GilmerFreePress.net

Racing

Nascar and Auto Racing

Sports New   150301

The Gilmer Free Press


The Gilmer Free Press

►  Area High Schools Boys Basketball Game Results

(Saturday, February 28)

#1 Parkersburg South 81     Lewis County 59

#5 Robert C. Byrd 63     #3 Fairmont Senior 52

#8 Notre Dame 68     #9 Tucker County 66


►  Area High Schools Boys Basketball Sectional Game Results

(Saturday, February 28)

Calhoun County 61     Doddridge County 49

Grafton 72     Philip Barbour 55

Harman 55     South Harrison 41

#6 Lincoln 66     Liberty 33

Grafton 72     Philip Barbour 55

Valley Wetzel 56     Tyler Consolidated 46


►  Area High Schools Girls Basketball Sectional Game Results

(Saturday, February 28)

St. Marys 79     #10 Trinity 74 (OT)



The Gilmer Free Press

►  MEC Men’s Basketball Game Results

(Saturday, February 28)


No. 4 West Liberty 95, Wheeling Jesuit 92 | Final Stats

Indiana Faithfull hit a pair of free throws with 7.6 seconds left to snap a 92-92 deadlock and lift No. 4 West Liberty to a 94-92 revenge win against Wheeling Jesuit in a mutual regular-season finaleon Saturdayat the McDonough Center.
The hosts shot nearly 60 percent from the floor in the first half with Ben Siefert draining a pair of 3-pointers in the final two minutes of the half to send WJU into the locker room with a 57-42 halftime lead. WJU remained in front, 87-78, with four minutes to go, but would not hit another shot from the field. This allowed the Hilltoppers to rally and eventually Faithfull’s game-winning free throws.

Seger Bonifant scored 20 of his game-high 25 points in the second half – including a 3-for-3 showing from the 3-point arc to lead WLU (25-2, 20-2). Devin Hoehn added 18 points, C.J. Hester weighed in with 14 points and seven rebounds while Joe Lococo tossed in 11 points.

JustinFritts paced Wheeling Jesuit (19-9, 14-8) with 21 points – 18 of them in the first half – and Moseh finished with 19 points. Haywood Highsmith had 14 points and 11 rebounds while Kyle Ritz and Eric Siefert each scored 13 points.


Fairmont State 64, Shepherd 60 | Final Stats

Nick Harney scored 21 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead Fairmont State to a 64-60 win over Shepherd on Saturday at the Butcher Center.

Fairmont State improves to 19-9, 16-6, whileShepherd falls to 14-14, 9-13 in MEC play.

Caleb Davis added 13 points for the Falcons, while Jamel Morris tossed in 12.

Ryan McTavish led the Rams with 14 points, while guard Austin Cunningham had 13 points and four assists.Morgan McDonald and Naim Muhammad each had nine points.


Glenville State 75, West Virginia Wesleyan 49 | Final Stats

Glenville State raced past West Virginia Wesleyan, 75-49, on Saturday afternoon at the Waco Center.

Reggie Williams led the Pioneers (18-10, 14-8) with 14 points, and Donte Morales chipped in 13 and Sedric Nady finished with 10.

The Bobcats (11-17, 9-13) were paced by 12 points and seven rebounds from Tanner McGrew. Austin Shell added 11 points and seven rebounds.


Charleston 87, West Virginia State 71 | Final Stats

The University of Charleston picked up an 87-71 win over West Virginia State in the final game of the Eddie King Gymnasium.

The Golden Eagles (19-9, 14-8) also earned a first-round bye in next week’s MEC Tournament. WVSU dropped to 6-24 and 6-16 in the league.

Octavius Green led the way for UC with 19 points, and Vincent Dillard and Tino DiTrapano each netted 12.

WVSU was led by 19 points from Damion Harris and 17 from Markee Mazyck.


Notre Dame 109, Urbana 98 | Final Stats

Notre Dame’s Oliver Megins hit a three-pointer as time expired to force overtime and help the Falcons to a 109-98 win over Urbana on Saturday afternoon at Murphy Gymnasium.

NDC (15-13, 11) outscored the Blue Knights (6-22, 3-19) by a 17-6 margin in the extra session to earn the victory.

Tyree Gaiter scored 27 points to go with 11 assists to lead Notre Dame. Will Vorhees added 25 points and 10 rebounds, and Lawrence DeArmond finished with 20.

Urbana’s Myles Busby led all scorers with 31 points to go with 12 rebounds, and Carlas Jackson scored 27 points.


Concord 74, UVa-Wise 50 | Final Stats

Concord had four players finish in double figures on Saturday to defeat UVa-Wise 74-59 in the Prior Center.

The Mountain Lions (20-8, 15-7) were led by Mike Boyd who finished with a team-high 17 points, six rebounds and seven assists. Aaron Miller added 16 points and six rebounds, Rob Reed finished with 14 points and Jametrius Wade added 12 points, eight rebounds and three blocks.

Matt Dayled the way for the Cavaliers (2-23, 1-21) finishing with a game-high 22 points and six rebounds.Philip Owens IIadded with 19 points and five assists.


►  MEC Women’s Basketball Game Results

(Saturday, February 28)


Shepherd 82, Fairmont State 75 | Final Stats

Shepherd erased a 14-point second half deficit with a 25-7 run over nine minutes to help it to an 82-75 win over Fairmont State and a share of the Mountain East Conference championship.

The Rams (20-8, 17-5)were led by seniors Gabby Flinchum who scored a team-high 21 points and Rachel Johnson who contributed 17.Morgan Arden tossed in 12 points and added four assists. Briana Vaden had 11 points, while Cara Mason added 10 points, six rebounds, and a game-high five assists.

The win gave Shepherd just their fourth 20-win season in program history after registering just four a season ago. The Rams are the No. 2 seed in next week’s MEC Tournament.

Fairmont State (21-7, 15-7) was led by Emily Lohr had a game-high 24 points to lead the Falcons. Hailey Garrett added 21 points and a game-high 10 rebounds.


West Liberty 60, Wheeling Jesuit 48 | Final Stats

West Liberty clinched a share of the Mountain East title with a 60-48 win over rival Wheeling Jesuit on Saturday.

With the win, the Hilltoppers (20-8, 17-5) earn the top seed in next week’s MEC Tournament by virtue of tiebreakers. Wheeling Jesuit (18-8, 15-7) saw its eight-game winning streak snapped.

Kailee Howe led WLU with 14 points, four rebounds and three assists. Kierra Simpson had 12 points to go with 13 rebounds, and Hillary Southworth had 13 points, six rebounds and four assists.

WJU was led by 12 points from Jaila Bryant and 10 more off the bench from Jaana Motton.


Charleston 71, West Virginia State 60 | Final Stats

Charleston earned a piece of the Mountain East Conference title with a 71-60 win over West Virginia State on Saturday afternoon at Eddie King Gymnasium.

UC (22-6, 17-5) had to rally from a six-point halftime deficit to claim the victory. The Golden Eagles were led by 20 points from Nichole Perry, and Kiara Johnson had 20 rebounds and 17 points in the win. Monet Saunders chipped in 15 points.

WVSU (8-19, 6-16) was paced by Deyahnna Styles who scored 21 points, pulled down six rebounds and handed out eight assists. Alexus Hobbs contributed 13 points for the Yellow Jackets.


Notre Dame 88, Urbana 77 | Final Stats

Martha Nagbe and Kelsey Miller each scored 20 points to help Notre Dame pull away from Urbana, 88-77, on Saturday afternoon at Murphy Gymnasium.

Lexi Hassing scored 11 and Molly Ritz finished with 10 in the victory for NDC (17-11, 13-9).

Kennedy Boggs scored 15, Stefanie Davis scored 14 and Brittany Atkinson added 12 for the Blue Knights (1-27, 1-21).


Glenville State 104, West Virginia Wesleyan 55 | Final Stats

Glenville State forced 27 turnovers to help it to 104-55 win over West Virginia Wesleyan on Saturday afternoon at the Waco Center.

Five players reached double figures for the Pioneers (14-12, 12-10), led by 25 from Kayla Tibbs. Keyanna Tate scored 16 points, Briana Smythe had 14, Julie Bishop netted 12 and Tayana Stewart finished with 10. GSC shot 52 percent from the floor in the win.

Alexa Mortenson paced WVWC (4-22, 3-19) with 17 points and Mari Steward added 11.


Concord 65, UVa-Wise 48 | Final Stats

Concord used an 11-0 run to break a 34-34 tie mid-way through the second half to post a 65-48 win over UVa-Wise at the Prior Center Saturday.The win secured the eighth seed in next week’s Mountain East Conference Tournament for the Mountain Lions and secured a season-series sweep of the Cavaliers.

With the win, Concord improved to 8-19 overall and 8-14 in the league. UVa-Wise fell to 9-19 overall and 8-14 in conference play.

Concord’s Kylie Molisee finished the game 6-of-9 from the floor and grabbed 10 rebounds as she tied teammate Melea Smith for game-high point honors with 14. Jacqueline Kestner also registered a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds and Danielle Catron added 10 points and seven boards off the bench.

Taylor Sandidgewas the only Cavalier to finish in double figures as she went 5-6 from the free throw line to score 10 points.SeniorKatie Jo Dockeryposted nine points, seven rebounds, and three assists in her final home game.


►  Men’s Basketball Tournament Field Set

The seedings and pairings for the Mountain East Conference men’s basketball tournament have been set after the final day of regular season play today.

Regular season champion West Liberty, along with Fairmont State, Concord and Glenville State earn the top-four seeds, respectively, and a first-round bye. Glenville State (fifth), Wheeling Jesuit (sixth), Notre Dame (seventh) and Shepherd (eighth) will have a first round home game on Tuesday evening. West Virginia Wesleyan is seeded ninth, West Virginia State is 10th, Urbana is 11th and UVa-Wise is 12th.

MEC Tournament Seeds
1. West Liberty (25-2, 20-2)
2. Fairmont State (19-9, 16-6)
3. Concord (20-8, 15-7)
4. Charleston (19-9, 14-8)
5. Glenville State (18-10, 14-8)
6. Wheeling Jesuit (19-9, 14-8)
7. Notre Dame (15-13, 11-11)
8. Shepherd (14-14, 9-13)
9. West Virginia Wesleyan (11-17, 9-13)
10. West Virginia State (6-24, 6-16)
11. Urbana (6-22, 3-19)
12. UVa-Wise (2-25, 1-21)

First Round Games (Tuesday, March 03)
#12 UVa-Wise at #5 Glenville State, 7:30 PM
#11 Urbana at #6 Wheeling Jesuit, 7 PM
#10 West Virginia State at Notre Dame, 7:30 PM
#9 West Virginia Wesleyan at Shepherd, 7 PM


►  Women’s Basketball Tournament Field Set

The seedings and pairings for the 2015 Mountain East Conference Tournament have been finalized after the conclusion of today’s action.

Three teams split the regular season championship with West Liberty, Shepherd and Charleston tying atop the standings with identical 17-5 records. The Hilltoppers earned the top seed via tiebreakers, with Shepherd seeded second and Charleston seeded third. Wheeling Jesuit earned the fourth and final first-round by earning the tiebreaker over Fairmont State.

After FSU in fifth, Notre Dame finished sixth, Glenville State was seventh and Concord earned the right to the the final first-round home game by claiming the No. 8 seed. UVa-Wise is seeded ninth, West Virginia State is 10th, West Virginia Wesleyan is 11th and Urbana is 12th.

The first round games will be played on Tuesday, March 03.

MEC Tournament Seeds
1. West Liberty (20-8, 17-5)
2. Shepherd (20-8, 17-5)
3. Charleston (22-6, 17-5)
4. Wheeling Jesuit (18-8, 15-7)
5. Fairmont State (21-7, 15-7)
6. Notre Dame (17-11, 13-9)
7. Glenville State (14-12, 12-10)
8. Concord (8-19, 8-14)
9. UVa-Wise (9-19, 8-14)
10. West Virginia State (8-19, 6-16)
11. West Virginia Wesleyan (4-22, 3-19)
12. Urbana (1-27, 2-21)

MEC First Round Games
#12 Urbana at #5 Fairmont State, 5 PM
#11 West Virginia Wesleyan at #6 Notre Dame, 5:30 PM
#10 West Virginia State at #7 Glenville State, 5:30 PM
#9 UVa-Wise at #8 Concord, 7 PM



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Baylor cruises past West Virginia in top-20 matchup

Taurean Prince scored 20 points off the bench and Rico Gathers recorded a double-double as Baylor won handily, 78-66, and never trailed in a top-20 matchup against injury-depleted West Virginia.

The 19th-ranked Bears (22-7, 10-6 Big 12) have won four in a row, including consecutive wins over ranked opponents for the first time in school history. They were in control from start to finish Saturday and only committed eight turnovers—nearly 13 less than West Virginia’s opponents coming in.

Gathers totaled 17 points and 10 rebounds, and Royce O’Neale chipped in with 18 points and seven assists in the convincing victory.

West Virginia was without leading scorer Juwan Staten due to a knee injury and lost starting guard Gary Browne three minutes into the game when his ankle was rolled up on during a loose ball scrum.

Jevon Carter led the 20th-ranked Mountaineers (22-7, 10-6) with 25 points.

Both teams trail Big-12 leading Kansas by 1 1/2 games with two left in the regular season. West Virginia plays at Kansas on Tuesday.

The Bears shot a blistering 65.4% from the field in a lopsided first half. They scored nine of the game’s first 11 points, led by as many as 19 and brought a 45-29 cushion into the break.

West Virginia committed nine turnovers in the first half, the last leading to Gathers’ rim-rattling windmill dunk that ignited the home crowd.

The Mountaineers cleaned up their mistakes in the second half, and Baylor cooled off considerably. Still, the deficit never dipped below nine, and Baylor pulled away for good with an 11-3 run. Prince and O’Neale both hit 3- pointers during the string, and the lead grew to 20 down the stretch.

Game Notes

Baylor upended No. 12 Iowa State on Wednesday ... Carter was making his first career start ... The Mountaineers have beaten Baylor just once in seven meetings, including an 87-69 loss in Morgantown earlier this month ... Baylor outscored West Virginia at the foul line 22-8 ... Baylor shot 33% from the field in the second half ... West Virginia shot 40.3% overall.



<The Gilmer Free Press

►  Top-25 College Men’s Basketball Game Results

(Saturday, February 28)


Final Score: (1) Kentucky 84, (18) Arkansas 67

Andrew Harrison and Trey Lyles each scored 18 points and No. 1 Kentucky stayed unbeaten with a 84-67 dismantling of 18th- ranked Arkansas. Lyles shot 8-for-10 from the floor, while Harrison converted all eight of his free throws tries for Kentucky (29-0, 16-0 SEC), which is three wins shy of matching the longest win streak in program history. The Wildcats won 32 straight from 1953 to 1955. Tyler Ulis and Devin Booker contributed 14 and 10 points, respectively off the bench, and Willie Cauley- Stein finished with seven points, nine rebounds and four blocks. Arkansas (23-6, 12-4) got 17 points and nine rebounds from Michael Qualls and 15 points from Bobby Portis, but lost its three-game win streak in this series.


Final Score: (2) Virginia 69, Virginia Tech 57

Malcolm Brogdon had 19 points and eight rebounds as No. 2 Virginia defeated Virginia Tech 69-57 on Saturday afternoon. Darion Atkins posted 16 points and six rebounds, while Anthony Gill added 16 points and five boards for the Cavaliers (27-1, 15-1 ACC), who have won eight straight and are a win away from clinching their first ever back-to- back outright ACC titles. Point guard London Perrantes, who tallied 11 points and six assists, returned from a brief one-game absence for Virginia following a scary collision with Brogdon against Florida State on Sunday. Adam Smith netted 19 points to lead the Hokies (10-19, 2-14).


Final Score: BYU 73, (3) Gonzaga 70

Kyle Collinsworth finished with 20 points and eight rebounds as BYU pulled off a memorable upset over third-ranked Gonzaga for a 73-70 win on Saturday. Gonzaga suffered just its second loss of the season and had three lengthy winning streaks come to an end. The Bulldogs entered the game with a school-record 22 straight wins, the nation’s longest home winning streak at 41 games in a row and 22 consecutive conference victories. Skyler Halford scored 14 points, while Chase Fischer and Tyler Haws netted 13 and 10 points, respectively, for the Cougars (23-8, 13-5 WCC), who won their first game over a team ranked third or higher since a win over No. 2 UCLA on Nov. 27, 1981. Byron Wesley paced Gonzaga (29-2. 17-1) with 17 points and nine rebounds, while Domantas Sabonis scored 12 with eight boards in the loss.


Final Score: (4) Duke 73, Syracuse 54

Justise Winslow and Duke kept on rolling, with the freshman forward pouring in a season-best 23 points to lead the fourth-ranked Blue Devils to a 73-54 triumph over Syracuse. Duke (26-3, 13-3 ACC) also turned in a strong effort on defense in posting its ninth consecutive win and keeping its ACC regular-season title hopes alive. The Blue Devils held the Orange to 30.6 percent shooting, including a 3-of-20 performance from 3-point range, and forced 15 turnovers. Winslow has averaged 16.6 points and 8.9 rebounds over Duke’s run. Syracuse (18-11, 9-7) failed to build on the momentum gained from Tuesday’s 65-60 win over No. 9 Notre Dame, largely due to its offensive woes and inability to contain Winslow or Jahlil Okafor, who contributed 13 points and 14 rebounds to the rout. Quinn Cook added 17 points for Duke. Tyler Roberson’s 16 points and nine boards paced the Orange, with Trevor Cooney and Duke transfer Michael Gbinije finishing with 13 and 12 points, respectively.


Final Score: (6) Villanova 78, Xavier 66

Dylan Ennis posted 16 points, five rebounds and five assists and No. 6 Villanova went into Cintas Center and knocked off Xavier 78-66 to win its 10th straight game. Ryan Arcidiacono had 15 points and Kris Jenkins went 4-for-7 from distance for 14 for Villanova (27-2, 14-2 Big East), which wrapped up the Big East regular- season crown with Saturday’s win. The Wildcats had already earned a first-round bye in the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden, which will take place from March 11-14. Jalen Reynolds made all six of his shots to lead Xavier with 15 points, and Trevon Bluiett netted 12. Dee Davis tallied seven points, nine assists and six rebounds in the setback. Xavier (18-12, 8-9) had won nine of its last 11 games at home against ranked opponents.


Final Score: (7) Arizona 63, (13) Utah 57

Kaleb Tarczewski had 13 points and six rebounds to lead No. 7 Arizona to a 63-57 victory over 13th-ranked Utah on Saturday. Stanley Johnson posted 12 points and 11 rebounds and Gabe York added 12 points for the Wildcats (26-3, 14-2 Pac-12), who claimed a share of the Pac-12 title with the victory. Delon Wright scored 17 points with five rebounds and Jordan Loveridge added 10 points and six boards for the Utes (22-6, 12-4), who have lost two of their last three games.


Final Score: (8) Kansas 69, Texas 64

Perry Ellis boosted his claim for Big 12 Player of the Year with another dominant performance, as No. 8 Kansas held off Texas 69-64 to remain unbeaten at home. Ellis tallied 28 points and 13 rebounds for the Jayhawks (23-6, 12-4 Big 12), who improved to 14-0 at Allen Fieldhouse this season. It was Ellis’ third straight 20-point game. Kelly Oubre Jr. finished with 15 points and nine rebounds and sealed the win with a pair of late free throws. Frank Mason III added 12 points. The Longhorns (17-12, 6-10) were projected to challenge Kansas for the Big 12 title, but uneven offensive performances have contributed to them dropping four straight games and eight of 11.


Final Score: (11) Wichita State 74, (10) Northern Iowa 60

Ron Baker had 17 points, Fred VanVleet scored 13 and Wichita State won a showdown with Northern Iowa on Saturday to capture the Missouri Valley Conference regular-season title for the second year in a row. Darius Carter, Tekele Cotton and Evan Wessel added 11 points each the No. 11 Shockers led by as much as 18 in a 74-60 win over the 10th- ranked Panthers to extended their home winning streak to 32 games. Wichita State will again be the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament, which starts Thursday at Scottrade Center in St. Louis. It was the first time in 50 years that the Shockers won back-to-back Missouri Valley Conference regular-season titles.


Final Score: Kansas State 70, (12) Iowa State 69

Wesley Iwundu scored four of his 11 points in the final 43 seconds, including a dunk off a stolen inbounds pass that gave Kansas State a dramatic 70-69 win over No. 12 Iowa State on Saturday. Down 12 with under 10 minutes remaining, Kansas State took the lead with a 20-6 run that was punctuated by Iwundu’s block on Georges Niang, which led to a layup at the other end for the sophomore forward. Later, Iwundu jumped Georges Niang’s pass on the Kansas State side of the court and broke to the basket to dunk with 16 seconds remaining to give the Wildcats the lead. After a foul stopped play at the other end, Naz Long airballed a 3-pointer at the buzzer for Iowa State.

Final Score: (14) Maryland 66, Michigan 56

College Park, MD (SportsNetwork.com) - Melo Trimble posted 19 points and five assists as 14th-ranked Maryland beat Michigan 66-56 on Saturday afternoon. Dez Wells chipped in 13 points and six rebounds on Senior Day, helping the Terrapins complete a perfect home record in conference play for the first time since the 2001-02 season. Jake Layman scored 10 points for Maryland (24-5, 12-4 Big Ten), while former Wolverine Evan Smotrycz grabbed nine rebounds. The Terrapins notched their fifth straight win and closed to within 1 1/2 games of first-place Wisconsin in the Big Ten standings with two to play. Spike Albrecht and Zak Irvin each had 15 points for the Wolverines (14-14, 7-9), who have dropped six of their last seven games.


Final Score: (15) North Carolina 73, Miami-Florida 64

Brice Johnson had 22 points and 11 rebounds as No. 15 North Carolina pulled away late to defeat Miami-Florida 73-64 on Saturday afternoon. Marcus Paige netted 15 points, while J.P. Tokoto added 10 points and 10 boards for the Tar Heels (20-9, 10-6 ACC), who had dropped five of their last seven games coming in. Sheldon McClellan and Ivan Cruz Uceda poured in 11 points apiece for Miami (18-11, 8-8), which had won three of its last four games prior to Saturday.


Final Score: (16) Oklahoma 67, TCU 60

Buddy Hield scored 21 points and grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds to help No. 16 Oklahoma come back to beat TCU 67-60 on Saturday. TaShawn Thomas scored six of his 15 points in a crucial 8-1 surge that gave the Sooners (20-8, 11-5 Big 12) the lead for good. Oklahoma got 10 points apiece from Ryan Spangler and Isaiah Cousins. The Horned Frogs (17-12, 4-12) scored just nine points in the final 10 minutes as Oklahoma pulled ahead. Kyan Anderson and Trey Zeigler each scored 16 to lead TCU.


Final Score: (17) Louisville 81, Florida State 59

Wayne Blackshear scored 18 points and No. 17 Louisville rolled to an 81-59 win over Florida State on Saturday to cap a tumultous week. Montrezl Harrell added 16 points and Anton Gill scored 14 for the Cardinals (23-6, 11-5 ACC), who have won three in a row, the last two while dealing with the situation surrounding Chris Jones. Jones, the talented senior guard who was dismissed from the team last Sunday, pleaded not guilty on Thursday to charges of felony rape and sodomy in a case involving the alleged assault of two women last weekend. The Cardinals shot over 48 percent in the first half to lead by 10 at the break and went up by as much as 26 points in the second half. Quentin Snider added 11 points in the win and Terry Rozier scored 10. Montay Brandon scored 13 points to lead Florida State (15-15, 7-10), which has lost three in a row. The Seminoles got 12 points each from Xavier Rathan-Mayes and Devon Bookert and 11 from Boris Bojanovsky. It was the first meeting between the teams since Florida State beat Louisville 76-69 in the Metro Conference title game on March 9, 1992. The teams were both members of the Metro Conference from 1976-91. Louisville joined the ACC this season.


Final Score: (19) Baylor 78, (20) West Virginia 66

Taurean Prince scored 20 points off the bench and Rico Gathers recorded a double-double as Baylor won handily, 78-66, and never trailed in a top-20 matchup against injury-depleted West Virginia. The 19th-ranked Bears (22-7, 10-6 Big 12) have won four in a row, including consecutive wins over ranked opponents for the first time in school history. They were in control from start to finish Saturday and only committed eight turnovers—nearly 13 less than West Virginia’s opponents coming in. Gathers totaled 17 points and 10 rebounds, and Royce O’Neale chipped in with 18 points and seven assists in the convincing victory. West Virginia was without leading scorer Juwan Staten due to a knee injury and lost starting guard Gary Browne three minutes into the game when his ankle was rolled up on during a loose ball scrum. Jevon Carter led the 20th-ranked Mountaineers (22-7, 10-6) with 25 points.


Final Score: Dayton 59, (22) VCU 55

Dayton received 19 points from Jordan Sibert and held on down the stretch to earn a 59-55 victory over 22nd-ranked VCU in an Atlantic 10 clash with major ramifications. The win, the Flyers’ fifth in six games, enabled Dayton (22-6, 12-4 A-10) to keep a share of first place in the tight conference race with two to go in the regular season. The Flyers entered Saturday’s matchup in a four-way tie with VCU, Davidson and Rhode Island for the A-10’s top spot. Dayton will host Rhode Island, which downed La Salle earlier in the day, on Tuesday. VCU (21-8, 11-5), meanwhile, continued its recent downward spiral. The Rams owned a comfortable lead atop the A-10 in late January after getting off to a 7-0 start, but have since gone 4-5 in league play. Kendall Pollard added 16 points and six rebounds for the Flyers, but fouled out with under five minutes remaining and the Rams began to draw closer after trailing 51-45 at the time of the disqualification.


Final Score: (23) Butler 67, DePaul 53

Kellen Dunham scored 24 points and No. 23 Butler continued its push for the second seed in the Big East tournament with a 67-53 victory over reeling DePaul. Roosevelt Jones had 16 points, five rebounds and four assists for the Bulldogs (21-8, 11-5 Big East), who hold a one-game lead over Georgetown for the conference’s No. 2 seed. Kameron Woods posted 14 points and six rebounds for a Butler team that pulled away in the second half with a 26-3 run. Jamee Crockett was the lone player to reach double figures in scoring for DePaul, finishing with 20 points. The Blue Demons (12-18, 6-11) suffered a season high-tying sixth consecutive defeat.


Final Score: Boise State 56, (24) San Diego State 46

Derrick Marks had 18 points and five rebounds as Boise State took a 56-46 win over No. 24 San Diego State in a critical Mountain West Conference matchup. James Webb III scored 16 points with 12 rebounds for the Broncos (22-7, 12-4), who have won four straight to move into a tie with San Diego State for first place in the conference. Winston Shepard had 16 points while J.J. O’Brien added eight points for the Aztecs (22-7, 12-4), who had a school-record 29-game home winning streak snapped.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  NBA Game Results

(Saturday, February 28)


Final Score: Washington 99, Detroit 95

John Wall had 22 points and six assists as the Washington Wizards snapped their six-game losing streak following a 99-95 win over the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night. Nene posted 21 points and seven rebounds, while Marcin Gortat added 16 points and 17 boards for the Wizards, who led by as many as 21 in the third quarter before holding the Pistons off down the stretch. Greg Monroe tallied 21 points and 10 rebounds and Spencer Dinwiddie supplied 20 points and eight helpers for Detroit, which has lost three in a row.


Final Score: Atlanta 93, Miami 91

Paul Millsap scored 22 points, Dennis Schroder added 16 with 10 assists and the Eastern Conference-leading Atlanta Hawks downed the Miami Heat 93-91 on Saturday night. The Hawks, who are already on the brink of clinching a postseason berth, nearly squandered an 18- point lead but pulled away for their fourth straight victory. Though they committed 20 turnovers, they forced 23 and limited Miami to 39.5 percent shooting. Kent Bazemore and John Jenkins tallied 15 and 12 points, respectively, for an Atlanta squad playing without regulars Al Horford (personal), Jeff Teague, DeMarre Carroll and Pero Antic—the last three all getting the night off on the second of a back-to-back. Dwyane Wade led the Heat with 22 points, while Hassan Whiteside pulled down 24 rebounds and scored 14 points in the club’s second straight loss.


Final Score: New York 103, Toronto 98

Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 18 of his 22 points in the first half, Andrea Bargnani had 19 and the New York Knicks beat the Toronto Raptors 103-98 on Saturday. Alexey Shved tallied 15 points with five assists off the bench for New York, winners in two straight following an eight-game slide. Louis Williams scored 22 points to lead the Raptors, who have lost a season-high five straight games. Jonas Valanciunas added 16 and eight rebounds in defeat. Toronto was without All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry, who was given the night off to rest. He is considered day- to-day.


Final Score: Memphis 101, Minnesota 97

Marc Gasol had 27 points and 11 rebounds as the Memphis Grizzlies defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves 101-97 on Saturday night. Mike Conley netted 17 points, Jeff Green added 13 and Zach Randolph pulled down 11 boards for the Grizzlies, who blew a 15-point third quarter lead, but Conley bailed them out with a go-ahead 3-pointer with 30.3 seconds left. Andrew Wiggins poured in 25 points for Minnesota, which has dropped three of its last four games.


Final Score: Brooklyn 104, Dallas 94

Deron Williams scored 12 of his 25 points in the third quarter to lead the Brooklyn Nets past the Dallas Mavericks, 104-94, on Saturday. Williams went 4-of-6 from beyond the arc and pulled down six rebounds for the Nets, who have won four straight in Dallas. Thaddeus Young tallied 16 points and eight rebounds. Joe Johnson contributed 15 points and eight boards for Brooklyn, which went 3-5 on its eight-game road trip. Mason Plumlee and Jarrett Jack each scored 14 points, with Plumlee also pulling down 10 boards. Dirk Nowitzki ended with 20 points and six rebounds for the Mavericks, who have lost two in a row. Devin Harris added 14 points and Al- Farouq Aminu and Monta Ellis had 12 points apiece.


Final Score: San Antonio 101, Phoenix 74

The Phoenix Suns, not the San Antonio Spurs, looked like they were the ones finishing up a nine-game road trip on Saturday. Kawhi Leonard scored a game-high 22 points and pulled down 10 rebounds as the Spurs took the listless Suns to the woodshed in a lopsided 101-74 victory. The Suns set a franchise low for scoring in a half (24) and were on pace for record lows in points and shooting percentage before San Antonio took its foot off the gas in the fourth quarter. They shot 29.8 percent overall. The Spurs led by 34 after three, and their regulars were given well-deserved rest in closing out an otherwise disappointing 4-5 road trip in winning fashion. Marcus Morris scored 15 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter for the Suns, who failed to build off an emotional overtime victory over the Thunder on Thursday.


Final Score: Utah 82, Milwaukee 75

Trey Burke had 23 points and six assists as the Utah Jazz beat the Milwaukee Bucks by an 82-75 margin on Saturday. Burke went 5-of-10 from beyond the arc for the Jazz, who have won 13 in a row against Milwaukee in Salt Lake City. Derrick Favors added 16 points, 12 rebounds, three steals and three blocks. Khris Middleton ended with 18 points and six rebounds for the Bucks, who have lost four of five. Michael Carter-Williams contributed 16 points and four steals.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  White Sox ace Sale out with broken foot

Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale is expected to miss three weeks with a broken foot that could affect his availability for Opening Day.

Sale suffered an avulsion fracture on the lateral side of his right foot in an accident at home on Friday, the White Sox announced Saturday.

The left-hander underwent X-rays Saturday morning at Banner Estrella hospital near the team’s spring training facility in Glendale.

His status for Opening Day will be clearer once the swelling in his foot goes down and further tests are performed, the White Sox said.

They begin the season April 6 in Kansas City.

Sale, 25, had a 2.17 ERA in 26 starts last season with a 12-4 record and 208 strikeouts in 174 innings. He ranked fifth in the majors with a 0.97 WHIP and finished third in voting for the AL Cy Young Award.

He went on the disabled list for the first time in his career on April 22 with a flexor muscle strain in his left arm, missing a month.

Sale is 44-29 with a 2.76 ERA in 165 career games for the White Sox, including 85 starts. He has been a starter for the past three seasons after pitching out of the bullpen from 2010-11.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  NHL Game Results

(Saturday, February 28)


Final Score: Florida 5, Buffalo 3

Jaromir Jagr got all the headlines prior to his Panthers debut, but it was Brandon Pirri starring for Florida on Saturday after missing the previous nine games with an upper-body injury. In just 83 seconds, Pirri scored a pair of power play goals to get Florida on track to a 5-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres. Florida also received goals from Nick Bjugstad, Scottie Upshall and Derek MacKenzie while Jagr was scoreless with three shots on goal. Roberto Luongo was not busy and made 11 saves to help the Panthers improve to 1-1-0 on their seven-game homestand. The Sabres lost their first two-game winning streak in 2015 despite jumping out to a 2-0 lead with first-period goals from Cody Hodgson and Andrej Meszaros. Torrey Mitchell also lit the lamp for Buffalo. Michal Neuvirth allowed four Panthers goals but made 42 saves in the setback.


Final Score: Detroit 4, Nashville 3

Tomas Tatar and Alexey Marchenko each scored third-period goals to rally the Detroit Red Wings to a 4-3 win over Nashville and deal the Predators their first home losing streak of the season. Drew Miller added a goal and an assist and Jonas Gustavsson came up with 37 saves to help the Red Wings prevail against a Nashville team that owns the NHL’s best home record at 26-5-1. The Predators were coming off a 4-2 setback to Minnesota Thursday at Bridgestone Arena, however, and Saturday’s result marked the first time this season the Western Conference leaders have dropped back-to-back games in regulation. Pekka Rinne stopped just 21-of-25 shots in this one, failing to protect a 3-2 lead he was given on consecutive second-period goals from Matt Cullen, Mike Fisher and Shea Weber.


Final Score: Carolina 5, NY Islanders 3

A four-goal second period boosted the Carolina Hurricanes in their 5-3 win over the New York Islanders on Saturday. Jay McClement scored two goals for his first multi-goal game since a 2010 hat trick, Brad Malone tallied a goal and an assist, and Justin Faulk and Michal Jordan also scored in Carolina’s third straight win. Cam Ward made 21 saves in the victory. The Islanders lost a two-game winning streak after Chad Johnson allowed all five Carolina goals on 41 shots. Michael Grabner, Nikolay Kulemin and John Tavares scored New York’s goals.


Final Score: New Jersey 2, Columbus 0

Cory Schneider made 33 saves and Andy Greene netted the deciding goal in the New Jersey Devils’ 2-0 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Schneider backstopped the Devils to their fifth win in seven games by posting his second shutout in six days, having turned aside 38 chances in Monday’s 3-0 triumph over Arizona. Travis Zajac added an empty-net score in the final minute that sealed the Blue Jackets’ fifth loss in a row. Curtis McElhinney stopped 17-of-18 shots for Columbus.


Final Score: Boston 4, Arizona 1

Tuukka Rask stopped 31 shots to lead the Boston Bruins in a 4-1 victory over the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday. Milan Lucic, Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand all scored for the Bruins, who have won three of four following a six-game losing streak. Martin Erat had the only goal of the game for the Coyotes, who have lost nine in a row. Mike Smith was pulled in the second period after allowing four goals on 20 shots, while Louis Domingue turned aside all 14 shots he faced.


Final Score: Montreal 4, Toronto 0

Carey Price turned in another solid performance between the pipes as he posted his sixth shutout of the season in the Montreal Canadiens’ 4-0 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday. Price made 30 saves and improved to 10-0-1 over his last 11 starts, last losing in regulation on Feb. 3 against Buffalo. He leads the NHL with 36 wins. David Desharnais scored twice, while Manny Malhotra and Tomas Plekanec and also lit the lamp in Montreal’s fourth straight win. Jonathan Bernier allowed three goals on 22 shots for the Maple Leafs, who had their two-game winning streak came to an end.


Final Score: Philadelphia 4, NY Rangers 2

In his first start since Feb. 8, Steve Mason made 34 saves to lead the Flyers to a 4-2 win over the New York Rangers on Saturday. Mason made 16 of those saves in the third period to end Philadelphia’s two-game losing streak and stay firmly in the playoff race. Matt Read, Michael Raffl and Wayne Simmonds scored goals for the Flyers, and the winner came early in the third period when Michael Del Zotto scored short- handed. The Rangers lost their 10-game point streak despite goals from J.T. Miller and John Moore. Cam Talbot made 30 saves in the loss.


Final Score: Minnesota 3, Colorado 1

Devan Dubnyk stopped 33 shots to lead the Minnesota Wild in a 3-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday. Justin Fontaine and Erik Haula had a goal and an assist, while Jason Pominville also scored for the Wild, who have won five of their last six. Maxime Talbot had the only goal of the game for the Avalanche, who had won three of four coming into the game. Semyon Varlamov allowed all three goals on 32 shots in defeat.


Final Score: St. Louis 2, Edmonton 1

Paul Stastny scored the game-winning goal with 5:40 left in regulation to lift the St. Louis Blues to a 2-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday. Stastny also assisted on Dmitrij Jaskin’s marker and Brian Elliott made 21 saves for the Blues, who were coming off a 2-1 shootout win over Winnipeg on Thursday. Justin Schultz supplied Edmonton’s lone goal and Ben Scrivens allowed both goals on 27 shots in defeat.


Final Score: Ottawa 4, San Jose 2

Mike Hoffman scored two goals in the third period to lift the Ottawa Senators over the San Jose Sharks, 4-2, on Saturday. Mark Stone also lit the lamp in the final stanza for the Senators, who have won a season-high five straight games. Erik Karlsson also scored. Andrew Hammond made 28 saves and has now won the first five starts of his NHL career. He entered Saturday’s contest on a two-game shutout streak. Tommy Wingels and Patrick Marleau scored for the Sharks, who have lost eight in a row at home. Antti Niemi stopped 27-of-30 shots.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Nishikori, Ferrer to meet in Acapulco final

Kei Nishikori and David Ferrer will meet in the final of the $1.4 million Mexican Open on Saturday.

Both players won their Friday semifinal matches in three sets, as the top- seeded Nishikori outlasted fourth-seeded Kevin Anderson, and the second-seeded Ferrer pummeled qualifier Ryan Harrison after falling behind early.

Nishikori broke Anderson’s serve twice in the final set en route to a 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 victory, moving him into uncharted territory in the ATP rankings. As it stands, the Japanese star will enter next week ranked no less than No. 4 in the world.

Anderson was last year’s runner-up in this event to Grigor Dimitrov.

Harrison, who has never reached an ATP final, won a lengthy first set but wound up dropping the final 12 games as Ferrer went on to win 4-6, 6-0, 6-0 on the hardcourts at the Fairmont Acapulco Princess.

Nishikori has won seven of the 10 all-time meetings against Ferrer, including a straight-set triumph in the round-of-16 at the Australian Open last month.

Ferrer captured three straight Acapulco titles from 2010-12 and was the runner-up to fellow Spaniard Rafael Nadal in 2013.

This year’s champion will earn $343,000.


►  Federer beats Djokovic in Dubai final

Roger Federer posted a 6-3, 7-5 victory over top-seeded Novak Djokovic in the final of the Dubai Championships on Saturday.

The second-seeded Swiss star won the tournament for the second straight year and seventh time overall.

After fighting off two set points to level the second set at 5-5, Federer broke Djokovic’s serve in the next game and then saved a break point to capture his 84th career title and second of 2015. He also won the season- opening event in Brisbane.

“I think the first set belonged to me; whereas the second set belonged to him more,“ Federer said. “He created many more opportunities. I struggled to get into his service games more frequently. It seemed like the moment I wasn’t serving great he created chances for himself and put a lot of pressure on me.“

The 33-year-old Federer swatted 12 aces and saved all seven break points he faced while improving to 20-17 lifetime against Djokovic.

Djokovic, 27, lost for the first time in five Dubai finals.

“I thought it was a good match,“ Djokovic said. “I thought there wasn’t much difference, a few points decided a winner.“

Federer or Djokovic have won the Dubai title 11 of the last 13 years.


►  Nadal to meet Monaco in Buenos Aires final

Rafael Nadal is a step closer to another clay court title after beating Carlos Berlocq in the semifinals of the Argentina Open on Saturday.

The top-seeded Nadal battled to a 7-6 (9-7), 6-2 win over the local favorite Berlocq and will try to win his 46th career clay court title Sunday at Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club.

Nadal, who has 64 titles overall, will face another Argentine favorite, past Buenos Aires winner Juan Monaco.

Monaco defeated 2011 champion Nicolas Almagro 6-3, 6-7 (6-8), 6-4 in two hours and 27 minutes and is chasing his ninth career title. He captured the Buenos Aires crown in 2007.

Nadal is 5-1 all-time against Monaco, with the only loss coming at the 2007 ATP Masters tournament in Cincinnati when he retired during the second set because of knee and wrist injuries.

Sunday’s winner will collect $91,050.


►  Safarova wins Qatar Open

Czech Lucie Safarova beat two-time champion Victoria Azarenka 6-4, 6-3 to win the Qatar Open on Saturday.

Safarova broke the Belarusian to begin the match and again for a 5-4 lead. She then saved a break point before serving out the opening set.

The 28-year-old Safarova offered Azarenka four break point opportunities in the second set and saved all of them. She won the first three points in the ninth game and converted on her third match point.

Safarova captured her sixth career title and first since winning the Bell Challenge in Quebec City in September 2013.

Saturday’s win marked her first in seven head-to-head meetings with Azarenka, who won this tournament in 2012 and 2013.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Harrington leads by 1 at halted Honda Classic

Padraig Harrington finished up his second round and took a 1-shot lead on Saturday before third-round play was suspended due to inclement weather.

The second round was concluded earlier Saturday morning and only a few groups were able to tee off for the third round before rain and heavy winds halted play at 12:51 PM After a lengthy delay, play was called for the day. Players are scheduled to get back out on the course at 10 AM Sunday.

Harrington, who will have to wait until Sunday to start his third round along with most of the 71 players who made the cut, fired a second-round 4-under 66 to take the outright lead at 7-under 133 through 36 holes on the Champion Course at PGA National Resort & Spa.

“I feel like I’ll have to play better or at least up to the way I played maybe my first 27 holes,“ Harrington said about what he has to do in the final two rounds. “You keep your head on, you get it up and down when you need to. It will be a tough weekend no matter what.“

The three-time major champion has five career wins on the PGA Tour, but he has not won since the 2008 PGA Championship. Harrington also won the British Open the same year.

Patrick Reed, who finished his second round on Friday, is alone in second at 6-under 134 following two straight 67s. Ian Poulter (64) and Brendan Steele (69) are tied for third at 5-under 135 through two rounds, while Luke Donald (67) sits one shot further back in fifth at minus-4.

First-round leader Jim Herman carded a 2-over 72, dropping him into a tie for sixth with Russell Knox (68). Defending champion Russell Henley (70), who had just teed off to start his third round before play was called, is tied for 38th at 3-over 143 after narrowly making the cut.

Harrington, starting his second round on the back nine, began with a pair of pars on 10 and 11 before rolling in his first birdie of the day on the par-4 12th.

Following three more pars from 13, Harrington surged as he made the turn, making three birdies in a four-hole stretch on 16, 17 and one.

Harrington tripped to his first bogey on No. 3, but he rebounded in a big way by draining three straight birdies from No. 4, vaulting him to a 3-shot lead.

That advantage quickly shrunk to just one, however, as Harrington finished bogey-bogey on eight and nine. Despite the poor finish to his round, Harrington still held the outright lead through 36 holes.

“Certainly for the first 27 holes I was really feeling very positive about my game,“ said Harrington after his second round. “I struggled coming home. That was disappointing ... Disappointed as I said about my finish, but I’m in a good place going through to the weekend.“

Steele held a 2-shot lead through four holes of his second round before play was suspended due to darkness on Friday. The 31-year-old was on fire when he finally started his round on Friday, draining four straight birdies from No. 1 to grab the lead.

When he got back underway Saturday morning, Steele began to struggle right away as he made a bogey on five. He rebounded with a birdie on six, but he then tripped to a pair of bogeys on seven and eight.

Steele made the turn with a birdie on nine, but that was his last gain of the day. Steele made eight pars on the back nine to go along with a double-bogey on 16 and he finished the day tied for third.

Poulter got off to a roaring start in his second round, making birdies on three and five. He also holed out from 116 yards for eagle on the par-4 fourth.

Poulter got to 5-under for his round with another gain on eight. Following five straight pars from nine, Poulter traded a birdie on 14 for a bogey on 15. He finished up with pars on 16 and 18 to go along with a gain on 17.

NOTES: A total of 24 players had completed at least one hole of their third rounds ... In eight events this season, Harrington has five missed cuts and he missed one secondary cut. Harrington’s best finish was a tie for 56th at last week’s Northern Trust Open ... World No. 1 Rory McIlroy missed the cut after finishing 36 holes at 7-over 147 ... The cut fell at 4-over 144. Other big names who missed the cut were Justin Rose, Zach Johnson, Graeme McDowell, Billy Horschel and Dustin Johnson.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Harvick wins another Xfinity Series race at Atlanta

Kevin Harvick won a Xfinity Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway for the third year in a row after holding off his fellow Sprint Cup Series competitor and reigning Daytona 500 champion Joey Logano in the closing laps of Saturday’s Hisense 250.

Harvick, the defending Sprint Cup champion, led 101 of 163 laps, driving the No. 88 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports. He claimed his 45th career victory in the Xfinity Series. Harvick now holds the record for most Xfinity wins at this 1.54-mile racetrack with four.

Logano started on the pole and led the first 49 laps before Harvick took over the top spot during a round of green-flag pit stops. Logano, though, pulled ahead of Harvick and reclaimed the lead on lap 127.

The third and final caution for fluid on the track late in the race set up the last round of pit stops. Harvick edged Logano out of the pits to retain the lead and then held it for the final 27 laps.

“That (final) pit stop is what won this race,“ Harvick said. “Joey probably had a little bit better of a car the second half of a run, so it really played out for us there at the end as we were able to have that short run and take off.“

On Friday, Logano and Harvick placed 1-2 in qualifying for Sunday’s 500-mile Sprint Cup race at Atlanta. But Harvick will have to start from the rear of the field in that event due to an engine change. He blew the motor in his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet during Saturday’s final practice.

Logano started gaining on Harvick in the closing laps of the Xfinity race but experienced a bad vibration on his No. 22 Team Penske Ford due to a loose wheel. He wound up finishing 1.2 seconds behind Harvick.

“That was as close as anyone’s been to beating Kevin here in a long time,“ said Logano, who led a total of 59 laps. “I was starting to catch him, and then I had this huge vibration. I think the left-rear (tire) was loose. At that point, I was just trying to survive and hope the left-rear didn’t pass me. Overall, we had a fast race car, but we just came up a little bit short.“

Ty Dillon finished third, followed by Chris Buescher and Chase Elliott, the defending Xfinity champion.

Paul Menard, Brian Scott, Matt Kenseth, Regan Smith and Kyle Larson completed the top-10.

Erik Jones, substituting for the injured Kyle Busch in the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, placed 13th. Busch suffered a compound fracture of his right lower leg and a mid-foot fracture of his left foot during an accident in last Saturday’s Xfinity season-opener at Daytona International Speedway. He underwent surgery on his right leg in Daytona Beach, Florida and then had an operation on his left foot in North Carolina. Busch was hospitalized six days before his release on Friday. His return to racing is not known at this time.

Ryan Reed, who claimed his first career Xfinity win at Daytona, finished 16th.

Buescher and Dillon share the lead in the point standings, while Reed is eight points behind them.


►  Crafton dominant in Truck Series race at Atlanta

Two-time defending Camping World Truck Series champion Matt Crafton won at Atlanta Motor Speedway for the first time with a dominating performance in Saturday’s Hyundai Construction Equipment 300.

The 200-mile truck race capped off a NASCAR doubleheader at this 1.54-mile racetrack. Earlier in the day, Kevin won the 250-mile Xfinity Series event here.

Crafton, who started 15th, led 85 of 130 laps in his No. 88 ThorSport Racing Toyota. Erik Jones, running a full-schedule in the series for Kyle Busch Motorsports this season, led 37 of the first 44 laps before Crafton passed him and took command from there.

Crafton crossed the finish line nearly nine seconds ahead of his closest competitor, Ty Dillon, for his sixth win in his 340th consecutive and career truck start. His first win at Atlanta came in his 14th attempt. The series did not compete here the previous two seasons.

Last year, Crafton became the first driver to win back-to-back championships in the 20-year history of the Truck Series.

Dillon won the last truck race at Atlanta in August 2012. He is now a regular in Xfinity.

Ben Kennedy, the pole sitter, finished third, followed by Daniel Suarez and Tyler Reddick, who won the February 20 truck season-opener at Daytona.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Frampton keeps IBF belt with TKO of Avalos

Carl Frampton stopped challenger Chris Avalos in the fifth round to retain his IBF Super Bantamweight title in his hometown.

Frampton hit Avalos with a flurry of combinations to prompt referee Howard John Foster to halt the scheduled 12-round bout at 1:33 of the fifth.

The title defense was the first for Frampton (20-0, 14 KO) of the belt he won from Kiko Martinez with a unanimous decision in September.

Avalos (25-3) entered the fight with six straight victories, the last three by knockout, and was the IBF’s top-ranked contender.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Rooney’s brace powers United past Sunderland

Wayne Rooney scored a pair of second-half goals on Saturday as Manchester United cruised to a 2-0 victory over 10-man Sunderland at Old Trafford.

With fellow striker Robin van Persie picking up an injury in last week’s loss against Swansea City, United manager Louis van Gaal deployed Radamel Falcao in the No. 9 role with captain Rooney playing in an attacking midfield spot.

Rooney found the back of the net in the 66th and 85th minutes to lift United into third place in the Premier League on 50 points, two ahead of Arsenal and five behind rivals Manchester City, both of which play on Sunday.

The Sunderland defense held firm and kept United off the score sheet in the first half, but the Red Devils broke the deadlock in the 66th minute when Falcao broke free into the penalty area and was hacked down by Sunderland defender Wes Brown, resulting in a penalty for United and a straight red card to Brown.

Rooney entered the match in a bit of a slump as he had gone eight straight contests without a goal, but confidently headed to the spot and blasted his penalty low into the left corner with pace, leaving Sunderland goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon with no chance to make a save.

Rooney completed his double five minutes from time when he was in the correct spot in front of goal to smash home a rebound effort to seal an important three points for Van Gaal’s side.

For Sunderland, the defeat keeps the Black Cats in 16th place in the Premier League with 25 points, just three clear of the bottom three.

Elsewhere in the Premier League on Saturday, Crystal Palace maintained its unbeaten away record under manager Alan Pardew on Saturday with a 3-1 victory over West Ham United at Upton Park.

The Eagles opened the scoring through Glen Murray in the 41st minute and Scott Dann doubled the advantage early in the second half, while Murray added a second goal in the 63rd minute.

The Hammers pulled one back in the 76th minute through Enner Valencia after Murray was sent off for a second yellow-card offense, but the hosts were unable to salvage anything as the club’s dream of a top-four finish slipped further out of reach.

Swansea City claimed its second consecutive win in league play on Saturday with a 1-0 win over Burnley thanks to an own goal by Burnley defender Kieran Trippier.

Newcastle United rebounded from a 5-0 thrashing at the hands of Manchester City last week with a 1-0 win over Aston Villa at St. James’ Park. Papiss Cisse collected the only goal of the match in the 37th minute.

Peter Crouch’s tally 18 minutes from time held up as the winner to give Stoke City a 1-0 result over Hull City, while Saturday’s final fixture saw West Bromwich Albion knock off Southampton, 1-0, thanks to a goal in the second minute of play from Saido Berahino.


►  Motherwell snaps skid with win over Inverness

Motherwell put an end to a lengthy winless run in league play on Saturday with a 2-1 victory over Inverness at Fir Park.

Motherwell started the day at the foot of the table in the Scottish Premier League, and while the victory keeps them in that position, some confidence from the win could allow the club to put together a run of positive form.

After a scoreless opening half, Louis Laing gave the home side the lead in the 48th minute. Edward Ofere collected an equalizer in the 76th minute, but Lionel Ainsworth netted the winner five minutes from time to give Motherwell its first win since a 1-0 result over Partick Thistle on December 27.

Also in the Scottish Premier League on Saturday, Partick Thistle claimed a 2-0 victory over Dundee United on the strength of goals from Stephen O’Donnel and a Jaroslaw Fojut own goal, while Jamie Reckord’s 67th-minute tally handed Ross County a 1-0 victory over Dundee.

Steven Thompson struck just past the hour mark to lift St. Mirren to a 1-0 win over Hamilton, while St. Johnstone and Kilmarnock played to a scoreless draw.


►  Dortmund downs Schalke in Revierderby

Borussia Dortmund’s ascent up the Bundesliga table continued on Saturday with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Schalke at Signal Iduna Park in the latest edition of the Revierderby.

It’s been a massive struggle for Jurgen Klopp’s team in league play for most of the campaign as the club has been rooted to the bottom of the table for a significant chunk of time.

But it seems Dortmund is rounding into form just in time as Saturday’s win is the club’s fourth straight to move to 10th place.

It was a tight affair until the final quarter-hour and the home side finally broke the deadlock with 12 minutes to play as Pierre Emerick Aubameyang fired it past Schalke goalkeeper Timon Wellenreuther.

The hosts doubled the lead in the 79th minute through a goal from Henrik Mkhitaryan and Marco Reus wrapped up all three points with a goal four minutes from time.

With the win, Dortmund moves to within eight points of fourth-place Bayer Leverkusen for a Champions League qualification place.

Also in the Bundesliga on Saturday, Simon Rolfes’ 33rd-minute tally handed Leverkusen a 1-0 win over Freiburg at the BayArena, while Christian Gentner and Lars Stindl traded goals as Hannover and Stuttgart played to a 1-1 draw at the AWD Arena.

Salomon Kalou scored two minutes from time to lift Hertha Berlin to a 1-0 victory against Augsburg, while Kevin Volland and Eugen Polanski scored second-half goals to power Hoffenheim to a 2-0 win against Mainz.

In Saturday’s final Bundesliga fixture, Alexander Meier netted a pair of goals to lift Eintracht to a 2-1 win over Hamburg.


►  Lyon stumbles against Lille

Lyon wasted an opportunity to widen their lead atop the Ligue 1 table on Saturday as the club stumbled to a 2-1 defeat against Lille at the Grand Stade Lille Metropole.

Lyon entered the contest holding a two-point lead over second-place Paris Saint-Germain, but Saturday’s result opens the door for the two-time league champions to claim the top spot if they defeat Monaco on Sunday.

Things got off to a flying start for Lyon as Corentin Tolisso found the back of the net after just three minutes and took the lead into the intermission, but Lille seized control in the second half.

Idrissa Gana Gueye connected for the equalizer in the 57th minute and Marcos Lopes scored the winning tally just three minutes later.

Lyon pushed numbers forward looking to get a least a point out of the match, but an equalizer never came as Lille held on for an important three points.

The victory moves Lille into eighth place in Ligue 1 on 35 points.

Also in the French top flight on Saturday, Abdoulaye Doucoure’s 36th-minute tally held up as the winner to give Rennes a 1-0 victory over Lens, while Francois Bellugou and Gianni Bruno lifted Lorient to a 2-0 win over Bastia.

Gilles Sunu buried the winning strike in the 73rd minute to help Evian to a 2-1 result against Metz, while Max-Alain Gradel and Jean-Daniel Akpa-Akpro traded goals as Toulouse and Saint Etienne played to a 1-1 draw.

In Saturday’s final match, Isaac Kiese Thelin and Gaetan Charbonnier swapped goals as Bordeaux and Reims finished level at 1-1.


►  Messi, Suarez lead Barca over Granada

Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez found the back of the net in the second half on Saturday as Barcelona ran out 3-1 winners over Granada at Los Carmenes.

The Catalan club suffered a shock 1-0 defeat against Malaga last week in La Liga play, but rebounded from that setback a few days later as Suarez netted a pair of goals to help Barcelona claim a 2-1 win over Manchester City in the Champions League.

Saturday’s affair against strugglers Granada caused Barcelona little trouble as Ivan Rakitic opened the scoring in the 25th minute and Suarez, the former Liverpool man, doubled the lead four minutes into the second half.

Granada pulled one back in the 53rd minute when Fran Rico dispatched a penalty kick, but Messi scored with 20 minutes to play to ensure all three points went the way of Barcelona.

The result pulls the Catalan club to within one point of rivals Real Madrid for the top spot in La Liga, while Granada remains in the relegation zone with 19 points from 25 matches played.

Also in La Liga on Saturday, Alberto Bueno powered home an impressive four goals in a span of 15 first-half minutes at the Campo de Futbol de Vallecas as Rayo Vallecano rolled to a 4-2 win over Levante, while Almeria and Deportivo played to a scoreless draw.

In Saturday’s final fixture, Sergi Darder, Juanmi and Ricardo Horta all found the back of the net to lead Malaga to a 3-2 win over Getafe.

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, MARCH 01, 2015
National Basketball Association
LA Clippers at Chicago, 1:00 PM - ABC
Cleveland at Houston, 3:30 PM - ABC
Portland at Sacramento, 6:00 PM - CSN-Northwest, California, DSS
Philadelphia at Indiana, 6:00 PM - CSN-Philadelphia, FS-Indiana, DSS
Golden State at Boston, 6:00 PM - CSN-Bay, New England, DSS
Charlotte at Orlando, 6:00 PM - SportSouth, FS-Florida, DSS
Oklahoma City at LA Lakers, 6:30 PM - ESPN
New Orleans at Denver, 8:00 PM - FS-New Orleans, Altitude, DSS
National Hockey League
Los Angeles at Winnipeg, 4:00 PM - FS-West, TSN3, DSS
Columbus at Pittsburgh, 5:00 PM - FS-Ohio, ROOT-Pittsburgh, DSS
Tampa Bay at Florida, 5:00 PM - SunSports, FS-Florida, DSS
Toronto at Washington, 7:00 PM - CITY, CSN-DC, DSS
Anaheim at Dallas, 8:00 PM - NBCSN
St. Louis at Vancouver, 9:30 PM - FS-Midwest, SNET-Pacific, DSS
College Basketball
SMU at Connecticut, 2:00 PM - CBS
Fairfield at Niagara, 2:00 PM - Time Warner Sports
Iona at Saint Peters, 2:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Quinnipiac at Manhattan, 2:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Marist at Rider, 2:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Oregon State at California, 3:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
South Florida at Houston, 3:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Marquette at Providence, 3:30 PM - FS1
Michigan State at Wisconsin, 4:00 PM - CBS
Siena at Monmouth, 4:30 PM - ESPN3.com
Pittsburgh at Wake Forest, 6:30 PM - ESPN U
Oregon at Stanford, 7:00 PM - FS1
Purdue at Ohio State, 7:30 PM - Big Ten Network
Arizona State at Colorado, 8:30 PM - ESPN U
Washington State at UCLA, 9:30 PM - FS1
Women’s College Basketball
Texas at West Virginia, 1:00 PM - ESPN 2
Louisville at Virginia, 1:00 PM - RSN, FOX, ESPN3.com
Maryland at Northwestern, 1:00 PM - Big Ten Network
Seton Hall at Butler, 1:00 PM - Big East Digital Network
Indiana at Rutgers, 2:00 PM - Big Ten Network+
Wisconsin at Penn State, 2:00 PM - Big Ten Network+
VCU at Richmond, 2:00 PM - CBSSN
Notre Dame at NC State, 2:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Texas A&M at LSU, 2:00 PM - ESPN U
Ole Miss at Miss State, 2:00 PM - FSN, ESPN3.com
Maine at New Hampshire, 2:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Minnesota at Iowa, 3:00 PM - Big Ten Network
Alabama at Auburn, 3:00 PM - SEC Network+
Arkansas at Missouri, 3:00 PM - SEC Network+
Georgia at Florida, 3:00 PM - SEC Network
North Carolina at Duke, 3:00 PM - ESPN 2
Florida State at Miami-Florida, 3:00 PM - RSN, FOX, ESPN3.com
Drake at Missouri State, 3:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Stanford at Oregon, 4:00 PM - ESPN U
Marquette at DePaul, 4:00 PM - CBSSN
Ohio State at Nebraska, 5:00 PM - Big Ten Network
Utah at Arizona, 5:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
South Carolina at Kentucky, 5:00 PM - ESPN 2
Vanderbilt at Tennessee, 5:00 PM - SEC Network
International Soccer
Valencia CF vs. Real Sociedad de Futbol, 5:55 AM - beIN Sports
Liverpool vs. Manchester City, 7:00 AM - NBCSN
FC Nantes vs. EA Guingamp, 7:55 AM - beIN Sports
Arsenal vs. Everton, 9:00 AM - NBCSN
Chelsea FC vs. Tottenham Hotspur FC, 10:55 AM - beIN Sports
Sevilla FC vs. Club Atletico de Madrid, 1:30 PM - beIN Sports
Real Madrid CF vs. Villarreal CF, 2:55 PM - beIN Sports
MASL
Oxford City vs. Dallas, 3:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Golf
LPGA - Honda LPGA Thailand, 1:00 AM - Golf Channel
EUROPEAN - Joburg Open, 5:00 AM - Golf Channel
PGA - Honda Classic, 1:00 PM - Golf Channel
PGA - Honda Classic, 3:00 PM - NBC
Auto Racing
SPRINT CUP - Folds of Honor Quiktrip 500, 12:30 PM - FOX
Track and Field
U.S. Indoor Championships, 4:00 PM - NBCSN

Spports News   150201

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   141206

The Gilmer Free Press


The Gilmer Free Press

►  Bridgeport retains Class AA title

Dylan Tonkery ran for 315 yards to set a Class AA Super Six rushing record and Bridgeport won its second straight state championship by beating Frankfort 43-7 on Friday night in a steady rain.

“I can’t say enough,” said Bridgeport coach Josh Nicewarner, whose team finished 13-1. “Week to week, we’ve just gotten better and we grew. Our defense has been just unbelievable and these guys are so worthy of the state championship.”

Tonkery finished with three touchdowns on 25 carries, averaging 12.6 yards per rush. The previous Class AA rushing record was set in 2008 by Grafton’s Damon Waters who put up 287 yards against Magnolia.

“(Tonkery) had a lot of help too,” Nicewarner said. “Dylan is a phenomenal running back, but tonight he had 10 other guys out there working for him. Certainly, it’s a great individual honor for him, but we’ll take that state championship any day.”

Tonkery scored on the game’s first play with a 73-yard run, and Frankfort (13-1) never recovered.

“I just got to the outside on that opening play and it was good blocking. I got open space and I just started running,” Tonkery said. “I didn’t really focus (on the record) at all. I was just trying to get the win—I was just running the ball and I didn’t even know about the record until the fourth quarter.”

The Indians had won seven previous football titles but never in back-to-back seasons.

“It’s pretty special. It’s the first time we’ve ever done it and it just means so much to everybody,” Tonkery said. “Especially for the seniors—this was their last game and knowing that they went out with a win is awesome.”

Bridgeport outgained Frankfort 426-148. The Falcons had just 52 rushing yards on 21 carries, playing in their first state championship game.

“I’m very proud of our football team for finishing the season like we did to get to the title game,” said Frankfort coach Kevin Whiteman. “But my hat goes off to Bridgeport. They have a very good football team with a lot of team speed and a lot of strength. They beat us fair and square. It was a long night for us, but we were still proud to be here and proud of what we accomplished.”

Bridgeport led 29-0 at the half, erupting for 22 points in the second quarter. Frankfort scored first in the second half on a 54-yard pass from Gage Shaffer to Jacob Kessel—a bizarre play where Bridgeport’s Luke Southern appeared to make the interception before the ball popped up and Kessel made the touchdown catch.

“I was hoping we could maybe score another touchdown or two,” Whiteman said. “But they controlled us the whole night. They earned it, they deserved it and they have a very good football team.”

Bridgeport limited Frankfort quarterback Gage Shaffer, and Maryland commitment,to just 8-of-21 passing for 96 yards and a touchdown.

Besides Tonkery, Dante Bonamico added 89 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 16 carries for the Indians, who improved to 8-1 in state championship games..

“These guys answered the call,” Nicewarner said. “These guys executed so well, our backs ran well and read well. But our defense, again, certainly won us this championship.”



The Gilmer Free Press

►  The Manning Awards is presented annually to the nation’s top quarterback

Thundering Herd quarterback Rakeem Cato has been named one of the 10 finalists for the annual Manning Award.

The Manning Award is presented annually in January to college football’s top quarterback by the Allstate Sugar Bowl. Prior to the 2004 season, the Manning Award was created by the Sugar Bowl in honor of the college football accomplishments of Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning.

The award is presented after the bowl season as it is the only college football quarterback award that includes the candidates’ bowl performances in its balloting. The winner is selected by a panel of media covering college football, and each of the Mannings.

Cato leads the Herd into is second straight appearance in the Conference USA title game this Saturday versus Louisiana Tech.

Cato owns the NCAA’s FBS record for consecutive games with a touchdown pass, at 44. He ranks among the top 10 quarterbacks in major-college history in passing yards (13,490) and total offense (14,276) and his 126 touchdown passes rank No. 5 in FBS history. He threw for a school-record seven touchdowns in last week’s overtime loss to Western Kentucky.

Cato was named MVP of the Herd’s Military Bowl victory over Maryland last December and has won MVP and Offensive Player of the Year honors in Conference USA in past seasons. He ranks No. 2 in C-USA history in all passing and total offense categories to former Houston star Case Keenum, and this season surpassed former Herd greats Chad Pennington and Byron Leftwich on the school’s career charts.

Cato is the only QB in Herd history to pass for at least 30 touchdowns in three seasons.

He is joined on the Manning Award finalists’ list by Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett, TCU’s Trevone Boykin, Colorado State’s Garrett Grayson, UCLA’s Brett Hundley, USC’s Cody Kessler, Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, Baylor’s Bryce Petty, Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott, Alabama’s Blake Sims and Florida State’s Jameis Winston.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Top-25 College Football Game Results

(Friday, December 05)


Final Score: (3) Oregon 51, (8) Arizona 13

Oregon wasn’t going to let Arizona ruin its national title dreams for a second straight season. The Ducks were 9-1 going into last year’s meeting in Arizona, which the Wildcats won 42-16. Oregon followed that up with a 31-24 home loss to a then-unranked Arizona squad back in October. Since then, the third-ranked Ducks have won eight straight games, including a 51-13 rout of the eighth-ranked Wildcats in the Pac-12 championship game at Levi’s Stadium. Marcus Mariota, the front-runner for the Heisman Trophy, accounted for five touchdowns on Friday and the Ducks assuredly locked up a spot in the first College Football Playoff. Oregon (12-1, 8-1 Pac-12) entered the game No. 2 in the CFP rankings.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Rodgers stands alone

Name your quarterback.

Old timers swear by Johnny Unitas and those whose wheelhouse is the 1970s might wax nostalgic about Terry Bradshaw, Roger Staubach or Fran Tarkenton. For me Joe Montana is the best of all-time and others love the pure passing skills of Dan Marino or the all-around talent of John Elway.

The numbers say Peyton Manning is the best regular-season quarterback ever and Tom Brady belongs in any G.O.A.T (Greatest of All-Time) conversation.

No matter who you like, however, understand no man that has ever walked planet Earth has ever played football’s most important position at a higher level than Aaron Rodgers is right now.

The presumptive 2014 MVP leads the league with a 118.6 passer rating and has thrown for 32 scores against just three INTs, captaining a team that scores 31.7 points per game, the best mark in pro football.

He’s even better at home, throwing for 20 touchdowns without an interception at Lambeau Field.

A-Rod and the Packers took another step toward what would be a franchise- record fourth consecutive NFC North title in Week 13 when they outlasted the New England Patriots, 26-21, in a game that could have foreshadowed Super Bowl XLIX.

Rodgers was 24-of-38 in the game for 368 yards and has now thrown 360 consecutive passes with 31 touchdowns since his last interception at home, which was over two calendar years ago, as he outdueled Brady and Co.

His next test is against Atlanta on “Monday Night Football” and Falcons coach Mike Smith understands what he and his charges are up against.

“It’s a big challenge for us this week with Aaron Rodgers,“ Smith admitted. “No doubt, he’s playing the best of any quarterback in the NFL right now. He’s got a number of weapons he can get it to.

“He’s played extremely well at home. I don’t think he’s thrown an interception at home this season, and I don’t even want to talk about how many points they’ve scored.“

The answer to that is 40.9 points while more than doubling foes 245 to 106 at Lambeau.

“I don’t know that there’s been a quarterback that’s had a stretch like he’s had in the history of the NFL,“ Smith continued.

Rodgers finished November with 1,233 yards passing with 13 touchdowns and no interceptions for an NFL-best 128.1 passer rating. And more importantly a 4-0 record.

“No disrespect to any quarterback in the NFL, but right now he’s at a level that is much higher than anybody else,“ Smith said. “When you look at his pure statistics, they’re phenomenal.“

The key to Green Bay at home has been blitzing people out of the starting blocks. The Packers have outscored their opponents by an amazing 79-0 margin in the first quarter of their last five home contests. That number expands to 151-23 at halftime and 14 of those 23 points were scored by the powerful Patriots last week.

And Rodgers has been the very definition of greatness, a player who makes everyone around him better. In his case, the All-Pro even elevates teammates he’s not on the field with by putting them in desirous situations.

Packers opponents have been looking up and finding the score 14-0, or in the case of the Pats 13-0, minutes into the game and that has enabled a flawed Green Bay defense to excel as teams become more one-dimensional.

