West Virginia News
LEWIS COUNTY DRUG BUST POTENTIALLY ENDS DECADES LONG OPERATION
A drug bust in Lewis County resulted in the arrest of an individual believed to be involved in drug crimes for nearly two decades.
Catherine Thomas has been charged with possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, with more charges pending, after the Lewis County Sheriff’s Department executed a search warrant late Tuesday evening on her residence at 279 Sand Run Road.
“The arrest that was made could be considered rather significant, for multiple sources have stated for nearly two decades the defendant had been heavily involved in the drug trade,“ Sheriff Adam Gissy said.
According to Gissy, deputies located and seized 2.8 grams of Crystal Methamphetamine, 3 pounds of Marijuana, Xanax pills and more than $3,000.
The approximate street value of the illegal drugs totals nearly $15,000.
Additional arrests are pending.
NEW STATE BUSINESS TAX CLIMATE INDEX FROM THE TAX FOUNDATION RANKS WV IN TOP 25
West Virginia is ranked No. 21 overall in the Tax Foundation’s 2015 State Business Tax Climate Index.
Released Tuesday, the index is designed to be a gauge for business leaders, government policymakers and taxpayers of how state tax systems compare nationwide.
“We’re looking at all elements of taxes that apply to businesses,” said Scott Drenkard, manager of state projects for the Tax Foundation.
“We’ve got individual income taxes, corporate income taxes, sales, property and unemployment insurance taxes.”
According to the Index, this year’s 10 best states are:
2. South Dakota
7. New Hampshire
According to the Index, this year’s 10 worst states are:
45. Rhode Island
49. New York
50. New Jersey
West Virginia was largely in the middle of the pack.
In a breakdown, the Mountain State was ranked No. 26 for individual income taxes, No. 25 for sales taxes, No. 23 for unemployment insurance taxes, No. 25 for property taxes and No. 17 for corporate taxes.
WOMAN FACES PRISON TIME FOR FRAUDULENT TAX RETURNS
A Berkeley County woman faces prison time after attempting to defraud the government.
Debra Myers, age 52, of Martinsburg was convicted in federal court after she admitted to her role in a tax fraud conspiracy where she signed five fraudulent tax returns at the direction of her boyfriend, a tax preparer, and allowed more than $30,000 in improper refunds to be deposited into her bank accounts.
Myers entered a guilty plea Tuesday to a one-count Information alleging she conspired to defraud the IRS and faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
As part of the plea agreement, she also agreed to pay $38,843.00 in restitution.
The investigation into Myers’ case was led by the IRS and the West Virginia State Police, Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Camilletti is prosecuting the case on behalf of the government and U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert W. Trumble presided.
DRUG DEALER FACES BETWEEN 1 AND 40 YEARS IN PRISON
An Ohio native has entered a guilty plea to federal drug crimes in Wheeling.
Jewan Kyle, age 28, of Cleveland, Ohio, was convicted Tuesday of distributing heroin near Bloch Playground on Wheeling Island.
Kyle, who has multiple prior felony drug convictions, was charged with one count of distribution of heroin within 1000 feet of a protected location after an investigation by the Ohio Valley Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force, a HIDTA-funded initiative.
The Task Force is comprised of the West Virginia State Police, the Ohio County Sheriff’s Department, the Wheeling Police Department, and the DEA.
Kyle, who will remain in custody pending sentencing, faces between 1 and 40 years in prison and fine of up to $2,000,000.00.
U.S. Attorney William Ihlenfeld, II prosecuted the case on behalf of the government and Senior U.S. District Judge Frederick P. Stamp presided.
EPA COMMENT PERIOD ENDS DECEMBER
The federal EPA has received 1.5 million public comments on the agency’s Clean Power Plan that will impact the emissions of existing coal-fired power plants.
EPA acting assistant administrator for the agency’s Office of Air and Radiation Janet McCabe told reporters Tuesday the agency is making more information available for comment.
“This does not change the proposal that we put out in June, it simply discusses some key ideas that we’ve been hearing consistently from a diverse set of stakeholders,” McCabe said during a conference call. “The NODA (notice of data availability) gives us a chance to ensure that all stakeholders and the public are aware of these issues and can consider them in their comments.”
McCabe said there have been lots of comments made about natural gas, the response by states to the new rule and timelines. She said that information will now be made available for other people to see so they can comment.
“This is all about providing information and ideas for people so that they can give us their best thoughts on it. So we are taking this step for our purpose to make sure that everybody has access to that information that we are hearing on these issues,” McCabe said.
The public comment period ends December 01.
POLICE INVESTIGATE SHOOTING DEATH IN PUTNAM COUNTY
Putnam County police say a man was shot and killed Monday afternoon at a mobile home in the community of Bancroft. Deputies charged his roommate with murder.
