1, 6-1
Simona Halep (3) defeated Bethanie Mattek-Sands, 6-4, 7-5
Madison Keys defeated Petra Kvitova (4), 6-4, 7-5
Agnieszka Radwanska (6) defeated Varvara Lepchenko (30), 6-0, 7-5
Eugenie Bouchard (7) defeated Caroline Garcia, 7-5, 6-0
Ekaterina Makarova (10) defeated Karolina Pliskova (22), 6-4, 6-4
Dominika Cibulkova (11) defeated Alize Cornet (19), 7-5, 6-2
Yanina Wickmayer defeated Sara Errani (14), 4-6, 6-4, 6-3
Venus Williams (18) defeated Camila Giorgi, 4-6, 7-6 (7-3), 6-1
Peng Shuai (21) defeated Yaroslava Shvedova, 7-6 (9-7), 6-3
Garbine Muguruza (24) defeated Timea Bacsinszky, 6-3, 4-6, 6-0
Victoria Azarenka defeated Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (25), 6-4, 6-4
Julia Goerges defeated Lucie Hradecka, 7-6 (8-6), 7-5
Madison Brengle defeated Coco Vandeweghe, 6-3, 6-2
Irina-Camelia Begu defeated Carina Witthoeft, 6-4, 6-4
SECOND ROUND MATCHES

Serena Williams (1) defeated Vera Zvonareva, 7-5, 6-0
Maria Sharapova (2) defeated Alexandra Panova, 6-1, 4-6, 7-5
Simona Halep (3) defeated Jarmila Gajdosova, 6-2, 6-2
Petra Kvitova (4) defeated Mona Barthel, 6-2, 6-4
Agnieszka Radwanska (6) defeated Johanna Larsson, 6-0, 6-1
Eugenie Bouchard (7) defeated Kiki Bertens, 6-0, 6-3
Victoria Azarenka defeated Caroline Wozniacki (8), 6-4, 6-2
Ekaterina Makarova (10) defeated Roberta Vinci, 6-2, 6-4
Dominika Cibulkova (11) defeated Tsvetana Pironkova, 6-2, 6-0
Sara Errani (14) defeated Silvia Soler-Espinosa, 7-6 (7-3), 6-3
Venus Williams (18) defeated Lauren Davis, 6-2, 6-3
Alize Cornet (19) defeated Denisa Allertova, 6-4, 6-7 (2-7), 6-2
Coco Vandeweghe defeated Samantha Stosur (20), 6-4, 6-4
Peng Shuai (21) defeated Magdalena Rybarikova, 6-1, 6-1
Karolina Pliskova (22) defeated Oceane Dodin, 7-5, 5-7, 6-4
Garbine Muguruza (24) defeated Daniela Hantuchova, 6-1, 1-6, 6-0
Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (25) defeated Kai-Chen Chang, 6-1, 7-5
Elina Svitolina (26) defeated Nicole Gibbs, 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (8-6)
Madison Keys defeated Casey Dellacqua (29), 2-6, 6-1, 6-1
Varvara Lepchenko (30) defeated Ajla Tomljanovic, 6-1, 7-6 (7-1)
Zarina Diyas (31) defeated Anna Schmiedlova, 3-6, 6-2, 8-6
Yanina Wickmayer defeated Lara Arruabarrena, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4
Bethanie Mattek-Sands defeated Kristina Mladenovic, 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (8-6)
Caroline Garcia defeated Stefanie Voegele, 6-3, 6-4
Carina Witthoeft defeated Christina McHale, 6-3, 6-0
Irina-Camelia Begu defeated Katerina Siniakova, 7-5, 6-4
Yaroslava Shvedova defeated Monica Puig, 6-2, 7-6 (8-6)
Madison Brengle defeated Irina Falconi, 6-1, 6-3
Camila Giorgi defeated Tereza Smitkova, 6-1, 6-4
Lucie Hradecka defeated Polona Hercog, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2
Julia Goerges defeated Klara Koukalova, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2
Timea Bacsinszky defeated Anna Tatishvili, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 6-2
FIRST ROUND MATCHES

Serena Williams (1) defeated Alison Van Uytvanck, 6-0, 6-4
Maria Sharapova (2) defeated Petra Martic, 6-4, 6-1
Simona Halep (3) defeated Karin Knapp, 6-3, 6-2
Petra Kvitova (4) defeated Richel Hogenkamp, 6-1, 6-4
Lucie Hradecka defeated Ana Ivanovic (5), 1-6, 6-3, 6-2
Agnieszka Radwanska (6) defeated Kurumi Nara, 6-3, 6-0
Eugenie Bouchard (7) defeated Anna-Lena Friedsam, 6-2, 6-4
Caroline Wozniacki (8) defeated Taylor Townsend, 7-6 (7-1), 6-2
Irina-Camelia Begu defeated Angelique Kerber (9), 6-4, 0-6, 6-1
Ekaterina Makarova (10) defeated An-Sophie Mestach, 6-2, 6-2
Dominika Cibulkova (11) defeated Kirsten Flipkens, 3-6, 6-3, 6-1
Camila Giorgi defeated Flavia Pennetta (12), 4-6, 6-2, 6-3
Madison Brengle defeated Andrea Petkovic (13), 5-7, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3
Sara Errani (14) defeated Grace Min, 6-1, 6-0
Timea Bacsinszky defeated Jelena Jankovic (15), 6-1, 6-4
Yaroslava Shvedova defeated Lucie Safarova (16), 6-4, 2-6, 8-6
Carina Witthoeft defeated Carla Suarez Navarro (17), 6-3, 6-1
Venus Williams (18) defeated Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor, 6-2, 6-2
Alize Cornet (19) defeated Zhang Shuai, 6-3, 6-2
Samantha Stosur (20) defeated Monica Niculescu, 6-4, 6-1
Peng Shuai (21) defeated Tatjana Maria, 6-4, 7-5
Karolina Pliskova (22) defeated Evgeniya Rodina, 7-5, 6-1
Yanina Wickmayer defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (23), 4-6, 6-3, 6-3
Garbine Muguruza (24) defeated Marina Erakovic, 7-5, 6-0
Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (25) defeated Timea Babos, 6-4, 6-4
Elina Svitolina (26) defeated Jana Cepelova, 6-3, 7-5
Caroline Garcia defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova (27), 6-4, 6-2
Kristina Mladenovic defeated Sabine Lisicki (28), 4-6, 6-4, 6-2
Casey Dellacqua (29) defeated Yvonne Meusburger, 6-4, 6-0
Varvara Lepchenko (30) defeated Vitalia Diatchenko, 6-3, 6-3
Zarina Diyas (31) defeated Urszula Radwanska, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2
Julia Goerges defeated Belinda Bencic (32), 6-2, 6-1
Oceane Dodin defeated Alison Riske, 7-6 (7-5), 3-6, 6-3
Roberta Vinci defeated Bojana Jovanovski, 7-5, 6-1
Monica Puig defeated Arina Rodionova, 6-0, 6-3
Magdalena Rybarikova defeated Ana Konjuh, 6-4, 6-4
Bethanie Mattek-Sands defeated Duan Ying-Ying, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3
Jarmila Gajdosova defeated Alexandra Dulgheru, 6-3, 6-4
Kiki Bertens defeated Daria Gavrilova, 7-6 (10-8), 5-7, 6-2
Stefanie Voegele defeated Pauline Parmentier, 6-1, 3-6, 6-2
Anna Schmiedlova defeated Chanelle Scheepers, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2
Alexandra Panova defeated Sorana Cirstea, 7-5, 6-0
Christina McHale defeated Stephanie Foretz Gacon, 6-4, 1-6, 12-10
Katerina Siniakova defeated Elena Vesnina, 6-2, 7-5
Ajla Tomljanovic defeated Shelby Rogers, 4-6, 6-4, 6-0
Johanna Larsson defeated Alla Kudryavtseva, 6-4, 6-3
Coco Vandeweghe defeated Francesca Schiavone, 6-2, 6-2
Irina Falconi defeated Kaia Kanepi, 2-6, 6-4, 7-5
Tereza Smitkova defeated Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, 6-1, 6-1
Lauren Davis defeated Aleksandra Krunic, 6-1, 7-5
Silvia Soler-Espinosa defeated Annika Beck, 7-5, 6-4
Lara Arruabarrena defeated Renata Voracova, 6-1, 6-2
Polona Hercog defeated Wang Qiang, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2
Klara Koukalova defeated Storm Sanders, 7-5, 6-4
Mona Barthel defeated Donna Vekic, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2
Madison Keys defeated Lesia Tsurenko, 6-3, 7-5
Kai-Chen Chang defeated Zheng Jie, 6-1, 6-2
Victoria Azarenka defeated Sloane Stephens, 6-3, 6-2
Tsvetana Pironkova defeated Heather Watson, 6-4, 6-0
Denisa Allertova defeated Romina Oprandi, 6-0, 6-2
Daniela Hantuchova defeated Zheng Saisai, 6-4, 6-4
Anna Tatishvili defeated Kimiko Date-Krumm, 7-5, 6-4
Vera Zvonareva defeated Ons Jabeur, 6-2, 6-3
Nicole Gibbs defeated Olivia Rogowska, 6-4, 6-1



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Texas Red is favored for season debut San Vicente Stakes

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Texas Red is the 9-5 morning line favorite for Sunday’s $200,000 San Vicente Stakes at Santa Anita Park as he begins his 3-year-old season

Texas Red, trained by Keith Desormeaux and ridden by the trainer’s brother Kent, will start the seven-furlong race from post 4 in the eight-horse field.

Co-owned by his trainer, Texas Red won the Juvenile on November 01 by 6 1/2 lengths as a 13-1 longshot, just his second win in five starts. The son of Afleet Alex has earned $1,192,300.

Keith Desormeaux has plans to bring the colt along quickly leading to the Kentucky Derby on May 02.

“I’m thinking about wheeling him back pretty quickly in the Risen Star on (February 21) and then we’ll have a little gap between the Risen Star and the $1,000,000 Santa Anita Derby (on April 04),“ the trainer said.

“It’s still on schedule. It’s always been kind of a tentative schedule, like with all things concerning racehorses,“ Desormeaux continued. “It seems like the best plan for me at this point. It’s kind of quick, but I like the way it feels. If I can get him (to Fair Grounds) a week early, that would be perfect. I’ll be at the mercy of whoever is going to fly us and their schedule.

“For him to overcome the fact that he’s not really built to be an early horse - that’s what makes him great and that’s also what makes us so excited about this year. If he can do what he did as a juvenile, what can he accomplish as a 3-year-old?“

The 2-1 second choice is Lord Nelson owned by Peachtree Stable and trained by Bob Baffert. The chestnut colt will be ridden by Rafael Bejarano from the rail post.

Lord Nelson has two wins from four starts and has earnings of $129,571. He was fourth in the FrontRunner Stakes at Santa Anita last September 27 but came back on October 13 with a win in the track’s Speakeasy Stakes. He was the 7-5 favorite for Churchill Downs’ Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes but finished fifth to El Kabeir.

Trainer Peter Miller’s Serbian Syclone is the 3-1 third pick for the San Vicente. The colt, owned by Rockingham Ranch, will be ridden by regular rider Elvis Trujillo from post 2.

Serbian Syclone was eighth first time out but has won his last two races going gate to wire by a combined 8 1/2 lengths. He tries stakes company for the first time in the seven-furlong event.

Here is the field for the San Vicente in post position order: Lord Nelson, Rafael Bejarano, 2-1; Serbian Syclone, Elvis Trujillo, 3-1; Jazzy Josh, Flavien Prat, 15-1; Texas Red, Kent Desormeaux, 9-5; Punctuate, Martin Garcia, 9-2; Magic Taste, Omar Santos, 50-1; Bench Warrant, Tyler Baze, 12-1 and Sir Samson, Joe Talamo, 15-1.

Post time for the 74th San Vicente is approximately 4:30 PM ET.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  McIlroy moves 4 clear at Dubai Desert Classic

Rory McIlroy recorded his second straight bogey-free round on Saturday and his 6-under 66 on day three has moved him four shots clear heading into the final round of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

McIlroy finished his third round at 20-under-par 196, which is four strokes better than Morten Orum MadSenator McIlroy has nine career wins on the European Tour, with four of them coming last season. The five-time major champion earned his first professional victory at this event back in 2009.

“To be bogey-free again today was important to me, especially when you’re going out with the lead,“ said McIlroy. “I’m very happy. I feel like I could be a little bit more but I’m not going to complain. I’m four ahead going into the final day, so I’ve put myself in a great position to win tomorrow.“

After shooting a 63 on Friday, Madsen matched McIlroy with a 66 of his own on day three and moved into sole possession of second place at 16-under 200. Two shots further back is 23-time tour winner Lee Westwood (69) at 14-under 202.

Two-time defending champion Stephen Gallacher, first-round leader Bernd Wiesberger, Andy Sullivan and Danny Willett all fired matching, 2-under 70s and are tied for fourth at 13-under 203.

McIlroy, last year’s British Open and PGA Championship winner, started the day with a 1-shot lead and quickly widened the gap. The 25-year-old Ulsterman jumped out to a fast start when he drained birdies on one, three and five to go along with pars on two, four and six.

Following the par on No. 6, McIlroy poured in back-to-back gains on seven and eight before finishing his front nine with a par on nine.

Making the turn with a 4-shot lead, it seemed as if McIlroy would extend his advantage even more on the back nine, but he slowed down a bit down the stretch. McIlroy made eight straight pars from No. 9 and saw his lead whittled down to three when Madsen birdied the last.

McIlroy broke the par streak when he drained a birdie putt from about 15 feet on the par-4 17th, moving his advantage back to four.

Now on the par-5 18th, a hole he had birdied in 14 of his last 18 rounds prior to Saturday, McIlroy found the water with his second shot and was in danger of making bogey. McIlroy remained calm, however, as his fourth shot landed about 10 feet from the hole and he knocked that in for par to make it 36 straight holes without a bogey.

“Not to make any mistakes makes it that much harder for anyone else,“ McIlroy said. “Just to get that up-and-down on the last was big for momentum going into tomorrow ... I just have to go and try and play similar golf to the way I have the first three days.“

Madsen, who holds the week’s low round with his 63 Friday, also went bogey- free and may stand the best chance of catching McIlroy on Sunday. Madsen started with a pair of pars on one and two before making his first birdie on No. 3. He then wrapped four more pars on four, five, seven and eight around a gain on No. 6.

The 26-year-old from Denmark made the turn in style with back-to-back birdies on nine and 10. Following his fifth gain of the day on 13, Madsen rattled off four straight pars from 14 before closing with a birdie at the last to pull within three of McIlroy at the time.

Three shots behind McIlroy to start the day, Westwood had a strong start to his round before struggling a bit in the middle. Westwood made a pair of birdies on two and three, but he made a mess of No. 9 and settled for double- bogey as the Englishman made the turn at even par.

A birdie on 10 got Westwood back into red figures and he traded a bogey on 12 for a birdie on 13. Westwood finished well to give himself an outside shot going into Sunday as three pars from 14 preceded back-to-back birdies on 17 and 18, putting him six strokes behind McIlroy.

NOTES: McIlroy’s last bogey came on the par-4 ninth hole, his last, in the first round ... McIlroy finished his third round just one shot off of Gallacher’s 54-hole record of 195. Gallacher also tied the tournament record of 266 that year in his first of two consecutive victories here ... McIlroy has finished runner-up in each of the last four events he has played in ... Madsen is seeking his second victory on tour, with his lone win coming at the South African Open Championship last season ... Westwood’s last win was at the Maybank Malaysian Open last year.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Elliott, Scott among those inducted into NASCAR HofF

Bill Elliott, a former Sprint Cup Series champion, and Wendell Scott, the first African-American to win a race in NASCAR’s premier racing circuit, were among the sixth five-member class inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Friday night.

Joe Weatherly, a two-time Cup champion, Fred Lorenzen, who won 26 races in the sport’s top series, including the Daytona 500 and the World 600 (Charlotte) in 1965, and Rex White, a former premier series champion as well, were also inducted during the two-hour ceremony, which was held at the Charlotte Convention Center.

Known as “Awesome Bill From Dawsonville (Georgia),“ Elliott had an illustrious 37-year career as a driver in NASCAR. His 44 wins rank him 16th all-time and his 55 poles rank eighth. He won the Cup Series championship in 1988 and scored victories in the Daytona 500 in ‘85 and ‘87. In addition, Elliott won NASCAR’s “Most Popular Driver” Award a record 16 times.

Elliott was introduced by driver Kasey Kahne and inducted by his former car owner Ray Evernham.

“It’s just an honor to be here,“ Elliott said. “At a young age, I dreamed of doing this, and I knew as time went on, my dad was so involved in racing, he had such a love for the sport. I’ve always said he was such a Ford fanatic, if you cut him, he bled Ford blue. That’s just the way the man was. He was just so involved.“

Elliott’s induction occurred one day after his 19-year-old son, Chase, the reigning Xfinity Series champion, was named as the replacement driver for Jeff Gordon in the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet after Gordon departs from the team following the conclusion of the 2015 season.

Scott was the first African-American to race full-time in NASCAR’s top series. His only win in the series came in December 1963 at Speedway Park in Jacksonville, Florida. Scott recorded 147 top-10 finishes in 495 starts during his 13-year on the premier circuit. Prior to that, he had won more than 100 races at local tracks, including 22 races at Southside Speedway in Richmond, Virginia, in 1959, en route to capturing both the Sportsman Division and NASCAR Virginia Sportsman championships. He died in 1990.

Members of Scott’s family attended the induction ceremony. His sons, Wendell Jr. and Franklin, honored him, while Gordon, a four-time Sprint Cup champion, introduced Scott.

“Wendell Scott fulfilled his destiny, and now we can proudly say that he is the first African-American inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame,“ Franklin Scott said. “We must carry his legacy to even greater heights with the same selflessness, honor, integrity, humility and perseverance that were his trademark.“

Weatherly’s titles in the Cup Series came in 1962 and ‘63. He also won 25 races during his career in the series. A decade earlier in 1952-53, Weatherly won 101 events in the NASCAR Modified division, claiming that title in ‘53. He competed in NASCAR’s short-lived Convertible Division from 1956-59, winning 12 times. Weatherly died in 1964 as a result of a racing accident at Riverside, California.

“Uncle Joe was a very competitive driver,“ said Joy Barbee, who is Weatherly’s youngest niece. “He was one of NASCAR’s first big stars, as his 25 wins and back-to-back championships in 1962 and 1963 will attest.

“In those days, the races were not televised in our home, and my mother would listen to them on the radio, but she sure got to know the local sportswriter at the newspaper. She knew exactly what time the races were over, and she would call the newspaper, and she would ask who won, and when she hung up the phone and she was crying and she was jumping with excitement, we knew that there was a ‘W’.“

Brad Keselowski, the 2012 Sprint Cup titleholder, introduced Weatherly, while Bud Moore, who was inducted into the second class in the NASCAR HofF in 2011, inducted him.

Lorenzen got his start in NASCAR as a mechanic with the famed Holman-Moody team in 1960, but he was elevated to lead driver by the end of the year. He won three races in only 15 starts the following season. Lorenzen’s best overall season came in 1963, posting six wins, 21 top-five finishes and 23 top-10s in 29 starts. Despite missing 26 races that season, he finished third in the standings.

Three-time Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart introduced Lorenzen. Amanda Gardstrom, who is Lorenzen’s daughter, inducted him.

“Our dad’s story began as a childhood dream,“ said Lorenzen’s son, Chris, who accepted the induction on behalf of his father. “All dad could think about was that he had to find a way to become a race car driver. He proceeded to live his life doing everything possible to make that dream come true. He always believed that anything is possible if you work hard enough and you put your mind to it, no matter what.“

Competing in the Cup Series during the 1950’s and 60’s, White was a short- track specialist in an era in which those tracks dominated the schedule. Of his 28 career wins in the series, only two came on tracks longer than one mile in length. White finished among the top-five in nearly a half of his 233 races and outside the top-10 only 30% of the time. He won six times during his 1960 championship season.

Reigning Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick introduced White.

“Words can’t express how honored I am to be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame along with the other Hall of Fame members, especially the 2015 fellow inductees,“ White said. “No driver wins a championship by himself. Nobody enters the Hall of Fame alone. I am a symbol of a team effort, my first race in 1953 until now. This effort spans 62 years.“

The Gilmer Free Press


References
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, FEBRUARY 01, 2015
National Football League - Playoffs
Super Bowl Pregame, 1:00 PM - NBC
New England vs. Seattle (Super Bowl XLIX), 6:30 PM - NBC
National Basketball Association
Miami at Boston, 1:00 PM - SunSports, CSN-New England, DSS
LA Lakers at New York, 2:00 PM - Time Warner, MSG, ESPN
National Hockey League
Arizona at Montreal, 1:00 PM - CITY, RDS, DSS
St. Louis at Washington, 1:00 PM - NBCSN
Nashville at Pittsburgh, 2:00 PM - FS-Tennessee, ROOT-Pittsburgh, DSS
Minnesota at Vancouver, 3:30 PM - FS-North, SNET-Pacific, DSS
College Basketball
Miami-Florida at Florida State, 12:30 PM - ESPN U
Oakland at Youngstown State, 12:30 PM - MASN, ESPN3.com
Cincinnati at East Carolina, 1:00 PM - CBSSN
Michigan at Michigan State, 1:00 PM - CBS
Marist at Canisius, 2:00 PM - Time Warner Sports
Fordham at Dayton, 2:00 PM - FS-Ohio
Manhattan at Monmouth, 2:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Utahat USC, 2:30 PM - ESPN U
Connecticut at Houston, 3:00 PM - CBSSN
California at Washington, 3:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
Women’s College Basketball
Penn State at Rutgers, 12:00 PM - Big Ten Network
Wake Forest at Notre Dame, 1:00 PM - FS-South, Florida, Detroit+, San Diego
Texas at TCU, 1:00 PM - FS-Southwest+
Arizona at Colorado, 1:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
Miami-Florida at Pittsburgh, 1:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Georgia at Kentucky, 1:00 PM - SEC Network
Boston College at North Carolina, 2:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Kansas at Baylor, 2:00 PM - SportSouth, FS-Detroit, Midwest, Southwest
Connecticut at Temple, 2:00 PM - ESPN 2
Arkansas at Alabama, 2:00 PM - SEC Network+
Virginia at Clemson, 2:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech, 2:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Michigan at Nebraska, 3:00 PM - Big Ten Network+
Wisconsin at Illinois, 3:00 PM - Big Ten Network+
Auburn at Texas A&M, 3:00 PM - SEC Network+
Miss State at Tennessee, 3:00 PM - SEC Network
Florida at Vanderbilt, 4:00 PM - SportSouth, FS-Florida, Detroit, Southwest
Iowa at Maryland, 4:00 PM - ESPN 2
Minnesota at Northwestern, 4:00 PM - Big Ten Network+
South Carolina at Ole Miss, 4:30 PM - ESPN U
International Soccer
Arsenal vs. Aston Villa, 8:30 AM - NBCSN
Udinese Calcio vs. Juventus FC, 8:55 AM - beIN Sports
CAF Orange Africa Cup of Nations, Quarter-Finals, 10:55 AM - beIN Sports
Southampton vs. Swansea City, 11:00 AM - NBCSN
Sevilla FC vs. RCD Espanyol, 12:55 PM - beIN Sports
FC Barcelona vs. Villarreal CF, 2:55 PM - beIN Sports
Golf
EUROPEAN - Dubai Desert Classic, 4:00 AM - Golf Channel
PGA - Phoenix Open, 3:00 PM - CBS
Tennis
Australian Open (Men’s Final), 3:00 AM - ESPN

Sports News   141212

The Gilmer Free Press


The Gilmer Free Press

►  Memphis is prepared for return of WVU fans

Memphis is preparing - are you?  That’s the question from Kevin Kane, the President and CEO Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“We have a guide to the Liberty Bowl.  It’ll take the fans to all the activities for the bowl and around the city that will be taking place.“ said Kane.

The West Virginia University Mountaineers will play the Texas A&M Aggies in the Auto Zone Liberty Bowl December 29 at 2 PM.

The Liberty Bowl is the seventh oldest bowl destination in the country.

“Liberty Bowl week is a big week in our city,“ explained Kane. “It’s celebrated by locals as well as guests and fans that come from the two participating schools.  We’ve been doing this a long, long time.“

In 1964, the Mountaineers faced off against Utah in the Liberty Bowl but couldn’t pull out a win losing 32-6.

“It’s the 50 year anniversary of the return of your great school,“ said Kane. “We’re so honored to have you guys here.“

WVU officially accepted an invitation to the AutoZone Liberty Bowl on Sunday, December 07. The game will be nationally televised on ESPN.

According to memphistravel.com, since it was founded in 1959, the Liberty Bowl has seen the likes of Bear Bryant, Lou Holtz, Bo Jackson, Archie Manning, Steve Spurrier and Doug Flutie.

The site, www.memphistravel.com, is set up to guide fans on: tailgating, parking, events leading up to the game, where to stay, things to do and places to eat.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  With time comes perspective

Like a lot of people around the country, when the final CFP rankings came out to determine the four playoff teams vying for this season’s national title, I was skeptical that the selection committee got it right.

However, with a few days to reflect on it, I have come to the realization that they did in fact get it correct and the four most qualified and deserving teams are indeed playing for the national championship.

Yes, there are a couple of teams in the state of Texas that would argue vehemently to the opposite, but the system currently in place doesn’t afford a fifth or sixth team.

Taking each team on its merits, the only logical decision was to have Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and Ohio State battle it out in a three-game playoff to determine a true champion.

Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide are the top team in the land and for good reason. Sure the Tide dropped a narrow decision on the road to a red-hot Ole Miss squad in early October, but the timing of the loss left Alabama with plenty of time to impress, and impress they did. The Crimson Tide not only stayed within striking distance in the SEC and the national title picture, but they climbed into the “pole position” by season’s end and capped things off with a 42-13 demolition of Missouri in the SEC Championship Game. With once again the nation’s stingiest defense, and great talent at the skill positions, Alabama will be extremely tough to knock off its lofty perch.

Mark Helfrich’s Ducks used the same blueprint to earn their way into the playoff scenario. Oregon dropped a 31-24 decision at home to Arizona, but that was way back on October 2. The team went on to win seven straight games to close out the regular season, all by double digits, and got sweet revenge over Arizona in the Pac-12 Championship Game, absolutely destroying the Wildcats on a neutral field, 51-13. It’s not official, but there is little doubt that Oregon QB Marcus Mariota will take home the Heisman Trophy. Now its just a question of whether or not that piece of hardware will have company in the trophy case.

The reigning national champions are America’s favorite team to hate. With a polarizing leader on offense in Jameis Winston and more close calls than Jimbo Fisher would like, Florida State seemed to back its way into the playoff picture. But the reality is that the Seminoles have won 29 straight games and no one has beaten them since the 2012 season. They are the only unbeaten team in the nation, and they won the ACC Championship in typical FSU fashion, edging out Georgia Tech, 37-35. Seven of their 13 wins this season have come by six points or less and many of those the team had to come from behind to get the victory. However, wins are just that and no one has won more games over the last two seasons than the ‘Noles

Finally, the team that gets the most criticism for being included is Ohio State. Yes, the Buckeyes suffered an ugly loss to a bad Virginia Tech team in Columbus (35-21), but that was with their second-string quarterback at the helm and, like the Crimson Tide and Ducks, it was very early (September 6). Other than surviving a close call with Penn State (31-24 2OT) and a seven-point win over Minnesota (31-24), Ohio State has won impressively, including a 49-37 victory on the road at Michigan State. The Buckeyes earned a spot in the Big Ten Championship, but once again had to go to the bench and use its third- string quarterback to take on Wisconsin. OSU didn’t just beat the Badgers, the Buckeyes embarrassed them, rolling to a 59-0 shutout and sporting an identical 12-1 record as Alabama and Oregon.

TCU and Baylor finished tied atop the Big 12 standings, but without a conference championship game, both teams finished up at 11-1 on the year. No one can forget the spectacle the two teams put on for the nation back on October 11, as the Bears edged out the Horned Frogs in a 61-58 shootout. That should have propelled Baylor just a notch ahead of TCU in the eyes of the selection committee, but instead the committee almost botched the whole thing by moving TCU into the third spot prior to the last week of the season. However, the powers that be didn’t compound that faux pas with another blunder, but instead, used Ohio State’s dominant performance in the Big Ten Championship Game to move past the Horned Frogs and claim the coveted spot among the first- ever college football playoff quartet, effectively getting it right.

Really, it was the Buckeyes that made the decision easier, extinguishing any lingering doubt with their performance against Wisconsin. They won their way into the playoff, rather than Baylor or TCU losing a spot.

In the end, four deserving teams all winning conference championships remain standing now that the dust has cleared.

Seems like a fair and reasonable conclusion.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Colts search for another AFC South crown

Just do what you always do.

That’s probably the narrative that Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano is trying to sell to his team this week.

The Colts have owned the AFC South over the past two seasons and one more win against one of its inhabitants will lift Indianapolis to its second straight division crown.

Indy will search for its 12th straight win in the division Sunday against J.J. Watt and the Houston Texans. A victory for the Colts clinches the South for Pagano’s club while the Texans can close the gap to just one game with two to play if they get the triumph.

The Colts have generally owned Houston over the years, compiling a 21-4 all- time record against the Texans, including a 33-28 win in South Texas back on October 9 when Andrew Luck threw for 370 yards and three TDs with T.Y. Hilton doing most of the damage, catching nine balls for a career-high 223 yards and a score.

Things have been even tougher over the years for the Texans in the Hoosier State where they’ve never won, compiling a dismal 0-12 mark in Indianapolis.

“We’re well aware that we have not won there,“ Houston first-year coach Bill O’Brien said.

Any time the Colts and Texans tangle, the storyline is always going to focus on Luck and J.J. Watt, perhaps the top young offensive and defensive star in the NFL.

Luck, Indianapolis’ star quarterback, has already thrown for 12,501 passing yards, the most ever by any player in his first three NFL seasons. Watt, the Texans’ All-World defensive lineman, recorded three sacks last week in Jacksonville, become only the fifth player to amass at least 50 sacks (51) in his first four NFL seasons.

The Colts inched closer to the division crown with a heart-stopping 25-24 win in Cleveland last weekend when Luck’s 1-yard touchdown pass to Hilton with 32 seconds left in the fourth quarter proved to be the difference.

Luck connected on 24-of-53 throws for 294 yards with a pair of interceptions and two scores, both to Hilton, who had 10 catches for 150 yards.

“We struggled early. Credit to them,“ said Luck. “Our tempo definitely helped. We were forced into a hurry-up tempo but I think that it was beneficial.“

Houston, meanwhile, topped the Jags, 27-13, behind Watt and Arian Foster, who ran for 127 yards and a touchdown.

The Texans earned consecutive wins for the first time since starting the season 2-0 and are among five different AFC teams with a 7-6 record.

“The rest of the games are ‘must wins.‘ There’s no room for error,“ Foster said.

Ryan Fitzpatrick only threw 19 times and finished with 135 yards through the air but did run for a touchdown. One of his favorite targets, Andre Johnson, exited early in the second quarter with a concussion.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Indianapolis is very dynamic on offense, ranking tops in the NFL with 432.4 yards per game which is directly tied to Luck because the running game has been virtually non-existent since Ahmad Bradshaw was lost to injury.

Luck leads the league with 4,305 passing yards and is tied for the top spot with 36 TD throws and his top target, Hilton, is third in football with 1,295 receiving yards. However, the Colts can get bogged down and become one dimensional because Trent Richardson is what he is at this point and that is a back who averages only 3.3 yards per rush.

The hope is playing cleaner moving forward will turn Indy into a legitimate contender on the AFC side of things, along with the conferences’s two 10-3 teams, New England and Denver.

The Colts turned it over a four times in Cleveland last weekend, two fumbles and two interceptions. Move back three weeks and Indianapolis has lost seven fumbles and had three Luck passes swiped, giving the team a dreadful minus-4 turnover ratio on the season, not a favorable trend especially with a turnover machine like Watt looming.

Part of the issue has been Luck trying to extend plays.

“There’s a ton of plays over the course of the last two and three-quarter seasons that if (Luck) doesn’t hang in there, if he doesn’t do this, if he doesn’t do that, if he doesn’t take off and run and make three guys miss and get in the end zone to get our first touchdown,“ Pagano said. “So, there’s a lot of great things that come out of trying to make plays, and he’s a playmaker.“

Watt returned a Luck fumble for a touchdown back in October and had two sacks in that game. Overall, Houston’s defense is 25th in the NFL, allowing 373.0 ypg there is room to work as long as you can keep Watt from disrupting the game.

“We’ve got to get (the turnover issue) cleaned up,“ Pagano admitted. “You credit the opponent for stripping the ball and making plays, but it’s still no excuse. ... We’ve got to get it cleaned up, period.“

The Texans will try to buck history in Indianapolis with some injury issues. Johnson, who leads the team with 69 receptions for 737 yards, is iffy for the game with the concussion.

“It’s not really about progress as much it’s just day-to-day, taking the test and whatever that test is,“ O’Brien said when discussing Johnson. “We’re really on top of that - our medical people. It’s a very, very serious thing and my big thing there with him, I was just so worried about him when I saw him get hit like that. He’s day-to-day.“

Houston also shut down No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney for the season after the former South Carolina star underwent microfracture surgery on his right knee Tuesday.

Fitzpatrick threw for 358 yards and six TDs against Tennessee on November 30, his first game back as a starter after Ryan Mallett went down with a torn pec. Things evened out a bit in Jacksonville, though, as the veteran played game manager as Foster, who is third in the AFC with 1.028 rushing yards, handled the offensive workload.

“Everybody knows that this is our shot,“ Fitzpatrick said. “You know what will happen if we lose a game, so every game is even more important than the last one.“

OVERALL ANALYSIS

Indianapolis has its flaws but everything is pointing toward the Colts in this one as the team searches for its ninth AFC South title in 13 years. Indy has won five of six at home and nine of 11 overall since an 0-2 start, and its 12-0 all-time home mark against the Texans isn’t a trend, that’s dominance.


►  CJ2K’s return to Music City headlines battle of 2-win teams

At last, the New York Jets can be picked on someone sharing a similarly mediocre win-loss size.

The Tennessee Titans will host the visiting Jets this weekend in the NFL’s lone Week 15 battle of 2-11 teams, and, as unlikely as it may sound, matchups actually dictate that Rex Ryan and Co. could be in for a rare bout with success.

New York is second in the league with an average per-week rate of 149.7 rushing yards, which presumably would mean prosperity against the Titans, whose average of 141.5 rush yards allowed is worst among the league’s 32 teams. That number rises to 173.0 when only counting Tennessee’s six home games, which goes a long way toward explaining the team’s lowly 1-5 home record.

Tennessee, in fact, has lost seven games in a row by an average of 15 points, which is the franchise’s longest drought since the Houston Oilers dropped 11 consecutive games in 1994. Last week, the Titans were brutalized, 36-7, by the Jets’ fellow northern New Jersey swamp-dwellers, the New York Giants.

The Giants racked up 402 total yards to Tennessee’s 207, and the Titans converted two of 13 third downs, to the predictable post-game chagrin of their players and coaches.

“It’s disappointing,“ tight end Delanie Walker said. “We’ve only won two games, and we’re still playing the same way. We always say we’re going to change, and nothing changes.“

Well, almost nothing.

The arrival of the Jets will also signal the return of former starting quarterback Jake Locker, who’s all but guaranteed that role this weekend thanks to the doubtful status of recent incumbent Zach Mettenberger - who re- dinged a sprained shoulder when he was sacked for a fifth time last week.

Mettenberger had an 86.7 passer rating in six starts, and while Tennessee coach Ken Whisenhunt insisted he wouldn’t rule the youngster out until “I know for sure he can’t go,“ he did assess the scenario for Locker, whose 71.1 passer rating is better than just one NFL starter - New York’s Geno Smith.

Locker was 9-of-11 for 81 yards and an interception as a reliever against the Giants.

“It’s an opportunity to play. Jake wants that,“ Whisenhunt said.

“(He just needs to) prepare the best he can and do the best job he can. I think that’s the way he’ll look at it. He’s a good pro. He’s been in a tough situation, coming in like that. He did some good things (Sunday). He moved around in the pocket well, ran with the ball a couple of times. On the one interception, he was trying to make a play at the end of the game.“

Meanwhile, the Jets have lost nine straight games in which the aforementioned Smith has started, including a 30-24 overtime decision last week in Minnesota, in which Smith’s first pass was intercepted and returned for a touchdown. He finished with 18 completions in 29 attempts for 254 yards.

In his second year as a pro, his touchdown-to-interception ratio of 0.67 remains second-worst in the

NFL, but that didn’t stop him this week from telling New York’s Newsday publication that he’d “shown flashes of being a Pro Bowl quarterback.“

“I feel like I have the tools and I have what it takes to be that, but, obviously, it takes some consistency and I’ve been very inconsistent in my two years here. With that being said, I’ll be more of the guy you see doing well than the guy who struggles at times.“

It may not help his cause this week that his favorite new target - in-season trade acquisition Percy Harvin - is doubtful with an ankle injury suffered against the Vikings. On the other side, defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson is questionable after he missed last week’s game with a toe injury.

Among the Jets who do figure to play, the game marks a return to old stomping grounds for running back Chris Johnson, who signed with New York as a free agent after spending his first six NFL years with the Titans. He ran for 7,965 yards, including 2,006 in 2009, and 50 touchdowns with Tennessee, placing him third in franchise history in both categories.

In 13 games with New York, he’s run for 558 yards and is averaging 4.5 yards per rush.

“Going to the visitor’s locking room, it’s going to be kind of weird,“ he said. “It’s definitely harder than what I expected, but it’s a situation where a lot of times stuff is out of your hands that you can’t control, so I just try to take advantage of every opportunity I get.“

Johnson’s lone 100-yard game of the season came in Week 13 against Miami, when he went for 105 on 17 carries. Last week against Minnesota, he had 16 carries for 53 yards.

“If you give him an opportunity to hit the home run, he can do it,“ Tennessee defensive back Michael Griffin said. “We have our work cut out for us. He’s going to be geared up and ready to play and looking to prove to us and the organization it was mistake to let him go.“

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

A Day in McCourty

Take Smith’s lingering tendency to throw the ball to the wrong team and add in the fact that he’ll probably be without his favorite receiving option - Harvin - and it could spell trouble. Tennessee cornerback Jason McCourty has three interceptions, two forced fumbles and 10 pass deflections through 13 games, often while blanketing the opposing team’s best receiver.

Return to Glory?

Conversely, the presumed return of Locker to the Titans’ starting quarterback position gives the fourth-year pro - a No. 8 overall draft selection in 2011 - a chance to be the latest passer to victimize the Jets’ faulty secondary. New York has allowed 29 passing touchdowns in 14 games (second-worst in the league) and is 29th in the league when it comes to interceptions.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

The Jets haven’t gotten to 2-11 without finding ways to lose games that they presumably ought to win.

And while they may have indeed found their counterpart in mediocrity against the Titans, the reality remains that they’re a road team with a 0-6 record on the road. Though it would hardly be a surprise to see them piece together a victory, instead expect a battle of field goals that goes late to the home side.


►  Lions try to keep pace in NFC North, host Vikings

The dismal performance of the NFC South this season means a very good football team will not be participating in the conference playoffs.

The Detroit Lions are intent on making sure that good team isn’t them.

The Lions will try to keep on the heels of the Green Bay Packers in the NFC North against an improving Minnesota Vikings team beginning to blossom under rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

The Lions enter Week 15 at 9-4, one-game behind the Packers in the division and tied with three other teams (Philadelphia, Dallas and Seattle) for the second best mark in the conference, one-game south of Green Bay and Arizona, who are both 10-3.

One of those teams won’t be making the postseason because the winner of the NFC South (either 5-8 New Orleans and Atlanta or 4-8-1 Carolina) will have its ticket punched.

That makes every game ultra-important for the Lions, who will be searching for a rare season sweep of the Vikings after beating them in Minneapolis, 17-3, back on October 12.

Detroit kept pace in the playoff race last weekend by taking care of business against hapless Tampa Bay, winning 34-17 behind Matthew Stafford, who had three touchdown passes, and Joique Bell, who scored twice.

Stafford went 26-for-34 for 311 yards with touchdown passes to Bell, Calvin Johnson and Joseph Fauria for the Lions, who have won two straight after consecutive road losses.

“I feel good, I feel confident in what we are doing,“ said Stafford. “The guys on offense are feeling pretty confident in what we’ve been doing here lately, and the guys up front are keeping me clean most of the time.“

Johnson finished the game with eight catches for 158 yards, while Bell had 18 carries for 83 yards and a rushing touchdown while adding five catches for 50 yards for Detroit.

“Our guys certainly played a good team game today,“ said Detroit head coach Jim Caldwell. “It certainly wasn’t perfect, they never are. Our offense was controlled and we ran the ball better than pretty much any game this year.“

The Vikings, meanwhile, have been playing better recently behind Bridgewater, who is 4-2 in his last six starts with a passer rating of 91.0 in those games. Only the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers, New Orleans’ Drew Brees and Atlanta’s Matt Ryan have performed better among NFC quarterbacks over that span.

Last weekend Jarius Wright turned a quick Bridgewater smoke screen into a winning 87-yard touchdown in overtime, lifting Minnesota over the New York Jets, 30-24.

“I knew it was going to be a touchdown,“ said Bridgewater after seeing Wright run past the last defender. “I knew once we got that play set up, it was up to Jarius to do the rest.“

Bridgewater completed 19-of-27 passes for 309 yards and a pair of touchdowns with an interception to lead the Vikings to their second straight win.

Wright finished with 123 yards on four catches, and Charles Johnson also scored with four catches for 103 yards.

“We’ve seen nothing but flashes from him since he arrived here,“ said Bridgewater about Johnson, who was plucked off Cleveland’s practice squad.

Matt Asiata led Minnesota with 54 rushing yards and linebacker Gerald Hodges returned an interception for a touchdown for the first score of the game.

The Vikings lead the all-time series by a significant 69-35-2 margin but the Lions have won two of three, including the win in October.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

The Lions have been known for late-season collapses, losing six of their final seven games a year ago and dropping nine straight in the month of December before disposing of the Bucs last weekend.

Things have changed under first-year coach Caldwell.

“It’s a new day. He said it from the beginning, coach Caldwell, put it on Caldwell,“ veteran center Dominic Raiola said. “We keeping doing it every week and it’s getting fun around here. The more we just worry about what’s going on right now, handle the day, the better off we’re going to be.“

Stafford has been making it especially fun over the past two weeks against Chicago and Tampa, completing 60-of-79 passes for 701 yards with five TDs and no interceptions. His hot streak coincides with the health of the All-World Johnson, who has caught 19 passes for 304 yards and three TDs in those two games.

“We’ve definitely found a rhythm,“ Johnson said. “I’m feeling pretty good ... the best I’ve felt in a little while.“

Stafford still has some demons to exercise, however. He threw just eight TD passes and had 12 picks with a dismal 70.0 passer rating in Detroit’s nine- game Christmas time swoon before righting the ship a bit against Tampa Bay.

“I feel good. I feel confident in what we’re doing,“ Stafford said. “The guys are catching the ball, which is always great.“

The Vikings figure to be much tougher than the Bears and Bucs, though, especially on defense where Mike Zimmer has put together a unit that can give up some yardage but has two elite playmakers in right end Everson Griffen, who is second in the NFC with 12 sacks, and safety Harrison Smith, the only player in the NFL with at least three sacks and three interceptions.

Chicago is 30th against the pass and the Buccaneers are 24th while Minnesota is sixth, allowing just 220.8 passing yards a game, limiting Stafford to 185 yards in the first matchup between the two teams.

The other aspect for the Lions which isn’t new or at least not new enough is discipline. Long regarded as one of the NFL’s dumbest teams under previous coaching regimes, Detroit is still committing far too many penalties.

“I am more interested in winning. But I know one thing: If you have too many (penalties), they lead to problems, they lead to deficiencies, they lead to losses,“ Caldwell said. “That is an area we have to get straightened away.“

The Vikings have something in Bridgewater, who brings a rare sense of calm to the pocket you don’t often see from young quarterbacks. The former Louisville star seems to have the innate feel to make good decisions and is very accurate in the short to mid-range areas.

“This franchise is Teddy’s. I know that was a good headline for you,“ Zimmer said. “That’s what he needs to do. He needs to take it over. This is his team now.“

The deep ball has been a problem but even that seems to be improving thanks to the emergence of Johnson, a 6-foot-2 rangy receiver with tremendous straight- line speed and rare leaping ability, who has been creating tremendous separation.

“(Johnson is) a great route runner. He’s a guy who’s very patient,“ Bridgewater said.

The Lions defense, which allows an NFL-low 17.2 points per game, forced Bridgewater into his worst start as a pro back in October, intercepting him three times.

That’s an issue because Minnesota will likely be without three starters on its offensive line. Right tackle Phil Loadholt and right guard Brandon Fusco are done for the season with torn pecs, while left guard Charlie Johnson will likely miss the game with a sprained ankle.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

Despite trailing the Packers, the Lions control their own destiny because they are 3-0 in the division and beat Green Bay in the Motor City back in September. The Lions close the regular season with three straight NFC North matchups—against the Vikings and at Chicago before a Week 17 matchup at Green Bay, where they have dropped 22 straight.

There is no room for error for the Lions especially over the next two weeks and Minnesota’s offensive line troubles should be enough to slant things toward Detroit.


►  Forsett takes aim at Jaguars

It’s no wonder Justin Forsett is looking forward to this week.

The seventh-year pro spent a nondescript 2013 with the Jacksonville Jaguars, before latching on with the Baltimore Ravens this season and becoming a 1,000- yard rusher for the first time in his career.

The Ravens will host the Jaguars on Sunday, which provides Forsett a crack at a team that’s been gashed for nearly 160 rush yards per game over its last half-dozen, since starting linebacker Paul Posluszny was lost for the season with a chest injury. Jacksonville had allowed 110.3 per game in its first seven.

Forsett ran for 100 yards or more for three straight games before dipping to 71 yards on 13 carries in a Week 14 defeat of Miami. Still, he’s racked up six yards per carry and scored five touchdowns in those four games, while the Ravens have averaged 168.5 ground yards and won three times.

The Jaguars have allowed 20 or more rushing yards on 15 plays, most in the league. Last week’s home loss to Houston included a 51-yard run by Arian Foster, and 173 yards by the Texans overall.

“We’ve been a lot better in certain aspects of the run game, but we’ve given up some big numbers on certain plays,“ linebacker J.T. Thomas said. “Everyone is doing everything in their power to make sure we get better in that aspect of the run game.“

The team is 0-6 on the road in 2014, but hasn’t gone 0-for-a-season away from home since 2003.

Jacksonville led by three points at halftime last week before ultimately losing by 14. It has been shut out in the third quarter in seven of 13 games, and have scored just 32 points in 13 third quarters overall.

Baltimore has allowed three third-quarter points in its last five games.

“I can’t pinpoint a reason right now,“ Jaguars left tackle Luke Joeckel said. “It needs to get fixed.“

While this week’s visitors are looking for simple answers, the Ravens are a touch more concerned with complex standings issues.

Baltimore is part of a gaggle pursuing two available AFC wild-card playoff spots, but while its 8-5 record is even with San Diego and Pittsburgh, it would finish third in the group once tiebreakers are applied.

That said, the Ravens are in if they sweep their remaining games against the 2-11 Jaguars, 7-6 Texans and 7-6 Cleveland Browns.

“We could sit here and say we wish we’d be another game or two better, and we could say we’re happy we’re not a game or two worse,“ Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said. “We’re pleased with the fact that we’re in the hunt and control our own destiny. It’s just our job to make the most of it.“

Some would claim the Ravens have made the most of their situation already, given the season-long absence of former running back Ray Rice, the recent suspension of defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and injuries to tight end Dennis Pitta and cornerback Jimmy Smith.

“We’ve got a resilient bunch,“ Harbaugh said. “They’re mentally tough, they don’t get caught up in the noise. They don’t get easily distracted. We say turn neither to the left or the right, eyes straight ahead.“

Baltimore trailed by 10 against Miami last week before rallying for a 15-point win in which quarterback Joe Flacco had two touchdown passes, ran for another score and led fourth-quarter drives covering 80 and 81 yards. One week earlier, the Ravens lost a 10-point lead in falling to San Diego, 34-33, at home.

Steve Smith had seven catches for 70 yards and a TD against Miami, and claimed the defeat of the Dolphins helped salve the wounds from the Chargers disappointment.

“(The San Diego defeat) just took a lot out of us,“ he said. “But you can’t sit there and throw a party if you won, and you can’t throw a pity party if you lose. You just got to get back on the horse and just hold on.“

Wide receiver Torrey Smith was on the field for just 15 snaps against Miami and is questionable this week with a knee problem, meaning third-year man Kamar Allen - who’s caught nine balls for 116 yards and a score in the last two weeks - could get additional emergence time.

On defense, Elvis Dumervil has a franchise-record 16 sacks after racking up 3 1/2 last week, and he faces a recurring target in Jacksonville’s Blake Bortles, who’s been dumped 38 times this season - 19 in the last four games.

“We’ve got a team that’s playing pretty well right now and gaining some confidence,“ Flacco said.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Bortles vs. Chaos

Jacksonville quarterbacks have been sacked a league-high 54 times - including four last week against the Texans - and the fortunes don’t figure to improve much when Bortles is looking across the line at a Baltimore defense that’s record 37 in 13 games, good for sixth in the league.

Keeping track of a rushing linebacker like Dumervil will be an all-day job if the aim is to keep Bortles vertical.

Checking the Horizon

With three games to go in yet another lost season, the Jaguars are yet again auditioning young players who may or may not have significant roles for 2015 and beyond. So while playoffs are not a concern, job security is for guys like wide receiver Marqise Lee, cornerback Johnathan Cyprien and aforementioned offensive lineman Joeckel. Seeing how they perform here will begin to shape roles for next season.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

Let’s face it. There’s simply no reason why a 2-11 Jacksonville team without a road victory should be able to come into a hostile environment - where the Ravens are 4-2 this season - and defeat a battle - hardened team that’s once again playing for its playoff existence.

Expect Harbaugh to insist on a strong start to remove any idea that an upset could happen. If that start occurs, the upset will not.


►  Bears place Williams on IR, sign FB Owens

The Chicago Bears placed linebacker D.J. Williams on injured reserve due to a neck injury Thursday. The club also signed former Pro Bowl fullback Montell Owens.

This season Williams saw action in 12 contests, starting 10, and recorded 73 tackles. He is in second season with Bears, having started 14-of-18 games while notching 112 tackles, two sacks and one forced fumble.

Williams has appeared in 145 games with 129 starts over 10 seasons with Denver (2004-12) and Chicago (2013-14), recording 998 tackles, 22 1/2 sacks and two interceptions.

Owens, a two-time Pro Bowl selection, has appeared in 108 games with four starts over nine seasons with Jacksonville (2006-12) and Detroit (2013-14), and has 56 carries for 292 yards and three touchdowns to go along with 12 receptions for 132 yards. He also has recorded 74 special teams tackles, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.


►  Browns turn to Manziel with season on the line

Ready or not, here comes Johnny Football.

With their playoff chances starting to fade, the Cleveland Browns hope to get a jolt under center this Sunday when rookie Johnny Manziel makes his first career start in a home matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Browns selected Manziel with the 22nd overall pick of the 2014 draft, the second of two first-round selections for the club.

Despite his highlight-reel resume at Texas A&M that helped earn him the Heisman Trophy, Manziel was unable to beat out Brian Hoyer for the starting job at the start of the season. Cleveland started 6-3 under Hoyer, but his play has come under fire as of late with the Browns losing three of their past four.

Manziel made his NFL debut in late relief action versus Buffalo on November 30, with the 22-year-old completing 5-of-9 pass attempts for 63 yards while also scoring a rushing touchdown.

Head coach Mike Pettine decided to stick with Hoyer for this past Sunday’s game versus the Indianapolis Colts, but the now-former starter didn’t impress with just 140 yards passing in a 25-24 loss.

Thanks to a pair of defensive touchdowns, the Browns were in position to win until the Colts’ Andrew Luck threw a one-yard touchdown pass to T.Y. Hilton with 32 seconds left in the fourth quarter. That gave Cleveland consecutive losses for the first time this season.

Linebacker Craig Robertson recovered a fumble in the end zone and rookie cornerback Justin Gilbert had a 23-yard pick-six in the third quarter, his first career interception.

Hoyer, though, was picked off twice and the only offensive touchdown for the Browns came on a nine-yard run by Isaiah Crowell.

“Obviously, very disappointed,“ said Pettine. “When you lose a close game like that, for the most part our guys played at a high level.“

Pettine, though, apparently doesn’t think that was the case with Hoyer, so Manziel will become the 21st different QB to start a game for the Browns since 1999.

“This decision is really not about Brian Hoyer or Johnny Manziel, it is about the Cleveland Browns,“ Pettine said. “We are always going to make decisions that we feel are in the best interest of the team.“

Manziel, who has been plagued with questions about his off-the-field lifestyle and dedication to the position, had another chip put on his shoulder when Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis referred to the 6-foot, 210-pound Manziel as a midget during the team’s radio show on Monday night.

Lewis has since apologized for the remarks, but shined more negative light on a Bengals club that is coming off a 42-21 pounding at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Cincinnati had a three-game win streak halted and allowed the race for first place in the AFC North to get tighter. The Bengals lead the pack at 8-4-1, while the Steelers and Baltimore Ravens both trail at 8-5. The Browns remain in the mix as well at 7-6.

The Bengals led 21-17 over the Steelers after the third quarter, but Pittsburgh outscored Cincinnati 25-0 in the fourth, a quarter in which it gained 229 of its 543 total net yards.

“I’m sort of at a loss for words,“ said Bengals linebacker Vincent Rey. “Let me just say that I know we can play better, myself first and everyone else, too. We start back on that road beginning this week.“

Andy Dalton threw for 302 yards, hooking up with wide receiver A.J. Green for an 81-yard touchdown and running for a 20-yard score. But he also lost a key fourth-quarter fumble.

Green caught 11 passes for a career-best 224 yards.

The pressure to win this game is just as great for the Bengals as it is for the Browns. Cincinnati must host the mighty Denver Broncos next week before ending the regular season with a rematch at Pittsburgh.

Also, Cleveland has already beaten Cincinnati this season, picking up a 24-3 road win back on November 6. The Browns got rushing touchdowns from Ben Tate (since waived), Crowell and Terrance West, while Dalton was picked off three times and held to 86 yards passing.

It marked the Brown’s third victory in their last four versus the Bengals.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Many will question Pettine’s decision to wait as long as he did to turn to Manziel, especially given that Hoyer had just one touchdown pass to eight interceptions over the club’s current 1-3 stretch.

Over 13 games this season, Hoyer has thrown for 3,196 yards with 11 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.

“Although I am disappointed by coach’s decision, I respect him and his choice and will be there to support Johnny,“ Hoyer said. “As always, I will do whatever I can to help this team win.“

Pettine hopes that Manziel can do that on the field. The flashy quarterback hasn’t really had a chance to really show what he can do, but is known for his ability to create plays and will look to prove he has the arm, speed and confidence to handle the NFL.

“Brian has done everything that has been asked of him and he has done so as a true professional,“ said Pettine. “It’s never just any one position when a unit is not functioning at the level you’d like. We are trying to get the offense to perform at a higher level. Johnny has worked very hard to earn this opportunity and it will be very important for every member of the offense to elevate their play for us to obtain our desired result.“

Said Browns offensive tackle Joe Thomas, “I’m excited to see what Johnny can do. He did some good things for us in the preseason and when he was in there against Buffalo.“

One player who should be excited to see Manziel under center is playmaking wide receiver Josh Gordon.

Gordon had a monster 2013 season with 87 catches for 1,646 yards and nine touchdowns, but missed the first 10 games of this campaign due to suspension. He had a big season debut with eight receptions and 120 yards in Week 12 at Atlanta, but has been held to nine catches and 90 yards the past two weeks. Gordon made only two catches versus the Colts.

Gordon had 125 yards and a touchdown on five catches the last time he faced the Bengals.

Cleveland’s defense relies on shutting down opponents quarterbacks and the Browns lead the NFL with 19 interceptions. Cornerback Buster Skrine picked up two of his four picks this season versus the Bengals, while safety Tashaun Gipson leads the league with six picks.

Gipson, though, has missed the past two games with a knee injury and is out this weekend as well.

The play of linebacker Paul Kruger has helped the defense as well. Kruger leads the team with nine sacks, the most by a Browns player since Kamerion Wimbley’s 11 in 2006, and has a career-high three forced fumbles.

Linebacker Karlos Dansby, meanwhile, has a chance to return this weekend for the Browns from a knee injury suffered on November 16.

Though the Bengals have two capable runners in Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard, it will be hard for them to pass up testing Cleveland’s secondary again due to the presence of Green.

Green’s 224 yards versus Pittsburgh were the second-most in a single game in Bengals history behind only Chad Johnson’s 260 in 2006.

Green’s previous high was 183 yards set in 2012 and he has gone over 100 yards in three of his past four games as he seems to have fully moved past a toe ailment that plagued him earlier this season.

“When you’ve got a guy like A.J., you want to get him the ball,“ Dalton said after the Steelers game. “We had a lot of really good looks today, and we hit big plays. Down the stretch, we’ve got to rely on A.J. He’s such a big play waiting to happen.“

After getting blitzed by the Steelers’ offense, the Bengals are now tied for 28th in the NFL with 377.8 yards allowed per game. They also learned this week they won’t have linebacker Vontaze Burfict for the rest of the season as he was placed on injured reserve Tuesday because of a knee issue that had caused him to miss the past six games.

Luckily for Lewis’ defense, Rey has proven to be a capable option. He has made 10 starts while playing in all 13 games, with injuries opening the door for increased time.

Rey has responded with a club-high 97 tackles, with 15 of those coming versus the Steelers.

“Vinny is a great example of the concept that it’s not how you get here, it’s what you do when you get here,“ said Lewis. “He’s a smart player, a dedicated worker and a physical player. He’s earned everything he’s gotten and we are very fortunate to have him.“

OVERALL ANALYSIS

Though there will be pressure on Manziel given that the Browns are still very much in the playoff hunt, making his debut at home should help things a bit. The Bengals know this and Dalton said his club needs to get off to a good start.

“The better you are early on in the games, you can take away the crowd and all that kind of stuff,“ said Dalton. “But we know the kind of atmosphere we’re going to get. So we’ve just got to be ready to come out firing.“

Cincinnati got next to nothing offensively when it last played Cleveland and would love to return to the favor this weekend. The key will be forcing Manziel into trying to do too much and a veteran coach like Lewis should have his defense ready.


►  McCoy to start for Redskins, if healthy

Colt McCoy will be the starting quarterback for the Washington Redskins on Sunday against the New York Giants if he is medically cleared to play.

Redskins coach Jay Gruden made the announcement Thursday, but added that Robert Griffin III would be the starter if McCoy is unable to play for health reasons.

McCoy suffered a neck sprain during last Sunday’s 24-0 loss to St. Louis. He practiced Thursday and will be examined by a doctor on Friday.

It would be the third straight start for McCoy, who took over after Griffin was benched three weeks ago.

McCoy threw for 199 yards with a pair of interceptions last week against the Rams after a 392-yard, three-touchdown performance the week before in a 49-27 loss to Indianapolis.

The Redskins haven’t won a game since McCoy led them to a 20-17 overtime win in Dallas on October 27.

Griffin returned from an ankle injury the following week and started three games—losses to the Vikings, Buccaneers and 49ers—before being benched.


►  Desperate Chiefs try to resuscitate playoff hopes against Raiders

The Kansas City Chiefs try to resuscitate their fading playoff hopes on Sunday when they try to stop a three-game losing streak against the Oakland Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium.

Kansas City’s skid started with Oakland’s first win of the season back in Week 14, but has continued through this past Sunday when it was upended by the Arizona Cardinals, 17-14.

The Chiefs had the ball with 1:09 remaining, but they mustered just seven yards before turning the ball over on downs. Alex Smith’s short pass to Jason Avant fell incomplete on a 4th- and-15 with 11 ticks on the clock.

Arizona’s defense shut out the Chiefs in the second half after surrendering two scores to Jamaal Charles in the opening 30 minutes. He ran for a 63-yard touchdown and caught an 18-yard TD pass.

Smith went 12-of-13 in the first half, but was limited to 14-of-26 efficiency in the second. He threw for 293 yards in all.

“We had some three-and-outs,“ said Chiefs coach Andy Reid. “We had too many. They did a good job and we couldn’t get ourselves in a rhythm.“

Still, despite the slide the Chiefs are one of five 7-6 teams in the mix for the AFC’s two wild-card spots currently occupied by Pittsburgh (8-5) and San Diego (8-5). Kansas City visits the Steelers next week before closing the season against the Chargers.

“I don’t know all the (playoff) scenarios and really don’t care,“ Smith said. “It’s not our deal. ... We have to get a win this week.“

While it’s probably unfair to call the 2-11 Raiders hot, but they certainly come into this one in better shape than the Chiefs. Oakland won for the second time in three weeks on Sunday, as Derek Carr had three touchdown passes to lead the Raiders in a 24-13 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.

“We stayed together as a team is supposed to,“ Carr said. “We came out here and fought.“

Carr went 22-for-28 for 254 yards with touchdown passes to Donald Penn, Marcel Reece and Mychal Rivera as the Raiders bounced back from an embarrassing 52-0 loss at St. Louis in Week 13.

“People had us dead and buried last week,“ interim coach Tony Sparano said. “I mean, we were done. It was 52-0, everybody quit. This team is a resilient team. I’ve said it all along. For some reason or another, nobody wants to listen, but I’ve been saying it. This is the type of team they are.

“We need to make sure that we just focus on us right now going into this. We need to understand and learn from what happened to us two weeks ago.“

The Raiders are 0-6 on the road for the first time since losing all eight games in 2006. They are 2-20 away from home over the last three seasons, though one of those victories was 26-16 at Arrowhead on October 28, 2012.

However, they have won six of their last seven versus Kansas City, including the Week 12 matchup that saw Oakland rush for 179 yards on the ground and Carr cap a 18- play 80-yard drive with a go ahead touchdown with 1:42 left in the game.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

If you are a fan of the running game this will be the game for you.

Although Charles missed practice earlier in the week with an ankle injury, he should be ready to go in this one. The NFL leader this season with 14 touchdowns, Charles figures to add to that total this week, as he has compiled 465 yards from scrimmage and eight touchdowns over a three-game stretch against Oakland.