Despite some talent issues on the defensive side Green Bay has allowed just 17.3 ppg in its current four-game winning streak.

One NFC scout described Rodgers’ greatness to me like this: “The Packers are the only team in football who you actually want to run their offense.“

What did he mean?

With other quarterbacks, you strive to get them off their spots and disrupt things as much as possible. With Rodgers, you are hoping things don’t break down and descend into sandlot football because if he extends the play, his arm talent and accuracy down the football field are awe-inspiring.

So you take the lesser of two evils, say a 7-yard slant to Jordy Nelson instead of watching your coverage break down as Rodgers eludes the pass rush with his eyes downfield, searching for the kill shot.

“When you watch the tape, it’s even more impressive,“ Smith said. “(Rodgers has) got a great grasp of how to attack defenses. He’s extending plays. If he can extend the play and when the play gets off schedule, he can make the throws. He’s been very accurate.“

Elite is the term most often used today to describe the great quarterbacks currently playing in the NFL whether its Manning, Brady or Drew Brees with perhaps Andrew Luck the latest to join the group.

It’s time to coin a new adjective for Rodgers, though. “Elite” just isn’t good enough.


►  Packers plan to stay perfect at home

Let’s face it, the Atlanta Falcons are lucky to be playing meaningful football in December.

But the schedule doesn’t shape up as all that fortunate down the stretch.

The 5-7 Falcons are tied atop the dismal NFC South division with New Orleans in advance of their trip north to face the powerful Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on “Monday Night Football.“

And win or loss in Titletown, Atlanta will remain in control of its own destiny because of a perfect 4-0 record inside the division along with a looming Week 16 matchup at the Saints.

If you look ahead, however, you can see things figure to get far stickier for the Falcons starting in Week 14. While Atlanta has to battle the Packers, who are 6-0 at home this season, New Orleans is hosting a Carolina team that has lost six straight a day earlier.

Looker further the Saints will face opponents who currently have a 15-32-1 mark the rest of the way. Conversely, the Falcons face three teams with playoff aspirations (The Pack, Pittsburgh and New Orleans) before finishing off with the Panthers.

Both the Saints and Atlanta are attempting to avoid joining the 2010 Seattle Seahawks as being the only NFL teams to win a division with a sub-.500 record.

The Falcons have won three of four overall, including a big 29-18 win over the NFC West-leading Arizona Cardinals in Week 13 action at the Georgia Dome.

Matt Bryant connected on all five of his field-goal attempts in that one and Matt Ryan finished with a season-high 361 yards on 30-of-41 passing with scoring throws to Julio Jones and Levine Toilolo.

Jones led all receivers thanks to 189 yards on 10 receptions, Harry Douglas added 116 yards on nine grabs, and Steven Jackson contributed 101 yards on 18 carries.

Arizona signal caller Drew Stanton was picked off twice by the much-maligned Atlanta defense, once by Josh Wilson and another by Dwight Lowery.

The Packers, meanwhile, took another step toward what would be a franchise- record fourth consecutive division title when they outlasted the New England Patriots, 26-21, in a game that could have foreshadowed Super Bowl XLIX.

MVP candidate Aaron Rodgers threw for 368 yards and two touchdowns and kept two NFL-record streaks alive as he outdueled Tom Brady and the Pats. Rodgers was 24-of-38 and has now thrown 360 consecutive passes with 31 touchdowns since his last interception at home, which was over two calendar years ago.

Eddie Lacy rushed 21 times for 98 yards and caught two passes for another 17, stretching his Green Bay running back record to four consecutive games with at least 100 yards from scrimmage.

Davante Adams had six receptions for 121 yards and Randall Cobb made seven catches for 85 as the Packers ran their winning streak to four games since their bye week.

“We’ve been great at home,“ said Rodgers. “The fans have been excellent with the noise and we’ve got a good advantage with it. We’ve just got to keep rolling.“

Green Bay leads its all-time series with Atlanta by a 14-12 margin, including a 22-21 win at Lambeau last season while Rodgers was out with a broken collarbone.

On Monday nights the Falcons have been dismal historically, compiling a 10-26 mark. The Packers are also underwater but much better at 28-31-1.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Rodgers has thrown for 20 touchdowns without an interception at home this season. Overall, the All-Pro leads the NFL with a 118.6 passer rating and has thrown for 32 scores against just three INTs, captaining a team that scores 31.7 points per game, the best mark in the league.

In his four previous career meetings against the Falcons Rodgers has always crossed the 300-yard barrier throwing the ball and has nine TDs against just one INT.

“It’s a big challenge for us this week with Aaron Rodgers,“ Falcons coach Mike Smith admitted. “No doubt, he’s playing the best of any quarterback in the NFL right now. He’s got a number of weapons he can get it to.

“He’s played extremely well at home. I don’t think he’s thrown an interception at home this season, and I don’t even want to talk about how many points they’ve scored.“

The answer to that is 40.9 points while outscoring foes 245 to 106 at Lambeau.

“I don’t know that there’s been a quarterback that’s had a stretch like he’s had in the history of the NFL,“ Smith continued.

Rodgers finished November with 1,233 yards passing with 13 touchdowns and no interceptions for an NFL-best 128.1 passer rating. And more importantly a 4-0 record.

“No disrespect to any quarterback in the NFL, but right now he’s at a level that is much higher than anybody else,“ Smith said. “When you look at his pure statistics, they’re phenomenal.“

The key to Green Bay at home has been blitzing people out of the starting blocks. The Packers have outscored their opponents by an amazing 79-0 margin in the first quarter of their last five home contests. That number expands to 151-23 at halftime and 14 of those 23 points were scored by the powerful Patriots last week.

Foes have been looking up and finding the score 14-0, or in the case of the Pats 13-0, and that has enabled a flawed Packers defense to excel as teams become more one-dimensional.

Despite some talent issues on the defensive side Green Bay has allowed just 17.3 ppg in its current four-game winning streak.

“When you watch the tape, it’s even more impressive,“ Smith said. “(Rodgers has) got a great grasp of how to attack defenses. He’s extending plays. If he can extend the play and when the play gets off schedule, he can make the throws. He’s been very accurate. His quarterback rating is off the charts.“

You would think the only way Atlanta can beat the Packers is in a shootout and Ryan isn’t too shabby himself, currently second in the NFL with 3,427 passing yards, slightly ahead of Rodgers’ 3,325. The veteran also has 21 TD passes versus 10 interceptions and a solid 93.7 passer rating.

Jones, meanwhile, is one of the best receivers in the game as evidenced last week when he torched the highly-regarded Patrick Peterson time and time again. The Falcons could also get a boost from the potential return of Jones’ regular running mate, Roddy White, who sat out last week with an ankle problem.

“Roddy was close to playing (last week),“ Smith said. “He worked with our athletic performance guys late in the week. We felt that it was in the best interest long term for him to not play in the game this past week. We anticipate, with the extra day, that he’ll be ready to go this week.“

OVERALL ANALYSIS

Rarely is a division leader favored by double digits over another division leader but that’s the story here and it’s hard to imagine a team with so many issues on defense like the Falcons solving Rodgers at Lambeau.

“We have some big goals, and we’re getting into December football now with a chance with everything right in front of us,“ A-Rod said.

Expect the Packers to keep rolling here.

Predicted outcome: Packers 34, Falcons 20


►  RB Williams out for Panthers

Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams will not play in Sunday’s game at New Orleans after breaking a bone in his right hand during the team’s most recent contest.

Williams was able to finish out the Panthers’ 31-13 loss at Minnesota, but did not practice at all this week. The nine-year veteran will miss his seventh game this season, during which Williams has rushed for a career-low 219 yards on 63 attempts.

Tight end Greg Olsen, Carolina’s leader with 61 receptions this season, is listed as questionable for Sunday’s matchup with a sore knee. He did practice on a limited basis both Thursday and Friday, however.

The Panthers are expected to get defensive tackle Star Lotulelei back for this weekend’s tilt. The 2013 first-round pick, who has missed Carolina’s last two games with a sprained ankle, is listed as probable.

►  Bucs release OC Tedford from contract

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have announced that the team has released offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford from his contractual obligations in order to allow him to pursue other opportunities.

Tedford, in his first year as Tampa Bay’s offensive coordinator under head coach Lovie Smith, left the team to have a heart procedure during the preseason, and was on an indefinite medical leave of absence since late September.

“Throughout these difficult circumstances, our primary concern was for Jeff’s health and well-being,“ said Smith. “After speaking with Jeff in recent days, it became obvious that a mutual decision to release him from his contract was the best way forward. We wish Jeff continued success in the next phase of his career.“

In a statement, Tedford said, “My wife and I want to thank the entire Buccaneers organization—from the Glazer family, to head coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jason Licht—for all the faith and confidence they expressed in me. I will always be grateful to them for the opportunity to participate in the offseason program, the draft, free agency, training camp, the preseason and the beginning of the regular season. I have built friendships here with administration, coaches and players that will last a lifetime.“

Prior to joining an NFL coaching staff for the first time this season, Tedford spent 11 seasons as the head coach of California and left as the winningest coach in school history. He posted a record of 82-57 from 2002-12, with the Golden Bears earning eight bowl bids.


►  Bears’ Marshall still in hospital, out indefinitely

Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall remains in a local hospital one day after injuring his ribs and lung in Thursday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys.

The Bears announced that Marshall fractured two ribs as the result of a hit from Cowboys safety Barry Church during the second quarter of Chicago’s 41-28 loss. According to the team, the lung injury is what is keeping the Pro Bowl wideout hospitalized, and he has already been ruled out for the Bears’ next game against New Orleans on December 15.

There’s a strong possibility that Marshall’s season is over, since Chicago was officially eliminated from playoff contention with Thursday’s loss.

Marshall was transported to the hospital shortly after being helped off the field and taken to the locker room following the collision. He later sent out a Twitter message stating: “Thanks for the Prayers. .. I’m Good.“

The five-time Pro Bowl selection had three catches for 61 yards prior to exiting Thursday’s game. On the season, Marshall has recorded 61 receptions totaling 721 yards and is tied for the team lead with eight touchdown catches.


►  Rams sign P Hekker to contract extension

The St. Louis Rams signed punter Johnny Hekker to a six-year extension through the 2020 season on Friday.

ESPN.com reported that Hekker’s deal is worth $18 million and contains $9 million in guaranteed money, the largest ever given to a kicker or punter.

Hekker, 24, was set to become a restricted free agent after the 2014 season. The undrafted Oregon State product signed with the Rams prior to the 2012 campaign.

In 2013, Hekker earned All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors after setting an NFL single-season record for net punting average at 44.2 yards. His career net average is 42.1 yards.

This season, Hekker owns a 45.7 yards per punt gross average and a net average of 41.4 yards. In his three-year career, Hekker also has completed 5-of-6 passes with a touchdown.


►  Broncos’ TE Thomas questionable vs. Bills

Denver Broncos tight end Julius Thomas was listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills, while running backs Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman were ruled out.

Thomas, who leads the NFL with 12 receiving touchdowns, was out of the lineup the past two weeks due to a sprained left ankle and was a limited participant in practice this week.

Ball will miss a third straight game with a groin injury that has kept the second-year Wisconsin product out of Denver’s lineup for seven games already this season.

Hillman, meanwhile, suffered a foot injury during a 41-17 win over Oakland on November 9 and has been out for the previous three weeks.

Neither running back practiced at all this week.

Cornerback Kayvon Webster (shoulder) and wide receiver Cody Latimer (concussion) were also ruled out, while tight end Jacob Tamme (ribs), safety Quinton Carter (knee), defensive tackle Terrance Knighton (elbow) and defensive end Quanterus Smith (ribs) were listed as questionable.


►  Cards’ Ellington out vs. Chiefs

Arizona Cardinals running back Andre Ellington will miss Sunday’s Week 14 game against Kansas City with an injured hip.

Ellington left Arizona’s Week 13 loss to Atlanta with a hip pointer, and was unable to practice in the week leading up to the game with the Chiefs.

In 12 games this season, Ellington has totaled 660 rushing yards and three touchdowns, while adding 46 catches for 395 yards and two touchdowns.

Running backs Stepfan Taylor, Robert Hughes, Marion Grice and the recently- signed Michael Bush will fill in for Ellington.

Also listed as out for the Cardinals are safety Tyrann Mathieu (thumb), guard Paul Fanaika (ankle) and defensive end Ed Stinson (toe).

After missing Arizona’s last two games with a knee injury, wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is expected to be a game-time decision, though he was a full participant in Friday’s practice.

Linebacker Larry Foote (foot) and tackle Jared Veldheer (ankle) are also considered questionable for Sunday’s game. Linebackers Lorenzo Alexander (knee) and Kenny Demens (hamstring) are probable.


►  Lions’ RB Bush probable vs. Tampa Bay

Detroit Lions running back Reggie Bush is listed as probably for Sunday’s game against Tampa Bay.

Bush has missed the past three games with an ankle injury, but he was a full participant all week.

Receiver Calvin Johnson (ankle), running back Theo Riddick (toe), and offensive linemen Riley Reiff and Larry Warford, both listed with knee injuries, are also probable.


►  Colts CB Davis out against Browns with concussion

Indianapolis Colts cornerback Vontae Davis is one of four players ruled out for Sunday’s game against Cleveland.

Davis suffered a concussion in Sunday’s 49-27 win over Washington and was absent from practice all week while following the league’s concussion protocol.

The six-year veteran has totaled 32 tackles, three interceptions and one forced fumble over 12 starts this season.

Offensive tackle Xavier Nixon (foot), linebacker Andy Studebaker (hamstring) and guard Hugh Thornton (knee) will also not play on Sunday.

Safety Mike Adams (back), cornerback Jalil Brown (ankle) and return specialist Josh Cribbs (knee) were all listed as questionable.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Murray Christmas

Thursday night of Week 14 was the beginning salvo for most fantasy league playoffs and Dallas running back DeMarco Murray burst out of the gate with an explosive performance.

Murray rushed 32 times for 179 yards and a touchdown and also caught nine balls for 49 yards. All told that amounted to almost 35 points in my fantasy league.

The Dallas star running back has always had this type of talent but until 2014 had never put it all together as a professional.

Murray was a stud running back out of Oklahoma where he ran and caught the ball with equal skill. In his final season, for example, he rushed for 1,214 yards, caught 71 balls for 594 yards and scored 20 times.

However, he arrived in “Big D” with little hype as a third-round selection, primarily due to injury concerns.

Things didn’t really jell for him right away.

That’s because the Cowboys were extremely pass-oriented. They had Tony Romo, Dez Bryant and Miles Austin and the running game was just something to do while the receivers and Romo recovered from the last play.

During Murray’s first three seasons, the Cowboys threw the ball 62% of the time and ran it just 38%.

He also continued to deal with injuries. He played just 37 of 48 games from 2011-13 and missed multiple games in each season.

So fantasy owners could be excused for not drafting Murray in the first round this preseason even after he had rushed for more than 1,100 yards and nine touchdowns in 2013.

But under the direction of new offensive coordinator Bill Callahan, the Cowboys have become a run-first team. With the help of a much-improved offensive line that is comprised of three first-round selections, including the last two top Dallas picks, they have rushed the ball 400 times and passed it on only 390 occasions.

That’s a dramatic shift.

And it’s one that has helped turn Murray from a second-round fantasy selection last August (fantasyfootballcalculator.com ADP 14.9) into a top-three star who could easily be the league’s fantasy MVP.

Through 13 games, Murray is averaging 123.5 ypg on the ground, another 30.2 yards receiving and has already matched last season’s rushing touchdown total (9). He’s scored a position-high 257 fantasy points. He’s closing in on the magical 2,000-yard rushing total for the season and most importantly, he’s still healthy.

Murray has put his fantasy owners in a great position to advance to the next round of the playoffs and possibly two weeks from now lead the team to the fantasy championship.

It could be a very Murray Christmas.


►  Alfred Morris: Jekyll and Hyde

The real life benching for the struggling Robert Griffin III likely didn’t hurt any fantasy owners’ playoff hopes. Let’s face it, if RGIII was a fantasy team’s starting quarterback, those teams likely aren’t making many playoff appearances.

However, Jay Gruden’s decision to send a healthy Griffin to the sidelines does still have a negative impact on fantasy owners.

It has been clear in 2014 that Alfred Morris is far more effective with Griffin as his quarterback than anyone else.

The two Washington players came into the league together as rookies in 2012 and combined to gain 2,428 rushing yards in their first season. In fact, Morris finished second in the NFL with 1,613 yards on the ground behind only Adrian Peterson, who nearly set the single-season rushing record that year.

Morris was not able to repeat his 100.8 yards per game or 4.8 yards per attempt averages in his second season, but in 2013, he ran for an average of 4.6 yards per carry on his way to 1,275 yards. Despite a lot of questions about his health, Griffin missed only four games in his first two seasons and the duel threat helped his running back to those numbers.

Still, he was not as effective on his own. In the four games without RGIII, Morris did not have a 100-yard game and his yards per carry dropped to 3.9.

With such a small sample and a healthy Griffin coming into 2014, no owner seemed to notice this or care about the dip in production for Morris without Griffin.

Fantasy owners going into a playoff matchup in Week 14 should now take notice.

This season, Griffin has made four starts, and in those games, Morris has rushed for at least 90 yards in each game and averaged 5.46 yards per carry. In the other seven games with Colt McCoy or Kirk Cousins, the running back does not have a single 90-yard rushing day and is averaging 3.55 yards per carry.

Even though Griffin has tried to become a pocket passer, it is obvious defenses cannot concentrate as much on stopping Morris if RGIII is playing. Just the threat of Griffin running makes a difference. Actually, it makes a big difference of nearly two yards per attempt.

It may be hard to do it at this point in the season because of where owners selected Morris in August, but it isn’t crazy to think about benching him for the playoffs. Without the yards this season, he is completely reliant on scoring touchdowns, which he has done in five out of 12 games.

I respect owners who wish to stick by a borderline stud just in case he explodes for a big game in the fantasy playoffs. As long as RGIII is benched those owners should realize Morris must find the end zone in order to help owners make a playoff run.



<The Gilmer Free Press

►  Top-25 College Basketball Game Results

(Friday, December 05)


Final Score: (1) Kentucky 63, (6) Texas 51

Kentucky shot 1-for-12 from 3-point range and was outrebounded 42-31 on its home floor. But Willie Cauley-Stein and the No. 1 Wildcats still found a way past sixth- ranked Texas, 63-51, in their first real test of the season. Cauley-Stein’s best game as a college player couldn’t have come at a better time for the Wildcats, who struggled to score all night but got it done on the defensive end. The 7-footer was dominant on D while also posting a career-high 21 points. He finished with 12 rebounds, five steals and three blocked shots. Dakari Johnson scored 11 points, Karl-Anthony Towns netted 10, and Alex Poythress chipped in eight for the unbeaten Wildcats (8-0). Open looks were at a premium for Texas (7-1), which finished just 14- of-47 from the floor and 4-for-20 from behind the arc. Jonathan Holmes paced the Longhorns with 14 points and Demarcus Holland had 10 with a game-high five assists.


Final Score: (5) Louisville 82, FIU 57

Montrezl Harrell scored 13 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to lead No. 5 Louisville to an 82-57 win over Florida International on Friday. The Cardinals (7-0) used strong defense and a balanced attack to dominate the Panthers. Anton Gill led Louisville with 15 points, including three shots from beyond the arc, and three others—including Wayne Blackshear—added double-digit totals. Louisville collected 21 assists on 32 made shots. Dennis Mavin paced FIU (5-4) with 15 points, but the Panthers could never establish any offense. Louisville forced 25 turnovers and scored 32 points off them. The Cardinals shot 57.1 percent from the floor and dominated down low, blocking nine shots and outscoring FIU 44-26 in the paint.


Final Score: (11) Kansas 71, Florida 65

Wayne Selden Jr. scored a game-high 21 points as No. 11 Kansas stormed from behind for a 71-65 win over Florida in an SEC/Big 12 Challenge game on Friday. Cliff Alexander had 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Frank Mason III and Perry Ellis scored 12 and 10 points, respectively, for the Jayhawks (6-1), who outscored Florida 47-26 in the second half to win their fifth consecutive game. Devin Robinson supplied 13 points and Chris Walker donated 12 points and five boards for the Gators (3-4), who led by as much as 18 points in the second half, but still lost their second game in a row.


Final Score: (22) Oklahoma 82, Missouri 63

Ryan Spangler had a season-high 18 points on 7-of-8 shooting and No. 22 Oklahoma dismantled Missouri, 82-63, in another installment of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. Buddy Hield scored 17 points and Isaiah Cousins netted 16 for the Sooners (5-2), who had a week to reflect on their 69-56 loss at No. 2 Wisconsin before returning to the court. Hield and Cousins both made three 3-pointers. Houston transfer TaShawn Thomas added nine points and five blocks. Johnathan Williams III led Missouri (4-4) with 16 points and eight rebounds and Montague Gil-Caesar scored 15 in the setback. The Tigers haven’t been .500 through eight games since the 2005-06 season, which is also the last time they finished a campaign with a losing record.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Unsung Warriors have huge impact

The Golden State Warriors are the best team in the NBA for reasons passing the obvious.

Bold moves and commitment have put the Warriors atop the standings in the NBA. They haven’t lost since the Hoover Administration and are the association’s most lethal two-way threat.

They rank third in scoring and sixth in opponents’ scoring. Doesn’t take an analytics nerd to figure that yields a high margin of victory. The Warriors win by an average of 10.9 ppg. That’s also first.

The Splash Brothers are headed to the All-Star game, deservedly so.

Steph Curry is a statistical freak of nature. He’s sixth in scoring, fifth in assists, eighth in steals, third in free-throw shooting and first in 3- pointers made.

Klay Thompson is 14th in scoring, eighth in 3-point shooting percentage and fourth in made 3-pointers.

Even Curry has emerged into a legitimate NBA defender and Thompson was already considered an elite wing stopper.

So, yes, the Splash Brothers are studs who carry this team offensively. The nickname is still stupid, but the point is they are All-NBA caliber guys.

Their importance is paramount to be clear. It is not singular to the Warriors’ obscene success to this point.

Steve Kerr came into the Warriors’ coaching job as the trendy name this offseason. He brushed aside the courtship of one of his mentors, Phil Jackson and the New York Knicks, to take the Golden State gig.

He’s a west-coast guy and the rosters weren’t comparable, so it made sense. It wasn’t the easiest transition in the history of business transactions. Former coach Mark Jackson resuscitated this franchise, but was shown the door because of some friction with ownership.

Jackson’s players were fiercely loyal to their former coach, but now, it looks like Kerr has been their uncle for eternity. The group plays beautiful team basketball and Kerr made perhaps the biggest, boldest decision he could make from the beginning.

He reinserted Harrison Barnes into the starting lineup in favor of Andre Iguodala. Barnes started as a rookie two seasons ago, then went to the bench when Iguodala was signed in the summer of 2013.

Getting maximum output from Barnes has been crucial to the Warriors’ success. Building him back into the productive player he was as a rookie was a tough task for Kerr.

“I think he needed to play this year,“ Kerr said after Thursday’s victory over the New Orleans Pelicans. “Last year was a tough year for him. He needed to play and let loose. He’s taken advantage of the minutes.“

Draymond Green is a similar story. He played quite a bit in the last playoffs under Jackson, but now, he’s becoming vital.

And their presence has given Golden State’s biggest asset to date - their ability to switch on defense. With the exception of Andrew Bogut, every player in the starting five, and much of the bench, can switch any pick-and-roll on the floor.

“That’s the strength of our defense really, along with Bogs protecting the rim, the versatility on the wings, the ability to switch and get out on 3- point shooters,“ Kerr said.

Bogut is undervalued, but Kerr’s decision to tweak that starting lineup has been genius. It was a brash decision. Iguodala signed a four-year, $48 million contract in 2013, meaning, a man making a shade over $12 million was demoted for a third-year guy who lost his spot a season prior and a second-round pick in Green.

Its brilliance is how it’s enhanced the second unit. Iguodala isn’t the explosive player he once was, but can still get the opposition’s shirt. Shaun Livingston was signed in the offseason after a career redefining season with Brooklyn in 2013-14. Marreese Speights averages 12.4 ppg in 15.8 minutes per game.

“We have enough scoring coming off the bench, but the fact we can continue to defend even with our starters off the floor, that’s a really big factor for us,“ said Kerr.

And the bench should get enhanced shortly. David Lee has played all of seven minutes for the Warriors this season, but is expected back shortly from a hamstring injury.

Kerr should be committed if he tinkers with that first unit, so where does Lee fit in? We are talking about a two-time All-Star who averaged 18.2 ppg and 9.3 rebounds a night for Golden State last season.

“We need him. We’ll find ways to play,“ noted Kerr. “It may mean a few less minutes for Harrison and Draymond. We have great chemistry and guys are playing for each other. When David comes back, and things change rotation- wise, guys are going to accept it.“

And that demonstrates another beautiful aspect of this Warriors’ team. This is a cohesive group that doesn’t let ego get in the way of a good thing. Sounds simple and obvious enough, but in 2014, how often does that really happen?

“There’s nothing better in the NBA than being on a team like this where you have good guys and you’re winning,“ Kerr said.

For veterans like Iguodala and Lee to be willing to sacrifice for the betterment of the group is too uncommon. Barnes and Green are better players right now and better fits in Kerr’s schemes, which are predicated on versatility.

And good on Kerr for going with what’s best. Iguodala and Lee make a combined $27 million and were integral to the development and success of Golden State. It would be easy to play favorites to the veterans, especially in your first gig and especially considering the potentially fragile nature of the group after what transpired with Jackson.

But Kerr put his horses on display and it’s working. It also doesn’t hurt that Kerr has gone younger during this process.

“We talk about the development of [a franchise] is when your young players develop,“ said TNT’s Reggie Miller. “Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson have gotten better each year. That’s why the Warriors franchise is in good hands moving forward.“

It’s in great hands now.

RANDOM THOUGHTS

- Good for the Philadelphia 76ers. No one wants that record of worst start to a season. They play hard, they work hard, so good for them. The all-time worst record of 9-73 is, however, in play.

- Potential Western Conference All-Star guards: Curry, Thompson, Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, James Harden, Monta Ellis and Damian Lillard. Frontcourt guys: Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Marc Gasol, Blake Griffin, Dirk Nowitzki, LaMarcus Aldridge and Zach Randolph. That doesn’t account for the fact that Kevin Durant will probably fare well in the fan vote and Dwight Howard was superb before injury.

- The Los Angeles Lakers are 5-14, but 1-13 within the Western Conference. So, that should show how bad the East is that LA is 4-1 against them.

- You love the Washington Wizards? I do. They’re loaded. Going to be a force in the Eastern Conference, right? The Atlanta Hawks are a game behind them. The always .500, duller than taupe Hawks could be the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference by the end of the weekend.

- Movie moment - I’m a sucker for the Oscars, so it’s cool to me that one of my favorite character actors - J.K. Simmons - is sounding like a shoo-in for Best Supporting Actor. Before you look him up, he was the dad in “Juno,“ the psychiatrist in “Law & Order,“ the hideous white supremacist in “Oz,“ is the yellow peanut M&M and currently is the dean of students for Farmer’s Insurance. What range.

- TV moment - My son was acting up a bit on Thursday night so my girlfriend put on the live screening of “Peter Pan” on NBC. He said, “am I in trouble?“ I was harsh on “The Sound of Music” and I’d never watch that, or “Peter Pan” voluntarily, but I respect those involved. They knew scorn was coming, but did it anyway.


►  NBA Game Results

(Friday, December 05)


Final Score: Charlotte 103, New York 102

Kemba Walker’s layup with 0.3 seconds to play helped the Charlotte Hornets hold off a late New York Knicks surge and end their 10-game losing streak with a thrilling 103-102 victory on Friday. Carmelo Anthony gave the Knicks a 102-101 lead off a wide-open 3 from the left side with 40.7 seconds to play. After each team missed a jump shot, the Hornets took a timeout with four seconds to play after Marvin Williams rebounded Anthony’s miss. Coming out of the timeout, Walker raced up to the top of the arc to receive the inbound pass and darted through the key, laying the ball off the glass and into the net for the deciding basket as the buzzer sounded. Gerald Henderson finished with a season-high 22 points on 8-of-10 shooting, Al Jefferson had 16 points and 13 rebounds, and Lance Stephenson also scored 16 points for Charlotte, which won its first game since Nov. 14 at Phoenix. Anthony had a game-high 32 points, while J.R. Smith and Tim Hardaway Jr. supplied 14 and 13 points, respectively, off the bench in the Knicks’ seventh straight loss.


Final Score: Oklahoma City 103, Philadelphia 91

Russell Westbrook had 27 points and the Oklahoma City Thunder led wire-to-wire in a 103-91 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night. The Thunder were coming off a loss in New Orleans on Tuesday that spoiled Kevin Durant’s return from offseason foot surgery and ended the team’s first winning streak of the season at two games. The reigning NBA MVP scored 27 points while playing nearly 30 minutes in his season debut. He played 29 minutes against the Sixers, scoring 10 on 3-of-11 shooting as Westbrook, in his third game back after missing 14 with a broken hand, led the way. Thunder coach Scott Brooks agreed Durant looked rusty, but stressed that he was just getting his game legs back, and that the team as it looked Friday has only practiced together three times. Serge Ibaka added 19 points for the Thunder and Jeremy Lamb scored 15 off the bench, including a couple of 3-pointers that thwarted an attempted Sixers rally late in the fourth quarter. The Sixers fell to 1-18, landing right back in the losing column after getting their first win on the road against Minnesota on Wednesday night. The victory kept them from matching the 2009-10 Nets for the worst start to a season in NBA history, but they remain winless (0-11) at home. Robert Covington scored a career-high 21 points off the bench to lead the Sixers. Michael Carter-Williams had 16 points and 14 assists working against Westbrook all night and Nerlens Noel also posted a double- double, scoring 11 with 10 rebounds.


Final Score: Washington 119, Denver 89

Kris Humphries scored 20 points to lead the Washington Wizards to a 119-89 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Friday. Rasual Butler and Kevin Seraphin each scored 16 points for the Wizards, who have won four straight. John Wall nearly had a triple-double as he scored nine points with eight rebounds and 12 assists. Wilson Chandler scored 20 points for the Nuggets, who have dropped their past two. Ty Lawson gave 14 points and 10 assists in defeat.


Final Score: Boston 113, LA Lakers 96

Tyler Zeller had 24 points on 10-of-11 shooting and pulled down 14 rebounds in the Boston Celtics’ 113-96 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday. Jeff Green added 19 points for the Celtics, who have won two in a row since a five-game skid. Jared Sullinger tallied 17 points and 13 boards, Avery Bradley donated 16 points and Rajon Rondo scored 12 points and dished out 16 assists. Kobe Bryant ended with 22 points for the Lakers, who have dropped two straight. Nick Young and Jeremy Lin had 16 and 14 points, respectively.


Final Score: Atlanta 98, Brooklyn 75

DeMarre Carroll scored 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting to lead Atlanta to a 98-75 win over Brooklyn at Barclays Center Friday. Carroll’s 14 second-quarter points keyed a dominant period for the Hawks that saw them outscore the Nets 36-13. Paul Millsap contributed 17 points and nine rebounds in the winning effort, Atlanta’s fifth straight, and Jeff Teague and Dennis Schroder scored 14 and 13 points, respectively. Brook Lopez paced Brooklyn with 20 points and seven boards as the Nets saw their two-game winning streak come to an end. Joe Johnson totaled 12 points with six rebounds and four assists for Brooklyn.


Final Score: Cleveland 105, Toronto 91

LeBron James had 24 points, 13 assists and seven rebounds and the Cleveland Cavaliers extended their winning streak to six games with a 105-91 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Friday night. The Cavs, led by Kyrie Irving’s season-high 37 points, opened a three-game road trip with a win over Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks on Thursday night. Irving scored 15 in this one, including the bulk of Cleveland’s points in a key third-quarter run after Toronto had gone ahead for the first time. Tristan Thompson added 21 points and 14 rebounds off the bench for the Cavs and Kevin Love scored 15 with 13 boards. Amir Johnson had 27 points for the Eastern Conference-leading Raptors and Kyle Lowry scored 22 with nine assists.


Final Score: San Antonio 107, Memphis 101

One streak had to end and the San Antonio Spurs got the best of the Memphis Grizzlies again. Tim Duncan had his first triple double of the season with 14 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists as the Spurs defeated the Grizzlies 107-101 to snap Memphis’ 22-game regular season home winning streak on Friday night. San Antonio has beaten the Grizzlies nine straight times, including the postseason. The Spurs raced out to a 13-2 start in this one and never trailed by less than four the rest of the way, but that was with 21 seconds left when the game was already decided. Manu Ginobili tallied 17 points and seven assists and Danny Green added 16 points for the Spurs, who have won nine of their last 10 games. Marc Gasol, who was a game-time decision with a right knee bruise, posted 28 points, 12 boards and four blocks. The bruise was in the same knee that he tore his MCL last season and missed two months. Memphis went 10-13 during his absence. Mike Conley provided 23 points and 10 helpers, while Tayshaun Prince supplied 20 points off the bench for Memphis, which has lost two straight after coming into its last game Wednesday night with just two defeats on the season. The Grizzlies had their five-game winning streak snapped Wednesday against Houston when they committed 21 turnovers and were outrebounded 52-39 by a Rockets squad that played without Dwight Howard.


Final Score: Houston 114, Minnesota 112 (OT)

James Harden fouling out late in regulation opened the door for an unlikely hero. Seldom-used rookie Nick Johnson muscled past fellow rookie Zach LaVine and got a layup to go with 0.8 seconds left as the Houston Rockets beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 114-112 in overtime on Friday. Harden scored 38 points on 17 shots in 36 1/2 minutes before picking up his sixth foul with 1:20 remaining in regulation. On the ensuing Minnesota possession, Andrew Wiggins had a putback dunk to give the Wolves a 105-101 lead. Donatas Motiejunas scored the final four points in regulation with a righty hook and a pair of free throws to force OT. It was tied at 112 late in the extra session when Jason Terry, who scored 19 points, drove and dished to a cutting Johnson. The first-year pro out of Arizona had missed his previous four shots before bullying his way to the basket for the game-winner. Thaddeus Young’s last-second jumper from near the foul line fell well short.


Final Score: Phoenix 118, Dallas 106

Goran Dragic had 28 points and 13 assists in the Phoenix Suns’ 118-106 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Friday. Markieff Morris added 22 points and 10 rebounds for the Suns, who never looked back after scoring 40 points in the first quarter. Eric Bledsoe tallied 19 points and seven assists. Monta Ellis ended with 33 points for the Mavericks, who had a five-game winning streak snapped. Tyson Chandler and Chandler Parsons each had 15 points, with Chandler also pulling down 18 boards.


Final Score: Milwaukee 109, Miami 85

Kendall Marshall scored 20 points and the Milwaukee Bucks took control in the second half to beat the Miami Heat 109-85 on Friday night. Jabari Parker, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton each scored 14 points for the Bucks, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Dwyane Wade scored a game-high 28 points for the Heat and Chris Bosh had 21 in their third straight loss. Jerryd Bayless scored 11 of his 12 points in the third quarter for the Bucks, who turned a tight game into a nine-point lead going into the fourth with a 13-2 run that came mostly at the foul line. Bayless hit six of Milwaukee’s nine free throws during the spurt, which made it 80-71. The Bucks then outscored Miami 29-14 in the fourth, leading by double-digits all the way after Middleton’s jumper to open the quarter. They shot better than 64 percent in the quarter and over 56 for the game.


Final Score: Orlando 98, Utah 93

Tobias Harris had 22 points and seven rebounds as the Orlando Magic defeated the Utah Jazz 98-93 on Friday night. Victor Oladipo posted 20 points and six assists for the Magic, who had dropped six of their last seven games coming in. Orlando starting center Nik Vucevic didn’t play due to back spasms. Derrick Favors provided 21 points and 13 boards, while Trey Burke added 13 points and 11 helpers for Utah, which has lost eight in a row.


Final Score: Sacramento 102, Indiana 101 (OT)

The Sacramento Kings finally won a game without DeMarcus Cousins. It wound up being a lot tougher than expected. Carl Landry’s go-ahead layup with 0.8 seconds left in overtime lifted the Kings to a 102-101 win over the Indiana Pacers on Saturday night. Sacramento led by as many as 17 in regulation, but the Pacers closed the fourth on a 10-2 run to force the extra session and a C.J. Watson 3-pointer preceded his floater in the paint to stake Indiana to a 101-100 edge with 1:03 remaining in overtime. After Darren Collison and David West traded missed jumpers, Rudy Gay took the clock down and rose up for a contested jumper along the right baseline. Landry hauled in the misfire for an offensive rebound and laid the ball in to put the Kings in front. West’s desperation turnaround heave at the horn ricocheted off the backboard. Cousins, who sat out a fourth straight game with a viral infection, was released from a hospital Wednesday after receiving treatment for the illness. The Kings had been 0-16 without their big man in his career coming in. Gay netted 27 points, while Collison added 20 points, six rebounds, six assists and four steals for Sacramento, which snapped a four-game losing streak. West posted 16 points and eight boards, Rodney Stuckey supplied 14 points and four swipes and Watson added 14 points for the Pacers, who have dropped four in a row and five of their last six.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Nats’ Werth to serve jail time for reckless driving

Washington Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth was found guilty of reckless driving and was sentenced to 10 days in jail Friday, according to multiple reports.

Werth also had his driver’s license suspended for six months and was fined $1,000. The incident occurred on the Capital Beltway in Fairfax County, Virginia on July 6, with Werth clocked at 105 mph in a 55 mph zone.

Werth’s attorney stated that he will appeal the judge’s sentence. According to Washington television station WRC, it is likely that Werth will only have to serve half of his given sentence.

Werth, who signed a seven-year contract with the Nationals on December 5, 2010, compiled a .292 batting average with 16 home runs and 82 RBI over 147 games last season.

The Illinois native was a member of the 2008 World Champion Philadelphia Phillies and owns a career batting average of .276 with 186 home runs and 659 RBI. Werth also has posted a .246 batting average, 14 homers and 27 RBI in 53 postseason appearances.


►  Dodgers claim Lavarnway from Boston

The Los Angeles Dodgers have claimed catcher Ryan Lavarnway from the Boston Red Sox.

The Red Sox designated Lavarnway for assignment late last month after signing Pablo Sandoval and former Dodger Hanley Ramirez as free agents.

Lavarnway appeared in 97 games for the Red Sox from 2011-14, batting .201 with five homers and 34 runs batted in. The 27-year-old southern California native was hitless in 10 at-bats for Boston in 2014 and hit .285 in 67 minor league games while battling a strained left wrist.

The Dodgers also designated catcher Drew Butera for assignment on Friday.

Butera played in 61 games for Los Angeles last season and batted .188 with three homers and 14 RBI. He is a career .183 hitter in 251 games with the Dodgers and Minnesota Twins.


►  Padres add veteran IF Barmes

The San Diego Padres have finalized a one- year contract with free agent infielder Clint Barmes that includes a club option for the 2016 season.

Barmes joins the Padres after spending the past three seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The 35-year-old appeared in 48 games as a utility player in 2014, finishing the year with a .245 average and seven RBI.

Highly regarded for his defensive abilities, Barmes owns a career .246 average with 86 home runs and 399 RBI over 12 major league seasons. The Indiana native played eight seasons with the Colorado Rockies from 2003-10 before spending the following campaign with the Houston Astros.

Barmes is expected to split time with the left-handed hitting Alexi Amarista at shortstop for San Diego, which did not tender former starter Everth Cabrera a contract at this week’s deadline.


►  Rays select Kevin Cash as new manager

The Tampa Bay Rays have named Kevin Cash as their new manager.

Cash spent parts of eight seasons as a catcher in the majors, retiring after the 2011 season. He joined the Toronto Blue Jays as an advance scout in 2012 and was the bullpen coach with the Cleveland Indians for the past two seasons.

“Kevin is passionate, genuine and dedicated, and those attributes will resonate throughout our clubhouse,“ said Rays president of baseball operations Matt Silverman in a statement Friday. “As a catcher, a scout and a coach, he has always been a student of the game, and his communication and tireless work will put our club in a position to win, night in and night out.“

Cash, a Tampa native who will turn 37 years old on Saturday, will be the youngest active manager in the majors. He played 13 games for the Devil Rays in 2005 and will become the first former player to manage for the franchise.

“We are proud to introduce Kevin as our manager,“ said Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg on Friday. “His energy and dynamic personality will fit seamlessly with our clubhouse. We are fortunate to have such a talented individual, and Tampa Bay native, to lead our club as we strive to achieve new heights as a team and organization.“

The Rays interviewed nine candidates in an effort to find a replacement for Joe Maddon, who opted out of his contract in October soon after long-time executive Andrew Friedman left for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Maddon quickly found a new job with the Chicago Cubs. He had guided the Rays to a record of 754-705 with two division titles, four postseason berths and the 2008 World Series during his nine-year tenure.

Cash also played for Toronto, Boston, the Yankees and Houston in a big league career that ended with a batting average of .183 and 12 home runs in 246 games. He played for World Series winning teams with Boston in 2007 and the Yankees in 2009.

The other finalists for the position were longtime major league outfielder Raul Ibanez and former Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu.


►  Yanks deal for Gregorius as Jeter replacement

When former Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers acquired Didi Gregorius from the Cincinnati Reds back in 2012 he said the shortstop reminded him of a young Derek Jeter.

Gregorius will now be the one who will replace Jeter, as the New York Yankees obtained the slick-fielding shortstop from the Diamondbacks as part of a three-team deal that also includes the Detroit Tigers.

The Yankees sent right-hander Shane Greene to Detroit in the swap, with the Diamondbacks receiving lefty Robbie Ray and minor league infielder Domingo Leyba from the Tigers.

Known more for his glove than his bat, Gregorius hit just .226 with a .290 on- base percentage in 80 games for the Diamondbacks last season. For his career, the 24-year-old Gregorius owns a modest .243 average in 191 games with the Reds and D-backs, and has hit 13 home runs over 647 at-bats in the majors.

Greene pitched well in his first big league season a year ago, going 5-4 with a 3.78 ERA in 15 games (14 starts) for the Yankees. He also struck out 81 batters in 78 2/3 innings.

Ray, rated the No. 2 overall prospect in the Tigers’ system by MLB.com, was just 1-4 with an 8.16 ERA in nine games (6 starts) in the majors last season. He compiled a 7-6 record with a 4.22 ERA in 20 games (19 starts) at Triple-A Toledo.

The 23-year-old Ray was considered one of the key pieces that came to Detroit in last offseason’s trade that sent pitcher Doug Fister to Washington.

Leyva was ranked as the Tigers’ fifth-best prospect by Baseball America entering this season. The 19-year-old switch-hitter split the 2014 campaign between Short-Season A Connecticut and Low-A West Michigan, hitting .323 with 18 doubles, two homers and 24 RBI over a combined 67 games.


►  Dempster retires as a Cub

The Chicago Cubs have announced that right- hander Ryan Dempster has signed with the team to retire and join the front office as a special assistant to president Theo Epstein.

A two-time All-Star, Dempster missed all of last season, citing health and family issues. He last pitched in 2013 and won a World Series championship with the Boston Red Sox that year.

Dempster struggled that season, though, as he pitched to a 4.57 ERA and allowed 249 baserunners in 171 innings. He also did not make a start during the Red Sox’ World Series run.

The 37-year-old spent nine of his 16 major league seasons with the Cubs from 2004-12. Dempster won a career-high 17 games with Chicago in 2008, when he returned to a starting role after working as the Cubs’ closer the previous three years.

Dempster retires with a career mark of 132-133 with 87 saves and a 4.35 ERA over 579 games (351 starts). The British Columbia native also pitched for the Florida Marlins, Cincinnati Reds and Texas Rangers in addition to the Cubs and Red Sox.


►  Yankees closing in on Gregorius deal

When former Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers acquired Didi Gregorius from the Cincinnati Reds back in 2012 he said the shortstop reminded him of a young Derek Jeter.

Gregorius now appears to be the one who will replace Jeter, as the New York Yankees are reportedly close to obtaining the slick-fielding shortstop from the Diamondbacks as part of a three-team deal with the Detroit Tigers.

WFAN Radio in New York, as well as Fox Sports, indicated that New York will send right-hander Shane Greene to Detroit, while the Tigers will ship lefty Robbie Ray and perhaps another player to the Diamondbacks to complete the deal.

Known more for his glove than his bat, Gregorius hit just .226 with a .290 on- base percentage in 80 games last season for the Diamondbacks. For his career, the 24-year-old Gregorius is only a .243 hitter in 191 games with the Reds and D-backs.

Greene pitched well in his first big league season a year ago, going 5-4 with a 3.78 ERA in 15 games (14 starts) for the Yankees. He also struck out 81 batters in 78 2/3 innings.

Ray, meanwhile, appeared in nine games (6 starts) for the Tigers last season and was 1-4 with an 8.16 ERA. He was also traded last winter from Washington in the deal that sent Doug Fister to Detroit.


►  Baseball world set to converge on San Diego

Get ready for a ton of baseball rumors, wild trade scenarios and free agent signings, because the giant schmoozefest known as Major League Baseball’s Winter Meetings gets underway next week at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront in San Diego, California.

Unlike the sleepy meetings a year ago, this latest edition of the get together figures to be action packed as most of the major A-list free agents are still on the market.

Of course, the biggest fish out there is left-hander Jon Lester, who will likely have at least four teams to choose from this week. The Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers have all apparently made offers and are just waiting.

There was a belief that Lester would sign somewhere before the start of the meetings, but is now seems as if he is going to milk it and drive his price even higher.

And who knows, maybe the omnipresent “mystery” team will jump into the fray.

Boston always seemed like a longshot to get him back. The thought all along was that he would wind up in Chicago with former general manager Theo Epstein, but let’s face it, if the Dodgers want him, they are going to get him.

And if that does play out that could make things real interesting. For one, everyone who missed out on Lester will go hard after righties Max Scherzer and James Shields, and two, the Dodgers will likely make Zack Greinke available in that scenario.

Remember, Greinke can opt out of his contract after this season. If the Dodgers were to land Lester, Greinke is as good as gone. Heck, even if the Dodgers don’t get Lester there is a solid chance Greinke goes on the market.

This much is certain, though, Andrew Friedman, who left Tampa Bay to run the Dodgers’ baseball operations, will be a busy man next week. Between the Lester stuff, a potential Greinke deal and trying to rid himself of one of his outfielders, Friedman won’t have a lot of time to enjoy the beautiful San Diego weather.

But then again, he lives in Los Angeles, so that’s probably not a big deal.

Friedman may have the most attractive bat out there in Matt Kemp. Baltimore has already had talks with the Dodgers and there figures to be others in the mix, like Seattle. It’s no secret that the Mariners, who just signed Nelson Cruz earlier in the week, would love to add another bat and they have the young pitching to get a deal done.

Kemp is so much more attractive to teams in a deal than say Justin Upton or Yoenis Cespedes because he still has five years remaining on his deal. Yes, he’s also owed $107 million, but Upton and Cespedes can both become free agents after the 2015 campaign.

One team to keep an eye on this week is the San Diego Padres. The Padres were willing to go close to $100 million for Pablo Sandoval, so they are willing to spend some money and are looking for a big bat.

The reliever market appears quiet at the moment. Lefty setup man Andrew Miller seems to getting the most attention and could have a deal in place by the end of the weekend. It looks as if the New York Yankees would rather give him four years than their own free agent David Robertson, who has been linked to Houston.

In a sign of the times, 28 years ago today the Philadelphia Phillies made Pete Rose the highest paid player in baseball, signing him to a deal that paid him just over $900,000 for the 1979 season.

Keep that in mind this week when you hear that third baseman Chase Headley has just inked a deal that guarantees him close to $17 million a year.

But, remember this, when it comes to the Winter Meetings believe nothing. There are going to be a-million-and-one rumors over the next week, and chances are none of them will come true.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  NHL Game Results

(Friday, December 05)


Final Score: Anaheim 5, Minnesota 4

Ryan Kesler had two goals and an assist as the Anaheim Ducks nabbed a 5-4 win over the Minnesota Wild on Friday. Tim Jackman posted a goal and an assist while Jakob Silfverberg and Matt Beleskey each scored for the Ducks, who have won their past three. Frederik Andersen allowed four goals on 25 shots. Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise, Justin Fontaine and Jonas Brodin all scored for the Wild, who were coming off a win over Montreal on Wednesday. Darcy Kuemper allowed all five goals on 18 shots.


Final Score: Winnipeg 6, Colorado 2

Bryan Little’s hat trick powered the Winnipeg Jets to a 6-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Friday. Little’s hat trick was the first for the Jets since the franchise relocated from Atlanta to Winnipeg. Eric Boulton scored the last hat trick in franchise history for the Thrashers on Dec. 18, 2010. Andrew Ladd tallied a goal and an assist, Chris Thorburn and Dustin Byfuglien also scored and Blake Wheeler supplied three helpers for the Jets, who are 4-0-1 over their last five games. Michael Hutchinson turned aside 20 shots in the win. Jarome Iginla scored twice and Gabriel Landeskog assisted on both markers for the Avalanche, who lost for the third straight contest. Semyon Varlamov gave up five goals on 30 shots, while Reto Berra conceded a goal on seven shots in defeat.

Final Score: Chicago 4, Montreal 3

Chicago, IL (SportsNetwork.com) - Brandon Saad scored the winning goal with 27 seconds to play to lift the Chicago Blackhawks to a 4-3 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Friday. Jonathan Toews had a goal and an assist while Ben Smith and Michal Rozsival also scored for the Blackhawks, who have won five straight. Antti Raanta turned away 38 shots in the win. Brendan Gallagher had a goal and an assist while Sergei Gonchar and P.K. Subban also scored for the Canadiens, who have lost five of their last six games. Carey Price allowed all four goals on 36 shots.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Crew chief changes for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2015

Joe Gibbs Racing announced on Thursday a major shake-up with its crew chiefs for its NASCAR Sprint Cup and Xfinity Series teams in 2015.

In Sprint Cup, JGR has reshuffled its crew chief lineup with Dave Rogers switching from Kyle Busch’s No. 18 Toyota to Denny Hamlin’s No. 11 Toyota, while Hamlin’s previous crew chief, Darian Grubb, moving over to the organization’s new fourth team, the No. 19 Toyota, with driver Carl Edwards.

Adam Stevens will switch from JGR’s No. 54 team in the Xfinity Series (previously known as the Nationwide Series) to serve as crew chief for Busch on the 18 team in Sprint Cup.

Jason Ratcliff will remain the crew chief for JGR’s No. 20 Sprint Cup team, with driver Matt Kenseth. Ratcliff and Kenseth have been paired since the start of the 2013 season.

Edwards is joining JGR for the upcoming season after driving for Roush Fenway Racing in NASCAR’s top series since 2004.

“With the expansion of our NASCAR Sprint Cup Series operations to four teams next year with the addition of Carl Edwards, we have been able to take a step back and evaluate each of our teams and make decisions that we feel are best for our organization long term,“ JGR president J.D. Gibbs said in a team release.

Stevens spent the past four seasons as a crew chief in JGR’s Nationwide program, leading the team to 31 race wins and 95 top-10 finishes in 124 starts.

“Like Jason and Dave previously, Adam has clearly proven that he is ready to move into the Cup Series, and we feel that his familiarity with Kyle provides the opportunity for us to make that move now,“ Gibbs added. “We think pairing Dave with Denny and Darian with Carl will also make each team stronger heading into next season. Jason and Matt came together quickly, and we felt it was in the best interest of the 20 team to keep it as is.“

Busch, Hamlin and Kenseth all qualified for this year’s 16-member Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. Hamlin made it into the final four for the championship round at Homestead-Miami Speedway where he finished seventh in the season-ending race and concluded the season third in the point standings. Edwards qualified for the Chase as well in his last year with RFR.

In the Xfinity Series, Chris Gayle will take over crew chief duties for JGR’s No. 54 Toyota, driven by multiple drivers, while Eric Phillips will serve in the role for the No. 18 Toyota, with new full-time driver Daniel Suarez. Mike Wheeler will replace Kevin Kidd as crew chief for the team’s No. 20 Toyota, also driven by multiple drivers.


►  Earnhardt Jr. recipient of Myers Brothers Award

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was named the recipient of the 2014 Myers Brothers Award for his contributions on and off the racetrack during Thursday’s National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon, held at Wynn Las Vegas.

The Myers Brothers Award has been presented annually since 1958 in the names of pioneer NASCAR competitors Billy and Bobby Myers, and its winner is chosen by a vote of the NMPA. This prestigious award recognizes those who have made outstanding contributions to the sport of stock car racing.

Earnhardt, who turned 40 years old in October, has won 23 races during his career in NASCAR’s premier series, including victories in the 2004 and ‘14 Daytona 500s. Four of his victories came this season, as he made the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship and finished eighth in the point standings. Earnhardt also won back-to-back titles in NASCAR’s second-tier series from 1998-99.

Furthermore, Earnhardt is the co-owner of JR Motorsports, a team competing in the Nationwide (soon-to-be Xfinity) Series. JRM is also owned by his sister, Kelley Earnhardt Miller, and Sprint Cup team owner Rick Hendrick.

His Dale Jr. Foundation has raised a total of $913,000 that has been distributed to more than 70 different charities. He also has made 235 appearances on behalf of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, a number that ranks in the top-five among professional athletes.

“The truth is I’m extremely humbled by this award, but I feel like I share it on so many levels,“ Earnhardt said during his Myers Brothers Award acceptance speech. “My sister, Kelley, along with everyone at JR Motorsports is as deserving of this as anyone. I’ve got a lot of passions with NASCAR, but I wouldn’t know how to make them realities without all those folks.

“They (at JR Motorsports) are why we just completed our 14th season at building race cars on some level or another. And they’re also why the Dale Jr. Foundation exists. I’m just as proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish there as anything we’ve ever done on the racetrack.“

Others receiving votes for the this year’s Myers Brothers Award were ESPN and NASCAR national touring series title sponsors Sprint and Nationwide Insurance.

Tony Stewart won the Myers Brothers Award in 2013, and Jeff Gordon was the recipient of it in 2012. Last year, Earnhardt received the NASCAR Most Popular Driver Award, which is presented by the NMPA, for a record 11th consecutive year.

“It’s one thing to lead the last lap and get the checkered flag, and it’s one thing to swim faster, run faster, hit a ball farther, get those sort of accolades for doing something phenomenal, but when your peers say, ‘Good job,‘ or when the people you’re around all the time acknowledge something, even if it’s just so minuscule, it’s such a good feeling,“ Earnhardt told reporters after the luncheon had concluded. “That’s really better than any kind of trophy for victories. It definitely is a great feeling.“

This season, JR Motorsports driver Chase Elliott became the youngest competitor to win a NASCAR national series championship after clinching the Nationwide title. Elliott, now 19 years old, will likely join Brad Keselowski, Aric Almirola, Danica Patrick and Cole Whitt as Sprint Cup regulars who have developed under Earnhardt full time at the Nationwide level.

In addition to his Nationwide program, Earnhardt contributes to racing at its grassroots levels, fielding Late Model or Street Stock cars since founding JR Motorsports. His Late Model drivers Josh Berry and William Byron finished 1-2, respectively, this season in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series at Hickory Motor Speedway in North Carolina.

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


SATURDAY, DECEMBER 06, 2014


National Basketball Association
Philadelphia at Detroit, 7:30 PM - TCN-Philadelphia, FS-Detroit+, DSS
Golden State at Chicago, 8:00 PM - CSN-Bay, WGN, DSS
Phoenix at Houston, 8:00 PM - FS-Arizona+, ROOT-Southwest, DSS
Minnesota at San Antonio, 8:30 PM - FS-North, Southwest, DSS
Orlando at Sacramento, 10:00 PM - FS-Florida, CSN-California, DSS
New Orleans at LA Clippers, 10:30 PM - FS-New Orleans, Prime Ticket, DSS


National Hockey League
Ottawa at Pittsburgh, 1:00 PM - RDS, TSN5, ROOT-Pittsburgh, DSS
St. Louis at NY Islanders, 1:00 PM - FS-Midwest, MSG+, DSS
Philadelphia at Los Angeles, 4:00 PM - CSN-Philadelphia, FS-West, DSS
Montreal at Dallas, 7:00 PM - TVA, CBC, FS-Southwest, DSS
Washington at New Jersey, 7:00 PM - CSN-DC, MSG+, DSS
Columbus at Tampa Bay, 7:00 PM - FS-Ohio, SunSports, DSS
Buffalo at Florida, 7:00 PM - MSG-Buffalo, FS-Florida, DSS
Vancouver at Toronto, 7:00 PM - CBC, DSS
NY Rangers at Detroit, 7:00 PM - MSG, FS-Detroit, NHL Network, DSS
Chicago at Nashville, 7:00 PM - CBC, CSN-Chicago, FS-Tennessee, DSS
Boston at Arizona, 8:00 PM - NESN, FS-Arizona, DSS
San Jose at Calgary, 10:00 PM - CSN-California, CBC, DSS


College Basketball
USC Upstate at Georgia Tech, 12:00 PM - RSN
Kent State at Kennesaw State, 12:00 PM - ESPN3.com
NJIT at Michigan, 12:00 PM - Big Ten Network
Rutgers at Seton Hall, 12:00 PM - FSN, MASN2
Oklahoma State at South Carolina, 12:00 PM - ESPN U
La Salle vs. Temple, 12:00 PM - ESPNews
Wisconsin at Marquette, 12:30 PM - CBS
SIU Edwardsville at Central Michigan, 1:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Saint Joseph’s at Villanova, 1:00 PM - FS1
UMBC at Iowa, 1:07 PM - Big Ten Network+
Saint Peter’s at Boston Univ, 2:00 PM - Patriot League Network
Eastern Michigan at Dayton, 2:00 PM - FS-Ohio
UCF at Florida State, 2:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Loyola-Chicago at Ill-Chicago, 2:00 PM - CSN-Chicago, ESPN3.com
American at Illinois, 2:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Wagner at Lafayette, 2:00 PM - Patriot League Network
St. Francis-NY at Liberty, 2:00 PM - MASN
Winthrop at Maryland, 2:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Green Bay at Miami-Florida, 2:00 PM - ESPN3.com
North Florida at Purdue, 2:00 PM - Big Ten Network+
Arizona State at Texas A&M, 2:00 PM - SEC Network
Miss State at Tulane, 2:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Virginia at VCU, 2:00 PM - ESPN U
Ark-Pine Bluff at Michigan State, 2:15 PM - Big Ten Network
South Florida at Detroit, 3:00 PM - WADL, ESPN3.com
Canisius at Niagara, 3:00 PM - ESPN3.com
UTSA at Washington State, 3:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
North Dakota at Drake, 3:05 PM - MC22
Kansas State at Tennessee, 3:15 PM - ESPN 2
Northwestern at Butler, 4:30 PM - FOX
Colgate at Ohio State, 4:30 PM - Big Ten Network
Stony Brook at Princeton, 4:30 PM - Ivy League Digital Network
Tennessee State at Lipscomb, 5:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Gonzaga at Arizona, 5:15 PM - ESPN
St. John’s at Syracuse, 5:15 PM - ESPN 2
Hawaii vs. BYU, 6:00 PM - BYUtv
Penn State at Marshall, 6:00 PM - CBSSN
Saint Louis at Wichita State, 6:00 PM - COX Kansas
Western Kentucky at Murray State, 6:30 PM - American Sports Network, MASN2
Mount St Mary’s at Loyola-MD, 7:00 PM - Patriot League Network, MASN
Savannah State at Indiana, 7:30 PM - Big Ten Network
Wake Forest at NC State, 7:30 PM - ESPN U
Abilene Christian at Houston, 8:00 PM - ESPN3.com
FDU at Notre Dame, 8:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Alabama at Xavier, 8:00 PM - CBSSN
New Mexico at Valparaiso, 8:05 PM - ESPN3.com
UTEP at New Mexico State, 9:00 PM - American Sports Network, MASN
Bradley at Memphis, 9:30 PM - ESPN U
Boise State at St. Mary’s, 11:30 PM - ESPN U


Women’s College Basketball
Connecticut at Notre Dame, 3:15 PM - ESPN
SMU at Arizona State, 5:00 PM - Pac-12 Network


College Football
SMU at Connecticut, 12:00 PM - CBSSN
Louisiana Tech at Marshall, 12:00 PM - ESPN 2
Houston at Cincinnati, 12:00 PM - ESPN
Iowa State at TCU, 12:00 PM - ABC
Indiana State at Chattanooga, 1:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Fordham at New Hampshire, 1:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Richmond at Coastal Carolina, 1:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Sam Houston St at Jacksonville St, 2:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Northern Iowa at Illinois State, 2:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Oklahoma State at Oklahoma, 3:30 PM - FS1
South Dakota St at North Dakota St, 3:30 PM - ESPN3.com
Alabama vs. Missouri, 4:00 PM - CBS
Alcorn State vs. Southern U, 4:02 PM - ESPN U
Liberty at Villanova, 4:30 PM - ESPN3.com
Montana at Eastern Wash, 4:35 PM - ESPN3.com
Temple at Tulane, 7:30 PM - ESPN 2
Kansas State at Baylor, 7:45 PM - ESPN
Florida State vs. Georgia Tech, 7:45 PM - ABC
Wisconsin vs. Ohio State, 8:17 PM - FOX
Fresno State at Boise State, 10:00 PM - CBS


College Hockey
Minnesota at Michigan State, 5:00 PM - FS-North+
Maine at Massachusetts-Lowell, 8:00 PM - NBCSN
Colorado College at Minnesota-Duluth, 8:00 PM - FS-North, FCS, Altitude
Penn State at Wisconsin, 9:00 PM - American Sports Network


International Soccer
Newcastle vs. Chelsea, 7:40 AM - NBCSN
Elche CF vs. Club Atletico de Madrid, 9:55 AM - beIN Sport
English Premier League, 10:00 AM - NBCSN
AS Roma vs. US Sassuolo Calcio, 11:55 AM - beIN Sport
Manchester City vs. Everton, 12:00 PM - NBC
Real Madrid CF vs. Celta Vigo, 1:55 PM - beIN Sport


Golf
EUROPEAN - Nedbank Challenge, 6:00 AM - Golf Channel
PGA - Hero World Challenge, 12:00 PM - Golf Channel
PGA - Hero World Challenge, 2:30 PM - NBC

Sports News   141125

The Gilmer Free Press


The Gilmer Free Press

►  NFL Game Result

(MONDAY, NOVEMBER 24)


Final Score: Buffalo 38, NY Jets 3

Kyle Orton passed for 230 yards and two touchdowns as the Buffalo Bills routed the New York Jets 38-3 Monday night at Detroit’s Ford Field. The game was moved from Ralph Wilson Stadium after the venue was deemed unplayable due to several feet of snow that fell last week, crippling Buffalo and neighboring areas. Boobie Dixon rushed for a touchdown and blocked a punt that was recovered in the end zone for another score, helping the Bills (6-5) keep their playoff hopes alive. Michael Vick struggled mightily against the Buffalo defense, completing only 7-of-19 passes for 76 yards. He limped off the field after a third-quarter interception and was replaced by Geno Smith, who saw his first action since he was intercepted three times on eight passes in the first quarter against the Bills on Oct. 26. Smith threw for 89 yards on 10-of-12 passing for the Jets (2-9).


Final Score: Baltimore 34, New Orleans 27

Justin Forsett’s career night helped propel the Baltimore Ravens to a 34-27 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Monday. Forsett finished with a career-high 182 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries for the Ravens (7-4), who moved into a three-way tie for second place in the AFC North behind the Bengals (7-3-1). Joe Flacco threw for 243 yards and a touchdown on 18-of-24 passing, Steve Smith made four catches for 89 yards and a touchdown and Torrey Smith hauled in five passes for 98 yards in the win. Drew Brees completed 35 of his 45 passes for 420 yards with three scores and an interception, and Jimmy Graham had two touchdowns to go with 47 yards on six catches for the Saints (4-7), who went 0-3 on a homestand for just the third time in franchise history (1967, 1997). Despite the loss, New Orleans is tied for first with Atlanta in the underwhelming NFC South. It is the first time in NFL history that a division leader is three games under .500.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Things we learned on Week 12

What do Tom Brady, Zach Mettenberger, Josh McCown, Brian Hoyer and Mark Sanchez have in common?

The answer is almost nothing. One is a future Hall of Fame quarterback and the other four are barely noteworthy.

Except in Week 12 where the five quarterbacks all threw for over 300 yards on Sunday.

Below are a few more things we observed:


Cleveland at Atlanta

Fantasy owners could care less that Cleveland Browns’ quarterback Hoyer led the team to a game-winning field goal as time expired. What they do care about, is the fact that he threw three interceptions, without tossing a touchdown pass. Even with his 322 passing yards and 12 rushing yards, Hoyer had a rough afternoon for owners, with arguably the only positive thing coming out of Week 12, was that he will continue to be Cleveland’s starting quarterback.

Atlanta Falcons’ quarterback Matt Ryan does not have to worry about job security, but needs to cut down on his turnovers. He turned the ball over twice, throwing an interception and losing a fumble, yet Ryan was still able to put together a solid afternoon. He was 27-of-43 for 273 yards and two scores, marking just his second multi-touchdown performance over the past seven games.

At least Ryan was able to find some holes in the passing game, because Atlanta tailback Steven Jackson was unable to find any on the ground. Although he found the end zone for a change, Jackson rushed 13 times for only 34 yards (2.6 yards per carry). With Jackson not getting any younger and the Falcons having continuing issues along the offensive line, owners should not expect Atlanta to get their running game going anytime soon.

The Browns on the other hand performed very well on the ground. Rookie running backs Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West were both utilized, with Crowell having the bigger day (12 carries, 88 yards, 2 TD), and West leading the team in carries (14 carries, 62 yards). It seems like both halfbacks will be involved. Fantasy owners should like the sound of that.

Arguably, the most anticipated performance heading into Week 12, was the output of Cleveland receiver Josh Gordon, and he did not disappoint. Gordon recorded eight receptions for 120 yards, on 16 targets, making him an easy WR1 for the remaining games this season.

Atlanta receivers’ Roddy White and Julio Jones came to play on Sunday as well. White led the team with nine receptions for 96 yards, and Jones notched his first touchdown in eight games despite being sick all week. Both wideouts will continue to be solid options for Ryan, and more importantly, for fantasy owners.


Tampa Bay at Chicago

If you had Chicago Bears’ running back Matt Forte in your lineup, you should be pretty happy, as he was the one Chicago player who produced a solid day. Forte was our top-ranked tailback heading into Week 12. He made us look good with that decision, rushing for 89 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries, along with chipping in five receptions for 23 yards. His two touchdowns were iconic, as he passed Bears legend Gale Sayers to become No. 4 on the Bears all-time in rushing touchdowns (40). Forte continues to be a dual-threat in both the running and passing games.

Surprisingly, quarterback Jay Cutler was not able to get going Sunday afternoon against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who were giving up the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks coming into Week 12 (according to Yahoo), allowing 18.9 points per game. Cutler threw for only 130 yards. He was able to notch one touchdown pass, but with owners expecting much more. It is time to realize that Cutler will consistently inconsistent, just as he has been throughout his career.

The guy who caught the touchdown pass was wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, yet, that was essentially the only highlight from Chicago’s pass-catching trio. Unfortunately for fantasy owners, Cutler’s inconsistency will continue to result in subpar games from Martellus Bennett, Brandon Marshall and Jeffery.

Cutler’s counterpart, Buccaneers’ signal-caller Josh McCown had a better afternoon finishing the day with 341 passing yards and one touchdown. However, McCown coughed the ball up three times (two interceptions, one lost fumble), significantly reducing his fantasy total.

On the other hand, since he was re-inserted as Tampa Bay’s starting quarterback in Week 10, McCown has not thrown for less than 288 yards, and has five total touchdowns during that span making him a solid QB2.

Wideout Vincent Jackson had his first 100-yard game since Week 5, as he recorded five catches for 117 yards, and rookie receiver Mike Evans found the end zone yet again, scoring for the sixth time over the past four games. While

Evans and Jackson are expected to produce, but receiver Louis Murphy Jr’s total came out of nowhere. Heading into the game, he was owned in just one% of Yahoo leagues, but hauled in six passes for 113 yards. Murphy’s totals were impressive, but with so many mouths to feed in Tampa Bay, owners should leave him on the waiver wire.

Hopefully fantasy owners did not start any of the Buccaneers’ running backs. Tailback Doug Martin led the “attack” with 11 carries for 27 yards.


Cincinnati at Houston

The biggest question for fantasy owners in regards to the Cincinnati Bengals, heading into Week 12, was how the team would manage the work load of running backs Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill.

Well…both halfbacks were heavily involved on Sunday, and each player touched the ball the same amount of times. Hill led the team in rushing with 18 carries for 87 yards, while Bernard totaled 17 rushing attempts for 45 yards and caught two passes for 22 yards.

Hill had the better fantasy afternoon, with a short touchdown run in the third quarter. Seeing both tailbacks get extensive playing time, makes them both solid plays for the duration of the season.

Another Bengal who has battled an injury throughout 2014, is wide receiver A.J. Green. However, he seems to be fully healed from his toe injury, and topped 100 yards for the second consecutive week, recording 121 total yards on 12 receptions. Moving forward, Green will easily be a solid WR1.

Quarterback Andy Dalton was not overly impressive, throwing for 233 yards and an interception, but did hit Mohamed Sanu for a score. Coming off a three- touchdown performance in Week 11, fantasy owners were hoping for a little more production.