Deputies said Troy Cobb, age 20, was shot with a large-caliber handgun during an argument at around 3 p.m. They allege his roommate Jacob Smailes pulled the trigger. They charged Smailes with murder Tuesday evening.
Investigators said there was an eyewitness at the scene.
Smailes, who called 911 to report the shooting, is lodged in the Western Regional Jail without bail.
Deputies said the initial call was there had been an accidental shooting at #5 Old Ferry Trailer Park but they later determined the shooting was intentional.
DEPUTY INJURED SUBDUING MENTAL HEALTH PATIENT
Kanawha County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Chris Atha was injured in a struggle at the Kanawha County Judicial Annex.
Atha was working in Magistrate Court, when a man who was awaiting a mental hygiene hearing, became combative. The man reached for Atha’s gun, but the safety holster prevented him from drawing it.
Kanawha County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Mike Rutherford explained why the man couldn’t draw the gun.
“The holsters that we have are triple retention holsters,” Rutherford said. “All three of the safety mechanisms were functioning and in the secure position.”
Officers tazed the man in an attempt to subdue him, but it did not stop him.
“The man was still attempting to get the gun,” Rutherford said. “And the weapon went off inside the holster.”
The bullet was fired into a bench, but debris from the holster scraped Atha’s leg.
The man was finally subdued and taken to CAMC General to remove the prongs from the tazer.
“As soon as he is released from Charleston General,” Rutherford said. “He will be transported to a mental health facility and we will look into possible criminal charges.”
Atha’s injuries weren’t serious.
“The deputy had just minor injuries, just enough we are going to have him looked at,” Rutherford said. “We don’t believe he will need any stitches or anything like that.”
FIRE DESTROYS MOTEL
Ten units of a Barbour County motel were destroyed by fire early Wednesday morning. The blaze was reported about 6:15 a.m. at the Mid-Town Motel in Belington.
The fire apparently started in one of the rooms. All guests managed to escape the hotel without injury. Eight fire departments from three counties were called in to help get the fire out.
The state Fire Marshal has been called to the scene to investigate.
FEDS ASKED TO START REVIEW OF WV-VA PIPELINE
Developers of a proposed interstate natural gas pipeline have moved to begin a federal review of the project.
Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission this week to initiate the agency’s pre-filing process.
Commission spokeswoman Tamara Young-Allen tells The Roanoke Times that the process is designed to identify and resolve issues before a formal application is filed.
The 300-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline is a joint venture between EQT Corp. and NextEra Energy Era Inc. It would run from Wetzel County, West Virginia, to another pipeline in Pittsylvania County.
The pipeline must be approved by the commission before it could be built.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin have expressed support for the pipeline.
NEGOTIATIONS UNDERWAY ON FIRSTENERGY RATE HIKE
Negotiations are underway to resolve FirstEnergy’s proposed $151.5 million rate increase for two West Virginia subsidiaries.
The West Virginia Public Service Commission had planned to hold evidentiary hearings on the company’s request this week. The executive director of the PSC’s Consumer Advocate Division, Jackie Roberts says the hearings are in recess as negotiations continue.
The proposed increase includes $103 million in base rate charges and $48.5 million for vegetation management.
FirstEnergy spokesman Todd Meyers says the company has been working with all parties to reach a settlement agreement.
Any agreement must be approved by the PSC.
Sports News - 10.30.14
► MEC Football Preview – Week 9
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 30, 2014
West Liberty (5-3, 5-2) at Charleston (5-3, 4-3), 7:00 PM
Last Year: Charleston won 26-9
Notes: UC led only 7-6 at the half in last year’s game ... the Golden Eagles had just 98 yards passing but rushed for 229 ... the Hilltoppers are ranked 10th in the first edition of the NCAA Super Region 1 rankings ... WLU is looking for its first four-game winning streak since 2009 ... UC has lost three of its last four, including a narrow 24-20 decision to #19 Concord last week.
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 01, 2014
West Virginia State (2-6, 1-6) at Notre Dame (5-3, 5-2), Noon
Audio | Live Stats
Last Year: Note Dame won 42-16
Notes: NDC rushed for 269 yards in last year’s win ... Ray Russ only threw 19 passes for 139 yards ... the Falcons bring in one of the most potent passing offense this year averaging 359.1 yards per game through the air ... the Yellow Jackets are fourth in the league in total defense.
Glenville State at #20/22 Shepherd, Noon
Video | Live Stats
Last Year: Shepherd won 45-19
Notes: The Rams scored a defensive TD and on a kickoff return in last year’s win ... GSC’s Rahmann Lee rushed for 148 yards in the game ... the Rams possessed the ball for 38 minutes ... Shepherd’s defense is ranked first against the run this year allowing 40.3 yards per game ... the Pioneers are third in the MEC in total offense (470.5).