However, it didn’t look good for him last week when he left the loss to Arizona for a short time with an ankle injury.

“It was scary at first,“ Charles said after that one. “I thought I tore it up.“

Kansas City needs Charles on the field, as it is 6-2 this season when he gets at least 14 carries.

Oakland, meanwhile, may have found a diamond in the rough in rookie Latavius Murray. The first-year pro gashed the Chiefs for 112 yards back on November20, but suffered a concussion after just four carries and missed his team’s awful loss to St. Louis.

However, he returned on Sunday against the 49ers and ran for 76 yards on 23 carries.

“He’s real good - fast, explosive, finds the hole real well,“ Chiefs defensive tackle Dontari Poe said. “We’ve got to kind of put a hat on him and then try to keep him out of each hole.“

Murray figures to have another good game this coming week, as teams have racked up 164.7 yards per game on the ground against the Chiefs since October 30. Still, Kansas City has allowed just two rushing touchdowns on the season - both to Murray.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

As impressive a win as the Raiders had last week against a San Francisco team in turmoil, they will have their hands full this week against a Chiefs team still fighting for a playoff spot with revenge on their mind.

If Kansas City misses out on the postseason it very well may point to that Week 12 loss to the Raiders as the reason. The Chiefs should be able to keep Murray in check this time and force Carr into some mistakes.


►  NFL Game Results - Week 15

(THURSDAY, DECEMBER 11)

Final Score: Arizona 12, St. Louis 6

Chandler Catanzaro made four field goals as the Arizona Cardinals moved closer to clinching a playoff spot despite not scoring a touchdown in a 12-6 victory over the St. Louis Rams on Thursday. The Cardinals (11-3) now own the league’s best record and can secure a postseason berth this Sunday as long as the Dallas-Philadelphia game doesn’t end in a tie. Arizona can also clinch with a Detroit loss against Minnesota and a Green Bay win or tie in Buffalo. Arizona, however, suffered another injury at quarterback at the hands of the St. Louis defense as Drew Stanton left the game with a right knee injury in the third quarter. He was carted off to the locker room and did not return. Stanton, who was 12-of-20 for 109 yards before exiting, started his fifth straight game after Carson Palmer tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in a 31-14 win over the Rams on Nov. 9. Ryan Lindley took over for Stanton and completed four of his 10 passes for 30 yards. Larry Fitzgerald (31 years, 102 days old) became the youngest player in NFL history to compile 900 career receptions after finishing with seven catches for 30 yards. Arizona’s 11 wins ties a franchise record which was also set in 1925 and 1948.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  How I defeated the Great Aaron Rodgers

I am sure all of our readers and all you fantasy owners out there have had your fair share of crazy finishes to fantasy football matchups over the years.

I am no different, as I have been on both the right and wrong ends of garbage- time touchdowns during the final possessions of Monday night games, which in turn, determined the final score of fantasy matchups. That, along with seeing a player get a few useless yards which directly impacted a fantasy score, have made for some gut-wrenching moments.

However, the highs and lows that I experienced on Monday night most likely took a few years off of my life.

Let me start out by saying the fantasy matchup I competed in during Week 14 was in a league that uses a scoring system that is completely different from standard leagues. And yes, that was not a mistake, fantasy football is a competition.

I will give just a few specifics to the scoring system, as well as a brief layout of the league:

- Start 2 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR/TE, 1 K

- Start 7 individual defensive players, no matter the position

- Every touchdown is worth 10 points, including passing and defensive scores

- Tackles are worth three points and sacks are worth 12 points

Now, heading into Monday night’s contest between the Green Bay Packers and Atlanta Falcons, my team held a 49-point lead, which is essentially equivalent to a 15-point lead in standard leagues. It was a decent lead, but in no way was it a lead that I felt comfortable with, and while I had Falcons’ quarterback Matt Ryan and Green Bay wideout Randall Cobb trying to close out the matchup for me, my opponent was able to turn to Packers’ superstars Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson along with Green Bay stud linebacker Clay Matthews to try and earn a spot in the semifinals.

Needless to say, I was extremely worried.

I manage my fantasy teams with a partner who I have known for 16 years, and that tradition will continue for a long time. Entering Monday night’s matchup, we were texting each other trying to figure out what we needed to have happen for our squad to come out victorious.

We both agreed that as long as Cobb stole some of Rodgers stats, and if Nelson and Matthews played like normal human beings, we would have a legitimate shot to move on.

Well, that certainly did not happen.

The game actually started out in our favor. Green Bay was able to move the ball at will, and while Rodgers and Nelson were able to accumulate some points based on yards, both of the Packers’ first two scores came on the ground, helping my team out immensely.

However, Ryan could not get anything going in the first half either, and Atlanta’s lone touchdown came on a Steven Jackson four-yard run.

Then the likely NFL-MVP got going. Rodgers threw for two touchdowns to end the first half, including one to Nelson, and just like that my fantasy team was trailing by 10 points during halftime of the Monday night game.

That was when my first bitter text to my partner was sent. We will keep it “PG,“ and I will tell you what I essentially said was that, “We were done and have no shot.“

Even though it sounded like I gave up out loud, I was still playing potential scenarios out in my head to try and figure out how Ryan and Cobb could stage a comeback against Rodgers, Nelson, and Matthews.

The best way for me to describe the way I felt watching this game, is extremely comparable to a die-hard fan watching his/her favorite team. Whenever something good went our way, I envisioned us winning the championship, yet when something did not go in our favor, I either wanted to throw something expensive, punch the wall, or simply just eat.

I chose the latter, because when I am nervous, I eat.

Now, with the second half starting and with me going through a bowl of mint chocolate chip ice cream, Ryan came out of the locker room, moved the ball, and completed a touchdown on fourth and goal to open up the second half.

All of a sudden, my team had a small lead. I started to feel good, I got rid of the bowl that had the ice cream in it, and began thinking positive thoughts.

Then, of course, Matthews got his lone sack of the game.

Fifteen points went to my opponent, 12 for the sack and three for the tackle, giving us another obstacle to overcome to start the fourth quarter.

Now, trailing in the fantasy matchup, another bitter text was sent to my partner, which maybe Ryan heard, because he found Falcon’s receiver Julio Jones for a 22-yard touchdown pass less than three minutes into the final quarter, giving my fantasy team about a 10-point lead.

Man, was I feeling good at the point in time. With about 12 minutes remaining in the game, even if Rodgers produced another touchdown pass, my only thought was, “please, do not let it be to Nelson, so Ryan has another chance.“

That possession following Jones’ touchdown started in our favor, with Cobb catching one his few passes for 13 yards on third down. However, the next play almost gave me a heart attack.

Green Bay called a play-action fake to tailback Eddie Lacy and Rodgers heaved a long pass to none other than Nelson, which landed in his hands while he was in perfect stride into the end zone.

That 60-yard touchdown gave my opponent a 25-point lead with just over 10 minutes remaining in the game.

I went onto open up a bag of Sour Cream and Onion Chips, and looked to the skies, and said “if we win this matchup, I will never eat toxic food this late at night ever again.“

Well, it seemed again that Ryan heard my calls.

He kept us alive with a touchdown pass touchdown to Atlanta wideout Roddy White, and after the Falcons forced Green Bay into a field goal, we had one last possession to try and steal the victory.

Ryan got the ball back with 4:33 left in the fourth quarter, with my team trailing by about 8 points. He went onto drive the Falcons down the field, and completed another fourth-and-goal score to receiver Harry Douglas, giving my team a four-point lead.

The matchup was not over, and after Rodgers scrambled for a 12-yard gain, we were up by only two points. But that was as close it would get, as Packers’ tailback James Starks had a 41-yard run to secure the win for Green Bay, along with my fantasy team.

Rodgers’ kneel down to end the game gave my squad a 458-454 win. Those two scores went down as the two highest, individual scores in our league, for the season.

Like I said earlier, I have never experienced as many highs and lows during a fantasy matchup, let alone during the final quarter of the final game of the week. The performances on Monday night took away from Pittsburgh Steelers’ running back Le’Veon Bell recording 78 points for my opponent, as well as Houston Texans’ defensive end J.J. Watt notching three sacks and New England Patriots receiver Julian Edelman scoring on a 69-yard pass to help out my team.

There is a reason why fantasy football has turned into an epidemic. It is taken extremely seriously by everybody involved, and no matter what anybody says, this is a competition that nobody ever wants to lose.

With all of that being said, I challenge our readers and all you fantasy owners out there to tell me a story that beats the matchup that almost killed me. I am sure there are crazier ones out there, so don’t be shy to send them over.

As for my fantasy team, our reward is a tough semifinal matchup against a great team, and on top of that, another fantasy team my partner and I manage will be facing off against Rodgers in the semifinals of that league.  ~~  Max Zelenko ~~



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Girls Area High Schools Basketball Scores: (12.11.14)

Linsly 58,    Tyler Consolidated 29

Philip Barbour 60,    Liberty 31


►  Boys Area High Schools Basketball Scores: (12.11.14)

Clay County 65,    South Harrison 46

Doddridge County 65,    Webster County 52

Lewis County 77,    Liberty 36

#2 Notre Dame 66,    Philip Barbour 58



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Lady Pioneers Basketball Game Resheduled

The Glenville State Lady Pioneer women’s basketball game that was scheduled for December 11, 2014 at Ohio Valley University was cancelled.

The game has been rescheduled for Thursday, January 15, 2015 at 5:30 PM at the WACO Center.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  NHL Game Results

(Thursday, December 11)


Final Score: Oklahoma City 103, Cleveland 94

Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant combined to score 45 points with 13 assists to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 103-94 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday. In what would have been a matchup of the last two NBA MVPs, Durant was the only one to play as Cleveland’s LeBron James sat out with left knee discomfort. Westbrook paced the Thunder with 26 points to go along with eight assists and Durant’s 19 points closed out their fourth straight win. Kyrie Irving had to pick up the offensive load with James on the bench, and he accounted for 20 points on 7-of-21 shooting. Kevin Love netted 18 points with 16 rebounds for the Cavs, who had their eight-game winning streak halted.


Final Score: Houston 113, Sacramento 109

James Harden put the Houston Rockets on his back and willed them to an overtime victory on Thursday. Harden scored a season-high 44 points to lead the Rockets in a 113-109 decision over the Sacramento Kings. Harden, who scored 34 points in a loss to Golden State on Wednesday, sent the game to overtime with a deep 3-pointer, then scored the first 10 Houston points in the extra session. Trevor Ariza and Patrick Beverley each netted 15 points and Donatas Motiejunas added 14 points for Houston, which has won five of its last six. Darren Collison had 24 points with seven assists and Ben McLemore tallied 21 points for the Kings.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Rockies ship Rutledge to Angels

Hours after reportedly trading second baseman Howie Kendrick to the Dodgers, the Los Angeles Angels acquired infielder Josh Rutledge from the Colorado Rockies in exchange for right-handed pitcher Jairo Diaz.

Rutledge, a lifetime .259 hitter, has spent time at second base, third base and shortstop in his three-year career with the Rockies.

The 25-year-old has 19 home runs, 89 RBI and 126 runs during his brief career.

Diaz, 23, compiled a 18-27 record in the minor league before making his MLB debut in 2014. The Venezuelan made five appearances, yielding two runs and four hits in 5 2/3 innings.


►  Dodgers send Gordon to Marlins, acquire 2B Kendrick

The Los Angeles Dodgers continued to wheel and deal on Wednesday at Major League Baseball’s Winter Meetings, as they made two more significant moves.

First, Los Angeles shipped infielder Dee Gordon and veteran right-hander Dan Haren to the Miami Marlins for a four-player package that included prized pitching prospect Andrew Heaney.

But Heaney was only a Dodger for hours before he was sent across town to the Angels in a straight swap for second baseman Howie Kendrick.

This deal comes on the heels of the Dodgers reportedly picking up shortstop Jimmy Rollins from the Philadelphia Phillies.

Gordon is coming off a solid season that saw him hit .289 over 148 games while leading the majors with 64 stolen bases and 12 triples. However, he posted a miserable 47/4 K/BB ratio with a .648 OPS during the second half.

“Thank you @Dodgers for the last 6 (years) of my life. You are an amazing organization with tremendous leadership. You’ve stood by me in the bad times and made me a stronger man,“ Gordon said in a statement on his twitter account.

Gordon stole six more bases than the entire Marlins team last season.

Haren recently exercised a $10 million option for the upcoming season, but has also stated that if he was dealt anywhere other than to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim that he would retire.

He made 32 starts for the Dodgers last season and produced a 13-11 record with a 4.02 ERA. However, he was not used in the Dodgers’ National League Division Series loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Heaney, meanwhile, was the ninth overall pick in 2012, but struggled in limited big league action last season, pitching to a 5.83 ERA in five starts in place of the injured Jose Fernandez.

The 23-year-old left-hander bounced back in the minors and posted a 3.28 ERA with 143 strikeouts over 137 1/3 innings. Over 259 2/3 career minor league innings Heaney has compiled a 2.77 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, and 262/68 K/BB ratio.

Kendrick has been one of the most consistent second basemen in baseball over the last couple of seasons. The nine-year vet has spent his entire career with the Angels, compiling a .292 batting average with 78 home runs and 501 RBI.

Kendrick was an All-Star in 2011 and posted the best WAR of his career, 5.4, last season.

The Marlins also sent righty Chris Hatcher, infielder Kike Hernandez and catcher Austin Barnes to the Dodgers.

Shortstop Miguel Rojas went from the Dodgers to Miami.


►  Dodgers sign P McCarthy

The Dodgers weren’t finished on Wednesday after overhauling their middle infield at the Winter Meetings.

According to multiple reports, veteran pitcher Brandon McCarthy will sign a four-year, $48 million deal with Los Angeles, bolstering an already strong starting rotation.

The move comes after the Dodgers acquired shortstop Jimmy Rollins and second baseman Howie Kendrick in separate deals.

McCarthy, 31, is coming off the first 200-inning season of his career. After posting a 3-10 record with a 5.01 ERA in 18 starts with Arizona, he was traded in early July to the New York Yankees, where he pitched much better with a superior defense behind him.

In 14 starts with the Yankees, he improved his ERA to 2.89 and won seven games. His 5.30 K/BB ratio was ninth among all major league starters.

In nine seasons split between the White Sox, Rangers, Athletics, Diamondbacks and Yankees, McCarthy owns a 52-65 record and 4.09 ERA in 989 1/3 career innings.


►  Padres set to acquire Kemp from Dodgers

The San Diego Padres have reportedly agreed to acquire outfielder Matt Kemp from the Los Angeles Dodgers.

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Kemp and catcher Tim Federowicz would head to the Padres in exchange for catcher Yasmani Grandal and a pair of minor league pitching prospects, likely to be Joe Wieland and Zach Eflin.

In addition, the paper said the Padres would also receive about $30 million toward the remaining five years of Kemp’s eight-year, $160 million contract.

Kemp spent his first nine seasons with the Dodgers and was the runner-up for NL MVP in 2011 when he batted .324 with league-highs of 39 homers and 126 runs batted in.

The 30-year-old veteran, however, played just 183 games over the next two seasons because of injuries. He bounced back last year and hit 25 homers with 89 RBI and a .287 average in 150 games.

In 1,116 games, Kemp has a career .292 average with 182 homers and 648 RBI.

Grandal was San Diego’s leader with 15 home runs last season, playing in a career-high 128 games. He batted just .225 and drove in 49 runs.

The 26-year-old Cuban native is a career .245 hitter in 216 big league games.


►  Red Sox send Cespedes to Detroit for Porcello

The Boston Red Sox have traded outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to the Detroit Tigers for right-handed pitcher Rick Porcello.

Numerous outlets are reporting the deal has been completed and that the Red Sox will also get an additional player or two in the trade.

Cespedes spent the first two-plus seasons of his big league career with the Oakland Athletics, but was sent to Boston at the non-waiver trade deadline in July in the Jon Lester deal. Cespedes had been an All-Star for the first time last season and batted .260 combined with 22 home runs and 100 RBI.

The 28-year-old Cuban, who can become a free agent at the end of next season, is a two-time Home Run Derby champion and has hit 71 home runs in his three big league seasons with the A’s and Red Sox.

Porcello, meanwhile, had his best season in 2014 for the Tigers, as he went 15-13 with a 3.43 ERA over a career-high 204 2/3 innings. The former first round pick also led the AL with three shutouts.

Over the course of six seasons the 25-year-old Porcello has posted a 76-63 mark to go along with a 4.30 ERA in 184 games (180 starts). He will also be a free agent at the end of the deal.


►  Twins ink Ervin Santana

The Minnesota Twins have agreed to terms with right-handed pitcher Ervin Santana on a four-year deal Wednesday.

Yahoo Sports reported that the deal is worth $54 million and will include a fifth-year option that vests depending on innings pitched.

Santana started 31 games for the Atlanta Braves in 2014 and was 14-10 with a 3.95 ERA. He also struck out 179 batters in 196 innings and allowed just 16 home runs after surrendering a league-high 39 two years before.

The 31-year-old hurler spent the first eight years of his career with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim before pitching one year for the Kansas City Royals in 2013. He is 119-100 lifetime with a 4.17 ERA 299 games (296 starts).

Santana, a 17-game winner with the Angels in 2010, was an All-Star for the Halos and finished sixth in AL Cy Young voting in 2008, as he went 16-7 with a 3.49 ERA.


►  Cards, Reynolds agree to deal

The St. Louis Cardinals have signed infielder Mark Reynolds.

Although terms of the pact are not known, MLB.com and CBS Sports are reporting that the deal is done pending a physical.

Reynolds hit just .196 in 130 games last season for the Milwaukee Brewers and hasn’t gone above .225 since 2009. However, he did hit 22 home runs and has averaged 30 home runs per 150 games for his career.

He’s also led the league in strikeouts four times.

While the 31-year-old Reynolds has spent the majority of his career at third base, he can also play first base and has seen time at both outfield corner positions.

Over eight seasons in the majors, Reynolds owns a career .229 average with 224 homers, 613 RBI and 1,398 strikeouts in 1,118 games with Arizona, Baltimore, Cleveland, the New York Yankees and Brewers.


►  Royals agree to deal with Morales

The Kansas City Royals have found their replacement for Billy Butler, signing baseman/designated hitter Kendrys Morales to a two-year contract on Thursday.

The deal for Morales is reportedly worth $17 million and is pending a physical.

Morales split last season with the Minnesota Twins and Seattle Mariners, who acquired him right before the non-waiver trade deadline. However, he only hit .218 in 98 combined games with eight home runs and 42 RBI.

The 31-year-old switch-hitter had declined a qualifying offer from Seattle last offseason, but found no takers in free agency, as no team was willing to surrender a draft pick to sign him.

Morales did not sign with the Twins until June 8 when compensation was no longer a factor.

Morales broke into the majors with the Angels in 2006 and spent the next six years with club. He is a career .271 hitter with 110 homers and 387 RBI in 718 games.

Following a career-best season in 2009, in which he recorded 43 doubles, 34 home runs and 108 RBI, Morales was limited to 51 games in 2010 and missed the entire 2011 season because of a severe leg injury. He suffered a fractured lower left leg celebrating a walk-off grand slam on May 29, 2010 against Seattle.

Butler left the defending AL champion Royals earlier this offseason for a 3- year, $30 million deal with the Oakland Athletics.


►  Diamondbacks take Hernandez first in Rule 5 Draft

The Arizona Diamondbacks selected catcher Oscar Hernandez of the Tampa Bay Rays organization with the first pick in Major League Baseball’s annual Rule 5 Draft on Thursday.

Hernandez, 21, had been in the Rays’ system since signing as a 16-year-old out of Venezuela. He appeared in 94 games for Single-A Bowling Green last season and batted .249 with nine home runs and 63 RBI.

He may have put together one of the greatest Venezuelan Summer League seasons anyone will ever see in 2011, hitting .402/.503/.732 with 21 home runs. Hernandez led the league in batting average by 38 points, home runs by 13, slugging percentage by .238 points, total bases by 37 and on-base percentage by 39 points.

Hernandez, though, has never come anywhere close to matching those numbers and isn’t fully polished behind the plate

There were 14 players taken in the major league phase of the draft on Thursday. If those players do not sign with their new team, they must be offered back to their original team, effectively canceling the Rule 5 Draft choice.

However, once they spend an entire season on their new team’s 25-man roster, their status reverts to normal and they may be optioned or designated for assignment.

Of course, several players have succeeded through the Rule 5 Draft in the past, most notably Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente, two-time Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana and 2010 AL MVP Josh Hamilton. Other prominent players selected through the Rule 5 Draft include pitchers Joakim Soria, Matt Mantei and Antonio Alfonseca, as well as second baseman Dan Uggla and outfielders George Bell, Willy Taveras and Shane Victorino.

Players who are not currently on their team’s 40-man roster are eligible to be taken in this draft, but only after a standard exemption period has elapsed. Also, only teams whose rosters are under the 40-man limit are eligible to participate.

A player who is 18 when he’s signed can spend five seasons in an organization before he has to be protected. Anyone who is 19 or older must be protected after four years. Once past that time of service, a player must be put on the 40-man roster if that team wants to keep him from becoming eligible for the Rule 5 Draft.


MAJOR LEAGUE PHASE

1. Arizona Diamondbacks: C Oscar Hernandez, Rays

2. Colorado Rockies: IF Mark Canha, Marlins (Traded to Oakland)

3. Texas Rangers: OF Delino DeShields Jr., Astros

4. Houston Astros: RHP Jason Garcia, Red Sox (Traded to Baltimore)

5. Minnesota Twins: RHP J.R. Graham, Braves

6. Boston Red Sox: RHP Jandel Gustave, Astros (Traded to Kansas City)

7. Chicago Cubs: SS Taylor Featherston, Rockies (Traded to LA Angels)

8. Philadelphia Phillies: IF David Herrera, Rangers

9. Miami Marlins: LHP Andrew McKirahan, Cubs

10. New York Mets: LHP Sean Gilmartin, Twins

11. Atlanta Braves: RHP Daniel Winkler, Rockies

12. Seattle Mariners: LHP David Rollins, Astros

13. Baltimore Orioles: RHP Logan Verrett, Mets

14. Philadelphia Phillies: LHP Andrew Oliver, Pittsburgh


►  Marlins acquire Latos from Cincy

The Miami Marlins have acquired oft- injured right-hander Mat Latos from the Cincinnati Reds for a pair of minor leaguers.

It was the second deal of the day for the Reds, who also shipped starting pitcher Alfredo Simon to the Detroit Tigers.

When healthy Latos has been as good as any pitcher in the National League, but staying on the field has been a problem. Last year he was felled by not only a knee injury, but an elbow issue that caused him to miss the first two and a half months of the season.

Latos, though, pitched well a year ago going 5-5 with a 3.25 ERA in 16 starts before shutting it down in September due to a bone bruise in his elbow.

Since being acquired by the Reds in a trade with San Diego in December of 2011, Latos has put together a 33-16 record and a 3.31 ERA over 81 starts. He also holds the Reds’ club record for most consecutive starts without a defeat, going 21 straight outings without a loss from August 29, 2012 to June 13, 2013; he was 10-0 with a 2.80 ERA over that span.

In 2010, Latos established a major league record by allowing two runs or less in 15 consecutive starts , breaking the record of 14, formerly shared by Hall- of-Famer Greg Maddux and Mike Scott.

The players going to Cincinnati in the deal are 24-year-old righty Anthony DeSclafani, who has pitched to a 3.23 ERA over 73 games (65 starts) at the minor league level, and catcher Chad Wallach.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  NHL Game Results

(Thursday, December 11)


Final Score: Chicago 3, Boston 2

A two-goal first period and 32 saves from Scott Darling propelled the Chicago Blackhawks to an eighth consecutive win, a 3-2 triumph over the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. Ben Smith had one of Chicago’s early goals and set up the other—the first of Klas Dahlbeck’s NHL career—while Darling outplayed reigning Vezina Trophy winner Tuukka Rask in the rookie’s sixth career start. Patrick Kane also tallied and Marcus Kruger recorded two assists for the red-hot Blackhawks, who survived a late comeback effort from the Bruins as well as an injury to Jonathan Toews. The Chicago captain did not return after sustaining an upper- body injury near the midway mark of the second period. The Bruins had their captain, Zdeno Chara, back in the lineup after missing 19 straight games with a knee injury, but still fell for the fourth time in their last five outings. Rask managed just 18 saves. Darling, recalled from the minors last week with Corey Crawford sidelined by an ailing foot, came up with 14 saves during a first period in which the Blackhawks surged ahead with a pair of high-effort goals.


Final Score: Buffalo 4, Calgary 3

Matt Moulson scored a pair of goals, including the game-winner in the third period, to lead Buffalo to a 4-3 win over Calgary. Moulson scored the first and last goals of the game, and his marker that redirected off his skate with 7:29 left proved to be the decider for the Sabres, who have won two straight games. Tyler Ennis collected three assists, including one on both of Moulson’s goals. Zemgus Girgensons tallied a goal and an assist and Marcus Foligno also lit the lamp for Buffalo. Jhonas Enroth earned the win with 42 saves. Despite outshooting Buffalo 45-19, Calgary was on the wrong end of the final score. Mark Giordano, David Jones and Sean Monahan all scored for the Flames, who have lost three in a row for the first time this season. Karri Ramo made 15 saves on only 19 shots in the loss.


Final Score: Philadelphia 4, New Jersey 1

Matt Read and Sean Couturier picked up a goal and assist each to stoke Philadelphia’s 4-1 victory over New Jersey on Thursday. Wayne Simmonds and Jakub Voracek also lit the lamp for the Flyers, who kicked off their final homestand of calendar year 2014 with their second win in three outings. Claude Giroux and Mark Streit chipped in a pair of assists to back a 17-save effort by Ray Emery. Philadelphia continues its residency on Saturday afternoon by welcoming Carolina. Martin Havlat provided the sole offense for the Devils, who have lost eight of their last 10 overall. Cory Schneider surrendered three goals on 35 shots in defeat.


Final Score: Columbus 3, Washington 2 (OT)

Nick Foligno scored a power-play goal with 18.8 seconds left in overtime as the Columbus Blue Jackets beat the Washington Capitals 3-2 on Thursday to extend their win streak to five games. The Blue Jackets went on the power play with 1:57 to play when Jason Chimera was called for interference. After Sergei Bobrovsky made two huge short-handed saves, Jack Johnson, who had drawn the penalty, dished to Foligno for a one-timer from the right circle. The puck sailed over Braden Holtby’s glove, giving Foligno his second goal of the game. Bobrovsky finished with 39 saves, while Holtby stopped 20-of-23 shots. The Capitals were seeking a fourth straight win.


Final Score: Los Angeles 5, Ottawa 3

Anze Kopitar and Trevor Lewis scored less than two minutes apart early in the third period, helping the Los Angeles Kings spoil Dave Cameron’s head coaching debut with a 5-3 victory over the Ottawa Senators. The two goals came almost immediately after Ottawa’s Mark Stone scored short-handed to tie the game at 2-2 just 1:44 into the final frame. Matt Greene, Justin Williams and Tanner Pearson also tallied to help the Kings bounce back after two straight losses. Jake Muzzin posted a career- best three assists, while Jonathan Quick came up with 32 saves for Los Angeles. Cameron was elevated from assistant coach on Monday to replace Paul McLean, who was fired after the Senators dropped 13 of their last 17 games. Ottawa was able to overcome a 2-0 deficit on goals by Bobby Ryan and Stone, but gave up three in the third period to fall to 1-4-1 in its last six outings. Jared Cowen notched a goal and an assist in the loss, with Craig Anderson stopping 31-of-35 shots for Ottawa.


Final Score: Tampa Bay 2, Carolina 1

Nikita Kucherov’s marker with 30.3 seconds left in regulation sent Tampa Bay past Carolina, 2-1, on Thursday. Kucherov’s second goal of the contest was a fluke deflection. He appeared to want to pass across from the left circle, but the puck instead changed direction off the skate of Hurricanes defenseman Ron Hainsey in the slot and slid over the goal line. Evgeni Nabokov turned away 29 pucks and picked up his first assist of the season for the Lightning, who had lost two in a row. Justin Faulk tallied and Cam Ward made 25 saves for the Hurricanes, who suffered their fourth straight defeat and third by one goal.


Final Score: St. Louis 6, NY Islanders 3

Alexander Steen had two goals and one assist in his return, helping the St. Louis Blues post a 6-3 win over the New York Islanders at Scottrade Center on Thursday. Steen, who missed the previous two games with a lower-body injury, provided an immediate spark and his second tally ignited four-goal third period that carried the Blues to their third straight win. T.J. Oshie had a goal with two assists and Jake Allen made 25 saves. John Tavares and Mikhail Grabovski scored in the second period for the Islanders, who have lost three games in a row. Former Blue Jaroslav Halak allowed five goals on 32 shots.


Final Score: Colorado 4, Winnipeg 3 (SO)

Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Duchene scored on Colorado’s first two chances in the shootout, as the Avalanche rallied for a 4-3 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night. Jarome Iginla and Ryan O’Reilly scored late for the Avalanche after Mark Scheifele had given the Jets a 3-1 lead at 4:32 of the third period. Calvin Pickard made 30 saves, including two huge stops in overtime, before shutting out Winnipeg in the shootout, helping Colorado snap a four-game losing streak. Scheifele added two assists and Ondrej Pavelec made 23 saves for Winnipeg, which has picked up at least a point in eight straight games (5-0-3).


Final Score: Nashville 5, Arizona 1

Mike Fisher had a goal and an assist in Nashville’s 5-1 win over Arizona Thursday. Fisher, who missed nearly the first two months of the season due to an Achilles injury, netted his first goal of the campaign that ended a long power-play drought for the Predators. Pekka Rinne made 28 saves in Nashville’s second straight win. James Neal also tallied a goal and an assist, while Shea Weber and Filip Forsberg each had a pair of assists. Ryan Ellis, Olli Jokinen and Calle Jarnkrok all tallied goals for the Preds. Mike Smith allowed five goals on 38 shots in the Coyotes’ fourth straight loss. Antoine Vermette scored the lone Arizona goal.


Final Score: San Jose 2, Minnesota 1

Joe Pavelski scored the game-winning goal early in the third period to lead the San Jose Sharks to a 2-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Thursday. Brent Burns also scored and Joe Thornton assisted on both markers for the Sharks, who have won six of their last seven games. Alex Stalock stopped 18-of-19 shots fired his way in the win. Christian Folin’s first NHL goal accounted for Minnesota’s lone goal and Darcy Kuemper made 28 saves in defeat.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  FedEx Cup playoff format tweaked

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem announced on Thursday small tweaks to the FedExCup system.

Beginning with the 2015 FedExCup playoffs, the four playoff events will award 2,000 points, which is down from 2,500.

“Every year since the FedExCup was introduced in 2007, we have reviewed the points structure with the Player Advisory Council and four Player Directors who sit on the Policy Board,“ Finchem stated. “We believe this slight modification will add greater significance to players having an outstanding season leading into the playoffs, while still allowing for the excitement of volatility and movement during the Playoffs, particularly as players vie to make the final 30 for the Tour Championship by Coca-Cola.“

With the change to the amount of points available, the reset points for the Tour Championship were proportionately altered as well. All 30 players at East Lake will still have a chance at winning the FedExCup, while the top five seeds being guaranteed the FedExCup with victory at the Tour Championship.

One other small change adopted was the elimination of the secondary cut for the first two playoff events. In the past, if more than 78 players made the 36-cut, there would be a secondary cut after the third round trimming the field to 70 and ties.

►  Day, Tringale fire 55 to lead in Naples

Jason Day and Cameron Tringale combined for a 17-under 55 in Thursday’s scramble format and they grabbed a 2-stroke lead after one round of the Franklin Templeton Shootout.

Day is making his second appearance at this event, while Tringale is playing for the first time at Tiburon Golf Club.

“We were just reading the greens really well together. I think we have a similar approach to seeing lines, so we communicated well,“ Tringale said. “I’d go first and have a go at it. Jason holed some amazing putts on the back nine.“

Defending champions Harris English and Matt Kuchar are alone in second place at 15-under 57.

Keegan Bradley, who won this title in 2011 with Brendan Steele, teamed with Camilo Villegas for a 13-under 59. They were joined in third place by Graeme McDowell and Gary Woodland as well as Ryan Palmer and Jimmy Walker.

Two former winning teams—Jerry Kelly and Steve Stricker (2009) and Sean O’Hair and Kenny Perry (2012)—are tied for sixth place at 12-under 60. The were joined there by Justin Leonard and Rory Sabbatini, along with a pair of former major champions Retief Goosen and Mike Weir.

Charles Howell III and Scott Verplank, Billy Horschel and Ian Poulter, and Patrick Reed and Brandt Snedeker share 10th place at minus-11.

After playing a scramble on Thursday, the teams will play a modified alternate shot format on Friday and a better-ball partner format in Saturday’s final round.

Day and Tringale got off to a flying start as they birdied the first and third. They combined to birdie the final four holes of the front nine.

Around the turn, following a birdie on the 10th, Tringale rolled in a 4-foot birdie putt at No. 11. Another birdie on the 12th followed.

Tringale rolled in an eagle chance from the fringe on the par-4 13th. Day made it two eagles in a row as he made an 8-foot eagle putt on the par-5 14th as they jumped to 13-under.

They picked up four more strokes over the final four holes, including an 11- foot birdie putt by Tringale at the 18th.

“To be able to play the way we did today, it was a good team effort. Cam, to go up there and hit the fairway first, took a lot of stress off my shoulders so I could just get up there and hit the driver and get somewhere close to the green gave us a lot of opportunities and Cam putted great today,“ said Day.

NOTES: Day and Tringale were the fourth team in event history to shoot 55 in the scramble format ... Reed replaced an injured Chris Kirk in the field ... Since the event moved to Naples in 2001, the second-round leaders or co- leaders have won eight of the 13 titles.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  West Virginia-bred Golden Years wins open stake in Maryland

While many of the state-bred stakes races at Charles Town this year have long been decided as are, perhaps, the various divisional honors among state-bred runners and horse of the year, a quartet of talented West Virginia-bred horses arrived in Maryland on Saturday afternoon to compete in open stakes and allowance races that have typically been tough tasks.

But the rainy, sloppy conditions at Laurel Park hardly proved detrimental to the invading West Virginia-breds. In the $100,000 Marylander Stakes for 2-year-old colts, Golden Years regained his winning ways with an authoritative seven-length score, while Hear the Chatter settled for third in that event. The durable and venerable Lucy’s Bob Boy finished a gritty second in a two-turn allowance event for older horses, while Dora Dora settled for seventh in the $100,000 Willa On The Move Stakes for fillies and mares.

The Gilmer Free Press


Perhaps it may have seemed ironic to many onlookers, especially the connections of both horses, that the potential impromptu title of champion West Virginia-bred 2-year-old colt or gelding would get decided in the $100,000 Marylander Stakes at Laurel Park.

Golden Years, a Not For Love colt trained by Rodney Jenkins for owner Hillwood Stable, LLC (Ellen Charles), had won his first two starts at Laurel, including the Maryland Million Lassie, before running fourth in the $100,000 James Lewis, III Stakes.

His dam was Sweet Annuity, a multiple-stakes winner by Oh Say who earned nearly $500,000 in her career. Despite a subpar effort in the Lewis, Golden Years was made the 2-5 favorite in the Marylander under Eclipse award champion apprentice Victor Carrasco.

Hear the Chatter, a Mass Media gelding out of a Stephen Got Even mare trained by John A. Casey of Down Town Allen fame for owner-breeder Kristy Petty, arrived riding a four-race win streak that included state-bred stakes scores at Charles Town, capped by a three-length tally in the West Virginia Futurity one week earlier.

Although Hear the Chatter had never won outside of Charles Town he was actually made the 7-2 second choice in the field of nine juveniles. The first meeting between Golden Years and Hear The Chatter would take place in an open stakes at Laurel Park where the two state-breds were the top two choices.

When the gate opened in the Marylander Stakes on Saturday, Hear the Chatter broke best of all to gain command leaving the chute and led the field onto the main track and by the opening quarter in a solid 23.1.

Golden Years broke well to race third initially, but Carrasco allowed the colt to improve position entering the far turn and the two state-bred juveniles were on even terms briefly as they splashed by the half-mile mark in 46.3. But with three-eighths of a mile to go the superior state-bred colt made his bid for divisional honors.

At the top of the lane, Golden Years surged past Hear the Chatter to take the lead and through the lane the Not For Love colt simply drew off from his foes to a seven-length score in 1:24.82, a good time for the seven panels over the off going and a full second better than the clocking Lake Sebago posted while taking the $100,000 Gin Talking for juvenile fillies and hour earlier.

Golden Years easily lived up to his billing as the 2-5 choice by drawing off to his third win in four starts this year for Jenkins and Charles, pushing his career earnings to nearly $150,000. He will get a brief vacation before aiming for the Miracle Wood Stakes and the Private Terms Stakes.

Hear the Chatter not only offered no resistance to Golden Years in the final quarter-mile, he faded to third when Sizzling Quatorze went by him in the final 100 yards.

Nevertheless, Hear the Chatter still owns a solid 5-1-1 slate and earnings of nearly $186,000 from seven starts this year.

Several races earlier on the card, Lucy’s Bob Boy (Arnaldo Bocachico) delivered a game effort while second in a two-turn allowance/optional $40,000 claiming race at the two-turn distance of one-mile and one-sixteenth.

Away well to race just off Warrioroftheroses through the first turn and down the backside, Lucy’s Bob Boy collared the leader at the head of the lane, surged to command inside the eighth pole then was overhauled late by even-money choice Wealth To Me in the final 100 yards. Lucy’s Bob Boy settled for the place spot while beaten two lengths, but had more than two lengths on Warrioroftheroses.

A 5-year-old Flatter gelding trained by Sandra Dono for owner Linda Sours, Lucy’s Bob Boy concluded his 2014 campaign with a 5-2-0 slate and earnings of $240,000 from 10 starts this year.

In 32 lifetime tries, Lucy’s Bob Boy owns a solid 21-5-0 slate and earnings of nearly $875,000 and he should become the newest state-bred millionaire sometime next summer.

One year earlier Lucy’s Bob Boy had failed to earn a check in his lone prior outing at Laurel Park, but last Saturday he displayed little disdain for the ship or the sloppy surface.

In the race that followed the Marylander, Dora Dora (Xavier Perez) failed to earn a check while seventh in the $100,000 Willa On The Move Stakes for fillies and mares.

The 4-year-old Doneraile Court filly trained by Ollie Figgins, III, of Dance to Bristol fame proved no match for Lady Sabelia (Horacio Karamanos) who simply throttled her rivals by splashing to an eight-length score in 1:10.42 for her second straight score and her fourth win in five outings this year.

Dora Dora departed the Laurel journey empty-handed but she still owns a 2-2-1 slate and $80,000 bankroll from seven starts this year, including a good, second-place finish to Down Town Allen in the Cavada.

The Gilmer Free Press


References
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


FRIDAY, DECEMBER 12, 2014


National Basketball Association
LA Clippers at Washington, 7:00 PM - FS-Prime Ticket, CSN-DC, DSS
Portland at Chicago, 7:00 PM - CSN-Northwest, Chicago, ESPN
Orlando at Atlanta, 7:30 PM - FS-Florida, SportSouth, DSS
New York at Boston, 7:30 PM - MSG, CSN-New England, DSS
Philadelphia at Brooklyn, 7:30 PM - CSN-Philadelphia, YES, DSS
Indiana at Toronto, 7:30 PM - FS-Indiana, TSN, DSS
Charlotte at Memphis, 8:00 PM - SportSouth, DSS
Cleveland at New Orleans, 8:00 PM - FS-Ohio, New Orleans, DSS
Oklahoma City at Minnesota, 8:00 PM - FS-Oklahoma, North, DSS
Miami at Utah, 9:00 PM - SunSports, ROOT-Northwest, DSS
Detroit at Phoenix, 9:00 PM - FS-Detroit+, Arizona, DSS
LA Lakers at San Antonio, 9:30 PM - Time Warner, KENS, ESPN


National Hockey League
Calgary at Pittsburgh, 7:00 PM - SNET-West, ROOT-Pittsburgh, DSS
Los Angeles at Montreal, 7:30 PM - KCOP, RDS, DSS
Florida at Detroit, 7:30 PM - FS-Florida, Detroit, DSS
Anaheim at Edmonton, 9:30 PM - FS-Prime Ticket, SNET-West, DSS


College Basketball
Texas Southern at Florida, 7:00 PM - SEC Network
NJIT at Holy Cross, 7:00 PM - Patriot League Network
Charleston Southern at NC State, 7:00 PM - FS-South, Wisconsin, Southwest, SD
Iowa State at Iowa, 8:00 PM - Big Ten Network


Women’s College Basketball
American at Maryland, 7:00 PM - Big Ten Network+
Middle Tennessee at Kentucky, 9:00 PM - SEC Network


College Football
Chattanooga at New Hampshire, 8:00 PM - ESPN 2


College Hockey
Maine at New Hampshire, 7:00 PM - WBIN
Niagara at RIT, 7:00 PM - Time Warner
North Dakota at Denver, 9:30 PM - ROOT-Rocky Mountain


Golf
EUROPEAN - Alfred Dunhill Championship, 7:30 AM - Golf Channel
PGA - Franklin Templeton Shootout, 1:00 PM - Golf Channel
Australian PGA Championship, 8:00 PM - Golf Channel
Thailand Championship, 1:00 AM - Golf Channel

Central WV Riding Club Trail Ride - 10.19.14

The Gilmer Free Press

The Central WV Riding Club will hold its annual trail ride on Sunday, October 19, 2014.

The ride will leave from John and Kathy Given’s residence on Sugar Camp Road. in Gassaway, WV at 12:30 PM.

A covered dish dinner will be held after the ride.

Ham, rolls and drinks will be provided by the club.

Everyone is welcome to attend.

Sports News

The Gilmer Free Press


The Gilmer Free Press

►  Dolphins place Moreno on IR with ACL injury

Miami Dolphins running back Knowshon Moreno was placed on injured reserve Tuesday because of an ACL injury.

The free agent acquisition from Denver played just three games in his first season with the Dolphins and totaled 148 yards with a touchdown on 31 carries.

Moreno had an impressive debut with his new team in the season opener against New England, running for 134 yards and a score in Miami’s 33-20 victory. He then suffered an elbow injury on his only carry the following week against Buffalo and missed the next two games.

The 26-year-old Georgia product returned for this past Sunday’s game against Green Bay, but had just 10 yards on six rushes and had just one carry after halftime in the 27-24 loss.

Moreno had signed a one-year contract with the Dolphins in March after playing his first five seasons with Denver. He was coming off his best year in 2013, rushing for a career-high 1,038 yards with 10 touchdowns while adding 60 receptions for 548 yards with three scores.

The Dolphins also reinstated the suspended Derrick Shelby after the defensive lineman sat out Sunday’s game following an arrest during Miami’s bye week.

“We have completed our process and have made the determination to reinstate Derrick,“ said Dolphins coach Joe Philbin in a statement Tuesday. “Derrick understood that he would be held accountable for his actions as they did not represent our organizational standards.“


►  Cowboys’ Free likely out 3-to-4 weeks

Dallas Cowboys offensive tackle Doug Free will likely miss the next 3-to-4 weeks because of a fracture in his foot.

Free was hurt during this past Sunday’s game against Seattle and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones revealed the severity the injury Tuesday during his weekly radio spot with KRLD-FM.

“He’s dealing with a fracture there that is usually a 3-to-4 week injury,“ Jones said on the radio program.

Jones did add that Free could return sooner and said Jeremy Parnell would most likely step into the starting lineup.

Free started all six games for the Cowboys this season and has not missed a game since the start of the 2009 campaign.


►  Cowboys RB Randle arrested on theft charge

Dallas Cowboys running back Joseph Randle was arrested Monday night and charged with misdemeanor theft after police say he shoplifted items from a department store.

The Frisco Police Department says it was dispatched to a Dillard’s department store on a shoplifting call and made contact with Randle, who had been detained by store security.

Police determined Randle had removed items—reportedly cologne and underwear—without purchasing them and he was arrested on a class B misdemeanor charge of theft between $50 and $500.

Randle was booked in the Frisco City Jail and later released on bond.

A day earlier, the second-year backup rushed for 52 yards on just five carries in a win over Seattle.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  NBA to try 44-minute game

In an experiment to potentially shorten the length of games, the National Basketball Association will play a 44-minute contest when the Brooklyn Nets host the Boston Celtics at Barclays Center on October 19.

The league is utilizing this preseason contest to examine the flow of a shorter game as compared to the standard 48-minute game.

“At our recent coaches’ meeting, we had a discussion about the length of our games, and it was suggested that we consider experimenting with a shorter format,“ said NBA president of basketball operations Rod Thorn. “After consulting with our competition committee, we agreed to allow the Nets and Celtics to play a 44-minute preseason game in order to give us some preliminary data that will help us to further analyze game-time lengths.“

During this experiment, the quarters will be shortened from 12 minutes to 11 minutes with a reduction of timeouts in the second and fourth quarters. Each quarter will feature two mandatory timeouts per quarter, with the first triggered at the first dead ball under 6:59 of the period if neither team has taken a timeout prior, and the second mandatory timeout will be triggered by the first dead ball under 2:59 if neither team has taken a timeout subsequent to the first mandatory timeout.

In the NBA’s 48-minute game, the second and fourth quarters have three mandatory timeouts.

►  2014-15 Boston Celtics Preview

Year two of the Boston Celtics rebuilding plan is off and running.

The C’s first season under Brad Stevens was the expected disaster everyone expected after Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett were traded. Rajon Rondo missed time with injuries and the Celtics went young and Boston lost its most games in a season since the 2006-07 season.

When the Celtics dropped 58 eight years ago, they won the title the following season. That won’t happen this time, but the gentlemen in green should improve on the floor.

Of course, they will have to start the season without Rondo. The All-Star, who will be a free agent at season’s end, broke a bone in his left hand. He underwent surgery and will be sidelined at least the first month of the regular season.

It was a semi-eventful offseason for Rondo. Aside from his impending free agency, Rondo was described as “stubborn” by team owner Wyc Grousbeck, who also questioned whether or not Rondo was coachable.

Then, Rondo had to even field a barrage of questions about his hand injury. Some reports suggested it occurred at a trampoline park, but Rondo said it happened at his house when he slipped in the shower.

“It wasn’t like a banana [peel] slip,“ said Rondo. “I actually almost caught myself. I landed on my knuckle on the window sill in my home. That’s what happened.“

Rondo’s future was always going to be a sensitive topic this season. He makes perfect sense as trade bait considering he’s a free agent and may not fit the long-term youth movement.

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has always maintained he wants Rondo around for the long haul.

In the short term, C’s rookie Marcus Smart, the sixth overall pick in the draft, will man the point.

“Regardless if he’s here or not, I’m still going to work hard and earn the respect of these guys,“ Smart said.

James Young was also taken in the first round to help with guard depth. The team re-signed Avery Bradley this offseason and brought in free-agent wing man Evan Turner to play three different positions.

Jeff Green had a good season for the Celtics and Brandon Bass is expected to stay in the starting lineup. The center spot could be manned by promising youngster Jared Sullinger, second-year man Kelly Olynyk, or newcomer Tyler Zeller, who came over in a deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers, who were shopping all warm bodies for cap space.

Stevens has a lot of toys to play with and things should be spread around quite a bit in Boston. Green was the leading scorer last season, but the big men in Beantown played pretty solidly. Plus, they have the added benefit of being young, which is critical to Ainge’s long-term plan.

The Celtics have no real aspirations this season. The plan is to continue to grow with this roster and add young pieces through the draft.

Smart has a ton of potential and Young was a steal at No. 17. That could be the backcourt of the future for the Celtics if they choose to let Rondo walk, or even trade him.

The building blocks are in place in Boston. From here on, it’s about growth and development.

2013-14 Results: 25-57, 4th in Atlantic; Missed playoffs


ADDITIONS: G Marcus Smart, G/F Evan Turner, G James Young, C Tyler Zeller


PROJECTED STARTING FIVE:


PG- Marcus Smart SG- Avery Bradley SF- Jeff Green PF- Brandon Bass C- Kelly Olynyk


KEY RESERVES: F Gerald Wallace, F Jared Sullinger, G Marcus Thornton, C Tyler Zeller, G Phil Pressey, G James Young, C Vitor Faverani, G/F Evan Turner, G Rajon Rondo (injured)


FRONTCOURT: Green averaged 16.9 ppg last season. After a heart issue two years ago caused him to miss the whole 2011-12 season, Green played in all but one game the last two campaigns.

Green shot 34 percent from the three-point line and averaged 4.6 rpg, which isn’t too high. He suffered a calf injury in training camp, but should be fine for the regular season.

Green has a solid all-around game and has worked on defense this offseason, thanks to the tutelage of Wallace. Green also put on 10 pounds of muscle.

“There’s so much that I have to have my eye on, but I try to conquer everything,“ he said. “So I’ve just got to transfer it into the season.“

Bass started 73 games in 2013-14 and averaged 11.1 ppg, which was the third- highest production level of his career. He grabbed 5.7 rpg and remains a solid mid-rang jump-shooter.

Olynyk made the All-Rookie second team last season with averages of 8.7 ppg and 5.2 rpg. He’s not a rim protector, or even a good defender, but he’s offensively skilled. Olynyk could make a leap this season, or he could fall behind Zeller or Sullinger in the rotation.


BACKCOURT: Since Rondo will be back a month into the season, he should return to the starting lineup, where he’s been for every game he’s played since the start of the 2007-08 season.

Rondo led the league in assists twice and hasn’t been below 9.8 apg in the last five seasons. He can still be a strong defender, although the team as a whole isn’t great.

Rondo isn’t a scorer, or shooter, but he’s a master facilitator.

This is a big season for the 28-year-old. Rondo has a big deal in his future and Boston apparently wants to keep him in the fold. It would behoove him to stay healthy and happy all season in order to get that big contract.

Bradley signed a deal that some found excessive. He inked a four-year, $32 million contract, but Bradley remains an elite defensive guard, who improved offensively. He bumped his scoring average to 14.9 ppg last season, while only playing two more minutes per game. Bradley improved his 3-point shooting as well, going for almost 40 percent from beyond the arc. He’s also versatile and can slide over to the point guard spot.

Smart is a total package kind of point guard, who can probably play a little two in the NBA. He should walk into the league and be a plus-defender. Offensively, he’s pretty polished, averaging 18.0 ppg and 4.8 apg during his final season at Oklahoma State.

“I’ve coached a lot of really bright guys. Very, very, very few can see the game and react like he does,“ Stevens said of Smart.


BENCH: Sullinger busted out a bit in 2013-14. He averaged 13.3 ppg and 8.1 rpg, which are both strong numbers for a second-year man who came off the bench 30 times last season. He’s a very talented big man who even has decent range.

Wallace is a great veteran to have around considering he cares about defense and hustle plays. At $10 million a season, he makes outrageous money for what he does, but Wallace is a good locker room presence, too.

Zeller lost time under Mike Brown last season, then became a cap casualty in the pursuit of LeBron James. In his rookie season, Zeller started 55 games and posted respectable averages of 7.9 ppg and 5.7 rpg. He was definitely worth taking on by the Celtics.

Thornton was very productive for the Brooklyn Nets last season, averaging 12.3 ppg after coming over from the Sacramento Kings. He will serve as the primary wing scoring option off the bench and shoots 43 percent from the three-point line for his career. He, like Zeller, came in that same trade that involved the Nets and Cavs.

Turner still has a niche in this league as a creator and versatile presence off the bench. He had the ball in his hands a lot in Philadelphia last season, but never fit in with the Indiana Pacers. Turner has a decent mid-range game, and good ball-handling skills. He should see time at the one, two and three spots. Turner still has time to dispel the notion he’s a malcontent bust.

Pressey should see some time with Rondo hurt.

Young probably won’t play much in his rookie season.

Faverani fell out of favor last season and now may fall out of the rotation with the glut of decent young big men in Boston. He suffered a knee injury in camp and was arrested for drunk driving in Spain over the summer, so he might be wearing thin with the Celtics.


COACHING: Stevens was a great choice for this program as it grows. He built the Butler program and went to back-to-back NCAA Championship games, so clearly he knows a thing or two about the process.

Stevens is so young it has to help with the youth on the roster. Not many had a bad word to say about Stevens after his first year on the sidelines at the NBA level.


OUTLOOK: The C’s improved in the draft and with their low-risk acquisitions.

Smart could easily be Rondo’s replacement if Ainge wants to go in that direction and Young is, pardon the pun, so young, he can grow into the job in a few years.

Zeller was a nice piece to take on and provides depth and a challenge for the incumbent big men. Turner needs to rectify his image, so he should be a solid citizen and a nice addition.

Rondo could make this team decent, but the playoffs are a pipe dream in Boston. There simply isn’t enough talent on the Celtics roster to compete in the Eastern Conference.

That doesn’t mean the season is a total wash. It’s all about growth together in Boston. This season is just another step for the Celtics.


►  2014-15 Toronto Raptors Preview

As the Toronto Raptors celebrate their 20-year anniversary, they will do so as reigning Atlantic Division champions for only the second time.

The Raptors prevailed in the division last season thanks to an All-Star effort from DeMar DeRozan and a near All-Star performance from point guard Kyle Lowry.

The biggest offseason priority for general manager Masai Ujiri was re-signing Lowry. The sometimes challenging point guard agreed to a four-year, $48 million contract and the team would basically stay intact.

“I’m happy to be back,“ Lowry said. “Knowing from the jump, it’s a lot of pressure on me, which is what you expect, what you want, which I want.“

Lowry was clearly the focal point of the offseason plan, but the Raptors secured some other veterans who helped this team win the Atlantic for the first time since the 2006-07 season.

Greivis Vasquez and Patrick Patterson, both acquired during the 2013-14 season in the Rudy Gay trade, were retained. They both had big roles on this Toronto team with Vasquez playing big minutes in fourth quarters.

The only substantial outside addition the Raptors made this summer was trading for bench stud, Lou Williams. He is a proven commodity as a bench scorer, but also a big-time performer late in games. (Toronto also received big-man project Lucas Nogueira in the deal with the Atlanta Hawks.)

When it came to this summer, Lowry wasn’t the only big story for the Raptors.

DeRozan represented Team USA in the FIBA World Cup and won a gold medal. He didn’t get a ton of playing time for Team USA, but that experience should help DeRozan become a better leader, a role he grew into following the Gay trade.

“It helped me understand how to be a better player,“ DeRozan said of his experience in Spain. “It helped me understand how to make my teammates better.“

Jonas Valanciunas also competed in the FIBA World Cup for Lithuania. The team didn’t perform up to expectations, but this is a big season for the center. He will be expected to continue his growth and will be counted on for more scoring on the interior.

Perhaps the biggest question facing the Raptors is, can this group excel under the pressure of expectations? Toronto is the prohibitive favorite to repeat in the Atlantic Division and perhaps reach as high as the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference.

With those lofty goals and expectations, the Raptors will need to succeed in the postseason. Toronto lost a heartbreaking Game 7 in its own building to the Brooklyn Nets in last season’s first round.

The Raptors, in front of a rabid crowd at the Air Canada Centre, nearly overcame an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit. They cut a seven-point hole to one in the last two minutes, then Lowry had his six-footer for the win blocked by Paul Pierce.

“I think about it all the time because we’re going to need that to feed off, that feeling of how bad it hurt,“ admitted DeRozan. “We’ve got to carry that in ... have that hunger and that edge to do the same thing all over again this year.“

And the Raptors should be just fine. They have almost the same exact roster that won the division crown a year ago, they have an All-Star backcourt, an emerging young big man, solid depth and good coaching.

It helps that the Atlantic Division is down. The Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics are both re-tooling. The Nets lost Pierce and head coach Jason Kidd. The New York Knicks are sort of rebuilding, but still have Carmelo Anthony.

The division should be theirs ... if this relatively young group can handle it.

2013-14 Results: 48-34, 1st in Atlantic; Lost in East quarterfinals to Brooklyn


ADDITIONS: G Lou Williams, C Chuck Hayes, C Lucas Nogueira, F James Johnson, F Bruno Caboclo

PROJECTED START
ING FIVE:


PG- Kyle Lowry SG- DeMar DeRozan SF- Terrence Ross PF- Amir Johnson C - Jonas Valanciunas


KEY RESERVES: G Greivis Vasquez, G Lou Williams, F Tyler Hansbrough, F Patrick Patterson, C Chuck Hayes, F/G Landry Fields, F James Johnson


FRONTCOURT: Valanciunas made strides in his second season with improved averages of 11.3 ppg and 8.8 rpg. His field-goal percentage dipped a bit, but was still a respectable 53 percent. He’s a good free-throw shooter, but the Raps are looking for even more from Valanciunas.

Valanciunas spent part of the summer training at the University of Oregon under head strength and conditioning coach, Jeff Radcliffe. The aim was to get Valanciunas to run more efficiently. He’ll never be a speed demon, but improving his athleticism in any way will be effective.

Valanciunas gained good experience playing for Lithuania. They underachieved, but the center was effective, scoring 15 points against the Americans. He could be a good candidate for the Most Improved Player Award if his upward career swing continues.

Johnson enjoyed yet another good season in Toronto. He became entrenched as the starting power forward, hearing his name introduced with the others 72 times pregame. He averaged 10.4 ppg and 6.6 rpg, which was down from the previous season. Johnson is a solid leader and interior presence. He has never shot lower than 54 percent from the field in his career. Teams need players like Johnson to win.

Ross also emerged last season after a significant boost in playing time. He started 62 games and averaged almost 27 minutes per game. Ross, who is a freak athlete, averaged 10.9 ppg without doing much else. Ross shot almost 40 percent from beyond the arc, but dinged up his knee in the preseason. He should be fine.


BACKCOURT: At the start of training camp, Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards stated that he and John Wall were the best backcourt in the entire NBA.

The Raptors may disagree.

DeRozan and Lowry were the highest-scoring backcourt combination in the Eastern Conference last season with an average of 40.6 ppg.

DeRozan made the All-Star team for the first time with averages of 22.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg and 4.0 apg, which were all career highs. He finished fourth in the NBA in minutes per game and attempted the fourth-most free throws in the league.

DeRozan really seems to embrace his new role with both the Raptors and in the league. Head coach Dwane Casey noted how DeRozan expanded his leadership role once Gay was sent to Sacramento and DeRozan himself noted how he appreciated bench players in a new light after being one for Team USA.

Another interesting aspect of DeRozan’s desire to lead and improve is that he trained himself better with his left hand in the offseason. He noted he ate left-handed and even wrote with his left hand. DeRozan is doing everything humanly possible to make himself, and thus, the Toronto Raptors, better.

Lowry probably should have made the Eastern Conference All-Star team last season in place of Joe Johnson. Lowry’s impact on the Raptors was gigantic considering his first full season north of the border netted the team a division crown.

Lowry played in, and started, 79 games for Toronto last season. He averaged 17.9 ppg, 7.4 apg, 1.5 spg and shot 38 percent from the 3-point arc. Those are very big numbers and Lowry’s defense even improved.

The knock on Lowry throughout his career was immaturity, not a lack of talent. That flaw seemed to disappear last season as he felt comfortable with Casey and the Raptors.

Lowry was a coveted free agent with rumors that the Miami Heat would be interested, especially to play with LeBron James. Lowry was basically the first big-name free agent to sign, so it speaks volumes about his commitment to this team.


BENCH: Williams is still a great bench scorer. His scoring average dipped to 10.4 ppg for the Hawks last season, but he was coming off major knee surgery the year before. Williams is not afraid of the moment, so he will probably get some quality fourth-quarter minutes.

Vasquez stayed in Toronto and he was vital to the success last season. He can knock down open threes to the tune of 39 percent and rarely turns the ball over. He might not see as much crunch-time action as last season with Williams in town, but he’s still valuable.

Patterson also elected to stay with the Raptors as a free agent. His numbers improved once he came to the Raps from the Kings, except for rebounding. Patterson has range. He’s a nice guy to have on the bench.

Hansbrough is what he always was - a high-motor banger with the second unit who will get under the skin of the opposition. He’s another guy a team likes having around.

Hayes came from Sacramento and is a serviceable big man.

Fields came with a lot of fanfare from the New York Knicks, but has been bad in Toronto. He’s battled injuries, which aren’t his fault, but the production hasn’t been there. Fields can play both wing positions, however, he can’t shoot from the perimeter. He might not get a ton of minutes behind DeRozan.

The most intriguing name in the lot might be Johnson. He’s been a decent scorer in this league and Casey envisions him playing both forward spots, including the newly important “stretch four.“

“He’s going to be a tremendous asset to us,“ Casey said of Johnson.

Nogueira and Caboclo are both long-term projects.


COACHING: Casey was on something of a hot seat last season, and now, he’s the coach of a division winner. He’s experienced and this group responds to him.

He’s preached defense in Toronto and he’s got a loaded roster to play with now. Casey was even doing a great coaching job after getting eliminated from the playoffs in the summer. Casey looks like a man who knows this team is good, but won’t ever let them think that way.


OUTLOOK: The Raptors are the best in the Atlantic Division. They should host a playoff series again, but this time, there’s a bigger division between them and their probable first-round opponent.

Lowry should be alright, despite his long-term contract. DeRozan looks like an example every young player should study in his approach and constant need for improvement.

Valanciunas should get better. He’s a huge part of this team and they’ll need his scoring.

The Raptors should make the second round and could be a viable candidate for an upset in the semifinals. Toronto isn’t a championship contender, but will be a tough out.


►  2014-15 New Orleans Pelicans Preview

With injuries partially to blame for the New Orleans’ Pelicans’ fifth straight last-place finish in the Southwest Division, general manager Dell Demps has stressed how important it will be for his team to develop chemistry this season.

Luckily for the Pelicans, they already have their own Walter White-esq leader in Anthony Davis.

New Orleans’ recent struggles have been somewhat expected as the club continued to rebuild following the exit of Chris Paul and David West after the 2010-11 campaign. But while an NBA title isn’t a realistic goal, the emergence of Davis, the acquisition of 7-foot center Omer Asik and, well, time seem to be tightening the clamps on Demps and head coach Monty Williams.

The Pelicans did improve by seven wins last season, going 34-48 despite Davis, Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson and Jrue Holiday all missing time.

“Just having guys healthy. To me, that’s like a free agent signing,“ Williams said of the upcoming season.

Holiday and Anderson, in fact, combined to play in only 56 games, while Gordon’s 64 appearances last season were 13 more than he managed to play in the previous two seasons combined after being acquired as part of the package that landed Paul with the Los Angeles Clippers.