After playing well in his first-career start during Week 11, Mallett was unable to build off that performance, going 21-of-45 for only 189 yards, one interception, and zero touchdowns, proving to be nothing more than a QB2.

Mallett’s rough afternoon directly affected the Texans’ receivers. No player was able to reach 50 receiving yards.

One player that looked destined for a big day, was Texans’ running back Alfred Blue, after totaling career-highs in carries (36) and rushing yards (156) last week. Halfback Arian Foster was officially declared inactive to start the day, but Blue was unable to capitalize, rushing for just 46 yards on 16 attempts, Foster is expected back next week so it is likely that we have already seen the best of Blue for 2014.


Jacksonville at Indianapolis

Many owners expected Indianapolis Colts’s quarterback Andrew Luck to have a big day against a bad Jacksonville Jaguars’ team. Although he played okay, throwing for 253 yards and a score, along with rushing for an additional 49 yards, Luck was not at his best, as he lost two fumbles. This was only the second game all season that Luck threw for less than 300 yards and fewer than two touchdown passes, Don’t worry, even the best quarterbacks have bad days once in a while.

Ahmad Bradshaw season-ending injury was expected to elevate tailback Trent Richardson’s workload and fantasy value. While he rushed 13 times for 42 yards and a touchdown, tailback Daniel Herron actually was credited for a start. Herron rushed 12 times for 65 yards and caught five passes for 31 yards. It appears to still be a shared backfield.

Colts’ receiver T.Y. Hilton had a memorable day on Sunday. His wife gave birth to a baby girl, causing him to state that he would score a touchdown for little Eugenia. Hilton came through, catching four passes for 122 yards and that special touchdown. He has gone over 1,000 yards for the second consecutive season.

Jaguars’ receiver Marqise Lee led the team with 52 receiving yards on three receptions. Quarterback Blake Bortles was the main reason why the team struggled, as he threw for only 146 yards and one interception. Owners need to leave Bortles on the bench, with him being a borderline QB2 ... at best.

Coming into Week 12, there was a ton of hype surrounding Jacksonville running back Denard Robinson, but unfortunately he disappointed. Robinson had 25 yards on 14 carries, and was even out gained by fellow halfback Toby Gerhart. Robinson did contribute four receptions for 47 yards, but he also lost a fumble.


Green Bay at Minnesota

Upset of the day - The Packers’ first score wasn’t via the pass. Instead they let Eddie Lacy score from one yard away.

Getting Lacy going turned out to be invaluable as he posted big numbers (138 yards from scrimmage, 2 TDs). He’s run for over 100-yards just twice this season and both games were against the Vikings.

Second biggest upset of the day - Aaron Rodgers’ two touchdown passes didn’t go to Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb or even Davante Adams. One was caught by Richard Rodgers (no relation) and the other by Lacy.

It was obviously a quiet day for the Packers’ big receivers. Hope that didn’t keep you from getting into the fantasy playoffs.

Teddy Bridgewater still has a long way to go to be an NFL quarterback and even further to be a fantasy-worthy starter. His second-quarter interception wasn’t even worthy of Miami Northwestern High School.

Ben Tate didn’t run the ball today. Not surprising considering he doesn’t know the plays.


Detroit at New England

I thought the return of Calvin Johnson to healthy status would be the end of Golden Tate, but Tate was solid with four receptions for 97 yards as Darrelle Revis held Megatron to 58 yards.

As suspected, the Patriots healthy respect for the Lions top-ranked run defense, led them to a very unbalanced offense almost exclusively featuring the pass. Nine passes in the first 10 plays and Brady ended up throwing a stunning 53 times for 349 yards.

So much for Jonas Gray. Newly-signed LeGarrette Blount scored twice from inside the 3-yard line. Final tally: Blount 12 rushes (78 yards), Shane Vereen eight rushes, Gray zero touches. The lesson here, boys and girls ... don’t miss practice.

Tim Wright is the Patriots No. 2 tight end, but he caught his fifth and sixth touchdown passes of the season and only five others TEs have more, including his teammate Rob Gronkowski.

Wright was the only receiver to score, though the yards were pretty evenly distributed between Brandon LaFell, Julian Edelman and “Gronk.“


Tennessee at Philadelphia

Justin Hunter (knee) was a question mark heading into the game, but caught a nice 40-yard touchdown pass and run. In his second season, Hunter only has 45 career catches, but seven are scores.

Rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger found a friend in tight end Delanie Walker (5-155-0).

If you were hoping that Bishop Sankey’s touchdown run last week was the start of him getting red zone carries, think again. It was Shonn Greene getting the red zone work.

Eagles special teams did it again. They started the game with a 107-yard kickoff return. It was their four kick return for a score this season and 10th score for fantasy owners who have started the Philadelphia defense.

Finally, LeSean McCoy looked as elusive as last season. Don’t know why, but it’s been a while. He rushed for 130 yards and a score on 21 carries.

Mark Sanchez wasn’t very good throwing a pair of bad interceptions, but in the “Chip Kelly” up-tempo offense he still threw for 307 yards.


Arizona at Seattle

Andre Ellington continued to struggle running the ball, rushing 10 times for just 24 yards and leaving fantasy owners wondering what to do.

Ok, now we know why Drew Stanton is an NFL backup and not a starter.

The Seattle offense was determined to make Steven Hauschka the fantasy place- kicker of the week. In the first half they couldn’t finish any of their drives and Hauschka hit from 27, 32 and 52 yards. They “field-goal fest” continued after the break as he hit a 40-yarder early in the third quarter.

Part of the reason they didn’t get in the end zone more than once all day was Russell Wilson getting sacked seven times.

After consecutive 100-plus yard rushing games, Marshawn Lynch was a non-factor in this one. Wilson rushed for almost twice as many yards as Lynch (74-39).


St. Louis at San Diego

After beating Peyton Manning and the Broncos, the Rams defense tried to continue to show off their upgraded defense against Philip Rivers. It worked for a half as Janoris Jenkins intercepted a pass and ran in back 99 yards to put the Rams on top.

Rivers threw for just 106 yards in the first half, but was much more efficient after the break. He finished with 291 yards and a touchdown to Keenan Allen.

Allen had a very nice day and with a late reception as the Chargers tried to run out the clock earned his fantasy owners the 100-yard bonus.

Ryan Mathews was back and healthy. It was particularly evident on his 32-yard touchdown run that also put him over the century mark. Then he hurt his shoulder, didn’t play again, and fantasy owners are left wondering about next weekend. Deja vu?


Miami at Denver

Miami built a 14-3 lead on their running game. Lamar Miller rushed five times for 49 yards and both Ryan Tannehill and Daniel Thomas posted short touchdown runs.

Unfortunately, in the second half when the Broncos offense opened up, the Dolphins couldn’t match the firepower.

Ten of the Broncos first 14 plays were running plays and fantasy owners were wondering what team was inside the Denver uniforms?

When they finally decided to pass, however, they got three scores from the combination of Peyton Manning-to-Demaryius Thomas.

C.J. Anderson posted another big fantasy total rushing 27 times for 167 yards and the go-ahead score. It doesn’t seem to matter what running back is behind Manning, the threat of his passing game makes them all fantasy stars.

Wes Welker scored in Week 12. Normally that isn’t significant, but it was his first one since Week 7 and just the second one all season. He’s still not fantasy worthy these days.


Washington at San Francisco

Saying Robert Griffin III didn’t do much would be an understatement. He was 11-of-19 for 106 yards, got sacked five times, and lost a fumble in the fourth quarter.

Alfred Morris was the only viable offensive weapon, rushing for 125 yards and a touchdown.

In case you have not been paying attention, Colin Kaepernick’s favorite receiver isn’t Vernon Davis or Michael Crabtree, it’s Anquan Boldin. Today he caught nine balls for 137 yards and a touchdown.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Morales Named MEC Player Of The Week

Glenville State’s Donte Morales has been named the Mountain East Conference Player of the Week after helping the Pioneers to a pair of wins.

Morales, a senior from Virginia Beach, Va., averaged 26.5 points and five rebounds on the week for GSC. He scored 16 points in a non-conference win against Ohio Valley before exploding for 37 points on 11-of-13 shooting in a win over Shepherd top open MEC play.


Other Top Performances

Devin Hoehn (West Liberty) averged 28.5 points, 3.5 assists and 2.5 rebounds in a 2-0 week for the top-ranked ‘Toppers…

Carlas Jackson (Urbana) had a game-high 26 points in just 28 minutes of work to give the Blue Knights their first MEC win in program history…

Nick Harney (FSU) had 21 points to lead the Falcons to win in their only game of the week…

Morgan McDonald (Shepherd) averaged 26.5 points and 8.0 rebounds in a 1-1 week for the Rams…

Tyree Gaiter (Notre Dame) had back-to-back 30-point games as the Falcons went 1-1…

Tanner McGrew (West Virginia Wesleyan) averaged a double-double with 10.5 points and 13.5 rebounds for the Bobcats.



<The Gilmer Free Press

►  Top-25 College Basketball Game Results

(Monday, November 24)


Final Score: (2) Arizona 72, Missouri 53

Brandon Ashley and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson each had 15 points as second-ranked Arizona won its Maui Invitational opener with a 72-53 decision over Missouri. Hollis-Jefferson went 5-for-6 from the field and added six rebounds, while Stanley Jefferson contributed 14 points for the Wildcats, who used their trademark tough defense to dominate the game’s final 24 minutes and advance to Tuesday’s winner’s bracket matchup with Kansas State. Arizona (4-0) scored 24 points off 17 Missouri turnovers and held the Tigers to 36.4 percent shooting to overcome a slow offensive start. Montaque Gill-Caesar paced Missouri (2-2) with 13 points and Johnathan Williams III and Keith Shamburger each finished with 11 in the loss. The Tigers will next take on Purdue, which fell to Kansas State in Monday’s first game, in the consolation round.


Final Score: (6) Louisville 87, Savannah State 26

Montrezl Harrell put up 15 points and nine rebounds, and sixth-ranked Louisville put on a defensive clinic in an 87-26 domination of Savannah State at the KFC Yum! Center. The Cardinals scored the game’s first 29 points, led 41-7 at halftime and rendered Savannah State into a 10-of-51 shooting night while forcing 26 turnovers and owning a lopsided 54-28 rebounding advantage. Chinanu Onuaku led Louisville’s smothering defensive display with six blocks in addition to tallying 10 points and nine rebounds. Wayne Blackshear added 13 points and Terry Rozier finished with 11 in 16 minutes for the Cardinals (4-0). Savannah State (2-3), which also misfired on all 16 of its 3-point attempts, was paced by Alante Fenner’s eight points. Rick Pitino’s 699th career win was in the books early as Louisville completely imposed its will on the grossly overmatched Tigers, who missed their initial 23 shots from the floor and didn’t record their first point until Saadiq Muhammad hit 1-of-2 free throws with 4:02 remaining in the opening half.


Final Score: (11) Kansas 87, Rider 60

Perry Ellis scored 17 points to lead No. 11 Kansas to an 87-60 win over Rider in a non-bracketed game of the Orlando Classic. Brannen Green deposited 17 points off the bench and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk supplied 10 points for the Jayhawks (2-1), who rebounded from a blowout loss to No. 1 Kentucky their last time out. Xavier Lundy paced the Broncs (2-2) with 15 points and Teddy Okereafor added 10 in the setback. Kansas will open the tournament Thursday in Orlando with a matchup against Rhode Island, while Rider will take on No. 20 Michigan State in its opener.


Final Score: (12) Villanova 77, (14) VCU 53

JayVaughn Pinkston scored 15 points with seven rebounds to help No. 12 Villanova to a 77-53 win over 14th-ranked VCU in the Legends Classic at Barclays Center. Darrun Hilliard II netted 14 points and Kris Jenkins supplied 13 points off the bench for the Wildcats (4-0), who played their first game away from home. Briante Weber and Melvin Johnson each totaled 13 points for the Rams (3-1). Treveon Graham, VCU’s second-leading scorer who entered the game averaging 18 points per game, had just four points on 2-of-9 shooting. The Rams’ patented “Havoc” defense couldn’t stop Villanova on Monday, allowing the Wildcats to make 50 percent of their shots while only mustering a 37.3 percent success rate on the offensive end.


Final Score: (13) Iowa State 84, Alabama 74

Georges Niang had a game-high 28 points along with six rebounds to help No. 13 Iowa State post an 84-74 victory over Alabama in the CBE Hall of Fame Classic. Dustin Hogue had 17 points, Naz Long scored 15 and Matt Thomas supplied 13 and eight rebounds for the Cyclones (3-0), who will take on Maryland in the championship round on Tuesday. Rodney Cooper had 27 points and five rebounds, while Levi Randolph totaled 18 points and five boards for the Crimson Tide (3-1), who will play Arizona State in the consolation game on Tuesday.


Final Score: (15) San Diego State 92, BYU 87 (2-OT)

Aqeel Quinn finished with a career-high 22 points and came up big down the stretch as No. 15 San Diego State beat BYU 92-87 in double overtime in a quarterfinal game of the Maui Invitational on Monday. Trey Kell made two foul shots, stole the ball from Tyler Haws and sent it down the court to Dwayne Polee II, who went in for an uncontested dunk and an 80-76 lead. Haws briefly tied the game with a jumper, but Quinn knocked down a three at the other end. Quinn’s layup and Polee’s free throw made it an 86-82 game. BYU missed three shots from beyond on its next trip down the floor and Kell made two at the line to seal the win. Winston Shepard had 18 points and eight rebounds, Kell chipped in 14 and JJ O’Brien finished with 13, nine rebounds and six assists for the Aztecs (4-0), who will play Pittsburgh in a semifinal game on Tuesday. Haws scored a game-high 26 points and Kyle Collinsworth supplied 21 points, seven rebounds and six assists for the Cougars (3-1).


Final Score: (19) Michigan 70, Oregon 63

Zak Irvin scored 19 points to help No. 19 Michigan defeat Oregon, 70-63, in the Progressive Legends Classic on Monday. Caris LeVert tallied 18 points and Ricky Doyle registered 10 points off the bench for the Wolverines (4-0), who will play No. 12 Villanova in the final on Tuesday. LeVert went just 3-of-13 from the floor, but he managed to make 11 of his 13 shots from the foul line. The Wildcats defeated No. 14 VCU, 77-53, earlier in the night to punch their ticket to the championship game. Joseph Young netted 20 points for the Ducks (3-1), while Dillon Brooks and Elgin Cook supplied 14 and 13, respectively.


Final Score: (20) Michigan State 79, Santa Clara 52

Travis Trice made five 3-pointers en route to 19 points and the 20th-ranked Michigan State Spartans handled the Santa Clara Broncos, 79-52, in a non-bracketed game of the Orlando Classic. Marvin Clark Jr. added 15 points and four blocks for the Spartans (3-1), who have won two in a row since a loss to Duke. Gavin Schilling tallied 14 points and 11 boards. Jared Brownridge ended with 12 points for the Broncos (2-2), who have lost two straight.


►  College Basketball Rankings

Associated Press Top 25
1. Kentucky
2. Wisconsin
3. Arizona
4. Duke
5. North Carolina
6. Louisville
7. Texas
8. Virginia
9. Wichita State
10. Gonzaga
11. Kansas
12. Villanova
13. Iowa State
14. Virginia Commonwealth
15. San Diego State
16. Ohio State
17. Miami (FL)
18. Florida
19. Michigan
20. Michigan State
21. West Virginia
22. UCLA
23. Creighton
24. Connecticut
25. Arkansas


Coaches Poll
1. Kentucky
2. Duke
3. Wisconsin
4. Arizona
5. Louisville
6. North Carolina
7. Virginia
8. Gonzaga
9. Texas
10. Wichita State
11. Villanova
12. Kansas
13. Iowa State
14. Virginia Commonwealth
15. San Diego State
16. Florida
17. Ohio State
18. Michigan
19. Michigan State
20. Miami (Fla.)
21. Oklahoma
22. Connecticut
23. UCLA
24. West Virginia
25. Providence



The Gilmer Free Press

►  NBA Game Results

(Monday, November 24)


Final Score: LA Clippers 113, Charlotte 92

Blake Griffin amassed 22 points in a near triple-double, and five other Los Angeles players scored in double figures as the Clippers pulled away for a 113-92 win over the Charlotte Hornets. Griffin grabbed 16 rebounds and added nine assists to lead a Clippers’ attack that shot 52.4 percent in the second half. Chris Paul turned in a monster game as well for Los Angeles, with the North Carolina native tallying 22 points along with 15 assists. Jamal Crawford chipped in 21 points off the bench and JJ Redick recorded 17 points for the Clippers, with DeAndre Jordan contributing a double-double of 11 points and 12 rebounds in the victory. Cody Zeller finished with a career-high 17 points in the loss, the sixth in a row and eighth in nine games for the struggling Hornets.


Final Score: Cleveland 106, Orlando 74

LeBron James had 29 points and 11 assists playing just three quarters and the Cleveland Cavaliers rolled to a 106-74 win over the Orlando Magic on Monday night to snap a four-game losing streak. James had 22 points in the first half to help the Cavaliers take an 18-point lead into the break and they went up by as many as 33 in the fourth quarter. Anderson Varejao added 14 points and Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving each scored 12 for Cleveland, which also snapped a three-game home losing streak. Victor Oladipo had 22 points and Nikola Vucevic scored 18 with 13 rebounds to lead the Magic, who have dropped eight in a row to the Cavs and four of their last six games overall. It was a season low in points for the Magic.


Final Score: Portland 114, Philadelphia 104

LaMarcus Aldridge had 33 points and 11 rebounds to help the red-hot Portland Trail Blazers beat the winless Philadelphia 76ers 114-104 on Monday. Wesley Matthews added 17 points for the Blazers, who have won eight in a row. Damian Lillard tallied 16 points. Michael Carter-Williams ended with 24 points and seven rebounds for the Sixers (0-14), who are now four losses away from matching the NBA record for the worst start to a season, which was set by the Nets in 2009-10. Henry Sims and Tony Wroten had 22 and 20 points, respectively.


Final Score: Toronto 104, Phoenix 100

Jonas Valanciunas had 27 points and 11 rebounds, DeMar DeRozan scored 23 and the Toronto Raptors survived for a 104-100 win over the Phoenix Suns on Monday night. The Raptors led by as many as 17 early in the fourth quarter before Isaiah Thomas made three consecutive 3-pointers to punctuate a quick 14-0 run by the Suns, who later took their first lead since the first quarter on two Eric Bledsoe free throws with 3:04 remaining. But Phoenix scored just five more points and DeRozan made four straight free throws in the last 14.7 seconds to put Toronto over the top. Lou Williams was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week on Monday and scored 17 points off the bench for the Raptors, who have won five in a row. The Eastern Conference leaders ran their record to 4-0 this season against Western Conference teams. Bledsoe scored 25 points to lead the Suns, who had a four- game losing streak stopped and finished 4-2 on a six-game road trip. Markieff Morris added 17 points in the loss.


Final Score: Houston 91, New York 86

James Harden scored Houston’s final 12 points of the game, leading the Rockets to a 91-86 victory over the New York Knicks. Harden went 7-of-12 from beyond the arc and ended with 36 points, six rebounds, six assists and three steals for the Rockets, who have won 10 straight against the Knicks. Donatas Motiejunas added 13 points and eight boards for Houston, which has won two in a row overall. Trevor Ariza tallied 10 points and three steals. New York forward Carmelo Anthony had 14 points and seven rebounds before leaving in the second quarter with back spasms. He did not return to the game.


Final Score: Indiana 111, Dallas 100

Donald Sloan scored 29 points and the Indiana Pacers never trailed in the second half on the way to a 111-100 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night. The already banged-up Pacers played without center Roy Hibbert, who sprained his left ankle in Saturday’s loss to Phoenix. They made half of their 3-point attempts and took the lead for good on Sloan’s 3 with 1:44 remaining in the second quarter. Luis Scola added 14 points in the win and Solomon Hill, Rodney Stuckey, Chris Copeland, Damjan Rudez and Ian Mahinmi all scored at least 10. Monta Ellis had 24 points and Dirk Nowitzki scored 22 with 11 rebounds for the Mavericks, who have dropped two in a row following a six-game winning streak.


Final Score: Chicago 97, Utah 95

Two key players returned to the Chicago starting lineup Monday night, but the Bulls had to hold on for a 97-95 win over the Utah Jazz. Derrick Rose was back after missing four games with a strained left hamstring and scored 18 points. Pau Gasol totaled 23 points, nine rebounds, four assists and three steals after missing three games with a strained left calf. Gasol was fouled after Chicago won a jump ball and made 1- of-2 free throws to give the Bulls a two-point lead with 3.2 seconds remaining. The Bulls, who led by as many as 21, escaped EnergySolutions Arena with a win when Gordon Hayward missed a 3-pointer from the top of the key at the buzzer. Jimmy butler scored 25 points to lead the Bulls, who snapped a two-game skid and improved to 2-2 on their seven-game road trip. Derrick Favors had 21 points and a season-high 15 rebounds for Utah, which has dropped three games in a row. Trey Burke also posted a double-double with 18 points and 10 assists.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Red Sox closing in on deals for Ramirez, Sandoval

The Boston Red Sox are apparently set to make a big splash in free agency, as reports indicate that both Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval have agreed to multi-million dollar contracts.

Numerous media outlets, including Fox Sports, said Ramirez will sign a deal worth $90 million over five years, while CBSSports.com has reported that Sandoval will earn close to $100 million over five years.

Ramirez will return to the team that originally signed him as a 16-year-old from the Dominican Republic. The shortstop played just two games for the Red Sox in 2005 before he was shipped to the Marlins as part of the package that sent pitcher Josh Beckett and third baseman Mike Lowell to Boston.

In 6 1/2 seasons with the Marlins, Ramirez developed into a star. He was the National League’s top rookie in 2006 and earned three All-Star selections with the Marlins, who traded him to the Dodgers in 2012.

Ramirez is a career .300 hitter, but has battled injuries in the past two seasons in Los Angeles. He played just 86 games in 2013 and batted .345, then in 128 games last year hit only .283 with 13 homers and 71 runs batted in.

Where the soon-to-be 31-year-old Ramirez will play in Boston is still a question with Xander Bogaerts currently slated to be the club’s shortstop.

Sandoval would likely be Boston’s new third baseman after spending six full seasons manning the position for the San Francisco Giants. He was part of three World Series championship teams for the Giants, and was the MVP of the 2012 Fall Classic.

In 869 games for the Giants since 2008, Sandoval is a .294 hitter with 192 doubles, 106 homers and 462 runs batted in. He batted .279 with 16 homers and 73 RBI in 157 games this past season.

Sandoval, a two-time All-Star, has been a clutch performer in postseason play with a .344 career average in 39 playoff games. He hit .366 for the Giants in the 2014 postseason, including .429 in the World Series victory over Kansas City last month.

The Red Sox are trying to revamp an offense that tied for the second-worst batting average in the American League last season at .244, had the second- worst slugging percentage at .369 and scored just 634 runs, better than only three other teams.


►  2015 Hall ballot includes Big Unit, Pedro, Smoltz

The 2015 National Baseball Hall of Fame ballot includes 17 new additions, including Cy Young Award winning pitchers Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz.

Also new to the ballot for 2015 are sluggers Gary Sheffield and Carlos Delgado and shortstop Nomar Garciaparra.

Rounding out the 17 first-time candidates are infielders Rich Aurilia, Aaron Boone and Tony Clark, outfielders Jermaine Dye, Darin Erstad, Cliff Floyd and Brian Giles, and pitchers Troy Percival, Tom Gordon, Eddie Guardado and Jason Schmidt.

The 17 candidates returning to the BBWAA ballot (with their 2014 election percentages) are: Craig Biggio (74.8%), Mike Piazza (62.2%), Jeff Bagwell (54.3%), Tim Raines (46.1%), Roger Clemens (35.4%), Barry Bonds (34.7%), Lee Smith (29.9%), Curt Schilling (29.2%), Edgar Martinez (25.2%), Alan Trammell (20.8%), Mike Mussina (20.3%), Jeff Kent (15.2%), Fred McGriff (11.7%), Mark McGwire (11.0%), Larry Walker (10.2%), Don Mattingly (8.2%) and Sammy Sosa (7.2%).

Mattingly is eligible for the ballot for the 15th and final time. If he is not elected in January, he will become eligible for consideration by the Expansion Era Committee beginning in the fall of 2016.

Candidates need 75% of the vote to earn induction into the Hall of Fame. Results will be announced on January 6, 2015.

When including the returners to the ballot, it’s interesting to note that only once in the history of voting have as many as five candidates earned the 75% in the same voting year. That was in 1936, the first year of voting, when Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, Babe Ruth and Honus Wagner became the First Five.

Since then, the BBWAA has elected four candidates in one year only twice: 1947, when Mickey Cochrane, Frankie Frisch, Lefty Grove and Carl Hubbell were elected; and 1955, when Joe DiMaggio, Gabby Hartnett, Ted Lyons and Dazzy Vance earned election.

The three candidates who at first glance deserve first-ballot Hall of Fame consideration are Johnson, Martinez and Smoltz.

Johnson pitched 22 seasons for Expos, Mariners, Astros, Diamondbacks, Yankees and Giants, posting three 20-win seasons (1997, 2001-02) and winning five Cy Young Awards. The hard-throwing left-hander ended his career with a 303-166 mark with a 3.29 ERA, finishing in top 10 of his league’s Most Valuable Player Award voting twice: 1995 (6th) and 2002 (7th) and was named to 10 All-Star Games, starting four times. Known as a strikeout pitcher, Johnson led his league in strikeouts nine times (1992-95, 1999-2002, 2004) and is second on the all-time strikeout list with 4,875.

Martinez played 18 seasons for Dodgers, Expos, Red Sox, Mets and Phillies, going 219-100 with a 2.93 ERA. He had two 20-win seasons (1999, 2002) and captured three Cy Young Awards (1997, 1999-2000). An eight-time All-Star, the right-hander finished in Top 10 of his league’s Most Valuable Player Award voting twice: 1999 (2nd) and 2000 (5th). He won 1999 American League Pitching Triple Crown after leading the league in wins (23), earned run average (2.07) and strikeouts (313).

Smoltz, who could be the first Hall of Fame member to have the famed “Tommy John” surgery, made a name for himself as a starter and closer, pitching 21 seasons for Braves, Red Sox and Cardinals. Smoltz had a career record of 213-155 with a 3.33 ERA with 154 saves. He won 1996 National League Cy Young Award and was named to eight All-Star Games (1989, 1992-93, 1996, 2002-03, 2005, 2007). As a reliever, the right-hander topped the 40-save mark three times (2002-04), the only three full seasons he served as his team’s closer. His 3,084 strikeouts rank 16th all-time. Smoltz appeared in 25 postseason series over 14 seasons with Braves and Cardinals, posting 15-4 record in 41 appearances (27 starts) with 2.67 earned run average and four saves, striking out 199 batters in 209 innings.

If the BBWAA elects at least two candidates in January, it will mark the first time since 2004-05 that the writers have elected multiple candidates in back- to-back years. Dennis Eckersley and Paul Molitor were elected in 2004, followed by Wade Boggs and Ryne Sandberg in 2005. The last time three-or-more BBWAA candidates were elected in successive years was 1954-55, when the DiMaggio-Hartnett-Lyons-Vance group followed the 1954 class of Bill Dickey, Rabbit Maranville and Bill Terry.

The Class of 2015, and any candidates elected by the Golden Era Committee on December 8, will be inducted on July 26 in Cooperstown.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  NHL Game Results

(Monday, November 24)


Final Score: Pittsburgh 3, Boston 2 (OT)

Evgeni Malkin scored 32 seconds into overtime to lift the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 3-2 win over the Boston Bruins on Monday. Malkin skated to the top of the right circle and one-timed a feed from Sidney Crosby through the pads of Tuukka Rask for his second goal of the game. Crosby had the other Pittsburgh goal and finished with two assists, while Marc- Andre Fleury earned his 300th career win with a 27-save performance. Milan Lucic and Joe Morrow scored 28 seconds apart in the second period for Boston. Rask stopped 30 shots in defeat.


Final Score: NY Islanders 1, Philadelphia 0 (SO)

Frans Nielsen’s shootout goal led the New York Islanders to a 1-0 win over the Philadelphia Flyers in a goaltenders duel on Monday. Philly’s Steve Mason made a season-high 46 saves through regulation and overtime, while Jaroslav Halak stopped 21 shots. Nielsen put the first puck past either goaltender with New York’s second chance, as he buried a wrister past Mason. Claude Giroux then beat Halak back to the forehand and his low shot appeared to have an open path to the net, but Halak slammed the glove arm down and kept it out. Jonathan Tavares then sealed the victory as he went back and forth before lifting a backhand into the right corner of the net. Both goaltenders were given a shutout in the game, as Mason notched his first of the year and 24th of his career, while Halak nabbed his third of the season and 33rd of his career.


Final Score: Detroit 4, Ottawa 3

Stephen Weiss scored a pair of goals as the Detroit Red Wings held on for a 4-3 win over the Ottawa Senators on Monday. Gustav Nyquist and Riley Sheahan each had a goal for the Red Wings, who have won three of their last four. Jimmy Howard stopped 23 shots in the win. Kyle Turris and Erik Karlsson each posted a goal and an assist while Mike Hoffman scored late for the Senators, who have lost three of four. Craig Anderson allowed all four goals on 43 shots in the loss.


Final Score: Minnesota 4, Florida 1

Jason Zucker’s seventh and eighth goals of the season powered the Minnesota Wild to a 4-1 victory over the Florida Panthers on Monday. Nino Niederreiter and Zach Parise also scored and Mikko Koivu supplied two assists for Minnesota, which bounced back from Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Tampa Bay and has won five of its last six games. Niklas Backstrom turned aside 29 shots in his first start since Nov. 16. Shawn Thornton netted Florida’s lone goal and Roberto Luongo made 34 stops in defeat.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Arrivabene replaces Mattiacci as Ferrari’s team principal

Ferrari announced on Monday that Maurizio Arrivabene is replacing Marco Mattiacci as team principal of its Formula One team.

Arrivabene comes to Ferrari from Philip Morris, which he joined in 1997 after a 20-year career in marketing and promotions in Italy and abroad. He was appointed Vice President of Marlboro Global Communication and Promotions for Philip Morris International in 2007 and then promoted to Vice President of Consumer Channel Strategy and Event Marketing in 2011. Arrivabene has been closely involved in the company’s partnership with Ferrari. He has also represented all Formula One sponsors on the F1 Commission since 2010.

In addition to his team principal role, Arrivabene will serve as Managing Director of Gestione Sportiva (Scuderia Ferrari), the racing team division of the Ferrari automobile company.

“We decided to appoint Maurizio Arrivabene because, at this historic moment in time for the Scuderia and for Formula 1, we need a person with a thorough understanding not just of Ferrari but also of the governance mechanisms and requirements of the sport,“ Ferrari Chairman Sergio Marchionne said in a statement. “Maurizio has a unique wealth of knowledge.

“He has been extremely close to the Scuderia for years and, as a member of the F1 Commission, is also keenly aware of the challenges we are facing. He has been a constant source of innovative ideas focused on revitalization of Formula One. His managerial experience on a highly complex and closely regulated market is also of great importance, and will help him manage and motivate the team. I am delighted to have been able to secure his leadership for our racing activities.

There have been many changes at Ferrari this year. In April, Stefano Domenicali stepped down as team principal, with Mattiacci replacing him. Then in September, Luca di Montezemolo resigned as Ferrari chairman, as Marchionne took over that position.

Last week, Ferrari revealed that four-time and outgoing F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel will join the Italian team for the 2015 season, replacing Fernando Alonso, who had been with the organization since the start of the 2010 season. Kimi Raikkonen will remain with Ferrari next season.

Mattiacci had previously served as President and CEO of Ferrari North America.

“We would also like to thank Marco Mattiacci for his service to Ferrari in the last 15 years, and we wish him well in his future endeavors, Marchionne added in his statement.

Ferrari ended the 2014 F1 season fourth in the constructors’ championship and failed to win a race this year. It was the first time the team was winless in a season since 1993. Ferrari’s last grand prix victory occurred in May 2013, with Alonso winning the Spanish Grand Prix.

Alonso concluded his last season with Ferrari sixth in the drivers’ championship standings, and Raikkonen, in his first season back with the team, placed 12th.

Mercedes captured this year’s F1 constructors’ title, and Lewis Hamilton won Sunday’s season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to claim his second world championship. Hamilton finished 67 points ahead of his Mercedes teammate, Nico Rosberg.

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


TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 2014


National Basketball Association
Atlanta at Washington, 7:00 PM - SportSouth, CSN-DC, DSS
Golden State at Miami, 7:30 PM - CSN-Bay, SunSports, DSS
Detroit at Milwaukee, 8:00 PM - FS-Detroit, Wisconsin, DSS
Sacramento at New Orleans, 8:00 PM - CSN-California, FS-New Orleans, DSS
Chicago at Denver, 9:00 PM - CSN-Chicago, Altitude, DSS


National Hockey League
Winnipeg at Columbus, 7:00 PM - TSN3, FS-Ohio, DSS
Ottawa at St. Louis, 8:00 PM - RDS, TSN5, FS-Midwest, DSS
Los Angeles at Nashville, 8:00 PM - FS-West, Tennessee, DSS
Edmonton at Dallas, 8:30 PM - SNET-West, FS-Southwest, DSS
Colorado at Arizona, 9:00 PM - TVA, Altitude2, FS-Arizona, DSS
New Jersey at Vancouver, 10:00 PM - MSG+, SNET-Pacific, DSS
Calgary at Anaheim, 10:00 PM - SNET-West, Flames, FS-Prime Ticket, DSS


College Basketball
Maui Invitational, 2:00 PM - ESPN 2
Maui Invitational, 4:30 PM - ESPN 2
NC Central at Cincinnati, 7:00 PM - FS-Ohio, ESPN3.com
Citadel at Florida State, 7:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Texas-Arlington at Kentucky, 7:00 PM - SEC Network
Saint Peters at Rutgers, 7:00 PM - Big Ten Network
Hofstra at South Florida, 7:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Loyola-Maryland at Syracuse, 7:00 PM - RSN
Penn at Temple, 7:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Tennessee State at Virginia, 7:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Northern Iowa vs. Virginia Tech, 7:00 PM - CBSSN
Maui Invitational, 7:30 PM - ESPN
Arkansas at SMU, 7:30 PM - ESPNews
Legends Classic, 7:30 PM - ESPN U
Eastern Ill at Creighton, 8:00 PM - FS1
St Xavier at Ill-Chicago, 8:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Nebraska Omaha at Nebraska, 8:00 PM - ESPN3.com
NC A&T at Saint Louis, 8:00 PM - FS-Midwest+
St. Francis-PA at Texas, 8:00 PM - Longhorn Network
Northwestern State at Texas Tech, 8:00 PM - FS-Sothwest+, FCS-Pacific
Southern at Tulane, 8:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Loyola-Chicago at Texas-San Antonio, 8:00 PM - American Sports Net, MASN
Norfolk State at Vanderbilt, 8:00 PM - SEC Network+
Miami-Florida at Charlotte, 9:00 PM - FSN, MASN2
Air Force at Colorado, 9:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
Northwestern vs. Miami-Ohio, 9:30 PM - CBSSN
CBE Hall of Fame Classic, 9:30 PM - ESPN U
Maui Invitational, 10:00 PM - ESPN
Legends Classic, 10:00 PM - ESPN 2
Delaware at Stanford, 11:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
Cal State Fullerton at USC, 11:00 PM - Pac-12 Network


Women’s College Basketball
SE Missouri State at Ole Miss, 4:00 PM - SEC Network+
Charleston Southern at Florida, 7:00 PM - SEC Network+
Western Kentucky at Louisville, 7:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Georgia Southern at Georgia, 7:00 PM - SEC Network+
Northern Iowa at Iowa, 8:00 PM - Mediacom, Big Ten Network+
ULM at Miss State, 8:00 PM - SEC Network+


College Football
Ohio U at Miami-Ohio, 7:00 PM - ESPN 2


International Soccer
Manchester City vs. Bayern Munich, 2:30 PM - FS1

Sports News   141124

The Gilmer Free Press


The Gilmer Free Press

►  WV Football Semifinal Playoff Pairings

This weekend, the remaining 12 teams in high school football will meet on football fields across the state to decide the six teams that will make the trip to Wheeling for the Super Six the first weekend in December.

Most of the playoff games this season have been contested on Saturday, and that will hold true in the semifinal round.


FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 2014,  7:30 PM


CLASS A:

No. 6 Williamstown (10-2)  at   No. 2 Tug Valley (11-1)


SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 2014, 1:30 PM


CLASS AAA:

No. 4 Martinsburg (11-1)  at   No. 1 Capital (11-0)

No. 7 Huntington (9-3)  at   #6 South Charleston (10-2)


CLASS AA:

No. 5 Wayne (10-2)  at   No. 1 BrIdgeport (11-1)

No. 6 Westside (10-2)  at   No. 2 Frankfort (12-0)


CLASS A:

No. 4 Clay-Battelle (11-1)  at   No. 1 St. Marys (12-0)



The Gilmer Free Press

►  NFL Week 12 Game Results

(SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 23)


Final Score: Cleveland 26, Atlanta 24

Billy Cundiff kicked a 37-yard field goal as time expired to lift the Cleveland Browns to a 26-24 win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. Cundiff’s winner came after the Falcons took the lead on Matt Bryant’s 53-yard field goal at the other end of the field. But Atlanta left 44 seconds on the clock—Matt Ryan threw an incomplete pass on third down to stop it before Bryant’s kick—and Cleveland had all three of its timeouts. Brian Hoyer, who threw interceptions on back-to-back possessions in the fourth quarter—including one in the end zone—completed four passes for 61 yards to set up Cundiff’s winning kick. One of the passes was to Josh Gordon for 24 yards. Gordon returned from a 10-game suspension to make eight catches for a game-high 120 yards. The Browns (7-4) bounced back from last week’s loss to Houston and haven’t dropped back-to-back games this season. The Falcons (4-7) had a two-game winning streak snapped. Hoyer finished 23-of-40 for 322 yards and three interceptions. Isaiah Crowell rushed for 88 yards and two touchdowns in the win. Ryan was 27-of-43 for 273 yards, one interception and touchdown passes to Julio Jones and Jacquizz Rodgers.


Final Score: Chicago 21, Tampa Bay 13

Lovie Smith and Josh McCown were not greeted warmly in their return to Chicago. The Bears scored three straight touchdowns in the third quarter to take the lead, including two by Matt Forte, who finished with 89 yards on 23 carries to lead Chicago to a 21-13 win over Smith and McCown’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. McCown, who spent the past three seasons with Chicago, threw a touchdown pass to rookie Mike Evans 1:36 into the second quarter to give the Bucs a 7-0 lead, but they didn’t find the end zone again. The Bucs quarterback committed three turnovers, including two in the second half, as the Tampa Bay offense never gained footing after the break. Jay Cutler completed 17-of-27 passes for just 130 yards for the Bears (5-6). Alshon Jeffery caught a 2-yard touchdown pass for Chicago’s first touchdown in the third quarter. Tampa Bay (2-9) never got its ground game going. Doug Martin led the team with 27 yards on 11 carries and Charles Sims added 22 yards. Vincent Jackson and Louis Murphy both had over 100 yards receiving for the Bucs.


Final Score: Cincinnati 22, Houston 13

A.J. Green racked up 121 yards on a career- high 12 catches, and the Cincinnati Bengals received a stout effort on defense to come through with a 22-13 victory over the Houston Texans. The Bengals kept the Houston offense out of the end zone and limited the Texans to 248 total yards in their fourth win in five games, which gave Cincinnati (7-3-1) a slim lead atop a crowded AFC North. Andy Dalton completed 24-of-35 passes for 233 yards and a touchdown to Mohammed Sanu in the triumph, with Jeremy Hill adding 87 rushing yards and a touchdown on 18 attempts. The Texans’ only touchdown came on Johnathan Joseph’s 60- yard interception return of Dalton in the third quarter. Ryan Mallett was largely ineffective in his second career start at quarterback, mustering just 189 yards with an interception on a 21-of-45 completion rate. Alfred Blue, coming off a 36-carry, 156-yard effort in last week’s win at Cleveland, was held to 46 yards on 16 rushes in place of an injured Arian Foster for Houston (5-6).


Final Score: Indianapolis 23, Jacksonville 3

Trent Richardson and T.Y. Hilton scored touchdowns 2:23 apart in the third quarter to help the Indianapolis Colts pull away for a 23-3 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. Andrew Luck fumbled twice on his team’s first three possessions and the Colts (7-4) were tied with the Jaguars (1-10) until Adam Vinatieri kicked his second of three field goals at the end of the first half. Richardson’s 1-yard touchdown run and Hilton’s electric 73-yard catch pushed the lead to 20-3. Luck finished 21- of-32 for 253 yards and Hilton had four catches for 122 yards on the day his daughter was born. The AFC South-leading Colts bounced back from a 22-point loss to New England last week, during which leading rusher Ahmad Bradshaw suffered a season-ending broken leg. Dan Herron led them with 65 yards rushing on 12 carries. Blake Bortles completed 15-of-27 passes for 146 yards with an interception for the Jaguars, who have lost four in a row since beating Cleveland on Oct. 19. They were coming off a bye after losing to Dallas in London the week before.


Final Score: Green Bay 24, Minnesota 21

Aaron Rodgers had two touchdown passes and Eddie Lacy scored twice as the Green Bay Packers edged the Minnesota Vikings, 24-21, in an NFC North battle on Sunday. Rodgers went 19-for-29 for 209 yards while Lacy finished the game with 25 carries for 125 yards and a touchdown, along with two catches for 13 yards and a score for the Packers (8-3), who have won three straight and now sit atop the NFC North. Green Bay came into the game tied with Detroit, but the Lions lost in New England on Sunday and the Packers now hold a one-game lead in the division. The Packers entered the game after consecutive 50-plus point games, just the sixth team in NFL history to turn that trick. Teddy Bridgewater went 21-for-37 for 210 yards, two touchdowns and an interception for the Vikings (4-7), who have dropped their past two games.


Final Score: New England 34, Detroit 9

Tom Brady threw two touchdown passes in leading the New England Patriots to a 34-9 win over the Detroit Lions on Sunday. Brady carved up the NFL’s top-ranked defense, completing 38-of-53 passes for 349 yards. LeGarrette Blount had two rushing scores in his first game back with the AFC-leading Patriots (9-2), who secured their 14th consecutive winning season. New England has won seven games in a row, 14 straight against NFC North teams and 15 straight at home. Matthew Stafford was 18-of-46 for 264 yards as the Lions (7-4) fell one game behind Green Bay in the division with a second consecutive loss.


Final Score: Philadelphia 43, Tennessee 24

The Philadelphia Eagles bounced back from a blowout loss with their seventh 30-point game of the season. LeSean McCoy led the way in Philadelphia’s 10th consecutive regular-season home win, a 43-24 decision over the Tennessee Titans. McCoy carried the ball 21 times for 130 yards and a score for the Eagles (8-3), who rebounded from last Sunday’s 53-20 defeat at Green Bay. Darren Sproles rushed for 25 yards and one touchdown on six carries. Mark Sanchez completed 30-of-43 passes for 307 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions for Philadelphia, which will play at Dallas on Thanksgiving in a highly-anticipated NFC East matchup. Jordan Matthews caught six passes for 77 yards for the Eagles, who improved to 7-0 this season against teams .500 or worse. Cody Parkey made 5-of-6 field goals. Zach Mettenberger connected on 20-of-39 passes for 345 yards, two touchdowns and an interception for the Titans (2-9), who have lost five in a row. Delanie Walker caught five passes for a career-high 155 yards for Tennessee, which lost left tackle Taylor Lewan to an ankle injury. Justin Hunter caught four passes for 64 yards and a score.


Final Score: San Diego 27, St. Louis 24

Marcus Gilchrist intercepted a Shaun Hill pass just inside the end zone as the San Diego Chargers held on for a 27-24 victory over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday. The Rams were already in position to attempt a tying field goal when Hill completed a 27-yard pass to Kenny Britt to the San Diego 6-yard line with a little over a minute remaining in the game. Hill looked Britt’s way again after a short Benny Cunningham run, but Gilchrist picked off the throw. Philip Rivers was 29-of-35 for 291 yards, one touchdown and one interception for the Chargers (7-4), who earned their second straight win following a three-game skid. Hill finished 18-of-35 for 198 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions for St. Louis (4-7), which was coming off a surprising 22-7 home win over Denver last week.


Final Score: Seattle 19, Arizona 3

The Seattle Seahawks used a stellar defensive performance to prevent the Arizona Cardinals from beating them at home for a second straight year. The Seahawks came away with a 19-3 victory to put an end to Arizona’s six-game winning streak. The Cardinals handed the Seahawks their only home loss in 2013, winning 17-10 on Dec. 22 to end Seattle’s 14-game home win streak and move within striking distance of the franchise’s first postseason berth since 2009. However, the 10-6 Cardinals eventually missed out. Russell Wilson completed 17-of-22 passes for 211 yards and one touchdown for the Seahawks (7-4), who bounced back from last Sunday’s 24-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Wilson also carried the ball 10 times for 73 yards. Steven Hauschka made 4-of-5 field goals in the win. Drew Stanton connected on 14-of-26 passes for 149 yards and an interception for the Cardinals (9-2), who lost for the first time since Oct. 5 at Denver. Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald was unable to play due to a knee injury, snapping his consecutive games played streak at 110. Calais Campbell accounted for three of Arizona’s seven sacks.


Final Score: Denver 39, Miami 36

Peyton Manning threw four touchdown passes, three to Demaryius Thomas and two during a fourth-quarter rally that lifted the Denver Broncos to a hard-earned 39-36 win over the Miami Dolphins in a key AFC clash. The Broncos trailed a gritty Dolphins team for most of the game and were down 28-17 after three quarters, then erupted for 22 consecutive points in the fourth to regain sole possession of first place in the AFC West and bounce back from last week’s startling 22-7 loss at St. Louis. Manning hit Thomas and Wes Welker for touchdowns during the stretch, while C.J. Anderson had a go-ahead touchdown run with 5:01 left to highlight a career-high 167-yard, 27-carry performance. Thomas amassed 10 catches totaling 87 yards and Emmanuel Sanders snared nine Manning passes for 125 yards in the Broncos’ eighth straight home victory. Manning finished a sharp 28-of-35 for 257 yards for Denver (8-3). Ryan Tannehill threw for three touchdowns and ran for another to put Miami (6-5) in position for the upset before Manning engineered his 41st career fourth-quarter comeback. The young quarterback completed 26-of-36 throws for 228 yards with a costly late interception that helped seal the outcome. Jarvis Landry hauled in two of Tannehill’s scoring strikes and recorded seven catches for 50 yards.


Final Score: San Francisco 17, Washington 13

Carlos Hyde’s late touchdown gave the San Francisco 49ers a 17-13 win over the Washington Redskins on Sunday. Colin Kaepernick was 20-for-29 for 256 yards with an interception and a touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin for the 49ers (7-4), who have won their past three games. Coming off a tough week, Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III didn’t do much to help himself in the game as he went 11-for-19 for 106 yards while adding just 11 yards on the ground. Griffin had said after last week’s loss to Tampa Bay about needing other guys to play well, with some thinking he was throwing his team under the bus, which he went on to deny on his Twitter account. On Monday, head coach Jay Gruden pointed out fundamental issues Griffin was still having but then backtracked on Wednesday by saying that no one should be singled out. Alfred Morris had 21 carries for 125 yards and a touchdown for the Redskins (3-8), who have lost their past three games.


Final Score: Dallas 31, NY Giants 28

Odell Beckham sent social media into a frenzy and had everyone buzzing. Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys still found a way to upstage him. Romo hit Dez Bryant for a go-ahead 13-yard touchdown with 1:01 remaining and the Cowboys’ defense stood tall in the final minute as Dallas edged the New York Giants 31-28 on Sunday night. Right after Adrien Robinson’s 1-yard TD catch gave the Giants a 28-24 advantage with three minutes left, Romo hit Cole Beasley for a gain of 21 yards to put the ball at the Giants’ 36. Dallas’ offensive line took over from there. Romo had an eternity to scan the field before firing a 15-yard completion to Jason Witten over the middle and two plays later, had all day to throw again as Bryant hauled in his 13-yard score in the back left corner of the end zone. Rashad Jennings was unable to power for a first down after bringing in a short completion from Eli Manning on 4th-and-2 and a couple of Dallas kneel downs sealed the outcome. Prior to that, Beckham’s jaw- dropping 43-yard TD catch was all anybody wanted to talk about. During pregame warmups, Beckham puts headphones on and casually practices an array of one-handed snatches. That routine was put to use early in the second quarter. With Dallas cornerback Brandon Carr draped all over him along the right sideline, Beckham leapt inside the 5-yard line. He contorted his body and reached back as far as he could behind his head to snatch Manning’s rainbow toss with his right hand before pulling it into his body and landing backwards in the end zone. The snag highlighted his 10-reception, 146-yard, two touchdown night.


(THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 20)


Final Score: Oakland 24, Kansas City 20

It has been a long 368 days for Oakland, but there was finally joy at the Black Hole on Thursday night. Rookie quarterback Derek Carr led the way as the Raiders put an end to their 16-game losing streak with a thrilling 24-20 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. Carr’s late touchdown pass to James Jones capped off a lengthy drive that proved to be the difference as the Raiders (1-10) won their first game since Nov. 17, 2013 against Houston. Latavius Murray rushed for two touchdowns and 112 yards on four carries before departing after the first half with a concussion. Carr threw for 174 yards on an 18-of-35 completion rate in the win. Alex Smith completed 20-of-36 passes for 234 yards with two touchdowns and Jamaal Charles ran 19 times for 80 yards while also adding a receiving score for the Chiefs (7-4), who were coming off a 24-20 win over Seattle.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  West Virginia Defeats #17 Huskies in Puerto Rico Title Game

Scrambling for turnovers, confidently stroking shots and owning 50-50 balls, West Virginia threatened to blowout No. 17 Connecticut in the first half.

Yet the Mountaineers were most proud of their response later in the game when the defending national champions rallied.

With a 15-point margin sliced to six, West Virginia stabilized behind the steady hand of Juwan Staten and key plays by its less-heralded guards to complete a 78-68 upset in the championship of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.

“I’ve got my kind of guys again, guys that are just going to keep swinging,” coach Bob Huggins said after the program’s first 5-0 start since the 2009-10 season, which culminated in a Final Four appearance. No one projected such a finish this year, though the Mountaineers won’t be underrated any longer after their three-game run through San Juan.

“We have a lot of confidence in ourselves and we just want to put this program back where it deserves to be.” — Mountaineers point guard Juwan Staten

Tournament MVP Staten scored 21 points while playing 37 minutes—most of that with West Virginia pressing. Despite being drained, he produced 10 points during a nine-minute stretch when his team rebuilt a six-point edge into a 72-59 cushion.

“It was time to put the ball in the guy’s hands who was supposed to have it,” Huggins said. “Near the end of the game, we called him over and asked him to keep the freakin’ ball.

“So we got the ball to Wannie and tried to spread it so he could get it at the basket. He did that and got fouled.”

Staten finished 9-of-12 at the foul line after attempting only four free throws in the previous two games.

Point guard Ryan Boatright scored 17 points but missed all four 3-point tries for UConn (3-1), which lost for the first time since the AAC tournament last March. The Huskies closed the game only 3-of-17 from deep, 9-of-18 from the foul line and committed 19 turnovers, nearly double their early season average. That became “a recipe for losing,” said Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie.

“(West Virginia) did a real good job pressuring us,” he said. “They challenge every dribble, every pass.”

Said Boatright, the former WVU commitment: “There is no excuse for having 19 turnovers—we are way better ballhandlers than that. They were denying me and Terrance (Samuel) the ball but there is absolutely no excuse for having 19 turnovers.”

Throughout a blazing first half, West Virginia dominated their former Big East rivals. Jonathan Holton led the energy brigade with 10 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals in 11 minutes. He picked up his third foul immediately after halftime and didn’t score again until a punctuating dunk with 12 seconds left.

Likewise, Devin Williams scored all seven of his points in the first half when the Mountaineers built a 47-32 lead.

After that, the guards produced 25 of West Virginia’s 31 second-half points. Those included seven by Gary Browne and six by freshman Daxter Miles, a tandem that buried UConn’s comeback with back-to-back 3-pointers in a 26-second span for 70-56 lead.

Fellow freshman Jevon Carter, the star of West Virginia’s semifinal win over Boston College, had only one basket and five points Sunday. But his defense made Boatright uncomfortable and Carter finished with a team-high 11-point plus-minus.

“When you have a freshman off the bench like Jevon Carter and he comes into the game and tells me, ‘I’ve got Boatright.’ Well, when he says that, I’m like, ‘You got him,‘” Huggins said. “He and Daxter make plays that normal freshmen don’t make.”

“(West Virginia) did a real good job pressuring us. They challenge every dribble, every pass. We had some bad turnovers.” — UConn coach Kevin Ollie

UConn showed off one of the nation’s marquee freshmen, Daniel Hamilton, who finished with 15 points, nine rebounds and three assists. He also contributed eight turnovers, erratically throwing away jump-passes against the press.

“Honestly, we kind of put the press in two days before our first game, but we have the right personnel to make it work,” said Staten, a senior who has yet to play in an NCAA tournament game.

“We have a lot of confidence in ourselves and we just want to put this program back where it deserves to be. We have a brand new team and a lot of new faces and … this is our first big test. UConn won it all last year and they came in ranked and with a huge reputation. So to knock them off was a great feeling.”

West Virginia faces VMI in Charleston on Wednesday night before hosting College of Charleston at the WVU Coliseum on Saturday.



<The Gilmer Free Press

►  Top-25 College Basketball Game Results

(Sunday, November 23)


Final Score: (1) Kentucky 86, Montana State 28

Devin Booker had 18 points to lead No. 1 Kentucky in an 86-28 rout of Montana State on Sunday. Aaron Harrison had 14 points and Dakari Johnson scored 13 points with eight rebounds for the Wildcats (5-0), who have won all their games by double-digits this season. Joseph Frenchwood IV scored seven points to lead the Bobcats (0-4), who also got six points from Marcus Colbert.


Final Score: (11) Wichita State 105, Newman 57

Ron Baker had a game-high 18 points as No. 11 Wichita State dismantled Newman, 105-57, on Sunday. Baker made 6-of-9 shots, including 4-of-6 from 3-point range, Darius Carter scored 15 points and Fred VanVleet chipped in 12 for the Shockers (3-0), who won their national-best 34th consecutive regular-season game. Reggie Baker paced Newman with 14 points and Cortrael Colbert finished with 12 points and four rebounds in defeat. The Jets, who won their first two games, won’t have the loss count against the their record since they counted it as an exhibition matchup.


Final Score: West Virginia 78, (17) Connecticut 68

Juwan Staten scored 23 points and West Virginia stayed unbeaten with a 78-68 upset of No. 17 Connecticut in the finals of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. Jonathan Holton and Daxter Miles Jr. scored 10 points apiece for WVU (5-0), which became the first team to take down the defending National Champs this season. The Mountaineers beat George Mason and Boston College to reach the championship in San Juan. Turnovers and 3-point shooting plagued UConn (3-1), which had won nine straight games dating back to last season. Freshman Daniel Hamilton had eight of the 19 Huskies turnovers, and they shot just 3-for-17 from behind the arc as a team. Ryan Boatright scored 17 points and Hamilton had 15 with 11 boards in the setback.


Final Score: (18) Oklahoma 90, Northwestern State 68

Isaiah Cousins had 20 points and seven rebounds in the 18th-ranked Oklahoma Sooners’ 90-68 rout of the Northwestern State Demons. Buddy Hield added 16 points, seven boards and two steals for the Sooners (2-1), who bounced back from a 65-63 loss at Creighton on Wednesday. Ryan Spangler, Jordan Woodard and Dinjiyl Walker each scored 13 points. Zeek Woodley ended with 26 points, eight rebounds and three steals for the Demons (2-2), who had a two-game winning streak snapped. Marvin Frazier had 11 points and seven boards.


Final Score: (20) Ohio State 106, Sacred Heart 48

D’Angelo Russell scored a career-high 32 points to lead No. 20 Ohio State to a 106-48 rout of Sacred Heart on Sunday. Russell shot 12-for-21, including 4-for-8 from 3-point range, Shannon Scott had 11 points and a school-record 16 assists and Sam Thompson and Jae’Sean Tate each chipped in 12 points for the Buckeyes (3-0), who were coming off a 74-63 win over Marquette. Filip Nowicki finished with 10 points and nine rebounds for the Pioneers (1-2), who lost their second straight game.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  NBA Game Results

(Sunday, November 23)


Final Score: Portland 94, Boston 88

LaMarcus Aldridge scored 20 points and pulled down 14 rebounds as Portland edged the Celtics 94-88 on Sunday. The Trail Blazers were behind at the half but got hot from the field later in the game and finally erased a Boston lead that persisted through the entire first half. Portland got great contributions from its bench, led by veterans Chris Kaman and Steve Blake. Kaman scored 16 points and grabbed eight boards in 17 minutes, and Blake chipped in 11 on 5-of-8 shooting from the floor. Jared Sullinger and Jeff Green tied for the Celtics lead with 19 points apiece. Rajon Rondo ran the Boston offensive effectively with 13 points on nine shots and a game-high eight assists. Avery Bradley also scored 13 despite shooting just 1-of-8 from beyond the arc. Damian Lillard scored 12 points and finished with a career-high nine rebounds.


Final Score: Memphis 107, LA Clippers 91

The Memphis Grizzlies are fully recovered from a stomach virus that plagued nearly half the team earlier in the week. Too bad for the Los Angeles Clippers. Marc Gasol had 30 points and 12 rebounds and the Grizzlies dominated the paint en route to a 107-91 victory over the Clippers for their 22nd straight home win. Los Angeles had been shooting 65 percent inside of five feet coming in—among the top five in the NBA—and outscored Miami and Orlando a combined 82-58 in the lane during the first two games of its road trip. It was a different story on Wednesday, as the Grizzlies held a commanding 52-32 advantage in the paint. Zach Randolph tallied 10 points and eight rebounds, while Courtney Lee netted 13 points for Memphis, which has won six of its last seven games. Chris Paul posted 22 points, five rebounds, five assists and four steals for the Clippers, who had won three of their last four games heading in.


Final Score: Miami 94, Charlotte 93

Chris Bosh’s baseline jumper with 31 seconds left was the difference, as the Miami Heat survived a scare from the Charlotte Hornets, 94-93, in a see-saw affair at American Airlines Arena. Miami trailed by one when Bosh channeled his inner Olajuwon, shaking free from Cody Zeller on a post up and hitting a turn-around 12-footer. Kemba Walker missed a runner at the other end six seconds later. Mario Chalmers, who scored 12 of his 20 points in the fourth, was then pressured near midcourt by Walker, and Lance Stephenson came up with the loose ball with 14.9 to play. Out of a timeout, Walker missed a pull-up jumper and Al Jefferson’s tip-in rimmed out. The buzzer sounded as Jefferson attempted to get another tip off his own miss. Deng paced Miami with 26 points and eight rebounds and Bosh scored 20 with 10 boards. Chalmers also added 10 assists, giving him his second double-double this month. In six previous NBA seasons, Chalmers had just two double- doubles.


Final Score: Golden State 91, Oklahoma City 86

Marreese Speights had 28 points and seven rebounds off the bench as the Golden State Warriors defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 91-86 on Sunday. Klay Thompson posted 20 points, eight rebounds and five assists, while Stephen Curry added 15 points, six boards and six helpers for the Warriors, who have won five in a row on the heels of a two-game slide. Reggie Jackson tallied 22 points, 11 boards and eight assists for Oklahoma City, which has dropped six consecutive games. Anthony Morrow provided 16 points and 12 rebounds in defeat.


Final Score: Denver 101, LA Lakers 94 (OT)

Ty Lawson totaled 18 points and a season-high 16 assists and the Denver Nuggets held off the Los Angeles Lakers in overtime on Sunday, 101-94. Both teams held two-point leads in overtime before a four-point possession by Danilo Gallinari gave Denver the edge. Gallinari split a pair of free throws at 1:49 but Timofey Mozgov tipped out the rebound to keep the ball in Denver’s possession. Gallinari canned a 3 near the end of the shot clock to make it 94-90. Kobe Bryant hit a short turnaround at the other end, but Lawson countered with a short jumper of his own. Arron Afflalo was pure with two free throws, and Bryant’s desperation 3- pointer was off the mark as the Nuggets held on to win their fourth straight game. Wilson Chandler paced Denver with 19 points, while Mozgov finished with 13 points and 13 boards. Bryant scored a game-high 27 points, Jeremy Lin had 17 and Jordan Hill grabbed a game-high 14 boards for Los Angeles.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Indians acquire Brewer from D-backs

The Cleveland Indians acquired right- handed pitcher Charles Brewer from the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday for cash considerations.

To make room on the 40-man roster for Brewer, the Indians designated left- hander Scott Barnes for assignment.

The 26-year-old Brewer made four appearances out of the Arizona bullpen in 2013, allowing two runs and striking out five in six innings of work. He split the 2014 season between Double-A Mobile and Triple-A Reno, finishing with an 11-12 record and 4.46 ERA in 169 2/3 innings between the two levels.

Brewer was a college teammate of current Indians starter Trevor Bauer at UCLA.

Barnes, 27, made his big-league debut in 2012 and pitched two seasons in Cleveland’s bullpen. In 22 appearances, he owned a 5.20 ERA in 27 2/3 innings with 26 strikeouts. He pitched out of the bullpen for Triple-A Columbus in 2014, finishing with a 3.69 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 31 2/3 innings.


►  A’s obtain 1B Davis from Pirates

The Oakland Athletics acquired first baseman Ike Davis from the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday, three days after he was designated for assignment.

The teams swapped international bonus slots as part of the deal, with the Pirates gaining the No. 27 slot and the A’s landing slot No. 86 from Pittsburgh.

Davis finished fifth in the National League with 32 home runs while with the New York Mets in 2012 and spent the majority of last season as Pittsburgh’s regular first baseman. The 27-year-old hit just .233 with 11 homers and 51 RBI in 143 games between the Pirates and Mets in 2014, however.

Over five major league seasons, Davis owns a .240 average with 78 homers and 270 RBI.

To create room for Davis on the 40-man roster, Oakland designated outfielder Andrew Brown for assignment.

Brown spent most of last season with the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas (PCL), batting .283 with 21 homers and 69 RBI in 103 games. The 30-year- old was claimed off waivers from New York by the A’s on October 31.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  NHL Game Results

(Sunday, November 23)


Final Score: St. Louis 4, Winnipeg 2

Jake Allen made 28 saves on 30 shots to lead St. Louis to a 4-2 win over Winnipeg Sunday. Winnipeg native Ryan Reaves scored the eventual game-winner at even strength 2:25 into the third period, while Jaden Schwartz and David Backes added power-play goals in the second period, each time erasing one-goal leads held by Winnipeg. Bryan Little and Jim Slater each lit the lamp for the Jets, who had Ondrej Pavelec made 25 saves on 28 shots.


Final Score: NY Rangers 5, Montreal 0

Henrik Lundqvist posted 21 stops for his fourth shutout of the season as the New York Rangers thumped the Montreal Canadiens, 5-0, on Sunday. Martin St. Louis had a goal and an assist while Derek Stepan, Dominic Moore, Rick Nash and Carl Hagelin all scored for the Rangers, who have shut out their last two opponents. Dustin Tokarski allowed all five goals on 34 shots for the Canadiens, who had won their previous two coming into the game.


Final Score: Anaheim 2, Arizona 1

Patrick Maroon netted the game-winning goal and the Anaheim Ducks held on for a 2-1 victory over the Arizona Coyotes on Sunday. Kyle Palmieri tallied the other marker, Ryan Kesler supplied two assists and Maroon also added a helper for the Ducks, who were coming off a 4-3 shoottout win over Vancouver on Thursday. Frederik Andersen turned aside 26 shots in the win. Keith Yandle lit the lamp and Mike Smith made 28 saves for the Coyotes, who defeated the Sharks 4-3 in a shootout on Saturday.


Final Score: Vancouver 4, Chicago 1

Jannick Hansen notched his first career hat trick to lift the Vancouver Canucks to a 4-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday. Bo Horvat tallied the first three assists of his young NHL career and Derek Dorsett supplied two helpers for the Canucks, who bounced back from a 4-3 shootout loss to Anaheim on Thursday. Ryan Miller stopped 24-of-25 shots fired his way in the win. Kris Versteeg potted the lone goal for Chicago, which had a three-game winning streak come to an end. Corey Crawford made 26 saves in his 11th straight start.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Sprague becomes 39th PGA of America President

Derek Sprague was elected as the 39th President of the PGA of America on Saturday.

The announcement came at the association’s 98th annual meeting. Sprague has previously served as the PGA Secretary and the Vice President before he became the interim President after Ted Bishop was removed from office in late October.

Paul Levy, who took over as the interim Vice President in October, was elected to the official position and he will succeed Sprague. Levy was the PGA Secretary before taking the interim Vice President position.

History was also made on Saturday as Suzy Whaley became the first female PGA officer when she was elected as the new Secretary. Sprague, Levy and Whaley will each serve two-year terms.

Allen Wronowski was given two additional years as the Honorary President by the PGA Board of Directors. Wronowski was previously the Secretary and Vice President before he was elected as the 37th PGA of America President. Wronowski served as President in 2011 and 2012.

In other moves announced on Saturday, Jeff Drimel, Tim Fries and Kyle Heyen were sworn in as new members of the PGA Board of Directors. They will each serve three-year terms.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Hamilton claims second F1 title with Abu Dhabi GP win

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton captured his second Formula One world championship by winning Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, while his teammate and title rival, Nico Rosberg, finished 14th in the season-finale.

Rosberg, who entered this race 17 points behind Hamilton, started on the pole, but Hamilton quickly pulled ahead of Rosberg for the lead heading into the first turn of the opening lap.

“It was a great start, probably the best I’ve ever had,“ Hamilton said.

While Hamilton had pulled away from the field, Rosberg experienced a problem with his ERS (Energy Recovery System) on lap 25, causing a loss of engine power. Rosberg gradually fell behind in the field and was lapped by Hamilton on the second-to-lap lap.

Hamilton only relinquished the lead during his two pit stops. Felipe Massa from Williams chased down Hamilton in the closing laps, but Massa finished 2.5 seconds behind him.

“Woooooaaahh! World champion. I can’t believe it. Thank you so much everyone,“ Hamilton radioed to his Mercedes team after he crossed the finish line in first.

An emotional Hamilton then grabbed a British flag and waved it during his cool-down lap. At the same time, Britain’s Prince Harry, who was in attendance for this race, congratulated Hamilton over the team radio, saying, “Well done, Lewis, you’re an absolute legend.“

It was the 11th win for Hamilton this season. He also earned his 33rd career victory, allowing him to surpass Fernando Alonso for fifth on the all-time F1 race winners list.

Hamilton concluded the season 67 points ahead of Rosberg (384-317). This race awarded double the amount of points for the first time in F1 history. Hamilton scored 50 for the win.

His first F1 world championship occurred in 2008 when he drove for McLaren. He claimed the title by only one point over Massa, who drove for Ferrari at the time. Massa won the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix, but Hamilton’s fifth- place finish in that race allowed him to clinch the title.

“I can’t really explain how much this means to me,“ Hamilton said of his second world championship. “This one means more than the first (title). It feels like it’s the first time. I feel so blessed.“

Hamilton became the fourth British driver to win multiple F1 world championships, joining Jackie Stewart (1969, ‘71 and ‘73), Jim Clark (1963 and ‘65) and Graham Hill (1962 and ‘68). Hamilton is also the 16th different driver with two or more titles in the sport.

Throughout the season, there has been an intense rivalry between Hamilton and Rosberg, which at times reached the boiling point, particularly in Monaco and Belgium.

After the conclusion of this 55-lap race at Yas Marina Circuit, Rosberg approached Hamilton to congratulate him for winning the race and the championship. It was the second time Hamilton won in Abu Dhabi. His first victory here came in 2011.

“Nico put on an incredible fight throughout the year, and he was a phenomenal competitor,“ Hamilton said. “We met each other back in 1997, and we always said that it would be pretty amazing to race on the same team and fight for the world championship.

“He did an amazing job today. His car wasn’t quick enough in the end, so he couldn’t fight, but he was still graceful enough to come up to me, being very professional, and said, ‘Fantastic. You drove very well’.“

Rosberg concluded the season with five grand prix wins and 11 pole victories. Two weeks ago, he won the Brazilian GP to keep his title hopes alive.

“I’m very disappointed with the ending, of course, but congratulations to Lewis,“ Rosberg said. “Lewis deserves to be champion this year, but for me, it wasn’t a nice ending. All in all, it’s been a great season for the team, and I’m proud to be a part of that. Lewis was a little bit better of a driver this year, a tiny bit, so he deserves the win.“

Massa’s second-place run marked his best finish in a grand prix since October 2012 in Japan. This was his first season with Williams.

“It was an incredible race for us,“ Massa said. “I did not expect to have that pace…I wanted so much for victory, but we were close. I hope this is the beginning for next year.“

Massa’s teammate, Valtteri Bottas, finished third, followed by Daniel Ricciardo from Red Bull and McLaren’s Jenson Button.

Force India drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez placed sixth and seventh, respectively, while Sebastian Vettel, the four-time and outgoing champion, was eighth in his final race with Red Bull. Vettel is moving over to Ferrari for the 2015 season, replacing Alonso, who finished ninth.