Fairmont State (3-4, 3-4) at West Virginia Wesleyan (3-5, 3-5), 1:00 PM
Last Year: West Virginia Wesleyan won 40-37 in overtime
Notes: Michael Anderson rushed for 224 yards as the Bobcats edged the Falcons in last year’s game ... FSU actually out-gained WVWC on the ground, though, 267-237 ... since an 0-2 start, FSU has won three of its last five ... WVWC QB Jeremy Musselman returned to the lineup and threw for 300 yards last week in a loss at West Liberty.
#15/16 Concord (8-0, 7-0) at UVa-Wise (1-7, 1-6)
Last Year: Concord won 44-6
Notes: The Mountain Lions had three interceptions and nearly doubled UVa-Wise in total offense in last year’s matchup ...CU is ranked second in the initial NCAA Super Region 1 rankings ... two of CU’s wins have come by four points or less ... UVa-Wise is coming off its first win of the season ... the Cavs had their first defensive touchdown of the season last week.
Malone (1-7) at Urbana (1-7, 1-7), 1:00 PM
Video | Live Stats
Last Year: Did not meet
Notes: The two teams met for 16-straight seasons when both were members of NAIA ... they have not played since 2008 ... Malone won that game 22-6 ... UU has out-gained its opponent in five of eight games ... the Blue Knights were penalized for 215 yards in last week’s game against FSU ... Malone is coming off a 55-34 loss to Lake Erie ... the Pioneers are allowing 40.6 points per game on the year.
Team News & Notes
The Golden Eagles held the nation’s highest-scoring offense to its lowest output last week limiting Concord to 24 points ... UC is second in scoring defense in the league ... two of UC’s three losses this year have been by four points ... Jermaine Kelly rushed for 125 and threw for 121 in last week’s game ... Torie Wagner is the only player in the MEC to have two punt returns for a touchdown this season ... RB Marvin Elam has not found the end zone in the last four games ... Justin Avery is sixth in the league in total tackles with 8.5 per game.
The Mountain Lions are ranked 15th by d2football.com and 16th by the AFCA ... it’s the fourth-straight week they’ve been ranked in both polls ... CU is also ranked second in the initial NCAA Super Region 1 rankings ... RB Calvinaugh Jones has eight 100-yard games this season, one more than Rahmann Lee (GSC) and Pedro Powell (NDC) last year ... Jones surpassed the 1,000 yard mark for the season ... QB Brian Novak is second in the country in passing efficiency with a rating of 177.2 ... Concord is the only team in the league to average over 500 yards of total offense (518.9) ... the team does not have an individual ranked in the MEC’s top 25 in total tackles.
The Fighting Falcons were idle last week ... FSU overcame a 21-point deficit in its win last week ... QB Cooper Hibbs is vying to become just the eighth quarterback in school history to throw for 2,000 yards in a season ... he currently has 1,769 passing yards ... DB Emanuel Ivey recorded a game-high five pass breakups last week, including two on the final drive ... Ivey is also the team’s top tackler averaging 7.4 per game.
After an 0-3 start, the Pioneers have won four of their last five ... RB Rahmann Lee has gone over 1,000 yards rushing in each of his first three seasons ... he is 188 yards shy of 4,000 for his career ... QB Sean Steele turned in one of his top performances last week completing 20-of-26 for 392 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions ... Steele has more than three times as many touchdowns (18) as interceptions ... the Pioneers are +2 in turnover margin on the year.
Notre Dame was handed its first road loss of the season last week at Glenville ... in the last three games, QB Ray Russ has thrown for 1,445 yards and 14 touchdowns ... he’s the first MEC quarterback to have three consecutive passing games of 400 yards or more ... he ranks in the top five in most NCAA passing categories ... WR Mitchel Shegos established a new conference record with 23 catches last week vs. Glenville State ... NDC is 0-3 in games it commits more turnovers than its opponent.
The Rams are ranked 20th in the AFCA poll and 22nd in the D2Football.com poll ... SU is also ranked seventh in the initial NCAA Super Region 1 rankings ... the Rams were idle last week.
The Blue Knights scored 28 points in the first half of last week’s game, but managed just three in the second ... Cale Burdyshaw had a season-high 338 yards last week ... his previous best was 143 yards in week one ... it was the first 300-yard game by a UU quarterback this season ... D’Gary Wallace leads the league in total tackles with 9.9 ... he filled the box score last week with six solo tackles, three of which went for a loss, and a forced fumble.
The Cavs snapped an eight-game losing streak that dated back to last season with the win last week ... the vicory was also the first for UVa-Wise on the road in the MEC ... Nehemiah Jones interception return for a touchdown provided the only score for the Cavs in the second half ... UVa-Wise held WVSU to just 210 yards of total offense ... LB Zack Blair continues to lead the league in tackles for a loss with 20.5 (2.56 per game) ... that average would lead the NCAA, but UVa-Wise is not eligible to be ranked in the statistics.