It’s also worth nothing that the two players to lead the club in games played last season—forward Al-Farouq Aminu with 80 and guard Anthony Morrow with 76—both departed as free agents so there are minutes to be had.

Demps will mainly be banking that his core roster from last year will stay healthy. He signed forward John Salmons and guard Jimmer Fredette to fill the void left by Aminu and Morrow, but he also recognized he has something special brewing with Davis. That is why he got his Pelicans involved in a three-team trade that cost him three players and a protected first-round draft pick but landed a true center in Asik and got Davis out of the middle.

It’s a gamble especially since it could leave the Pelicans with a third straight draft without a first-round pick since selecting Davis with the top selection in 2012, but it was one Demps had to make given the talent of the Western Conference.

Asik and an improved Davis could tip the scales for a club that lost 12 of 16 versus its division last season and went just 15-37 versus the West.

“We want to make the playoffs. There is no doubt about that. But I don’t want to sit here and say it’s a complete failure if we don’t. We think that the Western Conference is tough,“ noted Demps.

“The key is going to be the chemistry and jelling together, what pieces fit.“

2013-14 Results: 34-48, 5th in Southwest Division; Missed playoffs


ADDITIONS: C Omer Asik, F John Salmons, G Jimmer Fredette

PROJECTE
D STARTING FIVE:


PG- Jrue Holiday SG- Eric Gordon SF- John Salmons PF- Anthony Davis C- Omer Asik


KEY RESERVES: G/F Tyreke Evans, F Ryan Anderson, C Alexis Ajinca, G Austin Rivers, G Jimmer Fredette, F Darius Miller


FRONTCOURT: Davis took major steps forward in his second NBA season, leading the league with 2.8 blocks per game and tying for 10th with 10.0 rebounds a night, all while averaging over 20 points.

Davis didn’t slow down this summer while playing for Team USA, ranking second on the club in rebounds and fourth in scoring and there is no doubt he has MVP-caliber talent.

One tough thing staring down Davis now is becoming not only the face of the franchise, but one of the young stars of the NBA. It is a part Demps feels he can handle.

“He has that ability on and off the court with his personality to lift up this organization. He’s only 21 years old and the leadership he’s going to bring to us is important,“ declared Demps.

Despite having Davis, the Pelicans had one of the league’s worst defensive ratings last season and gave up over 102 points per game, but landing Asik, a four-year vet from Turkey, should help.

Asik broke out in 2012-13 with Houston, averaging 10.1 points and 11.7 rebounds while starting all 82 games, but he was limited to just 48 games and 19 starts last season after the Rockets signed Dwight Howard.

Now thrust back into a starting role, Asik should serve as the rim-clearing partner to Davis’ block party.

“Getting Omer is a big deal, especially in the West where you need an anchor center like him to be able to play pretty good on defense, rebound the ball and play 1-on-1 defense against some of the real good centers in the west and the league,“ said Williams.

Tyreke Evans, Salmons and Darius Miller all figure to factor into the small forward rotation.

Salmons could serve as a calming veteran presence for the Pelicans’ young roster as he enters his 13th season and Miller saw his numbers jump with more minutes last season.

Evans is the most talented of the three, but his 43.6 shooting percentage and struggles shooting jumpers last season may lead to him coming off the bench again. He was able to manage 14.5 points over 72 games (22 starts) last season in 28.2 minutes per night.

“I don’t think he’s a small forward, but he may be able to play in that position and play against other small forwards. ... I think he’s just a really good player and obviously you try to figure out ways to get him on the floor as much as you can,“ noted Williams.


BACKCOURT: The cost was high to get Holiday from the Philadelphia 76ers before last season and the Pelicans are hoping to get a full schedule from the former All-Star.

In his first seasons, Holiday has shown the ability to both distribute and score. He averaged 14.3 points over 34 starts last season and dished out 7.9 assists per night after posting eight assists per game the previous season with Philadelphia.

However, Holiday suffered a stress fracture in his right leg in early January and underwent surgery in late February.

New Orleans has a lot riding on the health of Holiday—who cost the Pelicans Nerlens Noel (the sixth overall pick of the 2013 draft) and what ended up being the 10th selection of the 2014 draft—and don’t want another Gordon situation.

Of course, the Pelicans don’t want Gordon to be a Gordon situation anymore either. New Orleans finally got to see the 25-year-old for an extended stretch until left knee tendinitis flared up in late March.

Hopefully, a healthy Gordon can improve on his 15.4 points per game average from last season and come closer to the 20-point a night player he seemed destined to turn into with the Clippers.

“Obviously, we don’t like injuries. Nobody does. We can’t control that stuff, but we have a great opportunity to improve and compete. That’s what we’re looking forward to,“ said Williams.


BENCH: Anderson, Austin Rivers and Fredette are all key parts off the bench for different reasons.

The 6-foot-10 Anderson truly stretches the floor and that is big for the likes of Davis, Asik and Evans. He is a career 38.6 percent shooter from three-point range and averaged 16.2 points per game in his first season with the Pelicans in 2012-13. That average was up to 19.8 points per night over 22 games (14 starts) last season, but he didn’t play after January 3 due to a back issue and had surgery on a herniated disc in April.

There will also be a lot of focus on Rivers, who New Orleans took nine picks after Davis in 2012. He has yet to break out over his first two seasons and the son of Clippers coach Doc Rivers could see more time at the two guard following the addition of Fredette.

“I’m excited to see Austin Rivers. He’s been spending time a lot of time in the gym. He’s been here late at night, early in the morning. His body looks great. I think he’s really going to compete for minutes off the bench,“ said a hopeful Demps.

Fredette is another former 10th overall pick—2011 by Milwaukee and traded to Sacramento—and joins his third team in five years. He gives the Pelicans another deep threat off the bench and will help replace the departed Morrow.

The 7-foot Alexis Ajinca averaged 4.9 rebounds in 56 games last season and rookie Russ Smith—whose second-round draft rights were acquired from Philadelphia—will push for time.


COACHING: Williams has been trying to get his defense in order since his arrival in New Orleans and getting Asik should help, especially as he may be running out of time to turn things around.

The Pelicans have stuck with Williams despite his 82-148 mark in three seasons since losing Chris Paul, but he has enough respect that he served as an assistant for Team USA at the FIBA World Cup in Spain, where he got to watch Davis perform.

“I don’t take it for granted, for sure. A lot of that stuff you can’t control. It’s not like we planned to have all that stuff happen to us the last three years,“ Williams said.

Williams will likely continue to get the benefit of the doubt until he gets a full season—or maybe two—with a healthy roster.


OUTLOOK: If anything Demps at least remains a realist about the Pelicans’ current situation.

“I think it’s important for us to have sustained success. We don’t want to sacrifice everything just to make the playoffs this year,“ he said. “Obviously we want to make the playoffs—there’s no if’s and’s or but’s about that—but I think the most important thing is that we become a good team and grow. We don’t want to just make the playoffs, get there and get swept.“

It sure sounds like Demps is ready for another year of team building, but he certainly should expect the Pelicans to get out of the basement if they remain healthy.

“There are going to be some good teams in the West that don’t make the playoffs but we want to be one of the teams that do,“ said Demps.

Hey, it took a good three or four seasons for the ratings of “Breaking Bad” to trend upwards, so Demps and Williams can only hope that Pelicans are on the same path.




►  2014-15 Brooklyn Nets Preview

For the second straight offseason, the Brooklyn Nets occupied the headlines for a period of time.

Last summer, the arrival of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, coupled with the signing of Jason Kidd as head coach were the talk of Brooklyn.

Some of the names remained the same in the heat of 2014, but not for good reasons.

Pierce bolted after one season to the Washington Wizards, hoping to guide that young team further in the postseason. That move wasn’t a total surprise, but the other big storyline of the Nets’ summer was a shockeroo.

Kidd made a behind the scenes power play for personnel responsibilities. He went behind General Manager Billy King’s back to ownership for control of the team.

It backfired.

Kidd is now the head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks.

Kidd was hired by the Nets just weeks after officially retiring from the league. He struggled badly, as did the Nets, early on, but once he got his footing, the Nets thrived and even won a round in the postseason.

Then, his duplicitous machinations cost him the trust of ownership. They allowed him to go to Milwaukee. King and owner Mikhail Prokhorov found a good man.

Lionel Hollins was tabbed the team’s head coach. In reality, despite the late- season surge last season thanks to Kidd’s improvement on the bench, the Nets upgraded in the coaching department.

This move isn’t career advancement for Hollins. He’s a defensive-minded guy, who got the Memphis Grizzlies to the Western Conference Finals just two seasons ago. He did it by preaching defense and unity.

“The only stabilizing way I can be is just that I’m here and if they’re out watching they know I’m going to be straight with them,“ Hollins said at his introductory press conference. “I’m going to be consistent with them and we’re going to have fun, we’re going to work hard and we’re going to win.“

The Nets won some games last season and beat the Toronto Raptors in the first round. They did so without All-Star center Brook Lopez through much of the campaign.

Lopez was averaging 20.7 ppg before he went down with yet another foot injury. He was playing at an All-Star level, problem was, the team was not winning games.

When Lopez went down, the offensive focus shifted to Joe Johnson, who, despite being immensely overpaid, made another All-Star team. The team eventually learned to trust Kidd and they flourished.

Things have changed in the offseason, and not just involving Kidd.

Pierce left for the Wizards, Shaun Livingston, who underwent a career rebirth with the Nets last season, signed with Golden State, Andray Blatche isn’t back and Garnett hasn’t truly confirmed he will be back instead of retiring. (Most believe he will be back.)

The 2014-15 Nets may experience addition by subtraction. Kidd grated on some of the players, so Hollins, a respected basketball mind, shouldn’t have any turbulence with his transition. This is still a veteran group who should work with Hollins.

The Nets ranked 10th in opponents’ scoring last season. Under Hollins, the Memphis Grizzlies were dominant on that side of the ball. They won games because of their defense.

That should be a calling card for Brooklyn this season. There’s enough offense with Johnson, Lopez and Deron Williams to carry the load in the fourth quarter.

2013-14 Results: 44-38, 2nd in Atlantic. Lost in East Semifinals to Miami


ADDITIONS: HC Lionel Hollins, G Jarrett Jack, G/F Sergey Karasev, F Bojan Bogdanovic


PROJECTED STARTING FIVE:


PG- Deron Williams SG- Joe Johnson SF- Andrei Kirilenko PF- Kevin Garnett C- Brook Lopez


KEY RESERVES: G/F Alan Anderson, G Jarrett Jack, C Mason Plumlee, F Mirza Teletovic, F Bojan Bogdanovic, F/G Sergey Karasev


FRONTCOURT: Lopez can score as well as any center on the low block, plus, he has a decent jump shot. When he went down, Lopez was shooting 56 percent from the field and 81 percent from the free-throw line.

Lopez is not a perfect center. He averaged a paltry 6.0 rebounds per game and was never a great force on the glass. Lopez is adequate defensively and with Garnett behind him, he isn’t always burdened with covering the opponents best interior player.

What’s most concerning is that Lopez has now had two surgeries on his right foot in three seasons. Lopez said he’s slimmed down in an effort to lighten the load on his dogs.

“I’m at my playing weight,“ Lopez told the New York Post. “I can attribute that to laying in bed for months, but I’m back to the weight that’s normal for me.“

This will probably be Garnett’s last season in a Hall of Fame career. Kidd did a good job of maintaining Garnett’s minutes last season, averaging only 20.5 per game.

That won’t be an issue for Hollins. He spoke with Garnett and made his plans clear.

“There’s nobody in the gym I’d put in his place,“ Hollins said. “He’s earned that right to be the starter from Day 1.“

Garnett was mildly effective last season, pulling down 6.6 boards a game, but only managed 6.5 points. He surrendered his normal offensive role due to the talent around him.

Kirilenko was under-used by Kidd last season, although the Russian wasn’t healthy through much of the season. He will be a perfect fit for Hollins’ defensive mentality. Kirilenko has something left in the tank.


BACKCOURT: Williams had his worst season as a pro in 2013-14. He averaged only 14.3 points and handed out 6.1 assists. Those were both career lows since his rookie season.

Williams has been hobbled by ankle injuries for the last few seasons. When healthy, we could assume Williams would return to his All-Star form. Two seasons ago, he averaged almost 19 points and 21 the season before.

Williams never seemed to click with Kidd. It was somewhat surprising considering Kidd is one of the greatest point guards to ever live. Williams has a so-so reputation when it comes to coaches. This season is important for Williams to return to form and reclaim a position among the position’s elite.

Johnson was dinged up some last season, but still scored almost 16 points a night. He shot 40 percent from long range, which was a 10-year high. He’s not a great defender, but he can score and does so in isolations. The ball sticks with him, but the result is generally the other team pulling the hoop out of the net.

Johnson is an easy guy to beat up on because of his $23 million salary. He’s not selfish, but does thrive best in one-on-one situations. He carried the Nets through some lean times last season.


BENCH: The Nets’ bench last season was a real strength.

Brooklyn’s second unit played the second-most minutes per game and scored the fifth-most points. Even though some key pieces have left, the Nets’ bench should still provide big lifts.

Plumlee, for one, emerged last season with Lopez shelved and Garnett aging. He made the All-Rookie First Team and gained even more experience winning a gold medal for the United States at the FIBA World Cup. His game should only improve.

Jack is two years removed from finishing in the top three in Sixth Man of the Year voting when he was with the Golden State Warriors. Last season in Cleveland didn’t go well, so they shipped him to Brooklyn in order to shed salary for a certain LeBron James. Jack is still a solid combo guard who has played a lot of big minutes in his career. He will be valuable for the Nets.

Anderson is underrated. He played almost 23 minutes a game for the Nets last season and can play both wing positions. Anderson is not a bad shooter, plus defender and a gamer.

Teletovic emerged under Kidd. He got almost 20 minutes a night and scored 8.6 ppg. He shot 39 percent from long range. Teletovic should see plenty of time behind Garnett.

Everyone else on the roster would be classified as projects.


COACHING: Hollins went 183-129 in three-plus seasons with the Grizzlies. He left Memphis because of a conflict with the organization about analytics. The Grizz hierarchy loves the science, Hollins not so much.

He is respected. He preaches defense and team defense. While with the Grizzlies, Hollins finished sixth in Coach of the Year voting in 2012-13, which was criminally low.

Hollins took the Grizzlies to the Conference Finals and Semifinals. He’s battle-tested and he should hold up fine in the media cauldron of New York. Hollins will have plenty of veterans to lean on, although he will have to immediately build a relationship with Williams.

Hollins is going to be just fine.


OUTLOOK: The Nets might not be.

Brooklyn finished with the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference last season. That was with Pierce, Livingston and Blatche. Jack replaces Livingston, but it’s hard to see this group contending for the Atlantic Division with the Toronto Raptors still intact.

A full season of Lopez should make them a little better, but the East isn’t as bad as it once was. They will miss Pierce’s veteran leadership, as well as his fourth-quarter toughness.

Williams is a big key. Lopez and Johnson should handle the scoring load, but Williams needs to be the Deron of old for them to make it to the second round again.

Brooklyn is definitely behind the Cleveland Cavaliers, Chicago Bulls, Raptors and Washington Wizards. The Nets should figure into the mix somewhere in the final four for playoff positioning.

The Nets didn’t get substantially worse. The rest of the conference got better.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Giants top Cards in 10, take series lead

Sixteen batters in a row failed to reach base for the San Francisco Giants.

Their last hit was a single by their starting pitcher in the fourth inning.

Then Brandon Crawford drew a leadoff walk in the 10th inning and minutes later was racing home as the winning run.

The Giants may not be hitting balls over the fence, but they continue to make timely plays.

Crawford scored from second base on a throwing error by reliever Randy Choate and the Giants beat the St. Louis Cardinals 5-4 on Tuesday in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series.

Crawford went to second base on a single by Juan Perez, who was only swinging because he fouled off two bunt attempts. Choate (0-1) fielded Gregor Blanco’s bunt and threw wide to first base for an error, touching off a celebration for the Giants, who took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Their offense had been absent since a four-run rally in the first inning.

“It couldn’t have worked out better,“ said Giants manager Bruce Bochy. “Perez can’t lay down a bunt and he gets a hit. You’re playing with house money at that point.“

Randal Grichuk had tied the game for St. Louis with a solo homer in the seventh as the Cardinals came close to building on their postseason narrative.

All four of their wins have come after they either trailed or were tied going into the seventh inning, including Game 2 on Sunday when Kolten Wong hit a walk-off homer to earn a split in St. Louis.

“We’ve just come to expect it,“ said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. “That’s a good place to be when we get down.“

Game 4 is Wednesday night in San Francisco with Shelby Miller going for the Cardinals against fellow right-hander Ryan Vogelsong for the Giants.

St. Louis played without star catcher Yadier Molina, who suffered a strained oblique on Sunday. Molina warmed up closer Trevor Rosenthal in the bullpen and was apparently available as a defensive replacement.

Wong continued to make an impact with a two-run triple off Giants starter Tim Hudson. Grichuk drove the Hudson’s final pitch off the left-field pole with one out in the seventh.

The Cardinals have hit 12 homers in seven playoff games after finishing last in the NL during the regular season with 105. The Giants have just two homers in eight playoff games.

Travis Ishikawa highlighted San Francisco’s four-run first inning with a three-run double off John Lackey, who went six innings for St. Louis and gave up just one hit after the first—Hudson’s single in the fourth.

Lackey, 35, had three strikeouts and a walk pitching on seven days’ rest since beating the Dodgers in Game 3 for his seventh career postseason win.

Hudson, 39, struck out five and walked none in his first career championship series start. He had nine days off since pitching 7 1/3 innings against the Nationals in Game 2, which the Giants won in 18 innings.

Lackey got two outs on four pitches in the bottom of the first inning before the Giants started their four-run rally.

Hunter Pence slapped an RBI double into the right-field corner, but the big blow was Ishikawa’s bases-loaded hit. Grichuk seemed to misjudge the wind, pulling back as the ball hit off the base of the right-field wall.

The wind also seemed to confuse Pence on Wong’s triple in the fourth, which hit higher up on the wall.

Jhonny Peralta bounced a two-out single through the left side in the sixth inning for his first RBI of the postseason to draw the Cardinals within 4-3.

Game Notes

It was the sixth extra-inning game this postseason, two short of the record of eight set in 1995. The only other years with more were 2003 and 2004, which both had seven ... Marco Gonzalez, Pat Neshek and Seth Maness each pitched a perfect inning for St. Louis ... Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval has reached base safely in 21 straight postseason games, tying Barry Bonds’ franchise record set in 2003 ... Hudson’s single in the fourth inning snapped a 42 at-bat hitless streak. He hasn’t earned a postseason win since the 2001 ALDS for Oakland against the Yankees ... It was the eighth time this season the Giants scored at least four runs in the first inning ... Giants third base coach Tim Flannery joined the Grateful Dead’s Phil Lesh and Bob Weir to sing the national anthem ... Hall of Famer Willie McCovey was at the ballpark after recently being released from the hospital. The Giants legend was battling an infection.


►  Royals do it again, grab 3-0 lead in ALCS

Timely hitting and great relief pitching have carried the Kansas City Royals a long way this postseason.

It’s looking like all the way to the World Series.

Billy Butler drove in the eventual deciding run with a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning, and Kansas City’s sensational bullpen made it stand up in a 2-1 decision over the Baltimore Orioles that has the resurgent Royals just one win away from the Fall Classic.

Four Kansas City relievers combined for four perfect innings in Tuesday’s Game 3 of the American League Championship Series. Jason Frasor (2-0) worked a perfect top of the sixth in relief of Jeremy Guthrie before the three-headed monster of Kelvim Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland protected the 2-1 lead and gave the Royals a 3-0 advantage in this best-of-seven set.

Kansas City, now a spotless 7-0 during these playoffs, will attempt to nail down its first World Series trip since 1985 Wednesday afternoon on its home turf of Kauffman Stadium.

Lorenzo Cain followed up a four-hit performance in Saturday’s Game 2 by going 2-for-4 with a run scored, while Eric Hosmer also had two hits for the Royals.

The Orioles managed just three hits as a team, with J.J. Hardy knocking in their lone run with a second-inning double.

Wei-Yin Chen provided the desperate Orioles with the solid start they were counting on, but surrendered a leadoff hit to Nori Aoki and a one-out smash single to Hosmer that forced his departure in the bottom of the sixth with the game deadlocked at 1-1.

Kevin Gausman came in with the intent of getting the slow-footed Butler to ground into a double play in the runners-on-the-corners situation. However, the veteran designated hitter was able to drive a ball plenty deep enough to left field to easily score pinch-runner Jarrod Dyson without a throw.

Kansas City’s relief corps shut the Orioles down from there. Herrera fanned two with a near 100-mph fastball during a flawless seventh, Davis registered three quick outs in the eighth and Holland needed just six pitches to mow down the heart of Baltimore’s lineup—Adam Jones, Nelson Cruz and Steve Pearce—and notch his third straight save of the series.

The Royals set down the final 16 Baltimore batters, with the Orioles last baserunner coming when Guthrie walked Ryan Flaherty with two out in the fourth inning.

Chen (0-1) was charged with both runs and permitted seven hits while striking out four over 5 1/3 innings of work.

Guthrie, working on an 18-day layoff, retired the side in order in the first inning but was tagged for back-to-back doubles by Pearce and J.J. Hardy to begin the second as Baltimore gained the early upper hand.

It marked the first time Kansas City had trailed since the Angels’ Mike Trout homered in the opening inning of Game 3 of the ALDS. The Royals had gone 46 consecutive innings without being behind at the conclusion of the frame.

Guthrie kept Baltimore’s offense under wraps over the remainder of his stint, but was removed in favor of Frasor after delivering 94 pitches through five innings—though he threw just 11 in a 1-2-3 fifth. The former Oriole held his ex-club to three hits and a pair of walks while leaving in a 1-1 tie.

Chen, meanwhile, was very sharp the first time through the Kansas City order before running into some trouble in the fourth inning. Cain and Hosmer reached on back-to-back singles and Butler drew a walk to load the bases in front of Alex Gordon’s grounder to second that pushed home the Royals’ initial run.

Game Notes

The win was the Royals’ 10th straight overall in postseason play, counting the final three games of their 1985 World Series championship over St. Louis ... Kansas City became the first team since the 2007 Rockies to win their first seven contests of a single postseason ... Guthrie pitched five seasons for the Orioles from 2007-11. At 35 years of age, he became the oldest starting pitcher to make his postseason debut since 35-year-old Steve Trachsel did so for the Mets against the Dodgers in the 2006 NLDS ... Cruz had an MLB-record streak of six straight multi-hit games in the postseason end after going 0- for-4.


►  National League Championship Series Game Result

Final Score: San Francisco 5, St. Louis 4 (10 innings)

Brandon Crawford drew a leadoff walk in the 10th inning and scored from second base on a throwing error by reliever Randy Choate, lifting the San Francsico Giants to a 5-4 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series. Crawford reached base after 16 straight Giants batters were retired. He went to second on a single by Juan Perez, who was only swinging because he fouled off two bunt attempts. Choate (0-1) then fielded Gregor Blanco’s bunt and threw wide to first base, touching off a celebration for the Giants, who took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. Randal Grichuk tied the game for St. Louis with a solo homer in the seventh inning as the Cardinals came back from a 4-0 deficit in the first. Game 4 is Wednesday night in San Francisco with Shelby Miller going for the Cardinals against Ryan Vogelsong for the Giants.


►  American League Championship Series Game Capsule

Final Score: Kansas City 2, Baltimore 1

Timely hitting and great relief pitching have carried the Kansas City Royals a long way this postseason. It’s looking like all the way to the World Series. Billy Butler drove in the eventual deciding run with a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning, and Kansas City’s sensational bullpen made it stand up in a 2-1 decision over the Baltimore Orioles that has the resurgent Royals just one win away from the Fall Classic. Four Kansas City relievers combined for four perfect innings in Tuesday’s Game 3 of the American League Championship Series. Jason Frasor (2-0) worked a perfect top of the sixth in relief of Jeremy Guthrie before the three-headed monster of Kelvim Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland protected the 2-1 lead and gave the Royals a 3-0 advantage in this best-of-seven set. Kansas City, now a spotless 7-0 during these playoffs, will attempt to nail down its first World Series trip since 1985 Wednesday afternoon on its home turf of Kauffman Stadium. Lorenzo Cain followed up a four-hit performance in Saturday’s Game 2 by going 2-for-4 with a run scored, while Eric Hosmer also had two hits for the Royals. The Orioles managed just three hits as a team, with J.J. Hardy knocking in their lone run with a second-inning double.


►  Friedman leaves Rays for Dodgers

Tampa Bay Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman has decided to leave the organization and join the Los Angeles Dodgers as president of baseball operations.

Friedman’s position with the Dodgers is a new one for the organization. Ned Colletti, who was general manager of the Dodgers, will remain with the organization as a senior advisor to CEO Stan Kasten.

“Andrew Friedman is one of the youngest and brightest minds in the game today and we are very fortunate to have him join our organization,“ said Kasten in a statement Tuesday. “The success he has had over the past nine years in molding the Tampa Bay Rays team has been incredible.“

Despite overseeing one of the league’s lowest payrolls, the Rays had four postseason appearances, including division titles in 2008 and 2010, in nine seasons from 2006-14 under Friedman. The Rays won the AL pennant in 2008 and lost to Philadelphia in the World Series.

“As I embark upon my next journey, I have only thanks and gratitude to the Rays organization and the Tampa Bay region for a wonderful 10 years together. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to have been part of something so special and for the passion and support of this exceptional fan base,“ said Friedman. “The Rays organization is loaded with talent from ownership to players and everyone between. We were able to create together an unbelievable culture that no doubt will continue, and I am absolutely confident that the successes we achieved will continue into the future.“

To ensure a smooth transition for the organization moving forward, current Rays president Matt Silverman will now serve as president of baseball operations, and Rays senior vice president of business operations Brian Auld has been named team president.

“I thank Andrew for all he has done for the Rays organization. We have enjoyed great success together, and that’s largely due to the deep and talented organization that Andrew has helped to assemble both on and off the field,“ said Rays owner Stuart Sternberg. “While we will miss Andrew, we have prepared ourselves for this possibility, and I have great faith in Matt and Brian in their new roles.“

Friedman joined the Rays in 2004 as assistant of baseball development and was named executive vice president in October 2005.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  U.S. Ryder Cup task force named

The PGA of America announced the creation of an 11-member task force that will examine all parts of the Ryder Cup process.

The task force will study how the captains are chosen, the U.S. points system, the dates when the team is determined, the dates when the captain’s picks will take place and the selection of vice captains.

Derek Sprague, the PGA Vice President, and PGA Chief Executive Officer Pete Bevacqua will co-chair the task force.

“The Ryder Cup is our most prized competitive asset, and the PGA of America is committed to utilizing our utmost energy and resources to support one of the biggest events in all of sport,“ said PGA of America President Ted Bishop. “The Ryder Cup Task Force, co-chaired by Derek Sprague and Pete Bevacqua, is an exciting and comprehensive initiative that will guide the PGA in developing the right strategy and building ongoing processes and infrastructure for future generations of U.S. teams.“

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson will headline the task force and will be joined there by fellow players Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk and Rickie Fowler. Past Ryder Cup captains Raymond Floyd, Tom Lehman and Davis Love III are also part of the group, which is rounded out by PGA of America secretary Paul Levy.

“I think this is a great step by the PGA to accomplish what we all want—to win the Ryder Cup,“ said Woods. “The Ryder Cup is very important to every player who has the honor to represent his country. I’m excited to be part of this group.“

The creation of the task force comes only a few weeks after a third straight Ryder Cup loss for the U.S. The Americans dropped a 16 1/2 - 11 1/2 decision at Gleneagles, giving the Europeans a victory in six of the past seven and eight of the last 10 Ryder Cups.

Tom Watson had been selected by Bishop to lead that team in an attempt to stop the Americans’ losing streak. Watson had captained the last American win in Europe in 1993.

After the loss, Mickelson spoke of how little the players were involved with the process. He called for a return to Paul Azinger’s pod strategy that helped lead the U.S. team to its most recent win in 2008. This move will help give the players more of a say in the entire process.

The 2016 Ryder Cup will take place in Minnesota at Hazeltine National Golf Club, which has hosted seven major championships, including a pair of U.S. Opens and two PGA Championships.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Wise Dan slips past Shared Belief in rankings

One day after it was announced Wise Dan was injured and won’t be able to run in the Breeders’ Cup, he was sitting atop the NTRA Thoroughbred Poll.

The two-time defending Horse of the Year edged past Shared Belief in the rankings to reclaim first place by eight points over the 3-year-old.

Wise Dan, owned by Morton Fink, received 24 top votes and 379 points to Shared Belief’s 15 first-place votes and 371 points. Fink announced Monday that his champion has an injury and will be unable to defend his consecutive victories in the Breeders’ Cup Mile on November 1.

“He was scheduled to breeze in a few days and Charlie (trainer Charles LoPresti) checked him over to be sure he was 100 percent,“ Fink said in a statement. “Unfortunately, Charlie noticed some swelling in his ankle and quickly decided to X-ray him to be sure everything was alright. The X-rays identified a non-displaced “half-moon shaped” fracture of the bottom of the cannon bone in the RF (right front) fetlock. This likely occurred in his victory in the Shadwell (Turf) Mile.

“As a result, we have decided to withdraw him from the Breeders’ Cup to allow the fracture to heal ... Dr. (Larry) Bramlage recommends that we wait at least 30 days and assess his progress before we make any further decisions. He is seven years old, with 30 starts in his career so we’ll let him show us what to do next.“

The remainder of the poll is unchanged from last week with Tonalist (273) third followed by California Chrome (1, 247), Main Sequence (190), Bayern (174), Untapable (152), Close Hatches (121), Beholder (108) and Palace Malice (47).

The National Poll continues through the Breeders’ Cup.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  NFL Fantasy Player of the Week - Week 6

In 2014, it’s the passing game dominating fantasy statistics. So it’s no wonder that for a sixth consecutive week someone involved in the passing game has garnered the TSN Fantasy Player of the Week award.

An analysis of the top-50 players in one of my fantasy leagues shows that 41 either throw the football or catch it.

The following players were the best at their position in Week 6.


Quarterbacks -

Joe Flacco, Baltimore - Sunday NFL games start at 1 PM, but by 1:30 PM, Flacco had already locked up the top fantasy quarterback spot. He did it by throwing five touchdown passes in the first 16 minutes and three seconds of the game in Tampa Bay. Cruising with an early 38-0 lead he didn’t do much in the second half, but then he didn’t really have to.

Cam Newton, Carolina - Newton finally played like the fantasy star we have come to expect. He threw for 284 yards including touchdown passes to his two best receivers (Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen), but more importantly ran the ball aggressively. He rushed 17 times for 107 yards and a score and his surgically-repaired ankle wasn’t a factor.


Running Backs -

Matt Forte, Chicago - Typical Forte performance leading the Bears rushing game with 80 yards and two touchdowns, while still being a huge part of Jay Cutler’s passing attack catching a league-high 10 balls for 77 yards. He’s third in the league in yards from scrimmage behind DeMarco Murray and Le’Veon Bell and second in running back fantasy points.

Arian Foster, Houston - Foster’s running kept Houston in the game against Indianapolis Thursday night. His 109 yards and two touchdowns on the ground and three receptions for 32 yards may not have gotten the Texans over the top, but his 29 fantasy points probably helped fantasy teams to a win.


Wide Receivers -

T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis - Hilton has been involved in the offense all season, catching at least five balls in every game, which was why his mediocre fantasy numbers heading into Week 6 were so frustrating to owners. That ended Thursday night. Hilton finally broke through, scoring for the first time this season, but it was a career-high 223 receiving yards, one yard short of Raymond Berry’s franchise mark, that got him on today’s list after earning 33 fantasy points.

Demaryius Thomas, Denver - After being the invisible man for the first four weeks of the season (three games and a bye), Thomas has punished the opposition the past two weeks. Sunday against the New York Jets he posted 10 receptions for 124 yards and a touchdown giving him 27 points for the weekend and 69 points since moving back outside after the return of slot receiver Wes Welker.


Tight Ends -

Jordan Cameron, Cleveland - Welcome back to fantasy relevance Mr. Cameron. After being hurt for most of the season, he exploded for two big first-half catches, a 51-yard touchdown and a 42-yard reception that set up the first Browns score. He finished with 102 yards. He’ll face a Jacksonville team in Week 7 that hasn’t stopped a tight end yet this season.

Jace Amaro, New York Jets - We knew Amaro had the talent, but he’s finally getting a chance to show it. He was on the field for a season-high 55 percent of the Jets offensive snaps and was Geno Smith’s “target du jour.“ Amaro caught 10 of a team-high 12 targets for 68 yards and a touchdown.


Kickers -

Dan Bailey, Dallas - It was a pretty pedestrian day for fantasy kickers, but Bailey hit everything he was asked, including a 56-yard field goal in the third quarter. He was perfect in three extra points and went 3-of-3 on field goal attempts.


Defense/ST -

Detroit Lions - The Lions defense has become the league’s best, holding opponents to just 13.7 ppg. Sunday, they held the Vikings to just a field goal over 60 minutes while sacking rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater eight times and picking off three of his passes for 23 fantasy points.

And the winner of the TSN Fantasy Player of the Week is ... Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco. Flacco has been inconsistent this season, scoring 11, 30, 4 fantasy points in his previous three starts. On Sunday, however, he was predictably very good against a bad Bucs defense and fantasy owners who were paying attention reaped the rewards with a Week 6 high 37-point explosion.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Durant injury rocks mock drafts

Fellow fantasy writer Max Zelenko advised readers last week to draft Thunder forward Kevin Durant No. 1 overall even ahead of Cavaliers superstar LeBron James.

Over the weekend, however, the Oklahoma City star suffered an injury that changes the entire landscape of every NBA fantasy draft.

Doctors diagnosed Durant with a Jones fracture in his right foot, which is a fracture that occurs in the fifth metatarsal of the foot according to the Oklahoman. Even though this injury usually requires surgery, the Thunder initially elected for Durant to receive treatment instead of surgery. Then, general manager Sam Presti came forward and said “all signs point” to surgery to repair the fracture. Durant is still waiting for a second opinion.

Whether Durant receives surgery or not, the best case scenario has him returning in six-to-eight weeks. All the sudden, the general consensus No. 1 pick becomes a risky selection that will miss, at minimum, 15 games.

Although this is a heart-breaking injury to owners who desired Durant’s services for an entire season, it could be worse: the injury could have occurred after owners had already drafted him.

There certainly will be owners who still select Durant in the top two picks despite the injury. Those owners would be optimistic that Durant would miss just 15 games and then make an immediate impact once he gets back on the court for Game No. 16 on November 26.

Personally, if I had one of the top two picks, there is too much risk involved to draft Durant. Again, he will miss 15 games if he is only out six weeks. If he misses eight weeks, Durant would be out for 20 games.

That’s about 25 percent of the season. Then what happens if he suffers a setback? Even for the talent of Durant, the risk is too high.

So question No. 1 in the re-landscaped fantasy basketball mock draft is how far does Durant fall? To third overall? Out of the first round?

The answer lies solely in how comfortable owners feel with Durant’s risk. The more comfortable they feel, the earlier he will go. For me, it is the second round. If he falls to picks No. 11-20, Durant’s talent then outweighs the risk of selecting him in the second round. But I’m very cautious when selecting players with risk. There are probably still a lot of owners that will not let this superstar fall to pick 11.

As for the rest of the draft, if Durant does fall, who else moves up and what happens to Durant’s teammates?

James becomes the clear-cut No. 1 pick. Anthony Davis, Stephen Curry, Chris Paul and James Harden, who are ranked third, fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively, on Yahoo’s ADP list, would also move up one spot as long as Durant keeps falling.

Thunder guard Russell Westbrook would also have the opportunity to move up several spots from his 9.5 ADP in Yahoo leagues. With no Durant for the first 15 games, Westbrook will do most of the Oklahoma City scoring. The point guard could move up as high as No. 5 in front of Chris Paul and James Harden.

Whether or not Durant falls on your draft board should have no barring on Russell Westbrook’s new draft position. Westbrook’s assist and turnover numbers will suffer with no Durant, but he becomes the Thunder’s best scoring option, which ultimately raises his fantasy value.


►  Who to take at the Center Position?

There is no way around it, Anthony Davis should be the first center taken off the board, in all fantasy basketball drafts.

Now, while Davis also plays a ton of minutes at the power forward position, Yahoo Sports is notorious for giving players eligibility at multiple positions. Davis is no exception to that rule, as owners can place him in either spot.

Before the Kevin Durant ankle injury, Davis was being projected to go third overall in drafts, and now has the potential to move up a spot, with the devastating blow to Oklahoma City. With many players having eligibility at the center position, it makes for an interesting decision for which big man should be taken off the board, after the New Orleans’ all-star is selected. Here are three candidates that owners need to consider.


LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland

Owners love having the option to throw this guy in the power forward or center spot, and with him coming off what was arguably his best season in the NBA, makes for an enticing pick. Aldridge had career-high numbers last season, with 23.2 ppg, 11.1 rpg, 2.6 apg, as well as shooting 82.2 percent from the free throw line. Not only should he be able to at least duplicate those numbers, but Aldridge also produces a career-average of 48.8 percent from the field, along with 0.8 spg and 1.0 bpg. He simply fills up the stats sheet.

The biggest question with Aldridge is, can he stay healthy for 82 games? He has never played a full season (played 81 games twice), and managed only 69 games a season ago. While missing 13 games does not seem like much, owners would be more confident in Aldridge, if his durability was even just slightly better. With the three players being discussed in this article so close in value, the potential to miss a few games here and there, could sway owners in another direction.


Kevin Love, Cleveland

Just like Aldridge, Love was able to post career-high numbers with 26.1 ppg, as well as 4.4 apg. The rest of his statistics were right around his career averages in 2013-14: 12.5 rpg, 0.8 spg, 0.5 bpg, 45.7 percent from the field, 82.1 perfect from the free throw stripe and finally 37.6 percent from the three-point line. With the exception of an injury-plagued 2012-13 season (played only 18 games due to two broken metacarpals in his right hand), Love has been an elite fantasy option since the beginning of the 2010-11 season.

Now, what every owner is wondering in regards to Love, is whether he will be able to duplicate his big numbers, playing on a more talented team in Cleveland. With how unselfish Lebron James is and the fact Kyrie Irving is a point guard who likes to distribute the ball (6.1 apg in 2013-14), Love’s scoring should not take a major hit. His other numbers will be right there, as well, as Love will continue to see right around the 36 minutes per game he saw during his final season with the Timberwolves.


DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento

Cousins is another guy coming off the best season of his young career. He totaled with 22.7 ppg, 11.7 rpg, 2.9 apg, 1.5 spg, 1.3 bpg, along with shooting 49.6 percent from the field. One of the biggest things that sets Cousins apart from this field is that he is only 24-years-old, and is still improving every game.

While Cousins continues to get better as a basketball player, there are two statistical categories that hurt him last season. He averaged a career-worst 3.5 turnovers per game, and also owns a career-average 71.5 percent from the free throw line. In 2013-14, Love turned the ball over only 2.5 times per game, and shot 82.1 percent from the line, and Aldridge managed only 1.8 turnovers per game, along with an 82.2 free throw percentage. With how big each category is in fantasy basketball, owners need to consider these numbers moving forward.


Final Thought:

Owners cannot go wrong drafting any of these three players, however if all three guys are on the board, Kevin Love has to be the pick. He just turned 26- years-old, and will have a tremendous opportunity to flourish with the Cavaliers. James and Irving should draw a ton of attention from defenses, resulting in a number of open opportunities for Love, both around the rim and beyond the arc. While Love may not have the chance to put up the 18.5 shots per game from a season ago, his overall field goal percentage could approach 50 percent. That is something owners will salivate for, if it comes to fruition.

The Gilmer Free Press


WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 15, 2014


Major League Baseball - Playoffs
*Baltimore at Kansas City, 4:07 PM - TBS
St. Louis at San Francisco, 8:07 PM - FS1


National Basketball Association - Preseason
Sacramento vs. Brooklyn, 7:30 AM - NBA TV
Rio de Janeiro Flamengo vs. Orlando, 7:00 PM - FS-Florida
Indiana vs. Cleveland, 7:00 PM - FS-Ohio, Indiana, NBA TV
Toronto vs. Boston, 7:30 PM - CSN-New England


National Hockey League
Boston at Detroit, 8:00 PM - NBCSN, TVA Sports
Calgary at Chicago, 8:00 PM - SN, CSN-Chicago, DSS
Edmonton at Arizona, 10:30 PM - SN-West, FS-Arizona, DSS


International Soccer
Cameroon vs. Sierra Leone, 9:55 AM - beIN Sport
Ivory Coast vs. DR Congo, 12:55 PM - beIN Sport
United States vs. Honduras, 8:00 PM - ESPN


Golf
EUROPEAN - Match Play Championship, 9:00 AM - Golf Channel
PGA of AMERICA - Grand Slam of Golf, 4:00 PM - TNT
LPGA - Hana Bank Championship, 11:00 PM - Golf Channel

Sports News

The Gilmer Free Press


The Gilmer Free Press

►  Marshall back in top 25 with win over MTSU

Marshall pounded Middle Tennesse State 49-24 to improve to 6-0 on the year and jump back into the top 25 for the first time in more than a decade.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  HEISMAN POWER RANKINGS: WEEK 7

With a suspension dropping one former favorite from the ranks, quarterbacks dominate the upper half of this list as the Heisman Trophy picture begins to get clearer near the season’s halfway point.


1. Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State (last week: No. 1)—The top-ranked Bulldogs’ early season run is perhaps the most unlikely story in a college football season full of crazy twists and turns, and Prescott shoulders the majority of the credit. Mississippi State has downed a top-10 opponent in three straight weeks, including a 38-23 triumph over No. 2 Auburn over the weekend. Prescott struggled at times against a stingy Tigers’ defense, completing less than 53% of his passes (18-of-34) and tossing two interceptions, but overall he was outstanding with 246 passing yards, 121 rushing yards and three touchdowns. The Bulldogs will enjoy a bit of a break in their schedule in the coming weeks with contests against Kentucky, Arkansas and UT Martin, where Prescott will try to improve upon his gaudy numbers (1,478 passing yards, 576 rushing yards, 22 TDs) before being put to the test again late in the season with road bouts at Alabama (November 15) and Ole Miss (November 29).


2. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon (last week: No. 3)—After the Ducks stumbled with a home loss against Arizona two weeks ago, they bounced back in a big way with a 42-20 road triumph at nationally ranked UCLA to put themselves back in the national picture. Mariota was predictably outstanding, throwing for 210 yards and two touchdowns while adding 75 yards and two more scores on the ground. With mounting problems on defense and the offensive line, this Oregon squad is not the program’s most talented of the past few seasons, and it will have a difficult time navigating through the remainder of a tough Pac-12 schedule, but even with sky-high expectations, Mariota has played even better than anyone could have envisioned coming into the season, completing greater than 70% of his throws, piling up 1,937 total yards, scoring 23 touchdowns and having yet to throw an interception.


3. Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor (last week: unranked)—After a disappointing effort on October 4 at Texas (7-of-22, 111 yards), Petty fell from the list a week ago but managed to make up for lost time in a marquee, top-10 shootout versus TCU. Petty only managed to complete 50.9% of his passes (28- of-55), but he tossed a career-high 510 yards and six touchdowns, with three of those scores coming in the fourth quarter as the Bears erased a 21-point deficit to down the Horned Frogs, 61-58. It’s been an up-and-down campaign for Petty, who missed time early in the year with a back injury, but Baylor is a top-5 program and appears to be the best the Big 12 has to offer, and if he can continue his current pace (1,534 passing yards, 18 TDs, three interceptions), not only will the Bears be in line for a berth in the College Football Playoff but the signal caller will have a strong case to be a Heisman finalist.


4. Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin (last week: No. 7)—With Todd Gurley’s status for the rest of the season up in the air, Gordon has taken over the throne as college football’s best tailback. Gordon led the Badgers to a 38-28 home victory over Illinois with yet another excellent performance, turning 27 carries into 175 yards and four touchdowns. The 6-foot-1, 207-pound junior is now the nation’s second-leading rusher (1,046 yards, behind only Indiana’s Tevin Coleman with 1,060) thanks to an incredible run over the past four games (868 yards, 12 TDs) when he’s become the first player to rush for at least 175 yards in four straight since UCF’s Kevin Smith in 2007. Wisconsin’s championship aspirations are nothing more than a pipe dream, but with a back as talented as Gordon, that distinction will only hurt his stock so much.


5. Bo Wallace, QB, Ole Miss (last week: unranked)—Prescott isn’t the only undefeated signal caller in the Magnolia State, and it’s about time Wallace received some credit for what he’s done with the Rebels, who have asserted themselves as one of the nation’s best with back-to-back wins over Alabama (23-17) and Texas A&M (35-20). Although Ole Miss was aided by a pair of defensive touchdowns in its victory at A&M this past Saturday, Wallace was nonetheless outstanding in upstaging the Aggies’ high-flying offense by completing 13-of-19 passes for 178 yards, rushing for an additional 50 yards and accounting for three touchdowns without committing a turnover. Wallace is one of the nation’s most accurate passers (68.5 completion%age), he’s scored 17 touchdowns (two rushing), and since throwing three interceptions in the season opener, he’s tossed just three picks in the five games and 145 attempts since.


6. Everett Golson, QB, Notre Dame (last week: No. 4)—The good news for the Fighting Irish is they are still undefeated after escaping a home contest with North Carolina with a 50-43 victory after trailing late in the third quarter. The bad news is their quarterback has had difficulty holding on to the football. With an interception and a fumble against UNC, Golson has eight turnovers in his last three contests after giving the ball away zero times in the first three games. Luckily Golson helped shield his miscues with 300 passing yards, 71 rushing yards and three touchdowns in the win, giving him 20 total scores on the season, but there’s no doubt Golson’s play under center will need to improve greatly if Notre Dame is to continue as one of the nation’s best.


7. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State (last week: No. 10)—Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Winston found himself in the headlines for all the wrong reasons late last week when a report said FSU and the Tallahassee, Florida, police took steps in hindering a criminal investigation of Winston back in 2013 following the allegations that he sexually assaulted a student. Winston will face a disciplinary hearing that could decide the fate of his future at the university, and it’s likely Heisman voters have grown tired of the former winner’s situation, making his repeat chances incredibly slim, but the results on the field are still there. Winston had his best game of the season in a 38-20 win over Syracuse, completing 30-of-36 passes for 317 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions, and the Seminoles have now won 22 in a row and are 19-0 with Winston starting under center.


8. Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama (last week: No. 6)—After tallying at least eight catches and 91 yards in each of his first five games, Cooper had his first dud of the season in Alabama’s narrow, 14-13 road victory over Arkansas by recording just 22 yards on two receptions. The Razorbacks made it a point to focus heavily on Cooper, but the rest of the Crimson Tide offense could not step up, as they amassed just 227 yards. Although any win in the SEC Western Division is a good one, especially on the road, Alabama is definitely vulnerable on offense, meaning that Cooper’s electric pace (54 receptions, 768 yards, five TDs) could start to slow down as defenses begin to catch up with the Tide’s game plan.


9. Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska (last week: No. 8)—Abdullah lost some momentum (as well his FBS high in rushing yards) with the Cornhuskers’ bye week, and his effort against a stout Michigan State defense on October 4 was forgettable (24 carries, 45 yards), but it’s hard to argue with the back’s production through six games, as he’s rushed for 878 yards, added 130 receiving and scored 12 total touchdowns. Abdullah returns to action this week against Northwestern, which allows only 145.7 rushing yards per game.


10. Nick Marshall, QB, Auburn (last week: No. 5)—Marshall set a poor tone early in Auburn’s loss to Mississippi State by tossing an interception on the team’s first drive, and while he brought the Tigers back to within one score of the lead late in the game, he could not overcome the team’s four turnovers and his off-target passing afternoon (17-of-35). He managed to turn 17 carries into 100 yards, marking the fourth time he’s crossed the century mark on the ground this season and leaving his yearly totals at 492 rushing yards, 964 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns. Marshall’s and the Tigers’ stock are down, but one loss in the SEC is hardly a death sentence. They’ll need to be practically flawless down the stretch if they want a chance at the SEC Championship Game, which will be tough with contests versus South Carolina, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Georgia and Alabama still on the docket.


Dropped out: Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia (last week: No. 2)—The NCAA can be pretty backward sometimes, as Winston continues to play in the wake of his investigation yet Gurley is suspended indefinitely for reportedly making money off his likeness, but the rules are the rules, and Gurley certainly isn’t blameless in the act that could possibly cost him his season. Gurley (773 yards, 8.2 yards per carry, nine TDs) was on the fast track to being a Heisman finalist and had a great chance at winning the award prior to this setback. We’ll learn more about his status in the coming days, but we might not see Gurley again until he’s suiting up on Sundays as a high NFL draft pick.

Also dropped out: Kenny Hill, QB, Texas A&M

Honorable Mention: Tevin Coleman, RB, Indiana; Kevin White, WR, West Virginia; Josh Robinson, RB, Mississippi State; Preston Smith, DE, Mississippi State.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  NFL Game Result

MONDAY, OCTOBER 13

Final Score: San Francisco 31, St. Louis 17

Colin Kaepernick passed for 343 yards and three touchdowns as the San Francisco 49ers overcame an early deficit to rally past the St. Louis Rams, 31-17, in an NFC West showdown on Monday night. The second best passing effort of Kaepernick’s career overshadowed a rocky start, as the Rams jumped out to a 14-0 lead. San Francisco scored 24 straight points after that, however, thanks in large part to a momentum-shifting touchdown at the end of the first half. Trailing 14-3 less than 30 seconds before halftime, Brandon Lloyd put a double move on Janoris Jenkins and turned up the left sideline. Kaepernick hit him in stride, and the speedy receiver turned on the jets and sprinted to the end zone for an 80-yard touchdown. Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree also caught TD passes for the 49ers (4-2), who have won three straight following a two-game slide. Kaepernick improved to 4-0 in his career on Monday Night Football. Austin Davis completed 21- of-42 passes for 236 yards, a touchdown and an interception for St. Louis (1-4).


►  Eagles RB Sproles has MCL sprain

Philadelphia Eagles running back Darren Sproles suffered an MCL sprain in his left knee during Sunday night’s 27-0 win over the New York Giants.

Sproles injured the knee late in the third quarter when his left leg was bent backward while he was pinned to the ground.

“He’s got an MCL sprain so we’ll see how long it’ll be. Could be a week or two,“ Eagles coach Chip Kelly said during Monday’s press conference. “I wasn’t as concerned as some other people were.“

Philadelphia has a bye in Week 7, then follows with a visit to Arizona.

Sproles has rushed for 211 yards and three touchdowns this season to go along with a punt return for a touchdown. He leads the NFL in punt return yardage and has averaged 15.6 yards per return.

The Eagles acquired Sproles during the offseason from the New Orleans Saints in exchange for a fifth-round draft pick.


►  Giants WR Cruz undergoes successful knee surgery

New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz underwent successful surgery Monday to repair the torn patellar tendon in his right knee.

Cruz is out for the rest of the season after suffering the injury in the third quarter of Sunday night’s 27-0 loss to the Eagles.

Facing a 20-0 deficit early in the third stanza, the Giants decided to go for it on 4th-and-goal from the 3. Cruz dropped what would have been a touchdown before grabbing his right knee. The gruesome injury brought tears to Cruz’s eyes as he was carted off the field.

Giants coach Tom Coughlin was optimistic about Cruz bouncing back.

“Knowing Victor, he’ll jump into that rehab as hard as he can go,“ said Coughlin on Monday.

Cruz caught 23 passes for 337 yards and one touchdown in six games this season. In 14 games last year, he hauled in 73 passes for 998 yards and four scores.

The 27-year-old Cruz spent Sunday night at Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia and was transferred to the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan, where team physician Dr. Russell Warren performed the procedure.

The Giants hope that rookie Odell Beckham Jr. and Rueben Randle can fill the void. Preston Parker replaced Cruz in the slot Sunday night.

Coughlin also said that cornerback Trumaine McBride will have surgery on his thumb. Fellow cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie left Sunday’s game with back spasms.


►  Cleveland Browns two-time Pro Bowl center Alex Mack will undergo

Cleveland Browns two-time Pro Bowl center Alex Mack will undergo surgery on his broken left fibula in the coming days, the team announced Monday.

Mack awkwardly fell to the ground on a rushing attempt in the second quarter and was helped to the sideline by trainers before being carted off to the locker room.

Browns head coach Mike Pettine is still unsure if Mack will miss the rest of the season, but will get his answer following the procedure. Right guard John Greco moved over to play center following the injury.

Mack had started all 85 games of his six-year career.


►  2014 season is reportedly over for Patriots running back Stevan Ridley

A source confirmed to a Boston newspaper that an MRI taken Monday revealed a torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligament in his right knee, and a date for surgery has not been set.

Ridley sustained the injuries during the third quarter of Sunday’s 37-22 win over the Buffalo Bills. He led the 4-2 Pats with 340 yards on 94 carries


►  New York Jets cornerback Dee Milliner is likely out for the season

New York Jets cornerback Dee Milliner is likely out for the season after suffering a torn Achilles tendon during Sunday’s loss against the Denver Broncos.

Milliner exited in the first quarter following a field-goal attempt. The second-year Alabama product missed several games earlier this year with a high ankle sprain.

Milliner has 62 tackles and three interceptions so far in his career.

In addition, Jets left guard Brian Winters will have surgery for an ACL injury suffered in Sunday’s loss.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Nothin’ but Net: Are OKC’s title hopes dashed forever?

When the reigning MVP, the second-best player in the known universe, is going to be shut down for two months, everyone panics.

Kevin Durant will be gone for two months after he undergoes surgery for a Jones fracture in his right foot. That’s a gigantic loss for sure. No team can overcome losing someone as important as Durant, no matter how differently the Thunder think.

“Our team and organization have been in situations similar to this in the past,“ general manager Sam Presti said. “This is when we’re at our best. One of the things that we traditionally try to do is, within every adversity, we’re always looking for where the opportunity is.“

The problem with Presti’s analysis is that Durant has always been the constant in the lineup. In his seven-year career, Durant has missed 16 regular-season games. I apologize, maybe he was fatigued enough to miss the FIBA World Cup.

The Oklahoma City Thunder are actually equipped to handle his absence decently, better than most teams who lose such a crucial piece. Russell Westbrook is a top-10 player in the league when healthy, which he is as we speak. Durant handled the load when Westbrook missed time last season and they finished with the second seed in the Western Conference.

However, the Thunder will suffer some without Durant in the lineup. Their early-season schedule is littered with difficult opponents. They can’t avoid it playing in the Western Conference. Conservatively, if Durant is gone through November, the Thunder do have some matchups on the docket with the Utah Jazz and Boston Celtics. They can endure.

But, any blips during this stretch will lead to potential problems in postseason positioning. The Thunder, who played the last four-plus months of the regular season healthy in 2013-14, won the Northwest Division by five games over the Portland Trail Blazers. That margin was the difference between a home playoff series in the first round and a road one. The Blazers bolstered their bench, so they might improve, especially with the confidence gained from advancing to the second round last season.

And the Western Conference is brutal. In one scribe’s humble opinion, 10 of the best 15 teams in the NBA reside out west, so the Thunder could fall down the standings considerably.

If the Thunder play .500 basketball without Durant, they could slip as far as sixth in the Western Conference. The team will explode once Durant comes back, but by then it might be too late. Sure, OKC could easily advance in the postseason, even if they were seeded as low as six.

Or, the Thunder could fall to a team like Portland, the Los Angeles Clippers, or the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round. The Dallas Mavericks are improved, the Golden State Warriors are tough and Phoenix, Denver and Houston are all talented opponents.

It’s hard to speculate before the season even begins, but the possibilities exist and that should be scary enough. It could be a difficult re-entry for the Thunder once Durant returns. As great as Westbrook is, he’s a shoot-first point guard. It’s worked with Durant in the lineup since Westbrook has begrudgingly accepted the second-fiddle role. If Westbrook really guides the team to success, it might be hard for him to willingly acquiesce big-dog status.

If OKC does falter with Durant gone, the bigger picture becomes murkier. Durant will be a free agent at the end of the 2015-16 season, which is when the new TV deal goes into effect. If the salary cap goes up, Durant is going to get paid handsomely.

Will the Thunder be the ones to pony up that cash? They’d like to, but Westbrook is a free agent after the 2016-17 season and there could be even bigger monetary concerns by then. There could a work stoppage in 2017 and we might even see the elimination of max contracts, which means a financial free- for-all.

Durant will certainly have his share of suitors. There have been whispers of how impressed he was by LeBron James going home, so the Washington Wizards have loomed as a possibility. The New York Knicks are going to go hard to the basket in pursuit of Durant. The Los Angeles Lakers maybe in the mix as well.

In theory, this leaves the Thunder with this season and next to win a title in its current form. OKC could bring everyone back and stay together, but, if not, we may see the end of the Thunder as contenders.

The Spurs are going nowhere. Just when we thought San Antonio was too old to contend, the Spurs beat the stuffing out of the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals.

The Clippers are really good. Dallas and Memphis are really tough and the Blazers are young and solid. OKC might not have many chances, especially if the Durant-less version struggles in 2014.

There also exists the Cleveland Cavaliers and James. That team is loaded in the Eastern Conference and the Chicago Bulls are legitimate title contenders as well. Neither team, despite the contract status of James and Kevin Love, figure to disband any time soon.

And if it were to be the end of this Thunder group as legitimate title contenders, it would be a shame. They built themselves up through the draft, but never got a true sniff at a ring.

The Thunder faced the super team in Miami in their only Finals appearance. They faced the Spurs in the throws of their dynasty.

OKC has done a decent job building itself as a contender. Obviously, they got lucky to get Durant at No. 2 instead of Greg Oden. They drafted well, but what doomed them were financial woes. They couldn’t afford Durant, Westbrook and James Harden so they shipped the bearded one to Houston proactively. The Thunder got peanuts on the dollar and Harden emerged into the best shooting guard in the league.

The Thunder have drafted decently with assets acquired in various trades, including the Harden one. The problem is, none of the drafted players have made a huge impact yet.

This could all be nonsensical bluster, but I don’t think so. I see the Thunder struggling without Durant. Reggie Jackson, Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones will have to man the wing spots and no matter how good Westbrook will be, or how many shots Serge Ibaka will blocka (get it?), OKC is not an upper echelon team in the West without Durant.

It could all blow over by playoff time, or Durant’s absence will bury them in the standings. Either way, this whole incarnation of the Thunder could be gone by June of 2015.

The window is officially shutting in Oklahoma City.


►  Caldwell-Pope avoids major knee injury

MRI results showed no structural damage to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s left knee, the Detroit Pistons announced Monday.

Caldwell-Pope injured the knee in the third quarter of Detroit’s preseason loss to the Washington Wizards on Sunday.

The injury has been reclassified as a knee strain.

Caldwell-Pope will miss Detroit’s preseason games this week and will be re- evaluated when the team returns following a road trip.

The second-year guard out of Georgia averaged 5.9 points per game during his rookie campaign last year.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Diamondbacks choose Hale as new manager

The Arizona Diamondbacks have selected Chip Hale as their new manager.

Hale most recently served as the bench coach for Oakland Athletics manager Bob Melvin for three years and also spent time as a coach and minor league manager in the Diamondbacks’ organization. He managed in Arizona’s minor league system for six years and was the Diamondbacks’ third base coach from 2007-09 under Melvin.

Before rejoining Melvin in Oakland for the 2012 season, Hale was the third base coach for the New York Mets from 2010-11.

Hale, a University of Arizona star who still resides in Tucson, led Arizona’s Triple-A affiliate—then located in Tucson—to the Pacific Coast League title in 2006. His 233 wins and .540 winning%age as manager of the Sidewinders from 2004-06 are franchise records. He also guided the 2002 Double-A El Paso squad to the Texas League championship.

The 49-year-old Hale played for the Twins and Dodgers from 1989-97 and was a .277 lifetime hitter in 333 games.

Hale will take over a Diamondbacks team that finished with the worst record in baseball at 64-98. He will replace Kirk Gibson, who was fired with three games remaining in the 2014 season.


►  Game 3 of ALCS postponed due to rain

Game 3 of the American League Championship Series between the Baltimore Orioles and Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium has been postponed due to rain.

Wei-Yin Chen was scheduled to take the hill for the O’s—who are facing a 2-0 series deficit after dropping both games at Camden Yards to begin the best-of-seven set. Jeremy Guthrie was tabbed to start for the Royals, who have yet to lose in the 2014 postseason.

Weather permitting, Game 3 will be played on Tuesday at 8 PM ET, with Game 4 set for Wednesday at 4 PM ET and Game 5, if necessary, will be played on Thursday at 4 PM ET.

If the series goes back to Baltimore, Game 6 and Game 7 will be played as scheduled on Friday and Saturday.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Wise Dan to miss Breeders’ Cup with injury

Two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan has suffered a fractured bone and will miss this year’s Breeders’ Cup.

Owner Morton Fink told Breeders’ Cup officials Monday that his 7-year-old champion gelding has developed a non-displaced fracture at the bottom of the cannon bone of the right front fetlock.

“He was scheduled to breeze in a few days and Charlie (trainer Charles LoPresti) checked him over to be sure he was 100%,“ Fink said in a statement. “Unfortunately, Charlie noticed some swelling in his ankle and quickly decided to X-ray him to be sure everything was alright. The X-rays identified a non-displaced “half-moon shaped” fracture of the bottom of the cannon bone in the RF (right front) fetlock. This likely occurred in his victory in the Shadwell (Turf) Mile.

“As a result, we have decided to withdraw him from the Breeders’ Cup to allow the fracture to heal.“

Wise Dan won the last two Breeders’ Cup Miles, both at Santa Anita, and was voted Horse of the Year both times along with Eclipse Awards as champion older male thoroughbred and male turf horse for 2012-13.

“Wise Dan has accomplished a lot in his career so far,“ Fink added, “and given us endless joy. We would never want to race him unless he is 100%. We thank Charlie and Amy (LoPresti) and their staff for everything they have done to get the horse where he is, and for being so conscientious that a little swelling was not overlooked.

“Charlie has had tough decisions to make and we are very grateful that he made them in the best interest of Wise Dan. Dr. (Larry) Bramlage recommends that we wait at least 30 days and assess his progress before we make any further decisions. He is seven years old, with 30 starts in his career, so we’ll let him show us what to do next.“

Wise Dan won the Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland on October 04 with earlier victories this year in the Maker’s 46 Mile and Woodford Reserve Turf Classic.