“I think the last six years (with Red Bull) have been an incredible journey,“ Vettel said. “I’d like to thank Red Bull and the team for everything they did, and I will miss them. I feel ready for the next step.“

Alonso’s teammate, Kimi Raikkonen, completed the top-10.

This might have been Button’s last race in F1, as it is widely rumored that Alonso will replace him at McLaren for next season. Button, the 2009 world champion, has been competing in F1 since 2000.

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


MONDAY, NOVEMBER 24, 2014


National Football League
NY Jets vs. Buffalo (at Detroit), 7:00 PM - CBS, DSS
Baltimore at New Orleans, 8:30 PM - ESPN


National Basketball Association
Orlando at Cleveland, 7:00 PM - FS-Florida, Ohio, DSS
LA Clippers at Charlotte, 7:00 PM - FS-Prime Ticket, SportSouth, DSS
Portland at Philadelphia, 7:00 PM - CSN-Northwest, Philadelphia, DSS
Phoenix at Toronto, 7:30 PM - FS-Arizona, TSN2, DSS
New York at Houston, 8:00 PM - MSG, CSN-Houston, DSS
Indiana at Dallas, 8:30 PM - FS-Indiana, Southwest, DSS
Chicago at Utah, 9:00 PM - CSN-Chicago, ROOT-Northwest, DSS


National Hockey League
Pittsburgh at Boston, 7:00 PM - NESN, ROOT-Pittsburgh, NBCSN
Philadelphia at NY Islanders, 7:00 PM - TCN-Philadelphia, MSG+, DSS
Ottawa at Detroit, 7:30 PM - RDS, TSN5, FS-Detroit, DSS
Minnesota at Florida, 7:30 PM - FS-North, Florida, DSS


College Basketball
Purdue vs. Kansas State, 2:30 PM - ESPN 2
Missouri vs. Arizona, 5:00 PM - ESPN 2
Paradise Jam, 6:30 PM - CBSSN
Savannah State at Louisville, 7:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Arizona State vs. Maryland, 7:00 PM - ESPN U
Santa Clara at Michigan State, 7:00 PM - Big Ten Network
Western Carolina at Oakland, 7:00 PM - Horizon League Network
Villanova vs. VCU, 7:00 PM - ESPN 2
Nicholls at Wake Forest, 7:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Murray State at Xavier, 7:00 PM - FS1
Eastern Washington at Indiana, 7:30 PM - ESPNews
Stephen F. Austin at Baylor, 8:00 PM - FS-Southwest, MASN2
Brown at Illinois, 8:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Pepperdine at Iowa, 8:00 PM - ESPn3.com
Rider at Kansas, 8:00 PM - Jayhawk TV, ESPN3.com
Prairie View at Memphis, 8:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Oregon State vs. Oklahoma State, 8:30 PM - ESPN3.com
Pittsburgh at Chaminade, 9:00 PM - ESPN U
NJIT at arquette, 9:00 PM - FS1
Stetson at New Mexico State, 9:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Paradise Jam, 9:00 PM - CBSSN
Alabama vs. Iowa State, 9:30 PM - ESPN 2
Michigan vs. Oregon, 9:30 PM - ESPN3.com
Tulsa vs. Auburn, 11:00 PM - ESPN U
BYU vs. San Diego State, 11:30 PM - ESPN 2


Women’s College Basketball
Saint Louis at Vanderbilt, 12:30 PM - SEC Network+
Tennessee State at Tennessee, 7:00 PM - SEC Network+
Prairie View at Texas A&M, 8:00 PM - SEC Network+


International Soccer
Genoa CFC vs. US Citta di Palermo, 2:40 PM - beIN Sport

Sports News   141123

The Gilmer Free Press


The Gilmer Free Press

►  High school Football Playoff Quarterfinal Results

CLASS AAA

#6 South Charleston (9-2)  24  at   #3 University (10-1)  20

#7 Huntington (8-3)  28  at   #2 Cabell Midland (10-1)  21

#5 Point Pleasant (10-0)  28   at   #4 Martinsburg (10-1)  49

#8 Wheeling Park (9-2)  14   at   #1 Capital (10-0)  35



CLASS AA

#7 Nicholas County (10-1)  20   at   #2 Frankfort (11-0)  26

#8 Robert C. Byrd (9-2)  14   at   #1 Bridgeport (10-1)  35

#5 Wayne (9-2)  35  at   #4 Mingo Central (10-1)  17

#14 Ravenswood (8-3)  25   at   #6 Westside (9-2)  42



CLASS A

#10 Buffalo (9-2)  19   at   #2 Tug Valley (10-1)  36

#9 Moorefield (9-2)  0   at   #1 St. Marys (11-0)  36

#12 Bishop Donahue (9-2)  20   at   #4 Clay-Battelle (10-1)  30

#14 East Hardy (8-3)  22   at   #6 Williamstown (9-2)  42



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Mountaineers, Big 12 finalize 2015 football schedule

West Virginia won’t play a road game during the first month of the 2015 football season, according to the schedule released Wednesday.

The Mountaineers’ opponents have been known for months, but the schedule couldn’t be finalized until the Big 12 set its lineup for conference games.

West Virginia opens the season with three home games against nonconference foes: September 5 against Georgia Southern, September 12 against Liberty and September 26 vs. Maryland.

The Mountaineers won’t travel until an October 3 game at Oklahoma.

2015 West Virginia football               
September 05          Georgia Southern
September 12           Liberty
September 26           Maryland
October 03           at Oklahoma
October 10               Oklahoma State
October 17            at Baylor
October 29            at TCU (Thursday)
November 07            Texas Tech
November 14            Texas
November 21        at Kansas
November 28            Iowa State
December 05         at Kansas State

What’s not to like: Two byes within a five-week span. The first bye comes during Week 3, following money games against Georgia Southern and Liberty and preceding the Maryland matchup. That’s not exactly optimal timing.

The next bye comes about a month later on October 24, wedged between road trips to Baylor and a Thursday night game at TCU. Having two byes in the first half of the season means West Virginia will play six consecutive weeks to close the regular season.

Recall that Oklahoma and West Virginia agreed to move up their meetings in 2013 and 2014 to avoid an early-season bye. In the case of 2015, Baylor has a September 19 bye like WVU, but moving up that game is unlikely because it would create a 19-day gap between games in October for the Mountaineers.

October gauntlet: The month features three road games against teams projected to be among the Big 12’s elite—Oklahoma, Baylor and TCU. (Oklahoma has a bye preceding the game against West Virginia.)

Around the Big 12: Texas Tech plays 11 straight Saturdays before its first bye week November 21, which precedes a Thursday night game vs. Texas and then, that’s right, another bye to close the season. … Texas plays the toughest nonconference schedule (at Notre Dame and hosting Cal). The only other intersectional matches of note: Oklahoma visits Tennessee, Texas Tech plays at Arkansas and TCU visits Minnesota.

Quoting Oliver Luck: “Seven home games return in 2015, and I think our fans and the Morgantown community will appreciate the extra game and another chance to see the team play at Milan Puskar Stadium,” said WVU’s athletics director. “The rivalry with Maryland returns at home for the first time since 2012, and the Big 12 schedule week-to-week will be a great test for our team.”

Quoting Dana Holgorsen: “Our schedule will be very competitive, with our non-conference opponents and the always-tough Big 12 slate,” the coach said. “The 2015 schedule will bring great challenges and great opportunities for our program.”

The kickoff times and television schedule will be announced later.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Defense keeps Herd’s dream season alive; Marshall moves to 11-0

The Thundering Herd needed a defensive touchdown and a fourth down stand at its own 10-yard line, to pull out at 23-18 win over UAB Saturday afternoon at Legion Field.

“They (UAB) played extremely hard and they’ve done that all year,” Doc Holliday said about the Blazers. “Sometimes throughout the year you’ve got to grind one out. That’s the definition of grinding one out, of course you don’t like them that way. But at the end of the day I’m proud of the way the football team found a way to win and that’s all that matters.”

UAB took an 18-17 lead with 11:29 left in the game on a 10-yard touchdown run by Jordan Howard, who finished the day with 168 yards on the ground. The Herd, trailing in the fourth quarter for the first time all season, started the ensuing drive on its 25-yard line and passed its way into UAB territory. But the drive stalled at the UAB 29 after a pair of incomplete passes and a Diaheem Watkins sack back to the 35.

Tyler Williams’ punt on fourth down may have been the play of the game for the Herd. The punt rolled dead at the 1-yard line forcing UAB to start in the shadow of its own goal post.

“That punter was able to punt that ball down there and that was huge,” asserted Holliday.

That punt, with 8:20 to play, set up what would turn out to be the game winning touchdown for the Herd. Three plays later, UAB quarterback Cody Clements was hit in the endzone by Marshall’s Arnold Blackmon jarring the football loose and Rashawde Myers was there to recover the ball in the endzone for the go-ahead score.

“Arnold made a good play, he came around the corner and knocked the ball out. It was more of a ‘look what I found’ type deal and it just happened to be in the endzone,” grinned Myers after the win.

“We got this thing in practice where we go back and forth and work on meeting in the backfield,” said Blackmon. “It’s about practice. We practice hard and we play hard.”

But the upset-minded Blazers were not done yet. UAB got the ball back down 23-18 at its own 25 and started to work its way down the field, mostly on the broad shoulders of running back Jordan Howard, who rushed for 40 yards on the final drive.

The Blazers moved the ball down to Marshall’s 10-yard line, needing a touchdown for the win, were forced to go for it on fourth-and-one. Howard lined up in the shotgun in the wildcat formation and Marshall’s defense drove him back for a yard loss to preserve the win.

“We really just prepared for everything, whether he (Howard) was going inside or outside,” said Blackmon.

Marshall needed its defense to step up Saturday as the offense struggled to finish drives, leaving potential points on the field.

On the first drive of the game, Marshall slashed through the Blazers’ defense down to the UAB 6-yard line. Rakeem Cato appeared to score on a quarterback keeper on first-and-goal, but the play was called back on a holding penalty. UAB’s defense stiffened forcing a 23-yard field goal attempt, which Justin Haig missed wide right.

In the third quarter, Marshall appeared to be on its way to extend its precarious 17-6 lead. On third-and-goal from UAB 1-yard line, Devon Johnson and Rakeem Cato mishandled the exchange on the handoff; the ball came loose and rolled out of the endzone for a touchback.

Penalties also hurt the Herd. It was flagged 11 times for 90 yards on the day. Five of those flags were for false start penalties along the offensive line.

“It’s obvious we didn’t play as well as we have all year but we found a way to win and that’s all that matters,” admitted Holliday. “We’re 11-0 and we’re happy to be there.”

Marshall outgained UAB 515 to 346. Devon Johnson led all rushers with 171 yards on 20 carries, becoming the first Marshall running back to run for 100+ yards in seven consecutive games.

Rakeem Cato was 20-for-38 for 284 yards, two touchdowns and interception. Cato connected with Tommy Shuler for a 28-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter and later Angelo Jean-Louis caught a deflected pass and went 43 yards for a touchdown.

Marshall returns home next week to face Western Kentucky. Kickoff is set for noon on Friday.

The Herd then awaits the winner of Rice vs. Louisiana Tech for the Conference USA Championship game on December 06.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Top-25 College Football Game Resuts

(Saturday, November 22)


Final Score: (1) Florida State 20, Boston College 17

Roberto Aguayo atoned for an earlier miss, hitting a 26-yard attempt with three seconds left in regulation, which kept top-ranked Florida State’s win streak alive with a 20-17 victory over Boston College at Doak Campbell Stadium. Jameis Winston finished 22-of-32 for 281 yards and a touchdown to Nick O’Leary for the Seminoles (11-0, 8-0 ACC), who extended their string to 27 consecutive victories. Rashad Greene totaled 106 yards on eight receptions and O’Leary added three catches for 59 yards. Dalvin Cook registered 77 yards on 15 carries and Karlos Williams posted an early rushing score. Tyler Murphy ended up with 73 yards and a touchdown each through the air and on the ground for the Eagles (6-5, 3-4), who did their best but dropped their fifth straight game to FSU. Jon Hilliman led BC with 73 yards on 14 attempts, while Shakim Phillips posted a TD reception in defeat.


Final Score: (2) Alabama 48, Western Carolina 14

Derrick Henry scored three touchdowns to help No. 2 Alabama in a 48-14 win over Western Carolina on Saturday. Henry rushed for 92 yards with two touchdowns and added a TD reception for the Crimson Tide (10-1), who took a week off from their vaunted SEC schedule with an FCS opponent prior to the Iron Bowl against arch-rival Auburn next weekend. Blake Sims went 17-of-22 passing for 222 yards with two touchdowns and an interception in the win. Alabama star wide receiver Amari Cooper left the game, however, with an apparent left knee injury after taking a hard hit in the first quarter. Cooper finished with three receptions for 46 yards. Chris Black took over in his absence and hauled in six passes for 101 yards. Troy Mitchell threw for 221 yards and two touchdowns to Spearman Robinson for Western Carolina (7-5), which has lost all four meetings with the Crimson Tide.


Final Score: (3) Oregon 44, Colorado 10

Marcus Mariota had another huge game for Oregon, throwing three touchdown passes and adding another on the ground, to lead the third-ranked Ducks to a 44-10 rout of Colorado on Saturday. Mariota continued his Heisman campaign with 323 passing yards and 73 rushing yards for the Ducks (10-1, 7-1 Pac-12), who have won six straight since their lone loss of the season against Arizona on Oct. 2. Royce Freeman led the Oregon ground attack with 105 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The Buffaloes (2-9, 0-8) used two quarterbacks but could not find success through the air. Jordan Gehrke and Sefo Liufau combined to complete just 16-of-32 passes for 105 yards. Christian Powell led Colorado in rushing with 51 yards on five carries. Oregon outgained Colorado 597-226.


Final Score: (4) Mississippi State 51, Vanderbilt 0

Dak Prescott threw for 193 yards and accounted for four total touchdowns to lead No. 4 Mississippi State to a 51-0 win over Vanderbilt on Saturday. Prescott threw three touchdown passes, two of which went to Joe Morrow, and also rushed for 30 yards with a score for the Bulldogs (10-1, 6-1 SEC), who bounced back from a 25-20 loss to Alabama last week. Mississippi State can clinch the SEC West with a win over arch- rival Ole Miss next weekend, coupled with an Alabama loss to Auburn. Johnny McCrary completed 15-of-31 passes for 160 yards with an interception for the Commodores (3-8, 0-7).


Final Score: (6) Baylor 49, Oklahoma State 28

Devin Chafin had three rushing touchdowns to lead No. 6 Baylor to a 49-28 victory over Oklahoma State. Chafin finished the game with 21 carries for 106 yards. Shock Linwood had 113 yards with a score on 21 carries and Bryce Petty was 18-for-29 for 262 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions for the Bears (9-1, 6-1 Big 12), who have won three straight since their lone loss of the season at West Virginia. Mason Rudolph went 13- for-25 for 281 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions for the Cowboys (5-6, 3-5), who have dropped five straight games. Desmond Roland and Rennie Childs each had a rushing touchdown in the loss.


Final Score: (7) Ohio State 42, Indiana 27

Jalin Marshall returned a punt 54 yards for a touchdown and added three receiving touchdowns in the fourth quarter, lifting the seventh-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes over the Indiana Hoosiers, 42-27, on Saturday. With the win, Ohio State (10-1, 7-0 Big Ten) captured the Big Ten’s East Division crown and clinched a spot in the conference championship game for the second straight year. Marshall caught five passes for 95 yards for the Buckeyes, who have won a record 23 consecutive Big Ten bouts during the regular season. J.T. Barrett completed 25-of-35 passes for 302 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions. Indiana’s (3-8, 0-7 Big Ten) Tevin Coleman rushed for 228 yards and three touchdowns in the loss.


Final Score: Arkansas 30, (8) Ole Miss 0

Rohan Gaines’ 100-yard interception return touchdown highlighted a banner day for the Arkansas defense, which stifled a mistake-laden Ole Miss in a resounding 30-0 victory over the No. 8 Rebels. Gaines’ big play was one of six turnovers forced by Arkansas (6-5, 2-5 SEC) in the resurgent Razorbacks’ second consecutive shutout over a ranked opponent. The Hogs halted a 17-game losing streak in SEC play with last week’s 17-0 blanking of then-No. 20 LSU. Bo Wallace was responsible for four of the miscues, tossing two interceptions and losing a pair of fumbles on a forgettable afternoon for the Ole Miss offense, which mustered just 63 rushing yards in the third straight conference loss for the sliding Rebels (8-3, 4-3).


Final Score: (9) Georgia 55, Charleston Southern 9

Hutson Mason passed for 187 yards and three touchdowns, all in the first half, and No. 9 Georgia cruised to a 55-9 win over FCS foe Charleston Southern on Saturday. Mason played only two quarters because of the lopsided score. The Bulldogs scored points on each of their first five drives and led 38-3 at halftime. Nick Chubb rushed for 113 yards and two touchdowns on only nine carries for Georgia (9-2), which will clinch a spot in the SEC championship game if Missouri loses against Arkansas next week. Austin Brown was 4-of-10 for 15 yards and one interception for Charleston Southern (8-4) before he got injured late in the first half.


Final Score: (10) Michigan State 45, Rutgers 3

Jeremy Langford and Nick Hill each ran for two scores in the 10th-ranked Michigan State Spartans’ 45-3 rout of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on Saturday. Langford carried the ball 16 times for 126 yards for the Spartans (9-2, 6-1 Big Ten), who have won two in a row since a loss to Ohio State on Nov. 8. Hill rushed for 59 yards on 12 carries. Connor Cook completed 16-of-24 passes for 254 yards for Michigan State, which racked up 520 yards of total offense. Michigan State’s slim hopes of making the Big Ten title tilt for the second straight year were dashed when Ohio State beat Indiana on Saturday. the Buckeyes captured the Big Ten’s East Division crown and clinched a spot in the conference championship game for the second straight year. Gary Nova connected on 11-of-26 passes for 108 yards and two interceptions for the Scarlet Knights (6-5, 2-5), who were unable to build off last weekend’s win over Indiana.


Final Score: (11) UCLA 38, (24) Southern California 20

Brett Hundley settled in after an early blunder and finished with three passing touchdowns and another on the ground to lead No. 11 UCLA to a 38-20 victory over No. 24 Southern California on Saturday. Hundley threw for 326 yards on 22-of-31 passing after throwing an interception on his first pass of the game and for the Bruins (8-3, 6-2 Pac-12), who have won three straight games against the rival Trojans. Paul Perkins rushed for a game-high 93 yards and a score on 24 carries, Thomas Duarte hauled in two passes for 95 yards and a touchdown and Devin Lucien and Eldridge Massington each added receiving scores in the win. UCLA can now move on to the Pac-12 Championship Game against Oregon with a win over Stanford next Friday. Cody Kessler, who compiled 771 yards and nine touchdowns in his two previous games, was limited to just 214 passing yards and one score with an interception on a 22-of-34 completion rate. Javorious Allen ran for 60 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries and Justin Davis made a TD catch for the Trojans (7-4, 6-3), who were coming off a 38-30 win over California.


Final Score: (13) Arizona State 52, Washington State 31

Taylor Kelly passed for 232 yards and four touchdowns and No. 13 Arizona State overcame a first-half deficit to beat Washington State 52-31 on Saturday. D.J. Foster ran for 96 yards and three touchdowns for the Sun Devils (9-2, 6-2 Pac-12), who bounced back from last week’s 35-27 loss to Oregon State, which snapped a five-game winning streak. Cameron Smith had six catches for 131 yards and two touchdowns in the win and Fred Gammage and Kody Kohl also had touchdown receptions. Washington State (3-8, 2-7) led 21-7 in the first half and 24-21 at the break but lost for the fifth time in its last six games. Cougars quarterback Luke Falk passed for 601 yards and three touchdowns in the loss. Vince Mayle caught 15 passes for 252 yards, giving him 101 catches this season.


Final Score: (14) Wisconsin 26, Iowa 24

Melvin Gordon rushed for two touchdowns as 14th-ranked Wisconsin held off a charge from a plucky Iowa team for a 26-24 win on Saturday. The victory sets up a showdown against Minnesota next Saturday in Madison, with the winner securing the Big Ten West title and a spot in the conference championship game. Gordon finished with 200 yards on 31 carries, tying Ron Dayne’s single-season Big Ten rushing record of 2,109 yards set in 1996. Gordon broke the FBS single-game rushing record a week ago with 408 yards against Nebraska, but Oklahoma true freshman Samaje Perine eclipsed his mark with 427 yards on Saturday. Joel Stave completed 11-of-14 passes for 139 yards and scrambled 12 yards for a key third down late in the fourth quarter as Wisconsin (9-2, 6-1 Big Ten) won its sixth straight game. Jake Rudock threw two touchdown passes and added a score on the ground for Iowa (7-4, 4-3).


Final Score: (15) Arizona 42, (20) Utah 10

Arizona will be on the UCLA bandwagon later on Saturday, but will quickly have to hop off if the Bruins beat USC. First things first. Nick Wilson ran for 218 yards and three touchdowns as the 15th-ranked Wildcats rolled to a 42-10 win over No. 20 Utah on Saturday afternoon. Arizona (9-2, 6-2 Pac-12) is currently one of four two-loss teams in the Pac-12 South. The Wilcats need a UCLA win over USC on Saturday and a Bruins loss to Stanford on Friday along with a win over Arizona State to make it to the Pac-12 title game at Levi’s Stadium.


Final Score: (16) Auburn 31, Samford 7

Cameron Artis-Payne ran for 129 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries as 16th-ranked Auburn posted a 31-7 win over Samford at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The Tigers overcame a sluggish start and 14 penalties to pull away from the FCS-level Bulldogs and halt a two-game skid as they enter next Saturday’s Iron Bowl showdown with No. 2 Alabama. Nick Marshall threw for 164 yards on 10-of-17 passing with one touchdown and an interception for Auburn (8-3), which also received rushing scores from Quan Bray and Roc Thomas. Michael Eubank completed 17-of-31 throws for 140 yards and one touchdown for Samford (7-4), but was intercepted twice during a second half in which the Bulldogs were held scoreless.


Final Score: (18) Marshall 23, UAB 18

Ra’Shawde Myers recovered a fumble in the end zone with 7:35 remaining and No. 18 Marshall remained undefeated with a 23-18 win over UAB on Saturday. With its offense struggling, Marshall overcame an 18-17 deficit with big plays on special teams and defense. The Thundering Herd downed Tyler Williams’ punt at the 1-yard line and Arnold Blackmon stripped UAB quarterback Cody Clements in the end zone on third down. The ball ended up with Myers, whose touchdown gave Marshall (11-0, 7-0 C-USA) its 12th straight win dating back to last December’s Military Bowl. Rakeem Cato passed for 284 yards and two touchdowns for Marshall, but threw an interception in the fourth quarter then led to a go-ahead touchdown for UAB.


Final Score: (19) Missouri 29, Tennessee 21

Maty Mauk threw two touchdown passes and Marcus Murphy ran for two as No. 19 Missouri picked up a crucial 29-21 win over Tennessee. Mauk completed just 12-of-25 throws for 230 yards, but his fourth-quarter TD passes to Jimmie Hunt and Bud Sasser were the difference. Murphy ran 19 times for 82 yards, and Russell Hansbrough added 68 yards on 15 carries. Missouri (9-2, 6-1 SEC) controls its own destiny in the SEC East. With a win next week against Arkansas, the Tigers will return to the SEC championship game for the second straight season. If Arkansas wins, then Georgia, which finished its SEC regular-season slate last week with a win over Auburn, would represent the division in the title game. Joshua Dobbs, who had totaled 11 touchdowns over Tennessee’s last three games, went 24-for-37 for 195 yards with one touchdown and an interception. The Volunteers (5-6) need a win next week at Vanderbilt to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2010.


Final Score: Minnesota 28, (21) Nebraska 24

The Minnesota Golden Gophers are in the driver’s seat to represent the West division in the Big Ten title game after rallying to beat No. 21 Nebraska without their best offensive player. Mitch Leidner scored his second rushing touchdown with 3:25 remaining in the fourth quarter to lift the Golden Gophers to a 28-24 win over the Cornhuskers. Leidner completed 8-of-17 passes for 135 yards and added 110 yards on the ground for Minnesota (8-3, 5-2 Big Ten), which overcame a 21-7 halftime deficit to post its first victory in Lincoln since 1960. Golden Gophers star running back David Cobb rushed for 80 yards on 15 carries, but left after pulling up lame with a hamstring injury on a third-quarter touchdown run.


Final Score: (22) Colorado State 58, New Mexico 20

Dee Hart scored six touchdowns to lead 22nd-ranked Colorado State to a 58-20 rout of New Mexico. Hart ran for 230 yards and five touchdowns and added two catches for 42 yards and a receiving score for the Rams (10-1, 6-1 MWC), who have won nine in a row since a Sep. 6 loss at Boise State. Garrett Grayson was 23-of-29 for 389 yards and three touchdowns. He became the school’s all-time offensive leader in the triumph. New Mexico’s (3-8, 1-6) ground game was effective, totaling 301 yards, but it wasn’t enough. Jhurell Pressley ran for 109 yards on seven carries, while quarterback Lamar Jordan ran for 74 yards and scored a touchdown.


Final Score: (23) Oklahoma 44, Kansas 7

Oklahoma freshman Samaje Perine broke the week-old FBS single-game rushing record to lead the No. 23 Sooners in a 44-7 rout of Kansas on Saturday. Perine rushed for 427 yards, surpassing the record set last week by Wisconsin junior Melvin Gordon, whose 408 yards against Nebraska in just three quarters broke LaDainian Tomlinson’s 15-year- old FBS mark. It took Perine a little longer, but not much. He set the new mark on his last run, a 42-yarder 2 1/2 minutes into the fourth quarter after shaking off a few would-be tacklers near the line. The game was played in the rain after a 90-minute delay because of lightning and most of Perine’s big runs came with little contact.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Saints try to stop Superdome skid against Ravens

The Superdome used to be the New Orleans Saints’ salve, an edifice that could soothe any ailment the team might have.

Not anymore.

The struggling Saints have dropped two straight on their home field and will try to stop the bleeding when they host the well-rested Baltimore Ravens on “Monday Night Football.“

New Orleans, considered by many to be a true Super Bowl contender before the season started, remains relevant in the NFC playoff picture only because of the division they play in, the dismal NFC South.

A 27-10 loss to Cincinnati at the Superdome in Week 11 lowered the Saints’ record to 4-6 but that’s still good enough to be tied for the top spot in the South with Atlanta entering the weekend, although the Falcons currently hold the tiebreaker thanks to their 4-0 mark in division play.

“I feel good about our chances and the opportunity that we have,“ New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees said. “We’re learning a lot about how to win. Failure can be the best teacher at times.“

It taught them plenty against the Bengals as Brees threw for 255 yards and a touchdown on 33-of-41 passing but the Saints dropped back-to-back home games for the first time since 2012, when they lost the season opener to Washington and then to Kansas City in overtime in Week 3.

New Orleans had won a club-record 11 straight home games in the regular season until a Week 10 overtime loss to San Francisco.

Mark Ingram added 67 yards on the ground on 23 carries and caught a game-high seven passes for only 30 yards.

“We kind of felt going in we were going to run a sequence there: certain run then come back to a pass. They defended it well and we weren’t able to get anything,“ said New Orleans head coach Sean Payton.

“We can’t escape the reality of where we are right now,“ Brees added. “You are what your record says you are. We’re a 4-6 team right now. None of us feel that because we’re still in contention that that’s good enough. We still have a lot of work to do.“

The Ravens, on the other hand, play in the ultra-tough AFC North, where every team is at least two games over .500 and Baltimore, despite its 6-4 mark, is tied for last with Cleveland entering Week 12. Cincinnati, at 6-3-1, tops the division with Pittsburgh next at 7-4.

“Every win is important,“ said Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith. “In our division, there are a bunch of talented teams. It’s going to be interesting down the stretch. Hopefully, we come out on top.“

The Ravens are coming off their bye week after halting a two-game skid by coasting past Tennessee, 21-7, back on November 9 in the Charm City.

“Players took some time off and kind of emotionally and physically recharged a little bit,“ Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “You don’t realize how exhausted you are until you get a chance to take a deep breath and relax.“

Justin Forsett rushed for 112 yards and a pair of touchdowns against the Titans while Joe Flacco finished 16-of-27 for 169 yards and one score to Smith for Baltimore, which shook off a pair of road division losses to the Bengals and Steelers.

“Going into the bye, you want to feel good about things and get back on track,“ tight end Owen Daniels said.

The Ravens and Saints have met just five times previously with Baltimore holding a 4-1 advantage, including a 30-24 win on December 19, 2010, the last time the two teams met. The clubs haven’t clashed in New Orleans since October of 2006, also a Ravens win (35-22).

Baltimore is 9-9 all-time on Monday nights while the Saints are just under that .500 barrier at 17-18.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Both Brees and Flacco tend to excel under the national spotlight.

Brees has won nine of his past 10 starts on “Monday Night Football” with a 118.6 passer rating in those contests. Meanwhile, Flacco has won four of his past five starts on MNF.

Both have been buoyed by a renewed running game. In New Orleans Ingram has stabilized things and leads the NFL in rushing since Week 8 with 459 yards on the ground. That’s important because impact rookie receiver Brandin Cooks had surgery to repair a broken right thumb this week and is gone for the season.

Baltimore’s Forsett leads all NFL backs with 5.4 yards per rush and will be matching up against a defense that has allowed nearly 150 yards on the ground over its past three games.

Each team has struggled with turnovers, though. The Saints are minus-nine on the season and while Baltimore is barely on the plus side of the ledger (plus- one), Flacco has been regressing recently, throwing five interceptions in his last four games.

Facing Rob Ryan’s defense could get Flacco headed back in the right direction. The Saints are 24th in the NFL against the pass and have only created 10 takeaways, the fifth-worst mark in the league.

Brees, who leads the NFL with a nearly 70% completion percentage, is also facing a unit that struggles stopping the passing game. The Ravens are 21st in football against the pass and have managed just six picks on the season.

Brees has never beaten the Ravens, however, going 0-3 against them in his career, once when he was with the Chargers and twice with New Orleans.

“I am aware. Thanks for reminding me,“ Brees said of his lack of success against Baltimore. “It doesn’t matter who we’re playing. Every time I step on the field, I want to win. But certainly, you want to say that you’ve beaten every team.“

OVERALL ANALYSIS

Although there are six games left on their schedule, this could be the last stand for the Saints, who haven’t lost three straight home games since a six- game slide in 2005.

“There have been a number of tough losses, close losses, and what that means is at this point in the season, that margin for error becomes that much more slight,“ Payton said. “We’re playing a six-game season right now. We have to find a way to get a win this week.“

The guess here is that this is the last chance for New Orleans to reestablish its mojo inside the Superdome and the Saints will get it done ... barely.

“We’re going to have a tough environment,“ Harbaugh said. “They’re coming off two losses, they’re a very proud team, very well coached, very talented. We’re going to have our hands full and we’d better be ready to go. I’d like to think our guys understand that, but we’ll find out Monday night.

Predicted outcome: Saints 24, Ravens 21


►  Divisional dominance

A rather stark contrast will be highlighted on “Monday Night Football” when the Baltimore Ravens visit the Big Easy to take on the New Orleans Saints to cap off Week 12 of the NFL season.

With six games to go in the campaign for each team, it’s the 6-4 Ravens who are in the basement of the ultra-tough AFC North, while the underwater Saints remain relevant in the NFC playoff picture because of the division they play in, the dismal NFC South.

A 27-10 loss to Cincinnati at the Superdome in Week 11 lowered New Orleans’ record to 4-6 but that’s still good enough to be tied for the top spot in the South with Atlanta entering the weekend, although the Falcons currently hold the tiebreaker thanks to their 4-0 mark in division play.

Conversely, the Ravens play amongst a group where every team is at least two games over .500, making the AFC North the first division since the 1935 Western Division in which every member is at least two games in the black at any point in a season.

“I probably feel the same way I felt about it when the season opened, this is the best division in football,“ Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh stated. “That’s only going to serve to make us all better in the end.“

Harbaugh’s Ravens, despite that 6-4 mark, are tied for last with Cleveland in the AFC North entering Week 12. Cincinnati, at 6-3-1, tops the division with Pittsburgh next at 7-4.

By next week, the Bengals conceivably go from first to worst.

“Every win is important,“ said Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith. “In our division, there are a bunch of talented teams. It’s going to be interesting down the stretch. Hopefully, we come out on top.“

Perhaps a better indication of just how good the AFC North has become is its clubs’ record outside its confines. The four AFC North teams currently sport a 17-7-1 mark against non-division opponents, the best of any division in the football and a winning percentage of .700.

Since the AFL-NFL merger back in 1970, only seven divisions have ever finished with a combined winning percentage of .700 or better in contests outside the division. Three of those produced that particular season’s Super Bowl winner, including the 2013 Seattle Seahawks from the NFC West.

The Seahawks, who were one of three different 10-win teams in the NFC West a season ago, finished with a 13-3 mark en route to the Lombardi Trophy.

Success outside one’s division also foreshadows a significant playoff presence.

All seven of those divisions with a .700 or better out-of-division mark produced at least two playoff teams, with four of them sending three teams to the postseason.

“(The AFC North) has always been competitive, but this year you are really seeing the youth and talent that has been on these teams stepping up and growing into those roles,“ Cincinnati left tackle Andrew Whitworth said. “It’s going to be a heck of a challenge to win this division.“

Others believe playing each other so consistently helps each team when they venture outside the North.

“When you play against playoff-caliber teams, it definitely helps you,“ Pittsburgh safety Will Allen claimed. “Being in a tougher division brings better competition and it brings a greater preparation for what’s to come.“

And what’s to come is plenty.

With six weeks remaining in the regular season, 12 different AFC clubs in a 16-team field have records of .500 or better.

“The meaningful games come at the end of November and December,“ Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer said.

All four teams in the AFC North plan on playing in those meaningful games.


►  Broncos TE Thomas questionable, Sanders probable

Denver Broncos tight end Julius Thomas was listed as a non-participant in practice for a third straight day on Friday, leaving his status uncertain for this weekend’s game against the Miami Dolphins.

Thomas, the NFL’s leader with 12 touchdown catches this season, did take part in a few individual drills during Friday’s session, according to the Broncos’ website. The team officially declared the 2013 Pro Bowl selection questionable for Sunday’s contest.

Thomas sprained his left ankle in the first quarter of last week’s 22-7 loss at St. Louis and did not return to the game.

The news was considerably better in regards to wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who returned to the practice field Friday and is probable to play against the Dolphins.

Sanders was forced out of the St. Louis game in the third quarter after sustaining a concussion on a vicious hit from Rams safety Rodney McLeod. The offseason acquisition was cleared by a neurologist on Thursday night, however.

Prior to departing last week’s tilt, Sanders recorded five catches for 102 yards and a touchdown for his third 100-yard effort in Denver’s past four games.

The Broncos will definitely be without running backs Ronnie Hillman and Montee Ball for Sunday’s matchup, with both players ruled out. Hillman will miss a second straight week with a sprained foot, while Ball aggravated a groin injury against the Rams. It was his first action since Week 5.

Backup tight end Virgil Green is considered questionable with a calf injury, but was a limited practice participant throughout the week.


►  Fitzgerald questionable for Cards-Seahawks

The Arizona Cardinals remain unsure as to whether they’ll have Larry Fitzgerald available for Sunday’s key NFC West clash with the Seattle Seahawks.

Fitzgerald sat out of practice for a third straight day on Friday as he continues to rest a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee, with the Cardinals listing the veteran wide receiver questionable for this weekend’s clash with the reigning Super Bowl champion Seahawks at Qwest Field.

Arizona head coach Bruce Arians said Friday that Fitzgerald’s status won’t be determined until pregame warmups, though he was hopeful that the eight-time Pro Bowl honoree will be able to play.

“Practice at his age right now is overrated sometimes,“ Arians said. “We’ll see if he can capably play on Sunday at the game.“

Fitzgerald sustained the injury, which was diagnosed as a Grade 2 sprain, during the first half of last week’s 14-6 Arizona win over Detroit. The 31- year-old did return to the contest but was limited to just two catches for 33 yards.

Running back Andre Ellington is expected to participate in Sunday’s matchup after putting in a full practice on Friday. The Cardinals’ leading rusher is dealing with injuries to his foot and hip, but was termed probable on Friday’s injury report.

The Cardinals enter Sunday’s showdown with an NFL-best 9-1 record and a six- game winning streak. Seattle currently stands three games back of Arizona in the division at 6-4.


►  Chiefs bring in Avant

Seeking help to a struggling receiver corps, the Kansas City Chiefs signed veteran Jason Avant to an undisclosed contract on Friday.

Avant, who was released by the Carolina Panthers on Tuesday, reunites with his original NFL head coach in Andy Reid. The 31-year-old spent his first eight seasons playing under Reid in Philadelphia from 2006-13, recording 51 or more catches in three of his final four seasons with the team.

The nine-year veteran signed with the Panthers as a free agent back in March, but managed just 201 yards and a touchdown on 21 catches over 11 games with Carolina.

For his career, Avant has compiled 318 catches totaling 3,847 yards with 13 touchdowns.

He joins a Kansas City squad that has trouble finding a reliable No. 2 receiver opposite Dwayne Bowe this season. No Chiefs wideout other than Bowe has caught more than 14 passes through the team’s 11 games.

Wide receiver A.J. Jenkins, who had only nine catches in nine games this season, was placed on injured reserve in a corresponding move. The former first-round pick has missed Kansas City’s last two contests with a shoulder problem.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Hold your horses

Prior to Thursday Night Football, there was not a single Oakland Raiders player fantasy owners could trust.

Despite the emergence of running back Latavius Murray against the Chiefs, there still isn’t a Raiders player owners should feel confident placing in a playoff starting lineup.

No doubt, Murray looked impressive on Thursday, rushing for 112 yards and two touchdowns. He should see a huge bump in carries the rest of the year and is therefore, the “best” fantasy option on Oakland.

But for a team that features a washed-up Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones- Drew, a rookie quarterback and no-name wide receivers, that isn’t saying much.

Murray gained his 112 yards on just four carries, which is a double-edged sword. Obviously, that makes Murray’s average in Week 12 a whopping 28 yards- per-carry. On the other hand, the big runs could also be an aberration. Murray gained 90 of his yards on one carry.

If not for the concussion Murray suffered in the middle of the second quarter, he could have had a really huge night. As it was, he finished with over 23 fantasy points in standard leagues.

But before fantasy owners hurry to go pick him up on the waiver wire, ask this question: are you really ready to trust an Oakland Raiders running back with a fantasy championship on the line?

Even with the 179 yards on the ground in Week 12, the Raiders are averaging 73.5 yards per game, good for last in the league. The last time a team had fewer than 73 rushing yards per game in a single season was the Lions in 2006.

Prior to Week 11, the Raiders were averaging just 62.1 rushing yards per game, which was the lowest average since the Lions gained 42.5 yards per game on the ground in 1946. So before this sudden outburst in rushing yards, the Raiders were statistically the worst running team in nearly 70 years.

Plus, even with the average increasing 11 yards per game over the last two weeks, there are still just 18 teams since 1932 with fewer rushing yards per game than the 2014 Raiders, and over half of those teams played before the NFL merger.

For fantasy owners in deeper keeper leagues and dynasty leagues, Murray is definitely a guy worth targeting. He is the most promising, young, offensive player in Oakland and paired with a young quarterback, he has tremendous potential.

But for fantasy owners in the hunt for a 2014 fantasy championship, I would roll with the horses who got me to the playoffs in the first place, rather than turn to a still relatively unproven rookie, coming off a concussion, who is on one of the 20-worst rushing teams in the history of the NFL.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  MEC Basketball Roundup

Shepherd 109, Glenville State 98 | Final Stats

Morgan Arden and Rachel Johnson combined for 53 points to help lead Shepherd past Glenville State, 109-98, on Saturday afternoon at the Waco Center. A 19-4 run over the first seven minutes of the second half gave the Rams a double-digit lead it would not relinquish.

Arden finished with 30 points, aided by 12-of-15 shooting from the free throw line to lead Shepherd (3-0, 1-0). Johnson was 10-of-14 from the field on her way to 23 points and also added eight rebounds. Cara Mason had eight points and dished out eight assists. Briana Vaden added 14 points and Kristina Prange chipped in 12.

Glenville State (0-2, 0-1) was led by 23 points from Keyanna Tate. Paige Tuttle added 14 points and Katrina Salins and Tayana Stewart each contributed 11 points.

Shepherd made its only three-point attempt of the game, while Glenville State was 7-of-31 from behind the arc.


West Liberty 87, Charleston 65 | Final Stats

Liz Flowers scored 30 points and West Liberty shot 52% from the field as West Liberty defeated Charleston, 87-65.

Flowers was 11-of-19 from the field and sank eight of WLU’s 17 three-pointers in the game for her 30 points. Kailee Howe added 17 points and handed out a game-high 14 assists. Emily Bucon chipped in 10 points for the ‘Toppers (2-1, 1-0).

Kiara Johnson had a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Nichole Perry had 16 points and four assists, and Monet Saunders had 14 points for the Golden Eagles.

WLU was 17-of-32 (53%) from behind the three-point line, while UC was just 2-of-11 (18%).


Notre Dame 78, Concord 61 | Final Stats

Notre Dame used a balanced attack to defeat Concord, 78-61, on Saturday at Murphy Gymnasium.

The Falcons (2-1, 1-0) were paced by Lauren Langenderfer’s 18 points in 28 minutes of action. Martha Nagbe scored 17 and Alyssa Kraus had 13, while Kelsey Miller added 11 points and 14 rebounds off the bench for NDC.

Rachel Artrip led Concord (0-3, 0-1) with 22 points and eight rebounds. Melea Smith scored 12 and Jacqueline Kestner recorded a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.


Fairmont State 74, West Virginia Wesleyan 67 (OT) | Final Stats

Fairmont State withstood West Virginia Wesleyan’s late rally and came away with a 74-67 overtime win over the Bobcats on Saturday at the Rockefeller Center.

Fairmont State (5-0, 1-0) led from the opening basket until Stacey Remar’s three-pointer with four seconds left tied the game at 59-59. A three-point play Emily Puskarich with under a minute left in the overtime session stretched FSU’s lead from two points to five and helped clinch the win for the Falcons.

The Falcons got a pair of double-doubles from Emily Lohr (17 points and 14 rebounds) and Hallie Gunnoe (17 points and 10 rebounds). Amanda Ruffner added 16 points and eight boards. FSU held the Bobcats to just 32% shooting from the field.

Mari Stewart led WVWC (0-3, 0-1) with 14 points and 14 rebounds. Kiki Devane also had a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Adrian Cunningham had 13 points.


UVa-Wise 51, Urbana 39 | Final Stats

UVa-Wise forced 22 turnovers and held Urbana to just 24% shooting to come away with a 51-39 road win on Saturday at the Grimes Center.

Taylor Sandidge had 13 points and five rebounds to help the Cavs (1-2, 1-0) pick up their first win of the season. Blair Harding added 10 points and seven boards for UVa-Wise.

Tori Purk was the only Urbana player to reach double figures as the Blue Knights fell to 0-3 overall and 0-1 in the MEC.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  WVU Hoops Improves to 3-0

At a glance there wasn’t much that West Virginia didn’t seem to do well in its opening game of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.

The Mountaineers forced turnovers on defense, played unselfishly on the offense end and limited their own mistakes. It all added up to an easy 91-65 victory over George Mason Thursday.

Still coach Bob Huggins thinks his team can play better this week.

“I thought we played really well for stretch, and then we got a big lead and we would kind of stop playing and our pressure just wasn’t very good. Our offense was worse,“ Huggins said. “When you get ahead I think even if it’s subconsciously you start looking for shots instead of looking to score. And then we just turned them loose at the basket the whole second half which is not a good thing to do.“

Devin Williams led the barrage for the Mountaineers with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Jonathan Holton added 16 points and seven rebounds.

West Virginia (3-0) led by as many as 31 points and never allowed George Mason (1-2) to get it below 20 in the second.

For Williams it was his third straight double-double. It was the 11th of the sophomore’s career.

“Devin was good, I want him to be great,“ Huggins said. “He was good, but Devin can be so much better and that’s what I want for him. Sometimes he doesn’t understand why I’m upset with him, but I’m upset with him because I know how good he can be.

“Good guys don’t take plays off. We gotta not take plays off. That’s not just Devin, that’s everybody. We gotta stop taking plays off.“

Williams played sparingly in the final 20 minutes, being sent to the floor after a collision underneath the basket. But he was able to walk off under his own power and is expected to be fine.

Patrick Holloway led the Patriots with 17 points.

West Virginia used its quickness in the first half to speed up George Mason’s offense, racking up 10 steals and forcing 16 Patriots’ turnovers. Those turnovers led to 19 Mountaineers’ points, including several dunks.

The dominance extended inside the paint, where West Virginia outscored George Mason 24-8 for the half and 40-26 for the game.

George Mason entered the game having committed just 18 turnovers combined in its first two outings.

“They were just physically stronger and pushed us around,“ Patriots coach Paul Hewitt said. “What we talked about coming in here was turnovers and offensive rebounds and they dominated that. We had 24 turnovers and they had 19 offensive rebounds and that’s pretty much the game.“



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Report: Red Sox offer Sandoval contract

The Boston Red Sox have offered free-agent third baseman Pablo Sandoval a five-year deal, according to a report.

A Major League source, per the Boston Globe, stated that the offer is for $95 million.

The switch-hitting third baseman, considered one of the top hitting free agents, helped the San Francisco Giants win their third World Series title in the last five years.

The 28-year-old hit .366 in the postseason and posted a .279 average with 16 homers and 73 RBI during the regular season.

Sandoval declined the Giants’ qualifying offer of $15.3 million for the 2015 season.


►  Report: White Sox sign LaRoche for two years

The Chicago White Sox have reportedly agreed to a two-year contract with first baseman Adam LaRoche on Friday.

The Chicago Tribune is reporting the deal is worth $25 million and will be announced as soon as a spot on the roster is cleared for LaRoche.

The 35-year-old just finished his 11th season in the majors as he batted .259 with 26 home runs and 92 RBI in 140 games for Washington.

In 1,478 games with Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Boston and Washington, he has a career average of .264 and has clubbed 243 home runs with 838 RBI.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  NHL Game Results

(Saturday, November 22)


Final Score: St. Louis 3, Ottawa 2

Brian Elliott made 24 saves and Alex Steen netted the deciding goal in the latter stages of the second period as St. Louis nipped Ottawa, 3-2, on Saturday afternoon. Max Lapierre and Vladimir Tarasenko also provided goals while Alex Pietrangelo recorded a pair of assists for the Blues, who snapped a two-game skid. Mika Zibanejad and Erik Karlsson tallied for the Senators, with Robin Lehner making 30 stops as the hosts lost for the fifth time in seven contests.


Final Score: Montreal 2, Boston 0

Carey Price stopped 33 shots for his second shutout of the season as the Montreal Canadiens grabbed a 2-0 win over the Boston Bruins on Saturday. Tomas Plekanec had a goal and an assist, Andrei Markov scored and Brendan Gallagher dished out two helpers for the Canadiens, who have won eight of their last nine games. Tuukka Rask allowed both goals on 23 shots for the Bruins, who had a three-game winning streak snapped.


Final Score: Toronto 4, Detroit 1

Tyler Bozak scored two goals in the third period to lift the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 4-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday. Leo Komarov tallied a goal and an assist and Peter Holland also lit the lamp for Toronto, which has won two straight on the heels of a three-game skid. Jonathan Bernier turned aside 26 shots in the win. Tomas Tatar provided Detroit’s lone marker and Jimmy Howard made 24 saves in defeat.


Final Score: Tampa Bay 2, Minnesota 1

Ben Bishop made 30 saves, including 12 in the third period to lead the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 2-1 win over the Minnesota Wild on Saturday night. Steven Stamkos and Alex Killorn scored for the Lightning, who were coming off back-to-back losses at the end of a 1-2 road trip. Zach Parise scored for the Wild, who had a four-game winning streak snapped. Darcy Kuemper gave up both Tampa Bay goals and faced 28 shots in the loss.


Final Score: NY Islanders 4, Pittsburgh 1

John Tavares recorded a goal and an assist as the New York Islanders got the better of the Pittsburgh Penguins once again with a 4-1 decision at Nassau Coliseum. Tavares, Anders Lee and Brock Nelson all scored in the third period and Jaroslav Halak came up with 27 saves to help the red-hot Islanders complete a home-and-home sweep of the Penguins. New York, winners in eight of its last nine, bested the Pens in a 5-4 shootout in Pittsburgh on Friday. The Penguins mustered only Evgeni Malkin’s first-period goal in dropping consecutive games for the first time since Oct. 22-23. Thomas Greiss posted 31 saves in the loss.


Final Score: Philadelphia 4, Columbus 2

Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek picked up two assists apiece and four different players registered goals, as Philadelphia doubled up Columbus, 4-2, on Saturday. Brayden Schenn, Mark Streit, Wayne Simmonds and Braydon Coburn tallied once each for the Flyers, who put a season-worst four-game losing streak to rest. Steve Mason earned his first win since Nov. 8 with 20 saves. Boone Jenner and Matt Calvert scored for the Blue Jackets, who have lost three in a row. Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 33 shots in the setback.


Final Score: Buffalo 2, Washington 1

It’s been a tough week for the people of Buffalo, but the Sabres gave their fans something to cheer about from their snowbound homes on Saturday with a 2-1 win over the Washington Capitals. Torrey Mitchell scored the winning goal in the third period for the Sabres, who had not played since Tuesday when a lake-effect storm dumped more than five feet of snow on the western New York region. Buffalo’s scheduled game Friday against the New York Rangers was postponed in the aftermath. Matt Moulson also scored for the Sabres, while Jhonas Enroth made 43 saves in a brilliant effort. Buffalo has won three straight games for the first time since late February. Matt Niskanen scored the lone goal for Washington, which had won its last two games. Braden Holtby made 24 saves in defeat.


Final Score: Nashville 3, Florida 2 (SO)

Filip Forsberg scored in the fourth round of the shootout to prevent an epic collapse from the Nashville Predators, who pulled out a 3-2 win over the Florida Panthers. The Predators held a comfortable 2-0 lead before Florida scored twice in the final minute of regulation, with Nick Bjugstad forcing overtime with 30.3 seconds left in the third period. Rocco Grimaldi potted his first career NHL goal just 12 seconds earlier for the Panthers, who received an outstanding 48-save effort from Roberto Luongo that helped Florida steal a point. Colin Wilson and Matt Cullen both scored in Nashville’s sixth victory in its last eight outings, with Pekka Rinne stopping 28 shots.


Final Score: Dallas 5, Los Angeles 4

Jamie Benn led the way with two goals and one assist, and Dallas survived a late challenge from Los Angeles to claim a 5-4 victory at American Airlines Center. Tyler Seguin and John Klingberg totaled a score and helper each for the Stars, who almost blew an early four-goal lead but held on to record back-to-back home wins for the first time all season. Jason Demers also tallied, while Cody Eakin added a pair of assists to back 37 saves from Kari Lehtonen. Justin Williams netted a pair of goals with Kyle Clifford and Jarret Stoll contributing two assists each for the Kings, whose three-game win streak came to an end. Jonathan Quick allowed five goals on only 23 shots in the loss.


Final Score: Colorado 4, Carolina 3

Zach Redmond’s second goal of the game came with 1:35 to play as the Colorado Avalanche grabbed a 4-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday. Jarome Iginla had a goal and an assist and Erik Johnson also scored for the Avalanche, who have won three of four. Reto Berra was pulled less than 17 minutes into the start after giving up three goals on 10 shots. Calvin Pickard turned aside all 17 shots he faced in relief to pick up the first win of his career. Nathan Gerbe, Andrej Nestrasil and John-Michael Liles all scored for the Hurricanes, who have lost five of six.


Final Score: Calgary 5, New Jersey 4 (SO)

Jiri Hudler scored the first of two Calgary goals with the netminder pulled in the closing minutes to help forge a tie, then netted the winner in a shootout to lift the Calgary Flames to an improbable 5-4 win over the New Jersey Devils on Saturday at the Saddledome. Hudler scored with 2:22 remaining to pull the Flames within one and Curtis Glencross tied it with just five seconds to play in regulation. After the overtime period could not solve things and each team scored once in the first three rounds of the shootout, Hudler snapped a wrister past Scott Clemmensen and Travis Zajac’s response glanced off the glove of Karri Ramo to end it. Ramo finished with 25 saves for the Flames, who finished 4-1-0 on a five-game homestand. Glencross netted two goals and Josh Jooris also scored in the victory. Clemmensen gave Cory Schneider a night off for the first time this season and made 33 saves in defeat. Adam Henrique notched a goal and an assist, while Mike Cammalleri scored in his return to Calgary. Cammalleri, who also had a goal in the shootout, played the past 2 1/2 seasons with the Flames before signing as a free agent in July. Schneider had started each of New Jersey’s first 20 games, something even the great Martin Brodeur did not accomplish during his long tenure with the Devils. But, coming off a shutout of Edmonton on Friday night, Devils coach Pete DeBoer finally gave his top netminder a breather.


Final Score: Chicago 7, Edmonton 1

Jonathan Toews scored twice and Marian Hossa added a goal and three assists as the Chicago Blackhawks crushed the Edmonton Oilers, 7-1. Patrick Kane and Kris Versteeg each had a goal and an assist, while Duncan Keith and Marcus Kruger each scored a goal for the Blackhawks, who have won three straight and five of six. Corey Crawford stopped 24 shots in the win. David Perron scored the only goal of the game for the Oilers, who have lost six straight. Ben Scrivens was tagged for five goals on 13 shots in a little over one period of action, while Viktor Fasth stopped 15-of-17 shots in relief.


Final Score: Arizona 4, San Jose 3 (SO)

Antoine Vermette scored the lone goal of the shootout to lift the Arizona Coyotes to a 4-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Saturday. Vermette, Arizona’s third shooter, skated up the middle and wristed a shot off the left goal post and off the back of Antti Niemi for the win. Shane Doan finished with a goal and an assist, David Schlemko and Vermette also scored and Mikkel Boedker supplied two helpers for the Coyotes, who ended a two-game skid. Devan Dubnyk made 40 saves and stopped San Jose’s three attempts in the shootout to improve his record to 5-0-1 on the season. Joe Pavelski, Andrew Desjardins and Tommy Wingels all lit the lamp for the Sharks, who received 22 saves from Niemi.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Woods picks Chris Como as new swing coach

Tiger Woods tweeted on Saturday that he has chosen Chris Como to be his new swing coach.

“Happy to have Chris Como consulting and working with me on my swing. I’m excited to be back competing,“ Woods tweeted around noon ET Saturday.

Woods, who is coming off an injury-plagued season, parted ways with his old coach Sean Foley in August after Woods missed the cut at the PGA Championship. Foley had worked with Woods for about four years.

Como is a 36-year-old Texas native who was named one of the “best young teachers” by Golf Digest in 2013.

Woods is expected to make his return to golf on December 04 at the Hero World Challenge, which is Woods’ tournament. Woods played in just eight events last season due to back surgery and he has not competed since the PGA Championship in August.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Rosberg wins pole, Hamilton qualifies 2nd for Abu Dhabi GP

Nico Rosberg won his 11th pole position in Formula One this season after topping his Mercedes teammate and championship leader Lewis Hamilton in Saturday’s qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Rosberg beat Hamilton for the pole with a lap in 1 minute, 40.480 seconds, which was 0.386 seconds quicker than Hamilton’s lap. It was the third consecutive pole win for Rosberg and the 12th time this year that Mercedes has started 1-2 in a grand prix.

Sunday’s season-ending Abu Dhabi GP at Yas Marina Circuit will determine the F1 world championship between Hamilton and Rosberg. They are the only drivers who remain eligible for the title. Hamilton enters this 55-lap race with a 17- point lead over Rosberg, who won the most recent grand prix in Brazil two weeks ago. The Abu Dhabi GP will award double the amount of points, with the winner collecting 50, second place receiving 36 and third place 30.

Therefore, if Hamilton finishes no worse than second in this race, he will claim his second world championship, regardless if Rosberg wins the event.

If Rosberg wins and Hamilton finishes third or lower, then Rosberg will clinch his first F1 title.

“It was a great day again today, for sure, and I’m thankful to the (Mercedes team) engineers, because they did a good job with the car, and I was really happy with the setup,“ said Rosberg, who scored his 15th career F1 pole, including his first in the Abu Dhabi GP. “It all worked out well, and I got a good lap together in the end. I’m pleased with that.

“But of course, it’s only one step, a very small step, because this weekend is about the championship, not about pole position or anything.“

Hamilton posted the quickest lap in the opening and second qualifying rounds. In Q3, he had to abort his first lap when he locked up his brakes and nearly went off course. Hamilton’s last lap in Q3 was clocked in 1:40.866. He led the way in Friday’s two practice sessions, while Rosberg was fastest in final practice, held shortly before qualifying.

“I generally didn’t have the best of laps, but it was still a really good qualifying session, and I enjoyed it,“ Hamilton said. “The car was fantastic. Tomorrow will be a special day.“

Valtteri Bottas qualified third with a lap in 1:41.025, while his Williams teammate, Felipe Massa, took the fourth spot.

Red Bull drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel, the four-time world champion, placed fifth and sixth, respectively, in qualifying. This will be Vettel’s last race with Red Bull before he moves over to Ferrari for the 2015 season, replacing Fernando Alonso.

Daniel Kvyat from Toro Rosso qualified seventh, followed by McLaren’s Jenson Button. Ferrari drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Alonso completed the top-10.

This could be Button’s last race in F1, as it is widely rumored that Alonso will replace him at McLaren for next season. Button, the 2009 world champion, has been competing in F1 since 2000.

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, NOVEMBER 23, 2014


National Football League
Cleveland at Atlanta, 1:00 PM - CBS, DSS (705)
Cincinnati at Houston, 1:00 PM - CBS, DSS (707)
Jacksonville at Indianapolis, 1:00 PM - CBS, DSS (708)
Tennessee at Philadelphia, 1:00 PM - CBS, DSS (709)
Tampa Bay at Chicago, 1:00 PM - FOX, DSS (710)
Green Bay at Minnesota, 1:00 PM - FOX, DSS (711)
Detroit at New England, 1:00 PM - FOX, DSS (712)
St. Louis at San Diego, 4:05 PM - FOX, DSS (713)
Arizona at Seattle, 4:05 PM - FOX, DSS (714)
Washington at San Francisco, 4:25 PM - FOX, DSS (715)
Miami at Denver, 4:25 PM - CBS, DSS (716)
Dallas at NY Giants, 8:30 PM - NBC


National Basketball Association
LA Clippers at Memphis, 6:00 PM - FS-Prime Ticket, SportSouth, DSS
Portland at Boston, 6:00 PM - CSN-Northwest, New England, DSS
Charlotte at Miami, 6:00 PM - SportSouth, SunSports, DSS
Golden State at Oklahoma City, 7:00 PM - CSN-Bay, FS-Oklahoma, NBA TV, DSS
Denver at LA Lakers, 9:30 PM - Altitude, Time Warner, DSS


National Hockey League
St. Louis at Winnipeg, 4:30 PM - TVA, FS-Midwest, TSN3, DSS
Montreal at NY Rangers, 7:00 PM - RDS, MSG, NHL Network, DSS
Arizona at Anaheim, 8:00 PM - FS-Arizona, West, DSS
Chicago at Vancouver, 9:30 PM - CSN-Chicago, SNET-Pacific, DSS


Canadian Football League - Playoffs
Montreal at Hamilton, 1:00 PM - TSN, ESPN
Edmonton at Calgary, 4:30 PM - TSN, ESPN3.com


College Basketball
Puerto Rico Tip-Off, 11:30 AM - ESPN3.com
Massachusetts vs. Florida State, 12:00 PM - ESPN U
Charleston Classic, 1:30 PM - ESPN3.com
Texas A&M-CC at Saint Louis, 2:00 PM - FS-Midwest
Puerto Rico Tip-Off, 2:00 PM - ESPN U
Providence vs. Notre Dame, 2:30 PM - ESPN 2
Northwestern State at Oklahoma, 3:00 PM - FS-Oklahoma
Catawba at Radford, 3:00 PM - Big South Network
Charleston Classic, 3:30 PM - ESPN3.com
Newman at Wichita State, 3:00 PM - ESPN3.com
NC Central at Creighton, 4:00 PM - FS1
South Florida at NC State, 4:00 PM - ESPN U
Nicholls College at Holy Cross, 4:05 PM - Patriot League Network
Puerto Rico Tip-Off, 4:30 PM - ESPN 2
Eastern Illinois at Cincinnati, 5:00 PM - FS-Ohio, ESPN3.com, DSS
FAU at Georgia, 5:00 PM - FSN, DSS
Presbyterian at Louisiana Tech, 5:00 PM - American Sports Net, MASN
St. Francis-NY at Rutgers, 5:00 PM - Big Ten Network+
Massachusetts Lowell at Fordham, 6:00 PM - SNY
Montana State at Kentucky, 6:00 PM - SEC Network
Paradise Jam, 6:00 PM - CBSSN
USC Upstate at UCF, 6:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Puerto Rico Tip-Off, 6:30 PM - ESPN 2
Charleston Classic, 6:30 PM - ESPN U
Sacred Heart at Ohio State, 7:00 PM - Big Ten Network
Tennessee State at Vanderbilt, 7:00 PM - FSN, DSS
Mercer at Colorado State, 8:00 PM - Mountain West Network
Northern Arizona at Ole Miss, 8:00 PM - SEC Network
Pacific vs. Washington, 8:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
Hall of Fame Tip-Off, 8:00 PM - ESPN3.com
UC Irvine at St. Mary’s (CA), 9:00 PM - Comcast
Charleston Classic, 9:00 PM - ESPN 2
Paradise Jam, 9:00 PM - CBSSN
Long Beach State at UCLA, 10:00 PM - Pac-12 Network


Women’s College Basketball
Creighton at Connecticut, 1:00 PM - ESPN3.com, SNY, DSS
Georgia at Georgia Tech, 2:00 PM - ESPN3.com
San Diego State at South Carolina, 2:00 PM - SEC Network+
Toledo at Purdue, 2:00 PM - Big Ten Network+
Northwestern State at Arkansas, 3:00 PM - SEC Network+
Western Kentucky at Miss State, 3:00 PM - CBSSN
IPFW at USC Upstate, 3:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Georgetown at Kansas, 3:00 PM - Jayhawk TV, DSS
Middle Tennessee at Ole Miss, 4:00 PM - SEC Network+
Texas at UCLA, 4:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
Ave Maria at Florida Gulf Coast, 5:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Chicago State at Oakland, 6:00 PM - ESPN3.com
North Carolina at Oregon, 6:00 PM - Pac-12 Network


College Football
FCS Selection Show, 11:00 AM - ESPN U


Major League Soccer - Playoffs
New England at New York, 1:30 PM - NBC
Seattle at Los Angeles, 5:00 PM - ESPN


International Soccer
Crystal Palace vs. Liverpool, 8:00 AM - CNBC
SSC Napoli vs. Cagliari Calcio, 8:55 AM - beIN Sport
Hull vs. Tottenham, 10:55 AM - NBCSN
Levante UD vs. Valencia CF, 10:55 AM - beIN Sport
AC Milan vs. FC Internazionale Milano, 2:40 PM - beIN Sport


Golf
EUROPEAN - DP World Championship, 2:30 AM - Golf Channel
LPGA - CME Group Tour Championship, 1:30 PM - Golf Channel


Tennis
Davis Cup - Switzerland vs. France, 7:00 AM - Tennis Channel
Davis Cup - Switzerland vs. France, 10:00 AM - Tennis Channel


Auto Racing
FORMULA ONE - Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, 7:30 AM - NBCSN

Sports News   141122

The Gilmer Free Press


The Gilmer Free Press

►  High school Football Playoff Quarterfinal Results

CLASS AAA


FRIDAY, November 21 at 7:30 PM

#6 South Charleston (9-2)  24  at   #3 University (10-1)  20


SATURDAY, November 22 at 1:30 PM

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

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


SATURDAY, November 22 at 7:30 PM

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



CLASS AA


FRIDAY, November 21 at 7:30 PM

#7 Nicholas County (10-1)  20   at   #2 Frankfort (11-0)  26


SATURDAY, November 22 at 1:30 PM

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

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

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



CLASS A


FRIDAY, November 21 at 7:30 PM

#10 Buffalo (9-2)  19   at   #2 Tug Valley (10-1)  36


SATURDAY, November 22 at 1:30 PM

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

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


SATURDAY, November 22 at 7:30 PM

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



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Rams’ pass rush to target banged-up Rivers

San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers appears to be dealing with some sort of injury. Nobody on the Chargers seems all that concerned, though.

Regardless the Chargers offense hasn’t looked right the past few weeks, but will try to win two in a row for the first time since a five-game winning streak earlier in the season when they host the St. Louis Rams at Qualcomm Stadium.

San Diego snapped a three-game losing streak on Sunday, as Rivers threw a touchdown pass, Nick Novak kicked two field goals and the Chargers escaped with a 13-6 home win.

A banged-up Rivers completed 22-of-34 passes for 193 yards, and Ryan Mathews rushed for 70 yards in his first action for San Diego (6-4) since suffering a right knee injury against Seattle on September 14.

“We found a way to win, and that is what it’s all about,“ said Rivers, who was under 200 yards for the second straight week.

San Diego tight end Antonio Gates seemingly spoke out of turn after the game when he said Rivers was dealing with a rib injury. Head coach Mike McCoy downplayed any news of an injury and Gates later backpedaled on his initial statements during the week.

“I was more so pertaining to just his toughness, mentally and physically, what he’s been able to play through and how he’s always been able to lead this team,“ Gates explained.

Something is up, though, as Rivers, an MVP candidate early in the season, has looked awful the past four weeks. After averaging 303.6 yards per game with 14 scores and one pick during the five-game win streak, Rivers has posted just 197 yards in the air with six touchdowns and six picks over the last four games.

“I feel good,“ Rivers said. “Shoot, it’s part of playing this position (to) get banged up here and there. I feel as good as I could ask to feel at this point in the season. If we told you every knick and knack we ever had, it’d be a long list and things you wouldn’t care to hear about. It wouldn’t be worth reporting that, for sure. It’s not at all (something I’ve been dealing with for a while). Mainly close to that last hit in the game I got caught landing on the football. It’s nothing that’s going to linger or cause me to miss any time on the practice field (or in the game).“

St. Louis, meanwhile, got to play spoiler and stunned Denver in Week 10, as Shaun Hill returned as the starting quarterback and helped lead the Rams to a 22-7 win over Peyton Manning and the Broncos.

Hill passed for 220 yards and a touchdown and Greg Zuerlein kicked a career- high five field goals in the victory.

“Great win. As good a game as we can play,“ said head coach Jeff Fisher.

Zuerlein was named the NFC special teams player of the week for his efforts.

The defense also did its part, as the Rams sacked Manning twice, picked him off two times and held the Broncos to their lowest point total since the quarterback took the reins at the start of the 2012 campaign.

“We’re building this team and we’re on the right track and we’re moving in the right direction,“ Fisher said. “We’ve had some disappointing losses, some close losses and some things have happened but to be able to line up and play against these teams like we did, I think we’ve earned a little respect.“

The Chargers and Rams, separated for many years by just 100 miles when the Rams played in Los Angeles, have met only 10 times in the regular season. The Rams hold a 6-4 series edge and won the last meeting in 2010. San Diego hasn’t won in the series since 2006, Rivers’ first year under center for the team.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Rivers has played every game for the Chargers since being drafted and there is no reason to think he won’t be under center again on Sunday, as the Chargers go after their eighth home win in nine games.

The fiery signal caller has been terrific at home, throwing for 2,026 pass yards with 19 TDs vs. 4 INTs for 110.0 rating. He has also been thrown two or more touchdowns in seven of his past nine games overall

“Philip Rivers, I mean goodness,“ Rams linebacker James Laurinaitis said. “They run a very similar offense to what Denver does—get the ball downfield a little bit further.“

Rivers, who is closing in on 35,000 passing yards for his career, will need to be on point Sunday if he intends on resuscitating an offense that has scored just 13.5 points and 258.8 yards per game over the last four.

To show just how bad it’s been, the Chargers had managed 29.4 points and 395.8 total yards over the five-game winning streak.

Rivers’ ribs could be put to the test against one of the most ferocious front sevens in the league in St. Louis. Robert Quinn has 6.0 sacks while first round pick Aaron Donald has 4.0, accounting for 10 of the team’s 19 sacks on the year. The duo has also combined for 13 tackles for loss.

Meanwhile, linebacker Alec Ogletree has been a menace, leading the team in tackles (54), forced fumbles (3) and interceptions (2).

As for Hill, he showed no rust in his first start since the opener, as he orchestrated the Rams’ first turnover free game since Week 7.

Nobody was happier to see Hill under center than wideout Kenny Britt, who had his best day of the season, as he hauled in four catches for 128 yards. That also opened up the running game for Tre Mason, who finished with a season-best 113 yards.

“(Hill) throwing well helped the run game and us running well helped him throw,“ Mason said. “It all plays together.“

Repeating that performance may be tough, though, against a tough Chargers defense that allowed just 71 yards on the ground in the win over Oakland.

On defense, the Chargers rank No. 9 in yards per game (331.4), No. 6 against the pass (222.4 yards per game), and No. 6 in points (19.2 per game).