The Hilltoppers are on a three-game winning streak ... West Liberty is ranked 10th in the initial NCAA Super Region 1 rankings ... WLU is +7 in turnover margin in the last three games ... the ‘Toppers forced two turnovers in the red zone last week against WVWC ... WLU held the Bobcats to -4 yards rushing.
WEST VIRGINIA STATE
The Yellow Jackets are fourth in the league in total defense ... WVSU has moved the ball as well, but has struggled in the red zone converting just 16 of its 28 chances into scores (57.1 percent) ... QB Matt Kinnick has thrown four interceptions and no touchdowns in the last two games ... WVSU is out-scoring opponents 39-30 in the fourth quarter of games this year.
WEST VIRGINIA WESLEYAN
QB Jeremy Musselman was back in the WVWC lineup last week after missing the previous two weeks ... the Bobcats have not had more than 100 yards rushing in any of the last three games ... six different players have interceptions this season, led by Denzel Butler’s three ... Desmond Holley has a team-best 9.0 tackles for a loss.
► Holgorsen welcomes ‘national attention’ for TCU
At the top of Dana Holgorsen’s wish list this week? For West Virginia’s offensive line to pass protect better than it did in Stillwater, for Clint Trickett to unchain himself from analysis paralysis, and for Terrell Chestnut to clear concussion protocols.
Those were the talking points Tuesday during Holgorsen’s weekly news conference, a preview of No. 20 West Virginia welcoming No. 10 TCU for a showdown of teams on an eerily similar three-year arc since joining the Big 12.
Both teams went 7-6 in 2012 with the Frogs winning an overtime game 39-38 in Morgantown. Both squads slumped to 4-8 in 2013 with the Mountaineers claiming an overtime win 30-27 in Fort Worth. Both squads already own six victories this season to rank among the Big 12′s biggest surprises.
West Virginia is 10-13 all-time in its new conference, while TCU is 9-13—records on the rise as they chase a conference championship.
“There’s going to be a lot of national attention on this game,” said Holgorsen, who learned earlier in the day that Saturday’s 3:30 p.m. game was a sellout. “We’re pretty fired up to host TCU.”
Signs point to a return by Chestnut, a seven-game starter at cornerback before missing last week’s win at Oklahoma State.
“He hasn’t been cleared yet, but we’ll see how he responds,” Holgorsen said. “I would be incredibly disappointed if he wasn’t able to go. When you’re dealing with that type of an injury, that’s out of my hands. That’s completely 100 percent in the doctors’ hands.”
While medics check Chestnut’s head, Holgorsen wants Trickett to clear his.
The quarterback is so intuitive regarding multiple facets of the game—from gauging teammates’ attitudes, to reading defensive cues, to dissecting risk/reward scenarios—that Holgorsen warned him not to be overly meticulous:
“He’s very aware of his surroundings. He knows what the mood is with the guys, He knows when to pick them up, he knows when to challenge them and he know when to slow things down.
“He’s obviously going to be a great coach, but at times you’ve got to just cut loose and play the game. Don’t try to be perfect, don’t try to control the game. He needs to make sure he understand that he’s a player, and don’t forget to play, so to speak.”
Watch Holgorsen’s complete news conference at the top of the page, including another light-popping moment, like the one preceding the Towson game.
► Big 12 showdown pits Horned Frogs against Mountaineers
Ranked foes in the Big 12 Conference mix it up on Saturday afternoon, as No. 20 West Virginia entertains No. 10 TCU.
TCU is the nation’s highest scoring team (50.4 ppg), and the Horned Frogs are hoping to secure their seventh win of the season this week. A wild 61-58 loss to another high-octane conference club in Baylor is the team’s only blemish on an otherwise perfect resume’. Since that loss, TCU has won two straight, the most recent of which being an eye-popping 82-27 triumph over visiting Texas Tech last Saturday. That came on the heels of a 42-9 shellacking of Oklahoma State the week prior. Save for this week and next versus league-leading Kansas State, the remaining schedule (Kansas, Texas, Iowa State) is favorable for coach Gary Patterson’s squad.
West Virginia has surprised many this season by winning six of its first eight games, including four of its five conference encounters. Coach Dana Holgorsen’s club has won four in a row since dropping a 45-33 decision to Oklahoma on Sept. 20, and it is coming off a 34-10 triumph at Oklahoma State last weekend. Prior to that, the Mountaineers took down high-powered Baylor at home, 41-27. In addition to hosting TCU this week, a visit to Texas, a home game versus Kansas State, and a trip to Iowa State to close out the regular season remain.
West Virginia has won two of the three meetings in the series with TCU, with both tussles since the pair joined the Big 12 going to overtime. WVU won in Fort Worth last season, 30-27.