The 7-year-old underwent emergency colic surgery on May 16 and returned to the races by winning the Bernard Baruch at Saratoga on August 30.

“We won’t decide if he will return to training until we see if he heals perfectly because he has nothing left to prove,“ Fink continued. “This is not a fracture that can be helped with surgery; he has to heal it on his own. We would like to thank everyone for their support and best wishes. Wise Dan is a very special horse to us and to the racing community.“

Wise Dan has career earnings of $7,552,920 with 23 wins in 31 starts.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Things we learned on Sunday of Week 6

Including Andrew Luck’s Thursday night virtuoso performance and Joe Flacco’s five first-half touchdown passes, nine quarterbacks threw for 300-yards on more this week.

Fourteen receivers cracked the 100-yard mark.

And we still have the Sunday night game featuring the high-tempo Eagles offense versus the improved Giants offense and the Monday night game where Rams backup Austin Davis has passed for more than 300 yards in his last two starts

Let’s face it - the NFL is a passing league.

Below are a few more things we observed.

New England at Buffalo

Tim Wright looked like a viable fantasy tight end even if he didn’t get in on a lot of snaps last in Week 5, but not against Buffalo. He caught a touchdown pass for the second game in a row, but it was his only catch of the game.

Rumors of Brady’s “fantasy death” have been greatly exaggerated. A second straight excellent performance from Brady (27-of-37 for 361, 4 TDs, 0 INTs) should calm fantasy owners everywhere.

This week Brandon LeFell was the receiving star with four receptions for 97 yards and a pair of scores. That’s one of the problems with Patriots receivers - you never know which guy, except for Rob Gronkowski, will be featured.

Fantasy owners who gambled with Kyle Orton sure would have liked one more yard to reach the 300-yard mark and the fantasy bonus that goes with it.

Robert Woods finally made an appearance. He’s done nothing all season, so we will need more than one 7-yard touchdown before we become a believer.

Fred Jackson continued his dominance over C.J. Spiller 43 yards to 19 and one touchdown to zero.

Carolina at Cincinnati

Fantasy owners love overtime. It inflates every statistic, good and bad, but mostly the good ones.

The Panthers drafted Kelvin Benjamin because his big body would work well in the red zone. He caught a 3-yard touchdown pass to open the scoring. I guess they were right.

Cam Newton finally played like the fantasy star we have come to expect. He threw touchdown passes to his two best receivers (Benjamin and Greg Olsen), but more importantly ran the ball aggressively. He rushed 17 times for 107 yards and a score and that’s the most important thing you should take from this performance. His surgically-repaired ankle wasn’t a factor.

Andy Dalton (34-of-44 for 323, 2 TDs) was missing his best weapon in A.J. Green, but made do by spreading the ball among the remaining receiving options. Mohamed Sanu (11-120-1) was the “best-of-the-rest,“ but got help from Brandon Tate, Dane Sanzenbacher and tight end Jermaine Gresham.

Minus the Green deep threat, Giovani Bernard went 89 yards up the middle for a touchdown. There is more than one way to score from your own side of the field. He finished with 137 yards despite missing time with a shoulder injury.

Pittsburgh at Cleveland

What has happened to the Steelers offense? After cracking the 30-point mark in two of the first three games, they are averaging 17 ppg over the last three and they were playing Jacksonville, Tampa Bay and Cleveland.

Ben Roethlisberger needs to find a receiver to take some of the load off Antonio Brown and so far Markus Wheaton and Lance Moore aren’t the answers.

Welcome back to fantasy relevance Jordan Cameron. After being hurt for most of the season, he exploded for two big first-half catches, a 51-yard touchdown and a 42-yard reception that set up the first Browns score. He finished with 102 yards.

Isaiah Crowell looked quick out there against the Steelers, rushing for 77 yards on just 11 carries. But Ben Tate was solid as well rushing for 78 yards and two scores on 25 attempts. Looks like a two-man shared situation with Terrence West watching from the sidelines.

Green Bay at Miami

There is a reason why Aaron Rodgers gets all the hype and attention and he showed it coming down the stretch. Despite struggling for most of the day, Rodgers engineered the game-winning drive finishing it off with his third touchdown pass of the afternoon.

The Rodgers-to-Jordy Nelson passing combination is as potent as any in the game. Nelson caught nine of 16 targets for 107 yards and a score. They have now hooked up for a score in four of the six games this season.

I guess the Eddie Lacy we saw last in Week 5 (13-105-2) was just a mirage as he regressed to 40 yards on 14 carries and looked like the guy who disappointed fantasy owners for the first four games of the season.

You would probably never guess that the Packers were second in the league in interceptions heading into the game and top-10 in sacks. They picked Ryan Tannehill off twice and sacked him once.

Mike Wallace still led the Dolphins receivers in targets, but Jarvis Landry looked very impressive in catching five for 71 and a score.

Detroit at Minnesota

Viking fans and fantasy owners were itching for the return of rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, after a 42-10 loss in Week 5, to the Green Bay Packers. They were sorely disappointed. Bridgewater was completely ineffective, throwing for only 188 yards, and an abysmal three interceptions. On top of the three turnovers, he was sacked a total of eight times.

While it did not affect the final score, it seems whomever kicks for the Lions, is going to struggle. After cutting Alex Henery and Nate Freese before him, Detroit brought in former Bronco Matt Prater. While he did convert a 52- yarder, Prater finished the afternoon going 1-of-3 on field goal attempts.

All eyes were on Golden Tate to produce in a big way with Calvin Johnson sidelined. Tate had a decent day with seven receptions for 44 yards, on 12 targets, but not the explosion fantasy owners were hoping to get.

Unsung hero Theo Riddick led Detroit in receiving during Week 6, with five catches for 75 yards, along with the opening score of the game. Unfortunately Riddick was forced from Sunday’s game after re-aggravating the hamstring injury that had him sidelined last weekend, or he most likely would have produced even better numbers.

The running back that owners thought would come to life with Reggie Bush missing this week due to a bum ankle, was Joique Bell. He did not disappoint, as he managed 18 carries for 74 yards, and an important touchdown for fantasy owners.

No playmaker really stood out on the Vikings’ side of the ball, with the possible exception of Jerick McKinnon. He was able to produce 11 carries for 40 yards, and an additional six catches for 42 yards. McKinnon led Minnesota in both rushing and receiving, and is now a name for owners to keep an eye on.

Denver at New York Jets

Jets’ quarterback Geno Smith is just simply not producing. While he did throw two touchdown passes, Smith was extremely ineffective. He was 23-of-43 for 190 yards and one interception. That equates to 4.4 yards-per-completion. The good news for fantasy owners is that he did lead New York in rushing, with two attempts for 11 yards.

Smith’s counterpart Peyton Manning was under a ton of pressure, especially early on. However, he was finally able to figure things out, throwing for 237 yards and three touchdowns. Just another day at the office for Mr. Manning.

Ronnie Hillman filled in admirably for the injured Montee Ball. He managed 24 carries for 100 yards, along with three receptions for another 16 yards. Hillman should continue to handle the majority of the workload with Ball on the shelf.

Any owner who was worried about Demaryius Thomas’ production, was kidding themselves. After a 10-catch afternoon for 124 yards and a score, Thomas now has 18 receptions for 350 yards and three touchdowns over the past two games. The numbers do not stop there. Thomas also has accumulated a team-high 28 targets during that span as well.

New York actually received solid production from two of their pass-catchers. Rookie tight end Jace Amaro made the most of his 12 targets, for 10 receptions, 68 yards, and his first-ever touchdown. Eric Decker was not too shabby either, returning from a hamstring injury, and totaling six catches for 54 yards and a score against him former teammates.

Baltimore at Tampa Bay

What a first half for Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens! Five of Flacco’s first 10 completions went for touchdowns, and he finished the first half with 245 passing yards. Flacco did not throw a touchdown pass in the second half, but he did not need to. He finished the day going 21-of-29 for 306 yards, and a 146.0 passer rating.

Justin Forsett continues to solve the Ravens’ running game issues. He had 14 rushing attempts for 111 yards, and is clearly the team’s lead back. Bernard Pierce did come to life slightly, with a touchdown, but was unproductive with only 32 yards on 15 carries.

With Flacco going off in the first half, it was inevitable that Baltimore’s receivers would have big days. The “Smith brothers” did just that, as Torrey Smith had his first two-touchdown game of the season and Steve Smith continued to impress racking up five receptions for 110 yards and a touchdown. That led the Ravens in receiving yards in Week 6.

Bucs quarterback Mike Glennon, just like all of the other players on the Buccaneers, started the day in terrible fashion. He completed one of his first nine passing attempts, for 25 yards. He settled down, however, and posted a decent fantasy numbers. Glennon finished the day 24-of-44 for 314 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

Mike Evans returned on Sunday after missing Week 5 with a groin injury. While his numbers won’t jump out at you, Evans still managed four catches for 55 yards and his second touchdown of the season.

Lining up as the other starting wide receiver for Tampa Bay, Vincent Jackson had just a mediocre day totaling four receptions for 66 yards, but has held out of the end zone.

Jacksonville at Tennessee

Jacksonville rookie tailback Storm Johnson opened up the scoring, with his first career touchdown and fantasy owners got excited. However, that is all the damage Johnson would provide, as he finished the day with 10 carries for only 21 yards.

Meanwhile, Titans’ rookie running back Bishop Sankey, was also given the opportunity to carry the workload. He produced an up-and-down game, finishing with 18 rushing attempts for 61 yards. Unfortunately for fantasy owners, Jackie Battle vultured a short touchdown from Sankey. Very discouraging.

Charlie “Checkdown” Whitehurst was a little more effective than his normal “game-manager” role. He did not record a touchdown pass, but threw for 233 yards, and had a solid 87.4 quarterback rating. Whitehurst was able to spread the ball around nicely, completing passes to seven different receivers. That’s good for the Titans, but not so good for fantasy owners.

While Dexter McCluster led the Titans in total number of receptions with six, Justin Hunter was slightly more productive. Hunter had 77 yards on three catches, while McCluster totaled 52 receiving yards. The receiver fantasy owners were hoping would build off his two-touchdown performance, Kendall Wright, came up woefully short with one catch for six yards.

Speaking of wide receivers, a guy fantasy owners need to monitor now, is Cecil Shorts III. After battling a hamstring injury that kept him in and out of the lineup through the first five weeks, Shorts had a nice game with 10 receptions on 16 targets for 103 yards. Quarterback Blake Bortles apparently feels comfortable throwing the ball Shorts’ way.

Blake Bortles finished 32-of-46 for 336 yards, one touchdown and one interception, and gave Jacksonville a great chance to pull off a comeback win. After finding Clay Harbor with 37 seconds left for a touchdown, Jacksonville recovered the onside kick, and Bortles drove the Jaguars into field goal range. However, Josh Scobee’s 55-yard attempt was blocked, sealing the victory for Tennessee.

San Diego at Oakland

Branden Oliver was the Chargers primary back and continued his solid play from a week ago. He rushed for 101 yards and a score on 26 carries and caught four balls for 23 yards. That’s official “workhorse” status.

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers had all day to throw and passed for 313 yards and three scores without a turnover and just one sack.

Considering how well the Chargers defense has been playing, rookie quarterback Derek Carr was surprisingly good. After throwing four interceptions overt the past three games, he was on target all day long. He finished with 283 yards and four touchdown passes. Only a Hail Mary interception, and the loss, marred a great day.

Carr and Andre Holmes hooked up for a 77-yard touchdown pass and a six yarder in the fourth quarter, but his six-yard “low-and-away strike” to James Jones was the best pass he threw all day.

The Raiders rushed for a 5.7 yards-per-carry average, but neither Darren McFadden or Maurice Jones-Drew is getting enough work to be a consistent fantasy asset.

Washington at Arizona

Playing DeSean Jackson has become an all-or-nothing proposition. Either he’s huge or missing in action. In Week 6 he was huge with 115 yards and a score.

Kirk Cousins posted solid fantasy numbers (312 passing yards, 2 TDs), but it wasn’t enough to overcome four fourth-quarter turnovers.

Jordan Reed (8-92-0) returned to the lineup and out-played Niles Paul (1-7-0), showing fantasy owners he’s the tight end to have from here on out.

As I said pre-game, having Carson Palmer back under center would be a boon to both Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd and both scored in the first 30 minutes.

The Cardinals defense/special teams was the difference with the four turnovers as they won for the fourth time in five games.

Chicago at Atlanta

Typical Matt Forte performance leading the rushing game (17-80-2) while still being a huge part of Jay Cutler’s passing attack (10-77-0).

Both Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery cracked the 100-yard mark. it was the first time this season they accomplished the feat. Although they combined for 11 100-yard games last season, they only did it together one time (Week 9 versus the Lions).

The Falcons claimed they were going to use the dynamic youngster Antone Smith more, but in the first half he managed just two touches for a total of eight yards. Apparently they recognized the error of their ways as Smith caught a 41-yard touchdown pass on the Falcons first drive of the third quarter. It is the fourth straight game in which Smith has posted a 38-plus yard touchdown. Still, six touches is simply not enough.

Roddy White is just a shell of the former fantasy stud and a mediocre decoy.

Dallas at Seattle

Facing a hostile crowd and a hard-hitting defense, Tony Romo not only survived the first half, but had his team out front 17-10. The key was zero turnovers and short passes, including finally using tight end Jason Witten. He finished with 250 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.

DeMarco Murray had 59 yards at half-time, but had to carry the ball 17 times to get it. Another 51 yards and a touchdown in just eight carries after the break gave his fantasy owners the 100-yard rushing bonus for the sixth consecutive game.

Dez Bryant was targeted 10 times, but couldn’t do much with it catching just four balls for 63 yards. Credit the Seahawks secondary.

The Cowboys kept Russell Wilson’s running game in check, holding him to three yards in the first half and sacking him twice. Although he scored on a nine- yard run after the break he just couldn’t get anything going rushing or passing (14-of-28 for 126 yards, 1 INT).

Marshawn Lynch touched the ball just three times in the first 30 minutes and the Seahawks trailed at the break. Coincidence? I think not. He finished with 10 carries for 61 yards. A nice average per rush, but not enough attempts.


►  Anatomy of a winning decision

Making correct decisions from draft day through the end of the fantasy playoffs is the goal for every player. The owners who consistently make the right choices are the guys you always see at the top of your league’s standings.

So how do you go about analyzing a decision to start or sit?

Let me take you through the decision-making process that I used this weekend.

But first we have to go back through time via Mr. Peabody’s “Wayback Machine” to my draft day. For those too young to remember Mr. Peabody and Sherman, he was the forerunner to Marty McFly, Dr. Emmett Brown and the flux capacitor.

But I digress.

One of the decisions at the draft day auction was whether to spend big bucks on one of the three “elite” quarterbacks or use the money elsewhere.

I chose to bypass Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers. That was a particularly hard decision because I had won two titles the previous season with Manning as my star quarterback.

Instead, I chose to go with a two-man, tag-team of Colin Kaepernick and Joe Flacco. Neither is a top-five guy, but together, with good managing, I thought I could do well enough to load up at the wideout position.

And hey, I’m the fantasy sports editor, so I should be able to make smart decision, right?

My thought process was that based on the preseason and the way the league was calling penalties on the defense, this was going to be the “Year of the Pass Receiver” and I wanted the best receivers money could buy.

So I went with the Kaepernick/Flacco team which only cost me four% of my total budget.

Meanwhile, my receiving corps and flex position would be manned by Demaryius Thomas, Antonio Brown, Steve Smith Sr. and Michael Crabtree.

The team has been a top-three team all season, so this weekend’s decision was still important. No ghost ownership here.

I had used Flacco in Week 5 and got very disappointing results against a weak Indianapolis Colts defense, so my first knee-jerk reaction was to sit him down and duct-tape him to the chair so that I could never use him again.

Kaepernick had given me solid numbers over the first four weeks, not great because the 49ers aren’t a pass-first team, but respectable due to his running ability.

So I was leaning toward Kaepernick in Week 6, from an emotional standpoint, particularly with his game being the Monday night national broadcast. When I first started playing fantasy, and this is hard to admit but it was before the Internet, I would absolutely play a guy on Monday night just because I would get to watch him.

But this is 2014 and every game is available, so viewing opportunities are no longer part of the process.

Kaepernick was the 14th-ranked quarterback with 72 fantasy points. But in the St. Louis Rams he’s facing the No. 1 pass defense in terms of yards allowed (192.3 ypg). They have yielded just six touchdown passes through four games.

Bottom line, it’s not a great matchup.

Could I trust Joe Flacco, however, to rebound?

Flacco has always been a much better quarterback at home than on the road. For his career he’s owns a 90.7 QB rating in Baltimore with 70 TDs and 33 INTs while as a visitor he’s got just a 79 QB rating with 63 TDs and 48 INTs.

On the other hand, he was playing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The same guys who gave up 56 points to a mediocre Atlanta Falcons team and gave up an average 292.2 ypg through the air.

The statistics certainly favored going with Flacco.

The question for me and many fantasy owners in similar situations is whether I could take emotion out of the equation.

Would I play the guy who disappointed me just a few days ago and give him a chance to stick it to me again? Or go with the “old reliable” who likely wouldn’t give me monster numbers, but had a higher low-side?

It wasn’t until Sunday morning that I stuck Flacco in my starting lineup and as they say ... the rest is history.

Flacco ripped apart the Bucs’ secondary for four first-quarter touchdown passes and finished the day with five scores and 306 yards passing worth 50 fantasy points.

Considering that Kaepernick’s highest point total this season is 18.5 points, I’m pretty sure I made the correct choice. But even if by some miracle Kaepernick tops Flacco’s total, I’ll still be very happy that I was able to come to the decision without emotion getting in the way.

Moral of the story: It doesn’t matter whether he’s your hometown quarterback or their biggest rival, take emotion out of the decision and you will have a better chance of making the correct decision.

The Gilmer Free Press


TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14, 2014


Major League Baseball - Playoffs
St. Louis at San Francisco, 4:07 PM - FS1
Baltimore at Kansas City, 8:07 PM - TBS


National Basketball Association - Preseason
Milwaukee at Cleveland, 7:00 PM - SportsTime Ohio
New York at Philadelphia, 7:00 PM - MSG2
Atlanta at Miami, 7:30 PM - SunSports
Houston at New Orleans, 8:00 PM - CSN-Houston


National Hockey League
San Jose at Washington, 7:00 PM - CSN-California, DC, DSS
NY Islanders at NY Rangers, 7:00 PM - MSG+2, MSG, DSS
Anaheim at Philadelphia, 7:00 PM - FS-Prime Ticket, CSN-Philadelphia, DSS
Dallas at Columbus, 7:00 PM - FS-Southwest, Ohio, DSS
Buffalo at Carolina, 7:30 PM - NBCSN
Colorado at Toronto, 7:30 PM - Altitude, TSN4, TVA, DSS
New Jersey at Tampa Bay, 7:30 PM - MSG+, SunSports, DSS
Calgary at Nashville, 8:00 PM - SN360
Edmotnon at Los Angeles, 10:30 PM - SN360, FS-West, DSS


College Football
Louisiana at Texas State, 8:00 PM - ESPN 2


International Soccer
Argentina vs. Hong Kong, 7:50 AM - beIN Sport
Chile vs. Bolivia, 6:50 PM - beIN Sport
Colombia vs. Canada, 9:05 PM - beIN Sport


Golf
PGA of AMERICA - Grand Slam of Golf, 4:00 PM - TNT

Sports News

The Gilmer Free Press


The Gilmer Free Press

►  Pioneers Pull-off Upset over Charleston, 34-30

The Glenville State Pioneer football team pulled-off a huge upset over the University of Charleston Golden Eagles on Homecoming, 34-30.

The Pioneers would play a great first half as they took a seven point lead into halftime over the Golden Eagles, 17-10.

However Charleston would come out in the third quarter and score 13 straight points as they took the lead 23-17 over GSC. But the Pioneers would not give in as they scored on their first possession of the fourth quarter, as Sean Steele connected with tight end Jake Harper from 36 yards out, to re-take the lead, 24-23.

The Pioneers would then add to their lead with 4:26 left to play as Tanner Wright hit a 29 yard field goal as GSC went up, 27-23.

But the Golden Eagles would score on their next drive as Jermaine Kelly hit John Knox on a touchdown pass from 27 yards out as Charleston took a, 30-27 lead with only 2:07 left to play.

However the Pioneers would be cool and collected as they would drive down to the Golden Eagles eight yard line. GSC would find the endzone on third down as Sean Steele rolled out and hit Rahmann Lee, for an eight yard touchdown pass, as the Pioneers pulled-off the upset victory, 34-30.

Both teams had a good day rushing the ball as Charleston rushed for 163 yards on the ground while Glenville rushed for 170 yards. The Pioneers racked up 493 total of offense on 80 plays while the GSC defense allowed Charleston 344 total yards on 70 yards.

Both teams turned it over once on the day, Charleston lost a fumble while the Pioneers threw an interception.

Charleston however only had four penalties for 30 yards while the Pioneers had seven penaltites for 97 yards.

Rahmann Lee led the Pioneers rushing attack as he rushed for 129 on 32 carries and two touchdowns.

Quarterback Sean Steele went 22 for 39 for 323 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.

Settle’s favorite target was Dante Absher as he caught nine passes for 145 yards, a career high for Absher. Lee also caught four balls for 31 yards and the winning touchdown.

Freshman defensive back , Earon Settles, led the Pioneers defense with 14 total tackles on the day. He also had 2.5 tackles for, one pass break-up, and forced a fumble. Linebacker James Johnson chipped in with six tackles.

For Charleston Quarterback Jordan Paul went 15 for 26 for 154 yards and two touchdowns. Wideout John Knox caught eight passes for 81 yards and a touchdown.

The Pioneers return to action next Saturday, October 18, 2014 when they travel to Wise, Virginia to take on Mountain East Conference newcomer UVA-Wise. Kickoff is set 1:00 PM.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  MEC Football Roundup - Week 6

Glenville State 34, Charleston 30 | Final Stats
Rahmann Lee’s eight-yard touchdown reception with four seconds left lifted Glenville State to a 34-30 win over Charleston at Ike Morris Stadium.

The win improved GSC’s record to 2-4 overall and 2-4 in the MEC. Five of Glenville State’s six games this season have been decided by four points or less.  Charleston lost for the second-straight week to fall to 4-2 overall and 3-2 in conference play. 

Lee finished the game with 129 yards rushing and two touchdowns to go with four catches for 31 yards and a score. Sean Steele was 22-of-39 for 323 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Earon Settles led the Pioneers with 14 total tackles, including 2.5 for a loss and a forced fumble. 

The Pioneers held Marvin Elam to just 68 yards on 18 carries. Jordan Paul was 15-of-26 for 154 yards with two touchdowns, and also rushed for 64 yards and a score. Isaiah Gibson had 12 tackles and Torie Wagner had eight tackles to go with four pass breakups for the Golden Eagles on defense.

Trailing 23-17 heading into the fourth quarter, the Pioneers took the lead on a Jake Harper touchdown reception and then added a Tanner Wright field goal to make it 27-23. UC marched 61 yards on seven plays and capped the drive with a 27-yard touchdown pass from Jermaine Kelly to John Knox with just over two minutes left. Steele then directed the Pioneer offense down the field going 6-for-9 for 61 yards, including the game-winner to Lee in the waning seconds. 


West Virginia Wesleyan 25, West Virginia State 22 | Final Stats
Tyler Bolen’s fourth touchdown of the pass of the day to Michael Anderson with 1:46 left in the game gave West Virginia Wesleyan a 25-22 win over West Virginia State at Lakin Field.

West Virginia Wesleyan improved to 3-3 overall and 3-3 in the MEC with the win. West Virginia State dropped to 2-4 overall and 1-4 in conference play.

Bolen was 16-of-38 for 219 yards and four touchdowns. Zach Schademan hauled in six passes for 115 yards and two scores. Anderson added 94 yards rushing for WVWC. Mike Savage led the Bobcat defense with a game-high 12 tackles.

WVSU’s Matt Kinnick was 14-of-31 for 203 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Tevin Brown rushed 25 times for 94 yards and a score. Sam Lester had 10 total tackles, including four that went for a loss. The Yellow Jackets were plagued by three turnovers in the game, compared to none for West Virginia Wesleyan.

West Virginia State rallied back from a 12-0 halftime deficit to take a 22-18 lead with just over four minutes left in the game. Bolen was 5-for-5 on the final drive, including the 14-yard touchdown toss to Anderson. WVSU was able to get into scoring position on its final drive working the ball to WVWC’s 18-yard line, but Kinnick was picked off by Brandon Edwards to end the hopes for the Yellow Jackets.


#9 Shepherd 51, UVa-Wise 0 | Final Stats
Ninth-ranked Shepherd posted its second shutout of the season with a 51-0 victory over UVa-Wise.

The Rams kept their perfect record intact improving to 6-0 overall and in MEC play. UVa-Wise fell to 0-6 overall and 0-5 in the MEC.

Shepherd held UVa-Wise to just 107 yards of total offense in the game, while rolling up 459 yards on offense. Jeff Ziemba was 16-of-21 for 271 yards for 271 yards and four touchdowns. Jabre Lolley added 111 yards rushing on just 12 carries and one touchdown. James Gumpton had 11 tackles for SU, and C.J. Davis had four tackles and broke up four passes. Davis also added a 62-yard punt return for a touchdown.

Terrence Younger had five catches for 68 yards to lead UVa-Wise. Chriss Flood had a game-high 12 tackles, and Zack Blair had 3.5 tackles for a loss for the Cavs.


#23 Concord 50, Urbana 20 | Final Stats
Brian Novak threw for 300 yards and four touchdowns and Calvinaugh Jones rushed for 108 to lead Concord to a 50-20 win over Urbana at Callaghan Stadium.

The Mountain Lions improved to 6-0 on the year and 5-0 in conference play. Urbana slipped to 1-5 overall and in the MEC.

Novak finished 14-of-29 for 300 yards and four touchdowns and one interception. Jones added a touchdown to go with his rushing total, and Jermeil Douse led all players with 155 yards receiving and had a touchdown. T.J. Smith registered two touchdown receptions.

Concord recorded 16 tackles for a loss and held Urbana to -6 yards rushing on the day. Gary Saylor led the CU defense with eight tackles (five solo), including 2.5 for a loss. Derrick Johnson, Mike Carey and Chaudlier Shepherd each picked off a pass for the Mountain Lions.

Colby Spiece was 13-of-28 for 208 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions to lead Urbana. La’Velle Spivey was the recipient of both touchdown passes and finished with six catches for 125 yards. Terrell Hudson and D’Gary Wallace led the Blue Knights on defense with nine tackles, and Kevin Chapple added two tackles for a loss.


West Liberty 39, Fairmont State 16 | Final Stats
West Liberty scored 20 points off of turnovers which helped the Hilltoppers to a 39-16 win over Fairmont State at the West Family Stadium.

The Hilltoppers improved to 3-3 overall and 3-2 in the MEC. Fairmont State fell to 2-4 both overall and in the conference.

Dakota Conwell turned in a solid performance for the ‘Toppers completing 13-of-19 passes for 252 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. He also carried the ball 11 times for 26 yards. Anton McCallum had three catches for 118 yards, including an 85-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter. 

Marco Ricchetti led WLU on defense with eight solo tackles and a safety. Alec Wood had 12 total tackles and Josh White picked off a pair of passes and broke up another. 

FSU’s Cooper Hibbs was 27-of-42 for 331 yards with one touchdown, but was intercepted three times. Austin White had 60 yards rushing and Fabian Guerra went over 100 yards receiving with 12 grabs for 131 yards. Marcus Porter had 11 tackles (sevel solo) and Emanuel Ivey had 10 stops (five solo) for the Falcons.


Lake Erie College 42, Notre Dame 35 | Final Stats
 Lake Erie College overcame a late seven-point deficit to come away with a 42-35 win over Notre Dame College in non-conference play on Saturday.

NDC’s Ray Russ threw for a MEC record 548 yards completing 28-of-55 passes with four touchdowns, but was intercepted five times on the day. Kenneth Butler rushed 79 yards with one touchdown. C.J. Germany had eight catches for 263 yards and one touchdown. Germany’s 263 yards fell just five yards shy of the conference record set last year by UVa-Wise’s James Long. Mitchel Shegos also went over the 100-yard mark receiving with 108 yards on seven catches.

NDC was Derrick Bavol who had nine tackles (six solo), including 3.5 for a loss, and Jalon Avent who seven tackles, including 1.5 sacks and 3.5 tackles for a loss. 

Lake Erie College was led by Anthony Bilal who had 228 yards rushing and four touchdowns. Ryan Bitzer was a tidy 10-of-22 for 210 yards and two touchdowns and no interceptions. The Storm were +6 in turnover margin on the day, and converted three of those turnovers for touchdowns. 



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Week 7 High School Games in the Area on Saturday

Braxton County (2-5)  6   at   #2 Ravenswood (6-0)  50



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Holgorsen on WVU’s dramatic comeback

After West Virginia reeled off 17 unanswered points in the final 5:55 to nip Texas Tech 37-34, the winning head coach revealed his fourth-quarter strategy.

“I just didn’t talk to anybody, to be honest with you. I was coaching hard, I was talking, I was motivating, I was encouraging, I was yelling—and it was not working,” Holgorsen said. “So I just shut up and let the coaches coach and I let the players play.”

Above you can hear all of Holgorsen’s postgame comments—facetious and otherwise—after West Virginia (4-2, 2-1) deflated Texas Tech (2-4, 0-3) with a stunning comeback.


►  Lambert’s leg delivers more last-minute magic

Josh Lambert is earning a reputation as West Virginia’s closer. And he doesn’t need to be close.

The sophomore clubbed a 55-yard field goal to stun Texas Tech on the final play Saturday, repeating the clutch heroics he showed last month on a 47-yard game-ender at Maryland.

“I just had to concentrate on doing my job and try to hit a good ball,” said Lambert, whose kick to beat the Red Raiders 37-34 matched the longest in West Virginia history.

Lambert attended high school six hours away in Dallas, and his aunt, uncle and two cousins were in attendance to see his latest game-winner. That makes three walk-off kicks in West Virginia’s last five wins, dating back to the TCU overtime game last November.

The strong-legged silent type, Lambert has made field goals from 50-plus in three consecutive games, yet favors brevity in postgame interviews.

Asked how he rebounded from Saturday’s 47-yard miss earlier in the fourth quarter? “You either have it or you don’t.”

Asked about Texas Tech’s attempt to ice him with a late timeout? “I don’t care—my job’s the same either way.”

Head coach Dana Holgorsen famously joked about being so hands-off with specialists that he hadn’t talked to Lambert since the kid enrolled.

“I don’t need to say anything to him, because Josh is not rattled by any situation,” said Holgorsen, who understands Lambert is now 5-for-5 this season on kicks following misses. “So I knew when he missed that one in the fourth quarter that we were in great shape.”

Great shape, indeed. All West Virginia required was two touchdowns to erase a 37-23 deficit in the final six minutes, and moving 42 yards in the final 52 seconds to let Lambert do his business.

He took care of business with another booming kick, dead-solid-perfect toward the double-T logo in the bern behind the north end zone. Still, the field goal wasn’t his favorite moment.

“The best part for me is walking into the locker rooms and seeing everybody’s reactions and how happy they are.”



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Herd mauls Middle Tennessee 49-21; improves to 6-0

Rakeem Cato threw for three touchdowns and ran for one while Devon Johnson ran for three more as Marshall ran its record to a perfect 6-0 with a 49-24 win over Middle Tennessee State. Marshall broke open a relatively close game in the second half, dominating Middle Tennessee, scoring 21 consecutive points on a pair of Cato touchdown passes and a Johnson scoring run.

“It’s a blessing, not only to be 6-0 but for the whole team working hard. This is where we want to be. We just have to put this game behind us and keep working hard.

Rakeem Cato tied Russell Wilson’s record of 38 consecutive games with a touchdown pass and will have an opportunity to break the record next week at FIU. Cato had 337 yards passing the three touchdowns.

The Herd led 28-17 at halftime However, the outcome of the game would not be in doubt for long. The Herd needed just 1:13 coming out of the locker room to drive the score to 35-17 and never look back. Cato capped off a four-play driving coming out of the locker room with a 4-yard touchdown run and the momentum was on the side of the Herd from that point on.

The Herd extended its lead to 42-17 later in the third quarter. Cato hit Tommy Shuler for a 31-yard gain and on 4th and 9 found tight end Eric Frohnapfel over the middle for a 22-yard conversion. The rest was up to Johnson who drove the ball across the goal from two yards out.

“The line does a great job and Cato does a great job of communicating with me with what he sees,” said Johnson. “We wanted to play the second half of just inside drill where we just run the ball and pound them then Cato will pull the ball and throw it and we did just that.”

Johnson finished the day with 134 yards on 19 carries. He’s now rushed for 100 yards or more in five of Marshall six games this season.

The Herd’s final score was set up by an A.J. Leggett interception and 32-yard return. Leggett picked off Austin Grammer, ran by three would-be tacklers and hurdled another, giving Marshall the ball on the Blue Raiders 14-yard line.

“I was back there roaming around and I saw the receiver coming over the middle and watched the quarterback’s eyes the whole time and saw him looking at that receiver and just broke on the ball as fast as I can,” explained Leggett.

Marshall made quick work of the turnover. On the first play of the fourth quarter Rakeem Cato found Craig Wilkins in the endzone for Wilkins second score of the day to put Marshall up 49-17.

Wilkins hauled in a career high two touchdown passes and had 77 yards receiving.

“They shut us down the second half and I have to give them credit thee, they have a really good football team,” said Middle Tennessee Coach Rick Stockstill.

Marshall took a 21-7 lead in the first half. Johnson scored on runs of 13 yards and 1 yard while Rakeem Cato connected with Craig Wilkins for a 26-yard touchdown. Meanwhile, Middle Tennessee got 6-yard touchdown pass from Austin Grammer to Jordan Parker out of the backfield.

Marshall had chances to put the game away in the second quarter leading 28-10. Following a Cato touchdown pass to Deon-Tay McManus, Middle Tennessee fumbled the ensuring kickoff giving Marshall the ball back on the Blue Raiders’ 35-yard line. However, Cato was sacked and Marshall was penalized for a false start. The Herd punted, squandering a chance to put the game away.

“We got sloppy there in the second quarter, and it was critical to come out there in the second half,” said coach Doc Holliday.

The Blue Raiders got a 34-yard field goal from Cody Clark then Middle Tennessee’s Shane Tucker pulled in a 4-yard touchdown pass set up by and Marshall three-and-out.

Marshall remains unbeaten on the season and is the only major college football team to score 40 points in every game this year.

Marshall finished with 589 yards of total offense, 252 of which came on the ground.

Defensively, Marshall limited Middle Tennessee to 370 total yards and just 201 yards through the air.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  No. 16 Oklahoma State escapes Kansas with narrow win

Tyreek Hill returned a kickoff 99 yards for the decisive touchdown in the fourth quarter as the 16th-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys edged the Kansas Jayhawks 27-20 at Memorial Stadium.

The Jayhawks, looking to pull off the shocker in the second game under interim head coach Clint Bowen, scored 13 straight points in the second half and tied the game at 20-20 on Matthew Wyman’s 35-yard field goal with 6:55 remaining.

Hill, though, sprinted down the left sideline on the ensuing kickoff to put Oklahoma State back in front.

Kansas got the ball back with 2:04 to play, but Josh Furman sealed the win by picking off Michael Cummings’ pass near midfield.

Daxx Garman completed 17-of-31 passes for 161 yards, a touchdown and one interception for the Cowboys (5-1, 3-0 Big 12), who have won five straight since beginning the season with a neutral-site loss to top-ranked Florida State.

Cummings finished with 288 yards on 20-of-37 passing and had a rushing touchdown for Kansas (2-4, 0-3), which dropped its third game in a row.

The Cowboys, playing their first true road game this season, drew first blood as Ben Grogan nailed a field goal from a distance of 43 yards.

On Kansas’ next possession, however, Cummings hit Nick Harwell for 51 yards before scoring on a short TD run.

It didn’t take Oklahoma State long to regain the lead. On the fifth play of the next drive, Desmond Roland ran 33 yards for the touchdown, making it 10-7 with 3:48 remaining in the first quarter.

The Cowboys made three trips to the red zone in the second quarter and came away with 10 points.

Garman kept it on a bootleg to convert a 4th-and-1 from the Kansas 17, but Oklahoma State wound up settling for a Grogan 25-yard field goal.

The Jayhawks then turned the ball over on downs in Oklahoma State territory. Cummings completed a pass on 4th-and-9 from the 34, but Nigel King was tackled three yards short of the first down.

After Grogan missed from 33 yards, the Jayhawks went three-and-out and a 20- yard Trevor Pardula punt gave Oklahoma State the ball at the Kansas 30. The Cowboys were able to extend their lead inside the final minute of the first half as Jhajuan Seales made a leaping grab in the back right corner of the end zone for a 7-yard touchdown.

Garman committed a pair of turnovers in the third quarter. Kansas got a first down after Cassius Sendish’s interception, but was forced to punt.

Wyman missed a 42-yard field goal attempt on the next Jayhawks’ drive, but he made a 21-yarder after Tevin Shaw recovered a Garman fumble.

Cummings closed out the third quarter with a 30-yard strike to Jimmay Mundine, then hooked up with the tight end for a 23-yard gain to open the fourth quarter. After a short reception by Tre’ Parmalee, Kansas pulled to within 20-17 on Corey Avery’s 23-yard TD run.

Game Notes

The Cowboys have won five straight over the Jayhawks and 10 of the last 11 meetings overall. They have won six straight in Lawrence, not losing on the road in the series since 1994 ... Roland has scored at least one touchdown in each of his last seven games ... Kansas outgained Oklahoma State 379-275 and had a slim edge in first downs (18-15).


►  Baylor nips TCU on last-second FG in high-scoring contest

Chris Callahan made a 28-yard field goal on the final play of the contest, sending No. 5 Baylor past No. 9 TCU, 61-58, in a clash of high-octane conference rivals on Saturday.

Trailing 58-44, Devin Chafin posted a 7-yard TD run, Bryce Petty threw a 28- yard touchdown pass to Antwan Goodley, then a defensive stop near midfield helped set up Callahan’s winning boot.

Petty ended up throwing for 510 yards and six touchdowns for the Bears (6-0, 3-0 Big 12). Goodley and Corey Coleman each posted a pair of TD receptions, while KD Cannon and Jay Lee also reached the end zone once through the air.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  TOP-25 COLLEGE SCORES

Final Score: (1) Florida State 38, Syracuse 20

Jameis Winston threw for 317 yards with three touchdowns, as top-ranked Florida State extended the nation’s longest winning streak to 22 games with a 38-20 victory over Syracuse on Saturday at the Carrier Dome. Winston played nearly flawless football under another cloud of potential controversy, as he is facing a student code of conduct hearing stemming from a December 2012 accusation of sexual misconduct. He was not arrested or charged after the state attorney concluded an investigation in December 2013. A date for the latest inquiry has not yet been set. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner completed 30-of-36 passes and Rashad Greene became Florida State’s all-time leader in receptions after catching six passes for 107 yards. Tight end Nick O’Leary hauled in a career-best eight balls for 97 yards with a touchdown for the Seminoles (6-0, 4-0 ACC), who will face a stiffer test next week when Notre Dame visits Doak Campbell Stadium. Austin Wilson and A.J. Long split duties at quarterback in place of the injured Terrel Hunt for Syracuse (2-4, 0-2), which has lost four straight since a 2-0 start. Hunt suffered a broken leg last week against Louisville and will be sidelined for the next 4-to-6 weeks. Wilson started under center and threw for 89 yards with an interception, while Long completed 16-of-27 throws for 167 yards with a pair of touchdowns and interceptions.


Final Score: (3) Mississippi State 38, (2) Auburn 23

The cowbells were deafening in Starkville, even when a heavy downpour pounded the field late in the first half. There was certainly plenty to cheer about. Dak Prescott and Josh Robinson each ran for a pair of touchdowns and No. 3 Mississippi State defeated No. 2 Auburn 38-23 on Saturday afternoon. The Bulldogs (6-0, 3-0 SEC) raced out to a 21-0 first-quarter lead and held on to record their third straight win over a top-10 team for the first time in school history. Prescott carried the ball 21 times for 121 yards and completed 18-of-34 passes for 246 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Robinson gained 97 yards on 19 totes for Mississippi State, which knocked off then-No. 8 LSU before taking care of then-No. 6 Texas A&M last Saturday in its prior two weeks. De’Runnya Wilson caught four passes for 72 yards and a score and Malcolm Johnson hauled in five receptions for 60 yards in the triumph. Nick Marshall was 17-of-35 for 209 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions and added 100 yards on the ground on 17 carries for the Tigers (5-1, 2-1), who turned the ball over four times after giving it away just five times coming in. D’haquille Williams caught both of Marshall’s TD passes, totaling 108 yards on six receptions, while Cameron Artis-Payne racked up 70 yards rushing on 16 carries in defeat.


Final Score: (3) Ole Miss 35, (14) Texas A&M 20

There was no letdown for Ole Miss on Saturday, as the No. 3 Rebels rolled to a 35-20 win over 14th-ranked Texas A&M at Kyle Field. Coming into the game off a 23-17 win over Alabama that moved the team eight spots in the poll, the Rebels (6-0, 3-0 SEC) scored two touchdowns on defense and Bo Wallace tossed one score and ran in two others. Wallace finished the game 13-for-19 for 178 yards and added 50 yards on 14 carries. Quincy Adeboyejo caught the lone touchdown pass from Wallace. The Aggies (5-2, 2-2) have now dropped their past two games after losing to Mississippi State last week. Kenny Hill went 42-for-53 for 401 yards with two touchdown passes and two interceptions while Trey Williams added a score on the ground in the loss.


Final Score: (5) Baylor 61, (9) TCU 58

Chris Callahan made a 28-yard field goal on the final play of the contest to send No. 5 Baylor past No. 9 TCU, 61-58, in a clash of high-octane Big 12 rivals on Saturday. Trailing 58-37 in the fourth quarter, Baylor came all the way back as Devin Chafin posted a 7-yard TD run, Bryce Petty threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to Antwan Goodley, Corey Coleman hauled in a 25-yard pass and a defensive stop near midfield helped set up Callahan’s winning boot. Petty ended up throwing for 510 yards and six touchdowns on 28-of-55 passing for the Bears (6-0, 3-0 Big 12). Goodley and Coleman each posted a pair of TD receptions, while K.D. Cannon and Jay Lee also reached the end zone once through the air. Baylor’s Shock Linwood led all players with 178 yards rushing on 29 attempts and Chafin finished with 43 yards on 10 carries. Trevone Boykin completed just 21 of his 47 attempts for 287 yards and one score for the Horned Frogs (4-1, 1-1). He added 45 yards on 18 carries. B.J. Catalon contributed 71 yards on two receptions, 48 rushing yards and two TDs on 13 totes and a 94-yard kickoff return touchdown in defeat. Aaron Green also scored on a rush for TCU. Kolby Listenbee racked up 146 yards and a touchdown on just four grabs for the Horned Frogs and Marcus Mallett returned a Petty pick for another touchdown.


Final Score: (6) Notre Dame 50, North Carolina 43

Everett Golson turned the ball over three times, but No. 6 Notre Dame pulled away to beat North Carolina 50-43 Saturday with the help of an uncommon penalty. All three of Golson’s turnovers led to North Carolina touchdowns, including a fumble three plays into the game that set up Elijah Hood’s 6-yard touchdown run and an interception that linebacker Jeff Schoettmer returned 29 yards for a score to make it 14-0 in the first quarter. Golson fumbled again late in the third and North Carolina quarterback Marquise Williams caught a 23-yard touchdown pass from wide receiver Quinshad Davis on the next play to give the Tar Heels a 36-35 lead. The Irish responded with a 15-play drive for the go-ahead score—much of it coming after the Tar Heels were whistled for a roughing the snapper penalty on a punt from the Notre Dame 32 on 4th-and-18. Golson found Tarean Folston for a 9-yard touchdown and Ben Koyack caught the two-point conversion to give the Irish a 43-36 lead with 10:39 remaining. Williams was then picked off by Irish cornerback Cole Luke after he tried to flip a pass to Bug Howard near the sideline while under pressure, and Folston scored his third touchdown on a 6-yard run with 2:19 remaining to put the game out of reach. The last two Irish (6-0) scoring drives included pass interference penalties on North Carolina in the end zone. Williams threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Mack Hollins with 47 seconds left but the Tar Heels (2-4) couldn’t recover an onside kick and lost their fourth game in a row.


Final Score: (7) Alabama 14, Arkansas 13

Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema raced past the numbers, frantically attempting to call a timeout. He was unable to get it in time. DeAndrew White caught a go-ahead 6-yard touchdown pass from Blake Sims with 12:36 remaining in the fourth quarter and No. 7 Alabama hung on for a 14-13 win over Arkansas. As Bielema was out on the field, Sims rolled to his right and tossed his score to a wide open White in the front part of the end zone. Arkansas recorded just one first down the rest of the way. Despite being outgained 335-227, the Crimson Tide (5-1, 2-1 SEC) did just enough to avoid consecutive SEC losses for the first time since 2007, Nick Saban’s first year as head coach. Alabama was coming off a 23-17 loss at Mississippi last Saturday. Sims finished 11-of-21 for 161 yards with two touchdown passes. T.J. Yeldon carried the ball 16 times for 45 yards and added 35 receiving yards and a score for Alabama, which won its 53rd straight game against an unranked opponent. Brandon Allen was 21-of-40 for 246 yards with a touchdown and an interception, A.J. Derby caught four passes for 77 yards and a score and Jonathan Williams posted 83 yards and a touchdown on the ground on 20 totes for the Razorbacks (3-3, 0-3), who have dropped 15 SEC games in a row.


Final Score: (8) Michigan State 45, Purdue 31

Darien Harris’ interception return for a touchdown with 1:22 remaining helped No. 8 Michigan State hold off Purdue’s late push and record a 45-31 victory. Connor Cook threw for 238 yards with three touchdowns and an interception on 19-of-37 passing and Nick Hill ran for two scores and 72 yards on nine carries for the Spartans (5-1, 2-0 Big Ten), who won their 11th straight game in Big Ten play. Jeremy Langford amassed 104 yards on 13 carries, Tony Lippett had a game-high 138 yards with a touchdown on seven catches and Aaron Burbridge and Josiah Price each hauled in a TD pass in the win. Austin Appleby completed 24 of his 37 passes for 211 yards with a touchdown and an interception for the Boilermakers (3-4, 1-2), while Akeem Hunt scored three times and rushed for 96 yards on 12 carries. Danny Anthrop led Purdue receivers with 133 yards on nine catches and B.J. Knauf added a receiving score.


Final Score: Southern California 28, (10) Arizona 26

Javorius Allen rushed for a career-high 206 yards with three touchdowns and the USC Trojans held off a furious fourth- quarter comeback to upset the 10th-ranked Arizona, 28-26, on Saturday. The Trojans led by 15 entering the fourth and Jared Baker scored a pair of touchdowns in the final quarter to cut the deficit to two. Arizona was unsuccesful on its two-point conversion attempt, but the hosts recovered a perfect onside kick with just over a minute to play. Anu Solomon, who threw for 395 yards and one touchdown, drove the Wildcats to the USC 22 after successive completions to David Richards. Baker rushed for three yards to move the ball a little closer and set up a game-winning field goal attempt. Casey Skowron split the uprights on his 36-yard try, but the Trojans called their final timeout to ice him. And it worked. Skowron thought about it and his second try went wide right as USC (4-2, 3-1 Pac-12) held on for the win. Cody Kessler tossed for 185 yards with a touchdown and an interception, while Nelson Agholor caught seven passes for 81 yards and a touchdown in the win. Baker scored three total touchdowns—two on the ground and one receiving—for the Wildcats (5-1, 2-1), who looked to win their first six games since starting 7-0 in 1993.


Final Score: (11) Oklahoma 31, Texas 26

It took more than two quarters for Oklahoma to score an offensive touchdown against Texas on Saturday. Despite that, the Sooners only trailed for 12 seconds. That’s how long Alex Ross needed to return a kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter to put the No. 11 Sooners on top for good. Zack Sanchez added a 43-yard interception return for a touchdown in the first half and Oklahoma held on down the stretch for a 31-26 win over Texas at the Cotton Bowl. The Sooners (5-1, 2-1 Big 12) bounced back from last week’s loss at TCU to win the Red River rivalry game for the fourth time in five years, the only blemish being last season’s 16- point loss to an underdog Longhorns squad. The Longhorns (2-4, 1-2) cut a 31-13 deficit to five points on quarterback Tyrone Swoopes’ 12-yard touchdown with five minutes left, but blew a timeout on the two-point conversion try, which failed, and only had one left on Oklahoma’s last drive. The Sooners burned all but 18 seconds of the remaining time before punting. Oklahoma fell seven spots in the Associated Press poll following last week’s 37-33 loss in Fort Worth and didn’t have an offensive touchdown against Texas until Trevor Knight threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Sterling Shepard with 4:17 left in the third quarter. Knight passed for 129 yards and Samaje Perine had a 13-yard touchdown run that gave the Sooners their 31-13 lead with 12:50 remaining. Swoopes completed 26 of his 43 passes for 308 yards and a pair of touchdown throws to John Harris, but the Longhorns committed 11 penalties for 85 yards—most of them coming early on.


Final Score: (12) Oregon 42, (18) UCLA 30

Marcus Mariota threw two touchdown passes and ran for two more as No. 12 Oregon bounced back after its first loss of the season to topple 18th-ranked UCLA, 42-30, at the Rose Bowl on Saturday. Mariota completed 17-of-27 passes for 210 yards while racking up 75 yards on seven carries for Oregon (5-1, 2-1 Pac-12), which avoided losing back-to-back games for the first time since 2007. Royce Freeman gained a career-high 121 rushing yards and a pair of scores on 18 attempts and Pharaoh Brown made five catches for 84 yards and a touchdown, as Oregon improved to 6-1 in its last seven games against Top-25 opponents. UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley accounted for three touchdowns and Paul Perkins ran for 190 yards in the setback. The Bruins (4-2, 1-2) have dropped consecutive games after starting the season 4-0.


Final Score: (13) Georgia 34, (23) Missouri 0

No Todd Gurley, no problem. Georgia went to Missouri without its Heisman Trophy candidate, but a stout defensive effort and a 143-yard rushing performance from freshman Nick Chubb lifted the 13th-ranked Bulldogs to a dominating 34-0 victory over the 23rd-ranked Tigers in an SEC East showdown on Saturday at Faurot Field. Gurley was suspended by the school earlier this week while an investigation into possible extra benefits is conducted. The running back reportedly was paid for signing items and memorabilia. Chubb ran the ball 38 times with a touchdown to lead a Georgia ground attack that racked up 210 yards. Brendan Douglas also rushed for a score, as did quarterback Hutson Mason, who threw for 156 yards with a touchdown on an efficient 22-of-28 passing for the Bulldogs (5-1, 3-1 SEC), who have won four in a row since a 38-35 loss at South Carolina. The Georgia defense intercepted Missouri quarterback Maty Mauk four times, twice by Quincy Mauger, and also forced him to fumble. Mauk finished the contest just 9-of-21 passing for 97 yards. Missouri (4-2, 1-1), coming off a bye after a 21-20 win at South Carolina, managed just 147 total yards and only 10 first downs. The Tigers had a stark differential in time of possession, holding the ball for just over 17 1/2 minutes, while Georgia controlled it for nearly 42 1/2 minutes.


Final Score: (16) Oklahoma State 27, Kansas 20

Tyreek Hill returned a kickoff 99 yards for the decisive touchdown in the fourth quarter as the 16th-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys edged the Kansas Jayhawks 27-20 at Memorial Stadium. The Jayhawks, looking to pull off the shocker in the second game under interim head coach Clint Bowen, scored 13 straight points in the second half and tied the game at 20-20 on Matthew Wyman’s 35-yard field goal with 6:55 remaining. Hill, though, sprinted down the left sideline on the ensuing kickoff to put Oklahoma State back in front. Kansas got the ball back with 2:04 to play, but Josh Furman sealed the win by picking off Michael Cummings’ pass near midfield. Daxx Garman completed 17-of-31 passes for 161 yards, a touchdown and one interception for the Cowboys (5-1, 3-0 Big 12), who have won five straight since beginning the season with a neutral-site loss to top-ranked Florida State. Cummings finished with 288 yards on 20-of-37 passing and had a rushing touchdown for Kansas (2-4, 0-3), which dropped its third game in a row.


Final Score: (19) East Carolina 28, South Florida 17

Shane Carden passed for a season-low 250 yards, but No. 19 East Carolina held off South Florida 28-17 to remain unbeaten in the American Athletic Conference. Carden, who joined the Heisman Trophy discussion following back-to-back four touchdown games against North Carolina and SMU, completed 24-of-33 passes with a touchdown and an interception. Breon Allen led a potent ground attack with 124 yards and a rushing score, while Marquez Grayson and Anthony Scott also added touchdown runs in the triumph. East Carolina (5-1, 2-0 AAC) overcame 12 penalties for 148 yards and kept South Florida off the scoreboard in the second half. The Pirates have won four straight games. Mike White passed for 257 yards, a touchdown and a pick on 21-of-41 efficiency. Andre Davis, who led the club in receiving each of the past two years, returned to the lineup after missing four games with a bruised sternum and made six catches for 124 yards and a touchdown. South Florida (2-4, 1-1) lost to ECU for the first time in program history.


Final Score: Duke 31, (22) Georgia Tech 25

Backup quarterback Thomas Sirk rushed for two short touchdowns and Duke beat Georgia Tech for the first time in 11 years, holding off the No. 22 Yellow Jackets 31-25 on Saturday. The Blue Devils (5-1, 1-1 ACC) showed no rust after a thunderstorm sent the teams back inside for a 77-minute delay after halftime. They scored the only 10 points in the third quarter to build a 24-12 lead. The Yellow Jackets (5-1, 2-1) had won 10 in a row in the series since a 41-17 loss in 2003. They were trying to match the 2011 team’s 6-0 record—the only time the program has hit that mark in the last 48 years—but fell down 31-12 after Justin Thomas was intercepted on consecutive possessions, leading to Sirk’s second touchdown with 8:18 remaining. Tim Byerly took over at quarterback for Thomas and led two scoring drives, running the ball into the end zone himself both times, but the Yellow Jackets failed to recover an onside kick after the second one and Duke ran out the clock. Starter Anthony Boone threw for 123 yards with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Max McCaffrey and Josh Snead rushed for 102 yards and a score for Duke, which was coming off a bye. Thomas completed just six of his 15 pass attempts for 61 yards but also ran for a game-high 119 on 15 scrambles. Byerly passed for 125 yards on seven completions in 10 attempts and Zach Laskey ran for 72 with a 4-yard score.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Two Minute Warning - Week 6

Although this is another “bye week,“ we don’t see it causing too many problems for fantasy owners ... well unless to are completely dependent on the New Orleans offense. It’s the Saints and the Kansas City Chiefs watching from the sofa this weekend.

The weather appears to be a non-factor in Week 6. We can’t find rain or gusty winds anywhere in the forecast.

Here is the latest information as we approach game-time. We will continue to update this story as the information changes up to game-time.

Quarterbacks -

Tom Brady, New England - Brady was added to the injury report on Friday due to an ankle issue, but barring a sudden change, we expect him to play against Buffalo. Brady is 22-2 against the Bills with a 100.0 QB rating (54 TDs, 19 INTs). Start him.

Jake Locker, Tennessee - After missing Friday’s practice, fantasy owners should not expect Locker to start against Jacksonville. Too bad, as the Jaguars secondary has more holes than Swiss cheese. Charlie Whitehurst will most likely get the start, but if he struggles we could get a glimpse of Zach Mettenberger.

Derek Carr, Oakland - Though listed as limited in practice, Carr is expected to start Sunday, however, the Chargers defense has played well this season and Carr’s fantasy value is minimal.

Carson Palmer, Arizona - NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport is reporting Palmer will get the start even though he’s not 100 percent due to a shoulder problem. We last saw him in Week 1 throwing for 300 yards and a pair of touchdowns. His return would give a lift to both Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd’s value.

Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota - He’s had 10 days since missing the Thursday night game in Week 5 and he’ll be ready to play after a full week of practice. He’ll need to be at his best facing Ndamukong Suh and a Lions’ defense yielding just 15.8 ppg.

Running Backs -

Montee Ball, Denver - You know he’s out 2-3 week. The bigger issue is the latest thought that the Broncos will “go with the hot hand” rather than Ronnie Hillman backed up by C.J. Anderson and Juwan Thompson.

Knowshon Moreno, Miami - Moreno wasn’t expected back for another couple of weeks, but was a limited participant in practice. We can’t see him being fantasy worthy this week. Lamar Miller is still the correct play in Week 6. Down the road, however, is another story.

Fred Jackson, Buffalo - Jackson is dealing with an ankle injury, but is expected to play. He continues to out-play starter C.J. Spiller

Branden Oliver, San Diego - Oakland is a bottom 10 team against the run. This is Oliver’s time to prove last weekend (182 combined yards, 2 TDs) wasn’t a fluke. We don’t think it was and think fantasy owners should plug him into their Week 6 lineups.

Jonathan Stewart, Carolina - He’ll be a game-time decision. If he plays, he’ll likely get most of the work, but with the injury-prone Stewart, fantasy owners will have to sweat out each quarter.

Reggie Bush, Detroit - Bush has been limited all week and the consensus is that he won’t be ready to go. Joique Bell should get the bulk of the work with Theo Riddick and George Winn getting the leftovers.

Rashad Jennings, New York Giants - Jennings’ MCL injury will force him to the sidelines this Sunday and most likely next weekend as well. Andre Williams is a very good option against an Eagles run defense yielding 132 ypg.

Zac Stacy, St. Louis - Stacy missed one day of practice, but got in two days of work and will be ready to go Monday. A matchup against the tough 49ers fifth-ranked run defense (77.2 ypg), however, doesn’t make for a great option.

Shonn Greene, Tennessee - After injuring a hamstring Wednesday and missing Friday’s practice, Greene is doubtful and rookie Bishop Sankey is the best option for Week 6 against a suspect Jacksonville defense.

Wide Receivers -

A.J. Green, Cincinnati - Green is listed as questionable, but we don’t believe he’ll be ready to go. Even if he is active, he’ll likely end up being more decoy than numbers producers. Think Calvin Johnson the past two games.

Calvin Johnson, Detroit - Speaking of Johnson, he’s listed as doubtful after missing all week at practice. Long-term it’s probably better if he sits and gets healthy than struggle week-to-week and give fantasy owners little in the way of production.

Cecil Shorts III, Jacksonville - Both Shorts and Marqise Lee may be active and though they are thought to be the starters on this team may end up watching Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns for most of the day.

Eric Decker, New York Jets - Hard to imagine he’ll miss the game against his former team, but Denver’s pass defense is a top-10 unit and this isn’t Peyton Manning throwing him the ball, it’s Geno Smith. He’s a WR3 at best.

Cordarrelle Patterson, Minnesota - He’s dealing with a hip issue, but is probable. Now if we can just get him to start playing up to expectations. Other than his 102 yards rushing in Week 1, he’s done nothing.

Mike Evans, Tampa Bay - Evans is apparently a quick healer as he’ll end up missing just one game with a groin injury. He must be healthy with the Bucs having a bye in Week 7, if there was any questions they would let him sit.

Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay - He’s dealing with sore ribs, but should be out there Sunday. He’s played well with quarterback Mike Glennon the past three games.

Tight Ends -

Greg Olsen, Carolina - Olsen missed the first two days of practice, but was out there Friday and should play Sunday. It’s not a great matchup against a solid Bengals defense, but quarterback Cam Newton doesn’t have many other options and Rob Gronkowski and Tim Wright did light them up in Week 6.

Vernon Davis, San Francisco - Davis himself is unsure he’ll be ready to go Monday night, so fantasy owners who don’t own backup Vance McDonald or the Rams’ Jared Cook shouldn’t wait for Monday’s game-time decision.

Jimmy Graham, New Orleans - According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Graham is expected to miss a couple of weeks. That won’t change anything for Week 6 since the Saints are on the bye, but fantasy owners need to scout out another option for Week 7 as insurance.


►  Titans place Roos on IR, promote Brackett

The Tennessee Titans placed offensive tackle Michael Roos on injured reserve Saturday and promoted tight end Brett Brackett from the practice squad to the active roster.

The move for Roos was expected, as he suffered a right knee injury that required season-ending surgery. The three-time All-Pro had missed just one game in his 10 seasons with the Titans.

Brackett joined the Titans’ practice squad in early September after spending time with the Miami Dolphins in training camp this summer. He hasn’t played a regular season game despite time on NFL rosters with Jacksonville, Philadelphia and Arizona.




The Gilmer Free Press

►  Bumgarner, Giants win NLCS opener

Madison Bumgarner is proving to be unbeatable on the road in the postseason.

Bumgarner struck out seven over 7 2/3 scoreless innings and made some history in the process, leading the San Francisco Giants to a 3-0 win over the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series.

When it was all said and done, Bumgarner (1-0) finished his outing with an MLB record of 26 2/3 scoreless innings in road playoff games. The southpaw also improved to 4-0 with a 0.59 ERA in four career playoff starts as a visitor.

“He was on top of his game,“ Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of Bumgarner. “Really hitting his spots (and) using all of his pitches. He’s so good at what he does. This kid, since he has come up here, he’s just getting better too.“

It’s not just Bumgarner who performs well away from home, as San Francisco posted its seventh consecutive postseason win on the road.

Pablo Sandoval went 3-for-4 with a walk and a run scored, while Brandon Belt and Travis Ishikawa both knocked in a run for the Giants.

“(Sandoval) is a great player,“ said Bochy. “He’s a guy that we lean on to give us some offense.“

Adam Wainwright (0-1) continued to labor for the Cardinals, allowing three runs—two earned—on six hits and three walks over 4 2/3 innings. Wainwright, who has reportedly dealt with elbow discomfort over the past couple of months, has allowed nine runs in nine innings this postseason.

“Today I was not great,“ Wainwright said. “The pitcher that pitched against us was. You have to tip your hat to Madison and those guys over there. My arm, like I said, doesn’t feel great, but it certainly should be a lot better results wise than that.“

Jake Peavy will take the hill for San Francisco on Sunday in Game 2, and St. Louis counters with Lance Lynn.