“We’re going up against a very talented defense—different style of defense, pressure-oriented defense,“ Fisher said. “It’s a defense that we have to become familiar with, but it’s a big-play defense. They’ve played well.“

OVERALL ANALYSIS

San Diego can deny it all it wants, but Rivers is playing hurt. He’s shown in the past he can do it, so he probably will continue to fight his way through whatever is bothering him. But, it does seem to be taking its toll. Being back in San Diego should help, as well as having a healthy Matthews behind him should take some of the burden off his shoulders. It’s kind of hard to see the Rams putting up a similar effort as they did a week ago, especially in San Diego.

Predicted outcome: San Diego 27, St. Louis 20


►  9-1 Cards face statement game in Seattle

The Arizona Cardinals may have the best record in the NFL, but head coach Bruce Arians was pretty blunt about how little that means if the team doesn’t accomplish something this season.

The NFC West-leading Cardinals look to make a statement on Sunday as they travel to the rough confines of CenturyLink Field to battle the rival Seattle Seahawks for the first time this season.

Arizona has ripped off six straight wins, its longest winning streak since 1977, to get to 9-1 on the season. That has the Cardinals three games up on both the Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers in the division standings, but Arizona has another game versus Seattle left this season and one more against the Niners.

In fact, the Cards play four of their last six games on the road and host the Seahawks on December 21 before capping the regular season in San Francisco.

Seattle has won 21 of its past 23 at home, including playoffs, but one of those losses came to a visiting Arizona team in Week 16 of last season. That 17-10 win by the Cardinals snapped the Seahawks’ 14-game win streak at CenturyLink Field and was the first career home loss for quarterback Russell Wilson.

The Cardinals are 3-3 in their last six trips to Seattle and are looking to become the first team since Atlanta in 2010-11 to beat the Seahawks on their home turf in back-to-back seasons.

Yet, despite the Cardinals’ better record, the Seahawks are largely viewed as the favorite.

“We would have anticipated that,“ said Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians. “Going up there, everybody is usually an underdog. It’s another one of those things that, we don’t really need any extra motivation, especially at there place.

“They’re the world champions. We’re just 9-1. We haven’t done (expletive). This is a big game.“

The Cardinals matched their best start in club history through 10 games with a 14-6 win over the Detroit Lions on Sunday. Drew Stanton stepped in for an injured Carson Palmer and threw touchdown passes to Michael Floyd on Arizona’s first two drives.

Stanton threw scoring passes of 42 and 12 yards to Floyd in the first nine minutes of the game.

“Drew did what we expected him to do,“ wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said of Stanton. “There was no question that he was going to go out there and play well.“

Stanton made his career-high fourth start of the season as Palmer was lost for the season due to a torn ACL in his left knee suffered the previous week. He threw for a career-high 306 yards and was also picked off twice.

Arizona has won 16 of its past 19 games dating back to last season and has won nine of its first 10 for the first time in franchise history since the Chicago-based club went 11-1 in 1948.

With two games left versus the Cardinals, the Seahawks have time to make up the three-game gap but they’ll need to quickly rebound from last Sunday’s 24-20 loss to the Kansas City Royals.

Seattle went ahead when Wilson hit tight end Tony Moeaki for a one-yard score with 23 seconds left in the third quarter, but the Chiefs quickly answered with their third rushing touchdown of the game to grab the lead for good.

Wilson connected on 20-of-32 passes for 178 yards and two touchdowns for the Seahawks (6-4), who had a three-game winning streak snapped. Wilson also carried the ball eight times for 71 yards.

“We played a good football team out there today,“ said Wilson. “It was a heart-breaking loss; we thought we could have and should have won it, but they played a great game and we played a great game. Two great NFL teams going after it in a tough environment.“

Marshawn Lynch rushed for 124 yards on 24 carries for Seattle.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

The Cardinals’ defense has masked some offensive inconsistency by holding opponents to under 300 yards in three straight games and four of the past five. Arizona also has held its opponent to 20 points or fewer in six straight and nine of 10 games this season, the lone exception a 41-20 loss in Denver back on October 5.

Arizona has gotten after the quarterback with 10 sacks in the past two games, getting at least one from seven different players, and safety Rashad Johnson pulled in the team’s 15th interception of the season versus Detroit.

The Cards rank third in points allowed per game at 17.6 and are third against the run, yielding 80.5 yards per game. They have not allowed a 100-yard rusher in 20 straight games.

Lynch will challenge that streak as he ran for 124 of his club’s 204 yards on the ground versus the Chiefs. The Pro Bowl back, who has run for nine scores and caught another three touchdown passes, has gone over 100 yards rushing in back-to-back games after being held under the mark in seven straight.

Arizona, which is tied for second in the NFL with a plus-11 turnover ratio, may need its defense to step up again with Fitzgerald possibly being forced to miss this game due to a knee injury. The 31-year-old leads the club with 46 catches and 658 yards, and last weekend became the second-youngest receiver behind Randy Moss to reach 12,000 career yards.

Fitzgerald, though, was unable to practice on Wednesday.

“It is a little bit iffy because he’s a little bit sorer than I thought he would be,“ Arians told Arizona’s website. “We knew he would be. Hopefully it’ll loosen up as the week goes on.“

Arizona’s offense thrives on not turning the ball over, but Seattle is in line to get middle linebacker Bobby Wagner back this weekend. He had missed the last five games with a torn ligament in his toe, but returned to practice.

Wagner’s availability would allow K.J. Wright to slide back to weak-side linebacker. Wright leads Seattle with 75 tackles and Wagner is still fourth on the club with 50.

“I’m glad he’s back,“ Wright told Seattle’s website of Wagner. “I believe he was definitely headed toward a Pro Bowl year, the way he was playing, all those packages he’s good in.“

The Seahawks did lose Pro Bowl center Max Unger for possibly the next 3-to-4 weeks due to a sprained ankle, but offensive guard James Carpenter has a chance to return from his own ankle ailment that has held him out of the past two games.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

Expect a hard-nosed battle between these division rivals, with Seattle’s top- ranked ground attack (174.2 yards per game) trying to break through Arizona’s stingy defense.

Part of the Cardinals’ success in defending the run may come because they are giving up 263.2 ypg through the air, so Wilson should be given a chance to air it out before falling back to making plays with his feet.

Seattle ranks third in total defense and the potential absence of Fitzgerald will put a lot of pressure on Stanton and the club’s 30th-ranked ground attack. That should be all the Seahawks need in their own building to take care of business.

Predicted outcome: Seahawks 20, Cardinals 16


►  Browns set to welcome Gordon back, face Falcons

Guess who’s back, back again?

Josh Gordon’s back, tell a friend.

In words similar to Eminem’s hit “Without Me,“ the Cleveland Browns will welcome back the talented wide receiver this week after he served a 10-game, league-imposed suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy.

It may have felt empty without Gordon, but he will be back with the Browns when they visit the Atlanta Falcons Sunday at the Georgia Dome.

“Obviously Josh is a phenomenal player ... set records last year with only 14 games, so I think everybody has high expectations for him,“ Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer said.

Gordon, who has stirred up controversy the past few months and was limited during his ban to strength and conditioning work at the team’s facility, had his suspension reduced in September after the NFL and the NFL Players Association introduced the finalized agreement to changes in their substance abuse and performance enhancing substances policies.

“I just want to display some hard work and effort, not only me but try to get that atmosphere throughout the rest of the team and have us be in a position that the city of Cleveland hasn’t been in a long time,“ Gordon said.

Cavaliers superstar LeBron James is trying to beat Gordon to that.

Beset by off-the-field problems since his college days, Gordon led the NFL with 1,646 yards on 87 catches during a breakout campaign last season, setting Browns season records for receiving yards and 100-yard receiving games (7) as well as a new NFL mark for most yards receiving over a four-game stretch (774).

While many believe the return of Gordon will inject life back into Cleveland, Hoyer said to let things fall into place.

“I think the biggest thing I can tell you guys is look, we all know what Josh is capable of, but let’s not put all this pressure on him that he’s going to be this savior,“ Hoyer said. “We all have to play better on offense. We have to be more consistent.“

Hoyer and the Browns are coming off Sunday’s 23-7 home loss to the Houston Texans. The Browns had won three straight and five of six games, but are still in the hunt for an AFC North title at 6-4. Pittsburgh is on the bye this week and sits atop the division at 7-4. Cincinnati is next with a 6-3-1 record and both the Browns and Baltimore are even.

Browns leading receiver Andrew Hawkins (601 yards, 2 TD) said he “can’t wait” to have Gordon back even though he may not get as many targets. Head coach Mike Pettine is taking a cautionary approach.

“Josh is an elite receiver, he’s proven that, but you have to be very smart with how you handle him,“ Pettine said. “We really won’t know until the week goes on where he is mentally, where he is physically, how ready he is, how he’ll be able to contribute to our offense ... We have to understand the circumstances.“

The Browns were decent enough on offense without Gordon, but came up empty versus the Texans. Now they’re scheduled to play two straight and four of the last six games away from home, starting Sunday against a dangerous Falcons team inside the Georgia Dome.

“The meaningful games come at the end of November and December,“ said Hoyer, who is 9-4 in 13 starts with Cleveland.

Atlanta finally found success on the road in back-to-back wins at Tampa Bay and Carolina, and will try to stop a two-game home losing streak Sunday.

The Falcons squeezed out a 19-17 win over the NFC South-rival Panthers last weekend, as Matt Bryant nailed a 44-yard field goal with about two minutes remaining in the game after Carolina stormed back behind two touchdown passes from Cam Newton.

Matt Ryan passed for 268 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions for the Falcons, who are tied with New Orleans for the division lead at 4-6.

“It’s been a different year for sure, but you play to be relevant in November and December,“ said Ryan. “I think we’ve played pretty effective football and I think things are starting to come together here.“

Ryan led the Falcons on a 12-play, 54-yard drive to set up Bryant’s field goal and completed five passes for 43 yards during the march. Ryan also led the Falcons on a game-winning drive against the Buccaneers.

The Falcons will have to get by without all-purpose back Antone Smith after he suffered a broken leg against Carolina. Smith had two rushing scores and three receiving TDs this season. Also, starting cornerback Robert Alford is expected to miss a few week because of a wrist injury. Robert McClain is expected to fill the void in the defensive backfield.

“I think Robert’s got some experience over the last couple years. Last year with us, he ended up playing our nickel; he’s going to now have to step in, for a short period of time, and play the corner position,“ Falcons head coach Mike Smith said. “Robert’s an experienced guy that studies the game extremely hard, and we anticipate that he’ll go out there and get the job done.“

Alford and safety Kemal Ishmael have three interceptions apiece this season.

The Brown have dominated Atlanta all-time to the tune of 10-3, but lost the previous meeting by a 20-10 score on October 10, 2010. Ryan threw for 187 yards and a touchdown on 16-of-28 passing, while Roddy White caught five passes for 101 yards and a score. Falcons defensive end Kroy Biermann returned an interception for a score in that one.

Cleveland is 5-1 as the guest against the Falcons.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

The Falcons are last in passing yards allowed at 281.2 yards per game and managed to survive against Carolina. Panthers rookie wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin had 109 yards and a touchdown on nine catches, while tight end Greg Olsen finished with 61 yards.

With Gordon’s return to the Browns and the Falcons minus a starting defensive back, Smith was asked if he thinks the receiver will be up to speed.

“Absolutely I do. They’ve stated that they want to get him out on the field as quickly as possible,“ Smith said. “He’s a game changer; he’s a guy that with ball in his hands he can make plays. So we’re anticipating that we’re going to get a full dose of him this week.“

They’ll also get plenty of looks at Hawkins, who leads Cleveland with 45 catches. Atlanta won’t see running back Ben Tate, who was released Tuesday after reportedly not being happy with his playing time. Tate was third on the team with 333 yards, second with 106 carries and second in TDs with four.

“With all the transactions we make while constructing our roster, it will always be our intent to do what is best for our football team,“ Browns general manager Ray Farmer said in a statement on the club’s website. “This move is no different and we wish Ben the best going forward.“

Terrence West leads the Browns with 408 yards on 112 carries and three scores, while Isaiah Crowell has a team-best five rushing scores and 358 yards on 78 touches. The Falcons are 24th in rushing yards allowed (122.2). Cleveland registered just 58 yards on the ground last week versus Houston.

The Browns will be without two defensive stars in inside linebacker and leading tackler Karlos Dansby (73 tackles, 3 sacks) and outside LB Jabaal Sheard (36 tackles, 2 sacks). Dansby is expected to miss about a month of action with a knee injury sustained versus the Texans.

Pettine said it’s a shame to lose Dansby because of his leadership both on and off the field, and for how well he’d been playing in recent weeks. His intensity, energy and leadership will be missed for a few weeks. Craig Robertson is expected to step in for Dansby and call defensive plays, a tough job for anyone in this league.

“The guys love Craig. They love him,“ Browns defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil said. “He’s a guy that brings it every day. I love his energy.“

Sheard is most likely done for the season with an injured bone in his foot. Barkevious Mingo played alongside sack leader (6) Paul Kruger against the Texans and will take over for Sheard. Mingo has 29 tackles and one sack this season and posted seven stops Sunday.

The Browns will have their hands full defensively against Falcons running back Steven Jackson and a host of others. They are 30th in run defense, allowing 142.1 yards per game. Cleveland is solid against the pass, giving up 230.2 yards per game, and has two players with at least four INTs: Tashaun Gipson (6) and Buster Skrine (4).

Don’t forget about Joe Haden or Donte Whitner either.

Atlanta has Julio Jones and White to test Cleveland’s secondary. White surpassed the 10,000-yard receiving mark and is one touchdown shy of tying Michael Turner (61) for the franchise record.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

Sunday’s game has big playoff implications for both the Falcons and Browns, but it’s especially vital for the visitors. Atlanta can still lose and have life for a division title. A Cleveland loss in the jumbled AFC North creates an uncomfortable issue for Pettine’s team.

The Falcons, though, won’t lose Sunday and will win another close one behind “Matty Ice.“ Ryan has led Atlanta to back-to-back road wins and will be in his own sandbox Sunday, as he sports a 38-11 record at the Dome. He is 17-9 in his career against the AFC.

“Our goal was to go to Carolina and get the win; we were able to get that accomplished,“ Smith said. “It was hard fought, there’s a lot of football to be played, but we are aware of where we are. Our goal is to continue to improve. We’ve got some young guys that started getting significant playing time at different positions across the board. I think that they’re improving. I think everybody’s aware of what we need to do this week.“

Predicted outcome: Falcons 26, Browns 21


►  Giants try to play spoiler against rival Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys had the fortunate chance to visit London before getting rest and relaxation on the recent bye week.

The party is over and it’s back to work for the Cowboys Sunday night at MetLife Stadium versus the NFC East-rival New York Giants.

The Cowboys are tied with Philadelphia atop the division standings with an identical 7-3 record and easily disposed of the Jacksonville Jaguars in England on November 9. The victory ended a two-game slide for Dallas and gave America’s Team something to smile about during their lengthy time away.

Now it’s time to prepare for a possible playoff run and improve.

“Coach (Jason) Garrett said it, but I think our team understands it ... we got out of it (bye) at 7-3, but there’s so much we can get better,“ Cowboys tight end Jason Witten said. “We used the bye week to evaluate and kind of self- scout ourselves, and then we go into it and take it one game at a time.“

Dallas has a challenging schedule ahead with New York on the docket. The Cowboys will not sleep on the Giants with two upcoming games against the Eagles over a three-week stretch. Chicago is mixed in between a Thanksgiving affair and a trip to Philly on December 14.

Witten discussed further what Dallas’ mindset will be.

“You can’t look past New York, and the focus has to be on that. There’s been times I felt like we were going to be great in December, and we didn’t play well,“ Witten said.

The Cowboys’ offense was deadly most of the time before the bye and sits second in rushing yards (153.2 ypg) thanks to DeMarco Murray. The Cowboys are sixth in total offense (387.5 ypg) and seventh in points scored (26.1), but Murray has been the leader on offense.

Murray ran for 100 yards against the Jaguars and has reached the century mark nine times already this season. Murray and Texans running back Arian Foster are tied with seven rushing touchdowns apiece, while the former hasn’t carried the football more than 19 times in the past three games.

Murray, the only player in NFL history with at least 100 rushing yards in nine of his team’s first 10 games to begin a season, is first in the NFL in rushing yards (1,233) and yards per game (123.3) and isn’t worried about cold weather possibly slowing him down.

“In this part of the year, you know it’s cold, the weather, so I think the running is going to be a little bit more of a factor,“ Murray said. “It’s good ... we’ve got a strong offensive line, we’ve got some backs who can run and also we’ve got a lot of guys on the edge who can go up and get the ball. It’s going to be huge for us.“

Either way, Murray’s ready and opponents beware.

“I’m ready. I’m ready to go,“ said Murray, who has rushed for 431 yards and a score in the past four meetings with the Giants. “Like I said before, whatever they ask me to do, I’m going to do it times 10. It’s going to be an exciting next couple weeks for us.“

The last couple of weeks have been far from exciting for Eli Manning and the Giants as evidenced by five straight losses. The Giants were 3-2 at one point, but now the wheels are beginning to fall off.

Manning did not put the Giants in position to win in Sunday’s 16-10 loss to San Francisco in their own backyard, throwing five interceptions. He has been picked off six times the last two games after not throwing an INT in each of the previous four games.

“I think our concern is try to get a win. After the run we had, just get a win, and get some positive energy, and feel excited about what we are doing,“ Manning said. “It will be a great opportunity against a division rival, and a team we played. We played them tough last time. I think there are still some things that I thought we made some improvement in areas this weekend, kind of regressed in some others. We’ve just got to put it all together and try to get a win this weekend against the Cowboys.“

Giants head coach Tom Coughlin said it was a good week of preparation for the 49ers and was pleased with the defense for how badly it played in previous weeks. The defense has struggled and is 22nd against the pass (252.7 ypg), 26th in points allowed (26.3), 31st in total yards allowed (397.7 ypg) and dead last in rushing yards (145.0).

Frank Gore ran for 95 yards on 19 carries for San Francisco.

New York is winless in its last two home games and welcomed back its leading rusher, Rashad Jennings, versus the ‘Niners. Jennings saw his first action since October 5 because of balky knee and posted 59 yards on 18 carries. He missed the first meeting with Dallas and is excited for Sunday.

“Yeah, I missed the last one,“ Jennings said. “So yeah, the first one, I am excited.“

Jennings said he felt good after being out for some time.

“Well, I don’t develop rust because I am always moving; it was just a matter of fine tuning,“ Jennings said.

New York dropped a 31-21 decision in Dallas on October 19. Manning threw for 248 yards and three scores, while rookie wideout Odell Beckham Jr. caught two of those TD passes. Murray rumbled for 128 yards and a score on 28 carries for a Dallas offense that racked up 423 total yards.

Manning (247) needs one TD to surpass Boomer Esiason (247) for 16th place on the NFL all-time career passing touchdowns list. He should easily get that against a Dallas defense that is 14th against the pass (239.8 ypg).

The Cowboys lead the all-time series with New York by a 60-42-2 advantage and have won three straight and four of the last five meetings in the series.

“Every week, it’s a new challenge,“ Jennings said. “This is a division game and they’re a team that’s playing well. We are excited for this next challenge.“

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

The Giants are fifth in the NFL with 13 interceptions. Prince Amukamara, Antrel Rolle and Quintin Demps are tied for the team-lead with three, but Amukamara is on injured reserve (biceps).

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has one INT and is questionable Sunday.

Dallas quarterback Tony Romo passed for 279 yards with three touchdowns and one interception in the first meeting with the G-men and has won the last three meetings against them. Romo is 7-1 in his last eight starts overall.

Look for Romo to try and establish a rhythm early with talented wideout Dez Bryant. Bryant hauled in nine passes for 151 yards against New York and had similar numbers before the bye against Jacksonville with 158 yards and two TDs on six receptions. Bryant has scored a touchdown in each of the past three games (4 total) and owns eight this season.

Bryant and Witten are always tough to defend. Witten has found the end zone four times in the last three matchups in this series.

Giants middle linebacker Jameel McClain has been a tackling monster the past two weeks. He had 12 stops in the loss at Seattle, then made 14 tackles at home versus San Francisco. McClain said the Giants have to move on from their recent losses and get prepared for a tough Dallas team.

“The mentality is, in reality in this game, you get can opportunity to lick your wounds at this point and this is what we get within this day,“ McClain said Sunday. “To absorb what happened and to see how we can get better, that is the mentality right now. We know we all have got to and play a great game, regardless. Next time is the next time, and we’ve got to go in and put in a great effort and come out with a win.“

Giants defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins (calf) and linebacker Jacquian Williams (concussion) did not practice and their status Sunday is unknown. Defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka (knee) is also on the infirmary list.

Coughlin said he believes Manning will “bounce back” and have a “good game” versus the Cowboys. The same cannot be said for the offensive line. Right tackle Justin Pugh (quad) is dealing with injury and Charles Brown played poorly in his place Sunday, according to Coughlin.

Jennings will have more reps this week and could surprise the Cowboys because they haven’t faced him yet this season. The rookie Beckham has 21 receptions for 357 yards in his last three games. Beckham, wide receiver Rueben Randle and tight end Larry Donnell will have to match Bryant and Witten. Donnell will put his size and athleticism to the test and had seven catches for a career- high 90 yards versus the Cowboys in Week 7.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell could be counting down his days of employment and maybe DE Jason Pierre-Paul can help bail him out. JPP has recorded seven sacks in the last seven games in this series and had two in the first encounter.

Kiwanuka and sack leader Robert Ayers could have an impact on the outcome.

But even if they do, it won’t be enough to slow down Murray and the Cowboys, who have to keep pace with the Eagles in the NFC East. Philadelphia should have an easy time with 2-8 Tennessee visiting Lincoln Financial Field.

The Cowboys will have their own party up I-95.

Predicted outcome: Cowboys 28, Giants 17


►  Falcons sign LB James Anderson

The Atlanta Falcons signed veteran linebacker James Anderson on Thursday.

Anderson, 31, was released by the Tennessee Titans on Tuesday after registering five tackles in seven games this season.

The Virginia Tech product has totaled 561 tackles, 12 sacks and three interceptions in 117 career games with Carolina, Chicago and Tennessee.


►  Eagles’ McCoy hopes for breakout game against Titans

After studying film on the Tennessee Titans, Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy said their defense is blockable.

Whether that was knock on his offensive line is another story, but the film doesn’t lie. McCoy saw the Pittsburgh Steelers open holes and create running lanes for Le’Veon Bell, who rumbled for 204 yards and a touchdown on 33 carries in a Monday night win.

McCoy hasn’t had more than 24 carries in a game this season and will try to prove the naysayers wrong Sunday versus Tennessee at Lincoln Financial Field.

After leading the NFL in rushing last season with 1,607 yards and 5.1 yards per carry, McCoy has been a hot topic for criticism for down numbers in 2014. But, he still has 729 yards and only two touchdowns, and was asked if he is the same player from years past.

“I’m not going to address, ‘Am I the same player?‘ I won’t address that. For what? What are we talking about, am I the same player? That’s for y’all to figure out. You crazy? Am I the same player? I am the same player,“ McCoy said this week.

Well, McCoy hasn’t looked like the same player probably because defenses are loading up and forcing the Eagles to beat them through the air. McCoy had only 19 yards on 12 carries in a blowout win versus Carolina, then managed to post 88 yards on 23 carries in last Sunday’s lopsided 53-20 loss in Green Bay.

“It’s the same way when we win,“ McCoy said. “When you win, you celebrate, enjoy the win, and then you have to get past it. This season is all about the next week ... We lose to a good team, we come back, we prepare and get ready for the next week.“

Darren Sproles was brought over to take the load off McCoy and had only 21 yards on two carries Sunday. Sproles, who’s a dangerous weapon in the return game, hasn’t had more than seven carries in a game since posting 11 in Week 1. He needs to be more involved in the run game to make the Eagles more balanced and dangerous. McCoy and Sproles are rarely on the field at the same time.

The Titans are 31st against the run (143.5 ypg), while the Eagles are averaging 114.2 ypg rushing.

Mark Sanchez made his second start for the Eagles and didn’t play as sharp as he did versus the Panthers. Sanchez was picked off twice and one interception was returned 52 yards for a touchdown by Julius Peppers. Sanchez also fumbled a bad snap and it was returned 49 yards for a score by Casey Hayward. When the frost settled at a chilly Lambeau Field, Sanchez finished 26-of-44 passing for 346 yards.

“I know for sure that this team won’t quit,“ Sanchez said, “and that’s going to be important, because down the stretch here we’re going to need to fight to the finish and come back and get a great win next week.“

The Eagles entered Lambeau having won two straight and four of five games.

Philadelphia is favored to win Sunday and 5-0 at home, but has a gauntlet to go through afterward with two games against Dallas sandwiched around a meeting with Seattle. The Eagles, who have won nine straight regular season games at home and are tied with the Cowboys atop the NFC East with identical 7-3 records, will close the season with road games in Washington and New York.

Tennessee enters the City of Brotherly Love riding a four-game losing streak and fell to 2-8 after Monday’s 27-24 home loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Bell ran all over the Titans, who blew a 24-13 lead by allowing 14 points in the fourth quarter.

Titans rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger connected on 15-of-24 passes for 263 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, while fellow rookie Bishop Sankey carried the ball 11 times for 38 yards and a score.

“We feel very close,“ Mettenberger said. “We’re not doing enough to win football games. That’s the bottom line and the most important thing. But rookie running back, rookie left tackle, rookie quarterback, rookie middle linebacker. We’re doing a lot of good things.“

The Titans have a short week to prepare for the Eagles and should expect an aerial show. They are strong against the pass this season, sitting ninth with 226.9 yards allowed. Cornerback Jason McCourty leads the team with three interceptions, while free safety Michael Griffin and linebacker Wesley Woodyard have two picks apiece.

Look for Tennessee to try and force Sanchez into making poor reads and errant throws. Tennessee is sixth in sacks with 29.0 this season and defensive tackle Jurrell Casey boasts a team-high four. Titans linebacker Avery Williamson had two of the Titans’ five sacks of Pittsburgh.

Eagles head coach Chip Kelly is not taking the Titans lightly.

“I think the one thing everybody in this building comes away with is how hard Tennessee plays,“ Kelly said. “I think they’re a tough, hard-nosed physical team. They’ve got some very good players on the defensive side of the ball. I think they’ve got a very aggressive attack and scheme that (defensive coordinator) Ray (Horton) put them in. We know it’s going to be a heck of a game on Sunday.“

The Titans have won four in a row against the Eagles and trail the all-time series by a 4-6 count. They destroyed Philadelphia, 37-19, the last time the teams met on October 24, 2010 in Nashville, where McCoy ran for 48 yards and had 54 receiving. Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin had five catches for 42 yards. Maclin and improving rookie wideout Jordan Matthews hope to have a big day Sunday.

Tennessee’s only visit to Lincoln Financial Field on November 19, 2006 resulted in a 31-13 rout. Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt is 3-1 against the Eagles, including the playoffs.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

The Eagles are second in sacks with 33.0, but only managed one (Vinny Curry) against Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers had all the time in the world to pick apart Philly’s secondary, passing for 341 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions.

Rodgers even had time to chuckle during the debacle that saw Eagles cornerbacks Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher get torched early and often. That seems to be the theme even if the Eagles play well.

Philadelphia is trying to bounce back Sunday and has won the last four games directly after a loss dating back to Week 8 of last season.

“I think the biggest thing is that we’re eager to get better, to make the corrections that we need to make,“ Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins said. “We’re excited, and we’re looking forward to the opportunity to get better. We still have all the confidence in the world, we still know we’re a great team, and we’re looking forward to proving that this week.“

The Eagles are 19th against the run, but Tennessee doesn’t have much of a rushing attack. The Titans are 25th in passing (216.5 ypg), 26th in rushing (92.5 ypg), 30th in points scored (16.8 ppg) and 31st in total yards (309.0 ypg). The Titans hope to get tight end Delanie Walker (concussion) back and he leads them with 512 yards and four touchdowns.

Walker has to be cleared in order to play. Wide receiver Kendall Wright has 473 yards and four scores on a team-high 43 receptions.

Of course Mettenberger has to get them the ball. Rookie left tackle Taylor Lewan described his QB as a “savage.“ When asked to elaborate on that, Taylor responded, “Savage: A guy who doesn’t care about much and just wants to go in and do his job. He doesn’t care about whether he’s going to be popular or not ... he just wants to throw touchdowns.“

Mettenberger said he would like to get his first win out of the way.

“I’ve got to keep working,“ Mettenberger said. “I’ve yet to get a win, and really that’s the most important thing. And it’s kind of eating at me.“

Brandon Graham (4 1/2 sacks), Curry (6 sacks) and Connor Barwin (10 1/2 sacks) hope to add to their total Sunday with an inexperienced quarterback coming in on a short week. Barwin has 8 1/2 sacks in the last three games at home.

“Zach’s improving and doing a lot of good things for us,“ Whisenhunt said of his QB. “We’ve just got to continue to see him grow in that. A short week is another test for him. Going on the road into this environment is another test of seeing a defense that will bring a lot of pressure, being able to handle that. What you want to see is us win a game. That’s what we need to do.“

In injury news for the Eagles, guard Matt Tobin suffered a concussion at Green Bay and his status versus Tennessee doesn’t look good. Andre Gardner took first-team reps at guard in Tobin’s absence during practice.

“I just try to approach it the same way I approach it every week because the reality is I could play every snap but one at any position any given week so it was the same thing, but it’s been a little more concentrated work on guard,“ Gardner said.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

The cliche you are only as good as your last game doesn’t apply to the Eagles this week for three reasons: They have been tough to beat at home over a long stretch, McCoy is determined to shut everyone up and the defense is eager to get a horrible taste out of its mouth.

“I’m sure I speak for everyone in here,“ Eagles linebacker Casey Matthews said Tuesday, “when I say that Sunday can’t come fast enough.“

The same goes for the fans.

Predicted outcome: Eagles 34, Titans 14


►  Embattled RG3 turns focus to 49ers

Through his own words and thanks to some statements made by others, Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III was thrust into the spotlight this week for all the wrong reasons.

The third-year pro hopes he makes headlines for all the right reasons this Sunday when the Redskins travel west to battle the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium.

Griffin suffered a dislocated left ankle in Week 2 versus Jacksonville, causing him to miss the next six weeks of action. Washington lost the first four games without him under center, but rebounded to win two in a row behind Colt McCoy.

However, Griffin returned to action in Week 9 for a 29-26 loss in Minnesota, then struggled following a bye week in a 27-7 setback to Tampa Bay.

The former second overall pick of the 2012 draft threw for 207 yards with a 30-yard touchdown pass to running back Roy Helu Jr., but was intercepted twice in the first quarter, with one returned for a touchdown that spotted the Buccaneers an early lead.

Griffin made comments after the game about needing other guys to play well, with some thinking he was throwing his team under the bus, allegations the quarterback denied in his Twitter account. Things then went a step further on Monday when rookie head coach Jay Gruden pointed out fundamental issues Griffin was still having.

Gruden backtracked on Wednesday, faulting himself for things becoming more about Griffin than the team, noting that nobody should be singled out.

“It was a mistake on my part. After a loss like that, we’re very disappointed with the way we played,“ said the coach. “The question came up about how he played and I just answered it first thing that came to my mind. Sometimes the first thing that comes to your mind isn’t the smartest thing. It wasn’t the right thing to do on my part. Corrections should be made in-house with everybody involved.“

A toned-down Griffin deflected many of the questions he fielded on Wednesday to saying all he and the team could do is concentrate on San Francisco.

“Jay wants me to play better. I want to play better. We’re focused on San Francisco and making that happen. That’s all I have to say about that,“ said Griffin.

Washington, at 3-7, is still trying to surpass its three-win total from a season ago and is just 1-4 this year on the road, where it will play two straight.

The 49ers, meanwhile, return home after back-to-back road wins over New Orleans and the New York Giants. They followed up an overtime defeat of the Saints with a strong defensive effort that led to a 16-10 decision over the Giants.

Michael Crabtree had the lone San Francisco touchdown on a 48-yard pass from Colin Kaepernick, while the Niners defense picked off New York quarterback Eli Manning five times.

Chris Borland had two picks, including one at the goal line in the fourth quarter to thwart a late Giants threat, as the 49ers held on for their fifth victory in seven games.

“It was a spectacular performance by our defense today,“ said 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh. “So many guys stepped up and played great, living in the moment, competing like the dickens and making tremendous athletic, football plays.“

A 6-4, the Niners are tied with Seattle for second place in the NFC West, three games back of 9-1 Arizona.

The 49ers have won three straight and 11 of their last 14 versus the Redskins, including playoffs, and have gone 11-3-1 in this series all-time.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Obviously everyone will be looking to see how Griffin bounces back from a subpar game and the ensuing fallout.

Injuries have limited Griffin to 17 games since the start of last season and appears to have sapped him of his dangerous mobility as well. In his limited action this season, he has run for 89 yards on 18 carries while completing two touchdown passes with four turnovers.

Things won’t get easier this weekend, with left tackle Trent Williams questionable with a knee and ankle injury and the Redskins going up against the league’s fourth-ranked defense.

“Very tough defense. They make you earn every single thing you get,“ noted Griffin of the Niners. “They don’t give up a lot of big plays and they play with passion. So we are going to have to match that going into their house and they are not going to make it easy for us.“

San Francisco will surely try to get to RG3 early and duplicate last weekend’s success. Borland became the first rookie linebacker in team history to grab two interceptions in one game, while cornerback Chris Culliver, safety Eric Reid and linebacker Michael Wilhoite all adding interceptions.

That five-pick performance boosted San Francisco’s league-leading total to 16, and the club is limiting opposing quarterbacks to an average passer rating of 74.3 that ranks second best in the NFL.

The 49ers have had success despite not having linebacker Navarro Bowman all season due to a knee injury and fellow inside LB Patrick Willis missing time and eventually going on injured reserve because of a toe issue.

Harbaugh’s defense, though, did get Aldon Smith back after the outside linebacker finished up serving his nine-game suspension, though the added depth caused some issues versus the Giants.

Displeased with falling into a three-man rotation with Smith and rookie Aaron Lynch, linebacker Ahmad Brooks lashed out at defensive line coach Jim Tomsula in the second quarter and was benched for the remainder of the contest.

Brooks said this week that he reacted out of character, but did not pull himself out of the game. He also said he apologized to the team and Tomsula and expects to play this weekend.

“Words that were said by me obviously couldn’t be taken back,“ Brooks said. “So they decided not to put me back in the game for the remainder of the game, but we’re moving forward as a team.“

Harbaugh wouldn’t discuss Brooks’ upcoming role, saying the club never talks about scheme, but did back his linebacker while noting defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and his staff always determine playing time and rotation.

“Emotions played into it when it shouldn’t. We’ve got to overcome something like that. I trust Ahmad Brooks, believe in Ahmad Brooks. (I) know he’s going to make a vital contribution to our team has he always has,“ said Harbaugh.

“Nobody has answered the bell more than Ahmad Brooks has for this football team.“

Sunday’s matchup will feature the two running backs with the longest active starting streaks. San Francisco’s Frank Gore has started in 54 straight, followed by Washington’s Alfred Morris’ streak of 42 in a row.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

Each team is looking to overcome some distractions, but the Niners appear better prepared to overcome the adversity.

For starters, the club’s depth at linebacker makes Brooks’ role much less pronounced and easier to brush aside, while Griffin will be under the world’s eye each time he takes a snap.

And though he attempted to take the focus off his quarterback, Gruden may have gotten inside Griffin’s head with the talks of fundamentals and that isn’t good given the 49ers’ ability to get after the quarterback.

It could be another long week for the Redskins and their starting signal- caller.

Predicted outcome: 49ers 27, Redskins 16


►  Vikings move on without Peterson, host red-hot Rodgers

If Adrian Peterson was wearing purple on Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings would have been a significant underdog to the Green Bay Packers.

Without the former MVP?

Well let’s just say the high-powered Packers probably feel pretty good about their chances as the long-time rivals prepare for the latest incarnation of their “Border Battle” in Minneapolis on Sunday.

Green Bay has won two straight and six of seven overall behind its own former MVP in Aaron Rodgers, who is playing the quarterback position at an absurdly high level right now.

Rodgers, who threw six first-half touchdowns in a 55-14 Week 10 blowout of the Bears, threw for three touchdowns and 341 yards last week as the Packers improved to 5-0 at home with a 53-20 drubbing of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Green Bay is the first team since the 1950 Rams to score at least 53 points in consecutive games and is one of only six teams in history to reach the half- century mark in consecutive contests. Overall Rodgers is leading an offensive unit that is scoring an NFL-best 33.0 points per game.

“This is not easy,“ Rodgers said when asked about putting up such massive numbers. “There’s a lot of preparation that goes into it. It takes 11 guys to win, to do the job to make something like that happen.“

Eddie Lacy ran for 69 yards and a score on 10 carries and added another TD through the air against the Eagles. Randall Cobb had a game-high 129 yards on 10 catches, Jordy Nelson made four grabs for 109 yards a score and Davante Adams also hauled in a TD catch in the win.

“Very good home victory. I thought our players did an excellent job in all three phases,“ Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said. “I’ve got to figure out new ways to compliment Aaron Rodgers. He’s playing at an extremely high level.“

Peterson, meanwhile, isn’t walking through that door to save the Vikings season.

Minnesota is 4-6 after a 21-13 setback in Chicago last week, a game that dropped the Vikings to 4-6, three games behind both the Packers and Detroit Lions in the NFC North.

Peterson, the game’s best pure runner was suspended for at least the remainder of the 2014 season earlier this week for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy, a punishment stemming from the abusive discipline Peterson inflicted on his 4-year-old son last May.

Of course Paterson has been shelved since the season opener after being indicted by a grand jury in Montgomery County, Texas, on September 11 and the Vikings have moved forward with two talented rookies in their backfield, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and running back Jerick McKinnon.

“That’s the furthest thing from my mind right now,“ Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer said of the Peterson issue. “I need to figure out how we can tackle and get people out on third downs.“

“I don’t agree with it,“ cornerback Captain Munnerlyn added. “He’s missed nine games already, but, at the end of the day, the NFL came up with that decision and we have to live with it.“

Bridgewater went 18-for-28 for 158 yards with a touchdown and an interception against the Bears but threw an interception in the final minute with the Vikings trying to come back and the Soldier Field clock malfunctioning.

Charles Johnson had six catches for 87 yards to lead all Minnesota receivers while McKinnon ran it eight times for 38 yards.

“We can play much better than we did today,“ said Bridgewater. “We knew coming in that it was going to be a challenge for us because Chicago was going to have a chip on its shoulder.“

The Packers lead their all-time series with Minnesota by a 56-48-2 margin and Rodgers has dominated the Vikings over the years, winning eight of his past nine starts against them, including a 42-10 drubbing at Lambeau Field in Week 5. Bridgewater, however, missed that game with an ankle injury.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Minnesota’s only hope here is getting the Packers out of Lambeau, where they are 5-0 and have outscored opponents by a 219-85 margin while averaging 43.8 points per game. Conversely, Green Bay is 2-3 on the road and has been scoring three TDs less at 22.2 ppg.

Rodgers has generally destroyed the Vikings over the years, feasting on Minnesota’s old cover-2 philosophy. In 13 career starts against Minnesota, Rodgers has amassed 30 touchdown passes versus just four interceptions.

That was supposed to change under first- year Vikings coach Zimmer, who preaches controlled aggression with the keys being getting after the passer but doing it in a more disciplined manner, a necessity against Rodgers, who is one of the best ever at extending plays with his mobility.

It’s still a work in progress, though, and the Minnesota D reverted back to some bad habits in Chicago, enabling Jay Cutler to extend plays and get the ball down the field. If the unit does the same thing against Rodgers they might as well not show up on Sunday.

Zimmer’s finished products have had more success against Rodgers than most. The All-Pro was 0-2 against Zimmer’s defenses in Cincinnati with a less-than- stellar 57% completion percentage.

In his past two efforts this season, A-Rod has nine touchdowns without an interception and 656 passing yards, despite giving way early to backup Matt Flynn in the blowouts. Rodgers’ 120.1 passer rating leads the NFL and would be a single-season record while his 28 TDs are second in the league.

“Obviously Aaron is having a great season and has done so many things, but I think you can’t lose sight of the fact that this is a team sport,“ McCarthy said. “I just think it’s a group that’s a year better and has hit its stride a little bit.“

That group includes Nelson and Cobb, who have combined for 19 TD catches, as well as Lacy, who has rebounded nicely after a slow start, rumbling for 547 yards and five TDs. The powerful Lacy is very tough to tackle and Minnesota didn’t look all that interested in hitting last week in the cold, missing about a dozen tackles.

“Number one, especially on the defense, is you have to be able to go out and tackle pretty well,“ Vikings linebacker Jasper Brinkley said. “(Lacy) is a good back, a big back, like a battering ram. It’s going to take more than one guy to bring him down. We don’t want to leave one guy on him. He’s a tough runner.“

Veteran Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner has been very cautious with Bridgewater, really scaling down the playbook for the rookie. The safe approach has shown on the field, however, and Minnesota is 29th in passing offense and 30th in total offense, averaging just 309.1 yards per game

The team claimed veteran running back Ben Tate off waivers Wednesday a day after he was released by Cleveland and he could be thrown into the fire immediately because McKinnon is dealing with a balky back and backup Matt Asiata suffered a concussion last week.

The Packers’ defense has been helped by the fact Rodgers has been putting up two touchdowns or so in the first four of five minutes of games. That has enabled a flawed unit to play with the lead and pin its ears back to go after the opposing QB, resulting in a NFL-best plus-14 in turnover differential.

“Just being opportunistic,“ Green Bay pass rusher Julius Peppers said when discussing his defense. “Guys being in the right place at the right time and making the plays when it’s time to make them. That’s pretty much it.“

The Green Bay D is poor against the run but no one has been able to expose that weakness because opponents are usually playing the catch-up game.

“They start fast,“ Bridgewater acknowledged. “And once they get out on you, they don’t let up, so we know that we’re going to have to start fast also. ... It’s a good thing that it’s back home this week.“

OVERALL ANALYSIS

The Packers have scored 108 points in their last two games while Minnesota has a total of 90 in its last six.

If Turner continues down the path of producing tentative game plans with an intent on keeping it close and winning things in the fourth quarter (and there is no reason to think he will not), the Vikings have no chance here. Rodgers is simply too explosive for that mentality.

Predicted outcome: Packers 34, Vikings 17


►  Jets-Bills game will not be played in Buffalo

The National Football League made it official on Thursday, announcing the Buffalo Bills Week 12 game against the New York Jets will not take place at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

A new site and day/time have not been decided.

“Due to public safety concerns in light of the ongoing weather emergency in Western New York, Sunday’s Jets-Bills game will not be played in Buffalo,“ NFL spokesman Michael Signora said in a statement. “We are in the process of rescheduling and relocating the game as part of Week 12. We will provide additional information as soon as possible.

“We have been in contact with the public authorities and we realize the importance of all available public safety resources being available for the community at this difficult time. We are also in discussions with the team and the Red Cross on ways the NFL can support the community through this weather disaster.“

A ferocious lake-effect storm dumped more than five feet of snow in the Buffalo area, especially south and east of the city, where the stadium is located. Another storm is expected to drop another two feet prompting New York governor Andrew Cuomo to chime in on the situation earlier on Thursday.

“My sense is it’s impractical to do the game because it would jeopardize public safety,“ said Governor Cuomo on Thursday after spending time in the area. “Everybody would love to see a Bills game go forward, but, I think even more, everybody wants to make sure public safety comes first.

“If there’s any way we can scramble to get it done ... we’ll do everything we can to deploy resources to make it possible.“

A travel ban for the area is still in place and the Bills have yet to practice for the contest, which could be moved to a new location for Sunday, Monday or even Tuesday.


►  NFLPA officially appeals Peterson ban

As expected, the NFL Players Association has filed an appeal of Commissioner Roger Goodell’s suspension of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson for violation of the league’s personal conduct policy.

In a letter sent to the Commissioner’s office, the union accused Goodell and the NFL of denying Peterson due process by “making up the process and punishment as it goes” while calling for the case to be heard by an independent and neutral arbitrator.

Goodell announced Tuesday that Peterson will be suspended indefinitely without pay—and at least through the remainder of this season—after pleading no contest to a charge of misdemeanor reckless assault for allegedly striking his 4-year-old son with a wooden tree branch last May.

Peterson will not be considered for reinstatement prior to April 15 under the recent ruling.

In addition to questioning Goodell’s impartiality over the case, the union contested several issues with the verdict that it viewed as inconsistent with previous NFL decisions regarding the personal conduct policy.

It pointed out that no first-time offenders have served more than a two-game suspension for acts of domestic violence, with the currently on-appeal Ray Rice case the lone exception. The union also argued that since Peterson’s incident occurred in May, it should not fall under the revised personal conduct policy that the league issued in late August.

That change came as a response to a firestorm of public criticism Goodell received for initially handing the ex-Baltimore Ravens running back Rice a two-game ban for physically assaulting his future wife in an Atlantic City casino. The Commissioner later admitted he “didn’t get in right” in his handling of the Rice situation.

The union also claimed that league officials told NFLPA senior vice president Troy Vincent that Peterson would be credited for time served during the period he spent on the Commissioner’s Exempt list while his court case was ongoing.

Peterson has not played since the Vikings’ season opener on September 7, though he had been receiving his full salary while on the exempt list until Tuesday’s ruling.

The NFLPA closed the letter by demanding that Goodell recuse himself from the appeals process, saying “there is simply no way for you to impartially arbitrate Mr. Peterson’s appeal.“

“Given the intense criticism that you and the League office have faced from NFL business partners, Congress, the media, NFL fans and the public at large, and the public pronouncements and commitments you have personally made in response to this criticism, it is clear that you have, by your actions, rendered yourself evidently partial and biased in this matter,“ the letter read.

Peterson was originally charged with reckless or negligent injury to a child, but pleaded no contest to the lesser offense of misdemeanor reckless assault after his legal team worked out an agreement with the Montgomery County (Texas) district attorney. The 2012 NFL MVP avoided jail time and was placed on probation while receiving a $4,000 fine and an order to perform 80 hours of community service.


►  Jets-Bills to play Monday in Detroit

Heavy snowfall this week in the Buffalo area has forced the NFL to move Sunday’s scheduled game between the Jets and Bills to Monday night in Detroit.

The Bills will host the Jets at 7 PM ET Monday at Ford Field.

The league said Thursday in a statement announcing the decision that public safety concerns over the ongoing weather emergency in western New York led to the rescheduling.

“As mentioned earlier today, public safety resources in western New York must be fully available to deal with the recovery from the storm,“ the NFL said. “We continue our discussions with the team and the Red Cross on ways the NFL can support the community through this weather disaster.“

The league said Ford Field was available on Sunday, but the game was pushed back a day to allow the Bills as much time to practice as possible.

The Bills, who have been unable to practice this week due to the lake-effect storm that has dumped more than five feet of snow in the area, will be able to use the Lions’ practice facility starting Friday provided they can get there.

Another storm was expected dump an additional two feet of snow on the area through Friday, prompting New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to say it was “impractical” to think about having the game at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park because it would jeopardize public safety.

“Everybody would love to see a Bills game go forward, but, I think even more, everybody wants to make sure public safety comes first,“ he said.

It won’t be the first time Ford Field has been used by the NFL for a relocated game.

The Lions’ stadium hosted a 2010 game between the Giants and Vikings after the roof of the Metrodome in Minneapolis collapsed under the weight of snow.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Week 12 player fantasy rankings - quarterbacks

After his performance in Week 11, the choice is rather easy, as to be who should be our top-ranked quarterback heading into Week 12 of the NFL season.

Green Bay Packers’ signal-caller Aaron Rodgers is absolutely on fire right now and owners should expect his hand to stay hot Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings. Not only has he thrown nine touchdowns and zero interceptions over his past two games. but Rodgers has also torched Minnesota the past three times he has played them, throwing for nine scores and zero interceptions during that span. He has thrown a total of 28 touchdown passes in 2014, while tossing just three interceptions, which should lead fantasy owners to believe that Rodgers will continue to dominate the rest of the way.

Although owners felt comfortable with Indianapolis Colts’ quarterback Andrew Luck heading into the season, not many people thought he would be the top fantasy point-getter through 11 weeks. However, that is exactly what he has done (according to Yahoo), totaling 259.92 points, with the second-ranked player more than 15 points behind him. Luck has 28 touchdowns and 10 interceptions on the year, but what may be even more impressive is the fact that he has thrown for under 300 yards just once this season. Owners should continue to enjoy having him on their rosters and simply appreciate the quarterback he has so quickly become.

The quarterback who is ranked directly behind Luck is Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning. Manning has not found himself outside the top-two of our rankings very often this season, but with a tough matchup against the Miami Dolphins, we feel it is warranted. Owners need to be aware that Miami gives up the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks (14.12 points per game), with Rodgers being the only one to produce over 25 points. However, we do feel that Manning will follow in Rodgers’ footsteps, and score at least 25 points, and possibly be the first quarterback to throw for 300 yards against the Dolphins.

If any fantasy owner needs a change at the quarterback position for Week 12, Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ signal-caller Josh McCown is your guy. Since being renamed the starting quarterback entering Week 10, he has thrown for 301 yards and 288 yards, respectively, along with tossing four total touchdowns. During those two games, McCown has totaled 21.94 fantasy points and 20.32 fantasy points, respectively, and on top of that has a juicy matchup this week against the Chicago Bears. Chicago is the worst team in fantasy football against opposing quarterbacks, giving up 22.71 ppg, along with 2.4 passing touchdowns per game.

Owners who have Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger or Cam Newton on a bye or a quarterback with a tough matchup, should seriously consider McCown.

One of those quarterbacks that owners may want to consider benching on Sunday, is Atlanta Falcons’ quarterback Matt Ryan. Even with a home game this week, Ryan is still a risky play, as the team takes on the Cleveland Browns. Cleveland gives up the fifth-fewest quarterback points(15.28 ppg) and with the combination of Ryan not recording more than 17 points since Week 4, makes for a tough decision for owners. Not only has Ryan had a tough time posting 20 fantasy points in a game, he has also failed to throw for three touchdowns since Week 4 and has thrown more than one touchdown just once during that span. It may not be easy, but his owners need to look elsewhere for a quarterback for Week 12.

Top-25 Quarterback Rankings

—————————————-

1) Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay

2) Andrew Luck, Indianapolis

3) Peyton Manning, Denver

4) Drew Brees, New Orleans

5) Tom Brady, New England

6) Tony Romo, Dallas

7) Jay Cutler, Chicago

8) Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco

9) Russell Wilson, Seattle

10) Mark Sanchez, Philadelphia

11) Matthew Stafford, Detroit

12) Philip Rivers, San Diego

13) Matt Ryan, Atlanta

14) Ryan Tannehill, Miami

15) Joe Flacco, Baltimore

16) Andy Dalton, Cincinnati

17) Alex Smith, Kansas City

18) Eli Manning, New York Giants

19) Josh McCown, Tampa Bay

20) Robert Griffin III, Washington

21) Michael Vick, New York Jets

22) Kyle Orton, Buffalo

23) Ryan Mallett, Houston

24) Drew Stanton, Arizona

25) Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota


►  Week 12 player fantasy rankings - wide receivers

When a wide receiver has Green Bay Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball, there is a good chance, that wideout will be atop our fantasy rankings.

That is exactly where Jordy Nelson is, heading into Week 12 of the NFL season. According to Yahoo, he has the second-most fantasy points among wide receivers (153.8 points), trailing only Pittsburgh Steelers’ wideout Antonio Brown, and on top of that has totaled under 80 yards just three times in 2014. Nelson already has 60 catches for 998 yards and nine touchdowns this season, and with Rodgers playing lights-out football, we feel Nelson is going to continue to get even better.

The player who is the third-ranked fantasy receiver this season with 148.5 points, is Denver Broncos’ wide receiver Demaryius Thomas. He comes in as our second-ranked wideout this week, and will have potential to put up a “monster” game versus the Miami Dolphins. He’s cracked the 100-yard mark for seven consecutive games and has racked up five touchdowns during that span. Thomas actually has not scored a touchdown over the past four games, but is averaging 11.75 targets during those four weeks and we feel Week 12 will be the game he gets back into the end zone.

After dealing with the dreaded turf-toe injury earlier this season, Cincinnati Bengals’ wide receiver A.J. Green looks to be fully healthy entering Week 12. He is coming off of his best game since the season opener, recording six receptions for 127 yards and a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints. We feel that he will continue to trend up heading into a nice matchup against the Houston Texans, who give up the second-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers (27.7 points per game). Green is one of the most talented playmakers in the league, and assuming the toe injury is behind him, owners should be extremely confident moving forward.

Another player who is trending up is Chicago Bears’ receiver Brandon Marshall. After posting over 90 yards just once through the first seven games, he has recorded 112 yards and 90 yards, over the past two games, respectively. On top of that, Marshall has also scored three times during that span, after having only four touchdowns entering Week 10. He should keep rolling along with a favorable matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who give up the most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers (30.46 ppg).

The last guy in our rankings we want look at is Cleveland Browns’ wide receiver Josh Gordon. He is officially finished serving his 10-game suspension, and will make his season-debut Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons. We have him ranked as our 26th receiver, as a result of the uncertainty he provides. It is hard to predict the role he will play in his first game back, but owners need remember how dynamic he was last season, with 87 receptions for league-leading 1,646 yards and nine touchdowns. His opponent, the Falcons give up the ninth-most fantasy points to opposing receivers (24.79 ppg), giving Gordon a good chance to start his season off on the right foot. If he does, he could easily catapult into the top-10 for our Week 13 rankings.

Top-50 Wide Receiver Rankings

——————————————-

1) Jordy Nelson, Green Bay

2) Demaryius Thomas, Denver

3) A.J. Green, Cincinnati

4) Dez Bryant, Dallas

5) Calvin Johnson, Detroit

6) Randall Cobb, Green Bay

7) Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia

8) Brandon Marshall, Chicago

9) Emmanuel Sanders, Denver

10) Julio Jones, Atlanta

11) T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis

12) Alshon Jeffery, Chicago

13) Mike Evans, Tampa Bay

14) DeSean Jackson, Washington

15) Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants

16) DeAndre Hopkins, Houston

17) Golden Tate, Detroit

18) Jordan Matthews, Philadelphia

19) Julian Edelman, New England

20) Andre Johnson, Houston

21) Roddy White, Atlanta

22) Sammy Watkins, Buffalo

23) Mike Wallace, Miami

24) Anquan Boldin, San Francisco

25) Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona

26) Josh Gordon, Cleveland

27) Brandon LaFell, New England

28) Mohamed Sanu, Cincinnati

29) Torrey Smith, Baltimore

30) Keenan Allen, San Diego

31) Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay

32) Doug Baldwin, Seattle

33) Pierre Garcon, Washington

34) Michael Crabtree, San Francisco

35) Percy Harvin, Seattle

36) Marques Colston, New Orleans

37) Kenny Britt, St. Louis

38) Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis

39) Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City

40) Steve Smith, Baltimore

41) Michael Floyd, Arizona

42) Eric Decker, New York Jets

43) Kendall Wright, Tennessee

44) Reuben Randle, New York Giants

45) Cecil Shorts, Jacksonville

46) John Brown, Arizona

47) Cordarrelle Patterson, Minnesota

48) Terrance Williams, Dallas

49) Davante Adams, Green Bay

50) Greg Jennings, Minnesota


►  Week 12 player fantasy rankings - running backs

It took over half the season, but rookie Jeremy Hill is making his impact on fantasy football and is even exceeding preseason expectations.

Since taking over as the starting running back for the Bengals three weeks ago, Hill has amassed 361 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Fellow running back Giovani Bernard has returned to practice, so he looks to take some touches away from Hill this week, but we expect Hill to remain the featured back until Bernard has completely recovered from his rib injury.

Bernard is lethal in the passing game, so he may become the “Shane Vereen” of the Cincinnati offense. Expect him to play more then Hill on third down and in other passing situations.

Speaking of Vereen, in light of fellow running back Jonas Gray’s career night versus the Colts, Vereen had just five touches. He did, however, gain 77 yards with those touches. It’s anybody’s guess who Bill Belichick will feature in the backfield from week-to-week, but in theory, Vereen should out-touch Gray in Week 12 against the Lions. Detroit has the top rushing defense in the league (68.8 ypg), and Vereen is better than Gray in pass blocking and pass catching.

Andre Ellington’s yards per rush has plummeted to 1.76 per carry over the last two weeks, but he remains an RB1 option because of his workload. Despite his preseason foot injury, Ellington has averaged nearly 23 touches per game and will continue to be the workhorse back in Arizona.

There is no workhorse back in Denver as the team has moved on to its third starting running back because of injury. Montee Ball returned last week only to re-injury his groin, so C.J. Anderson will start once again. He did not rush well against the Rams, going for 29 yards on nine carries, but he added 86 yards on eight catches.

Whomever starts at running back for the Denver Broncos, the second highest- scoring offense prior to last week’s debacle in St. Louis, needs to be in starting lineups.

It’s put-up or shut-up time for Trent Richardson. The Colts lost Ahmad Bradshaw to a broken leg, so Richardson has the backfield to himself. If owners have no confidence in Richardson, his backup is Dan Herron.

Top-50 Running Back Rankings

——————————————

1) DeMarco Murray, Dallas

2) Jamaal Charles, Kansas City

3) Matt Forte, Chicago

4) Eddie Lacy, Green Bay

5) Arian Foster, Houston

6) LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia

7) Marshawn Lynch, Seattle

8) Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati

9) Justin Forsett, Baltimore

10) Andre Ellington, Arizona

11) Alfred Morris, Washington

12) C.J. Anderson, Denver

13) Mark Ingram, New Orleans

14) Joique Bell, Detroit

15) Denard Robinson, Jacksonville

16) Frank Gore, San Francisco

17) Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati

18) Rashad Jennings, New York Giants

19) Trent Richardson, Indianapolis

20) Isaiah Crowell, Cleveland

21) Lamar Miller, Miami

22) Jerick McKinnon, Minnesota

23) Shane Vereen, New England

24) Ryan Mathews, San Diego

25) Chris Ivory, New York Jets

26) Darren Sproles, Philadelphia

27) Terrance West, Cleveland

28) Reggie Bush, Detroit

29) Tre Mason, St. Louis

30) Fred Jackson, Buffalo

31) Bishop Sankey, Tennessee

32) Knile Davis, Kansas City

33) Alfred Blue, Houston

34) Theo Riddick, Detroit

35) Jonas Gray, New England

36) Steven Jackson, Atlanta

37) Matt Asiata, Minnesota

38) Benny Cunningham, St. Louis

39) Charles Sims, Tampa Bay

40) Juwan Thompson, Denver

41) Carlos Hyde, San Francisco

42) Branden Oliver, San Diego

43) Roy Helu, Washington

44) Bryce Brown, Buffalo

45) Bobby Rainey, Tampa Bay

46) James Starks, Green Bay

47) Dan Herron, Indianapolis

48) Lorenzo Taliaferro, Baltimore

49) Joseph Randle, Dallas

50) Darren McFadden, Oakland


►  Week 12 player fantasy rankings - tight ends

The tight end position has remained pretty much the same all season with Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham and Julius Thomas taking the top-three ranking spots nearly every weekend.

The only question owners with those players need to ask is are they healthy?

This week, it’s Thomas who is a little banged up with an ankle injury. He did not practice on Wednesday, but if he plays, he has too much upside to not start. If he sits, Jacob Tamme is an average replacement only because of Peyton Manning. Tamme, however, still did not make our top-25 rankings as we expect Thomas to be active.

Gronkowski is as healthy as ever, and last Sunday Graham played his highest amount of snaps since Week 4. Drew Brees will likely force the ball to Graham even more without Brandin Cooks for the next few weeks.

Larry Donnell and Jason Witten, whose teams are facing each other, have great matchups this week. The Cowboys allow the fourth-most fantasy points to tight ends, and the Giants yield the eighth-most.

Coby Fleener is a great waiver wire pickup this week with regular starter Dwayne Allen likely out due to a high-ankle sprain. Fleener caught seven passes for 144 yards last week after Allen left the game with his injury.

Vernon Davis continues to be one of the biggest fantasy busts of the 2014 season. He has a total of four catches for 34 yards in his last three games. Davis has 18 catches for 176 yards over the entire season and his two touchdowns came in Week 1. Fantasy owners who have Davis should look elsewhere for a starting fantasy tight end.

Top-25 Tight End Rankings

————————————-

1) Rob Gronkowski, New England

2) Jimmy Graham, New Orleans

3) Julius Thomas, Denver

4) Larry Donnell, New York Giants

5) Charles Clay, Miami

6) Jason Witten, Dallas

7) Martellus Bennett, Chicago

8) Antonio Gates, San Diego

9) Travis Kelce, Kansas City

10) Coby Fleener, Indianapolis

11) Delanie Walker, Tennessee

12) Scott Chandler, Buffalo

13) Zach Ertz, Philadelphia

14) Mychal Rivera, Oakland

15) Owen Daniels, Baltimore

16) Gavin Escobar, Dallas

17) Eric Ebron, Detroit

18) Niles Paul, Washington

19) Luke Wilson, Seattle

20) Vernon Davis, San Francisco

21) Jared Cook, St. Louis

22) Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati

23) Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Tampa Bay

24) Tim Wright, New England

25) Jace Amaro, New York Jets


►  Week 12 player fantasy rankings - kickers

Week 12 is going to be one of those weekends where weather is a major factor in choosing your place-kicker.

It didn’t matter much in September when the weather was nice for most of the country, but in this middle of November weekend it’s going to be the most important factor.

Early indications are that there will be some type of precipitation in Buffalo, Chicago, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Seattle and New York.

The obviously first choice, therefore, is to have your kicker playing in the comfort of a temperature-controlled domed stadium.

We’ve chosen Indianapolis kicker Adam Vinatieri as our top choice. The “ageless wonder” has yet to miss a kick this season going 22-for-22 on field goal attempts and hitting all 34 extra points. Playing against a Jaguars team that is yielding 28.2 ppg, Vinatieri should see plenty of opportunities.

The league’s top-scoring kicker is Stephen Gostkowski, who leads the NFL with 24 made field goals, and in fantasy points with 118. He’ll slot in just behind Vinatieri.

Matt Bryant of Atlanta jumps up to the No. 3 spot after going 4-of-4 on field goal attempts in each of the last two games and playing in the kicker-friendly confines of the Georgia Dome Sunday.

Baltimore’s Justin Tucker and Dallas’ Dan Bailey complete the top-five.

Tucker will also be kicking in a dome, in New Orleans on Monday night. He’s never missed a kick indoors in his three NFL season.

We would recommend staying away from both Dan Carpenter and Nick Folk as the obscene amount of snowfall in the Buffalo area over the past few days means we can’t be sure the field will be in good, or even passable, condition for the kicking game.

Top-25 Kicker Rankings

———————————

1) Adam Vinatieri, Indianapolis

2) Stephen Gostkowski, New England

3) Matt Bryant, Atlanta

4) Justin Tucker, Baltimore

5) Dan Bailey, Dallas

6) Cody Parkey, Philadelphia

7) Caleb Sturgis, Miami

8) Mason Crosby, Green Bay

9) Brandon McManus, Denver

10) Steven Hauschka, Seattle

11) Billy Cundiff, Cleveland

12) Cairo Santos, Kansas City

13) Chandler Catanzaro, Arizona

14) Shayne Graham, New Orleans

15) Josh Scobee, Jacksonville

16) Nick Novak, San Diego

17) Blair Walsh, Minnesota

18) Phil Dawson, San Francisco

19) Matt Prater, Detroit

20) Josh Brown, New York Giants

21) Randy Bullock, Houston

22) Patrick Murray, Tampa Bay

23) Mike Nugent, Cincinnati

24) Greg Zuerlein, St. Louis

25) Dan Carpenter, Buffalo


►  Week 12 player fantasy rankings - defense

It’s about respect. Two teams that have been at or near the top of the fantasy defense rankings all season long, will not be in the top-20 in Week 12.

That’s because we have a very healthy respect for what Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are doing on the football field this season.

Manning and his Broncos host the Miami Dolphins Sunday afternoon. Despite the Dolphins ranking fourth in points allowed (18 ppg) and second in passing yards (208 ypg) they face what some might call an impossible task - slowing down the Broncos offense in Denver. Denver is averaging 29.3 ppg, but coming off an embarrassing loss to St. Louis in which they scored just seven points and should be fired up.

Detroit’s top-ranked defense has an equally tough task. They head to Gillette Stadium in Foxborough to face red-hot Tom Brady and the high-scoring Patriots. Since the watershed loss to Kansas City in Week 4, the Patriots offense has averaged 40.5 ppg. Even worse news for a Lions defense that is only yielding 15.6 ppg, the Patriots found a running game last weekend to go along with Brady’s passing ability. You will have to scan all the way down to No. 22 to find the Lions defense in Week 12.

We have chosen Kansas City for our No. 1 spot in Week 12. They bring their second-ranked defense (17.1 ppg) against a horrible Oakland Raiders offense that is averaging a league-worst 15.2 ppg. Oakland has turned the ball over 20 times and that trend is likely to continue.

Off their three-touchdown game against Philadelphia, the Green Bay Packers defense occupies the second spot in this weekend’s rankings. They will go up against Minnesota in what should be their type of weather - possible rain and sleet.

The Bills are a top-five defense this weekend, whenever they play, which could be as late as Tuesday depending upon the next lake-effects snowstorm. Buffalo’s defense has been playing at a top-10 level and in what is likely a low-scoring affair on a less-than-perfect field should hold a mediocre Jets offense down.

The Jets will travel to Buffalo to face a Bills offense that hasn’t been able to practice all week due to four feet of snow on the ground. This gives the Jets an advantage and they should be able to play well enough to crack the top-five this weekend.

Top-25 Defense/Special Teams Rankings

——————————————————-

1) Kansas City Chiefs

2) Green Bay Packers

3) Buffalo Bills

4) San Francisco 49ers

5) New York Jets

6) New England Patriots

7) Denver Broncos

8) Philadelphia Eagles

9) Arizona Cardinals

10) Houston Texans

11) Seattle Seahawks

12) San Diego Chargers

13) Cincinnati Bengals

14) Cleveland Browns

15) New Orleans Saints

16) Dallas Cowboys

17) Tampa Bay Buccaneers

18) St. Louis Rams

19) Tennessee Titans

20) Atlanta Falcons

21) Washington Redskins

22) Detroit Lions

23) Indianapolis Colts

24) Miami Dolphins

25) New York Giants



The Gilmer Free Press

►  MEC Hoops Slate Starts This Weekend

The Mountain East Conference opens league play this weekend in both men’s and women’s basketball.



On the men’s side, five squads still remain unbeaten and the MEC went 20-9 during the opening week of the season in non-conference play. Just two of the league’s 12 teams enter conference play under .500. West Liberty has retained its No. 1 ranking in the country with its start to the season, and four other MEC schools were ranked in the initial D2SIDA Atlantic Region poll released on Monday with Fairmont State tied for third, followed by Wheeling Jesuit (seventh), Shepherd (eighth) and Charleston (ninth). 



On the women’s side, the MEC is 14-12 in non-conference play. Fairmont State leads the way with a 4-0 record after two wins in the opening weekend, and Charleston, Shepherd and Wheeling Jesuit are all off to 2-0 starts. In the first D2SIDA Atlantic Region poll released on Monday, Charleston came in at fourth, West Liberty was fifth, Glenville State was ninth and Fairmont State was 10th. 





Here’s a quick look at the weekend’s games:



West Virginia State at Wheeling Jesuit (12:30/2:30 PM)

Women: Live Stats | Video

Men: Live Stats | Video

 

UVa-Wise at Urbana (2/4 PM)

Women: Live Stats | Video

Men: Live Stats | Video



Shepherd at Glenville State (2/4 PM)

Women: Live Stats | Video

Men: Live Stats | Video



Concord at Notre Dame (2/4 PM)

Women: Live Stats | Video

Men: Live Stats | Video



Fairmont State at WV Wesleyan (2/4 PM

Women: Live Stats 

Men: Live Stats



Charleston at West Liberty (2/4 PM)

Women: Live Stats | Video

Men: Live Stats | Video



The Gilmer Free Press

►  NBA Game Results

(Friday, November 21)


Final Score: Orlando 105, Charlotte 100

Elfrid Payton scored 16 points and was at the center of a remarkable fourth-quarter comeback that gave the Orlando Magic a 105-100 win over the reeling Charlotte Hornets. Orlando trailed by 23 points midway through the third quarter and was down 83-65 with under 11 minutes left, then outscored the Hornets 40-17 the rest of the way to send Charlotte to a fourth consecutive defeat. Payton had eight points down the stretch and fellow reserves Willie Green and Ben Gordon netted nine each in the final quarter. The Magic also received 21 overall points from Evan Fournier and a 17-point, 16-rebound double-double out of Tobias Harris. Al Jefferson racked up 24 points and 11 rebounds in the Hornets’ latest stinging setback. Gary Neal finished with 17 points off the bench and Kemba Walker grabbed a team-high 12 rebounds and dished out eight assists in addition to recording 15 points.


Final Score: Phoenix 122, Philadelphia 96

Isaiah Thomas posted 23 points and eight assists off the bench as the Phoenix Suns pummeled the Philadelphia 76ers, 122-96. Thomas was one of eight Suns to reach double figures, as they improved to 3-1 on a six-game road trip. One of those players was Eric Bledsoe, who backed up his controversial comments from earlier this week with a 13-point, 7-assist performance. Bledsoe said in a radio interview leading up to the game that the 76ers would lose a seven-game series to his alma mater and current No. 1 team in college basketball, Kentucky. The comments sparked endless debates on social media and prompted a number of media outlets to weigh in on the subject. One Las Vegas sportsbook set the spread for the hypothetical game with Philadelphia as 17-point favorites. Regardless, the Sixers failed to make Bledsoe eat his words and fell to 0-12 after yet another embarrassing loss. Three more losses and they’ll match the franchise and NBA record for worst start to a season, set in 1972-73.