TCU’s high-octane offense is directed by Trevone Boykin, and the junior signal caller has completed 58.7 percent of his passes for more than 2,300 yards, 21 TDs and only three INTs. Josh Doctson leads the receiving corps with 35 catches for 573 yards and seven TDs, while Deante’ Gray has 27 grabs for 431 and six scores. Kolby Listenbee averages better than 22 yards per reception in totaling 494 receiving yards and three TDs. As for the Frogs’ rushing attack, B.J. Catalon has rumbled his way to 388 yards and eight TDs, while Boykin has scrambled out of the pocket for 374 yards and three scores, and Aaron Green has 315 yards and three TDs.
Defensively, the Horned Frogs rank among the Big 12 leaders in average points allowed (21.6), as well as rushing yards (132.3). They have been a bit more lax against the pass (239.6 ypg), but that is due in large part to the fact that most foes have had to battle from behind. TCU leads the league in turnover margin (+12), coming up with 21 takeaways which is far and away the most of any team in the Big 12. The Frogs have also been unforgiving on third down, giving way on a conference-best 27.4 percent of conversion attempts. Paul Dawson paces the unit with 79 tackles, which includes 11 TFL and three sacks. He has also picked off a pair of passes and recovered three fumbles.
In last week’s rout of the Red Raiders, TCU churned out 305 yards on the ground, another 480 through the air in totaling a school-record 785 yards of total offense. Boykin, who hit 13 different receivers on the day, threw a program-record seven TD passes, and his 433 yards were not only a career-high, but also the third-best effort in school history. Other standout performances were turned in by Gray (four rec., 165 yards, two TDs), Doctson (four rec., 76 yards, two TDs), Trevorris Johnson (10 carries, 105 yards, two TDs) and Aaron Green (six carries, 105 yards, TD).
From a defensive standpoint, the Frogs gave up two long TD passes in the opening quarter but not much else as they shut down the Red Raiders’ rushing attack (101 yards). Sure they permitted 345 passing yards, but with the offense scoring at a record pace that was to be expected. Dawson led the way with 11 tackles, seven of which were unassisted, and the unit as a whole was credited with six TFL and four turnovers.
While generally pleased, Patterson tried to downplay last week’s lopsided outcome.
“I’m way happy for them, but I told them before the ball game they weren’t ready after watching them warm-up. Fortunately for us, we didn’t play well and we won a ballgame. That hadn’t happened around here over the last two years. We were sloppy, had a guy kicked out of the game, didn’t play very good pass coverage in the first half. We have to get ready to play.“
West Virginia scored a couple of quick touchdowns last week, effectively taking the Oklahoma State Cowboys out of the game shortly after it started. Clint Trickett saw his streak of eight straight 300-yard passing games come to an end, but he was effective in completing 21-of-30 passes for 238 yards and a pair of TDs, hitting Mario Alford seven times for 136 yards and a score. Star wideout Kevin White was held to 27 yards on three catches, ending his streak of seven straight games with at least 100 yards. Wendell Smallwood carried the ball 23 times and amassed 132 yards, while Dreamius Smith finished with 72 yards and a score on only five totes.
Oklahoma State put forth a balanced attack in tallying 194 yards on the ground and 242 through the air, but the Pokes were just 2-of-14 on third down, 1-of-5 on fourth down, and committed two turnovers. The WVU defense even got in on the scoring as Dravon Henry returned an interception, one of his two in the game, 52 yards for a TD late in the fourth quarter. Karl Joseph paced the unit with eight tackles, and the team as a whole was credited with seven TFL and a pair of sacks.
Holgorsen praised his defense for the effort last week against the Cowboys.
“We won the turnover battle, which was good. Our defense played well, third downs, once again was off the charts good.“
Trickett leads the Big 12 in completion percentage (.683), and his 345.4 ypg also tops the conference. His TD-to-INT ratio (17-5) is exemplary, and while White had an off day last week, he is still No. 1 in the conference with 9.0 receptions per contest, 1,047 receiving yards, and eight TD catches. Presently, there are four backs who have gained at least 160 yards this season, with Rushell Shell leading the way with his 503 yards and six TDs. Smallwood and Smith both average in the neighborhood of five yards per carry, with the former scoring once and the latter three times.
The West Virginia defense is led by Nick Kwiatkoski (62 tackles, 9.0 TFL), while Shaq Riddick (6.0 sacks) is the guy Holgorsen expects to get after the quarterback. Forcing turnovers has been an issue for the Mountaineers this season, as they have only six (all INTs), and their 14 sacks ranks them seventh in the league. Speaking of turnovers, WVU is next-to-last in the conference at -9. Overall, the unit is allowing 25 points and 389 yards per tilt.