In a rematch of the 2012 NLCS that saw the Giants win in seven games, Bumgarner was dealing from the start and his offense got him just enough run support over the first three innings.

Sandoval led off the second frame with a drive to right, where Randal Grichuk leapt up and nearly made a dazzling catch. However, Grichuk slammed into the wall and the ball came loose once he hit the ground as Sandoval trotted into second with a double. Hunter Pence followed with a walk and Belt knocked a single into left to load the bases.

Brandon Crawford, who hit a grand slam in San Francisco’s wild-card win over Pittsburgh, stepped in and struck out swinging for the first out. Ishikawa then blooped a single into left for a 1-0 lead. Wainwright looked to work out of the early mess with a lineout off the bat of Bumgarner, but Matt Carpenter booted a grounder from Gregor Blanco and Pence crossed home to make it 2-0.

San Francisco added on another run in the third thanks to another miscue from St. Louis. After back-to-back singles to start the inning, Kolten Wong was unable to turn a double play on a grounder right at second base. Jhonny Peralta made the force at second after the ball deflected off Wong, then Belt sent a sacrifice fly into center that plated Buster Posey for a 3-0 edge.

“They capitalized,“ Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of the Giants. “We knew that going in that it was going to that kind of game. It is probably going to be that kind of series. You got two teams that figure out ways to score runs, to manufacture and capitalize on mistakes.“

The Cardinals had their best scoring opportunity in the seventh, but a possible missed call from the umpires, coupled with Bumgarner’s dominance, kept them off the board.

Yadier Molina and Jon Jay singled with one out in the inning. Both moved up a base on Wong’s groundout before Bumgarner possibly got away with a balk. While pitching to Tony Cruz, who was making his first at-bat of the postseason, Bumgarner lifted his right leg just before he stepped off the mound with his left which would constitute a balk. No call was made on the play and Bumgarner proceeded to blow a fastball right by Cruz to end the frame.

“You know this time of year you’re going to have to make pitches against anybody, especially against a team like the Cardinals,“ Bumgarner said.

Sergio Romo got the last out in the eighth and Santiago Casilla pitched a perfect ninth to earn the save.

Game Notes

Bumgarner passed former New York Giant Art Nehf, who had 23 scoreless innings on the road. Nehf set the record from October 13, 1921-October 04, 1924 ... San Francisco has won 12 of its last 13 playoff games overall ... Jay went 2-for-2 in the setback ... The Giants outhit St. Louis 8-4 ... San Francisco was 2- for-11 with runners in scoring position, while the Cardinals were 0-for-3 in such situations.


►  National League Championship Series Game

Final Score: San Francisco 3, St. Louis 0

Madison Bumgarner is proving to be unbeatable on the road in the postseason. Bumgarner struck out seven over 7 2/3 scoreless innings and made some history in the process, leading the San Francisco Giants to a 3-0 win over the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series. When it was all said and done, Bumgarner (1-0) set an MLB record with 26 2/3 scoreless innings in road playoff games. The southpaw also improved to 4-0 with a 0.59 ERA in four career playoff starts as a visitor. It’s not just Bumgarner who performs well away from home, as San Francisco posted its seventh consecutive postseason win on the road. Pablo Sandoval went 3-for-4 with a walk and a run scored, while Brandon Belt and Travis Ishikawa both knocked in a run for the Giants. Adam Wainwright (0-1) continued to labor for the Cardinals, allowing three runs—two earned—on six hits and three walks over 4 2/3 innings. Wainwright, who has reportedly dealt with elbow discomfort over the past couple of months, has allowed nine runs in nine innings this postseason. Jake Peavy will take the hill for San Francisco on Sunday in Game 2, while St. Louis counters with Lance Lynn.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Hamilton captures pole for Russian GP

Formula One world championship leader Lewis Hamilton claimed his seventh pole of the season after topping his Mercedes teammate, Nico Rosberg, and Williams’ Valtteri Bottas in Saturday’s qualifying for the inaugural Russian Grand Prix.

Hamilton’s lap around the brand-new Sochi Autodrom was clocked in 1 minute, 38.513 seconds, which beat Rosberg’s lap by 0.2 seconds. This 3.637-mile (5.853- kilometer), 18-turn street circuit is located on an Olympic venue. Sochi hosted the XXII Olympic Winter Games in February.

“Pole is a great place to start,“ said Hamilton, who will start first in a grand prix for the 38th time in his F1 career. “An amazing job done by the team, constantly improving and moving forwards this year. Thanks to them. We’re able to be on the front row quite often. It’s great to come here (to Sochi). It’s a beautiful place, and the weather has been amazing. Really enjoying driving this track.“

On his final run, Bottas had the quickest time in the first two sectors, but he got loose and ran wide in the final two turns, finishing 0.407 seconds behind Hamilton.

“I risked it a bit too much in the last two corners, went a little bit wide, and when you go offline, it’s really slippery like everyone saw. and that was it,“ Bottas said.

Hamilton, who has won the last three grand prix (Italy, Singapore and Japan), enters Sunday’s Russian GP with a 10-point lead over Rosberg.

“Every race is important at the moment,“ Rosberg said. “We have four to go. They are all just as important. Today, Lewis was quicker - all weekend really. So, I’ve been working hard to try to get close but didn’t manage to get closer than those two tenths (of a second) now, but that’s the way it is. I need to accept that.“

Mercedes has swept the front starting row nine times this season, including five straight grand prix, a streak that began in Belgium on the fourth weekend in August.

“It wasn’t the easiest session,“ Hamilton said of qualifying for the Russian GP. “These guys (Rosberg and Bottas) were looking quite strong. Just hooking up a lap from some reason it wasn’t the same as practice. But I’m really grateful that I got the pole here for the first time. It’s going to be tough tomorrow. It’s a long way down to turn one, so we’ll find out how that works out.“

If Hamilton or Rosberg wins this race, then Mercedes will clinch the F1 constructors’ championship. Mercedes currently holds a 190-point lead over its closest competitor, Red Bull.

Jenson Button placed his McLaren fourth on the grid, while Russian Daniil Kvyat from Toro Rosso qualified a career-best fifth in front of his home crowd.

“It feels great securing P5 in today’s qualifying here in my home country,“ Kvyat said. “I’m very happy we could put it all together and achieve my best ever qualifying result. The car felt very good and everything worked out well, so well done to the team.“

Kevin Magnussen from McLaren finished sixth in qualifying, but Magnussen received a five-spot grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change. He will start 11th.

Magnussen’s penalty allowed Daniel Ricciardo from Red Bull to move up to sixth on the starting grid, followed by Ferrari drivers Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen.

Ricciardo’s teammate, Sebastian Vettel, the four-time F1 world champion, failed to advance into the final qualifying round for the first time since the Austrian Grand Prix in June. Vettel will start 10th.

“I wasn’t comfortable in the car today,“ Vettel said. “It was very difficult. I think we took a step back from this morning (final practice), and we expected the rear to be a lot stronger and the track to pick up more than it did. The car felt nervous, so I couldn’t take the speed into the corners. I lost the rear many times around the lap and therefore wasn’t quick enough.“

Felipe Massa from Williams did not make it into the second round, as he qualified 18th. Massa experienced a fuel pressure problem.

“I had no real power throughout qualifying, and we were trying different things to resolve this out on track, but in the end, there was nothing I could do,“ Massa said.


►  Keselowski wins Nationwide race at Charlotte

Brad Keselowski claimed his fourth Nationwide Series victory of the season by taking Friday night’s Drive for the Cure 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Keselowski experienced a tire issue and brushed the wall early in the race, forcing him to pit sooner than expected. He bounced back and passed Ryan Blaney, his Team Penske teammate, for the lead with 14 laps to go. Keselowski then held off Kyle Busch in the closing laps for the win.

“You could see everybody that ran hard just kept having tire problems, and we had some on the first run,“ Keselowski said. “Thankfully, we got better and made some adjustments on the car. That was looking to be a long night, but the No. 22 team did an awesome job with this Ford Mustang. They got it tuned in there for the end when it mattered.“

It was the 31st career victory for Keselowski, which placed him in a tie with Jack Ingram for fifth on the series’ all-time race winners list. Keselowski has now won a Nationwide race at Charlotte three times. He made his ninth start in the series this season.

Busch, who had won the last two Nationwide races (Dover and Kansas), crossed the finish line 0.377 seconds behind Keselowski.

“They (Keselowski’s team) were just better than us tonight, and they beat us,“ Busch said.

Busch holds the record for most wins in the series with 69.

Matt Kenseth, who is Busch’s teammate at Joe Gibbs Racing, finished third, while Blaney ended up in fourth. Kyle Larson, who won the spring Nationwide race at Charlotte in May, completed the top-five.

Chase Elliott’s eighth-place finish coupled with an 11th-place run for Regan Smith allowed Elliott to increase his lead in the championship standings from 38 points to 42 over his JR Motorsports teammate.

Elliott started on the pole and led four times for a race-high 66 laps, but the rookie driver faded in the late stages.

“My restarts were probably some of the worst restarts you could possibly have here,“ Elliott said. “I’m disappointed with it. I really don’t like where I ended up tonight.

Just three races remain. The series will take the next two weekends off before concluding the season with Texas (November 01), Phoenix (November 08) and Homestead (November 15).

“We’ve got some work to do, and hopefully we can find it before Texas,“ Elliott added.

Rookie Ty Dillon entered this race third in the point standings, but Dillon was involved in a six-car crash on the frontstretch on lap 75. He posted his first DNF of the season, placing 30th. The Richard Childress Racing driver fell to fifth in points (-64).

Dillon triggered the incident when he got squeezed in between Dakoda Armstrong and Eric McClure in a tight pack of cars, causing him to hit the wall.

“I made a mistake out there,“ Dillon said. “I’m just disappointed the way it finished.“

This 300-mile race began with an 11-car accident on the frontstretch during the opening lap. J.J. Yeley spun out and created an accordion effect at the initial start. The first eight laps were run under caution.


►  Harvick moves on to next round in Chase with Charlotte win

Kevin Harvick punched his ticket into the Eliminator Round—the third round in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship—by winning Saturday night’s Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Harvick led 162 of 334 laps, including the final 16. The eighth and final caution for an incident involving Brian Vickers set up a two-lap shootout to the finish around this fast 1.5-mile track. Harvick easily pulled away from the field after the last restart. He beat second-place finisher Jeff Gordon to the line by 0.6 seconds.

It was the third win of the season for Harvick but his first time in victory lane for a Sprint Cup Series race since April at Darlington. He joined Joey Logano as those drivers who have clinched a spot in the Eliminator Round. Logano won last weekend’s race at Kansas.

“All in all, it’s a great night for us,“ Harvick said. “We just hit a home run and made it all happen. Great time of year to do it.“

While Harvick was celebrating in Charlotte’s Victory Lane, tempers flared in the garage area where Denny Hamlin had to be restrained from getting into a physical altercation with Brad Keselowski, and then moments later, Matt Kenseth and Keselowski were involved in a brawl in between a pair of Team Penske haulers.

During the final two laps, Keselowski and Hamlin had tangled multiple times while battling for position. Keselowski retaliated against Hamlin after the checkered flag had waved, on the cool-down lap, by bumping him from behind and attempting to spin him out.

Keselowski also ran into the back of Kenseth, who is Hamlin’s teammate at Joe Gibbs Racing, as they were coming onto pit road following the cool-down lap. Then Keselowski hit the rear of Tony Stewart’s car. Stewart retaliated by putting it in reverse and slamming into the front end of Keselowski’s vehicle.

After Hamlin got out of his car in the garage area, several of his crew members as well as NASCAR race officials had to hold back Hamlin from charging after Keselowski.

“(Keselowski) just plowed into us,“ Hamlin said. “He’s just out of control. He’s desperate, obviously, and it’s either four or five of us are wrong or he’s wrong because he’s (ticked) off with everyone. Just disappointing. We’re trying to get in this deal. We’re sitting in a decent spot, but we’ve lost six spots or so with the last restart when he ran into us and knocked us up the track. That was unfortunate.“

When Keselowski had walked away from the scene and was between the haulers, Kenseth came running out of nowhere and managed to put Keselowski in a headlock before Kenseth’s team members were able to pull him away.

Kenseth was furious that Keselowski had hit his car, which could have injured him.

“I had my HANS (Head and Neck Support device) off and my seat belts off, and (Keselowski) clobbers me at like 50 (mph),“ Kenseth said. “With the accidents and stuff that we’ve had around here - the race is over, and we’re trying to come back to pit road. If he wants to come and talk about it like a man, then go do that, but to try to wreck somebody on the racetrack and to come down pit road with other cars and people standing around, with my seat belts off and drive into the side of me is just inexcusable. There is no excuse for that. He’s supposed to know better than that.“

It had already been a tough night for Kenseth at Charlotte, as he had to begin this 500-mile race from the rear of the field due to his team making an unapproved adjustment to his car prior to the start of the event. Kenseth ended up finishing 19th.

Keselowski had been running in the top-10 prior to the final restart, but he got shuffled back in the field and wound up finishing 16th.

“Through the whole sequence of events - I think the 20 car (Kenseth) got in back of me on one of the restarts, but it was just a racing deal, and I wasn’t mad at him,“ Keselowski said. “But when the last yellow came out, he got the wave-around, and when he came by, he swung at my car and tore the whole right- front off of it. When we restarted fifth with no right-front on it, we fell all the way back to 16th, and it ruined our day. That gave us a big Chase hurt.

“Then for some reason after the race, the 11 (Hamlin) stopped in front of me and tried to pick a fight. I don’t know what that was all about, and he swung and hit at my car, so I figured if we’re gonna play car wars under yellow and after the race then I’ll join too. Those guys can dish it out, but they can’t take it. I gave it back to them, and now they want to fight, so I don’t know what’s up with that.“

Jimmie Johnson, the six-time and defending series champion, finished 17th, while his Hendrick Motorsports teammate and NASCAR fan favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr. placed 20th. The gear shifter in Earnhardt’s car broke early in the race, forcing him to pit multiple times for repairs on it. He eventually fell one lap behind.

“The vibration broke the shifter in half, and it just wasn’t a good night,“ Earnhardt said. “The car just wasn’t handling well, and the vibration was really giving us a lot of problems.“

The Oct. 19 race at Talladega is the elimination race in the Contender Round. After Talladega, the Chase field will be trimmed from 12 drivers to eight. The Eliminator Round begins with Martinsville on Oct. 26 and includes Texas (Nov. 2) and Phoenix (Nov. 9) before the Nov. 16 season-finale at Homestead, where four drivers will battle for the Sprint Cup championship.

“This was the night that we needed to win,“ Harvick said of his victory at Charlotte. “I don’t want to go to Talladega next week.“

Heading into Talladega, Kenseth is ninth in the Chase point standings, only one point behind eighth-place Kasey Kahne, who finished 10th. Keselowski is ranked 10th (19 points behind Kahne), followed by Johnson (-26) and Earnhardt (-26).

Johnson and Earnhardt are now faced with a must-win situation at Talladega.

“This (No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports) team loves adversity,“ Johnson said. “This team thrives on it. There’s no quit in us, so we’ll keep digging. We will continue to do so in Talladega.“

Jamie McMurray, who is not in the Chase, finished third, followed by Logano and Kyle Busch, the pole sitter. Logano holds a six-point lead over Busch in the Chase.

Rookie Kyle Larson, Ryan Newman, Carl Edwards and Hamlin placed sixth through ninth, respectively.

Harvick’s win moved him up to third in points (-7), followed by Newman (-11), Edwards (-12), Gordon (-14) and Hamlin (-15).



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Breeders’ Cup hopefuls put in workouts

A pair of probable Breeders’ Cup starters had Saturday workouts at Gulfstream Park.

Fast Anna and Little Alexis each had five-furlong workouts over Gulfstream’s main track as their trainers prep them for the 31st Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Santa Anita on October 31 and November 01.

Fast Anna, trained by Kathy Ritvo for Frank Calabrese, covered the distance in 57.32 seconds with jockey Nick Petro Jr. The 3-year-old colt is pointed to the six-furlong Sprint.

“He did it all on his own and he came back great,“ said Ritvo, who noted that Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez will ride in the Breeders’ Cup. “We worked him with blinkers on today and we will race him with blinkers on. I just think it keeps him a little more focused.“

Fast Anna began racing in April by winning his debut start at Gulfstream and won an allowance effort at the track in July. He finished second to The Big Beast in Saratoga’s King’s Bishop and last month was runner-up behind Favorite Tale in Parx Racing’s Gallant Bob Stakes.

The colt has banked $198,400.

Little Alexis, training for the Filly & Mare Sprint, went the five furlongs in 58.97 seconds under Edgard Zayas. Joel Rosario will be aboard the 3-year-old filly at Santa Anita.

“I’m extremely pleased with the work,“ said Carlo Vaccarezza who trains Little Alexis for his wife Priscilla. “Edgard said he loved the way she has another gear. He said she did it easy. We’ll get a couple of works in her at Santa Anita and we’ll be ready to go.“

Little Alexis began her career in February by winning her debut start at Gulfstream. She then won the track’s Cash Run Stakes followed by a third in Saratoga’s Test Stakes and last month finished fourth to Untapable in the Cotillion at Parx Racing.

Little Alexis has earned $182,910.

Both Fast Anna and Little Alexis will leave Sunday for Santa Anita.

The Gilmer Free Press


SUNDAY, OCTOBER 12, 2014


National Football League
New England at Buffalo, 1:00 PM - CBS, DSS (705)
Carolina at Cincinnati, 1:00 PM - FOX, DSS (706)
Green Bay at Miami, 1:00 PM - FOX, DSS (707)
Detroit at Minnesota, 1:00 PM - FOX, DSS (708)
Pittsburgh at Cleveland, 1:00 PM - CBS, DSS (709)
Denver at NY Jets, 1:00 PM - CBS, DSS (710)
Baltimore at Tampa Bay, 1:00 PM - CBS, DSS (711)
Jacksonville at Tennessee, 1:00 PM - CBS, DSS (712)
San Diego at Oakland, 4:05 PM - CBS, DSS (713)
Chicago at Atlanta, 4:25 PM - FOX, DSS (714)
Washington at Arizona, 4:25 PM - FOX, DSS (715)
Dallas at Seattle, 4:25 PM -  FOX, DSS (716)
NY Giants at Philadelphia, 8:30 PM - NBC


Major League Baseball - Playoffs
San Francisco at St. Louis, 8:07 PM - FS1


National Basketball Association - Preseason
Detroit at Washington, 1:00 PM - FS-Detroit, CSN-DC
LA Clippers at Portland, 9:00 PM - FS-Prime Ticket
Golden State at LA Lakers, 9:30 PM - Time Warner SN, D


National Hockey League
Toronto at NY Rangers, 7:00 PM - CITY TV, TVA, MSG, NHL Network, DSS
Winnipeg at Los Angeles, 10:00 PM - TSN3, FS-West, DSS


Major League Soccer
DC United at Houston, 3:00 PM - CSN-Houston, DSS
Los Angeles at FC Dallas, 7:00 PM - ESPN 2


International Soccer
Luxembourg vs. Spain, 2:30 PM - FS1


Golf
EUROPEAN - Portugal Masters, 8:30 AM - Golf Channel
CHAMPIONS - SAS Championship, 2:30 PM - Golf Channel
PGA - Frys.com Open, 5:00 PM - Golf Channel


Auto Racing
FORMULA ONE - Russian Grand Prix, 6:30 AM - NBCSN


Tennis
ATP - Shanghai, 4:30 AM - Tennis Channel

Sports News

The Gilmer Free Press


The Gilmer Free Press

►  Week 7 High School Games Results in the Area

Class A

Gilmer County (3-4)  28   at   #8 Doddridge County (5-1)  29

Calhoun County (2-5)  0   at   #1 St. Marys (6-0)  65

Parkersburg Catholic (2-4)  21   at   #3 Clay-Battelle (6-0)  48

Wirt County (0-6)  0   at   #11 Buffalo (5-2)  39

#16 Liberty - Harrison - AA (4-3)  14   at   #11 Notre Dame (4-2)  34

#11 Tyler Consolidated (5-2)  6  at   #15 South Harrison (3-3)  0


Class AA

Braxton County (2-4)  at   #2 Ravenswood (5-0) - Saturday

#3 Bridgeport (6-1)  31  at   #6 Keyser (5-2)  6

Webster County (2-4)  13   at   #11 Nicholas County (5-1)  43

Clay County (4-2) Idle This Week

Ritchie County (3-4)  12   at   Lincoln (2-5)  36

Roane County (3-4)  6   at   Tolsia (1-5)  7


Class AAA

North Marion - AA (0-6)  0   at   #9 Lewis County (6-1)  70

#12 Parkersburg South (4-2)  14  at   John Marshall (3-3)  13

#14 Woodrow Wilson (3-3)  0   at   Parkersburg (3-3)  24

Philip Barbour - AA (1-6)  12   at   Elkins (2-4)  34

Buckhannon-Upshur (4-2)  30  at   Hampshire (2-4)  7



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Texas Tech Chases 1st Big 12 Win vs. West Virginia

Texas Tech’s season thus far has a considerably different feel than last year.

About this time last season, the Red Raiders were approaching a No. 10 ranking after going 7-0. When it plays West Virginia on Saturday, Texas Tech will be trying to avoid starting conference play with three straight losses for the first since 1990.

The Mountaineers (3-2, 1-1) are aiming to build off their first Big 12 win, a 33-14 victory over Kansas last week that followed a home loss to Oklahoma.

The two coaches know one another well. West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen was coaching receivers at Texas Tech when Kliff Kingsbury was the Red Raiders quarterback.

Holgorsen sees similarities between Mountaineers quarterback Clint Trickett and Kingsbury’s time behind center.

“He would come in and want to watch a ton of film and knew how to be a leader in the locker room — knew how to be a leader in the huddle,“ he said of the second-year coach. “He was extremely competitive. I see all of those qualities with Clint.“

Trickett’s counterpart, Davis Webb, is looking to rebound after throwing a career-high four interceptions (he has 10 for the season) in the Red Raiders’ (2-3, 0-2) loss at Kansas State last week. Kingsbury said he’s sticking with Webb, who’s thrown for 1,603 yards and 16 TDs as his starter. Kingsbury says he’s ready to not see “the Bad News Bears” version of his offense

“We have to be more consistent as a group and we haven’t been at all,“ he said. “It’s puzzling to me because in practice, I see positive things and we’re just not doing it in the games.“

The Red Raiders won last year’s game, 37-27, at West Virginia.

Five things to know for Saturday’s game:

KEY CORNERBACK

Holgorsen on Wednesday reinstated CB Daryl Worley after the sophomore pleaded no contest to misdemeanor assault in a nightclub altercation last month. Worley, who missed games against Oklahoma and Kansas, could be a valuable asset in combatting the Red Raiders’ passing attack. He’s second in the Big 12 with two interceptions; the Mountaineers have three on the season.

PENALTY PLETHORA

Texas Tech has committed more penalties than any team in the nation. Ranked No. 125, the Red Raiders have been penalized 55 times for 511 yards, or an average of 11 penalties and 102.2 yards per game. They’ve come at key moments, either moving opponents forward or the Red Raiders backward. “That number is pretty astounding when you look at a season total,“ Kingsbury said. “It’s hard to win any games doing that every week.“

RECEIVER ROTATION

The past couple of games, the Red Raiders have toyed with shuffling around their receivers. The move was aimed at getting more from outside receiver positions that have thus far not been too productive. In the past two games, four Tech receivers have switched positions and the Red Raiders have dropped 14 passes. (Webb’s) got a couple of inexperienced guys at receiver,“ Holgorsen said. “They’re going to continue to be able to get on the same page. I would expect to see improvement with them each and every week moving forward.“

QUARTERBACKS’ TARGETS

Trickett’s best and frequent target is WR Kevin White, a 6-3, 210-pound senior who leads the nation in receiving yards (765) and receiving yards per game (153). Webb most often throws to WRs Jakeem Grant and Bradley Marquez; their combined per game receiving average is 171 yards.

WHO’S GOT THE BALL?

Texas Tech has won time of possession in only one game this season — at Oklahoma State. In three games, opponents held the ball almost twice as long as the Red Raiders. They average 23:41, while West Virginia’s average is 29:55.


►  West Virginia Wants Revenge for a 37-27 Loss to Texas Tech Last Season, Not To Mention The 49-14 Beatdown in 2012

Because breakfast is the most important meal, and because students might need coaxing to be punctual with kickoff slated for 11 AM local time, Texas Tech will dole out 10,000 waffles before Saturday’s game against West Virginia.

Hitching a ride on those west Texas winds, the scent of batter could be detectable all the way to Laredo. Not to mention the possibility of Kliff Kingsbury being doused in boysenberry if Tech springs the upset.

The Red Raiders started 7-0 under Kingsbury in 2013, but have gone 3-8 since and will have trouble becoming bowl-eligible if they don’t knock off West Virginia today. Likewise, the game looms huge for the Mountaineers, who even after edging Maryland, are just 2-10 away from Morgantown since their last trip to Lubbock.

More on Saturday’s game from Jones AT&T Stadium:

Matchup: West Virginia (3-2, 1-1) at Texas Tech (2-3, 0-2)

Kickoff: Noon (Fox Sports 1)

Radio: Nine hours of coverage begins at 9 AM on MetroNews affiliates across West Virginia

Line: West Virginia favored by 7

Gotta be a shootout, right? More than 65% of the money in Vegas favors the over at 77.5, and the coaching staffs sound like they expect points to be plentiful.

While West Virginia offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said the prospect of a racehorse game shouldn’t influence more aggressive play-calling, he admitted it’s tough to “put on blinders.”

“We do know Kliff and those guys pretty well,” Dawson said. “We know they’re going to come out, put the throttle down and play fast.”

Kingsbury, whose defense ranks 117th at 40 points allowed per game, has no blinders when it comes to facing the Mountaineers.

“We’re going to have to keep up offensively,” he said, “because they will get their points and their yards.”

QB comparison: Davis Webb (225) and Clint Trickett (210) are the Big 12 leaders in passing attempts by a large margin, though West Virginia’s quarterback owns a much higher efficiency rating and throws for an additional 60 yards per game in averaging 380.

White’s emergence: Along with breakout performances statistically, Kevin White appears to be breaking out of his shell with regard to on-field emotion. He’s been riling himself up with post-catch antics and trash-talking more than he did as a junior-college transfer.

“It’s so awkward because he’s not like that,” Trickett said. “That’s just his game-mode personality and he’s so the opposite of that. I see it on TV and it makes me laugh. He’s such a humble, quiet guy and then I see that.”

WVU coaches seem to be OK with White’s enthusiastic alter ego. They’re certainly OK with his 153 receiving yards per game leading the nation.

“Keep doing what you’re doing, man,” Trickett said. “Talk more if you’re going to make more catches.”

Will Tech renew its run game? Despite one of the top per-carry averages in the league at 5.4, DeAndre Washington has run the ball only 12 times per game. He received a mere seven carries in Tech’s most recent game, a 45-13 loss at Kansas State.

“Last week we had to get away from (the run game) a little bit in that second half,” Kingsbury said. “We’ve got to be able to get him some touches and keep him going.”

A 5-foot-8, 200-pound redshirt junior, Washington was recruited by Bill Stewart’s staff at West Virginia in 2011. During last year’s meeting in Morgantown, he made six catches for 67 yards and ran 10 times for 31.

How one-sided is the Red Raiders attack? Big 12 offenses run the ball an average of 39 times per game and pass it 36. Texas Tech runs it 26 times on average and throws it 47.

Tech missing backup CB: After working in Tech’s cornerback rotation for the first four weeks, Jah’Shawn Johnson (shoulder) will miss his second straight game. He’ll be replaced by another true freshman, Nigel Bethel II, who served a three-game suspension for punching a Lady Raiders basketball player during a summer pickup game.

Will Worley start? Daryl Worley, who missed three weeks while serving a suspension, returned to practice Monday and was fully reinstated Wednesday.

After pleading no contest to assault charges on a woman at a nightclub, Worley’s playing-time prospects for Saturday aren’t clear. Will Dana Holgorsen allow his top cornerback to rejoin the starting lineup, utilize him in a backup role or simply allow him to be on the sideline?



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Cato’s decisions put the Herd in a position to win

After Offensive Coordinator Bill Legg grades the game film on Sunday, quarterback Rakeem Cato always asked about his statistics. But Cato is not interested in his passing yards, completions or touchdowns.

“At the end of the day, first question he asks me is ‘How’d I do with the decisions?’ If there are 70 decisions to be made he wants to be 70-for-70,” says offensive coordinator Bill Legg.

In the midst of being hyped as a dark horse candidate to be a Heisman finalist, no one would blame Cato if he peeked at his stats once in a while. You could understand if Cato wanted to open up the offense against weaker defenses and pad his numbers a little bit to make them appear more impressive to national observers.

But that’s just not who he is.

“Last week he checked out of seven passes into runs,” said Legg. “Three of them turned out to be touchdowns. He’s going to take what they give you. He’s all about the wins.”

Marshall’s offense is as balanced as it has ever been. Gone are the days when defenses knew Marshall was going to throw the ball on every down. Now, when Cato comes to the line and sees a defensive alignment that favors the run, he will not hesitate to check to play to get the ball into Devon Johnson’s hands.

“No matter what play he checks to the line has to block, the receivers have to do what they do. He’s got a great feel of how the game is going,” explained Legg. He knows when they give him a certain picture this is the best possible play to attack what they’re doing. He understands how to use our system to his advantage.”

Doc Holliday has continually said the offense is simply taking what the defense is giving it. That has always been his philosophy but now with an effective run game, defenses have to pick their poison. Do you want to let Cato drop back and throw or do you want to defend the pass and deal with the likes of Johnson, Remi Watson and Steward Butler?

“If you can force teams to become one dimensional that’s when you have issues on offense,” said Holliday.

Johnson, who is eighth in the country in rushing yards per game coming into Saturday insisted that Marshall is 5-0 and on the cusp of the top 25 because of Cato’s understanding of the offense and getting the rest of the unit in the best position to succeed.

“Cato does a great job of reading the defense and getting us into the right plays. If it wasn’t for him we probably wouldn’t be where we are,” insisted Johnson.

Where Marshall is on the doorstep of the top 25. It hasn’t been there since 2002 and if Cato continues to make the right decisions and put the offense in a position to succeed, Marshall will likely find itself back in the top 25 very soon.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  NCAA may be misguided, but athletes bear brunt of blame

The list of players who have failed to take the NCAA and its ludicrous list of rules seriously added one more name on Thursday when it was announced that Georgia star running back Todd Gurley has been suspended indefinitely.

The suspension was actually a preemptive measure taken by the University of Georgia, which continues to investigates Gurley’s alleged involvement in a situation where he received compensation for autographs, memorabilia and the use of his likeness—a big no-no in the eyes of college athletics’ governing body.

The argument over whether or not a player should have the right to make money off his or her name and athletic achievements when so many others, including their school and the NCAA itself, do isn’t in question—the answer is unequivocally yes. The real issue however, is that Gurley, and all other student-athletes who find themselves in a similar situation, knows the rules and yet still think they’re above the law.

The real downer here isn’t necessarily that Gurley may or may not suit up again for the Bulldogs, but the fact that one of the SEC’s top teams now has to scuffle its way toward a possible berth in the conference championship game as it looks elsewhere for the kind of production the standout junior from Tarbor, North Carolina had provided.

Gurley was considered one of the leading candidates to win this year’s Heisman Trophy as he has rushed for a league-leading 773 yards and eight touchdowns in helping the Bulldogs to a 4-1 record, 2-1 in the SEC. He is also a threat on special teams, averaging 49 yards per kick return, and he had a 100-yard return for a TD in the season opener against Clemson.

For his career, Gurley has rushed for more than 3,100 yards and 35 TDs. He is considered by many to be a first-round NFL draft pick should he decide to come out, or be forced out, after this season.

The Bulldogs tangle with Missouri (4-1, 1-0) this Saturday in a battle of ranked SEC East Division rivals, and doing so without one of their best players won’t be easy. Expected to hear his name called more often now that Gurley is on the shelf is freshman Nick Chubb (234 yards, two TDs), although there are others who could heed the call as well. Regardless, the loss of such a dynamic threat in Gurley puts the Bulldogs in a precarious position.

Georgia head coach Mark Richt, who like everyone else associated with UGA’s football program, had already reserved themselves to the fact that this was likely to be Gurley’s final year in Athens, spoke briefly about the suspension.

“I’m obviously very disappointed,“ Richt said. “The important thing for our team is to turn all our attention toward preparation for Missouri.“

The list of players, coaches, administrators and schools the NCAA has levied its brand of oft-misguided justice upon is staggering. But as heavy-handed as it may be, it’s still up to the individuals involved to be smarter and to consider the consequences of their actions.

Other recent cases involving college stars who have felt the NCAA’s wrath for similar transgressions include Ohio State’s Terrelle Pryor, who was ostracized back in 2010-11. Collateral damage in that incident was the fact that it also cost head coach Jim Tressel his job.

Former Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, a lightning rod for controversy, mostly of his own doing, was accused of indiscretions in the same vein prior to starting his sophomore season at Texas A&M, resulting in a half-game suspension (2013 season opener vs. Rice) and tarnishing his reputation even further.

Even former Georgia wideout A.J. Green fell victim to the quick money grab, as he was suspended for four games in 2010 for selling an Independence Bowl jersey for $1,000.

It’s only a matter of time before the fires of controversy ignite another stake, setting ablaze both an individual’s amateur career, as well as a program’s reputation and quest for on-field glory.

Gurley’s fate for the remainder of his college playing days hasn’t been decided yet. If he is given another opportunity, let’s hope he has learned a valuable lesson. If he is done, he will simply take his talents to the next level. Either way, the NCAA’s archaic rules have cost the viewing public a chance at seeing a master performer practice his craft, making the real losers in this case the fans.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Niners plan to continue ‘MNF’ success against Rams

Consecutive wins have satiated the Jim Harbaugh detractors for the time being.

The embattled Harbaugh and his San Francisco 49ers will try to keep them at bay for a third straight time when they visit the struggling St. Louis Rams on “Monday Night Football.“

A 1-2 start had many projecting a Harbaugh-less future for San Francisco until consecutive 100-yard rushing games by veteran Frank Gore resulted in wins over Philadelphia and Kansas City.

Gore amassed 107 yards in a Week 5 win over Kansas City, while Phil Dawson made five field goals as the 49ers spoiled Alex Smith’s return to Northern California with a 22-17 victory.

Trailing by five, Smith and the Chiefs had a chance to win it, starting from their own 20 with 2:12 remaining. Niners cornerback Perrish Cox had other ideas, however, picking off the 2005 No. 1 overall pick to seal things.

Smith, of course, was San Francisco’s starting quarterback until he suffered a concussion in a game against St. Louis in Week 10 of the 2012 season. Colin Kaepernick took over from there and never gave the job back as Smith was eventually traded to Kansas City the following offseason.

Kaepernick completed 14-of-26 passes for 201 yards and one touchdown against the Chiefs, the 12th straight game that the Nevada product has recorded at least one touchdown pass.

Harbaugh, who has led the 49ers to three straight NFC Championship Game appearances, then addressed the rumors of discontent surrounding his relationship with his players as well as general manager Trent Baalke.

“It’s my job to love them, those players, those coaches, everybody in our organization,“ said Harbaugh. “It’s their job to love each other. They don’t need to respond in any other way in their job. The football team has done good, and the better you do, the more you do, the more people try to trip you up.“

49ers CEO Jed York then took to Twitter in an attempt to diffuse any potential controversy and support his coach, who has a 44-16-1 record (including the postseason).

“Jim is my coach,“ York wrote. “We are trying to win a SB (Super Bowl), not a personality or popularity contest. Any more questions?“

There shouldn’t be.

Harbaugh has never won less than 11 games in a season with the 49ers, a franchise that didn’t win more than eight in the eight years before he arrived to turn the team around.

“Everybody in the organization is doing their job,“ the often-surly Harbaugh said. “Everybody is working hard at the craft of helping us be the best we can possibly be as a football team, and that’s all you can ask of anybody. They’re doing their best, and nobody appreciates that like I do.“

The Rams have lost three of four to start the season, including a Week 5 setback in Philadelphia in which they nearly came all the way back from a 27- point deficit before ultimately losing 34-28.

For the Rams, while it obviously didn’t end the way quarterback Austin Davis would have liked, it was clear that the former afterthought moved another step closer to earning his bones as a legitimate NFL signal caller.

Davis clearly outplayed Nick Foles and nearly brought the Rams all the way back before consecutive drops by Austin Pettis in the final minute doomed what would have been one of the great comebacks in history.

The undrafted Southern Mississippi product completed 29-of-49 passes for 375 yards and three touchdowns as he led a Rams offense which outgained the Eagles’ high-powered outfit 466-352.

“I take my hat off to that guy to tell you the truth,“ Rams receiver Kenny Britt said when discussing his young QB. “Coming in as a young guy, stepping up each and every day and growing every time in the huddle, you can see his confidence go up. I can tell we will have a good year with him.“

Davis and Co. were ultimately undone by three turnovers and another big play by Philadelphia’s special teams unit, a blocked punt that was brought back for a TD in the first quarter.

“We just showed that week in and week out we constantly shoot ourselves in the foot,“ Rams star defensive end Robert Quinn said. “We have to eliminate those (mistakes) if we want to start putting Ws on the board. We do play hard.“

The 49ers lead the all-time series with their old divisional foes by the slimmest of margins, 63-62-3.

On Monday nights. however, San Francisco has been the far more successful team, compiling a 45-25 mark. St. Louis, on the other hand, is only 26-30 on the nationally televised showcase.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Now that’s he’s actually gotten a chance on the field, Davis has performed admirably in his first three starts, compiling passer ratings of 99.1 in Tampa and 98.0 against Dallas before trumping that against the Eagles by cracking the century mark at 103.7.

Granted that’s a small sample size but Sam Bradford only matched those kinds of numbers 10 times is his 49 starts with the Rams.

“For me mentally, the biggest thing is just to keep the same approach and keep going at it the way we’re doing it,“ Davis said.

Davis wasn’t perfect by any means against Philadelphia, especially early when he looked skittish in the pocket, lacked accuracy and failed to keep his eyes downfield when pressured. As he settled down, though, he continued to make plays and gave the Eagles all they could handle.

“He was calm and collected and just so focused on what he needed to do,“ Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. “He was not flustered at all. He took some hits and we have to get that corrected but he can overcome. He knows the position is difficult to play and he can overcome a mistake. I think that’s the mark of a fine young quarterback.“

He’ll be facing a much tougher defense against the 49ers, one that is second in the NFL, allowing just 282.8 yards per game despite the absences of star linebackers NaVorro Bowman (injury) and Aldon Smith (suspension). San Francisco also tends to take it away with a plus-five turnover ration, good for second in the conference.

That’s a daunting task for any young quarterback, never mind one with as little experience as Davis.

“I think we’re a good football team,“ said Davis. “The record is what it is, but we’re a couple plays here and there from being where we want to be. We’ve got to stay the course. I think we’re headed in the right direction.“

Offensively the 49ers are at their best when Gore and the running game is humming.

San Fran is third in the NFL with 145.0 rushing yards a game and a strong ground game gives Kaepernick easier reads, a key component in any week because the third-year signal caller still struggles with his progressions at times and is at his best when Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman cut the field in half for him and give him two options from high to low.

Conversely the Rams defense has struggled mightily against the run, surrendering 152.5 YPG, 29th in a 32-team league.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

Davis has been much better than anyone expected but this shapes up as a tough spot for him and the Rams. The 49ers have won six consecutive Monday-night games, outscoring opponents 164-49 in those efforts. Meanwhile, Kaepernick has never hasn’t lost a Monday start, compiling a 3-0 record and 126.8 passer rating with the extra day to prepare.

Predicted outcome: 49ers 27, Rams 17


►  Harbaugh hating in San Francisco

Professional football is supposed to be a results- oriented business.

Win or move on is the one stark and often harsh metric in which NFL coaches are graded upon.

Think Henry Hill in “Goodfellas,“ when explaining Paul Cicero’s management style.

“Oh, you had a fire? (expletive), pay me. Place got hit by lightning huh? (expletive), pay me.“

In the NFL, that might morph into:

“Oh, you had injuries? (expletive), did you win?. You’re a nice guy, huh? (expletive), did you win?“

San Francisco 49ers general manager Trent Baalke, however, has veered away from results-oriented or at least added a caveat by insisting that the unlikable Jim Harbaugh either get a softer edge or take what Baalke believes is a tired act out of Northern California.

A 1-2 start only fueled those projecting a Harbaugh-less future for San Francisco.

FOX Sports’ Jay Glazer created a media maelstrom last weekend by reporting that Harbaugh would coach through this season with the Niners, but even if he won the Super Bowl, would not be brought back in 2015.

Understand none of that was all that noteworthy, save for the fact about winning a Lombardi Trophy and still being jettisoned. It’s common knowledge in the NFL that virtually no one in the Niners organization likes Harbaugh and that includes most of his players and most assuredly Baalke, who actually tried to trade his coach to Cleveland in the offseason.

“It’s my job to love them, those players, those coaches, everybody in our organization,“ said Harbaugh. “It’s their job to love each other. They don’t need to respond in any other way in their job. The football team has done good, and the better you do, the more you do, the more people try to trip you up.“

To be fair one of those people trying to trip Harbaugh up is in the mirror when he wakes up. Anyone who has ever dealt with Harbaugh knows how surly he is and how difficult he can be at times.

Niners CEO Jed York even admitted Harbaugh has a difficult personality and “sometimes rubs people the wrong way.“

Add in the fact that Harbaugh is in the fourth year of a $25 million, five- year contract and you can see the writing on the wall. No one in a position of power in Santa Clara would be mourning if Harbaugh was to move on, even York, who to this point has defended the coach at every turn because this team remains a legitimate contender after answering that 1-2 start with two consecutive wins.

“Jim is my coach,“ York wrote on Twitter. “We are trying to win a SB (Super Bowl), not a personality or popularity contest. Any more questions?“

There shouldn’t be.

Harbaugh has a 44-16-1 record (including the postseason) with the 49ers and has taken the team to three consecutive NFC Championship Games. He has never won less than 11 games in a season for a franchise that didn’t win more than eight in the eight years before he arrived from Stanford to turn things around.

Does anyone remember what 49ers football was like with Dennis Erickson or Mike Nolan or Mike Singletary were running things?

There is a myth that women are biologically programmed to forget the pain of pregnancy so they will continue to reproduce. I’m beginning to believe the San Francisco faithful and higher-ups in the actual organization have that type of amnesia, often skipping over those lean years to reminisce about the halcyon days of Bill Walsh and George Seifert.

Success is by no means guaranteed for the 49ers and therein lies the problem with the plan of running Harbaugh out on a rail.

He’s not Erickson or Nolan or Singletary, he’s a damn good coach and a lot closer to Walsh and Seifert or any measuring scale.

The 49ers aren’t running a daycare and the 53 men in the locker room on Sunday’s would hardly be the first to dislike their boss.

Baalke tried to deflect the issue on his weekly radio show this week.

“Honestly this thing has been beat to death over and over again,“ Baalke said “Jim’s answered it. I’ve answered it. Jed’s tried to answer it. All we’re trying to here is win football games.

“As for our working relationship, it is what it is. Nothing Jim’s said or nothing I’ve said has been able to change the minds of certain people in the media. I can assure you one thing: we’re both on the same page when it comes to winning.“

The obvious answer here should be compromise.

The San Francisco brass needs to understand how important this coach has been to the organization’s success and Harbaugh himself needs to stop being an insufferable lout on a 24-7 basis.

At least one side of that equation is trying.

“Everybody in the organization is doing their job,“ Harbaugh said. “Everybody is working hard at the craft of helping us be the best we can possibly be as a football team, and that’s all you can ask of anybody. They’re doing their best, and nobody appreciates that like I do.“


►  Stewart questionable for Panthers

Carolina Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game at Cincinnati.

Stewart was a limited participant in practice for the second straight day on Friday. He missed the past two games with a knee sprain suffered against the Pittsburgh Steelers on September 21.

The news is not as promising for running back DeAngelo Williams, who will sit out a second straight game with an ankle injury he sustained against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 4.

Defensive end Charles Johnson (hip) and tight end Greg Olsen (ankle) are questionable.


►  Williams, Bradham among 7 Bills listed as questionable

Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams and linebacker Nigel Bradham are listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots.

Williams and Bradham both were limited in practice this week after missing last Sunday’s win over the Detroit Lions with knee injuries.

Running back Fred Jackson missed Friday’s session due to illness, but is considered questionable with an ankle injury.

Cornerback Ron Brooks (neck), safety Da’Norris Searcy (knee), linebacker Brandon Spikes (ribs) and safety Aaron Williams (wrist) are also questionable.

Wide receiver Marcus Easley (knee) and guard Chris Williams (back) have been ruled out.


►  Jacksonville RB Gerhart ruled out for Sunday

Jacksonville Jaguars running back Toby Gerhart has been ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans.

Gerhart practiced on Wednesday, but sat out Thursday and Friday with a foot injury he suffered in last week’s loss to Pittsburgh.

Head coach Gus Bradley said that the team would use a rotation at running back, with Storm Johnson, Denard Robinson and Jordan Todman all seeing time on the field.

Wide receivers Cecil Shorts III and Marqise Lee are probable. Lee missed the last three games with a hamstring injury, while Shorts missed last week’s game after aggravating a hamstring injury that sidelined him for the first two games of the season.


►  Jets’ Decker questionable to play against old club

New York Jets wide receiver Eric Decker is questionable for Sunday’s home game against his former team, the Denver Broncos.

Decker was limited in practice this week after sitting out last Sunday’s loss at San Diego with a troublesome hamstring that has slowed him this season.

Linebacker David Harris is also listed as questionable. He returned to practice on Friday as a limited participant after missing the previous two sessions with a shoulder injury.

Wide receiver David Nelson (ankle) and defensive back Darrin Walls (knee) are questionable, while safety Josh Bush (quadricep) is doubtful.


►  Titans QB Locker questionable

Tennessee Titans quarterback Jake Locker is questionable for Sunday’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars because of an injury to his throwing hand.

Locker left last Sunday’s loss to Cleveland after hitting his hand on a helmet while throwing a pass, and was held out of practice all week.

Should he be unable to play, Charlie Whitehurst will start under center.

Also, running back Shonn Greene is doubtful with a hamstring injury that has kept him out of practice for the past two days after he took limited snaps on Wednesday.


►  Redskins TE Reed, LB Orakpo questionable for Sunday

Washington Redskins tight end Jordan Reed is questionable for Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals due to a hamstring injury.

Reed, who has not played since Week 1, was limited in practice all week. He was also listed as questionable for Monday’s game against Seattle before being made inactive.

Linebacker Brian Orakpo is also questionable with an ankle injury. Orakpo, who exited Monday’s tilt with the injury, was limited in practice Friday after missing Wednesday and Thursday’s sessions.

Tackle Trent Williams (knee), safety Ryan Clark (ankle) and Perry Riley (knee) are also questionable.


►  Bengals’ Green Questionable, Not Expected To Play

A.J. Green is officially listed as questionable on the Cincinnati Bengals’ injury report, but the star wide receiver is not expected to play this Sunday against Carolina.

Green observed Friday’s practice in a walking boot. He left practice on Wednesday on a cart after aggravating an injury to his right big toe during warmups.

A three-time Pro Bowl selection, Green initially sustained the injury in the season opener at Baltimore. He was evaluated by a foot specialist on Thursday.

Wideout Marvin Jones (ankle), guard Kevin Zeitler (calf) and defensive tackle Brandon Thompson (knee) are doubtful. Linebacker Vontaze Burfict practiced fully all week and was termed probable to face the Panthers after missing two games with a concussion.




The Gilmer Free Press

►  Wizards F Humphries to miss 3-4 weeks

The Washington Wizards announced that Kris Humphries had finger surgery and will be sidelined three-to-four weeks.

Humphries underwent a procedure on Thursday to repair nerve damage in his right pinkie. He lacerated his hand on the rim in the second quarter of Monday’s preseason game at Chicago.

The 29-year-old forward has averaged 6.8 points and 5.5 rebounds in 627 career games. The Wizards acquired him from the Boston Celtics in July.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  American League Championship Series Game Result

Final Score: Kansas City 8. Baltimore 6 (10 innings)

The small-ball Royals flexed their muscles in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series. Naturally, it came in extra innings. Alex Gordon crushed a leadoff homer in the 10th and Mike Moustakas added the deciding two-run blast as Kansas City pulled out an 8-6 win over the Baltimore Orioles on a rainy Friday at Camden Yards. The Royals reached their first ALCS in 29 years thanks to three extra-inning wins, one against the Athletics in the wild-card game and two in their sweep of the MLB-best Angels. Their fourth set an MLB record for a single postseason. Gordon broke a 5-5 tie when he turned on a Darren O’Day fastball and sent a screaming line drive into the right-field seats for his first career postseason home run. Brian Matusz relieved O’Day and served up Moustakas’ third round-tripper of the postseason, which proved vital after Greg Holland gave up a run in Baltimore’s last at-bat. Delmon Young hit a pinch-hit, RBI single with two outs, and with runners on first and second, Nick Markakis represented the winning run at the plate. Holland, though, got Markakis to roll over on a pitch and send a grounder to second, escaping with his third save of these playoffs. O’Day (0-1) turned from hero to goat after working out of a bases-loaded jam in the ninth, and the Orioles will look to rebound Saturday in Game 2. The Royals will send rookie Yordano Ventura to the mound for a quick turnaround game at 4:07 PM (et), while Baltimore counters with Bud Norris.


►  Keys to winning the 2014 NLCS

For the fifth straight year either the San Francisco Giants or St. Louis Cardinals will be representing the National League at the World Series.

St. Louis eyes its second straight World Series appearance and its third in the last four years when it kicks off the best-of-seven NLCS versus the San Francisco Giants on Saturday at Busch Stadium.

While the Cardinals are in this round for the fourth straight year and the ninth time since 2000, the Giants are certainly no strangers either and are back in the NLCS for the third time in the last five years.

Since the wild card format came into play in 1995, more NLCS have been played with either the Giants, Cardinals or both (11 times) than not (9 times).

St. Louis, which won the NL Central with a 90-72 mark, made quick work of the NL West champion Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS, defeating all-world left- hander Clayton Kershaw twice in the series.

San Francisco, meanwhile, is back in this round for the seventh time after beating the NL’s best team, the Washington Nationals, in four games to win its seventh straight postseason series dating back to 2012.

The Giants, of course, also beat Pittsburgh in the one-game wild card showdown last week, marking their seventh straight win-or-go-home victory under Bruce Bochy.

The Giants took four of their seven meetings during the season with the Cardinals, outscoring them, 30-20. The teams, though, haven’t played since July 3.

San Francisco has played the Cardinals three other times in the playoffs. St. Louis edged the Giants in a thrilling seven-game series in 1987, but San Francisco has beaten the Cards both in 2002 and 2012.

As an introduction to this NLCS matchup, let’s take a look at the keys to winning the series for both clubs:

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

1. THE RETURN OF MIKE MORSE

San Francisco still struggled to score runs in the series win over the Nationals, managing just nine in the four-game set. And it only hit one home run.

However, San Francisco did score eight in its wild card win over the Pirates. But the offense has been a problem all season for the Giants, particularly down the stretch, as they mustered a mere 44 runs over the final 15 games of the season.

“That’s our way sometimes,“ Bochy said. “We scratch and paw for runs.“

The return of Mike Morse could help. Morse has had just two at-bats since August 31 because of a left oblique strain but is 100-percent after being left off the first two playoff rosters for the Giants.

Morse, who hit 30 home runs and knocked in 95 runs back in 2011 with the Nationals, only hit 16 home runs this season, but was still tied for third on the team, despite only playing in 131 games. He also knocked in 61 runs on the year.

2. MADISON BUMGARNER

As much as Morse may help this anemic lineup, the Giants will only go as far as Madison Bumgarner will take them.

If there was no Kershaw we may very well be talking about an NL Cy Young Award for Bumgarner, who set career-high marks in wins (18) and strikeouts (219) and pitched to a 2.98 ERA.

That has carried over into the postseason, as he tossed a four-hit shutout to beat the Pirates, but then absorbed the lone loss in the NLDS for the Giants, but only allowed two earned runs in seven innings.

He will be on regular rest if Bochy opts to use him in Game 1. And he should, as Bumgarner was also one of the best road pitchers in the league this season, going 11-4 with a 2.22 ERA in 18 starts away from AT&T Park. His shutout win in the wild card game also came as a visitor.

3. REST OF THE ROTATION

Everyone knows how good Bumgarner is, but the x-factor in this series, though, could be righty Ryan Vogelsong, who has become a very under-the-radar postseason stud for the Giants.

With his terrific outing in Tuesday’s clincher, Vogelsong became the only starting pitcher in MLB to allow one run or fewer in each of his first five career postseason starts (since 1903).

In fact, Vogelsong is just the second pitcher in postseason history to have five consecutive starts of allowing one or fewer runs (Curt Schilling: 6 starts from October 21, 1993 to October 31, 2001). He’s also pitched to a 1.19 ERA in five postseason starts, with the Giants going 5-0 in those outings.

Also figuring prominently will be a pair of right-handed veterans in Jake Peavy, who was dominant in a Game 1 win over the Nats, and Tim Hudson, who shook off a disappointing second half to throw seven innings of one-run ball in Game 2.

“Guys find some way to get it done,“ Bumgarner said. “It’s not always pretty, but regardless, we find a way to win.“

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

1. THE HEALTH OF ADAM WAINWRIGHT

The Cards are led by ace right-hander Adam Wainwright, who put forth another terrific season, going 20-9 with a 2.38 ERA.

Wainwright, though, didn’t pitch particularly well in his Game 1 start (6 runs, 11 hits, 6 1/3 innings) versus the Dodgers and his health has been called into question, as he has dealt with arm issues on-and-off throughout the season.

“There’s no question Waino has been fighting it,“ Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “I’ve not made that a secret, and neither has he. It’s all going to come down to how he feels. The likelihood of him saying he can’t go is very slim, but it is a possibility that something might not feel right.“

No pitcher in baseball has thrown more innings since the start of the 2013 season than Wainwright, who has logged 508 (including the postseason).

“He’s just been grinding,“ Matheny said. “And when you’ve been grinding, there are just days where you can’t get it right. He was having trouble that Game 1. He’s thrown a lot of innings. He’s had a lot of work. But that’s what your ace does.“

2. BULLPEN

Just for arguments sake, let’s say Wainwright isn’t 100-percent. If that’s the case 2013 postseason hero Michael Wacha may become a huge factor.

Wacha has been relegated to bullpen duty this postseason, but he could be Matheny’s fall-back if Wainwright gets into trouble early.

Regardless, having Wacha in the ‘pen only strengthens one of the strongest back ends in the majors with Carlos Martinez and first-time All-Star Pat Neshek setting the bridge to closer Trevor Rosenthal.

Rosenthal has continued to be a beast in October and has allowed just one earned run in 23 1/3 innings in his two playoff runs (19 games), while recording seven saves.

3. KEEP THE BATS GOING

Like the Giants, the Cardinals don’t hit a lot of home runs.

Nobody put up big power numbers for the Cardinals this season, as they ranked last in the NL with just 105 home runs. Shortstop Jhonny Peralta led the team with 21 home runs, but only three other players managed to hit more than 10.

That hasn’t been the case this postseason, especially for light-hitting third baseman and leadoff hitter Matt Carpenter, who had just eight home runs in a league-high 709 plate appearances during the regular season, but homered in each of the first three games against the Dodgers.

“I wouldn’t say it was a struggle, but I never really hit a stretch where I felt like I was really hot,“ Carpenter said. “I would rather take it now than during the regular season. This is when it matters.“

Carpenter, who was 6-for-17 with seven RBI in the NLDS, powered a Cardinals’ offense that has hit seven home runs in the playoffs.


►  Rounding Third: Breaking down the LCS

And then there were four.

And if you had these four at the start, well, you my friend could have made yourself a lot of money. Particularly in the American League.

In the American League we have the Kansas City Royals back in the American League Championship Series for the first time since winning it all in 1985, squaring off against the Baltimore Orioles, a team seeking its first World Series title since 1983.

Kansas City may have been a trendy preseason pick to reach the playoffs, but to get this far? Not even the most die-hard Royals fan could have seen this coming, especially since they were seven games back of the AL Central champion Detroit Tigers on July 24.

The Orioles reached the playoffs two years ago, but heading into the season they were viewed as, at best, the fourth best team in the AL East, let alone the league, behind the New York Yankees, defending champion Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays.

Looking back, that may have been an awful assessment.

Regardless, this series comes down to one thing. Can the Royals keep the Orioles in the ballpark?

Baltimore wins by hitting home runs. It hit a major league best 211 during the season and 47.8% of its runs this season came off of homers, the third highest%age in history.

The Tigers’ Cy Young triumvirate were unable to neutralize that in the ALDS, as the O’s scored seven of their 21 runs in the series via the home run. To be fair, nearly half of the runs Baltimore tallied in the ALDS came against a beleaguered Tigers bullpen.

That won’t happen against the Royals.

Kansas City’s staff gave up the third-fewest home runs in the league at 128. However, it has surrendered six in four postseason games. But, if the Royals can somehow get a lead to the three-headed bullpen monster of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland, it could be lights out for the Orioles.

That group combined for a 1.28 ERA and 258 strikeouts in 205 1/3 innings in the regular season.

It has been more of the same here in the postseason, as the Royals bullpen has accounted for three victories and has pitched to a 2.37 ERA. They have also fanned 21 batters in 19 innings.

Offensively, no team signified small ball more than Kansas City, which won 89 games this season thanks in large part to its ability to play defense and manufacture runs.

Kansas City may have ranked dead last in home runs during the regular season, but has enjoyed the luxury of going deep here in the postseason and won the first two games in Anaheim on the strength of two extra-inning homers.

Amazingly, the Royals have hit just as many homers this postseason (4) as the Orioles, a team that blasted 116 more than them during the regular season.

It will be interesting to see if Baltimore catcher Caleb Joseph can keep the Royals off the bases. KC led the league in stolen bases this season and has already swiped 12 bases this postseason. Joseph, who is hitless in his last 33 at-bats, led the AL by throwing out 40-percent of potential base stealers.

Baltimore’s lineup wasn’t shut down by the Tigers’ aces, but still, most of its damage was done against a bullpen that was nowhere near the caliber of the one it will face this series.

Still, I think the Orioles’ offense will continue to hit Kansas City pitching, starting pitching that is. Plus Baltimore’s starting staff is very underrated. Chris Tillman is really good and Bud Norris has been one of the best pitchers in baseball since the start of September.

Kansas City may have all the momentum and as exciting as it is, it’s hard to imagine the Royals being able to hang with the O’s from a scoring standpoint.

As far as the National League goes, it’s business as usual. The St. Louis Cardinals are into this round for the fourth straight season against the San Francisco Giants, who have won two of the last four Fall Classics.

This will be the fifth time that one of these teams will be representing the NL in the World Series. And for the fifth straight time the argument can be made that neither of these teams were the best the NL has to offer.

But they both just find ways to win.

Since the wild card format came into play in 1995, more NLCS have been played with either the Giants, Cardinals or both (11 times) than not (9 times).

St. Louis was able to beat Clayton Kershaw twice in the ALDS, but could be entering this series less than 100-percent, as there has been some speculation that ace Adam Wainwright is dealing with some arm issues.

St. Louis manager Mike Matheny insists Wainwright is healthy and he will be on the hill for Game 1.

Wainwright, though, didn’t pitch particularly well in his Game 1 start (6 runs, 11 hits, 6 1/3 innings) versus the Dodgers and his health has been called into question, as he has dealt with arm issues on-and-off throughout the season.

“There’s no question Waino has been fighting it,“ Matheny said. “I’ve not made that a secret, and neither has he. It’s all going to come down to how he feels. The likelihood of him saying he can’t go is very slim, but it is a possibility that something might not feel right.“

No pitcher in baseball has thrown more innings since the start of the 2013 season than Wainwright, who has logged 508 (including the postseason).

Can the Cardinals win without a healthy Wainwright? Well, yes, they just did. And they did so because they are set up real well behind him with John Lackey, Lance Lynn and Shelby Miller.

Plus it’s not exactly the Murders’ Row Yankees they will be facing either.

Actually neither team brings much to the table offensively.

St. Louis ranked dead last in the NL with 105 home runs, but it’s smacked seven in these playoffs. The Giants struggled to score runs toward the end of the season, managing just 44 runs over the final 15 games of the season, and only crossed the plate nine times in the series win over the Nationals.

The reason why the Giants will have a shot in this series is pitching, as it was the last two times they advanced out of this round to eventually win a World Series.

This time, though, it’s Madison Bumgarner leading the way. He’s as good as any pitcher in baseball and is capable of carrying a team on his back. Plus he has two wily veteran arms behind him in Jake Peavy and Tim Hudson, who just know how to get it done.

Still, the key to the Giants’ staff could be Ryan Vogelsong.

What?

Pay attention.

With his terrific outing in Tuesday’s clincher, Vogelsong became the only starting pitcher in MLB to allow one run or fewer in each of his first five career postseason starts (since 1903).

In fact, Vogelsong is just the second pitcher in postseason history to have five consecutive starts of allowing one or fewer runs (Curt Schilling: 6 starts from October 21, 1993 to October 31, 2001). He’s also pitched to a 1.19 ERA in five postseason starts, with the Giants going 5-0 in those outings.

Could there be more of an evenly matched LCS than this one? These two teams almost mirror each other and they know each over very well.

Neither hits a whole lot, they are both led by tremendous starting staffs, backed by two of the best catchers in baseball, and their bullpens are almost identical.

On paper, at full strength, this is a toss up. But, I don’t think St. Louis is at full strength. Wainwright is hurting. Something is up with that arm. So much so that Matheny hinted that he may have turned to Lynn in a potential Game 5 in the NLDS. Maybe Lackey steps up and fills the role of stopper for the Cards, but I have more faith in the Giants staff overall.

And, of course, I buy into the Giants even-year thing.

Buckle in, it’s going to be a wild week.

PREDICTIONS:

ORIOLES in SIX

GIANTS in SIX


►  Yankees re-sign Cashman to three-year deal

The New York Yankees have re-signed general manager Brian Cashman to a three-year contract.

Cashman’s previous three-year deal expired at the conclusion of the 2014 season, one which ended without a playoff appearance for the second straight year. The Yankees finished 84-78 this past season, 12 games behind first-place Baltimore in the American League East and four games behind Oakland for the second wild card berth.