Final Score: Atlanta 99, Detroit 89

Jeff Teague had 28 points and six assists as the Atlanta Hawks grabbed a 99-89 win over the Detroit Pistons on Friday. Paul Millsap had 15 points and 12 rebounds while Al Horford scored 14 points for the Hawks, who had lost their previous two coming in. Josh Smith scored 16 points with eight rebounds and five assists while D.J. Augustin gave 14 points and five boards for the Pistons, who have lost their past four.


Final Score: Toronto 124, Milwaukee 83

Lou Williams scored 22 points off the bench to lead the Toronto Raptors in a 124-83 rout of the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday. Kyle Lowry supplied 20 points with nine rebounds and five assists and Jonas Valanciunas deposited 18 points with 12 rebounds for the Raptors, who closed their franchise-record seven-game homestand with three straight wins and a 6-1 record. Toronto also won its fifth straight game over Milwaukee, which had its three-game winning streak snapped with the setback. It was playing its third game in four nights. The Bucks were led by Jabari Parker’s 15 points, while Ersan Ilyasova netted 14 off the bench and Brandon Knight added 11.


Final Score: Memphis 117, Boston 100

The Memphis Grizzlies had enough healthy bodies after all for Thursday’s game against the Boston Celtics. That spelled bad news for Boston, as the Grizzlies never trailed en route to a 117-100 win, their 21st straight at FedExForum in the regular season. Marc Gasol led the way with 32 points, Zach Randolph donated 16 points and 16 rebounds, and Jon Leuer poured in 19 points off the bench in the victory. Leuer was one of seven Grizzlies listed as questionable because of a stomach virus ravaging the team, but only Tony Allen and Quincy Pondexter sat out due to the illness. Kelly Olynyk paced Boston with 18 points, while Jared Sullinger and Jeff Green netted 13 and 12 points, respectively.


Final Score: San Antonio 121, Minnesota 92

Tony Parker had 28 points and five assists as the San Antonio Spurs routed the Minnesota Timberwolves 121-92 on Friday night. Danny Green knocked down four 3-pointers and finished with 18 points, while Kawhi Leonard added 14 for the Spurs, who have won six of their last seven games. Anthony Bennett supplied 20 points off the bench for Minnesota, which has dropped six of its last seven contests.


Final Score: Brooklyn 94, Oklahoma City 92

Reggie Jackson’s last-second 3-pointer rimmed out, and the Brooklyn Nets survived with a 94-92 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. Brooklyn trailed by 10 late in the third quarter, but a 12-0 run that extended into the fourth made it a 76-74 game. A 10-0 run later in the fourth gave the Nets a seven-point lead, but Jackson and the Thunder mounted a final rally. Jackson scored six of Oklahoma City’s last nine points, with Anthony Morrow supplying the other three on a triple with just under two minutes to play. Jackson’s layup with 5.5 seconds left made it 93-92, and Joe Johnson split a pair of free throws at the other end. Out of a timeout, Jackson isolated at the top of the key and pulled the trigger, only to have his potential game-winner fall out. Kevin Garnett secured the rebound, and the game.


Final Score: Washington 91, Cleveland 78

John Wall and the Washington Wizards made yet another early-season statement, with the standout point guard dropping in 28 points to lead the way in a 91-78 triumph over the struggling Cleveland Cavaliers. Wall outshined Cleveland’s star-studded starting unit by hitting 12-of-20 shots and dishing out seven assists to go along with four steals and six rebounds. His terrific performance, coupled with a strong defensive effort by his Washington teammates, improved the rising Wizards to 8-3 on the young season. The Cavaliers, meanwhile, are still searching for answers after dropping a third straight game to fall under .500 (5-6). Though LeBron James and Kyrie Irving each deposited 22 points, Cleveland shot a subpar 36 percent as a team and committed 19 turnovers that led to 24 Washington points.


Final Score: Dallas 140, LA Lakers 106

Dirk Nowitzki scored 23 points and Monta Ellis contributed a double-double as the Dallas Mavericks dismantled the Los Angeles Lakers, 140-106, on Friday. Ellis netted 20 points on an efficient 7-of-10 shooting to go along with a season-high 10 assists and help the Mavs score more than 100 points for the sixth straight game. Dallas, the NBA’s top-scoring team, went up against the worst defense in the league and it showed, as the Mavs put up their highest point total of the season on 51-of-82 (62.2 percent) shooting—including a blistering 18-of-35 (51.4 percent) clip from beyond the arc. Chandler Parsons deposited 21 points and J.J. Barea added 16 points off the bench for the Mavs, who have won six straight overall and four straight over LA. The Lakers shot a decent 44- for-85 (51.8 percent) from the floor, but they were no match, with Jeremy Lin’s 18 points leading the way. Kobe Bryant dropped in 17 points on 6- of-22 shooting as Los Angeles had its two-game winning streak snapped.


Final Score: Denver 117, New Orleans 97

Kenneth Faried had 19 points and eight rebounds as the Denver Nuggets routed the New Orleans Pelicans 117-97 on Friday night. Arron Afflolo netted 19 points, while Wilson Chandler added 18 points and five boards for the Nuggets, who have won three straight games on the heels of a 2-7 start. Anthony Davis tallied 18 points and nine rebounds for New Orleans, which had won five of its last seven games coming in.


Final Score: Golden State 101, Utah 88

Andre Iguodala scored 17 points, Harrison Barnes recorded a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds and the Golden State Warriors crushed the Utah Jazz, 101-88, on Friday. Even with Stephen Curry netting only eight points, the Warriors led by as many as 30 in the wire-to-wire victory. Curry was more the facilitator than the shot maker, doling out 10 assists for Golden State’s balanced attack. Klay Thompson finished with 14 points, Andrew Bogut scored 12 and Draymond Green filled the box score with 11 points, nine boards and five assists. The Warriors have won four in a row since losses to Phoenix and San Antonio and improved to 9-2 for the first time since the 1972-73 season.


Final Score: Portland 105, Chicago 87

Damian Lillard had 21 points and nine assists in three quarters of work as the Portland Trail Blazers thrashed the Chicago Bulls 105-87 on Friday night. LaMarcus Aldridge added 16 points and nine rebounds for the Blazers, who won their sixth straight game. Nikola Mirotic supplied 24 points and 11 boards for Chicago, which was without point guard Derrick Rose and power forward Pau Gasol again. Rose missed his fourth consecutive game with a hamstring injury, while Gasol didn’t play for a third time in a row due to a left calf strain. The Bulls lost forward Taj Gibson in the third quarter of this one with a left ankle sprain.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Dodgers acquire Peralta from Rays

The Los Angeles Dodgers have acquired right-handed pitcher Joel Peralta and left-handed pitcher Adam Liberatore from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for right-handed pitchers Jose Dominguez and Greg Harris.

The 38-year-old Peralta had been a part of the Rays’ bullpen over the past four seasons, compiling an 11-22 record in 296 games over that span. Over his 10-year career, Peralta owns a 16-33 record with a 3.92 ERA in 556 games as a reliever for the Rays, Nationals, Rockies, Royals and Angels.

Liberatore has spent his last two seasons at Triple-A Durham.

Dominguez pitched in 14 games for the Dodgers—all out of the bullpen—over the last two seasons and totaled a 6.14 ERA. Harris, drafted in the 17th round of the 2013 MLB Draft, went 7-6 with a 4.45 ERA in 22 games—16 starts—for Low-A Great Lakes this past season.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  NHL Game Results

(Friday, November 21)


Final Score: NY Islanders 5, Pittsburgh 4 (SO)

Kyle Okposo scored the game winner in the shootout to lift the New York Islanders to a 5-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins in a thrilling back-and-forth affair. After each of the first two shooters missed, Sidney Crosby cut across the slot from the left side, made a head fake and roofed a backhander over Chad Johnson, but Frans Nielsen answered back on a similar move for the Islanders. Okposo followed a Brandon Sutter miss with a backhand-forehand move past Marc-Andre Fleury to seal the win. Ryan Strome had a goal and two assists, while Nick Leddy, Matt Martin and Nikolay Kulemin also scored for the Isles, who have won seven of their last eight games and crept within two points of first-place Pittsburgh in the Metropolitan Division. Johnson stopped 26-of-30 shots in the victory. Nick Spaling, Blake Comeau, and Sutter lit the lamp, Patric Hornqvist tallied a goal and an assist and Evgeni Malkin supplied two helpers for the Penguins, who entered the game with wins in 10 of their last 11 games. Fleury made 31 saves in defeat.


Final Score: Boston 4, Columbus 3 (SO)

Alex Khokhlachev produced the lone goal of the shootout in the seventh round, and Boston came away with a 4-3 victory over Columbus at Nationwide Arena. Dennis Seidenberg, Matt Fraser and Daniel Paille all scored in the third period for the Bruins, who have won three in a row and eight of their last 10. Niklas Svedberg stopped 25 shots in regulation and wasn’t beaten in seven chances during the game’s final segment. Ryan Johansen totaled a goal and two assists for the Blue Jackets, who have lost two straight and 11 of their last 13. Nick Foligno and Jack Johnson also lit the lamp but Sergei Bobrovsky’s 38-save performance was wasted. Three players forced their respective shots wide and two hit the goalpost as the shootout moved through its first six rounds. In the opener of the seventh round, Columbus’ Matt Calvert was turned away by Svedberg, leaving Khokhlachev to win the contest by deking Bobrovsky enough where a low shot slid through his pads and into the net.


Final Score: New Jersey 2, Edmonton 0

Cory Schneider started his 20th straight game and made 29 saves for his second shutout of the season, lifting the New Jersey Devils to a 2-0 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Friday. Schneider surpassed Martin Brodeur for the longest start streak to open a season in franchise history. Brodeur set the previous mark with 19 consecutive starts from Oct. 6 to Nov. 2, 2001. Adam Henrique and Tuomo Ruutu each scored and Eric Gelinas tallied two assists for the Devils, who snapped a two-game skid. Viktor Fasth made 24 saves for the Oilers, who lost their fifth in a row.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Hamilton vs. Rosberg for F1 title in Abu Dhabi

Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg are set to battle for the 2014 Formula One world championship in Sunday’s season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

There has been an intense rivalry between Hamilton and Rosberg throughout the season, which at times has reached the boiling point.

Heading into the 19th and final round of the season, Hamilton holds a 17-point lead over Rosberg. They are the only drivers who remain eligible for this year’s F1 world championship. Third-place Daniel Ricciardo, in his first season with Red Bull, is 120 points behind Hamilton.

For the time in F1 history, double points will be awarded in a grand prix. This will be the sixth running of the Abu Dhabi GP, which starts late in the afternoon and concludes at twilight at Yas Marina Circuit, but it’s the third time this event serves as the last race of the season. It was also the season- finale in 2009 and ‘10, the first two years of this race.

If Hamilton finishes no worse than second in Sunday’s 55-lap race here, he will claim his second world championship, regardless if Rosberg wins the event. Hamilton’s first title occurred in 2008, defeating Felipe Massa by only a single point.

Hamilton would clinch the title by three points if he finished second and Rosberg won the Abu Dhabi GP.

“I come into the race weekend to try to win, as I do every race weekend, so nothing changes there,“ Hamilton said. “In terms of the pressure, I don’t particularly feel any. I think I’ve had plenty of experience through my racing career - 20 years of racing - to be prepared for today. There’s no special recipe for it.“

However, if Rosberg won the race and Hamilton finished third or worse, then Rosberg will claim his first F1 title.

“It’s an intense weekend, for sure,“ Rosberg said. “It’s going to be a great battle. I look forward to it. That’s what I’ve been working towards for a while now, for this sort of chance, this last race here.

“Lewis is a great competitor and opponent, and it would be hopefully a great end to the season. Of course, I’m here to try to win the race, and then I need a bit of help from Lewis that he doesn’t finish second. That’s it. So I’m hoping Lewis can come up with something.“

Rosberg won the November 9 Brazilian Grand Prix and kept his title hopes alive. Hamilton placed second in Brazil after winning the previous five grand prix (Italy, Singapore, Japan, Russia and United States).

On Friday, Hamilton topped the time charts in both practice sessions at this 3.451-mile (5.554-kilometer) 21-turn road course. His best lap in the first session was clocked at 1 minute, 43.476 seconds, while Rosberg’s fastest lap was just 0.133 seconds behind.

In the second practice, Hamilton recorded a lap in 1:42.113, while Rosberg was again second, just 0.083 seconds behind.

The rivalry between Hamilton and Rosberg has gradually increased throughout the season. The two had a hard-fought battle in the Bahrain Grand Prix in April, and then there was tension between them in the Monaco Grand Prix one month later and the Belgian Grand Prix in August.

Following the Belgian GP in Spa, Mercedes took disciplinary action with its drivers in hopes of easing tensions between them.

But who knows what could happen between Hamilton and Rosberg in Abu Dhabi.

“Lewis can do something to keep it clean, which is drive cleanly himself,“ Rosberg said during a press conference on Thursday in Abu Dhabi.

Hamilton and Rosberg don’t plan to have any discussions between them about the race.

“It’s already been discussed at the beginning of the season and several times through the season and particularly after Spa, so there’s no reason to revisit it,“ Hamilton said. “We’re not children. We should know what is wrong and what is right.“

Hamilton won the Abu Dhabi GP in 2011 when he drove for McLaren. He was forced to retire in this race in 2009 and ‘12. Last year, Hamilton finished seventh here in his first season with Mercedes.

Rosberg also retired in this event two years ago but recorded his best finish here last season with a third-place run.

Sebastian Vettel has won the Abu Dhabi GP three times, including a victory in last year’s race. Vettel, the four-time F1 world champion, will make his last start with Red Bull before he moves over to Ferrari for the 2015 season, replacing Fernando Alonso.

Series: Formula One. Date: Sunday, November 23. Race: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Site: Yas Marina Circuit. Track: 3.451-mile (5.554-kilometer), 21-turn road course. Start Time: 8 AM ET. Laps: 55. Miles: 189.738 (305.355 km). 2013 Winner: Sebastian Vettel. Television: NBC Sports Network.

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


SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 22, 2014


National Basketball Association
Phoenix at Indiana, 7:00 PM - FS-Arizona, Indiana, DSS
Miami at Orlando, 7:00 PM - SunSports, FS-Florida, DSS
Philadelphia at New York, 7:30 PM - TCN-Philadelphia, MSG, DSS
Toronto at Cleveland, 7:30 PM - TSN, FS-Ohio, DSS
Dallas at Houston, 8:00 PM - FS-Southwest, CSN-Houston, DSS
Sacramento at Minnesota, 8:00 PM - CSN-California, FS-North, DSS
Washington at Milwaukee, 8:30 PM - CSN-DC+, FS-Wisconsin, DSS
Brooklyn at San Antonio, 8:30 PM - YES, FS-Southwest, DSS
New Orleans at Utah, 9:00 PM - ROOT-Northwest, NBA TV, DSS


National Hockey League
St. Louis at Ottawa, 3:00 PM - FS-Midwest, RDS, TSN5, DSS
Minnesota at Tampa Bay, 7:00 PM - FS-North+, SunSports, DSS
Detroit at Toronto, 7:00 PM - FS-Detroit, CBC, DSS
Buffalo at Washington, 7:00 PM - MSG-Buffalo, CSN-DC, DSS
Columbus at Philadelphia, 7:00 PM - FS-Ohio, CSN-Philadelphia, DSS
Pittsburgh at NY Islanders, 7:00 PM - ROOT-Pittsburgh, MSG+, DSS
Montreal at Boston, 7:00 PM - TVA, NESN, NHL Network, DSS
Florida at Nashville, 8:00 PM - FS-Florida, DSS
Los Angeles at Dallas, 8:00 PM - FS-West, Southwest+, DSS
Carolina at Colorado, 9:00 PM - FS-Carolina, Altitude, DSS
New Jersey at Calgary, 10:00 PM - MSG+2, SNET, DSS
Chicago at Edmonton, 10:00 PM - WGN, CBC, TVA, DSS
Arizona at San Jose, 10:30 PM - FS-Arizona, CSN-California, DSS


College Basketball
Incarnate Word at Princeton, 11:00 AM - Ivy League Digital Network
Robert Morris at Georgetown, 12:00 PM - FS2
Notre Dame vs. Massachusetts, 12:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Ball State at IUPUI, 1:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Utah State at Miss State, 1:00 PM - SEC Network+
High Point at Richmond, 1:00 PM - CSN-MA+
Appalachian State at Virginia Tech, 1:00 PM - ESPN3.com
North Carolina vs. Davidson, 2:00 PM - Time Warner-Carolina
Nebraska Omaha at Marquette, 2:30 PM - FS2
Florida State vs. Providence, 2:30 PM - ESPN3.com
South Alabama at Detroit, 3:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Western State at Air Force, 4:00 PM - Mountain West Network
Elon at Northwestern, 4:00 PM - Big Ten Network+
Loyola-Maryland at Butler, 5:00 PM - FS2
Binghamton vs. Manhattan, 5:30 PM - ESPN3.com
Colorado at Wyoming, 6:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Mount St Mary’s at Bucknell, 7:00 PM - Patriot League Network
Ohio Midwestern at Northern Kentucky, 7:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Nebraska at Rhode Island, 7:00 PM - SNY
Eastern Washington at SMU, 7:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Coaches vs. Cancer, 7:00 PM - TruTV
Transylvania at Lipscomb, 7:30 PM - Atlantic Sun TV
Morgan State at Houston, 8:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Lamar at Indiana, 8:00 PM - Big Ten Network
Northeastern vs. Navy, 8:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Missouri State at Texas Tech, 8:00 PM - FS-Southwest+, FCS Pacific, SportSouth
UMBC at Minnesota, 8:30 PM - Big Ten Network+
St. Thomas at Gonzaga, 9:00 PM - ROOT-Northwest
Coaches vs. Cancer, 9:30 PM - TruTV
Boise State at Wisconsin, 10:00 PM - Big Ten Network


Women’s College Basketball
Rutgers at LSU, 3:00 PM - SEC Network+
Temple at Kansas, 5:00 PM - Jayhawk TV
Kentucky at Central Michigan, 8:00 PM - ESPN3.com


College Football
Fordham at Army, 12:00 PM - CBSSN
SMU at UCF, 12:00 PM - ESPNews
Rutgers at Michigan State, 12:00 PM - Big Ten Network
Penn State at Illinois, 12:00 PM - ESPN 2
Eastern Ky at Florida, 12:00 PM - SEC Network
Char Southern at Georgia, 12:00 PM - SEC Network
Northwestern at Purdue, 12:00 PM - ESPN U
Minnesota at Nebraska, 12:00 PM - ESPN
Marshall at UAB, 12:00 PM - American Sports Network
Kansas at Oklahoma, 12:00 PM - FS1
Indiana at Ohio State, 12:00 PM - Big Ten Network
South Alabama at So Carolina, 12:00 PM - FS-South, Fla, Det+, San Diego, DSS
TX-San Antonio at Western Ky, 12:00 PM - FSN, SportSouth, SunSports, MSG+
Robert Morris at Duquesne, 12:00 PM - ESPN3.com, DSS
Elon at James Madison, 12:00 PM - American Sports Net, CSN-Baltimore, Cal
Gardner-Webb at Monmouth, 12:00 PM - American Sports Network
Central Conn State at St. Francis (PA), 12:00 PM - NEC Front Row
Virginia Tech at Wake Forest, 12:30 PM - ACC Network, DSS
Columbia at Brown, 12:30 PM - FCS-Atlantic
Penn at Cornell, 12:30 PM - Ivy League Digital Network
Yale at Harvard, 12:30 PM - NBCSN
Western Mich at Central Mich, 1:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Washington St at Arizona State, 1:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
Louisiana Tech at Old Dominion, 1:00 PM - FCS
Colgate at Bucknell, 1:00 PM - Patriot League Network
Liberty at Coastal Carolina, 1:00 PM - ESPN3.com, DSS
UT Martin at Eastern Illinois, 1:00 PM - WEIU
Dartmouth at Princeton, 1:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Citadel at VMI, 1:30 PM - ESPN3.com
New Mexico at Colorado St, 1:30 PM - ROOT-Rocky Mountain, Northwest, Southwest
Eastern Mich at Ball State, 2:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Bethune-Cookman vs. Florida A&M, 2:00 PM - ESPN Classic, DSS
Southern Ill at Illinois State, 2:00 PM - CSN-Chicago, ESPN3.com
Jacksonville State at SE Missouri State, 2:00 PM - OVC Digital Network
Indiana State at Western Ill, 2:00 PM - ESPN3.com, DSS
Savannah State at BYU, 3:00 PM - BYUtv
Tulsa at Houston, 3:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Tulane at East Carolina, 3:30 PM - ESPN3.com
Texas Tech at Iowa State, 3:30 PM - FSN, SportSouth, FS-Detroit+, Wisconsin
Syracuse at Pittsburgh, 3:30 PM - ESPN U
Wisconsin at Iowa, 3:30 PM - ABC (ESPN 2 mirror)
Boston College at Florida State, 3:30 PM - ABC (ESPN 2 mirror)
Arizona at Utah, 3:30 PM - ESPN
Georgia State at Clemson, 3:30 PM - RSN, CSN-Balt, ESPN3, FS-South, Fla, DSS
Ole Miss at Arkansas, 3:30 PM - CBS
Maryland at Michigan, 3:30 PM - Big Ten Network
Louisville at Notre Dame, 3:30 PM - NBC
FIU at North Texas, 3:30 PM - American Sports Network
Chattanooga at Furman, 3:30 PM - American Sports Network
Lehigh vs. Lafayette, 3:30 PM - CBSSN
New Hampshire at Maine, 3:30 PM - NBCSN
Youngstown State at North Dakota State, 3:30 PM - ESPN3.com, DSS
So Florida at Memphis, 4:00 PM - ESPNews
ULM at New Mexico St, 4:00 PM - Altitude, ESPN3.com, DSS
Stanford at California, 4:00 PM - FS1
Western Carolina at Alabama, 4:00 PM - SEC Network
Southern Utah at Northern Arizona, 4:00 PM - FS-Arizona+
Central Arkansas at Sam Houston State, 4:00 PM - Southland TV, ESPN3.com, DSS
Sacramento State at UC Davis, 4:00 PM - CSN-California
Colorado at Oregon, 4:30 PM - Pac-12 Network
Appalachian St at Louisiana, 5:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Tennessee Tech at Austin Peay, 5:00 PM - OVC Digital Network
Missouri State at Northern Iowa, 5:00 PM - CSN-Chicago, DSS
Montana State at Montana, 5:10 PM - ROOT-Northwest
Samford at Auburn, 7:00 PM - ESPN U
Fla Atlantic at Middle Tennessee, 7:00 PM - American Sports Net, CSN-Chciago
Miami-Florida at Virginia, 7:00 PM - ESPN 2
Oklahoma State at Baylor, 7:30 PM - FOX
Missouri at Tennessee, 7:30 PM - ESPN
Vanderbilt at Miss State, 7:30 PM - SEC Network
Richmond at William & Mary, 7:30 PM - NBCSN
Cincinnati at Connecticut, 8:00 PM - CBSSN
USC at UCLA, 8:00 PM - ABC
Boise State at Wyoming, 10:15 PM - ESPN 2
Fresno State at Nevada, 10:30 PM - ESPN U
Oregon State at Washington, 10:30 PM - Pac-12 Network
UNLV at Hawaii, 11:00 PM - Mountain West Network, Oceanic PPV


College Hockey
Sacred Heart at RIT, 7:00 PM - Time Warner
North Dakota at St. Cloud State, 8:00 PM - Charter Cable
Wisconsin at Denver, 9:00 PM - ROOT-Rocky Mountain


International Soccer
Wolverhampton Wanderers FC vs. Nottingham Forest FC, 9:55 AM - beIN Sport
Chelsea vs. West Brom, 10:00 AM - NBCSN
SD Eibar vs. Real Madrid CF, 11:55 AM - beIN Sport
Arsenal vs. Manchester United, 12:30 PM - NBC
FC Barcelona vs. Sevilla FC, 1:55 PM - beIN Sport


Golf
EUROPEAN - DP World Championship, 3:00 AM - Golf Channel
LPGA - CME Group Tour Championship, 1:30 PM - Golf Channel
AUSTRALIAN - MasterCard Masters, 9:30 PM - Golf Channel


Tennis
Davis Cup - Switzerland vs. France, 9:30 AM - Tennis Channel


Auto Racing
FORMULA ONE - Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying, 8:00 AM - NBCSN

Sports News   141121

The Gilmer Free Press


The Gilmer Free Press

►  High school Football Playoff Quarterfinal

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


CLASS AAA


FRIDAY, November 21 at 7:30 PM

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


SATURDAY, November 22 at 1:30 PM

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

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


SATURDAY, November 22 at 7:30 PM

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



CLASS AA


FRIDAY, November 21 at 7:30 PM

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


SATURDAY, November 22 at 1:30 PM

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

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

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



CLASS A


FRIDAY, November 21 at 7:30 PM

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


SATURDAY, November 22 at 1:30 PM

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

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


SATURDAY, November 22 at 7:30 PM

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



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Howard delivers TDs, but not quite a win, after Trickett’s concussion

His relief appearance produced West Virginia’s only two touchdowns of the game Thursday night, but Skyler Howard didn’t deliver what he wanted most: A win for his senior teammates.

One of those seniors, quarterback Clint Trickett, suffered a midgame concussion that forced Howard into his first extended action as a Mountaineer. The junior college transfer sparked the offense to life in the second half, throwing for 198 yards in what became a 26-20 loss to 12th-ranked Kansas State.

After throwing a 7-yard touchdown to Kevin White, Howard watched Mario Alford turn a short catch into a 53-yard score.

“He went in there and didn’t bat an eye,” said coach Dana Holgorsen, suggesting Howard may get a chance to start next week at Iowa State regardless of Trickett’s diagnosis. “He was confident and comfortable and his communication was perfect.”

Offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson, who extended the first FBS scholarship offer to Howard last fall, described the backup as “a gamer” who lifted West Virginia’s spirits after entering the game trailing 20-3.

“He had some energy and some hop to him. He gave us a chance to win the game.”

Howard noticed Trickett “was a little fuzzy” after throwing a third-quarter interception, though coaches suggested the injury likely occurred when Trickett made a lunging tackle on an interception at the end of the first half.

That left the game to Howard, who was targeted for a redshirt season last summer but was elevated to No. 2 after freshman William Crest suffered a shoulder injury. “Ever since I was named the No. 2 quarterback I’ve been ready,” said Howard, who completed 15-of-23 passes and made a 16-yard scramble to extend one scoring drive.

As it turned out, West Virginia needed one more scoring drive.

“The thing that sticks in my head is the seniors—this was their last game here and I really wanted to pull it out for them,” Howard said. “I love those guys. I grind with those guys, I feel bad I didn’t pull it out.”


►  No. 12 Kansas State Defeats WVU

Tyler Lockett had a 43-yard punt return touchdown and caught 10 passes for 196 yards to help lead No. 12 Kansas State to a 26-20 win over West Virginia on Thursday night.

Jake Waters passed for 400 yards with a 7-yard touchdown throw to DeMarcus Robinson, and the Wildcats (8-2, 6-1 Big 12) held on down the stretch to bounce back from a 21-point loss to TCU two weeks ago before their bye.

Skyler Howard passed for 198 yards and two touchdowns for West Virginia after Clint Trickett left the game in the third quarter with a concussion, but the Mountaineers (6-5, 4-4) lost their third in a row.

Howard’s first touchdown pass went to Kevin White, Lockett’s fellow Biletnikoff Award semifinalist. The other was a 53-yard catch-and-run by Mario Alford that got the Mountaineers within 23-17 midway through the fourth quarter.

The Wildcats won despite netting just one yard rushing compared to 123 for the Mountaineers. West Virginia had 27 first downs, nine more than Kansas State, and outgained the Wildcats 433-401 in total yards.

“It was frustrating. No game like this comes to mind off hand,“ said Kansas State coach Bill Snyder. “I think (our players) did do what they had to do to win the ball game. They’re pleased about that and I certainly don’t want to take that away from them.“

Alford’s touchdown started with a short reception on the left side of the field. He weaved around Kansas State defenders in the middle of the field and outran a half a dozen of them on the right side to get the Mountaineers within 23-17 with 7:23 remaining.

Matthew McCrane then kicked his fourth field goal of the game for Kansas State, a 32-yarder that made it 26-17 with 2:52 to play. Josh Lambert kicked a 25-yarder for West Virginia at the other end, but the Mountaineers were unable to recover an onside kick.

Earlier, after Waters hit Robinson for a touchdown on Kansas State’s first drive, the Wildcats were whistled for pass interference to give West Virginia a first down at the 2-yard line.

But Trickett and Wendell Smallwood fumbled a handoff on the next play to give the ball right back to Kansas State.

Later, McCrane’s 36-yard field goal 2:07 into the second quarter gave the Wildcats a 10-0 lead before Lambert made a 47-yarder for the Mountaineers.

West Virginia recovered Lockett’s fumble on the ensuing kickoff—leading to wild would-be touchdown that was ultimately overturned.

The play is sure to make highlight reels anyway after White alertly caught a pass intended for teammate Jordan Thompson that was redirected twice.

But replays showed the ball touched the ground as Kansas State’s Dante Barnett rolled over onto his back trying to make the catch—after it was tipped by Thompson and before it popped out of Barnett’s hands and into the air for White, who grabbed it and fell into the end zone.

After all that, Lambert missed a 40-yard field goal try.

Lockett scored on a 43-yard return down the sideline to give the Wildcats a 17-3 lead with 1:12 left in the first half after what West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen called a “horrible punt” by Nick O’Toole.

“Our whole team went right and he mis-hit it left,“ said Holgorsen. “That’s not a coaching error; that’s a player error. If we send the team right, he needs to punt it right. He wasn’t confused, he just missed it. It was obviously a big play.“

Randall Evans intercepted Trickett with 13 ticks remaining on the clock, but Kyle Rose blocked McCrane’s 34-yard field goal try as time expired to get the Mountaineers off the hook.

Dante Barnett intercepted Trickett’s final pass, leading to McCrane’s 44-yard field goal for a 20-3 Kansas State lead in the third quarter.

Howard led the Mountaineers to a touchdown on his first series, hitting White from seven yards out before McCrane’s 19-yard field goal at the other end gave the Wildcats a 23-10 lead with 2:13 left in the third quarter.

A 15-play West Virginia drive that bled into the fourth quarter ended in an incomplete pass on fourth down from the Kansas State 26. However, McCrane hooked a 22-yard field goal attempt wide left at the other end for the Wildcats.

Game Notes

Lockett, who has already passed his father Kevin’s Kansas State record for receiving yards, pulled within four catches of his dad’s Wildcats record of 217 career receptions ... Kansas State leads the all-time series 4-1, including a 3-0 mark since West Virginia joined the Big 12 in 2012. The Wildcats had won the previous two meetings by an average of 32 points ... Wildcats defensive lineman Travis Britz was carted off the field early in the first quarter with an apparent left leg injury ... Kansas State plays Kansas next Saturday and closes the regular season at Baylor on Dec. 6 ... West Virginia has one regular-season game remaining, next Saturday at Iowa State.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Huge snowfall threatens Jets-Bills game

When you’re 2-8, there’s a lot of time for what-ifs.

And that’s been the most productive hobby for the New York Jets in recent days while fielding questions about whether their lost season would have gone a trifle differently had they pulled the trigger on a quarterback change - benching second-year man Geno Smith for veteran Michael Vick - a bit sooner.

Coach Rex Ryan was a steadfast defender of the scattershot Smith through the initial seven games of the season, before sending him to the sidelines after he threw three interceptions on eight passes in the first quarter of what turned into a 43-23 home loss to the Buffalo Bills in Week 8.

The Jets visit the Bills for a Week 12 rematch, presumably on Sunday.

Vick didn’t do enough in the substitute role to engineer a rallying win - ultimately committing three turnovers of his own—but he completed 18-of-36 passes for 153 yards and ran eight times for another 69 yards as New York compiled a per-rush average of 5.3 yards on the way to a ground total of 175.

“We were in the game and we put ourselves in a position to win the game, but it was all about turnovers,“ Vick said. “You can go through it and hope that it’s not going to be the same.“

The Jets ran for 139 yards the following week in a 14-point loss to Kansas City, then had 150 on the ground in a 20-13 upset of Pittsburgh prior to a Week 11 bye. Vick threw for two touchdowns against the Steelers, including a 67-yarder to T.J. Graham.

The ease of the victory - New York had a 17-0 lead at one point - has turned the attention to Ryan, and why he didn’t make the switch at a time when it might have still given the Jets a chance for relevance.

“You can easily say, ‘Oh, well, we should’ve done this,‘ now,“ Ryan said. “At the same time, I was comfortable in my decision, not just with Michael, but with the other ones as well. So, I’m not going to spend time looking back.“

The first order of business looking forward is whether the Jets will actually play on Sunday.

The Bills’ home facility in Orchard Park, N.Y. was deeply impacted - literally—by the preposterous amount of snow that hit the Buffalo area early in the week, which has forced the team to call in any support necessary to get Ralph Wilson Stadium unburied in time for the 1 PM kickoff.

Some reports peg the final precipitation total at six feet.

Fans have been offered game tickets in exchange for help with shoveling, as part of an effort that’s got three shifts of people working around the clock. Both a postponement to another date and a change of venue are worst-case scenario options if the snow hangs on through the weekend.

“We are working with the Bills to determine the status of the stadium,“ NFL spokesman Michael Signora said. “If a change to the schedule needs to be made, the league will make the decision working closely with the club and local authorities.“

The Bills did not practice Wednesday. In fact, coach Doug Marrone, who coached at another state snow capital in Syracuse, wasn’t able to get closer than five miles to the stadium.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,“ he said. “It’s very difficult to put into words exactly what’s going on. Us being able to go out and practice is obviously not an option for us. This is very challenging. It’s a tough, tough situation.“

The defeat of the Jets got the Bills to 5-3 heading into their bye, but they’re returned for consecutive losses to Kansas City and Miami that have left hopes for ending a 14-season playoff drought in jeopardy.

Quarterback Kyle Orton is probable with a toe injury and comes in off a 22- for-39 performance against the Dolphins for 193 yards and no touchdowns. The veteran replaced Buffalo’s own iffy second-year signal-caller, EJ Manuel, before the Jets pulled the plug on Smith.

Orton threw for four touchdowns in the first game with New York.

Running back Fred Jackson remains questionable with the groin problem that held him to three carries for 10 yards against the Chiefs and forced him to miss the Miami loss.

“We need all hands on deck,“ Jackson said. “I need 100% for me to be out there and help my teammates. I think they want me out there. I want to be out there. I want to try to make some plays and get this thing turned around. We lost to two that we’ll be fighting for position with, but there’s always a chance. And anytime you have a chance, you’re going to show up and fight. That’s what I expect out of the guys in this locker room. And that’s what I’m definitely going to do.“

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Action Jackson

Presuming the game is played and presuming he’s able to take part, Jackson figures to be a pain in the groin for a Jets defense that habitually struggles to defend pass-catching running backs. Jackson didn’t play in the initial matchup with New York, but he’s got 37 catches for 300 yards in the eight games he has played - including multiple receptions in each of those appearances.

The Renaissance of Michael

Old No. 7 has shown off some young legs since taking the quarterback reins for the Jets, reeling off 126 rush yards, averaging 6.2 yards per carry and becoming the first NFL passer to reach the 6,000-yard career rushing milestone. A heavy lean on the run game could be a necessity given weather conditions, and recent QB foes Ryan Tannehill and Alex Smith combined for 41 yards on eight carries.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

They’re 2-8 and heading for little other than a locker-room housecleaning at the end of the season, but the Jets have shown some tangible signs of life since making Vick the starter and acquiring Percy Harvin.

Just where that rise intersects with the Bills’ semi-regular free-fall in the second half of the season will determine New York’s fate. But it says here that ugly weather could yield an ugly win.

Predicted outcome: Jets 20, Bills 17



►  Vikings move on without Peterson, host red-hot Rodgers

If Adrian Peterson was wearing purple on Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings would have been a significant underdog to the Green Bay Packers.

Without the former MVP?

Well let’s just say the high-powered Packers probably feel pretty good about their chances as the long-time rivals prepare for the latest incarnation of their “Border Battle” in Minneapolis on Sunday.

Green Bay has won two straight and six of seven overall behind its own former MVP in Aaron Rodgers, who is playing the quarterback position at an absurdly high level right now.

Rodgers, who threw six first-half touchdowns in a 55-14 Week 10 blowout of the Bears, threw for three touchdowns and 341 yards last week as the Packers improved to 5-0 at home with a 53-20 drubbing of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Green Bay is the first team since the 1950 Rams to score at least 53 points in consecutive games and is one of only six teams in history to reach the half- century mark in consecutive contests. Overall Rodgers is leading an offensive unit that is scoring an NFL-best 33.0 points per game.

“This is not easy,“ Rodgers said when asked about putting up such massive numbers. “There’s a lot of preparation that goes into it. It takes 11 guys to win, to do the job to make something like that happen.“

Eddie Lacy ran for 69 yards and a score on 10 carries and added another TD through the air against the Eagles. Randall Cobb had a game-high 129 yards on 10 catches, Jordy Nelson made four grabs for 109 yards a score and Davante Adams also hauled in a TD catch in the win.

“Very good home victory. I thought our players did an excellent job in all three phases,“ Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said. “I’ve got to figure out new ways to compliment Aaron Rodgers. He’s playing at an extremely high level.“

Peterson, meanwhile, isn’t walking through that door to save the Vikings season.

Minnesota is 4-6 after a 21-13 setback in Chicago last week, a game that dropped the Vikings to 4-6, three games behind both the Packers and Detroit Lions in the NFC North.

Peterson, the game’s best pure runner was suspended for at least the remainder of the 2014 season earlier this week for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy, a punishment stemming from the abusive discipline Peterson inflicted on his 4-year-old son last May.

Of course Paterson has been shelved since the season opener after being indicted by a grand jury in Montgomery County, Texas, on September 11 and the Vikings have moved forward with two talented rookies in their backfield, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and running back Jerick McKinnon.

“That’s the furthest thing from my mind right now,“ Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer said of the Peterson issue. “I need to figure out how we can tackle and get people out on third downs.“

“I don’t agree with it,“ cornerback Captain Munnerlyn added. “He’s missed nine games already, but, at the end of the day, the NFL came up with that decision and we have to live with it.“

Bridgewater went 18-for-28 for 158 yards with a touchdown and an interception against the Bears but threw an interception in the final minute with the Vikings trying to come back and the Soldier Field clock malfunctioning.

Charles Johnson had six catches for 87 yards to lead all Minnesota receivers while McKinnon ran it eight times for 38 yards.

“We can play much better than we did today,“ said Bridgewater. “We knew coming in that it was going to be a challenge for us because Chicago was going to have a chip on its shoulder.“

The Packers lead their all-time series with Minnesota by a 56-48-2 margin and Rodgers has dominated the Vikings over the years, winning eight of his past nine starts against them, including a 42-10 drubbing at Lambeau Field in Week 5. Bridgewater, however, missed that game with an ankle injury.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Minnesota’s only hope here is getting the Packers out of Lambeau, where they are 5-0 and have outscored opponents by a 219-85 margin while averaging 43.8 points per game. Conversely, Green Bay is 2-3 on the road and has been scoring three TDs less at 22.2 ppg.

Rodgers has generally destroyed the Vikings over the years, feasting on Minnesota’s old cover-2 philosophy. In 13 career starts against Minnesota, Rodgers has amassed 30 touchdown passes versus just four interceptions.

That was supposed to change under first- year Vikings coach Zimmer, who preaches controlled aggression with the keys being getting after the passer but doing it in a more disciplined manner, a necessity against Rodgers, who is one of the best ever at extending plays with his mobility.

It’s still a work in progress, though, and the Minnesota D reverted back to some bad habits in Chicago, enabling Jay Cutler to extend plays and get the ball down the field. If the unit does the same thing against Rodgers they might as well not show up on Sunday.

Zimmer’s finished products have had more success against Rodgers than most. The All-Pro was 0-2 against Zimmer’s defenses in Cincinnati with a less-than- stellar 57% completion percentage.

In his past two efforts this season, A-Rod has nine touchdowns without an interception and 656 passing yards, despite giving way early to backup Matt Flynn in the blowouts. Rodgers’ 120.1 passer rating leads the NFL and would be a single-season record while his 28 TDs are second in the league.

“Obviously Aaron is having a great season and has done so many things, but I think you can’t lose sight of the fact that this is a team sport,“ McCarthy said. “I just think it’s a group that’s a year better and has hit its stride a little bit.“

That group includes Nelson and Cobb, who have combined for 19 TD catches, as well as Lacy, who has rebounded nicely after a slow start, rumbling for 547 yards and five TDs. The powerful Lacy is very tough to tackle and Minnesota didn’t look all that interested in hitting last week in the cold, missing about a dozen tackles.

“Number one, especially on the defense, is you have to be able to go out and tackle pretty well,“ Vikings linebacker Jasper Brinkley said. “(Lacy) is a good back, a big back, like a battering ram. It’s going to take more than one guy to bring him down. We don’t want to leave one guy on him. He’s a tough runner.“

Veteran Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner has been very cautious with Bridgewater, really scaling down the playbook for the rookie. The safe approach has shown on the field, however, and Minnesota is 29th in passing offense and 30th in total offense, averaging just 309.1 yards per game

The team claimed veteran running back Ben Tate off waivers Wednesday a day after he was released by Cleveland and he could be thrown into the fire immediately because McKinnon is dealing with a balky back and backup Matt Asiata suffered a concussion last week.

The Packers’ defense has been helped by the fact Rodgers has been putting up two touchdowns or so in the first four of five minutes of games. That has enabled a flawed unit to play with the lead and pin its ears back to go after the opposing QB, resulting in a NFL-best plus-14 in turnover differential.

“Just being opportunistic,“ Green Bay pass rusher Julius Peppers said when discussing his defense. “Guys being in the right place at the right time and making the plays when it’s time to make them. That’s pretty much it.“

The Green Bay D is poor against the run but no one has been able to expose that weakness because opponents are usually playing the catch-up game.

“They start fast,“ Bridgewater acknowledged. “And once they get out on you, they don’t let up, so we know that we’re going to have to start fast also. ... It’s a good thing that it’s back home this week.“

OVERALL ANALYSIS

The Packers have scored 108 points in their last two games while Minnesota has a total of 90 in its last six.

If Turner continues down the path of producing tentative game plans with an intent on keeping it close and winning things in the fourth quarter (and there is no reason to think he will not), the Vikings have no chance here. Rodgers is simply too explosive for that mentality.

Predicted outcome: Packers 34, Vikings 17


►  First-place Bengals search for consistency in Houston

The Houston Texans helped their postseason chances with a win over an AFC North team last week. They’ll try do the same on Sunday when they welcome the equally-playoff hopeful Cincinnati Bengals to NRG Stadium.

Houston won for only the second time in six games in Week 10, as it came out of its bye with an impressive 23-7 road win over the Cleveland Browns. Ryan Mallett completed 20-of-30 passes for 211 yards and two touchdowns in his first start to help the Texans (5-5) pull within a game of the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC South.

“I think anytime it’s around Thanksgiving and you’re still in the hunt, that’s a good thing,“ Houston head coach Bill O’Brien said. “You’re in the 11th game of the season and you’re still there. There is a lot to play for.“

Randy Bullock also converted three second-half field goals for the Texans, who have won two of their last three. Alfred Blue contributed a career-best 156 yards on 36 carries, while J.J. Watt and Garrett Graham posted a touchdown reception apiece.

It was the second touchdown reception this year for Watt, the defensive player of the year frontrunner. He also has a fumble and an interception return for a score, making him the first defensive lineman to have four touchdowns in a single season since 1948.

“Hopefully it’s not the end of it,“ Watt said. “There’s nothing better than to score a touchdown and the whole offense runs over to congratulate you.“

Cincinnati, meanwhile, bounced back from an awful home loss and won for the third time in four games last Sunday in a 27-10 victory over the New Orleans Saints.

Andy Dalton completed 16-of-22 passes for 220 yards and three touchdowns. It was a stark contrast to his previous game against Cleveland that saw him compile a passer rating of 2.0 while throwing for only 86 yards and three interceptions in a 24-3 setback to the Browns on November 6.

“There’s no doubt I am proud of our effort today,“ said Cincinnati head coach Marvin Lewis. “I’m proud of our execution and our preparation leading up to the game this week. We came out here ready to play and it showed up out there on the field today.“

In fact, Dalton threw six interceptions and had completed just 52.3% of his passes over his previous four games, leading to some in Cincinnati calling for his head.

“You lose and everyone wants to run you out,“ Dalton said. “You win, everyone is going to like you. I’m not too worried about it. It was a big win for us. So it’s good to bounce back and get a big one on the road.“

Helping Dalton could be the fact that wideout A.J. Green appears to be healthy. He caught six passes for 127 yards and a touchdown after totaling just six catches over his previous two games. He had also missed the previous three games before that with a toe injury.

“These couple of weeks I wasn’t feeling like myself,“ Green said. “Not because I was injured. It was trying to just get back in the flow of things I missed those couple of weeks.“

Rookie Jeremy Hill totaled 152 yards on 27 carries for Cincinnati (6-3-1), which is a half-game in front of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC North.

Houston has won five straight meetings with the Bengals, the last two being wild-card victories after the 2011 and ‘12 seasons.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Houston did its damage last weekend without running back Arian Foster, who missed the game after injuring his groin in a Week 9 loss to Philadelphia. Foster returned to practice this week as a limited participant and will likely be a game-time decision on Sunday.

In three games against the Bengals Foster has compiled 430 scrimmage yards (334 rush, 96 rec.) and three rushing TDs.

Foster has gone over 100 years in six of his last eight games and needs one more 100-yard rushing game to surpass Priest Holmes (31) for most ever by undrafted player.

Although, Foster leads AFC in rush yards (5,628) and rush TDs (49) since the start of 2010, the Texans running game did not skip a beat without him in the win over Cleveland, as Blue’s 36 carries were a franchise-record.

“Arian Foster is a proven player in this league,“ O’Brien said. “But at the end of the day, injuries occur, so the next guy has to be ready to step up no matter who you are. I think we all had confidence that Alfred would step in there and do the job.“

Cincinnati has also had to rely on its backup running back the past few weeks, as Giovani Bernard has missed three straight games with hip and clavicle injuries.

Hill, though, has done a fine job filling in, and has gone over 150 yards in two of the three starts.

Like Foster, Bernard’s status for this week’s contest is up in the air.

“We have still quite a bit to improve upon,“ Lewis said. “We had a lot of areas, particularly in the running game, where we could get better, make sure we’re clicking on the same page throughout. And in the pass game, too.“

It may not matter who is running the ball, though, as Houston has surrendered just 3.28 yards per carry since Week 5, the third lowest mark in the NFL in that span.

Blue and Hill were teammates at LSU.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

The Cincinnati Bengals looked as good as anyone the first few weeks of the season, then they looked just as bad for a good stretch of time. So what gives?

Could it have been as simple as that they just missed Green? It would be nice if it was that simple, but there are some warts on this team, namely Dalton, who may have his hands full against a very opportunistic Texans defense that is plus-8 and can get to the quarterback. Still, barring another complete meltdown from Dalton, the Bengals should be able to do enough on offense to get by in this one.

Predicted outcome: Cincinnati 17, Houston 13


►  Blount lands in New England

The New England Patriots re-signed running back LeGarrette Blount on Thursday, just two days after he was released by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Steelers decided to part ways with Blount after he reportedly left the field prior to the conclusion of Monday’s game against Tennessee.

Multiple media outlets reported that Blount walked off the field before the end of the Steelers’ 27-24 win over the Titans, apparently upset over his lack of playing time. He did not receive a carry in the contest, as Le’Veon Bell racked up a career-high 204 yards on 33 rushes.

Blount joined the Steelers in March on a two-year contract after a spending the 2013 season with New England. He got into immediate trouble with his new team after being cited for marijuana possession, along with Bell, in August.

The Patriots had acquired Blount on April 27, 2013 in a trade with Tampa Bay and last season he rushed for 772 yards with seven touchdowns in 16 games, seven of which were starts. In the postseason win against Indianapolis on January 11, 2014, Blount ran for 166 yards and set a franchise record with four rushing touchdowns.

In 11 games this season, Blount rushed for 266 yards with two touchdowns. He had 10 carries in Week 9 against Baltimore and just five last Sunday in the loss to the Jets prior to Monday.

The 28-year-old Oregon product spent his first three NFL seasons with the Buccaneers, rushing for 1,007 yards as a rookie in 2010.

New England cleared a roster spot by releasing defensive lineman Casey Walker, who compiled 10 tackles and one sack in five games this season.


►  Colts search for 11th straight division win

The Jacksonville Jaguars are certainly not the same team that the Indianapolis Colts saw - and beat by 27 points - on the road in Week 3.

That doesn’t mean they’re any more likely to win a Week 12 rematch, of course, but they’ve at least got a fair chance to be a bit more competitive.

Rookie quarterback Blake Bortles made his NFL debut off the bench and threw two late touchdown passes in the 44-17 debacle back in September, but the youngster who was selected third overall in the 2014 NFL Draft has shown intermittent signs of progress in a handful of appearances since.

The University of Central Florida product took over the starting role from Chad Henne a week after the loss to the Colts and has thrown for at least one touchdown in five of seven games as the No. 1 option.

He also was under center for the Jaguars’ lone win of the season, a 24-6 defeat of Cleveland in Week 7.

In his most recent start - a 31-17 loss to Dallas in London before a Week 11 bye - Bortles was 22-of-37 for 290 yards and was intercepted once, leaving his passer rating for the season at 72.2. His highest single-game rating of the season, 96.4, had come a week earlier in a 33-22 loss at Cincinnati.

“These final six weeks are really a great opportunity for Blake to really say, ‘How do I step up my preparation, how do I step up my practice habits and how do I step up my communication?‘“ offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch said.

Helping his cause against the Colts will be the presumed return of tight end Marcedes Lewis for the first time since an ankle injury in Week 2. To make room for Lewis, however, rookie receiver Allen Robinson was jettisoned to the injured reserve list with a broken right foot. He’d led the team with 48 catches and 458 yards and had scored twice.

Another youngster, Allen Hurns, remains questionable after suffering a concussion in the Dallas loss. He caught a 63-yard touchdown pass in the first game with Indianapolis.

On the ground, former Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson has averaged 5.4 yards per carry while going for 389 yards and scoring four times in his last four games.

“It’s nice to see the running game getting better,“ Jaguars guard Brandon Linder said. “He’s a talented athlete and a great team player. He brings it on every play and is very confident in the way he runs. That’s Denard. He makes things happen. He’s a very talented player. It’s nice to be able to block for him and see the outcome he gets on a play and the success that he’s had the past couple of games. Hopefully we can keep those types of results going the rest of the season.“

Meanwhile, even though they lead the AFC South by a game, the Colts could use a little good news.

Indianapolis has lost two of its last three games and will be without running back Ahmad Bradshaw for the rest of the season after he broke his right leg against New England, in a 42-20 defeat, last week.

The loss to the Patriots saw the Colts gashed for 246 yards on the ground and was the second time in three games that an opponent went for 40 or more points. Ben Roethlisberger threw six touchdowns in a 51-34 Pittsburgh win in Week 8 and Jonas Gray ran for 201 yards and four TDs for New England.

Still, they have won 10 straight games in the division and are the only team among its quartet with a better-than-.500 record. And, they haven’t lost to Jacksonville since September 2012.

“It’s up to us to execute,“ defensive end Cory Redding said. “It’s a tough pill to swallow, but let’s make it clear - we’ve got to go out and play winning football.“

In a five-game win streak that stretched from Weeks 3 through 7, Indianapolis allowed 75 total points and registered a shutout of Cincinnati. In three games since, it’s allowed 39 points per game.

“It’s definitely frustrating because we’re a good defense,“ defensive tackle Arthur Jones said. “We just have to be consistent.“

It may not be a problem against the Jaguars, who are second from last in the league in scoring (15.8 points per game), 27th of 32 teams in total yards (315.1 per game) and have been on the short end of a 138-40 composite score against the Colts since their last win in the series.

Indianapolis held a comfortable 30-3 lead before Bortles’ late uprising in the September game.

Jacksonville has given up 91 points in losing three straight since its lone win in 2014, and Colts QB Andrew Luck leads an offense that’s still averaging a league-best 438.3 yards per game even after being held to its low for the season - 322 yards - against New England.

Luck has thrown for at least 300 yards in eight straight games, a franchise- record streak that began with the initial defeat of the Jaguars. Elsewhere, Bradshaw’s absence means more responsibility for Trent Richardson, who has 594 total yards for the season. Indianapolis also signed Josh Cribbs to fill Bradshaw’s slot on the roster.

“We are going to miss his energy, his passion, everything he brings to the table,“ coach Chuck Pagano said.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

A Two-Man Advantage

Now that veteran cornerback Alan Ball has been lost for the season due to injury, the Jaguars’ defensive backfield will be headlined by starting corners Demetrius McCray and Dwayne Gratz, both of whom were drafted in 2013. They’ll face the prodigious receiving tandem of T.Y. Hilton and Reggie Wayne, who, incidentally, have 106 catches, 1,556 yards and five touchdowns between them.

Stopping the Plummet

The Colts had maintained a respectable place among the NFL’s rush defenses before the 244-yard debacle against the Patriots dropped them just past the midway point to 17th overall. Their front seven faces an interesting challenge this week in Robinson, who’d averaged more than 100 yards per game before being held to 60 yards on 15 attempts in the London game before the bye.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

For all the strides the inconsistent Jaguars may have made since the early- season meeting between the teams, they’re still the Jaguars and the Colts are still the Colts. Indianapolis plays respectable defense and Jacksonville doesn’t score. Indianapolis has a prodigious offense and Jacksonville allows a lot of points. Regardless of burgeoning optimism, it’s not a good recipe for the visiting cats.

Predicted outcome: Colts 27, Jaguars 10


►  Lovie brings Bucs to Chicago

Amid a slightly higher-profile arrival this weekend at Soldier Field - in the form of Tampa Bay coach Lovie Smith visiting his former Chicago home for the first time since he was fired two years ago - there’s also one Josh McCown.

McCown appeared in 11 games and started seven times across three seasons (two under Smith) with the Bears before heading to Buccaneers on a two-year, $10 million contract after Chicago displayed its allegiance to Jay Cutler in the form of a seven-year, $126.7 million deal.

His first three games with his new team yielded three losses and a thumb injury that subsequently kept him out of action for six weeks, but McCown returned to his starter’s role in Week 10 and has since thrown for 589 yards and four touchdowns against just two interceptions.

He finally earned win No. 1 for the Bucs last week, throwing for 288 yards and a pair of scores in a 27-7 road defeat of Washington that ended a five-game losing skid.

The momentum comes just in time for what he concedes will be an unusual experience this week.

“It will be neat, weird, all those things. I’m sure for Coach Smith it’s the same thing,“ McCown said. “But for us, we’ve got to win ball games, it doesn’t matter who we play.“

His return has coincided with the emergence of first-round draft pick Mike Evans, who’s caught seven passes in three straight games for 458 yards and five touchdowns. The Texas A&M product accounted for 209 receiving yards against the Redskins, making him the first rookie with a 200-yard game and two scores since Anquan Boldin did it 11 years ago.

The defense did its part in Washington as well, registering three takeaways and six sacks while yielding its lowest opposition point total of 2014. Tampa Bay had averaged 30.2 points allowed through its initial nine games while accounting for only 12 turnovers and 14 sacks.

“Hopefully we can build on this and see where we go from there,“ Smith said.

As it turns out, the tumult-wracked Bears could use a little building of their own.

Lest he be reminded that Smith was 18 games over .500, reached the playoffs three times and appeared in a Super Bowl once during his tenure in Chicago, second-year coach Marc Trestman is enduring daily questions about why his star-studded team isn’t performing anywhere near expectations.

Trestman was 8-8 in his first go-round last year, following Smith’s dismissal after he went 10-6 in 2012 and failed to reach the playoffs. And several of his holdover players are still fans of their old boss.

“(Smith) was the type of guy that you really wanted to run through a wall for,“ Bears linebacker Lance Briggs said. “And you didn’t want to see him go.“

Inconveniently, Chicago’s offense is more than six points a game off of the NFC-best 27.8-point clip it posted under Trestman last season, and his defense had allowed 50 points in two straight games before a circle-the-wagons 21-13 defeat of Minnesota in Week 11 ended a three-game losing streak.

Chicago allowed 243 total yards, but the Vikings were just 30th in the league in total offense coming in.

Smith’s defenses for the Bears averaged better than two takeaways per game, permitted less than 20 points and only surrendered 40 or more four times. Chicago has allowed 40 points six times under

Trestman and defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, while surrendering 29.5 points per game overall.

“We’re going to talk to our team truthfully about every aspect of this game,“ Trestman said. “The thing I can tell you about Lovie is that I’ve watched him for years and played against him for years and I know him as a person and I have tremendous respect for him as a person in all areas. That’s the only thing I can speak of at this point, and I truly mean that.“

As for offense, Cutler is expecting his former boss to supply a new defensive wrinkle or two.

The QB passed for 330 yards and three TDs against Minnesota, but he was intercepted twice and has six INTs in his last four games. Running back Matt Forte had 117 rushing yards against the Vikings and is third in the league with 1,308 total yards.

“It’s going to be challenging,“ Cutler said. “We are going to be familiar with their defense, they’ve got some really good players on that side of the ball.“

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Rookie on Rookie

First-year man Evans comes into the game for the Bucs full of pass-catching momentum. He’s scored seven touchdowns since missing Week 5 with an injury and uses his 6-foot-5, 231-pound frame with surprising speed and agility. He’ll be the focal point of rookie corner Kyle Fuller, picked seven slots after him in April, who’s 6-foot, 190 pounds and will need to create disruption at the line of scrimmage.

Facing an Old Friend

On the flip side, Chicago’s Brandon Marshall comes in after his own seven- catch, two-touchdown performance against Minnesota and will presumably be matched with veteran Alterraun Verner, who’s been inconsistent in his first year with Tampa Bay. Marshall could have a big day if Smith employs soft coverages with Verner, especially if the receiver can escape initial contact and extend plays.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

If it were solely a match on paper, the Bears would win easily. Of course, if they’d all been solely matches on paper, the Bears would probably be 8-2 instead of 4-6.

Expect Tampa Bay to be plenty revved-up for its popular new coach and for Smith to confound Cutler with a look or two, but in the end the advantages in personnel still reside with the hosts in Chicago. If he loses this one, Trestman’s done.

Predicted outcome: Bears 24, Buccaneers 14


►  Dolphins D is eager for Peyton test

It’s not every day that you hear an NFL player - particular on the defensive side of the ball - looking anxiously ahead to a matchup with Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.

But given the confidence jolt provided by four wins in five games, that’s where the Miami Dolphins are.

“It’s going to be fun,“ safety Reshad Jones said. “It’s a challenge. This what you play the game for, these type of games. I think it’s going to be a great atmosphere, great time of the season. It’s our time to go out, make our plays and make a statement.“

The Dolphins actually began the season at 1-2, but has since reeled off five wins in seven games - the two losses came by a combined seven points against two likely NFC playoff teams - and have put themselves definitively into the postseason conversation in the AFC.

Miami improved to 6-4 with a 24-9 stifling of AFC East rival Buffalo last week and hasn’t allowed a touchdown in two of its last three games. The Dolphins are second in the league in pass defense (208 yards per game) heading into the duel with Manning and Co., who are third in the league in total offense (412.9 yards per game) and second among the 32 teams in pass yardage (323 per game).

The 38-year-old has been sacked an NFL-low 11 times in 10 games, but part of the clear Miami mandate this week is to at least rattle him whether he’s being tackled with the ball in his hands or not.

“We just have to try to throw him off of his game early, try to get pressure on him and try to hit him as much as we can and force him to make bad throws,“ said Dolphins defensive end Olivier Vernon, whose 51/2 sacks are second on the team. “We’ve just got to get off the ball, time the snap and make sure we get pressure on him all game long. He has a very good line that’s protecting him and he’s a future Hall of Famer and we’ve got to throw all types of things at him that he wouldn’t expect and mix it up.“

Alongside the pressure is the aim of keeping Manning off the field as much as able.

Miami has gained 100 or more yards on the ground in eight of 10 games this season, most recently with 125 yards against the Bills. The team is sixth in the league with an average ground take of 127.3 yards per game, thanks to a deep backfield featuring Lamar Miller (614 yards), Daniel Thomas (138 yards), Damien Williams (100 yards) and quarterback Ryan Tannehill (261 yards).

Tannehill is gaining yardage at an average of 7.1 yards per run, and the Bills game was the fifth time this season - and fourth time in five games - that he completed more than 70% of his passes, going 26-of-34 (76.4 percent) for 240 yards and two touchdowns.

Still, though the Dolphins are averaging 24.9 points per game, they’re 31st in a 32-team league when it comes to red-zone scoring efficiency. In fact, Miami is averaging just 4.1 points on possessions that reach the opponent’s 20-yard line. Denver, incidentally, is first in the league at 6.0 points per possession, with touchdowns on 77% of its red-zone drives.

“Why have we had so many red-zone drives?“ Dolphins offensive coordinator Bill Lazor said. “Probably because we haven’t had explosive plays that have scored from outside the red zone. It’s easy math. The thing that’s not easy is getting it fixed.“

The teams haven’t played since Miami won an 18-15 decision over the Tim Tebow- led Broncos in 2011, but Manning’s career mark against the Dolphins with Indianapolis was a mediocre 5-7 with a pedestrian 79.8 passer rating thanks to 18 interceptions alongside his 18 touchdowns.

His fortunes these days aren’t quite so miserable, but Sunday’s game does come amid a rare slump for the team. Denver has lost two of three games after a 22-7 upset at St. Louis last weekend, and a defeat against Miami would mark just the second 1-3 skid in a four-game stretch since No. 18 arrived.

The last two losses - to New England and the Rams - have been by a combined 65-28.

The Broncos’ time of possession against the Rams was a season-low 24:10.

“You feel like you’ve let your team down,“ Manning said. “I didn’t feel like I carried my weight. That’s pretty plain and simple.“

The struggles have come in a rare stretch of three straight road games. Since arriving in Denver, Manning has 10 more interceptions and 10 fewer touchdowns in road games, and the Broncos have scored nine fewer rushing touchdowns away from home as well. In fact, of Manning’s nine regular-season losses with the team, only two have come in Denver.

Injuries to offensive players like Julius Thomas (ankle), Emmanuel Sanders (concussion) and Montee Ball (groin) haven’t helped matters, and the run game have been stifled to 43 and 28 yards, respectively, in the last two losses.

But if you’re expecting coach John Fox to beg for mercy, don’t bother.

“We’re not making excuses,“ he said. “There’s no panic inside the building. It’s just part of the way the league goes. We’re displeased, we’re not happy with the results, but we get to atone for it getting ready against the Miami Dolphins.“

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Hold Him Tight (End)

Presuming he’s healthy and ready to go after the ankle injury last week, Denver’s Thomas is a nightmare matchup for any defense. Against the Dolphins, curtailing his production will be the responsibility of linebacker Philip Wheeler underneath and safety Reshad Jones over the top. Miami employed that approach against San Diego’s Antonio Gates and held him to three catches for 28 yards.

Crack Open a Miller

Miami tackle Dallas Thomas is a 6-foot-5, 306-pound behemoth, but he’ll have his giant hands full when lined up against Denver linebacker Von Miller, who’s putting together yet another high-quality season. Miller has averaged a sack a game and is athletic and strong enough to stay on the field to defend the run as well. Thomas allowed two sacks to Buffalo’s Mario Williams last week, so he’ll need help.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

If you base your selections on momentum, Miami is an easy call. Though the Dolphins are a game behind in the standings, they’ve been far better over the last three weeks and are just eight points shy of having won seven consecutive games. Not to mention that they play defense well and can at least hang in with Manning and Co. on offense. Score one for cross-country confidence.

Predicted outcome: Dolphins 27, Broncos 24


►  Governor Cuomo says Bills playing Sunday is right now ‘impractical’

Snow is still blanketing the Buffalo area and plans to have the Bills and New York Jets play Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium may be unlikely.

New York governor Andrew Cuomo, as a matter of fact, called it “impractical.“

A travel ban for the area is still in place and the Bills have yet to practice for the contest, which could be moved to Monday or even Tuesday. It could also be shifted to a different site.

“My sense is it’s impractical to do the game because it would jeopardize public safety,“ said Governor Cuomo on Thursday after spending time in the area. “Everybody would love to see a Bills game go forward, but, I think even more, everybody wants to make sure public safety comes first.

“If there’s any way we can scramble to get it done ... we’ll do everything we can to deploy resources to make it possible.“

A ferocious lake-effect storm dumped more than five feet of snow in the Buffalo area, especially south and east of the city, where the stadium is located. Another storm is expected to drop another two feet.

The Bills estimate that they will need to clear 220,000 tons of snow in order to clear the stadium for Sunday’s game.

Snow shovelers can help clear the stadium for $10 an hour, plus game tickets if they work a certain number of hours.


►  Pats aim for 15th straight at home, entertain Lions

The Detroit Lions will finish up one of the toughest road stretches of this or any other season when they pay a visit to the red- hot New England Patriots on Sunday.

The Lions came up short against the now 9-1 Arizona Cardinals in the desert last weekend and things will hardly slow down seven days later as the 8-2 Pats await having won 14 straight at home and six consecutive overall, including a 42-20 drubbing of Indianapolis during Week 11 in which running back Jonas Gray rushed for 199 yards and four touchdowns in just his fourth career NFL game.

Billed as the matchup of Tom Brady versus Andrew Luck, Gray, a former Notre Dame star, returned to Indiana and stole the spotlight.

Gray, who had 131 yards rushing in his first three games filling in for the injured Stevan Ridley, carried the ball 38 times against the Colts, averaging 5.2 yards a tote.

Brady was 19-of-30 for 257 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, while Rob Gronkowski caught four passes for 71 yards and a score for the Patriots (8-2), who have won the six straight since a pedestrian 2-2 start.

“It’s a good win,“ Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. “I’m really proud of our offensive line. Good solid team effort.“

Conversely Detroit fell in he desert, 14-6, when Cards backup QB Drew Stanton threw touchdown passes to Michael Floyd on the first two drives of the game and Arizona held on from there.

Stanton stepped in again for Carson Palmer, who was lost for the season after suffering a torn ACL in his left knee. His touchdown throws of 42 and 12 yards to Floyd in the first nine minutes of the game stood up.

Matt Prater kicked two field goals for the Lions, who had a four-game winning streak snapped—their longest since a 5-0 start to the 2011 season.

Detroit’s Matthew Stafford threw for just 183 yards with an interception, but set an NFL passing record during the game. He became the quickest quarterback to reach 20,000 yards, doing it in 71 games—three fewer than Hall-of-Famer Dan Marino needed for the Miami Dolphins in the 1980s.

Calvin Johnson had five catches for 59 yards in his second game back from an ankle injury.

“We didn’t help ourselves out. We had too many penalties and mental errors,“ Stafford said. “You do that against a good defense and you won’t be too successful.“

The Patriots have won three straight over the Lions and lead the all-time series by a 6-4 margin. The two teams haven’t played watch other since November of 2010 when Brady threw for 34 yards and four TDs in a 45-24 win. They haven’t met in Foxborough since 2006, a 28-21 New England triumph.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

This shapes up as strength against strength with the Pats averaging 32.3 points per game, good for second in the NFL, matching up with a Detroit defense that is allowing just 15.6 points per game, the fewest in the league.

The Lions also own the NFL’s best defense in total yards allowed (290.3 per game) and rushing yards allowed (68.8 per game). The Pats, meanwhile, are seventh in total offense (380.6 ypg).

New England, which leads the AFC East, is the most balanced team in football and has beaten the other three AFC division leaders by a combined 131-58 margin, including consecutive 22-points wins over Denver (AFC West) and Indy (AFC South).

Against the Broncos it was the aerial attack with Brady throwing for 333 yards and four scores while it was the running game and Gray that pounded the Colts into submission in Indy.

“We always try to stay balanced,“ said Brady. “You never go in saying we’re going to run it this much or throw it this much. You try to get the runs on your terms, and if they’re going to load up and stop it, you’ve got to throw it, but if they’re not going to respect the running game, you’ve got to keep giving it to him.“

Gray ended up just 11 yards shy of the franchise rushing record against the Colts and surpassed his career mark for rushing attempts coming in (32). Despite the heavy workload, though, the back is ready to go.

“Surprisingly, I feel great. I actually just did some extra conditioning,“ Gray said. “I’m feeling good, ready for a big week against Detroit.“

He will have some added support though as the Pats brought back running back LeGarrette Blount on Thursday, just two days after he was released by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Steelers decided to part ways with Blount after he reportedly left the field prior to the conclusion of Monday’s game against Tennessee. The Patriots originally acquired Blount on April 27, 2013 in a trade with Tampa Bay and last season he rushed for 772 yards with seven touchdowns in 16 games, seven of which were starts. In the postseason win against Indianapolis on January 11, 2014, Blount ran for 166 yards and four rushing touchdowns.

The Lions seem to understand what they will be facing.