► Wildcats tangle with Bruins is Pac-12 tussle
After yet another close call, the 25th- ranked UCLA Bruins will attempt to pull off an upset of the 14th-ranked Arizona Wildcats when the two teams meet in Pac-12 Conference action at the Rose Bowl.
Since its stunning 31-24 victory over Oregon on Oct. 2, Arizona has been a fixture in the AP Top-25. The Wildcats currently sit at No. 14 following a 59-37 shootout win at Washington State last weekend. That victory allowed the Wildcats to bounce back from a 28-26 disappointment against USC, their first and only loss of the season.
UCLA lost back-to-back games to begin October, but it has recovered since with consecutive victories, although the Bruins have just barely scraped by in those contests, topping California (36-34) and Colorado (40-37 in double- overtime). They are now 6-2 overall and 3-2 against the rest of the conference.
Last season, UCLA held on for a 31-26 victory over Arizona, earning its second straight victory in the series. As a result, the Bruins lead by a 21-15-2 margin, which includes a 9-4-1 mark in Pasadena.
Powering Arizona’s impressive season has been its strong play on offense. The Wildcats lead the Pac-12 in total offense (541.9 ypg), topping even mighty Oregon in the first seven games. They also rank third in scoring (40.6 ppg).
At the forefront of the attack is a redshirt freshman. Anu Solomon has rewarded head coach Rich Rodriguez’s confidence this season, as he has thrown for 2,430 yards and 20 touchdowns, while completing 63.3 percent of his pass attempts and tallying all of four interceptions. By averaging 347.1 yards per game, he is ranked third in the Pac-12. He carved up Washington State last weekend, finishing with 294 yards and five scores on 26-of-38 passing.
“He made some really good decisions, saw the field well and made some really good throws,“ Rodriguez said of Solomon’s performance. “His demeanor and ability to understand the moment have been really good, and I think that is why he has had so much success.“
It is clear that Cayleb Jones is Solomon’s favorite target. Jones leads the Wildcats in receptions (46), receiving yards (670) and touchdown receptions (seven). Jones finished with 78 yards and a score on seven grabs, and Hill added 63 yards and a touchdown on four catches. Austin Hill (29 receptions, 408 yards, four TDs) and Nate Phillips (23 receptions, 251 yards, two TDs) provide depth in the receiving corps.
Nick Wilson (592 yards, seven TDs) and Terris Jones-Grigsby (406 yards, three TDs) have each been important parts in the running game. Jones-Grigsby got most of the work against Washington State, finishing with 107 yards on 13 carries.
Scooby Wright leads the way for the Arizona defense. The linebacker is second in the Pac-12 in tackles (78) and tackles for loss (14.0), while ranking third in sacks (9.0). However, despite his efforts, Arizona still leaves something to be desired on defense, allowing 28.3 points and 447.9 yards per game.
Although it took two overtimes for UCLA to dispatch Colorado, the Bruins showed a ton of power on offense, finishing with 509 total yards, including 309 on the ground. Their potency on offense is well documented, with the team averaging 35.8 points and 494.5 yards per game.
Paul Perkins really did a number on the Colorado defense, finishing with 180 yards and two touchdowns on only 19 carries. Perkins is the second-leading rusher in the Pac-12 (996 yards), and one of only three players in the conference to be averaging more than 100 yards per game. However, he only has five rushing scores.
Brett Hundley is still the focal point of the offense, at least when it comes to media attention. Hundley has been solid this season, although he has not lived up to the immense hype. He has completed 70.8 percent of his passes for 2,056 yards, 14 touchdowns and four interceptions. He has also added 415 yards and five scores on the ground. He showed off his versatility against Colorado, accounting for 200 yards passing and 110 rushing. Coach Jim Mora liked Hundley’s play on the ground, but was a bit discouraged by his passing performance.
“He was a little off. The ball was sailing on him a little bit,“ Mora said. “(He) ran the ball well. He ran for over 100 yards but the throws, he wasn’t as crisp as he’s been.“
Jordan Payton (47 receptions, 664 yards, six TDs) is the team’s top receiving threat, and by a wide margin. Devin Fuller (38 receptions, 297 yards, TD) is second on the team in receptions, while Thomas Duarte (18 receptions, 329 yards, two TDs) and Eldridge Massington (19 receptions, 311 yards, two TDs) are the closest to Payton in terms of yardage.
Obviously, the issue against Colorado was not the offense, but rather a poor defensive effort. The Bruins allowed 500 total yards to the Buffaloes, who are still winless in Pac-12 play. On the season, UCLA is allowing 30.2 points and 434.9 yards per game.
► Iowa State entertains No. 19 Oklahoma
Having had a couple of weeks to regroup following their second loss of the season, the 19th-ranked Oklahoma Sooners return to action this Saturday as they visit the Iowa State Cyclones in Big 12 Conference action.