New York hadn’t missed the postseason in consecutive years since a 12-year drought from 1982 through 1993, not including the 1994 campaign when the postseason was canceled because of a strike.

This year’s Yankee squad lost four of its original five members of the starting rotation to injury, but the pitching wasn’t the reason the Yankees missed the playoffs. A few of Cashman’s free-agent acquisitions from last winter struggled at the plate, as catcher Brian McCann and outfielder Carlos Beltran had subpar seasons, while Jacoby Ellsbury had only an average year.

Cashman’s best signing was Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, who led the staff with 13 wins in 20 starts despite missing two months with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament.

In addition, Cashman also obtained pitcher Brandon McCarthy, third baseman Chase Headley and infielder Martin Prado in mid-season trades. All three helped the Yankees stay in the playoff race until the final week of the season.

The Yankees will have a few holes to fill this winter, starting at shortstop in the wake of the retirement of Derek Jeter. Alex Rodriguez is set to return from a year-long suspension and closer David Robertson is set to become a free agent.

Cashman will enter his 18th season as Yankees GM in 2015 and has the third- longest tenure among current general managers, behind only San Francisco’s Brian Sabean and Oakland’s Billy Beane. He is the second-longest Yankees GM, behind only Ed Barrow, who directed the Yankees’ front office from October 1920 through February 1945.

The Yankees have a winning%age of .594 under Cashman with four World Series titles, six AL pennants, 12 division crowns and two wild card berths. He was also the assistant GM for the 1996 World Series championship team and moved into the top job in 1998 at the age of 30.


►  Brewers sticking with Roenicke as manager

The Milwaukee Brewers announced Friday that manager Ron Roenicke will return next season.

Roenicke’s club option for 2015 was exercised during spring training, but his job status came into question after a late-season collapse cost the Brewers a playoff spot.

The Brewers were 51-32 and led the National League Central by 6 1/2 games on June 28, but wound up finishing third in the division and six games back in the wild card race at 82-80.

Roenicke, 58, has compiled a 335-313 record during his four seasons at the helm. In his first year in 2011, he led the Brewers to a franchise-record 96 wins and a division title.

The news wasn’t as good for two members of Roenicke’s staff, as hitting coach Johnny Narron and first base/infield coach Garth Iorg were not retained.

“Over the course of the last few weeks, we have evaluated the work of Ron and his coaches and believe that this is the best course of action to take,“ Brewers president of baseball operations and general manager Doug Melvin said in a statement. “We appreciate the work that Johnny and Garth did for us through the years, and moves like these are never easy to make. We have already started reviewing our player personnel and will continue to address the factors that led to our disappointing finish to the season.“

Pitching coach Rick Kranitz, bench coach Jerry Narron, third base coach Ed Sedar, outfield coach John Shelby, bullpen coach Lee Tunnell and coach Mike Guerrero also will return in 2015.


►  Cards put Pierzynski on NLCS roster

Veteran catcher A.J. Pierzynski has been added to the St. Louis Cardinals’ 25-man roster for the National League Championship Series.

Pierzynski, a .300 career hitter with five homers in 100 postseason at-bats, will replace lefty reliever Sam Freeman on the active list for the NLCS, which begins Saturday at Busch Stadium.

The Cardinals still have southpaws Randy Choate and Marco Gonzales available out of the bullpen for their best-of-seven series with the San Francisco Giants, with Pierzynski giving the club an additional lefty bat off the bench as well as a third catcher along with Yadier Molina and Tony Cruz.

Adam Wainwright will take the mound for Saturday’s Game 1 and will be joined by fellow starting pitchers Lance Lynn, John Lackey and Shelby Miller on the 11-man staff. Closer Trevor Rosenthal, Choate, Gonzales, Seth Maness, Carlos Martinez, Pat Neshek and Michael Wacha will comprise the relief crew.

The rest of St. Louis’ position players will remain intact, with Matt Adams, Kolten Wong, Jhonny Peralta, Matt Carpenter, Daniel Descalso and Pete Kozma the infielders and Matt Holliday, Jon Jay, Randal Grichuk, Peter Bourjos and Oscar Taveras forming the outfield group.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Marussia entering only one car for Russian GP

Marussia Formula One Team revealed on Friday that it will field only one car, for Max Chilton, in this weekend’s inaugural Russian Grand Prix, doing so out of respect for the injured Jules Bianchi, who was involved in a horrifying accident last Sunday in Japan.

Bianchi remains in critical but stable condition in an intensive care unit at Mie General Medical Center in Yokkaichi, Japan after suffering a severe head injury during his crash in the closing laps of last Sunday’s rain-soaked Japanese Grand Prix. The 25-year-old Frenchman slid off course and collided with a recovery vehicle that was removing Adrian Sutil’s car after Sutil went off course and crashed into the barrier.

On Thursday, an official FIA (the governing body of F1) entry list had Alexander Rossi, an American, listed as the replacement driver for Bianchi. Rossi, a 23-year-old Auburn, California native, has been a test and reserve driver for Marussia since July. Marussia said that would it would announce its driver lineup for the Russian GP on Friday.

According to a statement from Marussia, “We have written to the (FIA) stewards of the meeting to inform them that we have withdrawn our second car. Notwithstanding the presence in Sochi of Alexander Rossi, the nominated official reserve driver for the 2014 Russian Grand Prix, the team feels strongly that fielding a single car, that of driver number 4, Max Chilton, is the appropriate course of action under the difficult circumstances of the weekend.

“Jules’ car crew have built a second car, which has been scrutineered and is ready to race, and this will remain on his side of the garage throughout the weekend. In support of Jules and his family, the team and its cars will carry the familiar #JB17 graphic, to ensure that, although Jules is not with us in Sochi this weekend, he is, nonetheless, racing on with the Marussia F1 Team.“

All F1 drivers, including Bianchi’s teammate, Chilton, will be racing with heavy hearts in Russia throughout the weekend.

“I don’t know how to put into words how truly devastated I am by what has happened to Jules,“ Bianchi said in a team statement. “The support from the F1 family has been incredible, and all we can do is be there to support Jules’ family at this difficult time. It is going to be a very emotional weekend for the whole Team, but we will try to get through it and keep praying for Jules.“



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Ryu leads by 2 in Kuala Lumpur

So Yeon Ryu carded a 6-under 65 on Friday and moved two strokes clear of the field at 11-under-par 131 after 36 holes of the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia.

Ryu picked up her third LPGA Tour win earlier this year at the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open.

Ayako Uehara fired an 8-under 63 in the second round and jumped into a share of second place at minus-9. She was joined there by Eun-Hee Ji (67), as well as Lydia Ko and Jodi Ewart Shadoff, who both shot 64 on Friday.

Pornanong Phatlum (67), Shanshan Feng (67) and Azahara Munoz (65) are tied for sixth place at 8-under-par 134, while Jenny Shin (68) and Chella Choi (66) are one shot further back at minus-7.

First-round leader Stacy Lewis managed an even-par 71 and she dropped into a share of 11th at minus-6.

Ryu started her round with a birdie on the second. After a par on No. 3, she poured in four consecutive birdie chances from the fourth to jump to 10-under.

The 2011 U.S. Women’s Open champion ran off four straight pars from the eighth, then extended her lead with birdies at 12 and 13.

Ryu faltered to a bogey on the par-4 14th to dip to minus-11, and ended there as she closed her round with four straight pars.

“I’m very suited for this golf course I think, especially front nine. I was 5- under through seven holes,“ Ryu said. “But the thing is it’s really hot today, so on the back nine my energy level was so low, my game wasn’t as good as compared to the front nine. But still, 66-65 is a good score under my belt, so I’m pretty happy with that.“

Uehara opened with a birdie at the first. She poured in four birdies in a 5- hole span from the fifth and made the turn at 6-under. Uehara posted her sixth birdie of the day at the 13th. She birdied two of the last three holes to close out a bogey-free 63.

“My putting was so good. I made many birdies and I had a chip-in, too. So good round today,“ Uehara stated.

Ji also had a bogey-free round. After a trio of pars to open her round, Ji drained three straight birdies from the fourth. Around the turn, she birdied the 12th to get to 9-under. Ji capped her round with six consecutive pars.

Ko had three birdies in the first six holes, then carded three birdies in a row from the 10th to jump up the leaderboard. She birdied the 15th to gain a share of second place.

“I think my ball-striking was pretty similar. I had a lot of good shots, but I left a lot out there,“ Ko said when comparing her first two rounds. “Today, I definitely holed a couple more putts. I feel like I’m playing solid enough. There are a couple of low scores out there and still two more days to go, so I’ve just got to concentrate on my game and really just hope for the best.“

Ewart Shadoff birdied the first and third to kick off her round. After stumbling to a bogey on the par-3 fifth, she birdied three of the next four holes to move to minus-6. Ewart Shadoff drained three birdies in a row from the 11th. She finished tied for second as she parred the final five holes.

NOTES: Ryu owns the 36-hole lead for the fifth time in her LPGA Tour career ... She won one of the previous four times she was in that position ... Ewart Shadoff’s 64 was a career-best on the LPGA Tour ... Defending champion Lexi Thompson stumbled to a 2-over 73 to slide to 2-over-par 144, which left her tied for 56th ... Line Vedel withdrew from the event, while Tiffany Joh was disqualified.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Goldencents to defend Dirt Mile crown

Goldencents will defend his crown in this year’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Santa Anita on Friday, October 31.

“That’s the plan,“ said Steve Rothblum, assistant to suspended trainer Doug O’Neill. “He’s going to run huge. I still think it’s probably a coin toss, but with all the horses coming to the Sprint, I think the (Dirt) Mile probably looks like the place he’s going to end up. The worst that can happen is he wins the Mile and is a repeat winner. If it were up to me, I’d go to the Classic. If we’re going to try something for his last hurrah, let’s do that.“

Owned by W C Racing and Glenn Sorgenstein, Goldencents was being considered for $1.5 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint at six furlongs until last Saturday’s nose defeat to Rich Tapestry in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship.

“It was the same race he ran last year right before he won the Breeders’ Cup (Dirt) Mile, so he’s ready. He’s definitely going on to the Breeders’ Cup,“ jockey Rafael Bejarano said after the second straight runner-up finish in the race.

Goldencents won the Pat O’Brien Stakes at Del Mar this summer with a new record of 1:20.99 for seven furlongs. He began his 2014 campaign with a second-place result to Palace Malice in the $1.25 million Met Mile on the Belmont Stakes program June 07. The colt followed with a runner-up finish to Big Macher at Del Mar in the Bing Crosby Stakes.

The 4-year-old, who will retire after the Breeders’ Cup, has six wins and seven seconds from 17 lifetime starts for $2,494,000.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Note to commissioners

To whom it may concern:

It has come to my attention that standard fantasy football needs to undergo an immediate and widespread change.

When potential voters go to the booth the first Tuesday of November, there is always the option of casting a “write in” vote. Why not the same option when hitting the waiver wire?

After all, I pretty much get the same feeling when seeing Bobby Rainey as the “best available” as I do when glancing down the list of politicians running for office.

Sure, a write in vote during a political election is pretty irrelevant, and the same could be said for attempting to pick up a guy outside the realm of the thousands of players available in a league. I’m pretty sure Brett Favre is still available in some formats.

I, however, am willing to take that risk. My write in waiver wire pickup is defensive end J. J. Watt.

Yes, I recognize standard leagues only have offensive scoring. No points would be rewarded for Watt’s 26 tackles, six passes defended and four sacks he has in six games.

But how is that any different than Darren Sproles? Standard scoring systems do not reward return yards, so Sproles’ 238 yards in the kicking game have gone to waste.

Sproles does indeed have a punt returned for a touchdown. Watt, though, returned a fumble for a touchdown on Thursday against the Colts. Watt also has an interception returned for a score and a touchdown reception on offense this year.

That’s right, Watt and Sproles each have three touchdowns in 2014. Watt also has the same amount of touchdowns as Matt Forte, LeSean McCoy, and Monte Ball ... combined.

The fact Watt can only score touchdowns makes him the epitome of the boom-or- bust players. Oh, don’t forget the 0.1 points he would be rewarded for his 1- yard touchdown grab.

Alright, I get it. Six points is not exactly the highest of ceilings for a boom-or-bust player, but chew on this for a second. With his touchdown alone, Watt outscored DeAndre Hopkins, Reggie Wayne, Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener in fantasy points Thursday.

I promise to only use him in the FLEX. Michael Crabtree is in that spot for me at the moment, and he has five fantasy points in the last two games added together.

For those reasons, I am proposing the “write in” system to be available for acquiring players on the waiver wire. We have seen greatness change the game of football.

J. J. Watt is changing the game of fantasy football.

The Gilmer Free Press


SATURDAY, OCTOBER 11, 2014


Major League Baseball - Playoffs
Kansas City at Baltimore, 4:07 PM - TBS
San Francisco at St. Louis, 8:07 PM - FOX


National Basketball Association - Preseason
San Antonio at Istanbul, 12:00 PM - NBA TV
Cleveland vs. Miami, 5:00 PM - SportsTime Ohio, ESPNews
New York vs. Boston, 7:30 PM - MSG2, CSN-New England
Chicago at Milwaukee, 8:30 PM - WGN (America), NBA TV


National Hockey League
Anaheim at Detroit, 7:00 PM - FS-Prime Ticket, Detroit, DSS
Washington at Boston, 7:00 PM - FX-CA, CSN-DC, NESN, DSS
NY Rangers at Columbus, 7:00 PM - MSG, FS-Ohio, DSS
Pittsburgh at Toronto, 7:00 PM - CBC, ROOT-Pittsburgh, NHL Network, DSS
Ottawa at Tampa Bay, 7:00 PM - SN1, SunSports, DSS
New Jersey at Florida, 7:00 PM - MSG+2, FS-Florida, DSS
Montreal at Philadelphia, 7:00 PM - City TV, TVA, CSN-Philadelphia, DSS
Carolina at NY Islanders, 7:00 PM - SportSouth, MSG+
Calgary at St. Louis, 7:00 PM - SN360, FS-Midwest, DSS
Dallas at Nashville, 8:00 PM - FS-Southwest, Tennessee, DSS
Buffalo at Chicago, 8:30 PM - MSG-Buffalo, CSN-Chicago, DSS
Minnesota at Colorado, 9:00 PM - FS-North, Altitude, DSS
Los Angeles at Arizona, 9:00 PM - FS-West, Arizona, DSS
Winnipeg at San Jose, 10:00 PM - SN, CSN-California, DSS
Edmonton at Vancouver, 10:00 PM - CBC, TVA Sports, DSS


Canadian Football League
Ottawa at British Columbia, 10:00 PM - TSN, ESPN3.com


College Football
Cincinnati at Miami-Florida, 12:00 PM - RSN, MSG, NESN, ROOT-NW, Pitt, DSS
Rice at Army, 12:00 PM - CBSSN
Florida State at Syracuse, 12:00 PM - ESPN
ULM at Kentucky, 12:00 PM - SEC Network
Northwestern at Minnesota, 12:00 PM - Big Ten Network
Middle Tennessee at Marshall, 12:00 PM - FSN, MSG+, ROOT-RM, SportSouth
West Virginia at Texas Tech, 12:00 PM - FS1
Illinois at Wisconsin, 12:00 PM - ESPN 2
Indiana at Iowa, 12:00 PM - Big Ten Network
Tulsa at Temple, 12:00 PM - ESPNews
Georgia at Missouri, 12:00 PM - CBS
Texas vs. Oklahoma, 12:00 PM - ABC
Duke at Georgia Tech, 12:30 PM - ACC Network, ESPN3.com, DSS
Towson at James Madison, 12:30 PM - CSN-Baltimore, Houston, California, SNY
Buffalo at Eastern Mich, 1:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Duquesne at Central Connecticut State, 1:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Cornell at Harvard, 1:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Columbia at Monmouth, 1:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Bowling Green at Ohio U, 2:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Arkansas State at Georgia State, 2:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Miami-Ohio at Akron, 2:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Massachusetts at Kent State, 2:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Southern Ill at North Dakota State, 2:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Coastal Carolina at Presbyterian, 2:00 PM - ESPN3.com
New Mexico St at Troy, 3:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Western Mich at Ball State, 3:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Illinois State at Indiana State, 3:00 PM - CSN-Chicago
Jacksonville State at Tennessee State, 3:00 PM - ESPN3.com
TCU at Baylor, 3:30 PM - ESPN 2
Toledo at Iowa State, 3:30 PM - Mediacom Cable, Cyclones.tv
Va Military at Navy, 3:30 PM - CBSSN
North Carolina at Notre Dame, 3:30 PM - NBC
North Texas at UAB, 3:30 PM - Sinclair, ASN
Oregon at UCLA, 3:30 PM - FOX
Louisville at Clemson, 3:30 PM - ESPN U
Michigan State at Purdue, 3:30 PM - ABC
Auburn at Miss State, 3:30 PM - CBS
Boston College at NC State, 3:30 PM - RSN, NESN, CSN, ROOT-NW, Pitt, DSS
Liberty at Appalachian St, 3:30 PM - ESPN3.com
William & Mary at New Hampshire, 3:30 PM - NBCSN
Wofford at Western Carolina, 3:30 PM - ESPN3.com
Oklahoma State at Kansas, 4:00 PM - FS1
Chattanooga at Tennessee, 4:00 PM - SEC Network
Austin Peay at Mercer, 4:00 PM - ESPN3.com
McNeese State at Sam Houston St, 4:00 PM - Southland TV, Altitude, ESPN3.com
Northern Iowa at South Dakota, 4:00 PM - Missouri Valley TV, ESPN3.com
Central Mich at Northern Ill, 5:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Alabama at Arkansas, 6:00 PM - ESPN
Washington at California, 6:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
Idaho at Ga Southern, 6:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Houston at Memphis, 7:00 PM - CBSSN
Penn State at Michigan, 7:00 PM - ESPN
East Carolina at So Florida, 7:00 PM - ESPN U
FIU at TX-San Antonio, 7:00 PM - FCS
Incarnate Word at Northwestern State, 7:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Maine at Stony Brook, 7:00 PM - American Sports Network
Montana State at UC Davis, 7:00 PM - ROOT-Northwest, Rocky Mountain
LSU at Florida, 7:30 PM - SEC Network
Char Southern at Vanderbilt, 7:30 PM - FS-Detroit, Southwest, SportSouth, DSS
Connecticut at Tulane, 8:00 PM - ESPNews
Old Dominion at Texas-El Paso, 8:00 PM - MyTVZ33, Sinclair
Ole Miss at Texas A&M, 9:00 PM - ESPN
Air Force at Utah State, 10:15 PM - ESPN U
Colorado State at Nevada, 10:30 PM - CBSSN
USC at Arizona, 10:30 PM - ESPN 2
Wyoming at Hawaii, 11:59 PM - ROOT-Rocky Mountain, Oceanic PPV


Major League Soccer
New England at Montreal, 4:00 PM - CSN-New England, RDS, TSN2, DSS
Toronto FC at Red Bull New York, 7:00 PM - TSN, MSG (Delayed), DSS
Columbus at Philadelphia, 7:00 PM - Time Warner-Ohio, TCN-Philadelphia, DSS
San Jose at Real Salt Lake, 9:30 PM - CW30, CSN-Bay, DSS
Colorado at Chivas USA, 10:30 PM - Altitude2, TWC-Desportes, DSS


International Soccer
Brazil vs. Argentina, 8:00 AM - beIN Sport
DR Congo vs. Ivory Coast, 10:25 AM - beIN Sport
Sudan vs. Nigeria, 12:55 PM - beIN Sport
Guinea vs. Ghana, 2:55 PM - beIN Sport


Golf
EUROPEAN - Portugal Masters, 8:00 AM - Golf Channel
CHAMPIONS - SAS Championship, 2:30 PM - Golf Channel
PGA - Frys.com Open, 5:00 PM - Golf Channel
LPGA - Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia, 11:30 PM - Golf Channel


Auto Racing
FORMULA ONE - Russian Grand Prix qualifying, 7:00 AM - NBCSN
SPRINT CUP - Bank of America 500, 7:30 PM - ABC


Tennis
ATP - Shanghai, 4:30 AM - Tennis Channel
ATP - Shanghai, 8:00 AM - Tennis Channel

Sports News

The Gilmer Free Press


The Gilmer Free Press

►  Roane County take golf state championships

Wheeling Park, Roane County and Charleston Catholic all took home state championships on Wednesday as state high school golf championship wrapped up from the Jones Course at Oglebay Resort.

For Charleston Catholic, it’s a record fourth straight Class A title.

Roane County has now won three straight in Class AA, while Wheeling Park has won two straight in AAA.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Texas Tech’s 121st-ranked run defense hasn’t stopped anyone this season

West Virginia coaches doled out 640 pounds’ worth of Offensive Team Champion praise this week, splitting the award between guards Mark Glowinski and Quinton Spain for their blocking in the 33-14 win over Kansas.

“It’s about time,” Spain joked Tuesday. “You feel like all that hard work is paying off.”

Dana Holgorsen certainly noticed, crediting the senior linemen for “playing at a different level.”

After running for 255 yards against the Jayhawks and averaging 6.1 per carry, West Virginia (3-2, 1-1) now encounters the Big 12′s softest rushing defense. Texas Tech (2-3, 0-2) forced out defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt on September 18 after he reportedly came to the football facility under the influence of an unknown substance. That strange scenario followed Tech giving up 438 yards on the ground and seven rushing scores in a 49-28 home loss to Arkansas.

Earlier in the season in a 30-26 close call at UTEP, the Red Raiders allowed 277 yards running and 5.3 per attempt. Since Mike Smith took over as interim coordinator, Texas Tech has been marginally better against the run, though Oklahoma State and Kansas State responded by averaging 330 yards through the air with a combined eight touchdown passes.

The Red Raiders’ rush defense still allows 257 yards per game and has surrendered 17 touchdowns. Both stats rank 121st out of 125 FBS teams.

Claymation: H-back Cody Clay was a crucial contributor to West Virginia’s rushing success against Kansas, winning most of the physical battles against All-Big 12 linebacker Ben Heeney.

“He really took the linebacker No. 31 out of the game,” said Mountaineers running backs coach JaJuan Seider. “That guy was talking throughout the week about how they were going to come here and get a win, and you know we hear everything.

“I wanted Cody to physically kick his butt the whole game. I said ‘I don’t care if you don’t catch a pass, I want you to wear him out.’ And I thought Cody was the most physical that I’ve seen him in the last two years I’ve been coaching.”

Heeney made six tackles, about half his average entering the game.

“I can’t say enough about Cody Clay,” Holgorsen said Tuesday. “He plays with tremendous effort and had his best game to date last week for sure. You could have easily gave him the player of the week.”

Coaches crack up over WV wrestlemania: The YouTube video of West Virginia players engaging in a tag-team free-for-all seemed to go over well with the staff.

“I kind of got a kick out of it,” said defensive coordinator Tony Gibson, who had no idea the locker room held such entertainment until he saw the video making viral rounds. “I go through the locker room and make sure the kids are good, but obviously they’re not going to do that in front of us.

“It was a good laugh. It shows the guys like each other, and at least they’re hanging out and spending time together. I don’t know if it was quality time, but at lead they were spending time.”

Early buzz surrounding the video had Seider worried, until scenes of fake roundhouse punches, crutch-whipping and one player being dumped into a laundry cart ultimately left him giggling.

“At first you’re always cautious, like ‘Aw man, what do have we to deal with now? Dana’s fixing to call us in,’” he said. “But it shows why we are close, why we have a good locker room.

“I can’t wait for Part II when they bring The Undertaker out. I told Big Mike (Calicchio) he’s going to be Undertaker, because that guy’s retiring. Mike can take that role.”


►  Worley pleads no contest to assualt charge; expects 6-month suspended sentence

West Virginia suspended cornerback Daryl Worley has agreed to plead no contest to misdemeanor assault after a nightclub altercation with a woman on September 14.

Prosecutors recommended a six-month jail term but did not oppose the defense’s request for a suspended sentence with Worley given unsupervised probation, which was accepted by the court.

Mountaineers coach Dana Holgorsen said Wednesday afternoon that he “fully reinstated Daryl Worley to our football program,” presumably clearing the way for Worley to play in Saturday’s game at Texas Tech.

More from Holgorsen:

“As I have said many times, we have a high standard of conduct that we expect our student-athletes and our coaches to live up to and, in this instance, Daryl failed to meet those expectations. However, since arriving in Morgantown, Daryl has done many good things and many things right, on and off the field, and I am confident that he will be a better man and teammate moving forward.”

Worley had missed West Virginia’s last two games after being arrested on an original charge of misdemeanor battery, stemming from the incident at the Lux nightclub in downtown Morgantown.

The altercation occurred hours after West Virginia returned from defeating Maryland 40-37. Police were called to the 18-and-up nightclub after Worley allegedly grabbed a young woman by the throat and shoved her to the ground. Investigators said the bar’s surveillance video confirmed the victim’s account.

Worley’s attorney Dave Jecklin reiterated to MetroNews on Wednesday that Worley grabbed the woman in an effort to protect his girlfriend:

“Mr. Worley reacted to a perceived threat to his girlfriend. He attempted to break up what he believed to be a developing altercation between the young lady and his girlfriend before any physical contact occurred between the ladies. The young lady approached Mr. Worley from behind, which led to him turning around and reacting to a perceived threat to his girlfriend and forcibly pushed the young lady back with his hands through the crowd to the ground.”

Jecklin said the player “is sorry about how he reacted and that the entire incident occurred.”



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Six weeks into the season, the numbers are piling up for Marshall and show

The Herd is 5-0 and crushed the opposition by an average of 31.8 points per game through the first five games. Since the beginning of the season I’ve been trying to analyze what I have seen.

Is this a good team playing bad competition or is this just a great football team that is really that much better than the opposition?

I believe it is the latter. That is mainly because six weeks into the season we have had a chance get a sample of Marshall’s opponents against other teams. As it turns out some teams are better than expected and others are worse. For example, Marshall toasted Akron 48-17. But in the Zips other four games, they have allowed just 38 points and that includes a close game with Penn State and a win over Pitt. In fact, Akron has held opponents to 10 points or less in three of its five games this year.

Say what you will about ODU but Monarch’s quarterback Taylor Heinicke threw for over 300 yards against N.C. State and the Monarchs had a chance against the Wolfpack with four minutes to go in the game. Marshall held Heinicke to just 85 yards on Saturday.

We’ll learn more about this team this week. Middle Tennessee sliced through Marshall’s defense with ease last year. This season, the Blue Raiders are 3-0 in league play and are scoring 38.3 points per game and averaging 458 yards a game.

Young talent looks promising
Herd fans are getting a sneak peek at some of the future stars for the Herd this season. Angelo Jean-Louis has shown his athletic ability as his reps at outside receiver have increased. Deon-Tay McManus got in the act this weekend with his first career touchdown versus Old Dominion. Ryan Yuracheck has also shown promise at tight end. On the other side of the players such as Antavious Rowe and Tomell One have made significant contributions.

The future is bright.

Numbers can be deceiving
If you just look at the box score and didn’t watch the game you might think Rakeem Cato had an “off” game against ODU. Cato threw for 198 yards and was picked off twice. That snapped a streak of 32-consecutive games in which Cato threw for more than 200+ yards. However, the first interception was iffy at best. It appeared from replays the ball hit the turf before Christian Bynum got his hands under. The second pick ricocheted off of Tommy Shuler’s shoulder pads, a ball he catches 99% of the time. Otherwise he was on the mark.

National attention
It’s getting hard for top 25 voters to ignore the Herd. The numbers are staggering. Marshall leads the nation in total offense, has punted just 13 times and Devon Johnson is eighth in the country with 136 yards rushing per game. The Herd is knocking on the door of the top 25 and had it not been for a letdown in the third quarter against Miami (OH), they may already be there.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  TCU visits Baylor in battle of unbeatens

A showdown between undefeated teams in the Big 12 Conference takes place on Saturday afternoon, as the ninth-ranked TCU Horned Frogs come calling on the fifth-ranked Baylor Bears.

TCU is fresh off its biggest win since making the move to the Big 12 a couple of seasons ago, as coach Gary Patterson’s squad derailed No. 4 Oklahoma’s national title aspirations with a 37-33 victory in Fort Worth last weekend. It was the fourth win of the season for the Horned Frogs, their third at home, and following this contest they will return to Amon G. Carter Stadium for a pair of bouts against league foes Oklahoma State and Texas Tech.

Baylor comes in sporting a 5-0 record, and has won its first two Big 12 tests by taking down Iowa State (49-28) and Texas (28-7). The Bears, who are the defending Big 12 champs, have won 12 straight home games, including their first two at the brand new McLane Stadium this year. Following this clash, BU will alternate road and home games over its final six outings.

The series between these two Lone Star State rivals is knotted at 51-51-7, and TCU has won four of the last six meetings dating back to 1995.

TCU and Baylor rank atop the Big 12, and among the national leaders in several statistical categories, not the least of which is scoring offense (TCU 42.8 ppg, BU 51.0 ppg) and scoring defense (TCU 13.5 ppg, BU 12.4 ppg).

Both teams are equally proficient in either mode of attack, with TCU averaging 196.2 ypg on the ground and another 320 ypg through the air. Quarterback Trevone Boykin is a 61.5% passer, who has thrown for 1,176 yards, 10 touchdowns and only two interceptions. Five different players have double- digit catches on the season, led by Josh Dotson with 19 grabs for 212 yards and three scores. Boykin is also the club’s leading rusher, having amassed 260 yards on 51 carries, while B.J. Catalon has 220 yards on 46 totes. The two have combined for seven of the team’s nine rushing TDs.

Defensively, TCU is led by Paul Dawson and his 37 tackles, although Marcus Mallett is hot on his heels with 36. Dawson also has three fumble recoveries and a pair of INTs, as does Chris Hackett, the team logging a total of 12 takeaways. Overall, the Frogs are yielding just 106.8 ypg via the run and 172.5 ypg by way of the pass, and foes have scored only two TDs through the air. TCU has been exceptional in crunch time, allowing only 28% of the opposition’s third-down opportunities to be converted successfully.

Boykin threw for 318 yards and two TDs to help lead TCU past Oklahoma last Saturday, as the Horned Frogs rolled up 469 yards of total offense. Boykin added 77 yards on 22 carries, while Catalon tacked on 48 yards and a score on only 11 attempts. He also had a receiving TD. Dotson caught a team-high six passes for 76 yards, while Kolby Listenbee turned his five grabs into 103 yards.

Hackett, Dawson and Mallett all recorded double-digit tackles in the game, and the first two also had INTs. Dawson returned his 41 yards for a TD at the beginning of the fourth quarter to put the Frogs ahead to stay. It was actually the second defensive TD in the game for TCU, which got a fumble recovery less than five minutes in by Cliff Murphy. The Sooners wound up with 461 total yards, and the two teams combined for five turnovers, 19 penalties and a dozen punts.

While obviously pleased with the outcome against Oklahoma, Patterson tried to downplay the significance as his team prepared for the challenges ahead.

“We’re 4-0, 1-0 in the conference. We’ll get ready for Baylor, then we’ll get ready for Oklahoma State and then we’ll get ready for Texas Tech. Right now, we’re going to get ready for Baylor.“

Baylor has its own standout signal caller in Bryce Petty, the near-60% passer who has thrown for 1,024 yards, nine TDs and only one INT. Also helping the Bears to the highest scoring average in the FBS is talented RB Shock Linwood, he of 449 yards and eight TDs. KD Cannon is the team’s top receiver with 24 grabs for 527 yards and five scores, while Jay Lee has turned his 19 receptions into 294 yards and four TDs. In all, six players have at least 10 catches and four have multiple receiving TDs.

As good as the Baylor offense has been, the defense has kept pace in allowing just 102 ypg on the ground and 165.2 ypg through the air. Opponents are moving the chains on third down a mere 31% of the time, while the Bears have allowed only seven visits to the red zone. Bryce Hager continues to pace the unit with 29 tackles, while three others have at least 21. Orion Stewart has three picks, and Xavien Howard two, the team as a whole logging just nine takeaways. The Bears have recorded 19 sacks, with Shawn Oakman being credited with five of them.

The Baylor-Texas game was close in the first half, with the Bears leading only 7-0 at intermission. After the break however, BU scored 21 points to seal the deal, and it nearly pitched a shutout save for a late TD scored by the Longhorns. Petty was anything but his usual self, as he completed only 7-of-22 passes for 111 yards, although he did have a couple of scoring strikes. He was sacked three times, but even that stat didn’t take away from the outstanding effort of Linwood and the Baylor rushing attack. Linwood tallied 148 yards and a TD on 28 carries, with the team putting forth a collective effort that resulted in 278 yards on the ground. Antwan Goodley was the leading receiver with four catches for 69 yards and a score.

Texas tallied 190 rushing yards, but only 144 passing, as the Baylor defense stood tall nearly the entire game. Stewart picked off a pair of passes and the only score of the opening half came on a blocked field goal return of 62 yards by the Bears’ Terrell Burt. Hager posted eight stops to lead the way.

They aren’t always going to be pretty, but a win is a win and Baylor head coach Art Briles is happy his team came out on top last week. He compared last year’s Big 12 championship team to this group.

“I think we are a better team than last year and that’s just the bottom line. We are not where we need to be or have to be to have a chance to win the conference again, but I do think we are a better football team than we were a year ago at this time.“


►  Texas and Oklahoma add another chapter to bitter rivalry

The latest installment of the Red River Showdown takes place this Saturday, as Big 12 Conference rivals Texas and Oklahoma square off at the Cotton Bowl.

Texas comes in on the heels of a 28-7 home loss to No. 7 Baylor, and this bout marks the team’s third against a ranked opponent already this season—a 20-17 loss to No. 12 UCLA on September 13 being the other. The Longhorns also suffered a 41-7 setback to BYU, which has spent time in the Top-25 this season, on their ledger. The team does have a conference win under its belt, having blanked Kansas on the road, 23-0, on September 27. Texas has lost five straight to ranked foes, and is just 4-17 against the AP Top-25 dating back to 2010.

Oklahoma had high hopes of not only challenging for the Big 12 title this season, but to also reach the inaugural College Football Playoff, but the 11th-ranked Sooners suffered their first loss last weekend in a 37-33 final at No. 25 TCU. The setback snapped an eight-game win streak for the Sooners, and they will be trying to continue their recent dominance of unranked foes which they’ve beaten seven straight times and in 22 of the last 23 meetings overall.

Besides bragging rights, up for grabs in this game are both the Golden Hat and Governors’ trophies.

Texas leads the all-time series with Oklahoma, 60-43-5, and the ‘Horns shocked the Sooners in last year’s tussle, 36-20.

With a record below .500, it’s not surprising that Texas ranks among the worst offensive teams in the Big 12. Currently, the team ranks eighth in rushing (134.4 ypg), and ninth in scoring (18.4 ppg), passing (184.8 ypg) and total offense (319.2 ypg).

The team’s offensive standouts, while certainly not plentiful, include running backs Johnathan Gray and Malcolm Brown, who have combined for 547 yards and three TDs, quarterback Tyrone Swoopes (79-of-133, 734 yards, five TDs, three INTs) and receivers Jaxon Shipley (29 receptions, 245 yards) and John Harris (26 receptions, 370 yards, four TDs).

Defensively, the Longhorns have performed much better in yielding only 19.2 points and 333.6 yards per contest—both of which rank them in the top-four. Their strength has been in defending the pass, as foes are generating just 134.6 ypg (No. 1 in the conference) and have scored only four touchdowns via that mode of attack.

Jordan Hicks paces the UT defense with 69 tackles, and he is followed closely by Steve Edmond with 65. No other player has more than 33 stops. Collectively, the unit has amassed a league-leading 20 sacks, with Edmond and Malcom Brown recording 3.5 apiece. Hicks has two picks, the team logging nine INTs but only two fumble recoveries to this point.

Texas was held in check by a dominant Baylor defense last week, tallying only 334 yards of total offense and failing to score a single point until Gray ran one in from two yards out with only 2:14 remaining in the fourth quarter. Gray finished with 79 yards on 12 carries, while Brown added 55 yards and Swoopes 40 more. In terms of the passing game, Swoopes hit fewer than half of his 34 attempts for only 144 yards with no TDs and a pair of INTs. No player caught more than three balls, and none had more than 34 receiving yards.

Once again, the Longhorns stood tall in the face of a pretty daunting passing attack, as they held Bryce Petty and the Baylor offense to only 111 yards. They did allow a pair of aerial scores, and where they really struggled was in stopping the Bears’ punishing rushing attack, which accounted for 278 yards on a whopping 60 carries. Edmond was a man possessed as he posted a staggering 19 tackles, 14 of which were solo efforts, and included in his total were a pair of sacks.

Texas head coach Charlie Strong spoke after the loss about his team’s inability to put forth a complete effort for all four quarters.

“What’s key for us, we just have to learn how to win. We don’t know how to win yet. We don’t know how to finish.“

The Big 12’s leading rusher wears an Oklahoma uniform, as Samaje Perine has rumbled his way to 506 yards and eight TDs. Keith Ford (foot injury) has only played in three games, but his 64.7 ypg ranks him in the top-eight in the league. He has found the end zone five times. As for the Sooners’ aerial pursuits, Trevor Knight has found success on only 54.5% of his passes, but for 1,374 yards. His TD-to-INT ratio needs vast improvement however, as he has tossed as many scoring strikes as picks (five). Sterling Shepard has 30 catches for 651 yards and three TDs, while Neal Durron has turned his 21 grabs into 282 yards.

Oklahoma is scoring 42.4 ppg while permitting 20.6 ppg, thus affording coach Bob Stoops’ club the luxury of being aggressive when the opposition has the ball. As it is, the Sooners give up just 109.6 ypg on the ground, but they have been victimized for a league-worst 264 ypg passing. They do a nice job protecting the football while at the same time taking it away from the opposition (Big 12-best +7 turnover margin). OU also performs well with its back to the goal line, ranking second in the conference in red zone defense (.714). Dominique Alexander paces the unit with 38 tackles, while Eric Striker and Quentin Hayes have combined for 6.5 sacks.

In what was a close game, Oklahoma churned out 461 yards of total offense compared to 469 for TCU. Knight threw for 309 yards and TD, but completed fewer than half of his passes and was picked off twice, one of which was returned for a TD early in the fourth quarter—which turned out to be the game-winning score for the Horned Frogs. Shepard had a monster game in turning seven catches into 215 yards and a TD, while Perine picked up 87 yards and crossed the goal line three times. Knight also got in on the act with his legs, accounting for 61 yards on 13 carries.

Once again, the Sooners played well against the run last week, yielding fewer than four yards per carry, although the Frogs did score a pair of TDs on the ground. As for TCU QB Trevone Boykin, he threw for 318 yards and two scores, but was picked off once and sacked twice, both times by Striker. Jordan Evans led the OU stand with 10 tackles, eight of which were unassisted.

Despite the disappointing outcome, Stoops gave credit to both teams for fighting to the very end.

“I have no qualms about how our team played, we came in here ready to play. The bottom line is they made plays and we didn’t. They outperformed us in different areas. We had our opportunities and chances late in the second half and we couldn’t take advantage of it. I give TCU credit. We made too many mistakes.They just beat us.“



The Gilmer Free Press

►  NFL owners approve sale of Bills

NFL owners have unanimously approved the sale of the Buffalo Bills.

The Wilson family trust reached an agreement to sell the franchise to Terry and Kim Pegula back in September. The Pegulas also own the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres.

Reports last month indicated the purchase price to be in the neighborhood of $1.4 billion.

The Pegulas will become just the second owners of the Bills, who were founded by Ralph Wilson Jr. as a charter member of the American Football League in 1960.

Wilson died in March at the age of 95 and the family put the club up for sale.


►  Peterson’s trial date set for December

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson made his first court appearance Wednesday on a charge of child abuse and tentatively has a trial date of December 01.

Peterson, who is on an NFL exempt list while the court proceedings continue, did not enter a plea Wednesday, although defense attorney Rusty Hardin indicated that the former NFL MVP is expected to plead not guilty.

The felony charge carries a possible two-year prison sentence.

Hardin briefly spoke to the media outside the court room Wednesday, with Peterson behind him, and said he asked for a trial to begin as quickly as possible.

However, the noted attorney said the prosecution has asked for Judge Kelly Case to be recused from the case after making alleged comments about the lawyers. A hearing on whether a new judge will be assigned is set for November 4.

Peterson is 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.

“This is a really good man that I’m proud to represent,“ said Hardin on Wednesday, adding that Peterson has been advised not to talk about the case. “This is a case about parenting decisions. He loves his children very much.

“Adrian is chomping at the bit to publicly talk. ... Let’s don’t rush to judgment. There’s always another side.“

Hardin, who represented Roger Clemens in the pitcher’s 2012 perjury trial on charges that he lied to Congress about taking performance-enhancing drugs, would not answer specific questions Wednesday and took the Bill Belichick route, referencing the New England Patriots coach from one of his recent press conferences about moving forward

“Instead of we’re on to Cincinnati, we’re on to trial,“ Hardin mused.

Peterson was initially deactivated prior to a Week 2 game against New England after being indicted in September, then was reinstated by the team the following Monday.

However, after backlash from sponsors, fans and the Minnesota government, the Vikings reversed course and placed the star running back on the NFL’s exempt/commissioner’s permission list. He is being paid despite not playing.


►  49ers bring back Ventrone, release Osgood

The San Francisco 49ers have signed special-teams ace Bubba Ventrone to a one-year contract.

Ventrone played in all 16 games and three postseason contests with the 49ers in 2013. He registered 15 special teams tackles and recovered a fumble.

The 31-year-old Ventrone, who is listed as a safety, has appeared in 89 NFL games with the Patriots, Browns and 49ers.

San Francisco also waived wide receiver Kassim Osgood.


►  Bengals’ Green leaves practice

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green left practice Wednesday on a cart and could have another issue with a problematic toe injury.

According to the team’s website, Green stopped during warmups for practice, threw down his helmet and followed by taking off his shoe and also throwing that to the ground.

Green originally suffered a toe injury during the opener against Baltimore and left the following week’s contest against Atlanta in the first quarter without catching a pass. He returned the following week against Tennessee and also played last Sunday’s game against New England.

The fourth-year Georgia product has 17 catches for 314 yards with two touchdowns this season.


►  Colts rule out four players for Thursday

The Indianapolis Colts will be without four key players for Thursday night’s game against the Houston Texans.

Starting left guard Jack Mewhort (ankle), starting right guard Hugh Thornton (back), nickel corner Darius Butler (ankle) and starting defensive end Arthur Jones (ankle) are all out Thursday night. In addition, starting inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman (hamstring) is questionable.


►  Colts are the exception to the Thursday-night rule

No one likes Thursday night games, at least according to the Texans’ Arian Foster.

“Thursday Night Football is pretty annoying for players,“ Houston’s star running back claimed. “I don’t know one player that likes it. I really don’t know a fan that likes it, either. I think it’s just the league’s way to try to generate more revenue.“

Foster’s not wrong.

The Thursday night games are most definitely a money grab by a league which already has plenty of ducats stashed away, and the players certainly don’t like the short week of preparation leading up to the contest.

Meanwhile, the Nielsen ratings say the fans watch but they do so with a critic’s eye, mindful of the fact that the weekly game seems to spawn a lack of competition in a parity-driven league.

So far, we are 5-for-5 with blowouts in Thursday night affairs in 2014 with an average score of 41-12.

The advantage has skewed heavily toward the home team with the New York Giants being the lone visitor to solve the short-week dilemma in Week 4 against Washington. The fact that “Big Blue” was able to make the quick trek down the I-95 corridor to the Beltway probably played into its success, however.

Perhaps Foster’s more legitimate and stinging criticism pointed directly toward player safety and the apparent hypocrisy of staging one game just four days after another.

“(The NFL) emphasize(s) concussions when they start getting hit with lawsuits and then they care about the player safety but “Thursday Night Football” is putting every player on the football field in danger,“ Foster said. “Nobody is ready to play physically after a Sunday game but you have to go out there and do it.“

There is one team, though, who has figured out how to “do it” better than most and might even like “Thursday Night Football,“ at least a little bit—the Indianapolis Colts.

The Colts have excelled historically on short weeks, winning nine straight games on Thursday as they get ready to make the 1,015-mile trip to South Texas in Week 6.

Normally the fact that it’s the Colts who will be uprooting and making the sojourn down to Space City should have the Texans pretty excited to welcome Houston-area native Andrew Luck back to the city for what will be an early- season bragging rights matchup between the two top clubs in the AFC South.

The defending division champion Colts, who have rebounded from a slow 0-2 start with three consecutive wins, including last weekend’s 20-13 triumph over Baltimore, have been the exception to the Thursday night rules, however.

Luck and the Colts will come in hot after getting fat over the past three weeks thanks to a fortuitous turn in their schedule with two lightly-regarded opponents—Jacksonville and Tennessee—followed by a home game against Baltimore.

You can only play who is put in front of you and Indianapolis has handled its business, outscoring those three opponents by a combined 105-47 margin or by an average of 35-16.

The Colts defense, which allowed 409.5 yards per game in the first two games of the season, has settled down and surrendered only 297.3 per game since. The Robert Mathis-less unit mustered just one sack and one turnover in the first two and then generated 11 sacks and nine takeaways during its three-game run with outside linebacker and Mathis caddie Bjoern Werner registering a career- high two sacks last weekend.

“The good thing about the Colts is that we’re very familiar with them,“ Texans tackle Duane Brown said. “Of course you have a different game plan than we’ve had in years past, but as far as the personnel and things like that we kind of know what to expect.“

What to expect, of course, starts with the real strength of the Colts and that lies in their QB, Luck, who pilots an offense that is second overall in the NFL with 439.6 yards per game and tops in passing offense (321.8 YPG). Luck himself leads the NFL with 1,617 passing yards and 14 touchdowns but the free thrower is also tops in interceptions with six.

The impressive Houston defense, which leads the NFL with 12 takeaways, counters with All-World defensive lineman J.J. Watt, who has two sacks, three bat downs, an interception return for a TD, and an NFL- high 16 QB hits through five outings.

Safeties Kendrick Lewis and D.J. Swearinger both have three forced fumbles, tied for the most in the NFL, and inside linebacker Brian Cushing leads an ornery unit coming off a tough overtime loss in Dallas with 45 tackles.

“No loss feels good, but, like I said, we have a quick turnaround,“ Texans coach Bill O’Brien said. “We’ve got to get better, and we’ve got to get better fast because we haven’t played a division game yet and we have a very big division game coming up on Thursday night in front of our home fans.“

Home fans or not, what’s past is prologue, meaning the Colts are usually the better prepared team on a short week and there is little reason to expect that will change this time around.

Indianapolis is 11-1-1 overall on Thursday and has never lost on NFL Network’s “Thursday Night Football,“ posting a 7-0 record dating back to 2007 with six of those seven wins coming away from Indianapolis.

“You realize once the game starts, it’s football,“ said Luck. “There’s no use complaining or whining about anything. It’s what you do.“

WEEK 6 (All Times Eastern)

Indianapolis (3-2) (-3) at Houston (3-2), Thursday, 8:30 PM - See above.

Colts 24, Texans 17

New England (3-2) (-3) at Buffalo (3-2), Sunday, 1 PM - First place in the AFC East will be on the line in Western New York as the Bills will try to solve Tom Brady and build on Kyle Orton’s debut with the team, a 30-of-43 performance with 308 yards and one TD at Detroit last weekend. Terry Pegula might own the Bills on paper now but Brady is their real master, having compiled a 22-2 career record against Buffalo. Brady passed for 292 yards and two TDs in an impressive win over Cincinnati in Week 5, becoming just the sixth QB in NFL history with 50,000 career passing yards (50,232).

Patriots 17, Bills 16

Carolina (3-2) at Cincinnati (3-1) (-7), Sunday, 1 PM - The Bengals are coming off a disappointing loss at New England and have won 11 consecutive regular-season home games, making this a daunting spot for Carolina. Bengals QB Andy Dalton has thrown for 2,563 yards and 22 TDs with a passer rating of 97.7 over that 11-0 stretch. Panthers signal caller Cam Newton has won five of his past eight games against AFC foes and is the only NFL player with 50-plus passing TDs (69) and 20-or-more on the ground (28) since entering the league in 2011.

Bengals 31, Panthers 23

Pittsburgh (3-2) at Cleveland (2-2) (-2), Sunday, 1 PM - It’s time to exorcise some demons in Cleveland. The Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger is 18-1 all-time as a starter versus the Browns, the best record of any NFL QB against one team since the 1970 merger. Cleveland, meanwhile, is fresh off the largest road comeback in NFL history against Tennessee last weekend and the underrated Brian Hoyer is now 5-2 in seven starts with the Browns.

Steelers 21, Browns 20

Green Bay (3-2) (-3 1/2) at Miami (2-2), Sunday, 1 PM - It’s easy to relax when your QB has thrown for seven TDs with no interceptions and a 147.0 passer rating in his last two games and that’s exactly what the game’s best signal caller, Aaron Rodgers, has given Green Bay. The Dolphins had extra time to try to solve A-Rod after beating lowly Oakland in London during Week 4.

Packers 28, Dolphins 23

Detroit (3-2) (-2) at Minnesota (2-3), Sunday, 1 PM - The Vikings figure to be far more competitive now that Christian Ponder will be back on the bench and rookie Teddy Bridgewater will return from a sprained ankle. Bridgewater passed for 317 yards and had a rushing TD in his career NFL start against Atlanta back in Week 4. The Lions have the NFL’s top-ranked defense but are dealing with ankle injuries to both Calvin Johnson, who has 19 receptions for 315 yards (157.5 per game) and three TDs in his past two trips to Minnesota, and Reggie Bush.

Vikings 23, Lions 20

Denver (3-1) (-8) at New York Jets (1-4), Sunday, 1 PM - The reeling Jets have a tall task this week in trying to stop Peyton Manning, who passed for a career-high 479 yards and four TDs in a win over Arizona in Week 5 as he joined Brett Favre (508) as only players with 500-or-more career TD passes (503). Manning also matched Dan Marino for the most 400-yard passing games in NFL history with 13. The embattled Geno Smith is scheduled to start ahead of Michael Vick for New York again but expect coach Rex Ryan to have a quick hook if things go south quickly.

Broncos 34, Jets 13

Baltimore (3-2) (-3) at Tampa Bay (1-4), Sunday, 1 PM - The Bucs are expected to stick with Mike Glennon at quarterback and the second-year player has won all three of his starts against AFC foes to date. Pressing Glennon will be Ravens pass rusher Elvis Dumervil, who has 3 1/2 sacks in his past four games against NFC competition.

Ravens 17, Buccaneers 16

Jacksonville (0-5) at Tennessee (1-4) (no line), Sunday, 1 PM - The oft- injured Jake Locker is dealing with a thumb problem and his status for Sunday is yet to be determined. With Locker on the sidelines, the Titans blew a 25- point lead against Cleveland in Week 5, the worst implosion by a home team in NFL lore. The Jags remain a work in progress as they continue to build around rookie Blake Bortles, who completed 29-of-37 passes for 254 yards in his first NFL road start at San Diego a few weeks ago.

Titans 24, Jaguars 17

San Diego (4-1) (-7) at Oakland (0-4) , Sunday, 4:05 PM - Tony Sparano takes over in Oakland after an 0-4 start got Dennis Allen canned. Sparano, the ex- head coach in Miami, is facing a juggernaut here as the Chargers’ Philip Rivers leads the NFL in passing with a 116.3 rating and the San Diego defense is tops in the conference, allowing just 290.8 yards per game.

Chargers 33, Raiders 14

Washington (1-4) at Arizona (3-1) (-8), Sunday, 4:25 PM - The Cardinals, who have won six of their past seven home games, are hoping to get QB Carson Palmer, who has been dealing with a nerve injury in his shoulder, back this week. The Redskins have lost four of five to start the season and are trying to build around signal caller Kirk Cousins, who has recorded a 100-plus passer rating in three of four games this season, and running back Alfred Morris, who is second in the NFL with 3,233 rushing yards since entering the league in 2012.

Cardinals 27, Redskins 21

Chicago (2-3) at Atlanta (2-3) (-3), Sunday, 4:25 PM - Home is usually sweet for Atlanta as QB Matt Ryan is 38-10 as a starter in the Georgia Dome, including 2-0 this season, completing 52-of-67 passes for 734 yards with 6 TDs and no interceptions for a 142.2 passer rating in those games. The Bears are trying to halt a two-game skid behind Jay Cutler, who has his last two starts against the Falcons.

Falcons 27, Bears 20

Dallas (4-1) at Seattle (3-1) (-8), Sunday, 4:25 PM - The Cowboys have won four straight games behind early MVP candidate DeMarco Murray, who leads the NFL with 670 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns. Murray has joined Hall of Famers Jim Brown (1958) and O.J. Simpson (1973, 1975) as the only players in NFL history to rush for at least 100 yards in each of his team’s first five games. The competition picks up for the ‘Boys this week, though, as they visit the reigning Super Bowl champion Seahawks, who have won 19 of their past 20 games at home, outscoring opponents 584-273 in those games (15.6 points per game differential).

Seahawks 31, Cowboys 17

New York Giants (3-2) at Philadelphia (4-1) (- 2 1/2), Sunday 8:30 PM - The Giants have bounced back from a dismal 0-2 start, winning three in a row and scoring 35 points per game over that stretch. The 4-1 Eagles have been doing it in a most unconventional way, scoring seven return touchdowns this season, tied with the 1920 Buffalo All-Americans for the most return touchdowns in the first five games of a season.

Eagles 28, Giants 27

San Francisco (3-2) (-3) at St. Louis (1-3), Monday, 8:30 PM - After a 1-2 start, the 49ers have won consecutive games with veteran running back Frank Gore leading the way by posting consecutive games with 100-or-more rushing yards, including 107 yards against Kansas City in Week 5. The Rams nearly erased a 27-point deficit last weekend, scoring 21 unanswered points before falling short in Philadelphia as quarterback Austin Davis passed for 375 yards and three touchdowns, his second consecutive start with at least 300 yards and three touchdowns.

49ers 27, Rams 17

►  Rams add LB Herring

The St. Louis Rams signed linebacker Will Herring on Wednesday.

Herring spent four seasons with the Seattle Seahawks before moving on to the New Orleans Saints for the past three years. He has primarily been a special teamer.

For his career, he has 144 tackles, one sack, three interceptions, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries in 97 games.

Herring replaces Ray Ray Armstrong, who was released by the team on Monday.


►  Texans WR Johnson questionable vs. Colts

Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson is questionable for Thursday night’s game against the Indianapolis Colts.

Johnson missed practice this week because of an ankle injury. He has 27 catches for 320 yards in five games this season.

Linebacker Jadeveon Clowney (knee) and cornerback Darryl Morris (ankle) have been ruled out.


►  Raiders sign LB Chaney

The Oakland Raiders have signed linebacker Jamar Chaney and placed linebacker Nick Roach on season-ending injured reserve.

Originally a seventh-round selection by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2010, Chaney has played in 49 career games with the Eagles and Falcons. He has recorded 158 tackles, one sack, three interceptions and one forced fumble.

Roach hasn’t played all season due to a concussion. The Northwestern product had 112 tackles, 5 1/2 sacks and one interception in 16 starts last season, his first with the Raiders.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Staten says defensive emphasis could lead to NCAAs

After three seasons at West Virginia, and now three practices into his fourth, Juwan Staten sounded more driven than ever.

Coaches recently voted him Big 12 preseason player of the year, yet Staten said the accolade won’t matter unless he carries the Mountaineers to the postseason.

Having never played in the NCAA tournament, the point guard feels that senior-year now-or-never pinch.

“That’s one of the reasons I came back,” Staten said. “It’s unfinished business.”

That’s the hole in his legacy, one that can’t be filled by hype or bluster or even winning the league scoring title, as Staten did last season at 18.1 points per game. Any satisfaction gained on a personal level was nixed by West Virginia dropping six of its last eight games, culminating in a double-digit NIT loss at Georgetown.

The 17-16 record spiked by upsets of four NCAA teams, including Kansas, only forced Staten to ponder what could have been.

“If we had played better defense last year, we would have been in more games and been in the tournament,” he said.

West Virginia gave up 80 points or more 14 times and allowed opponents to shoot 44.7%, highest in the Big 12. That forced the Mountaineers to shoot their way into many games, adopting an offensive-first mentality that countered previous Bob Huggins teams.

When the squad’s top three shooters moved on—Eron Harris to Michigan State, Terry Henderson to N.C. State and Remi Dibo to France—the roster looked depleted. Yet after a summer of pickup games with the newcomers, Staten senses an infusion of grit, particularly from junior college signees Tarik Phillip, Jaysean Paige and BillyDee Williams.

“Last year, if we weren’t hitting our shots, that was it for us,” Staten said. “But this year we’ve made a 180 on the defensive end. We’ve had more blocks at the rim in three days of practice than we probably did for a month last year.

“The energy level is higher and the IQ level is higher, especially on defense. Nobody is taking a play off, and that’s something we haven’t had for a while.”

Phillip, a 6-foot-2 transfer from Independence (Kan.) Community College, impressed Staten from the first time they squared off in open gym. At a time when most players were doing offseason work on shooting and offensive moves, Phillip was picking up his defense full-court.

“That’s very rare in the summer,” Staten said. “For someone to focus on defense, it stands out a lot.”

“But that’s Tarik. He’s got a presence that lets you know right away he’s a good defender. He gets his hands on a lot of balls and he never gives up on a play.”

The new recruits include freshman signees Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles, while forwards Elijah Macon and Jonathan Holton become eligible after sitting out last year with academic delays.

Fans can get their first glimpse at the new assembly Friday, October 17 during the Gold-Blue scrimmage. Staten thinks fans will quickly appreciate the facets of hustle and athleticism mostly absent from the past two seasons when WVU’s combined record was 30-35.

“The seasons that I’ve had here haven’t really been great seasons,’’ Staten said. “But I think this is the best team we’ve had since I’ve been here, so I’m excited about that.”



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Four Wizards suspended for season opener

Four Wizards have been suspended one game by the NBA for leaving the bench during an altercation Monday between Washington forward Paul Pierce and Bulls center Joakim Noah.

Both Pierce and Noah were fined $15,000 following a situation that occurred early in Monday’s preseason opener. Bulls guard Jimmy Butler was fouled hard by Pierce, which led to Noah pushing Pierce, who responded by poking Noah in the head.

Nene, DeJuan Blair, Xavier Silas and Daniel Orton all left the bench area during the altercation. All four players will miss Washington’s regular-season opener against the Heat on October 29.

The incident was another example of the budding rivalry between these two talented Eastern Conference clubs. Last postseason, Nene was ejected in Game 3 of the quarterfinals and suspended for Game 4 after putting his hands around Butler’s neck.


►  Pacers give Vogel another contract extension

The Indiana Pacers signed head coach Frank Vogel to a multi-year contract extension on Wednesday.

Vogel led the Pacers to a 56-26 record last season and a second consecutive Central Division title. Indiana has made two straight appearances in the Eastern Conference Finals, losing each time to the Miami Heat.

“We’re very happy to extend Frank’s contract,“ said Pacers president of basketball operations Larry Bird. “I believe he has done a great job and I look forward to continuing our relationship and working together to achieve all of our goals.“

The 41-year-old Vogel, who had also earned a contract extension in January of 2013, is entering his fourth full season as head coach after taking over on an interim basis in January, 2011. He has a record of 147-82 since the interim tag was removed in July of 2011.

“I’m excited for the opportunity to continue my tenure as Pacers’ coach,“ said Vogel. “It’s an honor to represent this franchise and lead this team. I look forward to the challenge ahead. I’m grateful to have had good, coachable teams along with coaching staffs that have been second to none.“

The Pacers won’t have Paul George (broken leg) and Lance Stephenson (signed with Charlotte) this season.

Indiana starts the regular season against the Philadelphia 76ers on October 29.


►  Feigin installed as Bucks team president

The Milwaukee Bucks named Peter Feigin their new team president on Wednesday.

“I’ve known Peter for many years and can’t think of a more capable person to drive growth for the Bucks organization,“ said Bucks owner Marc Lasry. “Peter’s been an invaluable advisor and will be a terrific leader for a talented group of people working to build a world-class franchise. He brings a tremendous amount of NBA expertise and management experience to Milwaukee.“

Feigin brings an extensive resume of business experience to the franchise, including a stint with the New York Knicks (1998-2004), during which he rose to the level of VP of marketing.

“I’m thrilled to join the Milwaukee Bucks organization during this incredibly exciting time for the team on and off the court,“ said Feigin. “From a new and modern arena in the heart of the city to a renewed emphasis on building deeper ties in the community, Wes (Edens), Marc and the entire team they’ve assembled are building something very special in Milwaukee. I’m going to work hard to ensure their collective vision is realized.“



The Gilmer Free Press

►  A quick guide to the 2014-15 NHL season

Thankfully, there will be no labor disputes or Winter Olympics disrupting NHL action this season, as the league tries to get back to normal in 2014-15.

After suffering through a lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign, the NHL saw last season halted for nearly a month while the league went on hiatus for the Sochi Olympics. However, no such interruptions are expected this season and hockey fans will even get to see the return of the NHL All-Star Game, an event that hasn’t been held since January of 2012.

“Dynasty” is a word being thrown around quite a bit these days thanks to the recent success experienced in Chicago and Los Angeles, a pair of franchises with two Cup victories over the past several seasons. Neither team is worthy of the dynasty label yet, but the race is on to see if either club can add to its title haul in 2015.

The Blackhawks won their second Cup title in four seasons in the spring of 2013 and the Kings made it two championships in three years back in June. The clubs battled in the Western Conference finals in last season’s playoffs and there’s a good chance that both the West crown and the Cup could go through Chicago or L.A. yet again.

The realignment plan instituted at the start of the last season has set the West up as the stronger of the two conferences, with the East lagging far behind. In addition to Chicago and L.A., Anaheim, Colorado, Minnesota, St. Louis and San Jose also have legitimate Cup dreams, but there’s a solid chance they’ll need to upset either the Blackhawks or Kings in order to reach the promised land.

The top contender in the East, meanwhile, is the Boston Bruins, who won last season’s Presidents’ Trophy before getting knocked out in the second round by Montreal. The defending conference champion New York Rangers also figure to be among the East’s top teams, while the Canadiens, Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning also could be in the mix at season’s end.

Odds are the 2015 champion will come from the West. If that happens it would mark the conference’s fifth title since 2010, with only the 2010-11 Bruins claiming a Cup for the East so far during the stretch.