“We’re going against a very good football team, but we’re not going in this with a mindset like, ‘Oh, they’re unbeatable, they do everything so amazing,‘“ Detroit safety James Ihedigbo said. “We are the No. 1 defense. We’ve kind of earned that. Respect is not given in this league. It’s earned.“

Offense has been the biggest problem for Detroit, a stark contrast from the usual makeup of the Lions.

Detroit has been averaging just 17 points a game after piling up 35 against the New York Giants on opening day. The lack of a consistent running game has been the main culprit with the Lions mustering only 80.2 ypg on the ground, tied for 30th in the NFL with Arizona. Only winless Oakland is worse.

“They’ve shown in spurts they have grit, they’re tough, they come back, they fight you,“ Lions coach Jim Caldwell said of his team. “Even in (the Arizona) ball game, the effort was unreal. When you get that kind of effort, you just have to work on execution and some things. We’ll get better. I do think this team has the fortitude to be real resilient under disappointment.“

The paltry run game could get a lift from the potential return of Reggie Bush, who sat out against the Cardinals with an ankle injury but is expected to play this week.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

New England’s 14-game home run is the longest in football and the Pats have been beating foes by nearly two touchdowns a game (13.6 to be exact) over that span.

The Lions are better than the average opponent so figure on them keeping things closer than that but expecting a win is probably a little too much to ask.

“The thing about is that they have great tradition, a great tradition of winning,“ Caldwell said when asked about playing in Foxborough. “Certainly their ownership is one that is well respected, the coaching staff obviously has been exceptional through the years, so they have a lot of things that are going for them.

“But the fact of the matter is, they are a team that has won, probably, more Super Bowls in the modern era than anyone else. So, they present a great challenge, but our guys I think are up for that challenge. I think they look at every opportunity that they have as a great chance to go in and show what they can do and I think it’ll be interesting.“

Predicted outcome: Patriots 27, Lions 20

►  NFL Game Results

(THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 20)


Final Score: Oakland 24, Kansas City 20

It has been a long 368 days for Oakland, but there was finally joy at the Black Hole on Thursday night. Rookie quarterback Derek Carr led the way as the Raiders put an end to their 16-game losing streak with a thrilling 24-20 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. Carr’s late touchdown pass to James Jones capped off a lengthy drive that proved to be the difference as the Raiders (1-10) won their first game since Nov. 17, 2013 against Houston. Latavius Murray rushed for two touchdowns and 112 yards on four carries before departing after the first half with a concussion. Carr threw for 174 yards on an 18-of-35 completion rate in the win. Alex Smith completed 20-of-36 passes for 234 yards with two touchdowns and Jamaal Charles ran 19 times for 80 yards while also adding a receiving score for the Chiefs (7-4), who were coming off a 24-20 win over Seattle.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Mountaineers hammer George Mason 91-65 in Puerto Rico opener

West Virginia 91, George Mason 65

Devin Williams compiled 16 points and 10 rebounds in 22 minutes and West Virginia hounded George Mason into 24 turnovers during a 91-65 romp at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.

Jonathan Holton added 16 points, Juwan Staten tacked on 13, and 11 players scored for the Mountaineers (3-0), who cruised into a second-round matchup against Boston College.

Williams recorded his third consecutive double-double and the 11th of his 36-game career.

“Devin was good, but I want him to be great,” coach Bob Huggins said. “He was good, but Devin can be so much better and that’s what I want for him. Sometimes he doesn’t understand why I’m upset with him, but I’m upset with him because I know how good he can be.”

Elijah Macon and hometown product Gary Browne each scored nine points off the bench, freshman Jevan Carter contributed seven points and three steals, and walk-on Chase Connor buried both of his 3-point attempts. West Virginia built a 31-point lead in the second half, though Huggins still found the execution lacking at times.

“I thought we played very well for a stretch and got a big lead, but then we relaxed and didn’t play very well,” he said. “We started looking for shots and not looking to score—which is something you can do subconsciously when you get a big lead. From then on we didn’t play well.”

Patrick Holloway scored 17 and Shevon Thompson added 14 points for George Mason (1-2), which was picked near the cellar of the Atlantic 10 Conference. Overmatched on the boards and harassed into bad passes, the Patriots made a prophet of coach Paul Hewitt.

“Two things we were talking about before the game were keeping them from offensive rebounds and holding down our turnovers,” Hewitt said. “They dominated, forcing 24 turnovers, and they got 19 offensive rebounds and that’s pretty much the game.”

The outcome might have been less lopsided had George Mason capitalized on West Virginia’s Holton, Macon and Nathan Adrian each piling up four fouls. Instead, the Patriots languished through 16-of-32 free-throw shooting.

The Mountaineers hadn’t started a season with three straight wins since November 2010, when coincidentally they dropped their fourth game to Minnesota, in the final of this same Puerto Rico event.

Hewitt suggested this West Virginia squad could leave the Coliseo Roberto Clemente with a title.

“They’re very good,” he said. ” I don’t know what Coach Huggins will say, but from our perspective, they played very good tonight. They were much sharper than us and every mistake we made, they capitalized on it.”


FRIDAY’S GAME

West Virginia (3-0) vs. Boston College (2-1)

Tip-off: 6 PM Eastern on ESPNU

Scouting Boston College: On Thursday, the Eagles upset New Mexico 69-65 behind 20 points from Olivier Hanlan and 16 from Aaron Brown. … Former Ohio University and TCU coach Jim Christian inherited a team that was picked next to last in the ACC. Before coming to the Puerto Rico tournament, Boston College split home games by beating New Hampshire 58-50 and losing to UMass 71-62.

Prediction: West Virginia wins 64-60


►  Mississippi State knocks WVU women out of Preseason WNIT

Mississippi State took control with a 15-0 run in the second half to upset the No. 17 West Virginia women 74-61 on Thursday night in the Preseason WNIT semifinal.

The Mountaineers (2-1), paced by Averee Field’s career-high 23 points, trailed 42-41 with 16 minutes left, before Mississippi State (3-0) went oh a six-minute surge. Bulldogs freshman Victoria Vivians, who hit two of her four 3-pointers to put the game away, finished with 26 points and five rebounds. Ketara Chapel added 19 points in the win.

Mississippi State held a 31-20 edge on the offensive boards and a 26-10 cushion in second-chance points.

“They hurt us on offensive rebounds,” said coach Mike Carey. “We needed to see this to see what we need to correct. Give credit to Mississippi State, they did what they needed to do.”

Bria Holmes finished with 18 points in a 40-minute outing, her seventh straight game in double figures. But she made only 8-of-23 shots and committed eight of West Virginia’s 24 turnovers. Crystal Leary added nine rebounds and five boards before fouling out.

Teana Muldrow (seven points, five rebounds) and Lanay Montgomery (two points, five boards) also fouled out—Montgomery doing so in only 15 minutes.

The Mountaineers return to action Wednesday when they host Evansville.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  NBA Game Results

(Thursday, November 20)


Final Score: LA Clippers 110, Miami 93

Chris Paul and Blake Griffin each deposited 26 points to lead the Los Angeles Clippers to a 110-93 win over the Miami Heat on Thursday. Paul dished out 12 assists and committed just one turnover, while Griffin pulled down seven rebounds with four assists for the Clippers, who have opened up their seven-game road trip with two straight wins. JJ Redick scored 14 points on 4-of-8 shooting from 3-point range and DeAndre Jordan registered 12 points and 11 rebounds in the win. Los Angeles hadn’t won in Miami since March 10, 2008, snapping a five-game skid. Chris Bosh led the Heat with 28 points in their fourth loss in the last five games. Mario Chalmers and Luol Deng each chipped in with 13 points in the setback.


Final Score: Sacramento 103, Chicago 88

DeMarcus Cousins scored 22 points with 14 rebounds and the Sacramento Kings sent the Chicago Bulls to their first road loss of the season with a 103-88 decision on Thursday. Rudy Gay shot an efficient 7-for-11 from the floor in his 20-point effort and Darren Collison netted 17 points with 12 assists for the Kings, who went 2-1 on their three- game homestand. Jimmy Butler paced the Bulls with 23 points to go along with eight rebounds, while Mike Dunleavy, Taj Gibson and Aaron Brooks each supplied 12 points for the Bulls. Chicago, which played without Pau Gasol (calf) and Derrick Rose (hamstring), fell to 6-1 on the road this season.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  NHL Game Results

(Thursday, November 20)


Final Score: Minnesota 3, Philadelphia 2

Jason Zucker scored with 45.4 seconds remaining in the third period to lift the Minnesota Wild to a 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center. Marco Scandella and Nino Niederreiter both had a goal and one assist for the Wild, who posted a season-high fourth straight win. Darcy Kuemper stopped 37 Flyers shots in just the Wild’s third win in 10 all-time trips to Philadelphia. Claude Giroux tied the game on a Philadelphia power play with 3:30 remaining in regulation. Mark Streit also scored and Ray Emery made 26 saves for the Flyers, who have dropped four games in a row.


Final Score: Toronto 5, Tampa Bay 2

Behind a three-goal second period in which James van Riemsdyk scored twice, the Toronto Maple Leafs bounced back strongly with a 5-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Roman Polak added a goal and an assist to help the Maple Leafs halt a three-game skid capped by Tuesday’s brutal 9-2 home loss to Nashville. Richard Panik and David Clarkson also tallied and Jonathan Bernier aided Toronto’s cause with 26 saves, half of which came during the pivotal second period. Ben Bishop stopped just 16- of-20 shots as the Lightning wrapped up a three-game road trip with a second straight defeat. Steven Stamkos and Alex Killorn each had goals in the loss.


Final Score: Montreal 4, St. Louis 1

Max Pacioretty scored two goals on his 26th birthday, helping the Montreal Canadiens beat the St. Louis Blues 4-1 on Thursday at Bell Centre. Dale Weise and Lars Eller also scored and Carey Price made 31 saves for the Canadiens, who snapped a five-game losing streak in the series. Montreal rebounded from Tuesday’s 4-0 loss to Pittsburgh to win for the seventh time in its last eight games. Rookie Jake Allen stopped 26-of-30 shots for St. Louis, which has opened a four-game road trip with consecutive losses. The Blues had won 10 of 11 before Tuesday’s 2-0 loss to Boston.


Final Score: Ottawa 3, Nashville 2

Robin Lehner made 33 saves, including 15 in the third period, to lead the Ottawa Senators to a 3-2 win over the Nashville Predators on Thursday. Bobby Ryan, Alex Chiasson and Jared Cowen all had second-period goals in the Senators’ second victory in their last three games. Shea Weber and Olli Jokinen each scored for the Predators, who were coming off a 9-2 rout of Toronto on Tuesday.


Final Score: Detroit 4, Winnipeg 3

Tomas Tatar scored the winner at 15:10 of the third period, lifting the Detroit Red Wings to a come-from-behind 4-3 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday. Tatar’s second goal of the game came 2:10 after Justin Abdelkader tied the score at 3-3 for the Red Wings, who have won back-to-back games for the first time in three weeks. They were coming off a 5-0 decision over Columbus on Tuesday and climbed back from deficits of 2-0 and 3-2. Abdelkader scored on a deflection and set then up Tatar’s goal with a pass into the slot from the low left side. Detroit’s Petr Mrazek made 28 saves in his first game of the season.


Final Score: Dallas 3, Arizona 1

John Klingberg and Cody Eakin each scored in the opening minute of the third period as the Dallas Stars stopped a seven- game home losing streak with a 3-1 decision over the Arizona Coyotes. Jason Spezza also had a goal in the final frame and Kari Lehtonen turned aside 25 shots in a much-needed result for the slumping Stars, who had dropped three straight and won for only the third time in their last 13 outings. Dallas had gone 0-5-2 since its only previous victory at American Airlines Center this season, a 6-3 triumph over Vancouver on Oct. 21. Lauri Korpikoski tallied on a first-period power play for the Coyotes’ lone goal, with Mike Smith recording 24 saves in defeat.


Final Score: Washington 3, Colorado 2

Alex Ovechkin scored late in the third period to lift the Washington Capitals over the Colorado Avalanche, 3-2, on Thursday. Nicklas Backstrom and Ovechkin each had one goal and an assist for the Capitals, who have won two in a row. Jason Chimera also lit the lamp. Braden Holtby stopped 27-of-29 shots in the win. Daniel Briere and Tyson Barrie scored for the Avalanche, who had a two-game winning streak snapped. Reto Berra made 20 saves.


Final Score: Chicago 4, Calgary 3

Patrick Kane’s third-period goal lifted the Chicago Blackhawks to a 4-3 win over the Calgary Flames on Thursday night. Brent Seabrook, Adam Clendening and Daniel Carcillo also scored for Chicago and Corey Crawford had 24 saves. The Blackhawks started a six-game road trip, making room as they do every year for the circus to take over United Center. They have won four of their last five. The Flames had a three-game winning streak snapped in their third loss in the last 10 games. Paul Byron, Sean Monahan and Dennis Wideman scored and Jonas Hiller allowed four goals on 22 shots. Calgary hasn’t dropped two in a row since Oct. 25 and 28.


Final Score: Anaheim 4, Vancouver 3 (SO)

Corey Perry and Jakob Silfverberg both scored in the shootout to lift the Anaheim Ducks to a 4-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday. Perry, the first participant of the shootout, came down the right side, drifted towards the slot and patiently lifted a shot over a sliding Eddie Lack. After Vancouver’s first two shooters failed to score, Silfverberg’s quick wrister over the glove of the Vancouver netminder sealed the win. Andrew Cogliano and Matt Belesky both lit the lamp, Ryan Getzlaf tallied a goal and an assist and Frederik Andersen made 25 saves and stopped both Canucks’ players he faced in the shootout for the Ducks, who snapped a three-game skid. Jannick Hansen and Radim Vrbata both scored and Bo Horvat registered his first NHL goal for the Canucks, who have dropped two of their last three. Lack made 23 saves in defeat.


Final Score: Los Angeles 3, Carolina 2

Tanner Pearson scored the go-ahead goal early in the second period, lifting the Los Angeles Kings over the Carolina Hurricanes, 3-2, on Thursday. Jarret Stoll and Trevor Lewis also scored for the Kings, who have won three in a row. Jonathan Quick made 25 saves. Eric Staal and Jeff Skinner lit the lamp for the Hurricanes, who have lost four of five. Cam Ward stopped 36-of-39 shots.


Final Score: Florida 3, San Jose 2 (SO)

Nick Bjugstad scored a pair of goals in regulation and fittingly netted the game-winner in the shootout as the Florida Panthers spoiled the San Jose Sharks’ return to the Shark Tank with a 3-2 victory on Thursday. San Jose’s Patrick Marleau was denied by Roberto Luongo on a penalty shot early in the third period, but the veteran forward redeemed himself with time winding down. The Sharks pulled Antti Niemi for an extra attacker, and Joe Thornton, from deep in the right corner, fed Marleau out in front for the tying goal with 33.1 seconds on the clock. The Panthers carried a power play 1:49 into overtime but did not cash in. After each team scored in the second round of the shootout, Brent Burns rung one off the post for San Jose, and Bjugstad followed with the difference maker. Luongo made 28 saves for the Panthers, who also upended the Sharks, 4-1, on Nov. 11. Logan Couture scored a power-play goal, while Niemi stopped 26-of-28 shots for the Sharks, who were coming off an 11-day road trip that saw them go 3-4-0.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Kahne gets three-year extension from Hendrick

Kasey Kahne will continue to drive for Hendrick Motorsports through the 2018 Sprint Cup season, signing a three-year contract extension on Thursday.

Kahne’s deal was set to expire at the conclusion of the 2015 campaign.

“It’s extremely gratifying to work with a driver like Kasey,“ said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. “I think the world of him both as a driver with championship-level talent and an overall terrific young man. Our whole organization has a great deal of respect for how hard he works, the professionalism he displays with our partners and the way he carries himself every day. We’re committed to winning races and competing for titles with him for many years to come.“

Kahne finished 15th in the 2014 Sprint Cup standings, his worst mark since placing 20th in 2010. He won one race and had three top-five results this year.

The 34-year-old Washington native’s best season was 2012, when he finished fourth in his first full year with Hendrick.

“I’ve found a home at Hendrick Motorsports,“ said Kahne, who since 2012 has earned at least one victory each season while securing three consecutive Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup berths. “We have incredible people and partners supporting us, and I couldn’t be more excited about the direction we’re headed as a team and a company. It’s the right place for me, and I’m looking forward to being here for a long time.“

Kahne has five Sprint Cup wins and 26 top-five finishes since 2012. He owns 17 Sprint Cup race victories since breaking into NASCAR’s top division in 2004.


►  Vettel to join Ferrari as Alonso exits

Four-time Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel will replace two-time titleholder Fernando Alonso at Ferrari for the 2015 season, the Italian team confirmed on Thursday.

Ferrari announced that Vettel has signed a three-year agreement with the team. The 27-year-old German has driven for Red Bull since the start of the 2009 season. His F1 world championships came consecutively from 2010-13. Vettel will team with Kimi Raikkonen, the 2007 world champion, at Ferrari. Raikkonen returned to the team for the 2014 season.

Vettel has won 39 grand prix and made 66 podium appearances in 138 F1 starts. He has also scored 45 pole positions. Vettel won a season-record-tying 13 races last year but has yet to score a victory this season. He is currently fourth in the championship standings.

“The next stage of my Formula 1 career will be spent with Scuderia Ferrari, and for me that means the dream of a lifetime has come true,“ Vettel said. “When I was a kid, Michael Schumacher, in the red car, was my greatest idol, and now it’s an incredible honor to finally get the chance to drive a Ferrari.“

Last month, Vettel revealed that he was leaving Red Bull at the conclusion of this season. He did not announce his future plans at the time, but it had been expected that he would join Ferrari for next season.

F1 is running its last race of the year, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, on Sunday, with the drivers’ championship to be determined between Mercedes teammates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

Vettel’s best finish this season is second, which occurred in the September 21 Singapore Grand Prix. He is a three-time winner of the Abu Dhabi GP, including a victory here last year.

“The success I’ve had in Formula One, especially with Red Bull Racing over the last four years, I think has been an incredible journey,“ he said. “But I think at some stage you feel that you want to take on a new challenge and do something different. I think I don’t have to mention the history of Ferrari in the sport, and it’s probably the greatest team to drive for. I’m very excited and very motivated to try to do my best, to put my heart in it and be successful.“

Ferrari holds the record for most constructors’ championships with 16 but has not had a title since 2008. The team’s last drivers’ championship was seven years ago with Raikkonen. Michael Schumacher won five of his record seven F1 titles with Ferrari (2000-04).

“Scuderia Ferrari has decided to put its faith in the youngest multiple champion in the history of Formula 1,“ team principal Marco Mattiacci said of Vettel’s signing with Ferrari. “In Formula 1 terms, Sebastian Vettel is a unique combination of youthfulness and experience, and he brings with him that sense of team spirit which will prove invaluable when, together with Kimi, they tackle the challenges awaiting us, as we aim to be front runners again as soon as possible.

“With Sebastian, we all share a thirst for victory as well as enthusiasm, a strong work ethic and tenacity; key elements for all the Scuderia members to write together a new winning chapter in the history of Ferrari.“

Ferrari made two separate announcements on Thursday—first with Alonso’s leaving the team at season’s end and then Vettel’s signing. Ferrari said in its statement of Alonso’s departure that the relationship between the driver and the team ended “by common consent.“

Alonso, a 33-year-old Spaniard, has driven for Ferrari since the start of the 2010 season. Eleven of his 32 career F1 grand prix wins came with Ferrari. He also made 44 podium appearances with the team but only two this year (second in Hungary and third in China). Alonso is presently fifth in the world championship standings.

“It’s a new chapter in my career,“ Alonso said. “I felt it was the time to find new projects, new motivation. It was not an easy decision to make. I was in talks, even last year to be honest, and we waited for this year, for the new car, the new turbo era, etc.

“This year, I felt around summertime, September, it was time to move, and I made the decision. Only time will tell if it’s a good one or a bad one. But what is for sure is that it has been an amazing experience. So happy and so proud to have had those five years with an amazing team, an amazing brand like Ferrari.“

Alonso won his championships back-to-back with Renault from 2005-06.

In his first season with Ferrari in 2010, Alonso entered the season-ending Abu Dhabi GP with an eight-point lead, but Vettel’s victory in that race coupled with a seventh-place finish for Alonso allowed Vettel to win his first F1 title by just four points.

It’s widely rumored that Alonso will return to McLaren after he drove for that team in 2007. McLaren recently said that it will not announce its driver lineup for next year until December. Jenson Button, the 2009 world champion, and rookie Kevin Magnussen are its current driver lineup, but Button’s future plans are unclear after he has spent the past 15 years in F1.

“It’s been an interesting few months,“ Button said. “When you’re in Formula One for so many years - 15 years - you have blinkers on in terms of anything else apart from Formula One. This is the best sport in the world, this is your life, this is everything. But when you are put in an uncomfortable situation obviously your eyes are opened to other possibilities.“

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, NOVEMBER 21, 2014


National Basketball Association
Phoenix at Philadelphia, 7:00 PM - FS-Arizona, CSN-Philadelphia, DSS
Orlando at Charlotte, 7:00 PM - FS-Florida, SportSouth, DSS
Detroit at Atlanta, 7:30 PM - FS-Detroit, SportSouth, DSS
Milwaukee at Toronto, 7:30 PM - FS-Wisconsin, TSN, DSS
Boston at Memphis, 8:00 PM - CSN-New England, SportSouth, DSS
Brooklyn at Oklahoma City, 8:00 PM - YES, FS-Oklahoma, DSS
Cleveland at Washington, 8:00 PM - FS-Ohio, CSN-DC, ESPN
San Antonio at Minnesota, 8:00 PM - FS-Southwest, North, DSS
LA Lakers at Dallas, 8:30 PM - Time Warner, FS-Southwest, DSS
New Orleans at Denver, 9:00 PM - FS-New Orleans, Altitude, DSS
Utah at Golden State, 10:30 PM - ROOT-Northwest, CSN-Bay, DSS
Chicago at Portland, 10:30 PM - WGN, CSN-Northwest, ESPN


National Hockey League
NY Islanders at Pittsburgh, 7:00 PM - TVA, SNET, MSG+, ROOT-Pittsburgh, DSS
Boston at Columbus, 7:00 PM - NESN, FS-Ohio, DSS
NY Rangers at Buffalo, 7:00 PM - MSG, MSG-Buffalo, DSS
New Jersey at Edmonton, 9:30 PM - MSG+, MSG+2, SNET-West, DSS


College Basketball
Puerto Rico Tip-Off, 12:00 PM - ESPN U or ESPN3.com
Charleston Classic, 12:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Puerto Rico Tip-Off, 2:30 PM - ESPN U or ESPN 2
Charleston Classic, 2:30 PM - ESPN U or ESPN3.com
Seton Hall vs. Nevada, 4:00 PM - CBSSN
Puerto Rico Tip-Off, 5:00 PM - ESPN U or ESPN 2
2K Classic, 5:00 PM - ESPN U or ESPN 2
LSU vs. Old Dominion, 6:30 PM - CBSSN
Prairie View at Baylor, 7:00 PM - FS-Southwest+, West
Troy at Georgia, 7:00 PM - SEC Network+
IUPU-Ft Wayne at Georgia Tech, 7:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Boston University at Kentucky, 7:00 PM - FS-South, SD, Prime Ticket, SunSports
Loyola-Chicago at Michigan State, 7:00 PM - Big Ten Network
Toledo at Oregon, 7:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
UNLV vs. Stanford, 7:00 PM - TruTV
Puerto Rico Tip-Off, 7:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Charleston Classic, 7:00 PM - ESPN U
Montana State at Buffalo, 7:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Maine at Central Michigan, 7:00 PM - ESPN3.com
George Washington at Virginia, 7:00 PM - ESPN3.com
2K Classic, 7:30 PM - ESPN 2
Bethune-Cookman at Monmouth, 7:30 PM - ESPN3.com
Delaware State at Arkansas, 8:00 PM - SEC Network+
ULM at Florida, 8:00 PM - SEC Network
Austin Peay at Illinois, 8:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Morehead State at Louisiana Tech, 8:00 PM - American Sports Net, MASN
Milwaukee at Oklahoma State, 8:00 PM - FS-Southwest+, Wisconsin, FCS-Pacific
Stephen F. Austin at Xavier, 8:00 PM - FS2
Iona at Wake Forest, 8:30 PM - ESPN3.com
Louisiana at Auburn, 9:00 PM - FS-South, ESPN3.com
Georgia State at Colorado State, 9:00 PM - Mountain West Network
Marshall at Louisville, 9:00 PM - ESPN U
Oral Roberts at Oregon State, 9:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
Charleston Classic, 9:00 PM - ESPN3.com
UC Riverside at Utah, 9:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
Temple vs. Duke, 9:30 PM - TruTV
Kansas State at Long Beach State, 10:30 PM - FS-South, Ohio, Detroit+, MASN2


Women’s College Basketball
Alabama at Kansas, 7:00 PM - ESPN3.com, Jayhawk TV
Winthrop at Tennessee, 7:00 PM - SEC Network+
Bradley at Oklahoma, 8:00 PM - Sooner TV
Hampton at Kansas State, 8:00 PM - COX Cable


College Football
UTEP at Rice, 8:00 PM - FS1
Air Force at San Diego State, 9:30 PM - CBSSN
San Jose State at Utah State, 9:30 PM - ESPN 2
Eastern Washington at Portland State, 10:05 PM - ROOT-Rocky Mountain


College Hockey
Providence at New Hampshire, 7:00 PM - FCS
Penn State at Michigan, 7:30 PM - FS-Detroit+
Massachusetts Lowell at Notre Dame, 7:30 PM - NBCSN
North Dakota at St. Cloud State, 8:30 PM - FS-North, FCS


International Soccer
FC Metz vs. Paris Saint-Germain FC, 2:25 PM - beIN Sport


Golf
EUROPEAN - DP World Championship, 3:00 AM - Golf Channel
LPGA - CME Group Tour Championship, 1:30 PM - Golf Channel
AUSTRALIAN - MasterCard Masters, 9:30 PM - Golf Channel


Tennis
Davis Cup - Switzerland vs. France, 8:00 AM - Tennis Channel
Davis Cup - Switzerland vs. France, 11:00 AM - Tennis Channel


Auto Racing
FORMULA ONE - Abu Dhabi Grand Prix practice, 8:00 AM - NBCSN

Sports News   141120

The Gilmer Free Press


The Gilmer Free Press

►  Thursday’s game against No.12 K-State gives West Virginia chance to forget the hard fades of the past two seasons

For teams not lucky or talented enough to be in the College Football Playoff waiting room, November becomes a month for reconfigured missions.

Their championship dreams dissolved, and in many cases, even their next-in-line goals already smashed, these also-rans face the cold completion of the season as a trial of conviction. West Virginia has suffered hard fades the past two seasons, and its current two-game slide sure makes for a repeating-history storyline.

And that makes Thursday night’s showdown against No. 12 Kansas State so crucial.

Crucial to the Mountaineers’ upperclassmen who have gone 2-8 in November during three Big 12 seasons. Crucial for bowl plans that could ascend to the Alamo or settle for the Liberty. Crucial to coach Dana Holgorsen for adding/subtracting dollars and maybe years to an inevitable contract extension. Crucial to the legacy of a season that once was emboldened with we’re-back swagger.

TCU’s game-ending field goal dashed some of that. West Virginia’s game-starting lethargy at Texas buried the rest.

Now, 10 days after taking their whipping in Austin, the Mountaineers can impact the Big 12 title chase by knocking K-State (7-2, 5-1) out of it. That’s the wide-angle perspective. Locally, it’s a chance to rekindle the emotional crest of a team actually getting better as the season wears on.

That happened during Holgorsen’s debut year, resulting in a league title and a trip to Miami for a mutilation of Clemson that would’ve made Dexter jealous. It happened under Holgorsen’s predecessor Bill Stewart in 2008 when WVU came within seven points of ending the year on a 10-game winning streak. It was a hallmark of the seven-game surge that closed out 2005 and made RichRod’s bunch beloved.

Of course, all those strong finishes occurred in the middling Big East, where West Virginia rarely faced deficits in talent, fan support or facilities. This new era in the Big 12 hasn’t been so forgiving. Witness WVU’s 10-15 league mark since joining.

In that regard, beating K-State would provide a stepping stone for West Virginia (6-4, 4-3) by clinching its first winning record in the Big 12. The resulting endorphin boost could ramp up enthusiasm for spending Thanksgiving weekend in Ames before WVU learns what the postseason brings.

“We still can have a 9-4 season—that’s a pretty solid season,” said defensive lineman Kyle Rose. “It’s not what we wanted, with us not getting the Big 12 championship, but there’s a lot to play for. We’re excited to play.”

Winning Thursday also would help assuage the embarrassment from two blowout losses to K-State—by a combined score of 90-26. (Did we mention the Mountaineers had five NFL draftees from those seasons while the Wildcats had only four?)

Cue the Bill Snyder career-achievement kudos, which are obligatory yet richly deserved:

“He probably gets more out of less than anyone in America,” said West Virginia offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson.

With two regular-season games and a bowl bid lingering, will West Virginia succumb to recent trends or make the most from its opportunities?  ~~  Alan Taylor ~~


►  Iowa State game set for noon kickoff

The West Virginia-Iowa State game in Ames on November 29 will kick off at noon Eastern, according to the Big 12.

Fox Sports 1 will televise the game.

The game will conclude the regular seasons for West Virginia, which is bowl-bound with six wins. Iowa State (2-7, 0-6), which currently sits in the Big 12 cellar, won’t conclude its season until December 06 at TCU.

The Cyclones are 1-4 at home this season, with the lone victory coming against Toledo.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Holliday expecting improved UAB team

For the last several years, UAB has been a “gimme” game for many teams in Conference USA. The Blazers have historically struggled, hampered by a lack of funding and support but first year head coach Bill Clark has the Blazers on the precipice of bowl eligibility for the first time in a decade and is doing some remarkable work in Birmingham.

“UAB is a much improved football team. They have put up over 500 yards of total offense against Mississippi State, played extremely well and right up to the wire. They have done that a lot throughout the year,” complemented Herd coach Doc Holliday.

In fact, the Blazers outgained Mississippi State, which is ranked fourth in the latest CFB Playoff committee rankings, 548-516 that day and only trailed by six points at halftime. Dak Prescott threw three touchdowns for the Bulldogs in the third quarter to put the Blazers in a hole they couldn’t climb out of.

“It will be a great challenge for us on the road,” emphasized Holliday. “We are going to have to have a great week of preparation to make sure we are ready to play that game.”

Holliday insists UAB had quality players last year when the Blazers came to Huntington and Marshall ran away with a 56-14 win but the biggest change from last year, is that the UAB players have bought in to coach Bill Clark.

“I think Coach (Bill) Clark has done a tremendous job with them. He has them motivated and playing hard. They have players. They have some good football players. He has coached them up. He has them believing in themselves and he has them playing extremely hard. You can tell that by watching them on film.”

Saturday is an opportunity for the Blazers to gain bowl eligibility for the first time since 2004 and bring Marshall’s dream season to a screeching halt.

“It’s that next one that we need. This is one is the next game, they are undefeated, and at our place. We have all kinds of great possibilities here. This is why you play the game. This is the fun of these opportunities,” said UAB Coach Bill Clark.

Clark admitted there was pressure on his team coming into the game, even though Marshall is the undefeated team with big postseason aspirations.

“There is pressure on our guys. I don’t want them to feel that but I do want them to know how hard they are going to have to play,” said Clark. “That is the thing you see when teams are getting blown out. That is something that really gets your attention. They are well coached. We have a huge challenge but this is something we should embrace and something we should love.”

Clark is hoping that his team can draw on the experience of playing two non-conference games against SEC opponents.

“The fact that we have played Mississippi State and Arkansas helps us,” said Blazers coach Bill Clark. “When you look at their scores, it’s daunting. They have put it on the people they have played and on some good opponents in our league. As the season has gone on, it has gotten worse. That Southern Miss game got out of hand quickly. It is every phase of the game that they are good at.”

Marshall is preparing this week just as it has for the previous ten games, and that approach has worked so far.

“It will be a great challenge for us on the road. We are going to have to have a great week of preparation to make sure we are ready to play that game,” Holliday reiterated.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Gray’s record-setting day earns him AFC weekly honors

New England Patriots running back Jonas Gray’s record-setting day earned him AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors on Wednesday.

Also honored for their Week 11 performances were Texans defensive end J.J. Watt and Chargers punter Mike Scifres.

Gray rushed for a career-high 201 yards on 37 carries and franchise-record four touchdowns in the Patriots’ 42-20 win at Indianapolis. He became the first NFL player to score his first four career rushing touchdowns in one game since Herb Henderson of the 1921 Evansville Crimson Giants.

Gray’s four touchdowns tied the Patriots’ single-game record set by Randy Moss, who had four touchdown catches on November 18, 2007 against Buffalo.

His 201 rushing yards were the third-most in a game in franchise history, trailing only Tony Collins (212) and Jim Nance (208).

Watt, the defensive player of the week, had five tackles, one sack, three tackles for a loss, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a touchdown catch in the Texans’ 23-7 win at Cleveland.

He is the only NFL player to register a sack, forced fumble, fumble recovery and touchdown reception in the same game since sacks became an official statistic in 1982. He is also the second player in NFL history with two touchdown catches, an interception-return touchdown and a fumble-return touchdown in a season, joining Philadelphia’s Jay Arnold in 1938.

Scifres, the special teams player of the week, punted nine times for 380 yards (42.2 average) and placed five inside the 12-yard line in the Chargers’ 13-6 win against Oakland.


►  Bucs’ Evans highlights NFC Players of the Week

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans, San Francisco 49ers linebacker Chris Borland and St. Louis Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein were named NFC Players of the week in their teams’ Week 11 wins.

Evans had seven catches for 209 yards and two touchdowns in the Buccaneers’ 27-7 win at Washington. The Texas A&M product is the first rookie in league history to record at least seven catches, 100 receiving yards and a touchdown catch in three consecutive games.

The 21-year-old Evans is the first wide receiver in franchise history to be named Offensive Player of the Week.

Borland had 12 tackles and two interceptions in the 49ers’ 16-10 win at the New York Giants. He is the first rookie linebacker in club history to record two interceptions in a game.

He joins Andre Carter (Week 17, 2001) as the only 49ers rookies to win Defensive Player of the Week.

Zuerlein converted all five field-goal attempts, including two from beyond 50 yards, and scored 16 points in the Rams’ 22-7 win over Denver. He also added five touchbacks on seven kickoffs.

His three Special Teams Player of the Week Awards are the most by a kicker in team history.


►  Chiefs try to avoid trap in Oakland

A date with the winless Oakland Raiders is all that stands between the Kansas City Chiefs and first place in the AFC West.

Week 12 of the NFL season kicks off Thursday night when the streaking Chiefs visit the Bay Area to take on the hapless Raiders, who have lost 16 straight games dating back to last season.

Kansas City, on the other hand, has won seven of its past eight games after an 0-2 start, including a 24-20 victory against the reigning Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks last weekend.

“It feels good to know that we were able to bounce back after a poor start at the beginning of the season,“ Chiefs linebacker Tamba Hali said. “But we have a lot of work to do.“

The Chiefs are currently tied with Denver atop the AFC West and would surge one-half game ahead of the Broncos, at least for the time being, with a triumph.

Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis combined for three rushing touchdowns against the Seahawks while the Kansas City defense made some key stops down the stretch in the win.

Charles carried the ball 20 times for 159 yards, his ninth career 150-yard effort, and two touchdowns for the Chiefs who have won five in a row. Davis’ 4-yard TD run with 13:41 to play gave Kansas City the lead and the defense held on, stopping three different Seahawks’ fourth-down attempts.

Alex Smith completed 11-of-16 passes for 108 yards for the Chiefs, who improved to 21-5 at Arrowhead Stadium against the Seahawks.

“Our defense, we were sitting there with three fourth down plays late in the game and they stepped up,“ said Chiefs coach Andy Reid. “They did a phenomenal job there of getting off the field.“

Oakland, meanwhile, continued its losing ways last weekend, managing just six points in San Diego as the Chargers halted a three-game skid with an unimpressive 13-6 triumph.

Raiders rookie quarterback Derek Carr was 16-of-34 for 172 yards. His final completion, a 28-yarder to James Jones, converted a 4th-and-9 from the Oakland 13. After spiking the ball to stop the clock with 11 seconds remaining in the game, he threw a Hail Mary pass that was five yards short of the end zone.

“No one’s giving up, no one is going to give up,“ Carr said.

The Raiders registered only nine first downs in their 16th straight defeat.

“It was a tough loss, but you have to stay positive,“ said Raiders veteran safety Charles Woodson, who had a game-high 14 tackles against the Chargers. “We have another game on a short week this Thursday night against a division opponent, so we just put this one behind us.“

Kansas City leads its all-time series with Oakland by a 55-50-2 margin and has won the past two. On Thursdays, the Chiefs are 10-8 while the Raiders are under water at 7-9.

The teams will also meet in the “Show Me State” on December 14.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Kansas City lost to the Broncos in the Rocky Mountains back in September and the rematch looms in Week 13, meaning this could be the stereotypical trap game for the Chiefs, something Reid is likely anticipating.

“The team is excited about the win (over the Seahawks),“ the coach said, “But they also know we are getting on a plane to fly out and play a good Oakland team on Thursday. We’ve got to make sure we enjoy this, but we have to get ourselves back and ready to go quickly and we understand that.“

“Good Oakland team” might be a bit of a stretch, considering the Raiders are dead last in offensive production, mustering only 276.4 yards per game.

The lack of a consistent running game is especially frustrating because in theory it would help a rookie quarterback trying to find his way. But, Oakland is mustering just 63.0 ypg on the ground, also 32nd in the NFL and nearly 18 yards behind the next worst (Detroit and Arizona).

Carr leads all rookies this season with 2,075 passing yards and 13 touchdowns, both of which are franchise records for a first-year player and that occasional production has the Raiders 26th in the league through in the air, which is at least a little more respectable. His occasional success hasn’t translated into points, however, where Oakland is again behind the rest of the line at 15.2 points per game.

“There’s a lot for every quarterback to get ready for, especially with a talented defense like Kansas City has,“ said Carr. “It just puts more on your plate and you just knock it out in the time that we do have.“

That talented defense is a top-10 unit that is especially dominant against the pass, ranking No. 1 in the NFL by allowing 201.6 ypg. Overall, K.C.‘s stop unit is second in points allowed at 17.1 ppg and eighth in yardage, surrendering 326.0 ypg.

“They’re a good football team, a well-coached football team, a physical team,“ Oakland interim coach Tony Sparano said of the Chiefs.

The one area where Oakland has been OK is pass protection, keeping Carr clean for the most part by allowing just 12 sacks. Kansas City, however, gets after the QB better than most and has accumulated 30 sacks (12 by Justin Houston), good for third in football.

“They’ve got a great front - a big, physical bunch of guys,“ Sparano said. “They get after you pretty good.“

Carr was also a limited participant in Oakland’s first two practices this week due to a quadriceps injury.

“We kept him limited, and we’ll see where he is (Wednesday),“ Sparano said. “I honestly wish I could give you more, but you have to wait and see where exactly he is and how he responds.“

Veteran Matt Schaub is the alternative if Carr can’t go.

For the Chiefs offense, it’s all about Charles, who matched Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson for the most 150-yard rushing games in Kansas City history last week.

The dynamic back is averaging 5.5 yards per rush in his career, the best mark in NFL history and was the first player in league lore with four receiving TDs and a rushing score in a single game the last time these two teams met, a 56-31 Chiefs win last December.

“He’s Jamaal Charles,“ Reid said. “He’s a special player.“

He’s so special in fact that he allows Smith to play game manager, something the veteran signal caller does very well, especially against the Raiders. Smith is 4-0 as a starter against Oakland in his career, throwing 10 TDs versus just one interception in those games.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

The Raiders haven’t won a football game in a calendar year and are bogged down in the NFL’s worst losing streak since 2009 when St. Louis finally ended a 17- game slide and Detroit did the same with a 19-game hiccup.

Short weeks tend to favor the home team and it’s almost human nature for the Chiefs to want to look ahead at the Broncos. That said, Reid, who is now 18-9 (including playoffs) as the head coach in K.C., is one of the best coaches in the game when it comes to preparation and Oakland just doesn’t have enough firepower to deal with the Chiefs’ defense.

“You don’t have quite as much time to think over things,“ Reid said of the short week. “Sometimes that could be a good thing, sometimes it could be bad. We have to get ourselves back and ready to go quickly, so we understand that.“

Predicted outcome: Chiefs 24, Raiders 14


►  Bills still planning to play Sunday despite snowstorm

Ralph Wilson Stadium is blanketed in snow, but the Bills are still planning to play their Week 12 game against the New York Jets at 1 PM ET Sunday.

A ferocious lake-effect storm dumped more than five feet of snow in the Buffalo area. Another storm is expected to drop another two feet.

The Bills estimate that they will need to clear 220,000 tons of snow in order to clear the stadium for Sunday’s game.

Snow shovelers can help clear the stadium for $10 an hour, plus game tickets if they work a certain number of hours.

The NFL released the following statement about Sunday’s game:

“We are working with the Bills to determine the status of the stadium. If a change to the schedule needs to be made, the league will make the decision, working closely with the club and local authorities.“

Bills coach Doug Marrone said during a conference call Wednesday that they are videotaping coaches’ game plan information and distributing it digitally to players.

“I can’t say enough about the people of Buffalo. Words can’t describe it, everyone is just helping each other,“ said Marrone.


►  Saints’ wide receiver Cooks out for season

The New Orleans Saints have placed rookie wide receiver Brandin Cooks on season-ending injured reserve with a broken thumb.

Cooks apparently injured his thumb in the Saints’ Week 11 loss to Cincinnati, but he never left the game. He finished with five catches for 50 yards. Before being placed on IR, it was expected that Cooks could return for Week 16.

In 10 games, Cooks caught 53 passes for 550 yards, including three touchdowns, all of which ranked second on the Saints. He also had 73 rushing yards and a touchdown on seven carries and was the team’s primary punt returner.

The Oregon State product was the Saints’ first-round pick in the 2014 Draft. His 53 catches led all rookie receivers, and his 550 receiving yards ranked fifth.


►  Extra Points: ‘Moral Roger’ resurfaces

Forget all the white noise.

When it came to the Adrian Peterson punishment, the only real issue was whether Roger Goodell was going to temper the tyrannical act or return to his default settings as judge, jury and executioner of all things related to personal conduct in the NFL.

That was answered Tuesday when “Moral Roger” resurfaced, taking on his “700 Club” persona to not only suspend Peterson for at least the remainder of the 2014 season but also pontificate from a horse so high, the Guinness Book of World Records was called in to document the height of his soap box.

“You have shown no meaningful remorse for your conduct,“ commissioner Goodell wrote, no doubt wagging his finger as he made blanket assertions involving a culture he knows little about.

“The well-being of your children is of paramount concern,“ Goodell continued. “In the absence of speaking to you to understand your current disposition toward child discipline, we cannot be sure that this conduct will not be repeated. Moreover, we are unaware of any effort on your part to acknowledge the seriousness of your conduct and your responsibility to demonstrate a genuine commitment to change.“

Absence being the key word there.

Here’s all you need to know about “Moral Roger.“ Genuflect in front of him and get two games for knocking your significant other out cold—at least until public sentiment is polled and double jeopardy becomes nothing more than a cute idea that things like courts have to abide by. Fail to curtsy, however, and you’re banished until the King says so.

“To be so hypocritically self-righteous about Adrian not showing significant remorse. Who in the hell does he think he is?“ Rusty Hardin, Peterson’s attorney, said on ESPN Radio Wednesday.

The world’s worst arbiter continues to move forward with no checks and balances, the type of despotic behavior that got him in trouble in the first place.

“And now the NFL has decided that they are going to be the arbiter of what is appropriate discipline for a child and whether a person is or is not feeling significant remorse,“ Hardin said. “It’s just unbelievable. There’s no precedent for it. Really, so, discipline of a child now and whether somebody makes a mistake like that is going to be decided by the NFL with their history?“

To those who don’t understand nuance, please stop reading.

This exercise is not about defending Adrian Paterson or child abuse. It’s about precedent and an elite autocrat who moves the goal posts whenever he sees fit.

If DC Comics ever decided to take on Goodell, he would be drawn as an a Manhattan aristocrat with a moral compass instead of a utility belt.

The NFLPA smells an opportunity to hurt a weakened commissioner but it’s not happening.

“Litigation on some level is inevitable,“ NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith told Pro Football Talk after Goodell’s ruling.

The Peterson penalty will stand in any court because jurists are loathe to open Pandora’s Box and overturn collectively bargained agreements no matter how unfair they may seem on the surface. The union gave Goodell this power and now it’s constituents are suffering because of it.

And no matter how many times you read it or hear it in other media outlets, there is no “new NFL domestic-violence policy.“ Goodell’s previous promises that seemed to indicate a more neutral process were just lip service, pledges he now obviously has no real intention of following with one notable exception—stiffer penalties with no recourse for the offender.

A broken clock is right twice a day but Goodell has yet to meet that lofty standard when it comes to personal-conduct issues in the NFL. In fact the only consistent thing about him to this point is the knowledge that his trusty compass is always pointing in the wrong direction.

The commish’s batting average is so low he makes Mario Mendoza look like Ty Cobb and it’s all because he legislates with public sentiment in mind.

Many have pointed out that Peterson is paying for his own sins as well as the ones committed by players like Ray Rice and Greg Hardy.

They’re wrong.

In reality A.P. has already been punished for his actions, at least according to a far more reputable mediator than Goodell, the State of Texas.

“This man has paid a tremendous price for making a mistake in spanking his son,“ Hardin said. “When is enough, enough? I would suggest enough was enough a long time ago. This is a good man who believed he was doing the right thing in raising his child and made a mistake in the process. He left no lasting injury. (A man) who has now entered the criminal justice system, who has been in the social services system.

“The NFL didn’t need to do another thing. We’re supposed to give people second chances, not just self-righteously blast them repeatedly.“

Not in Roger’s realm.

Peterson is now being served up as part sacrifice and part scapegoat to those carrying the torches and pitchforks. And perhaps more importantly, a swerve to cover-up the incompetence of one vengeful, petty man with a ring that was supposed to be kissed.

“When it’s over, there is nothing the NFL is doing here except trying to make up for the horrible way they’ve handled domestic violence—which this was not,“ said Hardin. “So all they’re doing is trying to curry favor with the public, which is unbelievably self-righteous, from a man who doesn’t know what he’s talking about.“

WEEK 12 (All Times Eastern)

Kansas City (7-3) (-7) at Oakland (0-10), Thursday, 8:30 PM - The Raiders haven’t won a football game in a calendar year and are bogged down in the NFL’s worst losing streak since 2009 when St. Louis finally ended a 17-game slide and Detroit did the same with a 19-game hiccup. Short weeks tend to favor the home team and it’s almost human nature for the Chiefs to want to look ahead at next week and the Broncos. That said, Andy Reid, who is now 18-9 (including playoffs) as the head coach in K.C., is one of the best coaches in the game when it comes to preparation and Oakland just doesn’t have enough firepower to deal with the Chiefs’ defense.

Chiefs 24, Raiders 14


Cincinnati (6-3-1) at Houston (5-5) (-2), Sunday, 1 PM - The Bengals moved back into first place in the tough AFC North last week with a commanding 27-10 victory at New Orleans while the Texans evened their record at 5-5 with a 23-7 win at Cleveland. J.J. Watt continued his impressive play for Houston by registering a sack, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a two-yard touchdown reception. He is the only player to do so in a single game since the sack became an official statistic in 1982. Watt is also the second player in NFL history with two touchdown catches, an interception-return touchdown and a fumble-return touchdown in a single season (Jay Arnold, Philadelphia, 1938). Cincinnati rookie Jeremy Hill has two 150-yard rushing games this month, one of only seven rookies ever to do that.

Texans 21, Bengals 20


Detroit (7-3) at New England (8-2) (-7), Sunday, 1 PM - New England is second in the NFL averaging 32.3 points per game while Detroit is allowing just 15.6 points per game, the fewest in the league. The Lions also own the NFL’s best defense in total yards allowed (290.3 per game) and rushing yards allowed (68.8 per game). The Pats, meanwhile, have won six in a row and are coming off a drubbing of Indianapolis in which running back Jonas Gray rushed for 199 yards and four touchdowns in just his fourth career NFL game.

Patriots 27, Lions 20


Cleveland (6-4) at Atlanta (4-6) (-3), Sunday, 1 PM - It’s time for the Falcons to win a game against a non-NFC South foe. Atlanta is tied atop its division thanks to a 4-0 record inside of it. The Falcons are winless outside of the South, though at 0-6. Conversely, Cleveland is in the AFC North where every team is at least two games above. 500.

Falcons 23, Browns 17


New York Jets (2-8) at Buffalo (5-5) (-4 1/2), Sunday, 1 PM - The Bills and Jets are planning to play despite a massive lake-effect snowstorm that buried five feet of snow just south of the city and another round coming that is expected to drop another two feet on top of that. Michael Vick is settling in as New York’s QB, completing 31-of-46 passes for 328 yards and three TDs in two starts. Buffalo is trying to halt a two-game skid.

Bills 23, Jets 21


Tampa Bay (2-8) at Chicago (4-6) (-5 1/2), Sunday, 1 PM - Lovie Smith and Josh McCown return to Chicago. Smith coached the Bears for nine years (2004-12), amassing an 81-63 record with three playoff appearances and a Super Bowl berth. McCown started five games for an injured Jay Cutler in 2013 and set a franchise record with a 109.0 passer rating, including 13 TD passes versus one interceptions. The Bears halted a three-game skid last week with the help of a clock that didn’t feel like working when the Vikings had the ball late in the game.

Bears 28, Buccaneers 20


Jacksonville (1-9) at Indianapolis (6-4) (-14), Sunday, 1 PM - The Colts have lost two of three and their AFC South lead is now just one game over Houston. The 1-9 Jags could prove to be a salve, however. Indy QB Andrew Luck has eight consecutive 300-yard passing games, the third longest such streak in NFL history, and has won his past four starts against Jacksonville. The Jags haven’t had much to lean on outside of RB Denard Robinson, who is averaging 104.8 scrimmage yards over his last four games.

Colts 37, Jaguars 24


Green Bay (7-3) (-9 1/2) at Minnesota (4-6), Sunday, 1 PM - The Packers are only the second team in NFL history (1950 Rams) to score 53-or-more points in two consecutive games and things figure to stay easy for Aaron Rodgers, who has won eight of his past nine starts against the Vikings.

Packers 34, Vikings 17


Tennessee (2-8) at Philadelphia (7-3) (-11), Sunday, 1 PM - The Eagles will be trying to bounce back from an awful performance in Green Bay and have won nine straight at home. The Titans continue to build behind rookie QB Zach Mettenberger, who had a career-high 110.2 passer rating in a loss to Pittsburgh on Monday night.

Eagles 30, Titans 20


Arizona (9-1) at Seattle (6-4) (-6 1/2), Sunday, 4:05 PM - The 9-1 Cardinals will travel to Seattle to face the defending Super Bowl champions as one of only two teams to defeat the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field over the past three seasons. Seattle has won 21 of their past 23 games at home, including the playoffs, and quarterback Russell Wilson has a 101.4 passer rating in those contests.

Seahawks 26, Cardinals 17


St. Louis (4-6) at San Diego (6-4) (-4 1/2), Sunday, 4:05 PM - The Chargers have won seven of their past eight at home with QB Philip Rivers throwing for 2,026 passing yards with 19 TDs and a 110.0 passer rating in those games. The Rams rely on their stout front and DE Robert Quinn has five sacks and three forced fumbles in his last five games against AFC teams.

Chargers 23, Rams 17


Miami (6-4) at Denver (7-3) (-7), Sunday, 4:25 PM - The Dolphins have won four of five to climb back into the AFC postseason race and Ryan Tannehill has taken off recently, connecting on 161-of-229 passes for 1,730 yards and 13 TDs in his last seven contests. The Broncos have lost two of three but Peyton Manning has thrown a TD pass in 49 consecutive games, the third-longest streak in NFL history.

Broncos 27, Dolphins 20


Washington (3-7) at San Francisco (6-4) (-9), Sunday, 4:25 PM - The 49ers earned consecutive road wins to perhaps save their season and now face an embattled Redskins team in which no one seems to believe in QB Robert Griffin III. The San Francisco defense had five interceptions last week against Eli Manning and the Giants and leads the NFL with 16 picks overall.

49ers 27, Redskins 14


Dallas (7-3) (-3) at New York Giants (3-7), Sunday 8:30 PM - The Cowboys enter Week 12 tied with Philadelphia atop the NFC East with RB DeMarco Murray leading the league with 1,233 rushing yards. Murray is the only player in NFL history with at least 100 rushing yards in nine of his team’s first 10 games to begin a season. The Giants haven’t had much to get excited about outside of rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr., who has 21 catches for 357 yards in his past three games, the second-most receiving yards in the league over that span.

Cowboys 24, Giants 20


Baltimore (6-4) at New Orleans (4-6) (-3), Monday, 8:30 PM - Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has won four of his past five starts on “Monday Night Football” and has won five in a row against NFC foes. His counterpart, Drew Brees, will be trying to help the Saints halt a rare two-game losing streak in the Superdome.

Saints 24, Ravens 21


►  Lynch fined $100K for media silence

Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch has been fined $100,000 for repeated violations of the NFL’s media policy.

Lynch was fined $50,000 for not speaking to the media following Sunday’s loss to Kansas City. The league said in a statement Wednesday it would also collect a $50,000 fine issued last season.

The earlier penalty, reportedly over Lynch’s refusal to speak to media during the season, went uncollected “in anticipation of future cooperation,“ the NFL statement said.

He has been fined three times for violating the media policy.

NFL rules say a player must be available to the media after every game and “regularly” during the week. Those designated by teams as “star players” who are typically the subject of increased demand only have to be available once during the practice week and after each game.

Lynch, known for his bruising runs on the field, has been notoriously media- shy off it.

A playful example came during Seattle’s Super Bowl media day last January, when Lynch sat for several minutes before apparently vanishing, only to be seen moments later standing nearby wearing a hooded jacket and large black sunglasses.

TV analyst Deion Sanders, famously an extrovert when he played, approached Lynch for an interview that lasted just a few minutes but peaked in the first exchange when the running back replied to a compliment on his appearance with an expletive.

Lynch has rushed for 813 yards and nine touchdowns in 10 games this season for the Seahawks (6-4) with another 247 yards and three scores on 24 receptions. He rushed for 124 yards on 24 carries in Sunday’s 24-20 loss to the Chiefs.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Josh Gordon still a stud

Yahoo Sports fantasy football writer Andy Behrens wished everyone a Happy Josh Gordon Day on Monday, but why not extend the celebration a full week.

The wide receiver is back at practice and according to NFL.com, Gordon told his ex-teammate Nate Burleson he plans to “tear this league up”. This could not make fantasy owners any happier. I guess my team name “Josh Gordon Car Salesmen” has to be changed.

In all seriousness though, fantasy owners still have a difficult decision in terms of whether to plug Gordon into lineups after a 10-week layoff. Actually, it might look difficult, but it really isn’t at all.

On the surface, Cleveland has hinted the team will ease Gordon back into action this week against the Falcons, and the smart, cautious fantasy owner will likely do the same. It would be completely natural for Gordon to show some rust.

The thing is, Gordon has proved to be one of the best wide receivers when he is on the field. Last season, he finished with 87 receptions for 1,646 yards and nine touchdowns, and he missed two games.

Gordon has also been through this type of midseason return before this week. The two games he missed last year were because of a drug suspension, and in his first game back, he dominated.

In fact, Gordon had a career-high 19 targets in his return from suspension last season, catching 10 of those passes for 146 yards and a touchdown. That should give owners a ton of confidence to start Gordon right away.

The only issue is the Browns offense is much different than last season’s. Norv Turner called the plays in Cleveland last year, and he is notorious for a pass-heavy game plan. Despite having Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell under center most of the season, the Browns averaged 42.6 pass attempts per game last year, which was most in the league according to Yahoo Sports.

This season, Cleveland calls the second-most runs per week, averaging 32.4 attempts, and just 32.6 pass attempts per game. Taking that into account, owners might be down on Gordon due to fewer opportunities.

Even though the Browns are a run-first team, it is a little silly to think Gordon can’t still score big fantasy numbers. Cleveland will stick to the run game as much as possible, but with the team in the thick of a heated playoff race in the AFC North, one has to assume offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan will use his best players, and Gordon is clearly the team’s best offensive weapon.

It is also even possible Gordon could be more efficient with his targets and post bigger numbers because he is not the only player in the Browns offense that can beat defenses. That’s a scary thought.

Furthermore, Gordon may not have a better matchup the rest of the season than he has this Sunday. The Atlanta Falcons allow the eighth-most fantasy points to wide receivers in the league and are ranked dead-last in passing yards allowed per game.

Therefore, unless owners already have two or three studs at wide receiver, Gordon is a must-start this weekend. Gordon is a stud with huge upside, and those players must be in lineups every week.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Jason Collins retires from NBA

Jason Collins, the first openly gay player in the NBA, announced his retirement from the league on Wednesday.

Collins made the announcement through a self-penned article on SI.com that will appear in the November 24 issue of the magazine. According to the article, he plans to make the announcement official on Wednesday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn prior to the Nets game against the Milwaukee Bucks.

“It has been 18 exhilarating months since I came out in Sports Illustrated as the first openly gay man in one of the four major professional team sports,“ Collins wrote. “And it has been nine months since I signed with the Nets and became the first openly gay male athlete to appear in a game in one of those leagues. It feels wonderful to have been part of these milestones for sports and for gay rights, and to have been embraced by the public, the coaches, the players, the league and history.“

Collins became the first openly gay active player in one of North America’s four major team sports when he took the floor for a February 23 game against the Los Angeles Lakers.

“Among the memories I will cherish most are the warm applause I received in Los Angeles when I took the court in my Nets debut, and the standing ovation I got at my first home game in Brooklyn,“ Collins added. “It shows how far we’ve come.“

Collins revealed his sexuality in April, 2013 in an article he co-wrote for Sports Illustrated.

In 13 NBA seasons, Collins averaged 3.6 points and 3.7 rebounds in 735 games with the Nets, Hawks, Celtics, Grizzlies, Timberwolves and Wizards. The Stanford product was a member of two NBA Finals teams.


►  Pulse of the NBA

One of the so-called contenders in the West is off to a shaky start. Let’s take a closer look at that team along with a few others who have stumbled out of the block.


LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS

I don’t have a good feeling about this team, which I think has looked even worse than a 5-4 record would indicate.

For a club with championship aspirations and a very bad taste in its mouth from last year’s tough playoff exit, I would’ve thought we’d see the Clippers play with a lot more intensity and urgency.

The two areas where effort really matters-defense and rebounding-is where we’ve seen Doc Rivers’ team come up short.

Despite the fact that DeAndre Jordan is leading the league in rebounding at 12.4 per game, the Clippers have been the worst rebounding team along with the Miami Heat, pulling down 37.4 per game. That’s nearly six rebounds less than what they averaged last season.

The Clippers’ defense is also nowhere near where it needs to be as they rank 21st in points allowed, giving up 102.7 per game, and opponents are shooting 46.5% from the field and 36.5% from downtown.

All these numbers aside, it just looks like they don’t have enough talent to be serious title contenders. I believe the combination of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin isn’t strong enough to put the Clippers in contention, and I also think the supporting cast isn’t on par with the elite teams in the league, especially with Darren Collison departing via free agency.


DETROIT PISTONS

The Pistons were one of the biggest disappointments last season with a 23-59 record, and new leadership hasn’t made much of difference so far this year. Stan Van Gundy was hired as the coach and team president with the hope that he would change the franchise’s culture, but with little change to the roster it seems the players are more of a problem than the coach.

The front line of Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe and Josh Smith is continuing to have problems playing together, with Smith struggling more than he did last season as he’s averaging 13.6 points and shooting just 36.8% from the field, while Drummond’s play has dropped off considerably to start the season.

The third-year center has been horrible offensively and has hurt the team on the defensive end too.

Drummond was second in the NBA in field goal percentage last season at 62.3%, but is shooting only 41.4% this season.

The Pistons are scoring just 93 points per game after averaging 101 last season, and Drummond’s drop in scoring from 13.5 to 8.7 points per game is a big reason for the fall off.

The 21-year old’s recent struggles led to a conversation with Van Gundy last Thursday, and they both decided that his offensive game should take a back seat for now.

“Stan and I got a chance to sit down this morning and we all know the offense hasn’t really come around for me at this start of the season yet, and it’s really been frustrating for me,“ Drummond said. “So Stan and me really just talked and we just decided to go out and get on the rebounds, because I’m one of the best rebounders in the league. So I decided to really just focus on the defensive end today and let the offense come to me.“

And speaking of the defensive end, he’s got to be a lot smarter there.

Drummond’s constant foul problems have kept him off the floor way too much. He’s averaging 4.3 fouls per game and has fouled out twice.

In last Saturday’s 95-88 lost at Memphis, Drummond was limited to 20 minutes due to foul trouble, and his absence allowed Zach Randolph helped dominate in the paint with 17 points and 22 rebounds, including 13 offensive rebounds. Beyond the struggles of Drummond and Smith is the big question if they and Monroe can thrive playing together. It looks more and more like the answer is no.


BROOKLYN NETS

The Nets have stumbled to a 4-6 start and are lacking the crisp ball movement we saw last season when they played a smaller lineup following Brook Lopez’s season-ending foot injury.

Brooklyn’s four wins have come against opponents who are currently all under .500 (Pistons, Thunder, Knicks, Magic) while they’ve also lost games to the Celtics and Timberwolves.

As for Lopez, his return has seen its ups and downs, and he doesn’t feel totally comfortable yet.

“I think getting back in the game has been a slower process than I thought,“ Lopez said after scoring 21 points in Saturday’s loss in Portland. “I’m slowly trying to chip away at it, and just get out there and play.“

If the Nets hope to be at least as good as they were last season, Lopez will have to stay healthy and play near an All-Star level, because Brooklyn lost a lot of firepower and some depth with the departure of Paul Pierce, Shaun Livingston, Andray Blatche and Marcus Thornton.


DENVER NUGGETS

The Nuggets’ 3-7 start is due in part to the major struggles of Danilo Gallinari and Nate Robinson, both of whom are trying to rebound from major injuries.

Gallinari, who tore the ACL in his left knee in April 2013 and missed all of last season, looks nothing like the player we saw prior to the injury. There is a tentativeness in his movement and he seems to lack confidence in his game.

“I used to go to the paint and have a couple of dunks,“ said Gallinari after losing to his former team, the New York Knicks on Sunday. “I’m not doing that right now.“

The 6-foot-10 forward, who was the center piece of the deal that brought Carmelo Anthony to New York, is averaging 6.2 points in just under 17 minutes, and his shooting touch has disappeared as he’s connected on just 26.8% of his shots.

Robinson, meanwhile, is also making his way back from a torn ACL which he suffered last January and has also had to deal with a hamstring injury that occurred on November 7 in a loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The former slam dunk champ hasn’t been the usual spark plug off the bench yet, as he’s playing limited minutes (13.9 per game) and also struggling with his shot, hitting 38.1% from the field.

With the competition in the Western Conference being so tough, the Nuggets will need bigger contributions from Gallinari and Robinson a lot sooner than later if they don’t want to fall out of the playoff picture way too early.


►  NBA Game Results

(Wednesday, November 19)


Final Score: San Antonio 92, Cleveland 90

San Antonio’s NBA Finals win in June accelerated LeBron James’ decision to return home. The Spurs, however, still have his number. Tim Duncan had 19 points and 10 rebounds as San Antonio edged the Cleveland Cavaliers 92-90 in a back-and-forth thriller on Wednesday night. Manu Ginobili split a pair of free throws to stake the Spurs to a 92-90 lead with 9.1 seconds left before James lost the ball near midcourt. Anderson Varejao rebounded Ginobili’s miss and James dribbled behind his back as Ginobili lunged for the ball, but he lost it off his left hand as he attempted a crossover. Ginobili then threw the ball into the air from the left corner of the 3-point line to bleed off the remaining time. Boris Diaw posted 19 points, seven assists and six rebounds, while the Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard added 12 points, 10 boards and four assists for the Spurs, who have won five of their last six games.


Final Score: Indiana 88, Charlotte 86

Solomon Hill’s putback as time expired gave Indiana an 88-86 victory over Charlotte on Wednesday. Luis Scola had finished off a three-point play with 1:28 to go that drew the Hornets even, Lance Stephenson and Marvin Williams both missed jumpers which would have given the visitors the lead once more. Rodney Stuckey got the ball as time wound down and hit the rim, but Hill alertly tapped it home at the buzzer. Roy Hibbert topped the scoring list with 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for the Pacers, who have won two in a row and four of their last five. Scola added 15 while Stuckey and Donald Sloan totaled 11 each. Al Jefferson’s game-best 28 points wasn’t enough for the Hornets, who have lost three in a row. Kemba Walker picked up 12 points and Stephenson had 10 in a losing cause.


Final Score: LA Clippers 114, Orlando 90

Jamal Crawford had 22 points, Blake Griffin scored 20 and the Los Angeles Clippers led wire-to-wire in a 114-90 win over the Orlando Magic on Wednesday. The Clippers’ eight-point lead at halftime shrunk to as low as five in the third quarter, but they ended the frame on a 19-8 run to take over the game. Los Angeles shot 60 percent from the field in the third, led by Chris Paul’s 10 points and five assists. Paul finished with 16 points and nine helpers. In a battle of the league’s top rebounders, Nikola Vucevic out-rebounded DeAndre Jordan 14-11. Vucevic chipped in 19 points on 8- of-14 shooting for Orlando and Tobias Harris had a game-high 25 points on 8- of-14 shooting in the loss.


Final Score: Boston 101, Philadelphia 90

Brandon Bass and Jared Sullinger combined for 55 points, Rajon Rondo had 13 assists and the Boston Celtics pulled away for a 101-90 win Wednesday night that kept the Philadelphia 76ers winless. Bass scored 23 off the bench, Sullinger added 22 with nine rebounds and Marcus Thornton had 13 points for the Celtics, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Tony Wroten scored 21 points off the bench to lead the Sixers, who returned home from an 0-4 road trip and fell to 0-11 on the season. Henry Sims added 14 points in the loss, Luc Mbah a Moute and Michael Carter-Williams scored 11 apiece and Nerlens Noel had 10.


Final Score: Dallas 105, Washington 102

Monte Ellis scored 24 of his season-high 34 points in the first half and helped the Dallas Mavericks to a 105-102 win over the Washington Wizards on Wednesday. Brandan Wright and J.J. Barea each posted 14 points off the bench and were integral parts to the Mavs winning their fifth straight game. Dirk Nowitzki and Chandler Parsons went for 13 and 11 points, respectively, as each shot 4- of-12 from the floor in the win. Bradley Beal, playing in his first game this season after missing time with a broken left wrist, paced the Wizards with 21 points in a reserve role. Paul Pierce and Marcin Gortat each netted 17 points for the Wizards, who had their three-game winning streak snapped and lost for the first time on their home floor (4-1).


Final Score: Milwaukee 122, Brooklyn 118 (3-OT)

Jabari Parker scored a career-high 23 points and the Milwaukee Bucks outlasted the Brooklyn Nets 122-118 in a triple overtime thriller at Barclays Center. O.J. Mayo added 21 points off the bench while Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brandon Knight netted 18 apiece to help the Bucks win for the fifth time in six tries. The win also marked head coach Jason Kidd’s first against the Nets, who he coached to the second round of the playoffs last season before being acquired by Milwaukee for two second-round draft picks over the summer. Brook Lopez broke a 93-93 tie with a short jumper late in regulation, but Mayo countered with a transition layup with 30 seconds left. Kevin Garnett and Mayo missed potential game-winners at the end of regulation. It was tied late in overtime when Knight intercepted a Joe Johnson pass with 2.9 seconds to go and raced down the court. With Mirza Teletovic tracking him, Knight sprinted to the basket and got there in time to beat the buzzer, but his layup had too much on it and bounced off the rim. Knight, who shot just 5-for-20, made up for the missed layup by potting a triple out of a timeout at 19.6 of double OT, tying the game at 112. Johnson hit nothing but air on an off-balance jumper from the free throw line as the buzzer went off. Milwaukee led by five late in the third overtime when Deron Williams gave Brooklyn life with a 3. With 15.5 seconds left, Ersan Ilyasova was called for a five-second violation, giving the Nets one last look, but Johnson missed a baseline jumper and Ilyasova hustled down the rebound. Knight made two free throws at the other end to seal the outcome.


Final Score: Toronto 96, Memphis 92

DeMar DeRozan supplied 21 points in the Toronto Raptors’ 96-92 win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday in a matchup of two of the NBA’s best. Kyle Lowry posted 18 points with seven assists and Terrence Ross was a focal point in the victory, scoring 14 of his 16 in the fourth quarter. The Raptors have won seven of their last eight and they will look to improve that mark as they close out their seven-game homestand on Friday against Milwaukee. Marc Gasol led an unhealthy Memphis team with 22 points to go along with 12 rebounds and Zach Randolph deposited 18 points and 18 boards for the Grizzlies, who had their four-game winning streak snapped. Memphis was without Courtney Lee, Tony Allen, Kosta Koufos, Jon Leuer and Beno Udrih as they all dealt with undisclosed illnesses. Lee and Allen received fluids at a hospital because of dehydration.