Oklahoma dropped a heartbreaking 31-30 decision at home to Kansas State on Oct. 18, saddling the squad with its second conference loss—the other being a 37-33 setback at TCU two weeks earlier. The Sooners need to win out and get a ton of help to get back in the Big 12 title race, as they will face Baylor, Texas Tech, Kansas and Oklahoma State following this clash.
Iowa State also enjoyed a bye last weekend, that coming after the team dropped a nailbiter of its own in a 48-45 final at Texas. The loss was the Cyclones’ fifth of the season, and their only two wins came at intrastate rival Iowa (20-17) on Sept. 13, and at home versus Toledo (37-30) on Oct. 11. Oklahoma is the fourth ranked team coach Paul Rhodes’ squad will have faced this season, and a win here would mark its first over the Sooners since 1990, and its first at home against Oklahoma since 1960.
Oklahoma owns a commanding 71-5-2 record all-time versus Iowa State, which includes victories in the last 15 meetings. The Sooners have won 21 straight in Ames.
Oklahoma is a solid team in all phases of the game, ranking third in the conference in both scoring offense (39.0 ppg) and scoring defense (22.9 ppg). Samaje Perine has been a force with the ball is his hands, as he sits second in the Big 12 in rushing (657 yards, 10 TDs), helping the Sooners average 192 ypg on the ground. Quarterback Trevor Knight hasn’t had the type of season he had hoped, but he has been effective in completing roughly 60 percent of his passes for 1,821 yards, nine TDs and six INTs. Sterling Shepard paces the receiving corps with 49 grabs for 911 yards and five scores.
Defensively, the Sooners’ strength comes when the opposition decides to run the football as they permit only 122.3 ypg and have allowed a mere six rushing TDs, both of which are the third-fewest in the league. Jordan Evans spearheads the unit with 56 tackles, while Dominique Alexander is close behind with 54. Collectively, Oklahoma has notched 19 sacks, and the team ranks second in the Big 12 in turnover margin (+6).
It was a rough day for usually reliable kicker Michael Hunnicutt in the loss to Kansas State, as he missed a pair of field goals and had an extra point blocked. The special teams mishaps were particularly painful when you consider the Sooners rolled up 533 yards of total offense compared to only 385 for the Wildcats. Knight threw for 318 yards and three TDs, but OU was guilty of the only two turnovers of the game. Also wasted in the loss was the effort of Shepard who pulled down 15 balls for 197 yards and a TD. Perine finished with 89 yards and a score on 24 carries.
Despite the poor showing by his kicker, Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops still has full confidence in Hunnicutt.
“I put my arm around him in the locker room. I feel for him because that sticks out, but there is more [to the loss] than that.“
Stoops also spoke about the spot his team is in now after coming into the season with such high expectations.
“Am I surprised? No. I know we can always be beat. It’s easy to think that way when you’re not the one that has to do it. Nothing surprises me.“
Iowa State’s offense doesn’t exactly strike fear into the hearts of opposing defensive coordinators, as the team churns out just 364 ypg. The run has been the biggest issue for Rhodes’ squad, as it ranks last in the league with an average of only 117.1 ypg. Quarterback Sam B. Richardson has done it all for the Cyclones, as he is hitting the mark on 61.1 percent of his passes for 242.7 ypg with 13 TDs and only six INTs, while also pacing the rushing attack with 319 yards, finding the end zone twice as well. Aaron Wimberly has scored four TDs on the ground, but the team as a whole is averaging just 3.6 ypc.
On the other side of the ball, the Cyclones have their share of trouble as well with foes lighting up the scoreboard for 35.3 ppg while amassing 455.7 ypg. Save for a solid series here and there, they have been equally inept against both forms of attack, surrendering 209 ypg on the ground and a league- high 24 rushing TDs, while being torched for 246.7 ypg through the air, but only four aerial scores. Unfortunately, they’ve only come up with five INTs and 11 sacks. Jevohn Miller leads the unit with 68 tackles, while both T.J. Mutcherson and Nigel Tribune have two picks apiece.
Texas got a late field goal to pull out the three-point win a couple weeks back, but the Cyclones did themselves proud by outgaining the Longhorns, 524-512. They got outstanding individual efforts from Richardson (36-of-55, 345 yards, three TDs, two INTs, one rushing TD), Wimberly (14 carries, 110 yards, TD), and receivers E.J. Bibbs (10 rec., 73 yards, two TDs), D’Vario Montgomery (nine rec., 100 yards) and Allen Lazard (eight rec., 88 yards, TD).
Mutcherson and Tribune led the ISU defense with nine tackles apiece, nearly all of which were unassisted, while Miller (seven solo stops) scooped up a fumble and returned it 51 yards for a TD at the outset of the second quarter. The Cyclones tallied six TFL in the game, but only one sack.