Once again the top three clubs from each of the league’s four divisions will earn automatic bids to the playoffs, while wild card spots account for the remaining two postseason spots in each conference. The second- and third-place teams from each division will meet in the first round of the playoffs. The remaining opening-round series will feature one matchup between the division winner with the most points against the wild card with the lowest point total and another featuring the other division winner and wild card representative.

Without further ado, it’s time to make predictions on which teams are bound for the playoffs. Here it goes:

EASTERN CONFERENCE

ATLANTIC

Boston Bruins (champion)

Tampa Bay Lightning (automatic bid)

Montreal Canadiens (automatic bid)

METROPOLITAN

Pittsburgh Penguins (champion)

New York Rangers (automatic bid)

Columbus Blue Jackets (automatic bid)

WILD CARDS

New Jersey Devils

New York Islanders

EASTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPION: Boston

Heading into the 2014 playoffs, the Bruins were billed as the only East team with a real chance of beating one of the West’s elite clubs in the Cup Finals. However, Claude Julien’s club didn’t get the chance to test its mettle against the representatives from the NHL’s power conference as Boston fell in seven games to the rival Montreal Canadiens in the East semifinals.

The Habs downed Boston with speed in the playoffs before the Rangers beat Montreal at its own game in the conference finals. Both clubs obviously have the skaters to take down the Bruins again, but Boston shouldn’t be counted out due to one shaky postseason performance.

The Bruins, after all, have shown the ability to rebound from poor playoff appearances in recent years under Julien and it could be time for them to prove it again. Boston won the Stanley Cup in 2011 just one year removed from a monumental 0-3 collapse against Philadelphia in the 2010 playoffs. Then after getting bounced by Washington in the first round of the 2012 playoffs, the B’s went on to face the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2013 Cup Finals before ultimately falling in six games.

Julien’s system, which puts an emphasis on responsible team defense, is the major reason Boston is still a threat. Steady on-ice leaders like star defenseman Zdeno Chara and versatile centerman Patrice Bergeron make sure the team sticks to the plan, and having reigning Vezina Trophy winner Tuukka Rask between the pipes doesn’t hurt either.

The Bruins may not be able to stop the trend of Western Conference dominance in the end, but a return to the Cup Finals is well within Boston’s reach.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

CENTRAL

St. Louis Blues (champion)

Chicago Blackhawks (automatic bid)

Minnesota Wild (automatic bid)

PACIFIC

Anaheim Ducks (champion)

Los Angeles Kings (automatic bid)

San Jose Sharks (automatic bid)

WILD CARDS

Colorado Avalanche

Dallas Stars

WESTERN CONFERENCE/STANLEY CUP CHAMPION: Chicago Blackhawks

No team has been able to claim consecutive Cups since Detroit pulled off the repeat in 1997 and ‘98, but the Kings are a serious threat to supplant the Red Wings as the most recent back-to-back champions.

Of course, the Blackhawks figure to be the biggest obstacle standing in the way of a second straight L.A. title. Chicago not only pushed the Kings to the limit in last spring’s classic Western Conference finals battle, it also carried a 4-3 edge into the third period of Game 7 before L.A. rallied for a 5-4 OT victory in the Windy City.

The Blackhawks and Kings are similar in many ways. They boast two of the NHL’s deepest rosters with star players littered throughout and both clubs are used to dominating the opposition when it comes to puck possession. Chicago seems to own a slight edge in overall defensive depth, but Kings blueliner Drew Doughty appeared to be the biggest difference maker during last year’s playoff battle. L.A. goaltender Jonathan Quick also is a better regarded goaltender than Chicago’s Corey Crawford, but both players have proven themselves capable of anchoring a Cup-winning team.

When two teams match up this closely with one another, intangible factors can often tip the balance in one club’s favor. What L.A. did in last year’s playoffs was amazing, but the Kings did receive their share of “puck luck” along the way and there’s a good chance it could run out in 2015. Darryl Sutter’s resilient club deserves credit for rallying from down 3-0 to beat San Jose in Round 1 last spring and coming back from a 3-2 deficit to eliminate Anaheim in the conference semis before outlasting Chicago, but a few bounces the other way easily could have ended L.A.‘s title hopes prematurely.

After the Kings’ magical run to the Cup in 2014, it isn’t crazy to think the Blackhawks will have luck on their side this time. One thing is clear: as hockey fans, we’d all be lucky to see another Western Conference battle between Chicago and L.A.

The race to claim a dynasty is on, and in 2014-15 it could be Chicago’s turn to take another lap with Lord Stanley’s Cup.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Hornish Jr. to drive for Richard Petty Motorsports in Sprint Cup

Sam Hornish Jr. is heading back to the Sprint Cup Series full time in 2015.

Richard Petty Motorsports announced on Wednesday that Hornish will join the racing organization to drive the No. 9 Ford in Sprint Cup next season. He will replace Marcos Ambrose in the No. 9 after Ambrose informed the team last month that he is returning to his native home of Australia at season’s end to compete in the Australian V8 Supercar Series, driving an entry for NASCAR and IndyCar Series team owner Roger Penske.

Hornish has not competed in Sprint Cup full time since 2010 when he drove for Team Penske.

“Having the opportunity to drive for Richard Petty Motorsports is great for me,“ Hornish said during a teleconference on Wednesday. “It’s just awesome. I’m looking forward to knowing all the guys on the No. 9 team and everybody at RPM.“

Hornish has competed in three full seasons in Sprint Cup as well as two full seasons in the Nationwide Series for Penske. In 2013, he finished second in the Nationwide championship standings, just three points behind champion Austin Dillon. Hornish has driven a partial schedule for Joe Gibbs Racing in NASCAR’s second-tier series this season. He won at Iowa Speedway in May.

Prior to his stock car racing career, Hornish competed in IndyCar, winning 19 races, including the 2006 Indianapolis 500, and claiming three series championships.

Hornish has 131 career starts in Sprint Cup, including one start this season. He substituted for Denny Hamlin in JGR’s No. 11 car in the March 23 race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Hamlin missed the event due to an eye injury. Hornish finished 17th.

“I feel like I’m a lot better prepared,“ Hornish said of his upcoming full- time return to Sprint Cup. “I’ve been able to work with quite a few different crew chiefs over the past couple of years. That has allowed me to better understand what’s going through those guys’ heads and pick up things that I like from one crew chief to the next.“

Drew Blickensderfer will serve as Hornish’s crew chief next year. Blickensderfer currently serves in the role for Ambrose.

“Sam is a really good fit for RPM and will be a great addition to the team,“ team co-owner Richard Petty said. “He’s a family man who fits well with our core values, and he will be a great ambassador for our partners. Sam is also proven that he can win races and compete for a championship. He came into the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with a steep learning curve from open wheel racing, but has shown in the Nationwide Series that he is a winner.“



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Racing great Cigar dies at age 24

Hall of Fame thoroughbred Cigar has died at the age of 24.

A former two-time Horse of the Year, Cigar passed away after surgery at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital. The stallion had been living at the Kentucky Horse Park.

Cigar was owned by Allen Paulson and trained by Bill Mott with Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey serving as his primary rider. The horse was named Horse of the Year in 1995 and 1996, as well as champion older male thoroughbred for those years, and was elected into the Hall of Fame in 2002.

The future champion began racing as a 3-year-old in 1993, but did not win his first stakes race until capturing the NYRA Mile at Aqueduct in November 1994. The stakes is now called the Cigar Mile in his honor.

Cigar had a 16-race winning streak from October 1994 through July 1996 that included victories in the first running of the Dubai World Cup in 1996, 1995 Breeders’ Cup Classic, two Donn and Massachusetts Handicaps, Hollywood Gold Cup and Jockey Club Gold Cup.

The champion was retired from racing after finishing second in the 1996 Jockey Club Gold Cup and third in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He closed his Hall of Fame career with 19 wins, 15 in stakes, from 33 starts with then- record earnings of $9,999,815.

Cigar was sent to Coolmore in Versailles, Kentucky as a stallion, but he was found to be infertile and was transferred to the Kentucky Horse Park in 1999.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Week 6 waiver wire gold

Last week, tight end Travis Kelce shined brightest among the free agents available in the majority of leagues, and he rewarded those owners that acquired him with a touchdown in San Francisco.

Where will the waiver wire gold be found this week?

It is rare to find a hidden running back treasure at this point in the season, so owners should be giddy over the fact a few backs that could make an impact, are available.

Broncos’ Ronnie Hillman and Giants’ Andre Williams would be top pickups in a normal week. This, however, is not a normal week. The top fantasy running back from Week 5 was owned in less than 11% of Yahoo Leagues.

The Chargers backfield has been decimated with injuries, losing Ryan Mathews, Danny Woodhead and then Donald Brown. That gave running back Branden Oliver an opportunity, and he exploded for 114 yards on 19 carries and a touchdown on Sunday. Philip Rivers also found him in the passing game four times for 68 more yards and another score.

Even more impressively, Oliver was able to put up these numbers, which ranked him as the No. 1 running back in standard leagues, against the Jets, the sixth best rush defense in the NFL.

It is inevitable that experts and fans will compare Oliver to Darren Sproles as Sproles used to wear No. 43 for the Chargers, but with the injuries to the San Diego backfield, Oliver will continue to be the focal point at running back. That is something Sproles has never really been.

Antonio Gates went as far as to tell the San Diego Union-Tribune that Oliver is “Sproles with more power.“

He is a must-add in fantasy football leagues, and many owners have already noticed. As of Wednesday afternoon, Oliver is now owned in 68% of leagues, which is a 57% increase from Tuesday.

Mathews is hoping to return from his knee injury in about two weeks. Oliver has the type of talent though that the Chargers coaches will likely want to keep on the field even when Mathews returns. That is something that cannot be said for Hillman, Williams or other free agent running backs this week.

Those guys are decent plug-ins for a couple weeks during byes. Oliver is that and more. He is licking his chops with the Raiders and Chiefs up next on the schedule, and offers long-term value as well.

The Gilmer Free Press


THURSDAY, OCTOBER 09, 2014


National Football League
Indianapolis at Houston, 8:25 PM - CBS, NFL Network


Major League Baseball - Playoffs
*St. Louis at Los Angeles, 8:37 or 9:08 PM - FS1
*San Francisco at Washington, 5:07 or 8:37 PM - FS1


National Basketball Association - Preseason
Memphis at Houston, 8:00 PM - CSN-Houston
Golden State at LA Lakers, 10:30 PM - Time Warner SN, D


National Hockey League
Columbus at Buffalo, 7:00 PM - FS-Ohio, MSG-Buffalo, DSS
Montreal at Washington, 7:00 PM - RDS, CSN-DC, DSS
New Jersey at Philadelphia, 7:00 PM - MSG+, CSN-Philadelphia, DSS
Anaheim at Pittsburgh, 7:00 PM - FS-Prime Ticket, ROOT-Pittsburgh, DSS
Florida at Tampa Bay, 7:30 PM - FS-Florida, SunSports, DSS
Boston at Detroit, 7:30 PM - NESN, FS-Detroit, DSS
Ottawa at Nashville, 8:00 PM - RDS2, TSN5, FSN-Tennessee, DSS
NY Rangers at St. Louis, 8:00 PM - MSG, FS-Midwest, DSS
Chicago at Dallas, 8:30 PM - CSN-Chicago, FS-Southwest, DSS
Colorado at Minnesota, 9:00 PM - NBCSN
Calgary at Edmonton, 9:30 PM - SN360, DSS
Winnipeg at Arizona, 10:00 PM - TSN3, FS-Arizona, DSS


College Football
Shorter at Delta State, 7:00 PM - ESPN3.com
BYU at UCF, 7:30 PM - ESPN
Hampton at NC A&T, 7:30 PM - ESPN U


International Soccer
Mexico vs. Honduras, 9:25 PM - ESPN 2


Golf
EUROPEAN - Portugal Masters, 6:30 AM - Golf Channel
EUROPEAN - Portugal Masters, 10:00 AM - Golf Channel
PGA - Frys.com Open, 5:00 PM - Golf Channel
LPGA - Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia, 11:30 PM - Golf Channel


Auto Racing
NATIONWIDE - 300 Miles of Courage practice, 5:30 PM - ESPN 2
SPRINT CUP - Bank of America 500 qualifying, 7:00 PM - ESPN 2

Central WV Riding Club Final Horse Show of 2014

The Gilmer Free Press

The Central WV Riding Club will be holding its last horse show of 2014 on Saturday, October 11, 2014 at Holly Gray Park in Sutton, WV.

The show starts at 5:00 PM.

Everyone come out and join us!

Sports News

The Gilmer Free Press


The Gilmer Free Press

►  MEC Football Players of the Week - Week 5

Tevin Brown (West Virginia State), C.J. Davis (Shepherd), Kevin Coffie (West Virginia State) and Torie Wagner have earned Mountain East Conference Player of the Week honors.

Brown, a redshirt freshman from Cincinnati, Ohio, is the Offensive Player of the Week after leading the Yellow Jackets to their first Mountain East Conference win with an 18-13 decision over Urbana. Brown rushed 26 times for 132 yards averaging 5.1 yards per carry.

Davis, a sophomore from Hagerstown, Md., and Coffie, a sophomore defensive back from Beltsville, Md., share the league’s Defensive Player of the Week recognition. Davis helped ninth-ranked Shepherd limit Charleston to just 123 yards of total offense with seven tackles and an interception. Coffie had four tackles on the day but broke up six passes and surrendered just one reception to his receiver on 83 snaps.

Wagner, a junior from Severn, Md., earned MEC Special Teams Player of the Week honors for his efforts against Shepherd. He returned a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown against the ninth-ranked Rams—the the longest in the league this season. Wagner also had 26 punt return yards to become UC’s single season leader (since re-starting football in 20013) in that category.


Other Top Performances

Offense: Fabian Guerra (Fairmont State) registered 12 catches for 136 yards, and was featured on ESPN’s “Top 10” for this one-handed grab ... Ray Russ (Notre Dame) had 280 yards passing and four touchdowns ... Calvinaugh Jones (Concord) had a season-high 144 yards to keep the Mountain Lions undefeated ... Anton McCallum (West Liberty) had five catches for 71 yards and a touchdown against Duquesne ... Marc Johnson (Urbana) hauled in five passes for 153 yards ... Zach Schademan (West Virginia Wesleyan) had 122 receiving yards on 10 receptions and a touchdown in a win over Glenville State.


Defense: Mike Carey (Concord) came up with his eighth career interception and had five tackles ... Jalon Avent (Notre Dame) led the Falcons with 10 tackles, 2.5 for a loss and 1.5 sacks, while holding UVa-Wise to just 36 rushing yards ... D’Gary Wallace (Urbana) filled the stat sheet with a game-high 14.5 tackles, 2.5 tackles for a loss, a sack, one pass breakup and one interception ... Charles Simons (West Liberty) had five tackles and an interception ... Marcus Porter (Fairmont State) tallied 10 solo tackles vs. Concord.


Special Teams: B.J. Baldwin (Notre Dame) recovered a fumbled punt and returned it for a touchdown ... Griffin Yocum (West Liberty) averaged 41.3 yards per punt and dropped one inside the 20 yard line ... Garrett Lee (Concord) averaged 41.7 yards and placed three inside the 20 against Fairmont State.

2014 MEC Players of the Week
Week Offense Defense Special Teams
September 08 Brian Novak (CU) Marlon Oden (NDC) Anton McCallum (WLU)
September 15 Ray Russ (NDC) Shaneil Jenkins (SU) Josh Wilson (WLU)
September 22 Kenneth Butler (NDC) Justin Avery (UC) Kyle Kaplan (NDC)
September 29 Marvin Elam (UC) Gary Henderson (GSC) C.J. Davis (SU)
October 06 Tevin Brown (WVSU) C.J. Davis (SU)September Kevin Coffie (WVSU) Torie Wagner (UC)


The Gilmer Free Press

►  Heisman Rankings: Week 6

Eleven of the nation’s Top 25 teams fell in one of the wildest college football weekends in recent memory, and as a result, there’s plenty of shakeup in our ranking of the Heisman hopefuls.

1. Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State—The nation can no longer afford to sleep on Prescott, who’s led the 5-0 Bulldogs to back-to-back wins over Top 10 teams to position his squad as a bona fide threat to win the SEC Western Division. While Mississippi State’s defense certainly played a big role in Saturday’s 48-31 win over sixth-ranked Texas A&M, Prescott was nearly perfect in leading a balanced offensive attack that racked up 559 yards (289 rushing, 270 passing). The signal caller completed 19-of-25 pass attempts for 259 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 77 yards and three more scores in thoroughly outshining fellow Heisman candidate Kenny Hill. With nearly 1,700 total yards and 19 touchdowns, there’s no question Prescott is here to stay, and he’ll have yet another opportunity to cement his status as a big-game quarterback when MSU hosts Auburn this week.

2. Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia—It’s becoming clearer with each passing week that no one in college football at any position is more unstoppable than Gurley. In an easy, 44-17 triumph over Vanderbilt - Georgia’s third straight win - the physically gifted tailback was outstanding with 25 carries for 163 yards and a pair of touchdowns, giving him 773 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground this season. His prowess as a runner would have been more than enough to make a leap in the rankings this week, but Gurley added another highlight-reel moment to his Heisman resume with a 50-yard pass to Jeb Blazevich in the second quarter, further proving there’s nothing he can’t do.

3. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon—As outstanding as Mariota has been in his career, his Ducks have fallen short of lofty expectations in each of his seasons due to one or two head-scratching losses along the way, and the 2014 version of the squad followed suit as a 31-24 home setback to unranked Arizona. Mariota played well, completing 20-of-32 passes for 276 yards and two touchdowns while also hauling in a 26-yard touchdown pass from Royce Freeman on a trick play, but he was sacked five times and finished with only one rushing yard. Mariota, who has 1,411 passing yards, 215 rushing yards, 18 touchdowns and zero interceptions, will almost certainly accumulate enough numbers to be a Heisman finalist once again, but claiming the trophy won’t be as much of a slam dunk as it seemed a week ago if Oregon’s defense and offensive line keeps letting him down.

4. Everett Golson, QB, Notre Dame—Golson faced a tough task in squaring off against Stanford’s top-ranked scoring defense on Saturday, and he understandably had some struggles against the stout unit in completing less than 50 percent of his passes (20-of-43) and turning the ball over twice with an interception and a fumble. The signal caller stepped up in crunch time, however, by tossing a 23-yard touchdown to Ben Koyack on 4th-and-11 with just over a minute remaining to lift the Fighting Irish to a thrilling, 17-14 victory. Golson’s late-game heroics allowed him to finish with 275 total yards and two touchdowns, upping his season totals to 1,521 yards and 17 scores as he continued to prove himself as one of the nation’s best big-game quarterbacks.

5. Nick Marshall, QB, Auburn—The unbeaten Tigers are quietly going about their business this season, and following a 41-7 drudging of LSU on Saturday, they all of a sudden look like the best team in the SEC. The play of Marshall under center is a big reason for Auburn’s success. The quarterback had one of the best games of his career with 326 total yards (207 passing, 119 rushing) and four touchdowns against one of the nation’s best defenses. Marshall’s numbers may not be as gaudy as some of the other dual threats on this list (755 passing yards, 392 rushing yards, 12 TDs), but he’s thrown just one interception and is definitely trending in the right direction as Auburn rises in the polls.

6. Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama—Cooper’s star was ascending fast through the first month of the season, but with such elite competition at the top paired with the timing of Alabama’s first loss of the season over the weekend, the nation’s best receiver has to take a dip in the ranks this week through little fault of his own. The Crimson Tide blew a fourth-quarter lead in their 23-17 setback at Ole Miss, although the Rebels had little success slowing down Cooper, who hauled in nine passes for 91 yards. Amazingly enough, it was the first time this season Cooper failed to cross the century mark receiving, but his five-game totals this season are still staggering (52 receptions, 746 yards, five TDs).

7. Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin—The Badgers fell to 3-2 after losing their Big Ten opener at Northwestern on Saturday, 20-14, but Gordon did everything he could to better his team’s fortunes in the loss. For the second time in three weeks, Gordon set a career high in rushing, piling on 259 yards and a touchdown, leaving him with 871 yards and nine scores on the season. Wisconsin coach Gary Anderson has responded to early season criticism of not feeding his best player the ball enough by giving Gordon a combined 59 carries over the last two weeks, even though it might appear Gordon’s talent alone probably won’t be enough to help the Badgers along to a Big Ten title this season. A team’s record doesn’t matter as much for a running back as is does for a quarterback, as 2013 finalist Andre Williams proved last season in playing for a 7-6 Boston College team. So as long as Gordon keeps posting eye-popping numbers, his status as a favorite is safe.

8. Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska—Down 24 points to Michigan State in the fourth quarter, the Cornhuskers nearly pulled off a miracle comeback thanks in large part to Abdullah’s two late touchdown runs, but they fell just short in a 27-22 setback, turning the ball over in MSU territory with under a minute to play. Despite the touchdowns, Abdullah was held in check by the nation’s fourth-ranked rushing defense (72 yards per game), as he turned 24 carries into a mere 45 yards. There isn’t much reason to worry about Abdullah. He’s still the nation’s leading rusher with 878 yards, and with 12 touchdowns he’s already passed his career high set in 2013 (11) on 162 fewer touches.

9. Kenny Hill, QB, Texas A&M—Hill took this week’s biggest tumble in the rankings following the Aggies’ first loss of the season to the Prescott-led Bulldogs. With the game well out of reach in the fourth quarter, Hill was able to pad his stats and finish with 365 yards and four touchdowns, but he needed 62 pass attempts to get there. Mississippi State’s defense caused him fits as he threw three interceptions (one more than he had coming into the game) and was sacked four times. One disappointing performance, however, can’t take away from what Hill has done overall this year (2,110 yards, 21 TDs, five interceptions). He’ll have plenty more opportunities to redeem himself, or perhaps fall even farther, with matchups against Ole Miss, Alabama, Auburn, Missouri and LSU still on the docket.

10. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State—In a crazy week when No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Oregon, No. 4 Oklahoma, No. 6 Texas A&M and No. 8 UCLA all lost, there’s something to be said about Winston’s Seminoles hanging on to the No. 1 spot. Even though FSU put together a 43-3 beatdown of Wake Forest, Winston wasn’t exactly at his best, completing just 59 percent of his passes with an interception, but he threw for 297 yards and a score while rushing in another touchdown. Winston will need to play a lot better if he wants voters to forget about his bone-headed suspension against Clemson a few weeks back, but with the Seminoles on a clear path to the College Football Playoff in a weak ACC, the reigning winner will be in a strong position to play himself back into the race.

Dropped Out: Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor; Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA

Honorable Mention: Bo Wallace, QB, Ole Miss; Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU; Connor Halliday, QB, Washington State



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Report: Jets’ Smith missed meeting Saturday night

New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith reportedly missed team meetings Saturday, the day before a 31-0 loss at San Diego.

The New York Daily News cited a team spokesman as saying Smith made an “honest mistake” and arrived 5-10 minutes after the meetings ended. He went over details with offensive coaches afterward.

Smith was benched in the second half of Sunday’s loss after a disastrous opening 30 minutes in which he completed just 4-of-12 passes for 27 yards with an interception.

Michael Vick played the second half for New York and wasn’t much better, throwing for 47 yards on 8-of-19 passing while adding 14 yards on two rushes.

The Jets fell to 1-4 with their fourth straight loss and Jets coach Rex Ryan said after the contest that Smith would remain the starter for next week’s game against Denver.


►  Dolphins suspend Shelby

The Miami Dolphins have suspended defensive lineman Derrick Shelby indefinitely after a weekend run-in with the law.

Shelby was arrested early Saturday morning at a Fort Lauderdale, Florida, nightclub and was charged with trespassing after warning and resisting arrest without violence.

“We were disappointed to learn about Derrick’s arrest,“ said Dolphins coach Joe Philbin in a statement Monday. “Everyone in this organization is held to high standards of conduct and professionalism. Based on my conversations with Derrick and the information we have thus far, Derrick will be placed on indefinite club suspension. When we have completed all of the necessary diligence, we will make a final determination on his discipline.“

According to reports from the Miami Herald and South Florida Sun-Sentinel, police were called to a nightclub after Shelby was touching women without their permission and then refused to leave the establishment. After nightclub security called the police, Shelby refused to be taken into custody, forcing the officers to use a stun gun on Shelby three times.

Shelby, a three-year veteran, has appeared in four games this season with the Dolphins, recording six tackles and two sacks.

The Dolphins had their bye this past weekend and return to work this week in preparation for Sunday’s home game against Green Bay.


►  Lions release Henery

The Detroit Lions will have another kicker this week, as Alex Henery was released on Monday.

Henery missed three field goals in Sunday’s 17-14 loss to Buffalo, including a 50-yard attempt late in the fourth quarter that would have given the Lions the lead. The miss gave the Bills a short field in the closing seconds and led to Dan Carpenter’s winning 58-yard kick with four seconds to play.

Lions coach Jim Caldwell said the team will likely try to find a kicker with experience.

“There’s somebody out there for us that’ll do the job for us,“ said Caldwell on Monday. “We just need to track him down quickly.“

The Lions have already had two kickers in just five weeks this season. Rookie Nate Freese was 3-for-7, missing each of his four kicks from 40-49 yards, in the first three games before Henery was signed two weeks ago.

Henery, who spent three years with the Eagles before being released prior to the start of this season, made just 1-of-5 field goal tries in his two games for Detroit.


►  Chargers place Legursky on IR

The San Diego Chargers announced Monday that center Doug Legursky will go on season-ending injured reserve because of a knee injury.

Legursky left Sunday’s 31-0 defeat of the New York Jets on a cart with an apparent left leg issue. Rookie Chris Watt took his place for the remainder of the contest.

“We’ll make a decision in the next couple of days,“ said Chargers head coach Mike McCoy on who will take Legursky’s spot in the starting lineup.

Legursky, a 28-year-old sixth-year pro, was signed on September 11, after a neck injury to Nick Hardwick forced him onto IR.


►  Titans safety Pollard done for season with Achilles injury

Tennessee Titans safety Bernard Pollard is lost for the remainder of the season thanks to suffering a ruptured Achilles tendon.

Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt confirmed the diagnosis on Monday, while Pollard took to his Twitter account to reveal the following: “Still can’t believe it, but God has a plan. Surgery tmrw morning, pray for me! First time in my career I get to meet Mr. I.R lol. Peace out.“

Titans quarterback Jake Locker left Sunday’s 29-28 loss to the Cleveland Browns in the second quarter with a hand injury. He was originally listed as questionable to return and did not come back into the game after completing 8-of-11 passes for 79 yards and one touchdown.

Charlie Whitehurst stepped in under center for the hosts, who squandered a 28-3 first-half lead, ending the contest 13-of-21 for 194 yards and two scores.

Locker, whose hand was bandaged on the sideline, had X-rays performed which were negative. Whisenhunt confirmed that the injury was to his thumb and that there was significant swelling but no structural damage.


►  NFL Game Results - Week 5

MONDAY, OCTOBER 06


Final Score: Seattle 27, Washington 17

Russell Wilson’s ability to escape pressure and create plays allowed the Seattle Seahawks to hold off the Washington Redskins, 27-17, on Monday. Wilson made many dazzling plays with his legs, especially in the fourth quarter, as the Seahawks claimed their ninth straight Monday Night Football win. The third-year pro out of Wisconsin set a career high for rushing yards with 122 yards and a score on 11 carries. Wilson also completed 18-of-24 passes for 201 yards and two touchdowns. Marshawn Lynch carried the ball 17 times for 72 yards for the Seahawks, who had three touchdowns called back due to penalties. Lynch also caught five passes for 45 yards and a score. Seattle came into the game well rested, last playing on September 21 when they won a Super Bowl XLVIII rematch by outlasting the Denver Broncos, 26-20, in overtime. The Seahawks (3-1) now find themselves in a tie with Arizona for first place in the NFC West. The Cardinals lost to the Broncos on Sunday.


SUNDAY, OCTOBER 05


Final Score: New Orleans 37, Tampa Bay 31 (OT)

Khiry Robinson’s 18-yard touchdown run on the first possession of overtime capped the Saints’ comeback as New Orleans scored 17 unanswered points to down the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 37-31, in an NFC South battle. New Orleans (2-3) was on the verge of another debilitating loss after getting embarrassed last Sunday night in Dallas by 21 points, but Drew Brees and the offense made enough big plays down the stretch to extend New Orleans’ home winning streak to 10 games. Pierre Thomas totaled 112 yards from scrimmage and scored both on the ground and through the air, while Brees overcame a three-interception performance with 371 yards and two touchdowns on 35-of-57 attempts. Mike Glennon, trying to lead Tampa Bay (1-4) to a second straight victory, threw for 249 yards with two touchdowns and an interception in the setback, the club’s sixth straight loss against its division rival.


Final Score: Dallas 20, Houston 17 (OT)

Dan Bailey kicked a 49-yard field goal in overtime to lift the Dallas Cowboys to a 20-17 victory over the Houston Texans. The Texans scored the last 10 points of regulation, but were forced to punt on the opening possession of the extra session. Dez Bryant made a spectacular 37-yard reception along the left sideline on Dallas’ ensuing touch to set up Bailey’s boot.


Final Score: Pittsburgh 17, Jacksonville 9

Ben Roethlisberger threw for a touchdown and Brice McCain returned an interception 22 yards for a touchdown as the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars, 17-9, on Sunday. Roethlisberger was 26-of-36 for 273 yards, throwing to 11 different receivers in the win. Antonio Brown caught five catches for 84 yards, Michael Palmer hauled in a touchdown pass and Heath Miller had three catches for 46 yards. Le’Veon Bell rushed for 82 yards on 15 carries for Pittsburgh (3-2), which bounced back from a 27-24 loss to Tampa Bay last week. Blake Bortles threw for 191 yards on 22-of-36 passing with two interceptions and Josh Scobee made three field goals for the Jaguars (0-5), who have lost three straight games to the Steelers.


Final Score: Philadelphia 34, St. Louis 28

The Eagles’ offense was once again contained to pedestrian levels, but touchdowns on defense and special teams helped Philadelphia hold off the St. Louis Rams, 34-28, in Week 5 action. The Eagles (4-1) relied on a defense that forced three turnovers and a special teams unit that scored on a blocked punt for the second straight week. Defensive end Cedric Thornton recovered two fumbles, picking up one in the end zone and returning another 40 yards to set up a Jeremy Maclin touchdown catch. Nick Foles threw a pair of touchdown passes but finished with just 207 yards with an interception and a lost fumble for Philadelphia, which was outgained 466-352 one week after being held without an offensive touchdown in a loss to the 49ers. The Rams (1-3) scored the final 21 points and moved the ball just past midfield in the final minute, but two dropped passes and an incompletion on fourth down spoiled a chance at a miraculous comeback. Austin Davis came on strong late and passed for 375 yards and three touchdowns, two going to Brian Quick.


Final Score: Buffalo 17, Detroit 14

Dan Carpenter hit a 58-yard field goal with just four seconds to play and the Buffalo Bills pulled off a 17-14 win over the Detroit Lions. Kyle Orton, making his first start for Buffalo in place of a benched EJ Manuel, threw for 308 yards and a touchdown on 30-of-43 passing with an interception for the Bills (3-2), who snapped a two-game losing streak. Matthew Stafford went 18-for-31 for 221 yards, one touchdown and one interception for the Lions (3-2), who had won their previous two games. Golden Tate caught seven passes for 134 yards and a score.


Final Score: NY Giants 30, Atlanta 20

Odell Beckham Jr.‘s first career touchdown catch highlighted a second-half surge that propelled the New York Giants to a 30-20 victory over the Atlanta Falcons at MetLife Stadium. Beckham’s 15-yard grab of an Eli Manning fade attempt with 10:02 to play was part of a 20-point swing that brought New York (3-2) back from a 20-10 third- quarter deficit to post its third consecutive win. Fellow rookie Andre Williams added a touchdown run during the rally, while Manning connected with Rueben Randle for a scoring strike earlier and finished with 200 passing yards and no turnovers on a 19-of-30 completion rate. Beckham, the Giants’ first-round pick of the 2014 draft who sat out the first four games with a hamstring injury, had 44 yards on four receptions in his debut. Williams, pressed into an extended role when Rashad Jennings sprained his left knee in the third quarter, totaled 65 yards on 20 carries. Julio Jones hauled in 11 Matt Ryan passes for 105 yards and Antone Smith had a 74-yard touchdown catch for Atlanta (2-3), but the Falcons’ offense went cold down the stretch en route to the club’s 10th loss in its last 11 on the road. Ryan ended 29-of-45 for 316 yards with one touchdown and an interception.


Final Score: Indianapolis 20, Baltimore 13

Andrew Luck passed for a touchdown and ran for another score, as the Indianapolis Colts overcame four turnovers in a 20-13 victory over the Baltimore Ravens at Lucas Oil Stadium. Luck connected on 32-of-49 passes for 312 yards, but was picked off twice. Ahmad Bradshaw rushed for 68 yards, but his fumble inside two minutes left nearly cost the game for the Colts (3-2), who have won their last three contests. Joe Flacco finished 22-of-38 for 235 yards with an interception for the Ravens (3-2), whose three-game winning streak was broken. Baltimore turned the ball over three times.


Final Score: Cleveland 29, Tennessee 28

Brian Hoyer’s second touchdown pass of the fourth quarter to Travis Benjamin was the go-ahead score with 1:09 left in the contest, as the Cleveland Browns rallied from a 25-point first-half deficit to claim a 29-28 victory over the Tennessee Titans in Week 5 action. Hoyer ended the day 21-of-37 for 292 yards, three TDs and one interception for the Browns (2-2), while Taylor Gabriel posted 95 yards on four receptions and Benjamin contributed 48 yards on four grabs. Ben Tate picked up 123 yards on 22 carries and Tank Carder was responsible for a blocked-punt safety early in the fourth quarter that stoked Cleveland’s comeback effort. Charlie Whitehurst was 13-of-21 for 194 yards and two scores for the Titans (1-4), who lost starter Jake Locker in the second quarter with a hand injury. Locker completed 8-of-11 attempts for 79 yards and threw the first of two TD receptions from Kendall Wright while also posting a rushing touchdown. Justin Hunter added a 75-yard scoring catch, while Wright ended with 47 yards on six catches.


Final Score: Carolina 31, Chicago 24

Greg Olsen’s second touchdown catch of the game late in the fourth quarter led the Carolina Panthers to a 31-24 win over the Chicago Bears on Sunday. Olsen had six catches for 72 yards while Cam Newton went 19-for-35 for 255 yards with two touchdowns and an interception while also losing a fumble for the Panthers (3-2), who ended a two-game slide. Matt Forte had 12 catches for 105 yards and a score, while adding 17 carries for 61 yards for the Bears (2-3), but had a late fumble that led to Carolina’s winning score. Jay Cutler went 28-for-36 with 289 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, adding a touchdown on the ground and a lost fumble for Chicago, which has lost its last two games.


Final Score: Denver 41, Arizona 20

Peyton Manning said Wednesday that getting to the 500-touchdown mark was just “the other thing.“ He got the best of both worlds on Sunday. Manning threw his 500th touchdown pass in the first quarter and finished with four TD tosses in the Denver Broncos’ 41-20 win over the Arizona Cardinals. Manning hooked up with tight end Julius Thomas for a 7- yard score on 3rd-and-goal at the 4:43 mark of the opening frame to get to the 500 milestone. He gave a mini fist pump following the touchdown. Manning finished 31-of-47 for 479 yards with two interceptions, while Demaryius Thomas had eight receptions for a career-high 226 yards and two touchdowns for Denver (3-1), which outscored Arizona 17-0 in the fourth to pull away. The five-time MVP Manning joined Brett Favre as the only other quarterback to eclipse 500 touchdown passes. Favre holds the all-time record with 508 TD tosses. Manning is five touchdowns away from tying him. Manning reached the milestone in his 244th career game, while it took Favre 293 contests to reach 500. Marvin Harrison has caught the most TD passes from Manning with 112, followed by Reggie Wayne with 67. The 38-year-old fired 399 of those TD passes in Indianapolis and currently has 104 with the Broncos.


Final Score: San Francisco 22, Kansas City 17

Phil Dawson made five field goals and the 49ers spoiled Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith’s return to San Francisco with a 22-17 victory. Trailing by five, Smith and the Chiefs started from their own 20 with 2:12 left and no timeouts. Perrish Cox prevented Smith from leading Kansas City down the field for a game-winning score, as he picked off the 2005 No. 1 overall pick. Smith was San Francisco’s starting quarterback until he suffered a concussion in a game against St. Louis in Week 10 of the 2012 season. Colin Kaepernick won the starting job from there, and Smith was traded to the Chiefs in 2013.


Final Score: San Diego 31, NY Jets 0

Philip Rivers passed for 288 yards and three touchdowns before being rested late, and the San Diego Chargers trounced an inept New York Jets squad, 31-0, on Sunday afternoon. Rivers completed 20-of-28 attempts and threw a pair of first-half scores to Antonio Gates for the Chargers (4-1), who pitched their first shutout since a similar score against Kansas City on December 12, 2010. Branden Oliver posted 182 yards of total offense and two touchdowns including a game-best 114 yards on 19 carries, with Gates contributing 60 yards on four receptions. The tandem of Geno Smith and Michael Vick combined to go 13-of-32 for 74 yards and one interception for the Jets (1-4), whose point total has decreased with each of their four straight defeats.


Final Score: New England 43, Cincinnati 17

The narrative leading up to Sunday night’s game was that the Cincinnati Bengals were the team to beat in the AFC and the New England Patriots had fallen off. The message, as always, is never count out Tom Brady. Brady threw two touchdown passes and the Patriots routed the previously-unbeaten Bengals, 43-17, at Gillette Stadium. Coming off an underwhelming triumph over the winless Raiders and a crushing defeat in Kansas City, the Patriots (3-2) got back on track with a statement win in front of their home fans. Brady completed 23-of-35 for 292 yards and New England racked up 220 yards on the ground, with Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen running for 113 and 90, respectively. Cincinnati (3-1) was the last team in the NFL to lose a game after Arizona fell to the Broncos earlier Sunday. Andy Dalton passed for 204 yards and two touchdowns, but Cincinnati’s defense failed to live up to the standards it set in the previous three games. The Bengals gave up just 33 points in those three wins before coughing up 43 in this one.


THURSDAY, OCTOBER 02


Final Score: Green Bay 42, Minnesota 10

Aaron Rodgers threw for three touchdowns to lead the Green Bay Packers to a 42-10 victory over the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field. Rodgers finished with 156 passing yards on 12-of-17 efficiency and Eddie Lacy had a season-high 105 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries for the Packers (3-2), who were coming off a 38-17 win over Chicago last week. Jordy Nelson had a 66-yard touchdown catch, while Davante Adams and Randall Cobb also caught a scoring pass. Christian Ponder rushed for a touchdown and completed 22 of his 44 passes for 222 yards and two interceptions for Minnesota (2-3), which was without starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater due to a sprained left ankle. Matt Asiata rushed 15 times for 72 yards and Adam Thielen had 57 yards on four catches in defeat.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  NBA extends TV deals with ABC/ESPN and Turner

The National Basketball Association has extended its television contracts with ABC/ESPN and Turner Broadcasting through the 2024-25 season.

The previous agreements were set to expire after the 2015-16 campaign. The new contract begins with the 2016-17 season.

Financial details were not disclosed, but the New York Times reports the value to be more than $2.6 billion per year.

“With these new agreements, our fans will continue to benefit from the outstanding NBA coverage and programming provided by ABC, ESPN, TNT, NBA TV and their digital platforms,“ said first-year NBA commissioner Adam Silver in a statement Monday.

ABC will continue to broadcast the NBA Finals, while ABC and ESPN will share playoff coverage with TNT. The two entities will split the conference finals.

TNT’s package will continue to include the All-Star Game and its surrounding festivities, while the regular-season coverage will increase by 12 games for a total of 64. The network will also air an awards show at the end of the season.

“This is a significant deal for our company and we are pleased to continue our long-standing partnership with the NBA, its fans, owners and players,“ said Turner president David Levy.

ABC/ESPN will add another 10 regular-season games for a total of 100. The ABC package will begin annually on Christmas Day.

“For ESPN, this agreement continues our fruitful, long-standing relationship with the NBA and bolsters what is already the sports industry’s most impressive and impactful collection of media rights,“ said ESPN president John Skipper.

By the end of the new agreements, the NBA’s partnership with Turner will reach 41 years, while the relationship with ABC/ESPN will extend to 23 years.

NBA TV will air more than 100 regular-season games each year, as well as up to nine postseason games.


►  Report: Nuggets, Faried agree to extension

The Denver Nuggets have agreed to terms on a multi-year contract extension with forward Kenneth Faried, sources told the Denver Post on Monday.

The length and value of Faried’s new deal is unclear. Yahoo! Sports first reported the pact to be worth $60 million over five years, but Faried would have to earn considerably more on a contract of that length under the NBA’s current Collective Bargaining Agreement as the team’s Designated Player.

Yahoo! later reported that the Nuggets have had discussions with the league over the contract’s parameters and that the two sides could eventually turn to a four-year deal.

Regardless, Denver has appeared to lock up one of its cornerstone players beyond his original rookie deal. Since being taken by the Nuggets with the 22nd overall pick of the 2011 NBA Draft, Faried has averaged 12.1 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.0 blocks over three seasons.

The energetic 24-year-old averaged a career-best 13.7 points along with 8.6 rebounds over 80 games during the 2013-14 campaign, then earned a starting role on the United States National Team that captured the gold medal at the FIBA World Cup over the summer.


►  Oladipo out with sprained MCL

Orlando Magic guard Victor Oladipo suffered a sprained right MCL last week and will miss Tuesday’s preseason opener against the Miami Heat.

Oladipo, who is expected to start the season in Orlando’s new-look backcourt along with former Nuggets guard Evan Fournier, injured his knee during a scrimmage last Friday.

“There’s a little soreness and for precautionary reasons I got an MRI to see what is said,“ Oladipo said. “I’m just day-to-day depending on how I respond to treatment.“

The second-year pro out of Indiana broke out as a rookie last season, finishing second behind Philadelphia’s Michael Carter-Williams in the Rookie of the Year race after averaging 13.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists.

Veteran shooting guard Willie Green is also out with a hyperextended left knee, and sharpshooting forward Channing Frye suffered a left MCL sprain a few days before Oladipo. All three players will travel with the team to Miami but won’t suit up.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Pirates manager Hurdle has hip surgery

Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle underwent successful hip replacement surgery on Monday.

The club announced that the 57-year-old skipper is expected to make a full recovery.

Hurdle led the Bucs to an 88-74 record this past season, good enough for second place in the NL Central and a wild card berth. He became the first Pirates manager to lead the club to back-to-back postseason appearances since Jim Leyland guided the three-time NL East champions from 1990-92.


►  National League Division Series Game Results

Final Score: Washington 4, San Francisco 1

Doug Fister and the Washington Nationals kept their championship hopes alive by flipping the script on Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants in Game 3 of the National League Division Series. With Fister rising up to twirl seven scoreless innings and Bumgarner committing a critical error that resulted in the game’s first two runs, the Nationals staved off elimination with a 4-1 victory at AT&T Park. After blowing a lead in the ninth en route to a crushing 18- inning loss in Saturday’s Game 2 to put its season on the brink, Washington showed its resiliency in forcing another game in this best-of-five set after dropping the initial two matchups at home. The Nationals got some help from the usually unflappable Bumgarner, whose errant throw to third base on Wilson Ramos’ seventh-inning sacrifice bunt enabled two runs to score and end a 0-0 stalemate. Fister (1-0) did his part on the hill, holding the Giants to four singles and three walks, and Bryce Harper provided an insurance run with a solo homer in the ninth inning. Asdrubal Cabrera added an RBI single to help Washington put an end to a 10-game postseason win streak for San Francisco that dated back to the 2012 NLCS. Bumgarner (1-1) had been on the mound for two of those triumphs, including last week’s NL Wild Card Game in which the lefty spun a four-hit, 10-strikeout shutout at Pittsburgh. The Giants’ ace fanned six over seven innings on Monday, but was reached for three runs—two earned—on six hits. San Francisco will try again to clinch on its home field when Game 4 takes place Tuesday.


Final Score: St. Louis 3, Los Angeles 1

Kolten Wong knew smacked a no-doubt, two-run blast in the seventh inning to give the St. Louis Cardinals a 3-1 victory and a National League Division Series lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday. The series and the scoreboard were even at 1-1 when heavy rains began to wet the field in the seventh. The cover was removed from the tarp, but play never stopped as the Dodgers dipped into their bullpen. Yadier Molina greeted reliever Scott Elbert (0-1) with a leadoff double down the left-field line and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt. The first pitch of the next at-bat proved to be the difference, as Wong annihilated Elbert’s slider and flipped his bat knowing it had the distance. The ball landed in a celebrating St. Louis bullpen, which pitched the final two innings behind a lights-out John Lackey. Lackey (1-0), the only starting pitcher in MLB history to win two World Series clinchers with two different teams, struck out eight over seven innings and allowed just one run on five hits. Matt Carpenter hit his third home run of the series for St. Louis, which can advance to the NL Championship Series with Shelby Miller on the mound Tuesday. Before the loss, the Dodgers announced they are countering Miller with Clayton Kershaw on three days’ rest. The presumptive NL Cy Young Award winner was tagged for eight runs in a 10-9 defeat in Game 1.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Fernandez earns Player of the Week honor

Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder Sebastian Fernandez was named the Player of the Week on Monday for Week 30 of the 2014 Major League Soccer season.

Fernandez buried a pair of goals inside the first 18 minutes on to keep his side in playoff contention with a 2-0 win over FC Dallas at BC Place.

Fernandez’s first goal came in the 14th minute of the game when the ball was played out right to midfielder Mauro Rosales who sent a first-time cross into the box that was met with a header by Fernandez.

He then put the result away with his second goal of the match four minutes later with a blistering strike past Dallas goalkeeper Raul Fernandez following a through ball from Rosales.

The MLS Player of the Week is selected each week of the regular season by a panel of journalists from the North America Soccer Reporters (NASR). The group consists of members of print, television, radio and online media.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Bryzgalov released from PTO among Wild roster moves

The Minnesota Wild released goaltender and 2014 playoff hero Ilya Bryzgalov from his professional tryout contract on Monday.

Bryzgalov, acquired from the Edmonton Oilers on March 5, finished last season with a 7-1-3 record, 2.12 goals-against average and three shutouts in 12 appearances for Minnesota. He went 3-6 in nine postseason appearances, but stopped the only shot he faced in relief of Darcy Kuemper during a series- clinching, 5-4, Game 7 overtime victory in Denver against the Colorado Avalanche.

The 34-year-old Russian backstop was an unrestricted free agent and signed his PTO on September 17.

In other moves, the Wild placed forward Justin Fontaine on injured reserve, retroactive to September 27, with a lower-body injury; placed forwards Stephane Veilleux and Cody Almond on waivers and assigned forwards Joel Rechlicz and Kurtis Gabriel to Iowa of the AHL.

Fontaine, 26, totaled 13 goals and 21 points in 66 games during his rookie campaign.

Veilleux totaled three goals in 34 games for Minnesota last season, his eighth with the franchise.


►  Blue Jackets, Johansen agree to 3-year deal

The Columbus Blue Jackets and Ryan Johansen have solved their contract impasse, with the club and center coming to an agreement on a three-year contract on Monday.

The new pact will pay the British Columbia native $3 million in each of the first two years and $6 million in the final year, an average annual value of $4 million for the duration. He will be a restricted free agent at the end of the contract.

“I wish this all could have been avoided, but it was necessary for us to go through it to get the deal done. Like everybody on our team, we expect him to get better,“ said Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen at a press conference. “There’s no reason to look in the rear-view mirror. Hopefully he’s worked out hard, and we’ll see once we get him out on the ice with the rest of the team. We’ll do the best we can to ensure he’s 100% ready as soon as possible.“

Columbus had extended a qualifying offer to the RFA back on June 30, the first salvo in what became a contentious series of negotiations which eventually led to Johansen’s holdout.

Johansen led the team in goals (33) and points (63) last season, his third in the NHL. The fourth overall pick of Columbus in the 2010 draft, he has posted 47 goals and 49 assists in 189 games for the franchise.

“He’s 22 years old, his potential is sky high. He could be one of the best players, but there’s a lot of work to be done before he gets there,“ Kekalainen added. “It will take time to get his timing back. Some players are able to adjust quicker. My message to him was ‘I’m happy to have you on board.‘“

Last year’s Metropolitan Division wild-card entrant begins the 2014-15 regular season Thursday in Buffalo.


►  Hurricanes F Skinner diagnosed with concussion

Carolina Hurricanes forward Jeff Skinner won’t start the 2014-15 season with the club after sustaining a head injury over the weekend.

“Jeff has been diagnosed with a concussion,“ said Carolina GM Ron Francis. “He will continue to be monitored by our team doctors and go through proper protocols in the coming days.“

Skinner was felled in Saturday’s exhibition finale against the Washington Capitals, on a hit delivered by defenseman Matt Niskanen.

The 2011 Calder Trophy winner collected a career-high 33 goals along with 54 points in 71 games last year, his fourth in the NHL.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Bianchi remains in ‘critical but stable’ condition after crash

Formula One’s governing body, the FIA, said on Monday that Marussia driver Jules Bianchi is listed in “critical but stable” condition after suffering a severe head injury during an accident in Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix.

Bianchi, a 25-year-old Frenchman, underwent emergency brain surgery just hours after the incident occurred.

In the closing laps of the Japanese GP, a race affected by heavy rain associated with Typhoon Phanfone, Bianchi slid off course and collided with a recovery vehicle that was removing Adrian Sutil’s car after the Sauber driver went off course and slammed hard into the barrier in turn 7. The safety car was immediately deployed following Bianchi’s crash, and the race ended nine laps short of its 53-lap distance. Lewis Hamilton from Mercedes won the event.

The FIA said on Sunday that Bianchi was unconscious when he was transported by ambulance to nearby Mie General Medical Center. He could not be airlifted to the hospital due to poor weather conditions.

The Marussia F1 Team released a statement regarding Bianchi on Monday.

“Following the accident involving Jules Bianchi during yesterday’s 2014 Formula One Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka Circuit, the Marussia F1 Team would like to acknowledge the huge outpouring of support and affection for Jules and the team at this very difficult time,“ the statement read. “With regard to the communication of information concerning Jules’ medical condition, we will respect, and be guided by, the wishes of the Bianchi family. Together with Jules’ care, they will remain our highest priority.

“Therefore, we would ask for patience and understanding with regard to further medical updates, which will be communicated in conjunction with the Mie General Medical Center in Yokkaichi, where Jules is being treated, when they feel it is appropriate.“

Representatives of the Marussia and Ferrari teams - Bianchi is a member of Ferrari’s Driver Academy - will remain at the hospital to support him and his family.“



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Wilson skyrockets up world rankings

Oliver Wilson earned his first European Tour title on Sunday and that helped him make a huge jump in this week’s world rankings.

Wilson leapt 636 spots to No. 156 as he held off world No. 1 Rory McIlroy and two others to win Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

McIlroy increased his lead atop the rankings to 2.85 average points. Following McIlroy, the top 12 were also unchanged with No. 2 Adam Scott followed by Sergio Garcia, Jim Furyk, Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose, Bubba Watson, Jason Day, Matt Kuchar, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Martin Kaymer.

Billy Horschel and Jordan Spieth exchanged places with Horschel up to 13th. The idle Dustin Johnson moved up two to 15 and that pushed Zach Johnson and Tiger Woods down to 16 and 17 respectively.

Graeme McDowell, Jimmy Walker and Hideki Matsuyama rounded out the top 20.

Richie Ramsay, who shared second place behind Wilson, jumped 57 to No. 93 this week.


►  Lee enters top 20 in women’s world rankings

Mirim Lee won the first of six straight LPGA Tour events in Asia last weekend and that helped her move into the top 20 in this week’s world rankings.

Lee jumped 10 places to No. 19 this week with her win at the Reignwood LPGA Classic.

The top five players remained the same with world No. 1 Stacy Lewis followed by Inbee Park, Lydia Ko, Suzann Pettersen and Karrie Webb.

Michelle Wie and So Yeon Ryu exchanged places with Wie up to No. 6. Lexi Thompson was No. 8 again this week and was followed by Shanshan Feng, Anna Nordqvist, Hyo-Joo Kim and Cristie Kerr.

Azahara Munoz won the Ladies European Tour event in France and improved two spots to 13th this week. That bumped Na Yeon Choi and Paula Creamer down one spot apiece to 14 and 15.

Lizette Salas, Angela Stanford and Sun Ju Ahn held steady at 16, 17 and 18. Lee moved to 19th and Ha Na Jang remained No. 20 in the new rankings. Amy Yang, who was 19th last week, dropped two notches to 21st.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Up the Backstretch: Keep Wise Dan on the turf

Even following his come-from-behind victory in Saturday’s $1 million Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland, there’s still talk of having Wise Dan race in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita on November1.

The question of having the two-time Horse of the Year start in the 1 1/4-mile Classic over the Mile was again asked of trainer Charlie LoPresti after his gelding’s length victory.

“I’ll leave it up to (breeder and owner) Mr. (Mort) Fink. The way he trained on the dirt here, the way he ran today, this is the kind of race I wanted for him,“ the trainer said. “They ran 35 (seconds) and change over a good turf. I’ll just leave it up to the boss, but I wouldn’t be afraid to run him anywhere - as long as he comes back good. You know he’s 7 years old; how many races does he have left? Maybe now’s the time to do it.“

There’s little question that Wise Dan would make a respectable showing in the Classic, but going longer than he’s gone in a long time over a dirt surface versus numerous top runners would only leave LoPresti and Fink open to second guessing.

“He’s trained so well over the dirt this year at Saratoga and here,“ LoPresti said at Keeneland, “I think if we’re ever going to try it, this would be the year. You just don’t know how many (races) he has in him, a horse of this age. And whether he’ll get a mile and a quarter, I don’t know. I guess the only way to find out is to try.“

Wise Dan has won the last two Breeders’ Cup Miles, both at Santa Anita, and has not run past 1 1/8 miles in a while. The 7-year-old is now in a battle with 3-year-old gelding Shared Belief for this year’s Horse of the Year crown.

Shared Belief has beaten older horses in his last two starts, including the 1 1/4-mile Pacific Classic going away. He’s expected to be the favorite for the Classic.

“Shared Belief will definitely be the morning line favorite for the Classic,“ said Jon White, who again will be making all of the official morning lines for the Breeders’ Cup races this year. “What I still am going to have to decide is how strong of a favorite. Of course, much can change between now and October 27 when post positions for the Breeders’ Cup are drawn and the Breeders’ Cup morning lines have to be submitted. But if I had to do it today, I’d make Shared Belief a 6-5 favorite for the Classic.“

Wise Dan has just one win from five career starts on dirt. The champion actually has nothing to prove with a start in the Classic. It might be more interesting for him to take on the world’s best grass runners in the 1 1/2- mile Turf at Santa Anita.


►  Shared Belief has slim lead over Wise Dan

Shared Belief and Wise Dan are separated by a mere seven points at the top of the NTRA Thoroughbred Poll.

Sitting atop of the rankings for a second straight week is Eclipse Award winning 3-year-old gelding Shared Belief. Winner of the recent Awesome Again Stakes, Shared Belief received 19 first-place votes and 420 points with less than four weeks until the Breeders’ Cup.

“He finished the race strong and he had to work for it after being taken out (wide),“ jockey Mike Smith said concerning Shared Belief’s Awesome Again effort. “But he came out of the race good. I just went to see him. He ate up, he’s happy, so all’s good. Sometimes a good race like that will put more in him.“

In second-place with 24 top votes and 413 points is two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan coming off a win in Saturday’s Shadwell Turf Mile.

“He did what we thought he would do,“ trainer Charlie LoPresti said. “He was primed to run a big race. He’s America’s horse.“

Moving up a spot in the rankings are Tonalist (291), California Chrome (1, 249), Main Sequence (211), Bayern (171) and Untapable (166).

Dropping five rungs to eighth is previous unbeaten 4-year-old filly Close Hatches, who received 156 points. The filly finished fourth behind Don’t Tell Sophia in Sunday’s Spinster Stakes at Keeneland.

“We’ll have to wait a week or two and see how she’s doing,“ said Garrett O’Rourke of Juddmonte Farms. “She owes us nothing for the year we’ve had with her. It would be nice to get to the Breeders’ Cup and give her a shot at the championship.“

Champion filly Beholder (102) and Palace Malice (53) round out the top 10.

The National Poll continues through the Breeders’ Cup on November 01.


►  Calder now known as Gulfstream Park West

Under an agreement with Churchill Downs Inc., The Stronach Group is operating Calder Race Course, now known as Gulfstream Park West.

“Our agreement is going to allow us to rejuvenate the fall racing season in Florida with quality horses and quality racing,“ said Gulfstream President Tim Ritvo. “We have spent considerable time and energy making changes at Gulfstream Park West not only for the horsemen but also the fans. While Gulfstream will remain open for simulcasting, we want the local community to feel welcome and comfortable at Gulfstream Park West.

“The Stronach Group’s initiative is to improve racing for the fans, horsemen and breeders over the long-term.“

Having Gulfstream Park operate the former Calder, will do away with a conflict of dates that was experienced this year.

Gulfstream Park West will have a 44-day meet featuring 23 stakes races worth a total of $1.775 million. The meeting begins on Wednesday through Sunday, November 30.

The Gilmer Free Press


TUESDAY, OCTOBER 07, 2014


Major League Baseball - Playoffs
Los Angeles at St. Louis, 5:07 or 8:37 PM - FS1
Washington at San Francisco, 9:07 PM - FS1


National Basketball Association - Preseason
Chicago at Detroit, 7:30 PM - CSN-Chicago
Orlando at Miami, 7:30 PM - SunSports
Houston at Dallas, 8:30 PM - CSN-Houston
Portland at Utah, 9:00 PM - ROOT-Northwest
Toronto at Sacramento, 10:00 PM - CSN-California
Golden State at LA Clippers, 10:30 PM - FS-Prime Ticket

Sports News

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The Gilmer Free Press

►  Pioneers Victorious over Urbana 31-28

The Glenville State Pioneer Football team picked up their first victory of the 2014 season today as they defeated the Urbana University Blue Knights at Morris Stadium by a final score of, 31-28.

Urbana would strike first as running back David Hill scored on a one yard run at the 9:23 minute mark of the first quarter as the Blue Knights went up, 7-0.

At the 1:24 minute mark of the first quarter quarterback Sean Steele hit wideout Dante Absher on a 20 yard touchdown pass as the Pioneers tied the game at 7-7.

Glenville State would then score the next 17 points as the Pioneers took a 24-7 lead into halftime.

In the second half the Pioneers would add another score at the 5:01 minute mark of the third quarter as Steele hit Ralph Gordon for a 77 yard touchdown pass as GSC went up, 31-7.

However Urbana would not be counted out as Quarterback Cody Schroeder hit Karim Jones Jr. on a five touchdown pass as Urbana made it, 31-14, just as the third quarter ended.

The Blue Knights would then add two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter to pull with three points, 31-28.

The Pioneers would then get the ball back with only 4:06 left to play in the game however the drive would stall and Urbana would have one last possession.

Urbana would then drive the ball down to the Pioneers 25 yard line with under 1:30 left to play however on the Blue Knights third play of the drive defensive end Gray Henderson would cause a fumble as Jevon Webster recovered the ball for the Pioneers as GSC held onto the win, 31-28.

The Pioneers defense caused five fumbles on the day and also had an interception despite giving up 524 yards of offense to Urbana. The Pioneers only had four penalties for 36 yards while Urbana finished with six penalties for 43 yards.

Tevin Drake led the rushing attack as he rushed for 84 yards on 17 carries. Rahmann Lee carried the ball 18 times for 41 yards.

Sean Steele had a good game throwing the ball as he went 17 for 29 for 266 yards with three touchdowns and an interception.

Wideout Ralph Gordon had a fabulous game as he caught five passes for 122 yards and two touchdowns. Dante Absher caught three passes for 77 yards and a touchdown.

On defense Gary Henderson finished with 9.5 total tackles, 2.5 sacks, 2.5 tackles for loss, and a forced fumble. Jeff Kidder finished with eight total tackles, a fumble recovery, and three pass breakups.


The Blue Knights were led by quarterback Cody Schroeder as he went 25 for 31 for 298 yards and three touchdowns. However Schroeder was sacked three times on the day. Karim Jones Jr. was Urbana’s leading receiver as he caught 13 passes for 175 yards and a touchdown.

Kevin Chapple led the Blue Knights defense with 9.5 total tackles.

The Pioneers hit the road next Saturday, October 04, 2014 as they travel to Buckhannon, West Virginia to take on the West Virginia Wesleyan Bobcats. Game-time is set for 12:00 PM.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  MEC Football Roundup - Week 4

Glenville State 31, Urbana 28 | Final Stats

Glenville State held off a late Urbana rally to claim its first victory of the season, 31-28, on Saturday afternoon at Morris Stadium.

The Pioneers (1-3, 1-3) led 31-7 late in the third quarter after Ralph Gordon hauled in a 77-yard touchdown pass from Sean Steele. However, Urbana rattled off 21-straight points to get to within three points with still four minutes off the clock. The Blue Knights had one last chance and worked the ball to the Glenville State 25-yard line before Gary Henderson registered a sack and forced a fumble that was recovered by the Pioneers that allowed them to run out the final 1:14 in the game.

GSC’s Tevin Drake rushed for 84 yards and Rahmann Lee was limited to 41 yards on 18 carries. Steele finished the game 17-of-29 for 266 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. Henderson led the defensive effort by finishing the game 15 total stops with 2.5 sacks.

Urbana (1-3, 1-3) finished the game with more first downs (30-19) and more yards of total offense (524-377). Cody Schroeder was 25-of-31 for 298 yards with three touchdowns, and Cale Burdyshaw was 11-of-16 for 82 yards and added 14 carries for 55 yards.


Charleston 28, Notre Dame 14 | Final Stats

Charleston remained unbeaten with a 28-14 win on the road at Notre Dame College on Saturday.

The Golden Eagles (4-0, 3-0) built a 19-0 lead midway through the third quarter and kept the Falcons at bay the rest of the way to earn the win. UC allowed just 25 yards rushing in the game and came up with the only two turnovers. Charleston controlled the ball for 38 minutes of the game and three of its four scoring drives lasted longer than four minutes.

Marvin Elam led the rushing attack with 160 yards and a touchdown.John Knox was 11-of-25 for 135 yards and two touchdowns and added another 33 yards rushing. Torie Wagner and D’Andre Dickerson each came up with interceptions and Trevor Duncan led the way with seven total stops.