Final Score: Phoenix 88, Detroit 86

Eric Bledsoe’s go-ahead layup with 28.7 seconds left lifted the Phoenix Suns to an 88-86 win over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night. Right after Kentavious Caldwell-Pope knocked down a left corner 3-pointer to stake Detroit to an 86-85 edge, Bledsoe knifed through the lane and snuck his layup past Greg Monroe before he was able to block it. Markieff Morris blocked a Brandon Jennings layup attempt with about five seconds to go and Caldwell-Pope’s top of the arc triple was off the mark. Bledsoe split a pair of foul shots with 1.3 ticks on the clock and Jennings’ heave at the horn was well short. Bledsoe finished with 18 points, six rebounds and four assists for the Suns, who moved to 2-1 on their six-game road trip. P.J. Tucker had 16 points and seven rebounds and Goran Dragic added 12 points and four helpers in the triumph. Jennings posted 19 points and seven assists and Monroe provided 18 points and 12 boards for Detroit, which has dropped six of its last seven games.


Final Score: Minnesota 115, New York 99

Kevin Martin scored 37 points and the Minnesota Timberwolves snapped their five-game losing streak with a 115-99 win over the New York Knicks on Wednesday. After scoring 13 in the first quarter, Martin did not register his first point in the second quarter until the 4:16 mark when he answered a Carmelo Anthony 3-pointer that cut the Timberwolves lead to five with a 3 of his own to start an 18-10 Timberwolves run to end the half. Martin’s dunk with 3:47 left in the half extended the Minnesota lead to double digits, where it would remain for most of the rest of the game. Complementing Martin was second-year player Shabazz Muhammad in his first career start. He shot just 6-of-15 from the field but finished with 17 points and led the Timberwolves with eight rebounds. The Knicks’ defensive woes continued as they lost for the ninth time in their last 10 games. They allowed 115 points one day after giving up a season-high 117 to Milwaukee. Minnesota shot 44-of-89 from the field, including 11-of-22 from beyond the arc.


Final Score: Denver 107, Oklahoma City 100

Ty Lawson scored 15 points and dished out a season-high 15 assists as the Denver Nuggets dispatched the Oklahoma City Thunder, 107-100, on Wednesday night. Wilson Chandler paced the Nuggets with 21 points and Timofey Mozgov netted 17 points with seven rebounds in the win. Serge Ibaka went for 22 points and 13 rebounds in Oklahoma City’s fourth straight setback, while Sebastian Telfair tallied 18 points off the bench and Reggie Jackson finished with 16 points and nine assists. Telfair made all seven of his field goal attempts, while Jackson went 5-for-20 from the floor.


Final Score: LA Lakers 98, Houston 92

Kobe Bryant scored nine of his game-high 29 points in the fourth quarter and the Los Angeles Lakers went into Houston and stunned the Rockets, 98-92, to win their second straight game. Bryant shot just 10-of-28 from the floor but added seven assists for Los Angeles, which improved to 3-9 on the season. Jordan Hill and Nick Young both scored 16 points, and Carlos Boozer posted 12 points and 13 boards. James Harden, who was shooting just 37.2 percent from the field prior to Wednesday’s game, hit an efficient 7-for-11 for 24 points and added seven assists in Houston’s second straight defeat. Kostas Papanikolaou contributed 19 points off the bench and Patrick Beverley scored 15 for the Rockets, who were without star center Dwight Howard. The former Laker was held out against his old team with a strained right knee.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Stanton inks historic deal with Marlins

The Miami Marlins officially signed outfielder Giancarlo Stanton to the largest contract in North American sports history on Wednesday.

The jaw-dropping 13-year, $325 million contract runs through the 2027 season and includes a club option for 2028. It also includes the first no-trade clause awarded by the organization, and Stanton can opt out after six years.

According to ESPN.com, the contract is backloaded to be cost-friendly for the Marlins. Stanton will have a base salary of $6.5 million in 2015, $9 million in 2016 and $14.5 million in 2017. He would then earn $77 million over the following three seasons.

“This is a big day for us. We’re going to start pushing forward here. This is one step to some building blocks we need here,“ Stanton said. “We’ve had some bumps in the road and that’s baseball. It takes time and patience. We’re in the right direction. This is for the city of Miami, this is for new-found confidence and trust. Starting with me and my teammates and the front office here, we’re all agreed we need a winning environment, a winning city and this is one building block toward a better future and a new way of life down here in Miami.“

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

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

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

“Giancarlo Stanton is a unique player whose natural gifts and talent are unparalleled in this sport,“ Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria said. “Over the past five years, he’s given so much to the Marlins organization, the city of Miami and especially to his adoring fans. He’s been committed to our community and we’re excited to return the favor.“


►  A’s ink DH Billy Butler

The Oakland Athletics and free-agent designated hitter Billy Butler have reportedly agreed to terms on a three-year contract on Tuesday.

Butler, who is coming off a World Series appearance with the Royals, is slated to make $30 million over the length of his contract, according to multiple sources. Kansas City declined his club option for the upcoming season, using a $1 million buyout instead.

The 28-year-old hit .271 with nine home runs and 66 RBI over 151 games last season. He also supplied eight RBI on a .262 batting average in 13 games during the postseason for the Royals.

Butler, who was an All-Star in 2012, owns a career batting average of .295 with 127 home runs and 628 RBI in 1,166 games over eight seasons, all with the Royals.


►  Rounding Third: Marlins break the bank for Stanton

It wasn’t that long ago that the Miami Marlins were the laughingstock of baseball.

In fact, the Marlins were such a mess that a certain baseball writer actually stated that Commissioner Bud Selig should step in and do something about owner Jeffrey Loria.

Now in my defense, the vitriol toward Loria was based more on the fact that he duped taxpayers into paying over a billion dollars for a new stadium more than the fact that he dismantled his team just one year after spending nearly $200 million in the winter of 2012.

But, here we are, nearly three years later and they might be set up as well as any team in baseball.

Way to read the tea leaves Mr. Ruddick.

If Mike Trout is the best young player in the game, Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton is a close second. And he’s now going to be in a Marlins uniform for a very long time after agreeing to the largest contract in American sports, as he officially signed his 13-year, $325 million deal with the Marlins on Wednesday.

I can’t imagine anyone would have thought this day would happen back in November of 2012 when the Marlins sent shortstop Jose Reyes, righty Josh Johnson, lefty Mark Buehrle, catcher John Buck and utilityman Emilio Bonifacio to Toronto for a seven-player package highlighted by shortstop Yunel Escobar, lefty Henderson Alvarez, and a few prospects, including highly regarded Adeiny Hechavarria.

After seemingly going all-in the previous winter, Loria and the Marlins were going to tear it all apart.

It was no secret that Stanton was unhappy with the direction the team was taking. Heck, he even stated as late as this summer that he basically had no intentions of signing a long-term deal.

Looking back the deal isn’t as lopsided as it first seemed. In fact, it may be lopsided toward the Marlins. Alvarez and Hechavarria may wind up being better than anyone that left Miami in that deal.

So, when did it change for Stanton?

Well it’s easy to say he had 325 million reasons to change his mind, but he could have gotten paid anywhere. The Marlins had to prove to him they were committed to winning and it must have worked.

Loria probably used those same Jedi mind tricks that he used to convince the people of Miami Dade County to pay for Marlins Park.

Regardless of how it happened, this was a no-brainer from the Marlins standpoint.

A two-time All-Star, Stanton, who turned 25 earlier this month, is one of just four active players in the majors to record three 30-plus home run seasons prior to turning 25, joining Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez.

This past season Stanton led the National League in home runs (37), slugging percentage (.555) and total bases (299), and went on to garner a second-place finish in National League Most Valuable Player balloting by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

And Stanton gave the Marlins plenty of payroll flexibility over the first three years of the deal to help make the team better.

The deal reportedly breaks down like this. Stanton will make $6.5 million next season (well below the $13 million he likely would have made in arbitration), $9 million in 2016 and $14.5 million in 2017.

In seasons four through six of the deal, Stanton will pocket $25 million, $26 million and $26 million. Stanton then has an opt-out clause, after 2020.

The next six years of the contract, after the opt-out, include salaries of $29 million, $32 million in years 8, 9 and 10, $29 million in year 11 and $25 million in year 12. In year 13, the Marlins can pay Stanton $25 million or exercise a $10 million buyout.

Yes it is crazy money and the Marlins will probably regret it at some point. Is there any team in any sport that doesn’t eventually regret a deal like this?

So, if he opts out after year six, so be it.

Trout signed a six-year, $144.5 million deal with the Angels at the start of this season. Stanton will have made $107 million through the first six years of his deal.

If Trout progresses as expected, what kind of deal will he sign at the end of his extension? It’s not all that crazy to think he might get that same type of deal at 29!

Cabrera agreed to a 10-year, $292 million extension at the start of this season. And he’s 31.

Stanton won’t be 26 until next November.

And as ESPN’s Jayson Stark pointed out the top-5 finishers in the AL Rookie of the Year balloting were all older than Stanton.

Now the Marlins have to hold up their other end of the deal and make this team a winner. They’ve already gone hard after first baseman Adam LaRoche and are expected to be active this winter.

With a returning Jose Fernandez leading the way on the mound and Stanton in the fold for a long time, Miami may actually start to become a fun place to play.

Who’d of thunk it?


►  Red Sox claim Juan Francisco off waivers

The Boston Red Sox claimed infielder Juan Francisco off waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday.

Francisco, 27, spent this past season with the Toronto Blue Jays after being released by the Milwaukee Brewers in March.

In 320 plate appearances split between first base, third base and designated hitter, Francisco batted .220 with 16 home runs and 34 total extra-base hits, mostly against right-handed pitching.

In 404 career games for the Cincinnati Reds, Atlanta Braves, Brewers and Blue Jays, Francisco has batted .236 with a .297 on-base percentage and 48 home runs.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  NHL Game Results

(Wednesday, November 19)


Final Score: Vancouver 5, Edmonton 4

Yannick Weber scored the go-ahead goal with 8:28 remaining and the Vancouver Canucks escaped with a 5-4 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday. Radim Vrbata scored twice, including once on the power play, and Jannik Hansen had a short-handed goal for the Canucks, who were coming off a four-day break after losing 5-0 to Phoenix last Friday. David Perron’s would-be tying goal for Edmonton in the final seconds was waved off after a replay review showed he kicked the puck in with his skate. The Oilers rallied back from deficits of 2-0 and 3-1 to tie the score on Andrew Ference’s goal on a long slap shot 6:21 into the third period but suffered their fourth straight loss. Ryan Miller allowed four goals on 32 shots for the win and Ben Scrivens let in all five of the Canucks goals on 31 shots.


Final Score: NY Rangers 2, Philadelphia 0

Cam Talbot stopped all 31 shots faced for his first shutout of the season, and the New York Rangers claimed a 2-0 win over the Philadelphia Flyers at Madison Square Garden. Kevin Klein and Rick Nash supplied the necessary offense for the Rangers, who have won eight consecutive regular-season games over their division rivals. Steve Mason was largely solid, making 32 saves for the Flyers, who have dropped three in a row after winning three straight.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  LPGA Tour announces 2015 schedule

The LPGA Tour released its 2015 schedule on Tuesday and it also announced a new title partnership for the first major of the season.

The 33-event schedule, up from 32 events in 2014 with the Solheim Cup in action in September, will feature the ANA Inspiration as the first major championship of the year. Formerly the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the ANA Insperation will still be played at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California, the host of this event since 1972.

“I’m excited that our team has achieved our target number of events to fill our schedule over the past few years,“ said LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan. “We are focused on elevating and enhancing the playing opportunities for our players, viewing experiences for our fans and corporate involvement for our partners.“

The 2015 season kicks off in late January with a new event in the Coates Golf Championship, which will be held in Ocala, Florida. As the calendar flips to February, the LPGA will head to the Bahamas for the Pure-Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic, the event that started the 2014 season.

After a week off, the tour will take another trip to Australia for the Women’s Australian Open from February 19-22 before making its way north for the Honda LPGA Thailand.

Players will make a stop in Singapore for the HSBC Women’s Champions before heading back to the states for an event in Arizona and two straight in California, including the newly-named ANA Inspiration, which will be played from Apr. 2-5.

The Women’s LPGA Championship is the second major championship in 2015 and it will be played at Westchester Country Club in New York from June 11-14. The 70th U.S. Women’s Open will be played for the first time at Lancaster Country Club in Pennsylvania from July 9-12 and will serve as the third major championship on the schedule.

From July 30-August 2, the Ricoh Women’s British Open will return Turnberry, Scotland, where Karrie Webb won her third title back in 2002. The Evian Championship will once again serve as the final major of the season and it will be held from September 10-13 at Evian Resort Golf Club in France.

After falling to the Europeans 18-10 in Colorado in 2013, the Americans will look to get back on track at the Solheim Cup, which will take place the week after the Evian Championship. The event will be held oversees in Germany at the St. Leon-Rot Golf Club. Europe has won the last two Solheim Cups, but the Americans still hold an 8-5 advantage.

All six events on the Asian swing will be back in action in 2015, beginning with the Reignwood LPGA Classic in Beijing, China October 1-4 and ending with the Mizuno Classic in Japan from November 5-8.

“This is an exciting time for the LPGA, its players and corporate sponsors as well as the fans,“ Whan said. “We’re reaching historical highs in so many areas of the tour and we cannot wait to start another great season in January.“



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Hamilton looking to gain on Rosberg in points in Singapore

Formula One has returned to Asia and is running under the lights this weekend in Singapore.

The 61-lap Singapore Grand Prix, which is contested on the Marina Bay Street Circuit, is considered one of the longest and toughest races on the F1 calendar.

With six races to go, Nico Rosberg holds a 22-point lead over his Mercedes teammate and championship rival Lewis Hamilton. After Singapore, F1 will compete in Japan, Russia, United States, and Brazil before the season concludes in Abu Dhabi.

Earlier this month, Hamilton bounced back from a poor start and then capitalized from a mistake made by Rosberg to win the Italian Grand Prix in Monza. Hamilton started on the pole but had a sluggish start when he experienced a glitch with his power unit, dropping him to fourth.

Rosberg gave up the lead to Hamilton during the mid-stages when he out-braked in the first corner and had to use the escape road to recover. Hamilton went on to beat Rosberg at the finish by 3.1 seconds for his sixth victory of the season. He also gained seven points on his teammate.

“It was a good feeling to finally get back on the top step at Monza, especially after another tough start to the race,“ Hamilton said. “Obviously with Nico coming second, I haven’t been able to close the gap too much, but there’s still plenty of points to be won, and I’m glad to have taken a step forward.“

On Friday, Hamilton posted the fastest lap overall in practice, which came in the second session. He made a lap around this 3.259-mile (5.065-kilometer), 23-turn temporary street circuit in 1 minute, 47.490 seconds. Rosberg’s best lap in P2 was clocked at 1:49.075, placing him 13th on the charts.

In P1, Fernando Alonso from Ferrari had the quickest lap in 1:49.056, while Hamilton was just 0.122 seconds off the pace. Rosberg was 0.149 seconds behind in third.

“Today was a work in progress,“ Hamilton said. “We made some changes between P1 and P2, and whether it was those changes or the track itself, the balance didn’t feel right. It felt like we lost a bit of performance, but we’ll look into the details and see what it was.“

This will be the seventh time F1 has competed in Singapore. Four of the last five races here have been won from the pole position. Hamilton started on the pole and won this event in 2009 when he drove for McLaren.

“Pole here has always been very important,“ he said. “The right side of the grid, for example, always seems to get the better starts. Being up at the front will be crucial, and that’s obviously my target for qualifying (Saturday). Nico (Rosberg) looks very quick, as do the Ferraris (Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen) and the Red Bulls (Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo), but I’m feeling good this weekend and I’m focused on the job.“

Vettel has won the past three Singapore GPs. The four-time F1 world champion has yet to win this season.

Series: Formula One. Date: Sunday, September 21. Race: Singapore Grand Prix. Site: Marina Bay Street Circuit. Track: 3.259-mile (5.065-kilometer), 23-turn temporary street circuit. Start Time: 8 AM ET. Laps: 61. Miles: 191.158 (308.828 km). 2013 Winner: Sebastian Vettel. Television: NBC Sports Network.

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


THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2014


National Football League
Kansas City at Oakland, 8:25 PM - NFL Network


National Basketball Association
LA Clippers at Miami, 8:00 PM - FS-Prime Ticket, TNT
Chicago at Sacramento, 10:30 PM - WGN, TNT


National Hockey League
Minnesota at Philadelphia, 7:00 PM - FS-North, CSN-Philadelphia, NHL Network
St. Louis at Montreal, 7:30 PM - FS-Midwest, RDS, DSS
Tampa Bay at Toronto, 7:30 PM - SunSports, TSN4, DSS
Nashville at Ottawa, 7:30 PM - FS-Tennessee, RDS2, TSN5, DSS
Detroit at Winnipeg, 8:00 PM - FS-Detroit, TSN3, DSS
Arizona at Dallas, 8:30 PM - FS-Arizona, Southwest, DSS
Washington at Colorado, 9:00 PM - SNET-360, CSN-DC, Altitude, DSS
Chicago at Calgary, 9:00 PM - CSN-Chicago, SNET-Flames, DSS
Anaheim at Vancouver, 10:00 PM - KCOP, SNET-Vancouver, DSS
Florida at San Jose, 10:30 PM - FS-Florida, CSN-California, DSS
Carolina at Los Angeles, 10:30 PM - FS-Carolina, West, DSS


College Basketball
Texas A&M vs. Dayton, 10:30 AM - ESPN U
College of Charleston vs. Connecticut, 12:30 PM - ESPN U
USC vs. Akron, 12:30 PM - ESPN3.com
Drexel vs. Miami-Florida, 3:00 PM - ESPN U
Penn State vs. Charlotte, 5:00 PM - ESPN U
New Mexico vs. Boston College, 5:00 PM - ESPN 2
Detroit vs. Michigan, 6:00 PM - Big Ten Network
Navy at Providence, 7:00 PM - FS2
Texas vs. Iowa, 7:00 PM - ESPN 2
Texas Southern at Tennessee, 7:00 PM - FSN
FAU at Harvard, 7:00 PM - American Sports Network, MASN
Jacksonville at NC State, 7:00 PM - RSN
Bob Jones University at USC Upstate, 7:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Fordham at Maryland, 7:30 PM - Big Ten Network+
George Mason at West Virginia, 7:30 PM - ESPN U
Cornell vs. South Carolina, 7:30 PM - ESPN3.com
Howard at Radford, 7:30 PM - Big South Network
SMU at Indiana, 8:00 PM - Big Ten Network
MVSU at Tulane, 8:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Southern at Ole Miss, 8:00 PM - SEC Network+
Franklin Pierce at Minnesota, 8:00 PM - Big Ten Network+
North Florida at Northwestern, 8:00 PM - Big Ten Network+
Bucknell at Villanova, 8:00 PM - CBSSN
Lipscomb at Vanderbilt, 9:00 PM - FSN
Idaho at Northern Ill, 9:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Southern Miss at Alabama, 9:00 PM - SEC Network
Loyola Marymount at Arizona State, 9:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
Syracuse vs. California, 9:00 PM - ESPN 2
Denver at St. Mary’s, 10:00 PM - Comcast
Fresno State at Northern Arizona, 10:00 PM - Mountain West Network
CS Bakersfield at San Diego State, 10:30 PM - FS-San Diego
Nicholls at UCLA, 11:00 PM - Pac-12 Network


Women’s College Basketball
Southern at Ole Miss, 6:00 PM - SEC Network+
Clemson at South Carolina, 7:00 PM - SEC Network


College Football
Kansas State at West Virginia, 7:00 PM - FS1
North Carolina at Duke, 7:30 PM - ESPN
Arkansas State at Texas State, 9:30 PM - ESPN U


Golf
EUROPEAN - DP World Championship, 3:00 AM - Golf Channel
LPGA - CME Group Tour Championship, 1:30 PM - Golf Channel
AUSTRALIAN - MasterCard Masters, 9:30 PM - Golf Channel

Sports News   141117

The Gilmer Free Press


The Gilmer Free Press

►  High school Football Playoff Quarterfinal

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


CLASS AAA


FRIDAY, November 21 at 7:30 PM

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


SATURDAY, November 22 at 1:30 PM

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

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


SATURDAY, November 22 at 7:30 PM

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



CLASS AA


FRIDAY, November 21 at 7:30 PM

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


SATURDAY, November 22 at 1:30 PM

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

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

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



CLASS A


FRIDAY, November 21 at 7:30 PM

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


SATURDAY, November 22 at 1:30 PM

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

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


SATURDAY, November 22 at 7:30 PM

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



The Gilmer Free Press

►  MEC Week 11 Football Roundup

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Notre Dame vs. West Liberty | Final Stats

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Charleston vs. Urbana | Final Stats


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

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

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

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

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


Glenville State vs. WV State | Final Stats 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Fairmont State vs. UVa-Wise | Final Stats


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



The Gilmer Free Press

►  A P Top 25 Ranking

1. Florida State

2. Alabama

3. Oregon

4. Mississippi State

5. TCU

6. Baylor

7. Ohio State

8. Ole Miss

9. Georgia

10. Michigan State

11. UCLA

12. Kansas State

13. Arizona State

14. Wisconsin

15. Arizona

16. Auburn

17. Georgia Tech

18. Marshall

19. Missouri

20. Utah

21. Nebraska

22. Colorado State

23. Oklahoma

24. Southern California

25. Duke



The Gilmer Free Press

►  NFL Game Results - Week 11

(SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 16)


Final Score: New England 42, Indianapolis 20

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


Final Score: Atlanta 19, Carolina 17

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


Final Score: Chicago 21, Minnesota 13

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


Final Score: Houston 23, Cleveland 7

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


Final Score: Kansas City 24, Seattle 20

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


Final Score: Cincinnati 27, New Orleans 10

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


Final Score: San Francisco 16, NY Giants 10

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


Final Score: St. Louis 22, Denver 7

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


Final Score: Tampa Bay 27, Washington 7

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


Final Score: San Diego 13, Oakland 6

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


Final Score: Arizona 14, Detroit 6

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


Final Score: Green Bay 53, Philadelphia 20

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


(THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 13)


Final Score: Miami 22, Buffalo 9

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



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Pioneers Suffer One Point Loss to Slippery Rock

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Official Basketball Box Score

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



The Gilmer Free Press

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Line: West Virginia favored by 13

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

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

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

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


►  Holton, Williams lead West Virginia over Lafayette

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



The Gilmer Free Press

►  NBA Game Results

(Sunday, November 16)


Final Score: New York 109, Denver 93

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


Final Score: Milwaukee 91, Miami 84

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


Final Score: Houston 69, Oklahoma City 65

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



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Morneau powers MLB stars to first win in Japan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



The Gilmer Free Press

►  NHL Game Results

(Sunday, November 16)


Final Score: San Jose 2, Carolina 0

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


Final Score: Minnesota 4, Winnipeg 3 (OT)

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


Final Score: Montreal 4, Detroit 1

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


Final Score: Chicago 6, Dallas 2

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


Final Score: Florida 6, Anaheim 2

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


Final Score: Arizona 2, Edmonton 1

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



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Kenseth wins Nationwide season-finale at Homestead

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


►  Harvick wins at Homestead and claims first Sprint Cup title

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Gilmer Free Press


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


MONDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2014


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


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


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


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


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

Sports News   141116

The Gilmer Free Press


The Gilmer Free Press

►  Pioneers Beat WV State in Final Game of the Season

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Cato sets TD pass mark as Marshall routs Rice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rice’s Darik Dillard ran for a late touchdown.

Game Notes

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



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Top-25 College Football Game Results

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

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


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

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

Final Score: (5) TCU 34, Kansas 30

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


Final Score: (17) Arizona 27, Washington 26

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


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

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


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

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


Final Score: Arkansas 17 (20) LSU 0

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


Final Score: (21) Marshall 41, Rice 14

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


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

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



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Jets’ Ryan fined $100K for profanity

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

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

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

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


►  Falcons try to stay perfect in NFC South play

The Atlanta Falcons finally found success on the road.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Benjamin leads all rookies with 659 yards and seven TDs.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

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

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

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

Predicted outcome: Falcons 24, Panthers 21


►  Bears try to change Soldier Field fortunes against Vikings

There is plenty of blame to go around in Chicago.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OVERALL ANALYSIS

Sometimes this game is all about confidence and little else.

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

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

Predicted outcome: Bears 23, Vikings 14


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He and Mallett were teammates in New England in 2011.

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Will the Kid Be All Right?

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

Where’s 99?

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

OVERALL ANALYSIS

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

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

Predicted outcome: Texans 21, Browns 20


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OVERALL ANALYSIS

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

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

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

Predicted outcome: Seahawks 20, Chiefs 17


►  Saints hope to regain Superdome mojo against Bengals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Foolin’ Dalton

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

Work Your Weapons

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

OVERALL ANALYSIS

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

Predicted outcome: Saints 27, Bengals 23


►  Rams turn back to Hill with Peyton, Broncos looming

It all depends on how you look at things.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Punish that Man(ning)

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

Running Men

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

OVERALL ANALYSIS

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

Predicted outcome: Broncos 31, Rams 17



►  RG3, Redskins get back to work against lowly Bucs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OVERALL ANALYSIS

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

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

Predicted outcome: Redskins 27, Buccaneers 17


►  Raiders aim to avoid 16th straight loss

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But it’s not just about healthy returns.

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

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

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

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Pick Your Poison

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

Repeating History

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

OVERALL ANALYSIS

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

Predicted outcome: Chargers 24, Raiders 14


►  ‘Next man up’ for 8-1 Cardinals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OVERALL ANALYSIS

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

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

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

Predicted outcome: Lions 17, Cardinals 13


►  Opportunistic Eagles take their turn at slowing down Rodgers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OVERALL ANALYSIS

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

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

Kelly expressed that sentiment.

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

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

Predicted outcome: Packers 41, Eagles 21


►  Steelers look for consistency against Titans

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OVERALL ANALYSIS

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

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

Predicted outcome: Steelers 24, Titans 14


►  Giants place Hillis on IR

The New York Giants have placed running back Peyton Hillis on injured reserve because of a concussion.

Hillis suffered his second concussion in as many seasons last Sunday in a loss to Seattle. He also had a concussion last December in a loss to the Seahawks.

In nine games this season, Hillis ran for 115 yards on 26 carries and added 10 catches for 87 yards.

The Giants expect to have running back Rashad Jennings back in the lineup for Sunday’s game against San Francisco. He missed the previous four games with a knee injury.

To fill Hillis’ roster spot, the Giants promoted linebacker Justin Anderson from the practice squad.


►  Texans’ Foster to miss Browns game

Houston Texans running back Arian Foster will miss Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns due to a groin injury.

Foster, who suffered the setback during the Texans’ loss against the Philadelphia Eagles on November 2, was listed as questionable on Friday’s injury report.

He did not practice during Houston’s bye week nor during the days leading up to Sunday’s Week 11 tilt.

Foster has missed one other game this season due to injury. He suffered a hamstring injury in Houston’s Week 2 win at Oakland and missed the following contest against the New York Giants.

Rookie Alfred Blue will earn the start in the backfield.


►  Dolphins place Davis on IR; bring back Jalil Brown

The Miami Dolphins made it official Saturday and placed cornerback Will Davis on injured reserve because of a knee injury he suffered in Thursday’s game against Buffalo.

Davis was hurt while making a tackle on a Buffalo punt return in the third quarter of Miami’s 22-9 victory. The 2013 third-round pick out of Utah State played 10 games this season.

The Dolphins filled the roster spot by signing cornerback Jalil Brown, who spent time with Miami last season but did not appear in a game.

Brown played two games with Indianapolis this season before being released earlier this month. The fourth-year veteran appeared in 29 games for Kansas City in his first two seasons.


►  Chiefs sign DE Bailey to extension

The Kansas City Chiefs signed defensive end Allen Bailey to a contract extension on Saturday.

Terms of the contract were not released, but NFL.com reported the agreement to be a four-year deal worth $25 million.

Bailey has risen to being a full-time starter in his fourth season with the Chiefs and has totaled 27 tackles and four sacks through nine games.

“We are happy that we were able to reach an agreement to keep Allen in Kansas City,“ Chiefs general manager John Dorsey said. “He has developed into a good football player and a key member of our defense.“

The University of Miami-Florida product was selected in the third round of he 2011 draft and has amassed 72 tackles and six sacks over 50 career games.


►  Brady, Pats set to take temperature of upstart Colts

It wasn’t all that long ago that people were writing off the New England Patriots and Tom Brady.

That’s not happening anymore.

New England tries to further cement its status as the top team in the AFC on Sunday, as it goes after a sixth straight win against Andrew Luck and the up- and-coming Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The Patriots were beaten badly by the Kansas City Chiefs, 41-14, to fall to 2-2. Since then, though, they have reeled off five straight wins and have averaged 40.2 points per game in those wins.

New England enjoyed a bye last week, but that came after an impressive 43-21 win over the Denver Broncos in Week 9. Brady threw for 333 yards and four touchdowns in that win and moved past John Elway into fifth place on the all- time passing yards list.

Brady did throw an interception, his first in five games and only his third of the season.

Rob Gronkowski caught nine passes for 105 yards and one of Brady’s scoring strikes, with Julian Edelman adding nine receptions totaling 89 yards with a touchdown along with a huge punt return.

Over his last five games Gronkowski has 36 catches for 516 years and five touchdowns. Gronk has caught 18 balls in his last two games for 254 yards and four touchdowns.

“Tom’s spreading the ball around, but Rob’s a matchup nightmare,“ Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. “It’s all hands on deck to try to make sure that that guy doesn’t wreck a game. You see everybody trying to do that, but he finds a way to make unbelievable plays. He’s a great player and they’ve got a bunch of them, a bunch of skill guys that are making great plays.“

Since 2010, the Patriots are now a combined 30-3 in the second half of the regular season. In both 2010 and 2011, the Patriots were 8-0 in the second half of the year. New England was 7-1 in 2012 and 6-2 in 2013. Since Bill Belichick became Patriots head coach in 2000, New England is 90-23 in the second half of the season, and has gone 8-0 in the second half four times in Belichick’s tenure and 7-1 three times.

New England’s defense had Peyton Manning rattled all day in that one, forcing him into two interceptions. On the other hand, the Patriots have turned it over just six times all season and is tied for the NFL lead with a plus-12 turnover differential.

That could be bad news for Luck and the pass-happy Colts, who come into this contest averaging a league-best 32.2 points-per-game, but are even in turnover differential.

Luck has thrown nine picks on the season but is in the midst of what could be a record-setting campaign. The 25-year-old has set a franchise record with seven straight games of over 300 yards and leads the league with 3,085 yards and is on pace to narrowly surpass Manning’s record of 5,477.

Over his last seven games Luck has thrown 21 touchdowns and has averaged 363.3 yards for a 104.5 rating.

“Their offense is doing a great job this year. They score a lot of points, especially at home, and he’s kind of the ringleader,“ Brady said of Luck.

“... When you play another great offense, you’re going to have to put up a lot of points, similar to our last game. We realize we have a big job, too. You’re right, my focus is on the other side of the ball, but you also know you’re not going to be able to score 13 points and win the game.“

Like New England, Indianapolis is coming off a bye in Week 10, but was a big winner the previous week against the New York Giants.

Luck tossed three of his four touchdown passes in the third quarter and the Colts cruised to a 40-24 win in Week 9.

T.Y. Hilton hauled in three passes for 71 yards and a touchdown, Reggie Wayne posted four receptions for 70 yards and a score and Dwayne Allen had four catches for 48 yards and a score in the triumph.

Indianapolis has now won six of its last seven games after starting the year 0-2.

New England beat the Colts, 43-22, in an AFC Divisional Playoff game last year and has won six of the last 10 regular season matchups. New England has won the last three in the series, including the playoff game, but it has dropped the last two in Indianapolis.

The Patriots need one more victory to guarantee a finish of .500 or better for the 14th consecutive season. In fact since 2001, the Patriots are the only team to finish with a record above .500 in each of those seasons.

Every other NFL team has had at least one losing season between 2001 and 2013.

Since 2001 no team has more November wins than the 38 posted by both New England and Indianapolis.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

The Colts could be in for a long day defensively, as they have given up 31 passing plays of at least 20 yards and ranks 27th with an average of 263.6 yards passing allowed.

If Brady is given time, he could have a field day. With another 300-yard performance he could tie Hall of Famer Dan Marino (63) for the third-most such games all-time.

“They blitz quite a bit more than most of the teams that we’ve played, which is going to be, I would say, a very critical factor in the game, our ability to handle that,“ New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said.

Luck has been as good as any quarterback in the league this season, but New England’s revamped secondary with cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner is really starting to hit their stride.

“They are very talented,“ Colts wideout Reggie Wayne said. “They are ball- hungry. They are definitely talented. It gives them a little bit to where they can be a little bit more of risk-takers with blitzes and things of that nature.“

OVERALL ANALYSIS

This probably won’t be the last time these two teams square off. Another postseason matchup could be in the offing this January. But where that game is played might be decided this Sunday.

Brady has been terrific, almost playing with a chip on his shoulder since that Week 4 loss to the Chiefs. Luck has been tremendous as well, but look for Belichick to confuse him all night. The Patriots brought Revis in for games like the win over Denver and this one coming up. It might be a long night for Mr. Luck.

Predicted outcome: New England 35, Indianapolis 17


►  49ers welcome back Aldon Smith

The San Francisco 49ers will have All- Pro linebacker Aldon Smith on the field for the first time this season on Sunday.

Smith finished serving his nine-game suspension stemming from a series of off- the-field incidents, and the Niners added him to their 53-man roster for their Week 11 tilt against the New York Giants.

In August, the NFL penalized Smith for violations of both the substance-abuse policy and personal conduct policy. In July, Smith was sentenced to 11 days in jail and three years’ probation on weapons and DUI charges.

Since being selected with the seventh overall pick of the 2011 draft, Smith has been one of the league’s elite pass rushers. He has 42 sacks in just three seasons, but also numerous run-ins with the law.

Smith voluntarily took a leave of absence from the 49ers last year to seek help for a substance-abuse problem, missing five games.

To make room on the roster, the club placed rookie defensive back Jimmie Ward (foot) on injured reserve.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  C.J. Anderson: start him or sit him?

Owners who had a high waiver priority this week, most likely put in for Denver Broncos’ running back C.J. Anderson, after he broke out during Week 10 against the Oakland Raiders.

The question now becomes, is he worth starting for Week 11 against the St. Louis Rams?

I have a very tough time giving my blessing to fantasy owners, in regards to starting Anderson this week. There simply seems to be a revolving door in Denver’s backfield, and owners need to be aware that there is no guaranteed production from that position.

First, it was Broncos’ halfback Montee Ball, who was given the chance to thrive in this offense, but after averaging just 3.1 yards per carry and scoring one lone touchdown, Ball suffered a groin injury during Week 5, and running back Ronnie Hillman took over.

Hillman looked like an actual RB1 after Ball’s injury, rushing for over 100 yards twice and scoring four touchdowns, during a five-week span. Yet, during Week 10, he rushed for only 13 yards on six carries, and suffered a foot injury, which will most likely keep him sidelined for the next 2-to-3 weeks.

Enter C.J. Anderson.

Anderson shined during his first extended game-action in Week 11 against the Oakland Raiders, totaling 90 rushing yards on 13 carries, along with four receptions for 73 yards and a score.

So, it seems like an easy decision; Hillman is hurt, and Anderson played well last week, making it almost essential for owners to start Anderson.

Not so fast.

As a team, the Broncos are 27th in the NFL in rushing, with only 871 total yards. On top of that, Denver running backs are averaging just 3.7 yards per carry, and there is simply no telling which tailback will get the most reps for the duration of the season.

While Anderson is likely to get the start on Sunday, it has become increasingly clear that Denver will ride with the hot-hand. Not only will Broncos’ tailback Juwan Thompson be in the mix, but Ball is expected to return from his injury as well, leaving Anderson with very little wiggle room to make any mistakes.

One fumble or other miscue could easily result in Ball or Thompson seeing more reps, which in turn gives me reason to doubt Anderson’s value for Week 11. If owners have better RB2 options on their rosters, those players would be much safer plays, over Anderson.


►  Denard Robinson demands respect

I admit, I didn’t take you seriously.

Maybe it’s because your team has perhaps the least amount of tradition of any in the league. Maybe it’s because you play for arguably the third-best team in your state, which includes the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Maybe it’s because you were a small collegiate quarterback switching to the position with the shortest shelf life in the league.

Or maybe it was your team’s helmets that are only surpassed in hideousness by the Steelers jailbird, bumblebee jerseys.

For whatever reason, I did not take Denard Robinson seriously, and it’s time to give him fantasy respect.

Robinson took over the starting running back position for Jacksonville in Week 7. Coincidentally, that is the only game Jacksonville has won this season. Robinson rushed 22 times for 127 yards, both season-highs, against Cleveland to lead Jacksonville to a, 24-6, victory.

The former Michigan quarterback eclipsed 100 yards again the following week against Miami. The past two weeks, Robinson has not reached the century-mark in rushing yards again but has scored three rushing touchdowns.

Since Week 7, Robinson has rushed for 389 yards and four touchdowns with a 5.4 yards per carry average. Over that span, only DeMarco Murray and Mark Ingram have more rushing yards than Robinson does and only Arian Foster has rushed for a higher yards-per-carry average.

Even though it is a small sample size and Robinson’s yardage and rushing attempts have gradually dropped over the four game span, he has still shown his playmaking ability. He broke a 32-yard run for a touchdown against the Cowboys last week, and then when teammate Toby Gerhart could not convert a goal-line carry, the Jaguars turned to Robinson, and he scored his second touchdown.

So not only is Robinson receiving more carries than Gerhart, he is also scoring the touchdowns.

Fantasy owners shouldn’t beat themselves up if they doubted Robinson like myself; it is easy to see why there were question marks surrounding him coming out of college. Robinson threw just 10 more touchdowns than interceptions in his four years at Michigan and completed just 53% of his passes during his senior year. He did, however, rush for 4,495 yards with a 6.2 yards per carry average at Michigan as well.

Robinson was never going to be able to run the offense he ran in college at the professional level, so he never was going to be an NFL quarterback. Therefore, it was easy to say he wouldn’t be able to switch to another position, however, Jacksonville has found ways to utilize his skills.

The Jaguars first used him on kickoff returns and in the wild cat formation last season. Before this year, Robinson bulked up 15 pounds and became an option at running back as he maintained his speed.

He is now a great option for fantasy owners too. Robinson is still available 18% of Yahoo leagues, and if an owner was smart enough to claim him, it is time to start him with confidence, at least after his Week 11 bye.

The starting job is Robinson’s to keep and fantasy owners late to the party like myself need to start taking him seriously.  ~~  Dave Holcomb ~~


►  Two-Minute Warning - Week 11

It is once again a major issue for fantasy owners this weekend - teams on bye.

Week 11 is a “four-team bye week” with players from Baltimore, Dallas, Jacksonville and New York Jets all watching the action from their sofa or favorite watering hole, just like fans and fantasy owners.

The weather in Week 11 is pretty good for mid-November, though a bit colder than normal.

The hard cold truth is, by this time in the season, there are no completely healthy players, particularly at running back. All of them have aches and pains from playing this collision sport. Some are just more hurt than others.

Here is the latest information as we approach game-time. We will continue to update this story as the information changes all the way up to game-time.

Quarterbacks -

Carson Palmer, Arizona - If you have been out of the country for the past week you may not know that Palmer’s season ended last weekend due to a knee injury. Drew Stanton will take over the helm. He’s shown an affinity for No. 3 wideout John Brown who has caught all three of his touchdown passes in 2014.

Ryan Mallett, Houston - There are a couple of quarterback changes for this week which weren’t caused by injury. Mallett will take over for journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick in Houston. This move was inevitable from the moment he was acquired from New England in late August.

Shaun Hill, St. Louis - Hill will re-assume control of the Rams offense. He was injured/benched in Week 1 and Austin Davis took over, but after a couple of solid games regressed badly and the team will go back to Hill for a tough matchup with Peyton Manning and the Broncos.

Running Backs -

Arian Foster, Houston - Foster will not play in Week 11 due to a groin injury and will miss a tasty matchup against Cleveland. Alfred Blue should be the starter and primary running back and with a new quarterback under center should see plenty of work.

Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati - Bernard, like Foster, will miss another weekend. That gives Jeremy Hill another big opportunity and fantasy owners must start him.

Jamaal Charles, Kansas City - Charles is dealing with elbow and shoulder issues, but practiced in full and will play. Keep him in your starting lineup.

Rashad Jennings, New York Giants - Jennings is expected to return and will be an upgrade from Andre Williams, but the tougher question for fantasy owners is “how big the workload?“ We think it should be enough to make him a low-end fantasy starter.

Mark Ingram, New Orleans - Ingram was limited in practice by a shoulder issue, but it won’t stop him from playing Sunday. With Khiry Robinson and Pierre Thomas still sidelined, Ingram off three straight 100-yard games should be considered an RB1.

Ryan Mathews, San Diego - Mathews is expected to return from a knee injury that has kept him off the field since Week 2. He should resume his No. 1 status, but Branden Oliver will still get work, so Mathews shouldn’t see more than 15-18 touches and can be an RB2. Oliver should not be started.

Andre Ellington, Arizona - Ellington’s foot injury has been there all season and it hasn’t prevented the running back from producing most weekends. He struggled against the Rams and is likely to have another tough game against a strong Lions defense, but he will be out there.

Montee Ball, Denver - Ball appears to be healthy enough to play, but most think he won’t be the starter even with Ronnie Hillman declared out. C.J. Anderson is expected to start, but this backfield distribution is definitely up in the air.

Jonathan Stewart, Carolina - He’s listed as probable and should play, but with DeAngelo Williams also available and the threat of Cam Newton stealing goal line touchdowns isn’t a great option even against a Falcons’ team ranked in the bottom 10 defensively.

Reggie Bush, Detroit - He is not expected to play, but wasn’t performing at a high level even when out there this season. He has one double-digit game this season so fantasy owners should have adjusted to life without him.

Jerick McKinnon, Minnesota - He’s been dealing with a sore back, but Vikings coach Mike Zimmer confirmed Friday that McKinnon is “fine.“ His opponent, the Chicago Bears have given up a total of 106 points in the past two games.

Frank Gore, San Francisco - Gore has a sore hip, but will play and after the way the Seahawks ran through the Giants run defense, Gore could be in for a big day.

Marshawn Lynch, Seattle - A sore calf is unlikely to keep Lynch off the field and he’s a must start after last weekend’s monster performance.

Doug Martin, Tampa Bay - He’s already been ruled out for Week 11 and can be dropped from rosters. Bobby Rainey and Charles Sims should carry the Bucs ground game.

Wide Receivers -

Brandon Marshall, Chicago - A veteran who doesn’t practice on Wednesday isn’t a real story. Marshall returned to the practice field on Thursday and will be ready to go against the Vikings.

Donnie Avery, Kansas City - The Chiefs will be missing both Avery and A.J. Jenkins. That likely means Frankie Hammond gets the start opposite Dwayne Bowe, but facing the Seahawks secondary neither is a very good option.

Harry Douglas, Atlanta - The Falcons should have both their backup receivers back for Week 11, but as long as Julio Jones and Roddy White are healthy neither has any fantasy value.

Tight Ends -

Jordan Cameron, Cleveland - Cameron is out for Week 11. None of the Browns choices at tight end have any fantasy value even remotely close to Cameron and can’t be started.

Martellus Bennett, Chicago - Bennett caught just two passes last weekend and the hope is that he’s a week healthier and the ribs have healed so he can return to the high level of earlier in the season.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  WEST VIRGINIA OPENED THE SEASON WITH A 64-54 COMEBACK VICTORY

West Virginia coach Bob Huggins reflected on a tougher-than-expected 64-54 win over Monmouth in Friday night’s season opener.

“At the end of the day, you can say maybe we won one we weren’t supposed to win,” Huggins said. “But then, when you shoot it 31 more times than your opponent, you are supposed to win.”

Thanks to hefty edge in rebounding and forced turnovers, West Virginia attempted 69 shots to Monmouth’s 38. Yet the Mountaineers made only 18 field goals, one more than the Hawks.

“We had good shots and we threw it close like you’re supposed to,” Huggins said. “We just didn’t finish inside. But we can shoot it better than we showed today.”



The Gilmer Free Press

►  NBA Game Results

(Saturday, November 15)


Final Score: Washington 98, Orlando 93

Kris Humphries, Otto Porter and Rasual Butler carried the Wizards late as the reserves combined for 24 points in the fourth quarter to lead Washington over the Orlando Magic, 98-93, on Saturday. Humphries finished with 16 points, Porter netted 13, Butler added 10 for the Wizards, who have won three in a row and improved to 7-2 for their best start since the 1974-75 season. John Wall recorded a double-double with 15 points and 10 assists, while Nene added 16 points in the victory. All five Magic starters scored in double figures, led by Tobias Harris’ 19 points, but Orlando’s two-game winning streak came in an end.


Final Score: Cleveland 127, Atlanta 94

LeBron James scored 18 of his 32 points in the first half to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers’ offensive onslaught in a 127-94 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday. James, who also dished out seven assists with six rebounds, went 13-of-20 shooting, including 4-of-5 from beyond the arc, helping the Cavs to a fourth straight win. Cleveland also set a franchise record with 19 3-pointers made. Kyrie Irving deposited 20 points with five assists, Tristan Thompson netted 15 points and Kevin Love posted 13 points, six rebounds and five assists. The Cavs distributed 39 assists in snapping a four-game skid to Atlanta, with sixth man Dion Waiters’ eight helpers leading the way. Paul Millsap had 16 points with seven rebounds, while Mike Muscala supplied 13 points off the bench and Al Horford and John Jenkins each notched 12 for the Hawks, who had their four-game winning streak halted.


Final Score: Toronto 111, Utah 93

DeMar DeRozan had 27 points, while Jonas Valanciunas added 17 and 14 rebounds and the Toronto Raptors defeated the Utah Jazz 111-93 on Saturday night. Kyle Lowry posted 19 points for the Raptors, who were coming off a home loss to the Chicago Bulls on Thursday. Derrick Favors tallied 18 points and six boards, Enes Kanter netted 18 points and Alec Burks provided 10 points and 10 rebounds for Utah, which has dropped five of its last seven contests.


Final Score: Indiana 99, Chicago 90

Solomon Hill had 21 points and 12 rebounds, while A.J. Price added 21 points off the bench as the Indiana Pacers defeated the Derrick Rose-less Chicago Bulls 99-90 on Saturday night. Luis Scola posted 21 points and 11 boards for the Pacers, who have won three of their last four games on the heels of a six-game losing streak. Jimmy Butler tallied 30 points and six rebounds for Chicago, which had a brief two-game winning streak snapped. Rose missed the game after tweaking his hamstring during Thursday’s win in Toronto. He hasn’t played in five contests in all this year due to ankle and hamstring issues. Chicago fell to 3-2 without Rose in the lineup this season.


Final Score: Memphis 95, Detroit 88

Marc Gasol had 23 points and eight rebounds in the Memphis Grizzlies’ 95-88 win over the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night. Zach Randolph added 17 points and 22 rebounds for the Grizzlies (9-1), who have won a franchise-record 19 consecutive regular season home games. Mike Conley and Courtney Lee tallied 18 and 12 points, respectively. Kyle Singler made five 3-pointers en route to 21 points for the Pistons, who have lost four of five. Greg Monroe had 16 points and 11 rebounds.


Final Score: Dallas 131, Minnesota 117

Following their largest win in franchise history, the Dallas Mavericks kept the momentum going on Saturday night with a 131-117 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Monta Ellis had a season-high 30 points to lead the Mavs, who were coming off a 53-point win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday. Dirk Nowitzki deposited 15 points, while Tyson Chandler netted 12 points with a season-high 16 rebounds and Chandler Parsons added 12 in the win, Dallas’ third straight to wrap up its four- game homestand. J.J. Barea led the bench production with 14 points. Kevin Martin posted a season-high 34 points and Shabazz Muhammad tallied 18 points off the bench for Minnesota, which has lost five straight.


Final Score: Portland 97, Brooklyn 87

Damian Lillard poured in 28 points with 10 assists to lead the Portland Trail Blazers to a 97-87 win over the Brooklyn Nets. Chris Kaman had 12 points off the bench, while Wesley Matthews and Robin Lopez each contributed 10 for Portland, which has won four straight. Brook Lopez paced the Nets with 21 points, Joe Johnson supplied 19 and Deron Williams also netted 19 points with six assists for the Nets, who have lost three straight. Kevin Garnett went for 12 points and 12 rebounds in the setback. The Nets franchise fell to 6-34 all-time in Portland.


Final Score: Sacramento 94, San Antonio 91

DeMarcus Cousins scored 21 of his 25 points in the second half to lead the Sacramento Kings to a 94-91 breakthrough win over the San Antonio Spurs at Sleep Train Arena. Cousins’ monster performance, which included 10 rebounds, helped the Kings snap a nine-game losing streak against the reigning NBA champions and a three-game skid overall. Darren Collison added 19 points and Rudy Gay had 18 along with six assists in the victory, just Sacramento’s second in the last 23 meetings between the teams. Manu Ginobili dropped in 21 points off the bench for San Antonio, but the Spurs couldn’t hold onto a slim lead in the final minutes in the finale of a four-game road trip they began with three straight wins. Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green each finished with 16 points in the loss, with Tim Duncan posting 15 points and eight rebounds for the Spurs.


Final Score: Golden State 112, Charlotte 87

Klay Thompson had 21 points and headed a strong shooting display that carried the Golden State Warriors to a 112-87 rout of the Charlotte Hornets at ORACLE Arena. The Warriors shot 51.7 percent from the field and made 11-of-26 attempts from 3-point range, with Thompson knocking down 4-of-6 tries from beyond the arc and Harrison Barnes going 3- for-5 in a 17-point effort. Stephen Curry added 19 points and nine assists for Golden State, which led by as many as 34 in improving to 7-2 on the season. Al Jefferson had 19 points and Brian Roberts scored 17 off the bench to pace Charlotte. Lance Stephenson finished with 16 points as the Hornets concluded a four-game West Coast trip with a third loss.


Final Score: LA Clippers 120, Phoenix 107

Chris Paul scored 32 points with nine assists and five rebounds to lead the Los Angeles Clippers to a 120-107 win over the Phoenix Suns on Saturday. DeAndre Jordan helped the Clippers with a monster effort, scoring 12 with 18 rebounds and seven blocked shots. Blake Griffin deposited 19 points, while JJ Redick and Spencer Hawes each netted 14 in the win. Gerald Green led the Suns with 26 points off the bench and Goran Dragic notched 19 points for the Suns, who have lost two straight following a two-game winning streak.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  MLB stars no-hit in Japan

Takahiro Norimoto and three relievers combined on a no-hitter to lead Samurai Japan to a 4-0 win over the Major League Baseball All-Stars on Saturday in the 2014 Japan Series.

The Japanese stars have captured each of the first three in the five-game set that continues Sunday at the Tokyo Dome.

Norimoto struck out six and did not walk a batter in five perfect innings of work. He threw only 60 pitches, 20 shy of the 80-pitch limit for starters in the series.

Yuki Nishi issued a walk to Lucas Duda starting the sixth, but then set down the next three batters. He hit Robinson Cano leading off the seventh, but again retired the next three, including strikeouts of Justin Morneau and Yasiel Puig.

Kazuhisa Makita ran into trouble in the eighth when he walked Salvador Perez to start the inning and Dexter Fowler with one out. Alcides Escobar then struck out and Ben Zobrist grounded out.

Yuji Nishino had no problems in the ninth, fanning Jose Altuve and retiring Carlos Santana and Morneau on ground balls to complete the gem. Second baseman Ryosuke Kikuchi made a nice play on Santana’s hard-hit grounder, taking away a potential hit.

The Japanese stars did all their scoring against Jeremy Guthrie on a pair of two-run homers. Hayato Sakamoto followed a Sho Nakata double in the second with a blast over the left field wall, and Nakata drilled a shot over the center field wall in the third after a Nobuhiro Matsuda single.

Guthrie went the first five innings for the MLB stars.

After Sunday’s game in Tokyo, the teams will play the finale of the series on Tuesday in Sapporo.


►  D-backs obtain Hellickson from Rays

The Arizona Diamondbacks made their first offseason move towards bolstering their rotation on Friday, acquiring former American League Rookie of the Year Jeremy Hellickson from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for two minor league prospects.

The Diamondbacks sent infielder Andrew Velazquez and outfielder Justin Williams to Tampa Bay in the first trade orchestrated by new Arizona general manager Dave Stewart.

Hellickson was named the AL’s top rookie after compiling a 13-10 record with a 2.95 earned run average in 29 starts for the Rays in 2011. The 27-year-old followed up with back-to-back seasons of double-digit wins, but struggled to a 1-5 record with a 4.52 ERA during an injury-plagued 2014 campaign.

The right-hander was limited to just 13 starts last season after undergoing surgery in January to remove loose bodies from his elbow.

Hellickson owns a career 40-36 record with a 3.78 ERA over 115 major league games, all but seven of which have been starts. He’s due a salary increase in 2015 as a second-year arbitration-eligible player, which likely factored in the small-market and rebuilding Rays’ decision to make the deal.

Stewart had made improving a rotation that was among the worst in baseball in 2014 a high priority this offseason. The Diamondbacks’ 4.44 ERA from their starters was the second-worst mark in the National League and ranked 27th in the majors.

Velazquez and Williams were rated as the 12th and 14th-best prospects, respectively, in the Arizona system by MLB.com.

The 20-year-old Velazquez was named the 2014 Midwest League Prospect of the Year after hitting .290 with nine home runs, 56 RBI, 15 triples and 50 stolen bases at Low-A South Bend and reaching base safely in 74 consecutive games during the season.

Williams, 19, was the Diamondbacks’ second-round pick in the 2013 draft. The left-handed hitter batted .351 with four homers, 46 RBI and five triples over 74 games between South Bend and Missoula of the Rookie-Advanced Pioneer League.


►  Cano has broken toe

Seattle Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano reportedly suffered a broken toe when he was hit by a pitch in Saturday’s Japan Series game at the Tokyo Dome.

Cano was hit by a pitch from Yuki Nishi in the seventh inning and left the contest.

MLB.com cited a source as saying Cano suffered a non-displaced fracture of the pinkie toe on his right foot. He is expected to miss the remaining two games of the series and will likely need about 3-to-4 weeks to recover.

The MLB All-Stars were no-hit Saturday in a 4-0 loss and have dropped each of the first three games of the five-game set.

Cano, who was 2-for-10 in three games this week, batted .314 with 14 homers and 82 runs batted in over 157 games this past season, his first with the Mariners after signing a 10-year contract with Seattle as a free agent last December.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  NHL Game Results

(Saturday, November 15)


Final Score: Boston 2, Carolina 1

Tuukka Rask made 33 saves to lift the Boston Bruins to a 2-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday at TD Garden. Seth Griffith and Patrice Bergeron scored first-period goals for the Bruins, who halted a two-game skid and won for the sixth time in their last eight games. Jiri Tlusty scored for Carolina, which has lost two in a row and three of its last four after a four-game win streak. Cam Ward made 23 saves in defeat.


Final Score: Minnesota 2, Dallas 1

Mikael Granlund netted the winner early in the third period, backing a 27-save effort from Darcy Kuemper, and Minnesota clipped Dallas, 2-1, at American Airlines Center. Erik Haula provided the other meaningful offense for the Wild, who have won two in a row since dropping four straight. Antoine Roussel scored and Kari Lehtonen stopped 20 shots for the Stars, whose two-game win streak came to an end.


Final Score: Los Angeles 3, Anaheim 2 (OT)

Jarret Stoll scored on a power play at 2:19 of overtime to lift the Los Angeles Kings to a 3-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday. The Kings went on the man advantage 23 seconds into the extra session when Anaheim defenseman Hampus Lindholm was called for hooking. As the power play was winding down, Justin Williams led a rush down the left wing and dished out front to Stoll, who slid the puck between the pads of Frederik Andersen. Tyler Toffoli scored his fourth shorthanded goal of the season and Anze Kopitar added a power-play goal in the third period for the Kings, who snapped a two-game slide that included a 6-5 shootout loss at Anaheim on Wednesday. Jonathan Quick made 27 saves in the winning effort. Ryan Kesler and Emerson Etem scored and Andersen stopped 34 shots for Anaheim, which has seen its last five games be decided beyond regulation. The Ducks are 3-0-4 in their last seven games.


Final Score: Buffalo 6, Toronto 2

Zemgus Girgensons scored twice and the Buffalo Sabres cruised past the Toronto Maple Leafs, 6-2, on Saturday. Matt Moulson and Tyler Ennis each had one goal and two assists for the Sabres, who snapped a five-game skid. Drew Stafford and Tyler Myers also lit the lamp. Michal Neuvirth stopped 32-of-34 shots for Buffalo, which had allowed six goals in each of its last three games. David Clarkson and Phil Kessel scored for the Maple Leafs, who have lost two in a row since a three-game winning streak. James Reimer made 29 saves.


Final Score: Montreal 6, Philadelphia 3

P.A. Parenteau and Dale Weise each registered a pair of goals, and Michel Therrien gained his 300th win as an NHL head coach as the Montreal Canadiens doubled up the Philadelphia Flyers, 6-3, at Bell Centre. David Desharnais and P.K. Subban also lit the lamp for the Canadiens, who vaulted over Tampa Bay into first place in the Atlantic Division thanks to their fifth straight win. Alex Galchenyuk added three assists, with Tomas Plekanec, Sergei Gonchar, Max Pacioretty and Andrei Markov totaling two helpers each. Carey Price came up with a 26-save effort. Brayden Schenn tallied twice and Jakub Voracek added a pair of assists for the Flyers, who fell to 1-5-0 in three sets of back-to-back games on the young season. Voracek assumed the NHL scoring lead with 26 points, as Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby was held off the board in a 3-2 shootout win against the Rangers. Ray Emery was shelled for all six goals on 28 shots—the first time in his career he’s surrendered that many to Montreal.


Final Score: Tampa Bay 5, NY Islanders 2

Ben Bishop made 25 saves and five Tampa Bay Lightning players scored in a 5-2 win over the New York Islanders on Saturday. The goals by Ryan Callahan, Valtteri Filppula, Cedric Paquette, Tyler Johnson and Radko Gudas helped Tampa Bay snap New York’s five-game winning streak. Callahan and Filppula each had an assist and Jason Garrison added two helpers for the Lightning, who halted a two-game skid and improved to 7-1-1 in their last nine. They lead the NHL with 65 goals, including 39 in their last nine games. Brock Nelson and Josh Bailey scored for the Islanders and Chad Johnson gave up all five Tampa Bay goals on 28 shots.


Final Score: Colorado 3, New Jersey 2

Erik Johnson and Matt Duchene scored in the third period as the Colorado Avalanche rallied to beat the New Jersey Devils 3-2 at Prudential Center. John Mitchell also scored and Semyon Varlamov made 23 saves for the Avalanche, who have won consecutive games for the first time this season and concluded their four-game road trip at .500. Eric Gelinas and Martin Havlat supplied the goals for New Jersey, which had its two-game win streak snapped and lost for the fifth time in seven games. Cory Schneider stopped 26 shots in defeat.


Final Score: Pittsburgh 3, NY Rangers 2 (SO)

Brandon Sutter scored in the fourth round of the shootout to give the Pittsburgh Penguins a measure of revenge against the New York Rangers with a 3-2 victory. The win was Pittsburgh’s ninth in 10 games, with the only blemish over that stretch coming Tuesday at Madison Square to a Rangers team that also ended the Penguins’ 2013-14 season in seven games during the Eastern Conference semifinals. Evgeni Malkin contributed a goal and an assist for Pittsburgh and Blake Comeau also tallied in the triumph, with Marc-Andre Fleury coming up with 29 saves in a sharper effort than Tuesday’s 5-0 loss in New York. Henrik Lundqvist made 36 saves, including stops of Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang on breakaways in overtime, for the Rangers. Lee Stempniak and Martin St. Louis each had goals in the loss, New York’s fourth in its last five outings.


Final Score: Columbus 2, San Jose 1

Sergei Bobrovsky dazzled in his return to the ice, turning aside 36 shots to lead the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 2-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Saturday. Cam Atkinson’s power-play goal proved to be the difference and David Savard also lit the lamp for Columbus, which was coming off a 4-3 win over Philadelphia on Friday. Bobrovsky earned his 100th career win after missing eight games with a fractured finger on his left hand. Joe Pavelski netted San Jose’s lone goal and Antti Niemi made 26 saves in defeat.


Final Score: Nashville 2, Winnipeg 1

Craig Smith scored the game-winning goal with 2:02 left in regulation and head coach Peter Laviolette won his 400th game as the Nashville Predators defeated the Winnipeg Jets. 2-1, on Saturday. Calle Jarnkrok emerged from behind the net with the puck and fired a shot from the left circle. Jarnkrok retrieved the rebound in the high slot and dished the puck to Smith, who snapped a shot short side past a sliding Ondrej Pavelec for the deciding goal. The Jets pulled Pavelec with 1:44 to play, but were unable to force an extra session. James Neal tied the game in the second period and Pekka Rinne stopped 21-of-22 shots for Nashville, which has won four of its last five games. Blake Wheeler supplied Winnipeg’s lone marker and Pavelec made 27 saves in defeat. The Jets entered the game having registered at least a point in nine of their last 10 games (7-1-2).


Final Score: St. Louis 4, Washington 1

Brian Elliott made 24 saves and four St. Louis Blues scored in a 4-1 win over the Washington Capitals on Saturday. The goals by Jori Lehtera, Jaden Schwartz, David Backes and Patrik Berglund helped the Blues to their third consecutive win and a 10-1-0 record in their last 11 games. Schwartz, Backes and Berglund each added an assist and Kevin Shattenkirk had two helpers in the victory. Joel Ward scored and Justin Peters made 30 saves for the Capitals, who have dropped two in a row while scoring just one goal over that span.


Final Score: Calgary 4, Ottawa 2

Lance Bouma and Markus Granlund each scored and assisted on the other’s third-period goal as the Calgary Flames beat the Ottawa Senators 4-2 on Saturday. Josh Jooris also scored in the third and collected one assist for the Flames, who have opened their five-game homestand with consecutive wins. Karri Ramo stopped 23 of 25 Ottawa shots. Bobby Ryan and Clarke MacArthur had the goals in the Senators’ final stop on a three-game Western Canadian trip (1-1-1). Craig Anderson made 21 saves in defeat.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Gordon wins Homestead pole, Harvick tops among title contenders

Five days after he was eliminated from the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship, Jeff Gordon won the pole for the season-ending race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

While Gordon will start on the pole for Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead, three of the four drivers battling for the Sprint Cup Series championship will start in the top-10. Kevin Harvick, the winner of last weekend’s race at Phoenix, qualified fifth. Denny Hamlin, who won the 2013 season-finale at this 1.5-mile racetrack, took the eighth spot, and Joey Logano was ninth. Ryan Newman, who is the only one in the final four without a victory this season, will start 21st.

Gordon earned his third pole of the season and the 77th of his Cup career after making a lap at 180.747 mph during the third and final round of Friday’s knockout qualifying at Homestead. It’s his first pole in 16 races here as well. Gordon also gave Hendrick Motorsports its 200th pole in NASCAR’s premier series.

“I’m really excited about that pole,“ Gordon said. “I’ve never been on the pole here before, and to be the 200th pole for Hendrick Motorsports is really cool. I think the way we are looking at this weekend is we want to close out the season the absolute best we can. It has been a tremendous season. The No. 24 team has been incredible this year. We are disappointed that we aren’t in this thing for the championship, but that’s not going to stop us from trying to go out to win the pole and win the race.“

Gordon finished second at Phoenix but came up one point short of making into the Championship Round. Ryan Newman’s 11th-place finish there allowed him to top Gordon for the last spot in the final four. Newman bumped rookie Kyle Larson and put him into the wall while the two were battling for the 11th position on the final turn of the last lap.

Kurt Busch qualified second, followed by Matt Kenseth and Brad Keselowski, who set a new track qualifying record at Homestead with a lap at 181.238 mph during the first qualifying round.

The highest finisher among the four title contenders in this race will win the championship. Neither Hamlin, Harvick, Logano or Newman has yet to win a title in the series.

“Today was really about trying to get a solid starting spot,“ said Harvick, whose fifth-place in qualifying came with a lap at 179.946 mph. “We were able to do that with my Budweiser (sponsored) team. Just really proud of my guys. We had a really good day today. Just got to keep doing what we have to do and see where it all falls on Sunday.“

Newman finished among the top-10 in the opening round of qualifying but failed to advance beyond the second round after posting a lap at 178.241 mph.

“We just struggled there a little bit,“ Newman said. “My first run was pretty good. The second run wasn’t what we needed it to be. Our first run was where we were in practice. In the second run, we just weren’t where we needed to be. We missed it just a little bit on the balance.“

All 43 drivers who attempted qualifying made the starting field.


►  Crafton becomes first back-to-back champion in Truck Series

Matt Crafton clinched the 2014 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship with a ninth-place finish in Friday night’s season-ending Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Crafton became the first driver to win back-to-back titles in the 20-year history of the series. He ended the season 21 points ahead of his closest competitor, Ryan Blaney, who finished fifth in this race. Crafton entered the season-finale with a 25-point advantage over Blaney. A finish of 21st or better had guaranteed him the championship.

“It’s definitely an awesome feeling to say you’re back-to-back champion,“ Crafton said. “I definitely didn’t want to talk about it at all the last few weeks. Without a doubt, I wanted to go out there and do my job and try to win more races and lead more laps, and that’s what we did.

“I’m not going to lie, tonight’s race for me was not much fun having to sit there and ride around because I know the truck was a lot better, but I couldn’t put myself in any bad position. I just have to wait for everything to file out and just sit there and ride because I couldn’t take any chances of getting tore up.“

Crafton, a 38-year-old Tulare, California native, scored two wins, 13 top-five finishes and 17 top-10s in 22 races this season. He became the fourth driver to win multiple championships in the series, joining Ron Hornaday Jr. (1996, ‘98, 2007 and ‘09), Jack Sprague (1997, ‘99 and 2001) and Todd Bodine (2006 and ‘10).

“It’s awesome, and to be on the list with those guys is unreal,“ Crafton said. “I’ve watched Ron Hornaday race with my dad in the ‘80s, and he was an unreal race car driver, and to see Jack Sprague and all those guys win the championships. To say I’m on the list with them is pretty cool.“

Darrell Wallace Jr. won the race after passing his teammate and team owner, Kyle Busch, with 16 laps remaining and then holding off a hard-charging Kyle Larson in the final laps. Wallace beat Larson to the finish line by just 0.3 seconds for his fourth win of the season and the fifth of his Truck Series career.

It’s the first time Wallace has won a truck race on a 1.5-mile racetrack.

“I can’t thank my guys (No. 54 Kyle Busch Motorsports team) enough for continuing to come up each and every race and never give up and have that desire to win,“ Wallace said. “I told them before the race started, we want it more than anybody else. We don’t have a shot at the title, but we want this race more than anybody else. Let’s show that.

“I had to work for it there. I had to battle off Kyle (Larson) and Kyle (Busch), so a lot of things knocked off tonight in the mile-and-a-half win. We beat the boss finally. It was another battle with Larson like Eldora (July 23 race), running up against the fence like Eldora. Just had to be smart about it. Just had a lot of fun.“

Larson started on the pole and led 96 of the first 100 laps, but during the last round of pit stops under caution, he exited pit road in third. Larson made several attempts to overtake Wallace for the lead in the closing laps but could not make the pass.

“There was a couple times where I got a good run off of (turn) 4 and thought about doing a slide job and just thought better of it,“ Larson said. “I tried it one time there and wished the lap truck hadn’t been there so I could run it even deeper. (Wallace) was able to squeeze back around me, and that was about my last real shot. I tried something there the last lap, but I figured it wasn’t going to work.“

Timothy Peters finished third, while Busch ended up in fourth. Blaney had to overcome a broken shifter he experienced during a pit stop just past the halfway point to place fifth.

Busch’s No. 51 team clinched its second straight and third overall owners’ championship in the series. The No. 51 concluded the season 24 points in front of ThorSport Racing’s No. 88 team, with Crafton as their driver.

Busch drove the No. 51 Toyota in 10 races this season, while 18-year-old Erik Jones was behind the wheel of it in 12 events. Busch scored seven victories and Jones three, including last week’s race at Phoenix.

“It’s a great milestone for us and a great accomplishment just on the fact that it’s what we can race for,“ Busch said of the owners’ title. “Truly to have two drivers being able to compete and to have one (Jones) of those be a rookie and an up-and-coming driver in the series and in NASCAR and to be able to go out there and capture an owners’ championship, accumulating more points than the series champion says a lot about our team, a lot about our organization.“

KBM is the second team in the series to win consecutive owners’ title. Xpress Motorsports first did it from 2002-03.

The No. 51 and 54 teams for KBM combined for 14 wins in the 22 races this year. Toyota’s 18th victory this season tied Chevrolet (2010) for the series record of most wins by a manufacturer in a single season.

Ben Kennedy, the great-grandson of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., earned rookie-of-the-year honors in the series this season. Kennedy finished 17th in the race.

The Gilmer Free Press


Codes
ABC - American Broadcasting Company
CBS - Columbia Broadcast System
FOX - Fox Entertainment Group
NBC - National Broadcasting Company
JIP - Joined in Progress
DSS - DIRECTV
TSN - Sports Network (Canada)
SNET/SN - Rogers SportsNet (Canada)
RDS - Reseau des sports
MSG - Madison Square Garden Network
TNT - Turner Network Television
TBS - Turner Broadcasting System
SNY - SportsNet New York