Notre Dame (3-1, 3-1) was led offensively by Ray Russ who thre for 240 yards on 23-of-44 attempts with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Mitchel Shegos had 10 receptions for 117 yards with a touchdown. Kenneth Butler was held to just 42 yards on 16 carries.


Concord 61, West Liberty 24 | Final Stats

Concord rushed for over 300 yards and scored a pair of special teams touchdowns on its way to a 61-24 victory over West Liberty.

The Mountain Lions (4-0, 3-0) scored five touchowns of 30 yards or longer in the victory. Jermell Douse had a 65-yard punt return and a 55-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter to help spark CU in the victory. Calvainaugh Jones led the ground game with 108 yards, and Jamal Petty added 92 yards and a pair of rushing touchdowns, including 34-yard scamper in the third quarter. Quarterback Brian Novak was 15-of-21 for 223 and two touchdowns.

Nick Ortiz led CU with nine total tackles, including three for a loss, and Ervin Moore added eight stops and four TFLs. Cade Rogers recovered a punt blocked by Tiko Henderson in the end zone to supply a score for the Mountain Lions.

Dakota Conwell led West Liberty (2-2, 2-2) was 20-of-41 for 275 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, and also rushed for another score. Jeremiah Ortiz rushed 16 times for 68 yards.


No. 11 Shepherd 56, West Virginia Wesleyan 7 | Final Stats

After falling behind early 7-0, Shepherd scored 56 consecutive points on its way to a lopsided win over West Virginia Wesleyan on Saturday afternoon.

Trailing 7-0 after a Jeremy Musselman touchdown run, the Rams (4-0, 4-0) used big plays early to help set the tone for the game as C.J. Davis scored on a 91-yard punt return for a touchodwn, and then Octavius Thomas scooped up a fumble forced by Shaquille Melvin and rumbled 20 yards to move ahead 14-7. Jabre Lolley added another score late in the quarter to make it 21-7, and then the Rams put the game away with 23 points in the second quarter. Shepherd slowed things down in the second half owning the ball for 18 of the 30 minutes in the second half.

The Rams held West Virginia Wesleyan (1-3, 1-3) to just 158 yards of total offense and just 2.5 yards per play. Thomas finished the game with a team-best six total tackles.

Malik Henderson led SU with 93 yards rushing and a touchdown, and Lolley found the end zone twice while rushing for 64 yards. Jeff Ziemba was 9-of-16 for 122 yards and a touchdown.

Musselman was held to just 12-of-25 passing for 112 yards and was picked off three times.


Fairmont State 24, West Virginia State 12 | Final Stats

Fairmont State had over 200 yards both rushing and passing in a 24-12 road victory over West Virginia State on Saturday.

Tyler Pate started and completed 18-of-30 passes for 210 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions, and also had 52 yards rushing. Daniel Monroe had 96 yards rushing and one touchdown to lead FSU (2-2, 2-2) on the ground.

Trevor Malnick led the Falcons on defense with seven total tackles, including 1.5 sacks, a tackle for a loss and a forced fumble.

Fairmont State held WVSU (1-3, 0-3) to just 51 yards rushing, but WVSU quarterback Matt Kinnick completed 34-of-55 passes for 406 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Quinton Gray had 11 catches for 119 yards for the Yellow Jackets. Will Merritt had a game-high 14 tackles for WVSU.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  TOP-25 COLLEGE SCORES

Final Score: (1) Florida State 56, North Carolina State 41

Top-ranked Florida State survived a scare last week without its reigning Heisman Trophy winner. The Seminoles’ unblemished record, which includes the nation’s longest active winning streak, was in doubt again on Saturday. This time, however, Jameis Winston made sure it stayed intact. Winston threw for 365 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions to lead Florida State to a 56-41 win over upset-minded North Carolina State at Carter-Finley Stadium. The signal caller was suspended for last week’s 23-17 overtime victory against then-No. 22 Clemson due to an inappropriate comment made in the student union. Backup Sean McGuire, making his first collegiate start, took over in Winston’s absense and led the ‘Noles to the tense home victory. Florida State has now won 20 straight dating back to its last setback against then-No. 6 Florida on Nov. 24, 2012. Karlos Williams had 126 yards on 21 carries with three touchdowns and Rashad Greene hauled in 11 passes for 125 yards and a score for the Seminoles (4-0, 2-0 ACC), who have won 16 straight games in conference.


Final Score: (5) Auburn 45, Louisiana Tech 17

Nick Marshall threw for three touchdowns to lead the fifth-ranked Auburn Tigers to a 45-17 victory over the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs on Saturday. Marshall finished with 166 yards on 10-of-17 efficiency and rushed for 105 more yards on 13 carries. Quan Bray finished with 189 all- purpose yards and three scores, including a 76-yard punt return touchdown for Auburn (4-0), which won its 300th game at Jordan-Hare Stadium. D’haquille Williams and C.J. Uzomah both caught receiving touchdowns and Cameron Artis- Payne led the ground game with 116 yards on 22 carries and a score. Cody Sokol completed 20 of his 35 passes for 216 yards with an interception and Kenneth Dixon had two rushing touchdowns for Louisiana Tech (2-3), which has dropped its last two games.


Final Score: (6) Texas A&M 35, Arkansas 28 (OT)

Malcome Kennedy’s touchdown catch in overtime helped No. 6 Texas A&M survive a scare with a 35-28 win over Arkansas. The Aggies (5-0, 2-0 SEC) trailed by two touchdowns entering the fourth, but touchdown grabs by Edward Pope and Josh Reynolds rallied Texas A&M. Reynolds’ 59-yard score tied the game with 2:08 left to set up overtime. Texas A&M began the extra session with the ball and the first play saw Kenny Hill rifle a pass over the middle where Kennedy caught the ball and ran it in for a 35-28 lead. Arkansas (3-2, 0-2) quickly faced a 4th-and-1, but Alex Collins was stuffed at the line and the Aggies held on for the win. Hill finished the game 21-for-41 for 386 yards with four touchdown passes and an interception, with Pope catching two of the scores among his four receptions for 151 yards for Texas A&M. Brandon Allen was 15-of-27 for 199 yards and one score for the Razorbacks, who got rushing scores from Collins, Jonathan Williams and Sam Irwin-Hill.


Final Score: (7) Baylor 49, Iowa State 28

Bryce Petty threw for 336 yards and a touchdown and scored twice on the ground, as No. 7 Baylor’s top-ranked offense put up another big number in a 49-28 win over Iowa State on Saturday. With a couple of receivers back from injury, Petty completed 30-of-44 passes—also throwing his first interception of the season—and Shock Linwood rushed for 82 yards and three touchdowns for the Bears (4-0, 1-0 Big 12), who were coming off a bye week after winning their first three games by a combined score of 178-27. Corey Coleman played after sitting out the first three games with a hamstring injury and caught 12 passes for 154 yards and a score. Antwan Goodley, last season’s leading receiver, appeared for the first time since injuring a quad in Week 1 and had six catches for 114 yards.


Final Score: (8) Notre Dame 31, Syracuse 15

Everett Golson had an uneven performance in eighth-ranked Notre Dame’s 31-15 win over the Syracuse Orange at MetLife Stadium on Saturday night. Golson was 32-of-39 for 362 yards with four touchdowns and set a Fighting Irish record with 25 straight completions, but also threw two interceptions—one of which was returned for a score—and fumbled twice. Notre Dame (4-0) committed a total of five turnovers, allowing Syracuse to hang around. Terrel Hunt completed 22-of-38 passes for 294 yards with one interception for the Orange (2-2).


Final Score: (9) Michigan State 56, Wyoming 14

Connor Cook threw a pair of touchdown passes and ran for a score, as ninth-ranked Michigan State had another easy tune-up for the Big Ten schedule with a 56-14 rout of Wyoming on Saturday at Spartan Stadium. Jeremy Langford ran for 137 yards with a score on 16 carries and Nick Hill chipped in 71 yards on the ground for the Spartans (3-1), who completed their non-conference slate and will open Big Ten play next Saturday at home against Nebraska. After a bye following their 46-27 loss at No. 2 Oregon three weeks ago, the Spartans have dominated the opposition the last two weeks. Last Saturday, Michigan State piled up 336 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns in a 73-14 demolition of Eastern Michigan. Against the overmatched Cowboys, Michigan State bettered that mark with 338 yards on the ground with five scores. Shaun Wick ran for 85 yards on five carries, including a 57-yard score, for Wyoming (3-2), while Colby Kirkegaard threw for 188 yards with a touchdown and an interception in defeat. The Cowboys have won each of their three home games and have been blown out by ranked opposition in their road outings. Wyoming went to Oregon two weeks ago and left with a 48-14 setback against the Ducks.


Final Score: (10) Ole Miss 24, Memphis 3

Perhaps Mississippi was caught looking ahead with an October gauntlet in the SEC looming—at least through the first three quarters. Bo Wallace tossed both of his touchdown passes to Laquon Treadwell, who posted five receptions for 123 yards, and the 10th-ranked Rebels pulled away from Memphis, 24-3, on Saturday night. Turnovers, penalties and missed field goals marred the offensive and special teams side of the ball, despite the Rebels outgaining the Tigers, 426-104. They recorded four turnovers, were penalized 10 times for 117 yards and Andrew Fletcher missed a pair of field goals. Ole Miss outscored Memphis 17-0 in the fourth quarter.


Final Score: (12) Georgia 35, Tennessee 32

Todd Gurley had plenty of rest last week and his fresh legs carried 12th-ranked Georgia to a 35-32 win over Tennessee on Saturday at Sanford Stadium. Gurley sat out the final three quarters of last week’s 66-0 rout of Troy and was the workhorse on Saturday. The Heisman candidate ran for a career-high 208 yards with a pair of touchdowns on 28 carries and caught four passes for 30 yards for the Bulldogs (3-1, 1-1 SEC), who beat Tennessee for the fifth straight time. Hutson Mason threw for 147 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions, while adding a score on the ground for Georgia. The Bulldogs, who rallied from an early 10-0 hole on Saturday, had lost their SEC opener two weeks ago at South Carolina. Saturday was the conference opener for Tennessee (2-2, 0-1), which started its SEC slate with an opponent other than Florida for the first time since 2001. Justin Worley completed 23-of-35 passes for 264 yards with three touchdowns in defeat, but sat out a majority of the third quarter with an elbow injury. Jalen Hurd ran for 119 yards with a touchdown, but also had a costly fumble in the end zone that gave Georgia its clinching score in an exciting fourth quarter that featured a combined 29 points.


Final Score: Missouri 21, (13) South Carolina 20

Russell Hansbrough had three touchdown runs, including a 1-yarder on fourth down with 1:36 left in the game that boosted Missouri to a 21-20 win over No. 13 South Carolina on Saturday. Missouri (4-1, 1-0 SEC) rallied from a 13-point deficit to win its conference opener, one week after suffering a 31-27 home loss to Indiana. It was a tough night for Missouri quarterback Maty Mauk, who completed only 12-of-34 passes for 132 yards, but more than half of them came during a big fourth-quarter drive. Marcus Murphy gained 98 yards on 16 carries, while Hansbrough ended with 43 yards on the ground. Dylan Thompson had 219 yards passing on 21-of-37 attempts along with a TD for the Gamecocks (3-2, 2-2).


Final Score: (16) Stanford 20, Washington 13

Quarterback Kevin Hogan overcame two second- half turnovers to rush for the winning 5-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, lifting No. 16 Stanford to a 20-13 win over Washington on Saturday. Hogan had a 17-yard touchdown pass to Ty Montgomery in the first half, but threw an interception in the third quarter and fumbled in the red zone in the fourth before scrambling for the go-ahead score with 4:29 remaining after the Cardinal defense stuffed a fake punt attempt by Washington. Stanford (3-1, 1-1 Pac-12) and its top-ranked defense has held all four of its opponents under 14 points this season, but many of the big plays on that side of the ball Saturday came from Washington (4-1, 0-1). Huskies linebacker Shaq Thompson scored on a fumble return to tie the game at 13-13 going into halftime and forced a fumble when he hit Hogan in the fourth quarter with Stanford threatening to take the lead. But Thompson was also the player who was stopped when Washington tried a fake punt on 4th-and-9 near midfield, leading to the Cardinal’s winning score.


Final Score: (17) LSU 63, New Mexico State 7

Freshman quarterback Brandon Harris took over for Anthony Jennings in the second quarter and scored five total touchdowns as the No. 17 LSU Tigers routed the New Mexico State Aggies, 63-7, on Saturday. Harris completed 11 of his 14 passes for 178 yards and three passing touchdowns. He also added 36 yards and two scores on the ground for the Tigers (4-1), who extended their non-conference regular season winning streak to 49 games. Malachi Dupree, Travin Dural and Melvin Jones each caught a touchdown and Leonard Fournette finished with a game-high 122 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries in the best game of his young career. Tyler Rogers threw for 86 yards on 14-of-31 passing with two touchdowns for the Aggies (2-3), who had Andrew Allen run for 113 yards and a touchdown on five carries.


Final Score: (19) Wisconsin 27, South Florida 10

Melvin Gordon ran for two second-half touchdowns to lead the 19th-ranked Wisconsin Badgers past the South Florida Bulls, 27-10, on Saturday. Gordon carried the ball 32 times for 181 yards for the Badgers (3-1), who have won 32 consecutive home games against non- conference opponents. The junior running back was coming off a career-high 253 yards and school record-tying five touchdowns on just 13 carries in a 68-17 win over Bowling Green last Saturday. After blasting Bowling Green with a Big Ten modern-era record 644 rushing yards, Wisconsin was limited to 294 yards on the ground against South Florida. Tanner McEvoy completed 11- of-18 passes for 160 yards and one touchdown for the Badgers. Alex Erickson caught six passes for 91 yards. Mike White connected on 8-of-19 passes for 173 yards and an interception for the Bulls (2-3), who have lost three of four since starting the season with a win over Western Carolina.


Final Score: (21) Nebraska 45, Illinois 14

Ameer Abdullah ran for 208 yards and three touchdowns to carry 21st-ranked Nebraska to a 45-14 rout of Illinois in the Big Ten opener for both teams. Tommy Armstrong Jr. completed 10-of-21 passes for 166 yards with a touchdown and an interception for the Cornhuskers (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten), who got rushing TDs from Imani Cross and Terrell Newby. Cross had 109 yards rushing, part of a 458-yard ground effort for the Cornhuskers. It was the second strong showing on the ground for Abdullah. Last week, the senior finished with 229 yards on a career-best 35 carries in a 41-31 win over Miami-Florida. Kenny Bell caught five balls for 105 yards and a score in the win, during which Nebraska piled up 624 yards. Reilly O’Toole started in place of an injured Wes Lunt (leg) and completed 17-of-38 throws for 261 yards with a score and three interceptions for Illinois (3-2, 0-1).


Final Score: (22) Ohio State 50, Cincinnati 28

J.T. Barrett threw four touchdown passes, Ezekiel Elliott had an impressive rushing performance and 22nd-ranked Ohio State pulled away to post a 50-28 victory over Cincinnati at Ohio Stadium. Barrett was 26-of-36 for 330 yards and added 79 yards on the ground, while Elliott ran for 182 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries. Ohio State (3-1), which finished with 710 yards of offense and 45 first downs, hasn’t lost to an in-state school since a 7-6 defeat against Oberlin in 1921. The Buckeyes haven’t lost in 45 consecutive games against other Ohio-based teams. Chris Moore caught touchdown passes of 60, 83 and 78 yards from Cincinnati quarterback Gunner Kiel. Those were Moore’s only three receptions in the game. Kiel also threw a touchdown pass to Johnny Holton and ended with 352 yards on 21-of-32 efficiency for the Bearcats (2-1), who were down only five in the third quarter before Ohio State scored the game’s final 17 points.


Final Score: (25) Kansas State 58, UTEP 28

Charles Jones rushed for 76 yards and three touchdowns, as No. 25 Kansas State staked its claim to remain in the rankings with a 58-28 thrashing of UTEP on Saturday afternoon. Jake Waters finished 10-of-15 for 209 yards with one touchdown through the air and one on the ground for the Wildcats (3-1), who face a Big 12 test next Saturday against Texas Tech. Tyler Lockett had 84 yards on four receptions and contributed a punt return for a score, while DeMarcus Robinson and Joe Hubener also added rushing TDs. Jameill Showers was 18-of-28 for 201 yards and four touchdowns for the Miners (2-2), who kick off their Conference USA slate at Louisiana Tech seven days from now. Ian Hamilton led all receivers with 112 yards on five grabs and a pair of scores, while Aaron Jones and Eric Tomlinson each posted a TD catch in defeat.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  NFL Inactives - Sunday, September 28, 2014

The following is a list of inactive players for today’s games.

MIAMI DOLPHINS AT OAKLAND RAIDERS, 1:00 PM (ET)

Miami - LB Chris McCain, LB Koa Misi, RB Knowshon Moreno, C Mike Pouncey,

C Shelley Smith, DT Randy Starks, OT Billy Turner

Oakland - OL Tony Bergstrom, OT Matt McCants, WR Denarius Moore, LB Sio

Moore, LB Nick Roach, QB Matt Schaub, WR Rod Streater

GREEN BAY PACKERS AT CHICAGO BEARS, 1:00 PM (ET)

Green Bay - WR Jarrett Boykin, LB Carl Bradford, C Garth Gerhart, CB

Demetri Goodson, LB Brad Jones, QB Scott Tolzien

Chicago - DE Jared Allen, C/G Roberto Garza, OT Charles Leno, LB Shea

McClellin, CB Sherrick McManis, NT Jeremiah Ratliff, G Matt Slauson

CAROLINA PANTHERS AT BALTIMORE RAVENS, 1:00 PM (ET)

Carolina - S Tre Boston, LB Thomas Davis, G Andrew Norwell, RB Jonathan

Stewart, QB Joe Webb, RB Fozzy Whittaker, TE Brandon Williams

Baltimore - LB Arthur Brown, WR Michael Campanaro, DT Lawrence Guy, DT

Timmy Jernigan, OT Eugene Monroe, OG John Urschel, CB/RS Lardarius Webb

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS AT PITTSBURGH STEELERS, 1:00 PM (ET)

Tampa Bay - G Kadeem Edwards, DE Larry English, LB Mason Foster, WR Robert

Herron, RB Mike James, QB Josh McCown, OT Kevin Pamphile

Pittsburgh - WR Martavis Bryant, G Ramon Foster, OT Wesley Johnson, QB

Landry Jones, DL Daniel McCullers, LB Ryan Shazier, CB Ike Taylor

TENNESSEE TITANS AT INDIANAPOLIS COLTS, 1:00 PM (ET)

Tennessee - LB Akeem Ayers, WR Kris Durham, CB Brandon Harris, QB Jake

Locker, DE Ropati Pitoitua, OT Byron Stingily, TE Taylor Thompson

Indianapolis - S Colt Anderson, LB Jerrell Freeman, C/G Khaled Holmes, DE

Arthur Jones, WR Da’Rick Rogers, LB Andy Studebaker, G Hugh Thornton

DETROIT LIONS AT NEW YORK JETS, 1:00 PM (ET)

Detroit - S Don Carey, TE Joseph Fauria, LB Travis Lewis, QB Kellen Moore,

DB Cassius Vaughn, OT LaAdrian Waddle, DE Larry Webster

NY Jets - DT T.J. Barnes, G Dakota Dozier, LB A.J. Edds, DE IK Enemkpali,

OT Ben Ijalana, CB Dee Milliner, WR Walter Powell

BUFFALO BILLS AT HOUSTON TEXANS, 1:00 PM (ET)

Buffalo - RB Bryce Brown, CB Ross Cockrell, WR Marcus Easley, WR Marquise

Goodwin, LB Randell Johnson, OT Cyrus Kouandjio, G Chris Williams

Houston - OT Jeff Adams, CB A.J. Bouye, LB Jadeveon Clowney, S Shiloh Keo,

SS Eddie Pleasant, WR DeVier Posey, QB Tom Savage

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS AT SAN DIEGO CHARGERS, 4:05 PM (ET)

Jacksonville - LB Jeremiah George, CB Jeremy Harris, WR Tavarres King, WR

Marqise Lee, G Austin Pasztor, OG Tyler Shatley, TE Mickey Shuler

San Diego - LB Jeremiah Attaochu, TE David Johnson, RB Ryan Mathews, G

Rich Ohrnberger, LB Manti Te’o, CB Jason Verrett, LB Reggie Walker

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES AT SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS, 4:25 PM (ET)

Philadelphia - QB Matt Barkley, OT Kevin Graf, DE Taylor Hart, WR Josh

Huff, C Jason Kelce, LB Mychal Kendricks, CB Jaylen Watkins

San Francisco - CB Tramaine Brock, DT Tank Carradine, G/C Dillon Farrell,

QB Josh Johnson, C Marcus Martin, TE Vance McDonald, WR Quinton Patton

ATLANTA FALCONS AT MINNESOTA VIKINGS, 4:25 PM (ET)

Atlanta - CB Javier Arenas, WR Harry Douglas, DE Cliff Matthews, QB Sean

Renfree, OT Ryan Schraeder, LB Tyler Starr, C James Stone

Minnesota - DE Scott Crichton, LB Chad Greenway, OT Charlie Johnson, TE

Kyle Rudolph, WR Rodney Smith, LB Brandon Watts, G David Yankey

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS AT DALLAS COWBOYS, 8:30 PM (ET)

New Orleans - None

Dallas - None


►  Chiefs RB Charles Probable for Monday Night

After missing last week’s game, Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles is listed as probable to play Monday night against the New England Patriots.

Charles missed last week’s 34-15 win against the Miami Dolphins after suffering a high ankle sprain early in a Week 2 loss to the Denver Broncos.

Charles was limited in practice this week. The Texas product has just 23 yards on nine carries this season.

Knile Davis carried the load with Charles out last week. Fellow running back Joe McKnight, who caught six passes for 64 yards and two touchdowns against the Dolphins, ruptured his Achilles during Thursday’s practice.

Running back De’Anthony Thomas (hamstring) is listed as questionable for Monday.

As expected, safety Eric Berry (ankle) was ruled out. He missed practice all week.


►  Patriots Place Siliga on Short-Term IR

The New England Patriots signed defensive lineman Casey Walker off Carolina’s practice squad and placed defensive lineman Sealver Siliga on injured reserve with a designation to return.

Siliga suffered a foot injury against Oakland last Sunday. He played in the first three games with two starts.

Siliga is eligible to return on November 23 against the Detroit Lions.

Walker spent part of the 2013 season on the Carolina practice squad.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  76ers Acquire G Bogans from Cavaliers

The Philadelphia 76ers acquired a 2018 second-round draft pick from the Cleveland Cavaliers along with guard Keith Bogans in exchange for the Sixers’ protected 2015 second-round pick.

As a result of the trade, the Cavs will receive a trade exception of approximately $5.3 million.

Bogans was recently acquired by the Cavaliers via a trade with Boston.

Bogans has played in 671 career games (333 starts) with Orlando, Charlotte, Houston, Milwaukee, San Antonio, Chicago, Brooklyn and Boston, averaging 6.3 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.3 assists.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Reds Give GM Jocketty Two-Year Extension

The Cincinnati Reds signed president of baseball operations and general manager Walt Jocketty to a two-year contract extension on Saturday.

Jocketty’s original contract was to have expired at the end of this season.

“This franchise has had great success under Walt’s guidance, and we’re delighted he has signed a two-year extension,“ said Reds president/CEO Bob Castellini.

Jocketty joined the organization in January 2008 as a special assistant to Castellini and was named to his current position three months later. The Reds entered Saturday’s action with a 74-86 record.

Jocketty’s best season with the team came in 2010 when the Reds finished with a 91-71 record and took the National League Central crown by five games over the St. Louis Cardinals.

It was the team’s first postseason berth since 1995.

Following the 2010 campaign, Jocketty was named Major League Baseball’s Executive of the Year. He also won the award in 2000 and 2004 with St. Louis.

The Reds also won the NL Central in 2012 and earned a wild card berth in 2013.


►  Orioles Bring Up Casilla from Minors

The Baltimore Orioles announced Saturday that the contract of infielder Alexi Casilla was selected from Triple-A Norfolk.

Casilla has spent the entire 2014 campaign in the minors, hitting .264 with one home run, eight doubles and 19 RBI over 56 games at Norfolk after a four- game stint at Single-A Aberdeen.

The 30-year-old native of the Dominican Republic last played in the majors in 2013 with the O’s, appearing in 62 games and hitting just .214. Over 577 games with Minnesota and Baltimore, he has collected 12 homers, 76 doubles, 15 triples, 225 runs scored and 157 batted in with a .248 average.

To make room on the 40-man roster, the Orioles designated pitcher Preston Guilmet for assignment. Guilmet went 0-1 with a 5.23 earned run average in 10 games this season.


►  NATIONAL LEAGUE SCORES

Final Score: Arizona 5, St. Louis 2

Mark Trumbo homered twice and knocked in four runs to lead the Arizona Diamondbacks to a 5-2 win over St. Louis to prevent the Cardinals from wrapping up the NL Central title. David Peralta went 3-for-4 with a homer and two runs scored, while Ender Inciarte extended his hitting streak to 15 games. Arizona snapped a three-game losing streak. The Cardinals squandered the opportunity to clinch the division championship with a win because of Pittsburgh’s loss earlier in the day. St. Louis remains a game up on the Pirates for first place with just one game remaining for each team. If the clubs end in a tie after Sunday, there will be a one-game playoff in St. Louis Monday to determine the division winner.


Final Score: Cincinnati 10, Pittsburgh 6 (10 innings)

Ramon Santiago hit a grand slam in the bottom of the 10th to lift the Cincinnati Reds over the Pittsburgh Pirates, 10-6, in the middle installment of a three-game series. The Pirates sent John Axford (0-1) to the mound in the 10th. Todd Frazier walked, Chris Heisey singled and Ryan Ludwick walked to load the bases with one out. Bobby LaFromboise came in from the bullpen and got pinch-hitter Brayan Pena to fly out to shallow right field. Santiago then stepped to the plate and smacked a 1-0 pitch over the wall in left.


Final Score: Los Angeles 6, Colorado 5 (12 innings)

Scott Van Slyke stole third base and then scored on a Franklin Morales wild pitch in the 12th inning to boost the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 6-5 win over the Colorado Rockies. Van Slyke singled to right field with one out and Tim Federowicz was hit by a pitch. Van Slyke then swiped third and Morales’ errant pitch ended the 4-hour, 6-minute contest. Adrian Gonzalez homered for the NL West champions. Van Slyke scored twice for the Dodgers, who notched their fourth straight win.


Final Score: Washington 5, Miami 1

Stephen Strasburg tossed six scoreless innings and drove in a run, as the Washington Nationals downed the Miami Marlins, 5-1, in the third contest of a four-game set. Asdrubal Cabrera hit a three-run double and Adam LaRoche drove in a run for the Nationals, who bounced back from a 15-7 loss in the nightcap of Friday’s doubleheader. Strasburg (14-11) surrendered just two hits and a walk with seven strikeouts over six scoreless innings for the win for the NL East champions. Casey McGehee scored and had two hits for Miami, which has dropped two of its last three games. Nathan Eovaldi (6-14) allowed two runs on eight hits and three walks with five strikeouts over seven frames to lose his career-high eighth straight decision.


Final Score: San Francisco 3, San Diego 1

Brandon Crawford’s two-run single in the bottom of the eighth lifted the San Francisco Giants over the San Diego Padres, 3-1, in the third contest of a four-game series. The Padres sent Dale Thayer (4-5) to the mound in the eighth. Matt Duffy reached on a fielder’s choice and advanced to second on Cory Spangenberg’s throwing error. Brandon Belt and Andrew Susac walked to load the bases. After pinch- hitter Pablo Sandoval struck out swinging, Crawford hit a two-run single to right. Hunter Strickland (1-0) retired the side in the top of the eighth for the Giants, who are locked into the second wild card spot in the National League. Santiago Casilla tossed a scoreless ninth for his 19th save of the season. Giants outfielder Hunter Pence wasn’t in Saturday’s starting lineup, ending his major league-leading streak of 331 consecutive starts. A pinch-hitting appearance in the seventh inning kept alive his MLB-best streak of 382 games in a row. Jake Peavy got the start for San Francisco and allowed one run on four hits with three walks over five innings against his former team. San Diego starter Eric Stults gave up one run on six hits over seven innings.


Final Score: Atlanta 4, Philadelphia 2

Justin Upton and B.J. Upton both homered and threw a runner out at home as the Atlanta Braves held on for a 4-2 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday night. Justin Upton broke a tie with a two-run blast in the seventh off Philadelphia starter A.J. Burnett (8-18). The Phillies loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth, but closer Craig Kimbrel earned his 46th save when Andrelton Simmons snagged Ben Revere’s liner. The shortstop had committed a fielding error earlier in the inning. Aaron Harang (12-12) gave up two runs on eight hits in 6 2/3 innings to pick up the win, just the third in the last 15 games for Atlanta. Burnett, who has hinted that this could be his final season, allowed four runs on five hits and three walks in 6 2/3 innings. Ryan Howard finished 3-for-4 with a home run and two RBI for Philadelphia.


Final Score: NY Mets 2, Houston 1

Lucas Duda hit a two-run home run with two outs in the ninth inning to give the New York Mets a 2-1 win over the Houston Astros in the second of a season-ending three-game set. With one out and Tony Sipp (4-3) on the mound, Eric Young tripled to left-center field and remained there after Daniel Murphy flied out. Duda, though, drilled a pitch that hit hard off the netting on the right field foul pole for the win. The home run made a winner out of Jenrry Mejia (6-6), who tossed a scoreless ninth inning. Rafael Montero gave up a run on six hits with a pair of walks and six strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings for the Mets, who had lost three of four coming in. Jason Castro drove in the lone run for the Astros, who have lost four of their last five. Samuel Deduno gave up a hit and a walk while striking out four over four innings.


Final Score: Milwaukee 2, Chicago 1

Wily Peralta tossed seven solid innings and Carlos Gomez homered to lead the Milwaukee Brewers to a 2-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs in the middle test of a three-game set on Saturday. Jonathan Lucroy hit an RBI double and had three hits, while Peralta (17-11) surrendered just one run on five hits and a walk with a career-high 13 strikeouts for the Brewers, who snapped a two-game skid. Anthony Rizzo finished with two hits and an RBI for Chicago, which entered the game with three straight wins. Tsuyoshi Wada (4-4) was tagged with the loss after giving up two runs on eight hits across five-plus frames. 


►  AMERICAN LEAGUE SCORES

Final Score: Seattle 2, LA Angels of Anaheim 1 (11 innings)

Austin Jackson hustled down the first-base line and his final lunge toward the bag kept the Seattle Mariners in the AL wild-card chase heading into the final day of the season. Brad Miller scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the 11th inning and the Mariners edged the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 2-1, in the middle test of a three-game set on Saturday night. The Mariners, who were unable to take advantage of a bases- loaded, no-out situation in the ninth, struck in the 11th. Miller lined a one- out double down the right-field line off Mike Morin (4-4) and Chris Taylor blooped a base hit into center to put runners on the corners. Vinnie Pestano came on for Morin and Jackson bounced one to a drawn-in Grant Green at second. Green went to second for the force out, but Gordon Beckham’s relay throw to first was a tad too late. Seattle is one game behind Oakland for the AL’s final wild card spot. The A’s lost to Texas earlier Saturday.


Final Score: Texas 5, Oakland 4

Robinson Chirinos hit a two-run home run to lead the Texas Rangers in a 5-4 win over the Oakland Athletics in the second of a season-ending three-game series. Oakland has yet to clinch the final playoff spot in the American League, as the loss has them one game ahead of Seattle going to the final day of the regular season. The Mariners beat the Angels in 11 innings Saturday night. If the teams end in a tie, there will be a one-game playoff at Safeco Field Monday to determine the second wild card team. Jake Smolinski hit a solo home run and score twice while Adrian Beltre and Rougned Odor each drove in a run for the Rangers, who came into the game having won 12 of their previous 14 games. Scott Baker pitched four-plus innings and allowed two runs on four hits with five strikeouts. Spencer Patton (1-0) pitched a scoreless seventh inning to pick up his first career win. Josh Donaldson was 3-for-4 with a solo home run and two runs scored while Josh Reddick also had three hits with an RBI and a run scored for the Athletics, who have lost four of their last five games.


Final Score: Minnesota 12, Detroit 3

Eduardo Escobar had four hits and knocked in a career-high six runs, leading the Minnesota Twins to an easy 12-3 win over the playoff-bound Detroit Tigers on Saturday night. Escobar, who didn’t have more than two RBI in any other game this season, had three singles and a three-run homer for the Twins, who have won four of their last five, including two of the first three in this series as they try to play the role of spoiler. The Tigers entered play with a one-game lead over Kansas City for first place in the AL Central and could have clinched their fourth straight division title with a win and a Royals loss to the White Sox. Instead, they lost for the second day in a row to the division’s last-place team. The Royals fell to the White Sox 5-4, remaining one game behind going into the last day of the regular season. Brian Dozier added a solo homer for the Twins, who hit 70 wins (70-91) for the first time since 2010. Ricky Nolasco (6-12) gave up two runs in six innings and snapped a nine-start winless streak, gaining a victory for the first time since July 01. Nick Castellanos hit a solo homer and drove in all three runs for the Tigers while rookie left-hander Kyle Lobstein (1-2) was charged with six runs in 4 2/3 innings.


Final Score: Chicago 5, Kansas City 4

Josh Phegley homered twice to help the Chicago White Sox to a 5-4 win over Kansas City to keep the Royals a game behind the lead in the AL Central. The Royals already locked up a playoff berth, but a win coupled with a Detroit loss on Sunday to Minnesota will force a tie for the division crown. Because of Oakland’s loss to Texas, Kansas City is guaranteed a home game in the wild card round if it does not win the division. If the Royals and Tigers end with identical records, a tiebreaker would be played Monday at Detroit to determine the division winner. Jose Abreu hit a two-run homer and Alexei Ramirez drove in a run for Chicago, which snapped a four-game losing streak. John Danks (11-11) again kept the Royals off-balance, limiting them to two runs on five hits and two walks over seven innings. Danks improved to 7-0 in 16 career starts against KC. Danny Duffy (9-12) was charged with the loss after he allowed four runs on five hits over two-plus innings. Salvador Perez homered, while Nori Aoki, Lorenzo Cain and Mike Moustakas each knocked in a run for the Royals.


Final Score: Boston 10, New York 4

Daniel Nava collected three hits and drove in three runs as Boston routed New York, 10-4, in the middle test of a season- ending three-game set from Fenway Park. Yoenis Cespedes added two hits and two RBI, while Rusney Castillo picked up three hits, drove in a run and scored once for the Red Sox. Garin Cecchini doubled twice, scored a run and drove in one for the hosts, who cruised to victory thanks to an eight-run second. Backed by his prolific offense, Joe Kelly (4-2) allowed four runs on nine hits over 7 1/3 innings, but it was enough to snag the win. Stephen Drew hit a two- run double, while Chris Young and Brendan Ryan added an RBI each for the Yankees. Derek Jeter finished with an infield single in two at-bats as the designated hitter in what could have been his final MLB appearance. He did not play in Friday’s opener and could sit out Sunday.


Final Score: Toronto 4, Baltimore 2

Jose Reyes finished 2-for-3 with two RBI and a run scored, as Toronto topped Baltimore, 4-2, in the second of three between the clubs. Kevin Pillar added two hits and crossed home twice, while Steve Tolleson posted an RBI double for the Blue Jays, who have taken the first two in the series along with six of eight overall. J.A. Happ (11-11) worked 6 1/3 innings for the win, giving up just two runs on four hits. Casey Janssen had a quiet ninth to notch his 25th save. Adam Jones homered and Delmon Young knocked in the other run for the Orioles, who have lost three in a row and five of seven. Wei-Yin Chen (16-6) took the loss, charged with five hits and three runs—two earned—over six full frames.


Final Score: Tampa Bay 2, Cleveland 0

Alex Colome threw scoreless ball into the seventh inning and three relievers combined for a five-hit shutout as Tampa Bay silenced Cleveland, 2-0, in the middle portion of a season-ending three- game series. Colome (2-0) worked the first 6 1/3 innings, allowing four hits and one walk while striking out six. Joel Peralta completed the seventh, Grant Balfour retired the side in order in the eighth and Jake McGee struck out the side in the ninth to pick up his 19th save. Wil Myers ended up with two hits and an RBI for the Rays, while James Loney knocked in the other run. Carlos Carrasco (8-7) fanned a career-best 10 batters, but walked three and allowed four hits and two runs—one earned—over 7 2/3 frames for the Indians, who had won two in a row.


Final Score: NY Mets 2, Houston 1

Lucas Duda hit a two-run home run with two outs in the ninth inning to give the New York Mets a 2-1 win over the Houston Astros in the second of a season-ending three-game set. With one out and Tony Sipp (4-3) on the mound, Eric Young tripled to left-center field and remained there after Daniel Murphy flied out. Duda, though, drilled a pitch that hit hard off the netting on the right field foul pole for the win. The home run made a winner out of Jenrry Mejia (6-6), who tossed a scoreless ninth inning. Rafael Montero gave up a run on six hits with a pair of walks and six strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings for the Mets, who had lost three of four coming in. Jason Castro drove in the lone run for the Astros, who have lost four of their last five. Samuel Deduno gave up a hit and a walk while striking out four over four innings.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Hurricanes Add LaRose to Training Camp Roster

The Carolina Hurricanes have added veteran forward Chad LaRose to their training camp roster on a professional tryout.

LaRose signed an American Hockey League contract with Charlotte this summer after sitting out the entire 2013-14 season.

In 508 NHL games with Carolina from 2005 through 2013, LaRose notched 85 goals and 95 assists for 180 points. He was a member of the franchise’s Stanley Cup championship team in the spring of 2006.


►  Penguins F Bennett Sidelined Six Weeks

Pittsburgh Penguins forward Beau Bennett will likely be sidelined for the first month of the regular season because of a lower body injury.

Bennett was hurt during practice Friday and Penguins coach Mike Johnston updated the 22-year-old’s status Saturday.

“Beau is going to be (out) six weeks, it looks like,“ Johnston said prior to the team’s preseason game against Columbus. “It’s one of those unfortunate things. It’s a lower body injury.“

Bennett was coming off wrist surgery performed in May. He had three goals and four assists for seven points in 21 games last season for the Penguins, then added a goal and four assists in 12 playoff games.


►  Blues Sign F Schwartz

The St. Louis Blues and forward Jaden Schwartz agreed to terms on a two-year contract on Saturday.

Schwartz, 21, played in 80 games last season and had 25 goals and 31 assists.

Since being selected 14th overall by St. Louis in 2010, he has compiled 34 goals and 38 assists in 132 NHL games.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Busch Outruns Logano for Nationwide Race Win at Dover

Kyle Busch won a Nationwide Series race at Dover International Speedway for a record fifth time after leading the final 101 of 200 laps in Saturday’s Dover 200.

Joey Logano started on the pole and dominated the first half of this race by leading 95 of the first 99 laps, but during a round of pit stops under caution on lap 100, Busch beat Logano out of the pits and took command from there.

Busch beat Logano to the finish line by 2.5 seconds for his fifth Nationwide win of the season and the 68th of his career. Busch, the driver of the No. 54 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, scored a season-sweep at Dover in the series. He won the spring event here in May.

“It was good for us to be able to get out front like that and get out in clean air and show what this car had for speed,“ Busch said. “Our race setup is really good, but it doesn’t qualify very good. It’s a handful in qualifying, to say the least. But these guys (No. 54 team) did a great job, and I’m very proud of that.“

Busch also had a season-sweep at Dover during the 2010 Nationwide season.

Logano won both races at this one-mile, concrete-surfaced track during the 2012 and ‘13 seasons.

“The first half of the race went perfect, and we had a very fast car that led a lot of laps,“ Logano said. “When we came in (pit road) to put four tires on, we lost the lead. Our car was really tight from there on, and I really don’t understand why yet.“

Busch and Logano are among the 16 drivers presently in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. Busch will start second and Logano 16th in Sunday’s 400-mile Sprint Cup Series race at Dover.

Logano won last Sunday’s Chase race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and secured a spot in the next round of the playoffs, the “Contender Round.“ Busch, currently fifth in Sprint Cup points, is guaranteed of moving on in the Chase if he finishes 21st or better at Dover.

Chase Elliott finished third and widened his lead in the Nationwide championship standings to 26 points over second-place and JR Motorsports teammate Regan Smith, who crossed the line in eighth.

On lap 40, Elliott sustained slight damage to the front end of his No. 9 Chevrolet when he was caught up in a wreck involving Tanner Berryhill and Kevin Swindell on the frontstretch. Elliott had to pit multiple times for repairs during the caution and fell back to the last car on the lead lap in 24th for the restart. He patiently made his way back into the top-five before the halfway point.

“I was gonna give it my best shot, regardless of however the thing looked like, so I’m really proud and frustrated at the same time,“ Elliott said. “I felt like we had a good car from the get-go. I made a mistake just following too close behind those guys (Berryhill and Swindell) off of (turn) 4. I saw it coming, and I couldn’t stop fast enough.“

Chris Buescher finished fourth, followed by Elliott Sadler, Kyle Larson and Brian Scott. Trevor Bayne and Ty Dillon completed the top-10.

Five races remain this season. The series will be at Kansas Speedway next weekend.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Europe Leads by 4 at the Ryder Cup

Saturday’s play at the Ryder Cup matched Friday’s action.

The Americans won 2 1/2 points both mornings, but the Europeans answered by winning 3 1/2 both afternoons. Through two days, the Europeans lead the United States, 10-6, at Gleneagles.

The 4-point deficit was the hole that the Americans faced at the 1999 Ryder Cup, and the Europeans were behind by the same 10-6 margin in 2012. The trailing teams rallied to win those two Ryder Cups.

“Well, we saw what happened at Medinah (in 2012) obviously. We learned as much from Medinah as America did. There was a big learning curve for us there,“ said European captain Paul McGinley. “We certainly won’t be complacent. It’s a word we’ve used a lot this week. We’re going to have a strong meeting tonight, we’re going to be on it tomorrow, and we’ve got to finish up the job. The guys were magnificent today, and they have been all week, but we’re not finished.“

“First of all, we’ve come back from 10-6. That’s the first thing. They know it, but I’ll reiterate it,“ said U.S. captain Tom Watson on what he’ll tell his team. “Our rookies, Patrick Reed, Jordan Spieth and Jimmy Walker, have played magnificent golf. Tomorrow, let’s see what happens. We’ve got the players to do it. Credit to the Europeans, they played great today.“

Jamie Donaldson and Lee Westwood won their second match of foursomes play as they handed Zach Johnson and Matt Kuchar a 2 & 1 loss.

Victor Dubuisson and Graeme McDowell also won their second foursomes match. They trounced Rickie Fowler and Walker, who had halved their first three matches, by a resounding 5 & 4 count.

Sergio Garcia and world No. 1 Rory McIlroy took down Jim Furyk and Hunter Mahan, 3 & 2. The final match was halved. Martin Kaymer and Justin Rose rallied from a 2-down deficit to halve Reed and Spieth.

Reed and Spieth had won a pair of four-ball matches by big margins in the morning.

Donaldson and Westwood twice trailed early in the first match of the afternoon, but fought back. Johnson chipped in for birdie at the first, but he found water with his second shot at the par-5 second. That led to a bogey and they conceded the Europeans birdie putt.

Johnson narrowly missed a birdie chip at the fourth and was conceded par. Donaldson missed an 8-footer for par and the Americans were 1-up again.

Donaldson stuffed his second at the fifth to a foot. That birdie squared the match and when Kuchar missed a par putt at six, the Europeans had their first lead of the match.

Kuchar birdied the eighth to square the match for the final time. Donaldson won the next two holes with a birdie and a par. Johnson made eagle at 14 to trim the deficit to 1-down, but Westwood made birdie at 16 to move the Europeans 2-up with two to play. After the Americans failed to make birdie at 17, they conceded the hole and the match to the Europeans.

“A huge amount of satisfaction. There’s no easy games out here and it’s tough to win a point at the Ryder Cup. Jamie played great again today,“ Westwood said. “We played good all day, but we were solid and I think we made one bogey, which is pretty good golf in foursomes.“

Garcia and McIlroy looked like they were going to run away with their match early on. The Europeans won the first with a par, then Mahan missed a 6- footer for par at the second. That dropped the Americans 2-down.

Mahan made his par putt at three to trim their deficit to 1-down. The match remained that way until the 14th. Furyk and Garcia made birdie putts at six, then Mahan made par putts to halve four of five holes from the seventh.

Both teams bogeyed the 12th and parred 13. Garcia converted a 5-footer for birdie at 14 to extend their lead back to 2-up. They halved the 15th, then the Americans made a mess of the 16th. McIlroy hit a good bunker shot, and that birdie putt and the match was conceded after Mahan missed a long par attempt.

“Obviously we’re in a good position, but I think we all remember what happened a couple years ago. This is exact same score line that we were down going into the last day at Medinah, so no complacency on our side,“ McIlroy stated. “We need to go out there tomorrow, focus and get the job done.“

Reed missed a par putt at the third, but Kaymer made his par to give the Europeans a 1-up lead. Kaymer missed a par putt at four, and the Americans were conceded par.

The Americans took the sixth with a par, which gave them a 1-up lead. Spieth made birdie at seven to push their lead to 2-up. Rose chipped to tap-in range at No. 9 and when Reed failed to match that birdie, the U.S. lead was 1-up at the turn.

Spieth made a 9-footer for birdie at 10 and Kaymer missed from a few feet closer to push the American lead back to 2-up. Rose made a short par putt at 12 to trim the deficit to 1-down.

Reed missed a 7-footer for par at 15 and Kaymer kicked in his short par effort to square the match. Both teams made a mess of 16. The Europeans 3-putted for bogey, and Reed missed a 3-foot par putt to keep the match all square.

If that putt had dropped, the match would have ended at 17, where the Americans’ 5-foot birdie attempt was conceded after Rose missed a par putt.

Both teams were in the fairway at the par-5 18th, then their second shots found the same greenside bunker right of the putting surface. The Americans’ ball was under the side lip of the bunker, so Reed could do no better than blasting to 20 feet.

Kaymer’s sand shot stopped six feet from the hole. After Spieth missed his birdie try, Rose drained his birdie to halve the match.

“The U.S. team got unlucky with the lie they caught in the bunker. That is the bunker to miss it in to that flag,“ Rose stated. “It was the kind of match no one wanted to win. Martin and I had a hard time getting it up and down, there were a lot of unforced errors from both teams.“

The final match was all Europe. After Walker missed a par putt at the second, the Europeans were conceded birdie. Walker hit a poor second shot from the fairway on three and that led to a bogey and another conceded birdie for the Dubuisson and McDowell.

Walker missed another short putt at five, then McDowell made birdie at six to give the Europeans a 4-up lead. Walker found a hazard at eight, which led to a double-bogey.

McDowell was conceded par and the Europeans were 5-up. Fowler poured in a birdie putt on 11, but they bogeyed the 13th to drop five down with five to go. The match was over one hole later.

NOTES: The Europeans won seven of the eight points available from the two foursomes sessions ... Stephen Gallacher, Keegan Bradley, Phil Mickelson and Webb Simpson all did not play on Saturday ... For Mickelson, that was the first time in his career, both Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup, that he sat for both sessions in the same day ... Rose, McIlroy, Fowler and Walker were the only four players that will have played all five sessions.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Belle Gallantey Sets Pace in Winning Beldame

Belle Gallantey, ridden by Jose Ortiz, set a very slow pace to win Saturday’s $400,000 Beldame Stakes at Belmont Park in a duplication of her Delaware Handicap victory from two months ago.

Trained by Rudy Rodriguez, Belle Gallantey took the lead at the start of the 1 1/8-mile Beldame from her outside post in the seven-horse field of fillies and mares.

Sent off as the 9-2 third choice, Belle Gallantey was allowed to cruise on the lead with no pressure in the main track race. The 5-year-old chestnut mare opened her lead down the stretch and registered a convincing 8 1/4-length win over 3-2 favorite Stopchargingmaria, one of the top 3-year-old fillies in the country.

“It’s very, very special,“ Rodriguez said. “We’re working very hard with these kinds of horses, and thank God they did it. I don’t know what to tell you. I’m speechless.“

Finishing third was Endless Chatter followed by Stanwyck, Fiftyshadesofhay, Toasting and Oasis At Midnight.

The time for the Beldame was 1:47.55 on a fast track.

“I just put my hands down and was a passenger,“ Ortiz said. “As soon as I went to the lead, she relaxed really well. Rudy told me she was 100%, and I always trust him. When we went to the quarter pole I had a lot of horse, so I knew I had it.“

Owned by Michael Dubb, Bethlehem Stables and Gary Aisquith, Belle Gallantey notched just her second stakes victory from 43 career starts. Winning the Beldame was worth $240,000 to push the mare past the $1 million mark in career earnings. Belle Gallantey has nine wins, 12 seconds and seven thirds for more than $1.1 million.

Belle Gallantey made her stakes debut on Belmont Stakes Day in the Ogden Phipps at Belmont Park. The 5-year-old finished fifth at 25-1 in the 1 1/16-mile race less than two lengths behind winner Close Hatches. At Saratoga on August 22 she failed to fire and came home sixth of seven, beaten 25 1/4 lengths over a muddy main track.

On July 12, the mare defeated Princess of Sylmar by almost three lengths in the Delaware Handicap at odds of 9-2.

Belle Gallantey returned $11.40, $4.90 and $4.40. Stopchargingmaria paid $3.40 and $3.00, and Endless Chatter paid $5.00 to show.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Two Minute Warning - Week 4

This is the first of the bye weeks and Week 4 has six teams sitting out the weekend. Which means fantasy owners will be scrambling to fill out their lineups.

Remember to remove all players from the following teams from your Week 4 lineups: Arizona, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, Seattle and St. Louis.

As for weather, it won’t be a factor in most cases. There is a slight chance for showers in Houston, but other than that it appears to be a beautiful fall day throughout the country.

Here is the latest information as we approach game-time. We will continue to update this story as the information changes up to game-time.

Quarterbacks -

Jake Locker, Tennessee - Locker is dealing with pain and swelling in his wrist and is not expected to start. That leaves Charlie Whitehurst as the Titans starter which is not good news for fantasy owners with Tennessee wideouts in their lineup. “Checkdown Charlie” is more likely to throw to his tight end or backs than deep to his wide receivers. Update: Locker is inactive.

E.J. Manuel, Buffalo - He’s listed as probable (abdominal), but practiced every day and there is no doubt he’ll play Sunday. Update: Manuel is active.

Josh McCown, Tampa Bay - McCown is listed as doubtful, but we believe he will sit in favor of Mike Glennon. Even when McCown is healthy again, we’re not sure he gets his job back. The Bucs added Mike Kafka to the roster to back up Glennon. Update: McCown is inactive.

Tony Romo, Dallas - He’s still dealing with back issues, but practiced Thursday and Friday and will be ready to go Sunday. He plays a below average pass defense Sunday, the Saints rank 29th in yards allowed (278.3) and we’d like to see him take advantage of the opportunity.

Running Backs -

Jamaal Charles, Kansas City - Charles has practiced all week and fantasy owners should expect him to play. The important question will be, how much? Given that he’s less than 100 percent and the top quality performance from Knile Davis in his absence we could see a 60-40 split which would limit Charles’ upside. Fantasy owners must play Charles if active, but Davis could still be a viable low-end option.

Arian Foster, Houston - Foster will be a true game-time decision due to his hamstring, meaning you will have to wait until inactives are announced 45 minutes before the whistle blows. Alfred Blue is the backup option. Update: Foster is active.

Bernard Pierce, Baltimore - Pierce missed Sunday’s game due to a thigh injury and it appears he’s recovered and will play. He’ll return to find a three-way committee with Justin Forsett and young Lorenzo Taliaferro which likely means none of the three has any fantasy value. Update: Pierce is active.

Maurice Jones-Drew, Oakland - MJD returns after missing two games due to a hand injury, but what share of the workload he gets is up in the air. Darren McFadden figures to be the primary back with Jones-Drew with the short end of the rushing attempts. Update: Jones-Drew is active.

DeAngelo Williams, Carolina - Williams returned to practice every day this week and that’s good news for the Panthers who likely lost Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert last weekend. The backup plan in Darrin Reaves just off the practice squad. Update: Williams is active.

Doug Martin, Tampa Bay - Martin has missed the past two games with a knee injury which he suffered in Week 1, but is expected to return. He’ll share carries with Bobby Rainey.

Joique Bell, Detroit - Bell is active and should get his normal allotment of work.

Wide Receivers -

Calvin Johnson, Detroit - Johnson is listed as questionable due to an ankle injury, but he’s fully expected to play. Of course, about once a year he fools us and sits a game, so we’ll watch the inactive lists, but fantasy owners should have him in their lineups. Update: Johnson is active.

Keenan Allen, San Diego - Facing a Jaguars pass defense yielding 306 ypg, will get any wide receiver healthy. We expect Allen will be out there and productive. At least until the game gets out of hand.

Eric Decker, New York Jets - Both the coach and the player expect him to be available, but whether he can post fantasy-worthy numbers against a tough Lions defense (No. 3 against the pass) is another story. Update: Decker is active.

T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis - A full participant in Thursday and Friday’s practice, he’ll certainly play Sunday. Update: Hilton is active.

Roddy White, Atlanta - White is expected to return after missing Week 3, but he’s no longer part of a 1/1A package with Julio Jones. White is now No. 2.

Brandon Marshall, Chicago - Again, Marshall didn’t practice, but that hasn’t stopped him from playing in the past and we expect him out there Sunday versus the rival Packers. Update: Marshall is active.

Dez Bryant, Dallas - Bryant fell on his shoulder in Week 2 and missed a series, but he played through it last week and will again Sunday. He should eat up the Saints mediocre secondary and is a must start.

Mike Wallace, Miami - It’s always worrisome when a speed receiver is dealing with leg issues, in this case a hamstring, but Wallace will play. Update: Wallace is active.

Allen Hurns, Jacksonville - Hurns is probable. That’s the good news. The bad news is that he’ll be the No. 3 receiver behind Cecil Shorts and Allen Robinson making it tougher for him to produce big fantasy numbers. Marqise Lee will not play so all three receivers could see fantasy level targets. What they do with them is another story.

Tight Ends -

Antonio Gates, San Diego - Gates has been dealing with a hamstring, but it hasn’t prevented him from playing the last two weeks and won’t stop him Sunday in Week 4. Start him.

Vernon Davis, San Francisco - After missing last weekend, Davis is ready to go and has a favorable matchup against a very yielding Eagles pass defense. He’s a must start.

►  The Tight End Hat Trick

Well, fans are still waiting for a decent Thursday night game on CBS, but fantasy owners did received another three-touchdown performance from a tight end.

Nope, it was not Jordan Reed or his replacement, Niles Paul. Giants tight end Larry Donnell caught seven passes for 54 yards and three touchdowns as he joins Broncos’ Julius Thomas and Chargers’ Antonio Gates with touchdown hat tricks in 2014.

Through three weeks and one game, that is an incredible feat to have three different tight ends each with a three-touchdown game. In all of 2013, only two tight ends went for three scores in a single game: Browns’ Jordan Cameron against the Vikings and Lions’ Joseph Fauria versus, ironically, the Browns.

There are also four instances of tight ends scoring two touchdowns in a game. In Week 1, Vernon Davis did it against the Cowboys. In Week 2, Owen Daniels caught two touchdowns against the Steelers, and Jimmy Graham did it versus the Browns. Last week, Martellus Bennett scored twice against the Jets.

That sounds impressive. In 49 games so far this season, tight ends have 47 touchdown catches. It appears like tight ends are scoring at a record rate.

In actuality, tight end touchdowns are slightly down as a whole from where they were at this point in the season last year. In 2013, tight ends scored 50 touchdowns through the first three weeks and the Thursday night game in Week 4.

Ok, so production is virtually the same across the board, but perhaps the number of games with multiple touchdowns to one tight end is up.

Not so. Last year at this time, eight different tight ends had at least a two- touchdown game. One, Jordan Cameron, had his three-touchdown game in Week 3.

Tight ends have always been sort of a boom-or-bust type position, at least more so than the quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers. But based on the fact total tight end touchdowns through 49 games is slightly down, tight ends with multiple touchdown games is also slightly down, and tight ends with touchdown hat tricks are up, it seems tight end is even more of a boom-or-bust position this season.

In a perfect world, one tight end would score three touchdowns in a single game every week, which is practically the pace the 2014 NFL season is on, and it would be the perfect fantasy treasure hunt to find the right one each Sunday. But looking closer at the numbers, there is nothing to suggest owners will see another three-touchdown performance again this year. The three tight end hat tricks this season, so far, are mere coincidences.


►  Week 4 Edition: Three Sell-High Options

Just because a seasonal fantasy performer may not be playing up to par, through three weeks of the NFL season, it does not mean that guy will not pick it up eventually. And vice versa, when players are potentially overperforming this early in the season, there is a definite chance that player comes back down to Earth.

Allen Hurns ranks seventh in standard leagues, amongst wide receivers with 36 total fantasy points. Do you really think he will stay in the top-10 all year? Or even half the year? Let’s take a look at three players that owners should consider trading, right now.

Mohamed Sanu, Wide Receiver: He has stolen headlines throughout the first few weeks of the season, most notably on an 18-yard touchdown pass to Andy Dalton in Week 3, but he has also produced somewhat consistently from his receiver position as well.

With the Cincinnati Bengals on a bye this week, A.J. Green should be heading into Week 5 completely healthy. Which in turn, will decrease Sanu’s targets. While Sanu will still be a major part of the Bengals’ offense, the fact that he has the same amount of fantasy points as Green (29 total points), will not last for the remainder of the season, making it a perfect time to shop Sanu around.

Rashad Jennings, Running back: This is a bold one. Jennings has been one of the biggest steals in fantasy football, thus far in 2014. However, I have some reservations about him, moving forward.

Coming into 2014, not only has Jennings never rushed for more than 733 yards in a season, he also has never had more than 163 carries. Along with that, Jennings has never been able to suit up for a full 16 games. Now, I am not saying he is going to fall off a cliff, but owners will enter into La La Land if they think he will continue to produce as the fifth ranked fantasy running back (standard leagues), throughout the entire season.

Owners should feel around and see if any other workhorse running backs are available and look to potentially package Jennings for an upgrade. Coming off a 176-yard rushing game, Jennings will be an attractive option.

Ahmad Bradshaw, Running Back: Is it 2010 again? With all the hype around Bradshaw, it would seem he is on pace for 1,200 yards and 15 touchdowns. Yes, he has three receiving scores in 2014, yet the rest of Bradshaw’s numbers are nothing to cry home about.

Bradshaw ranks sixth amongst running backs, in standard leagues, with 42 total points. However, through three games he has only 150 rushing yards and 114 receiving yards. With Trent Richardson continuing to fall out of favor in Indianapolis, Bradshaw will definitely be seeing a ton of playing time, as the season moves on. But will he continue to produce at a top-10 value?

Seeing the low yardage totals, combined with the fact Bradshaw has played 16 games only once during his career, makes for another great opportunity to trade this guy at the appropriate time. That time may be now, as Bradshaw only had three career touchdown receptions coming into 2014. Now, that he has three already this year, it should make owners skeptical that he will be able to keep up that pace.

The Gilmer Free Press


SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2014


National Football League
Green Bay at Chicago, 1:00 PM - FOX, DSS (705)
Detroit at NY Jets, 1:00 PM - FOX, DSS (706)
Tampa Bay at Pittsburgh, 1:00 PM - FOX, DSS (707)
Carolina at Baltimore, 1:00 PM - CBS, DSS (708)
Buffalo at Houston, 1:00 PM - CBS, DSS (709)
Tennessee at Indianapolis, 1:00 PM - CBS, DSS (710)
Miami at Oakland, 1:00 PM - CBS, DSS (711)
Jacksonville at San Diego, 4:05 PM - CBS, DSS (712)
Atlanta at Minnesota, 4:25 PM - FOX, DSS (713)
Philadelphia at San Francisco, 4:25 PM - FOX, DSS (714)
New Orleans at Dallas, 8:30 PM - NBC


Major League Baseball - National League
Pittsburgh at Cincinnati, 1:10 PM - ROOT-Pittsburgh, FS-Ohio, DSS
Miami at Washington, 1:35 PM - FS-Florida, MASN, DSS
Atlanta at Philadelphia, 1:35 PM - FS-South, CSN-Philadelphia, DSS
Chicago Cubs at Milwaukee, 2:10 PM - WGN (America), FS-Wisconsin, DSS
San Diego at San Francisco, 4:05 PM - FS-San Diego, CSN-Bay, DSS
St. Louis at Arizona, 4:10 PM - FS-Midwest, Arizona, DSS
Colorado at Los Angeles, 4:10 PM - ROOT-Rocky Mountain, SportsNet LA, DSS


American League
Tampa Bay at Cleveland, 1:05 PM - SunSports, SportsTime Ohio, DSS
Baltimore at Toronto, 1:07 PM - MASN2, SNET, DSS
Minnesota at Detroit, 1:08 PM - FS-North, Detroit, DSS
NY Yankees at Boston, 1:35 PM - YES, NESN, DSS, TBS
Kansas City at Chicago WSox, 2:10 PM - FS-Kansas City, CSN-Chicago, DSS
Oakland at Texas, 3:05 PM - CSN-Bay, FS-Southwest, DSS
LA Angels at Seattle, 4:10 PM - FS-West, ROOT-Northwest, DSS


Interleague
Houston at NY Mets, 1:10 PM - CSN-Houston, SNY, DSS


National Hockey League - Preseason
Washington at Montreal, 6:00 PM - RDS
Buffalo at Toronto, 7:00 PM - MSG-Buffalo, NHL Network


Major League Soccer
Chicago at Houston, 3:00 PM - CSN-Houston+, UniMas
New York at Los Angeles, 8:30 PM - ESPN 2


International Soccer
AC Cesena vs. AC Milan, 8:55 AM - beIN Sport
West Brom vs. Burnley, 10:55 AM - NBCSN
Olympique de Marseille vs. AS Saint-Etienne, 2:55 PM - beIN Sport


Golf
PGA/EUROPEAN - Ryder Cup Matches, 7:00 AM - NBC, Golf Channel
CHAMPIONS - Nature Valley First Tee Open, 4:00 PM - Golf Channel


Auto Racing
SPRINT CUP - AAA 400, 2:00 PM - ESPN

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