► Struggling Pokes come calling on surging ‘Cats
The 11th-ranked Kansas State Wildcats continue their quest for the Big 12 Conference crown, as they play host to the Oklahoma State Cowboys on Saturday night.
Oklahoma State dropped a narrow decision to defending national champion Florida State (37-31) in the season opener, and then went on a five-game win streak. Coach Mike Gundy’s squad won its first three conference bouts, but has since lost two in a row in blowout fashion, falling at TCU (42-9) and to visiting West Virginia (34-10). The Cowboys need one more win to gain bowl eligibility, but doing so won’t be easy as their final four games are against K-State, Texas, Baylor and Oklahoma—three of which take place on the road.
Kansas State is the only team in the Big 12 yet to suffer a league loss, giving coach Bill Snyder’s club the inside track to the conference title should they win out. Doing so of course won’t be a cakewalk, as the Wildcats have bouts with TCU, West Virginia and Baylor remaining. A narrow home loss to Auburn (20-14) is the only blemish on an otherwise sparkling resume’ for the Wildcats, who are coming off a 23-0 whitewashing of visiting Texas last weekend. That victory was the 500th in program history, which is quite remarkable considering it had won a total of 299 games in the 93 years it fielded teams prior to 1989.
Oklahoma State owns a 37-23 advantage in the all-time series with Kansas State, and the Cowboys have won five of the last seven meetings.
Trailing 14-10 at halftime in last week’s tussle with West Virginia, the Oklahoma State offense stalled over the final 30 minutes while the defense surrendered an additional 20 points. When it was all said and done, the Cowboys tallied 436 yards to 448 for the Mountaineers, boasting a balanced attack that saw 210 yards come on the ground and 238 through the air. Quarterback Daxx Garman completed only 21-of-41 passes and he had one scoring strike while being intercepted twice. James Washington and David Glidden combined for 10 catches and 150 yards, while speedy RB Tyreek Hill amassed 78 yards on 14 carries.
The Pokes did a tremendous job shutting down one of the nation’s top receivers, as WVU’s Kevin White was held to 27 yards on three catches, ending his streak of seven straight games with at least 100 yards. Unfortunately, the Mountaineers couldn’t contain Mario Alford, as he finished with seven grabs for 136 yards and a TD. Jordan Sterns was all over the field for Gundy’s defense, logging 20 tackles (14 unassisted), and the team as a whole was credited with four sacks, but no takeaways.
Gundy knows it’s important for his squad to stay focused as it stares down a difficult home stretch.
“I shared with them that we have a game next Saturday whether we like it or not. We have to rally, stay together as a group, come back tomorrow and go to work.“
For the season, Oklahoma State ranks seventh in the Big 12 in both scoring offense (30.2 ppg) and scoring defense (28 ppg). The Cowboys are among the league leaders in sacks (24), but they are the worst when it comes to allowing them (20). Garman is a 54.7 percent passer, who has thrown for 1,735 yards, 11 TDs and nine INTs, and while no player has more than 28 receptions (Glidden), six have double-digit grabs, with all totaling at least 236 receiving yards. Desmond Roland spearheads the rushing attack with 512 yards and seven TDs, while Hill averages better than five yards per carry in generating 326 yards. He has yet to record a rushing TD, however.
Sterns and Ryan Simmons are the team’s top tacklers, logging 63 apiece, the bulk of which have been solo efforts. Emmanuel Ogbah leads the conference and ranks third nationally with 8.0 sacks, while Josh Furman has 5.0. While OSU ranks last in the Big 12 in pass defense (282.1 ypg), corner Kevin Peterson, who was tasked with blanketing White last week, has 11 PBUs to rank fourth in the country.
Kansas State is considered to be one of the elite teams in the Big 12, but it is really a middling offensive squad, statistically speaking, in that it ranks fifth in scoring (36.9 ppg) behind typical outputs of 178.3 ypg rushing and 246.3 ypg passing. Defensively however, the ‘Cats have been one of the sturdier units in yielding a mere 19.3 ppg (No. 1), with foes generating just 99.3 ypg on the ground (No. 1) and 230.4 ypg through the air (No. 4).
Jake Waters has been one of the more efficient signal callers in the conference this season, hitting the mark on 64.8 percent of his passes for 1,655 yards, nine TDs and only three INTs. Tyler Lockett (43 rec., 588 yards, four TDs) and Curry Sexton (40 rec., 450 yards, two TDs) have been his favorite targets, while Charles Jones, Waters and DeMarcus Robinson have all run for more than 320 yards and a combined 20 TDs.
Johnathan Truman continues to pace the defense with his 68 tackles, which is 19 more than his closest teammate, and he is coming off an eight-tackle performance in last week’s win over Texas. The Wildcats permitted only 196 yards of total offense to the Longhorns (90 rushing, 106 passing), while nearly doubling them up in time of possession.
Waters went 19-of-30 for 224 yards, but failed to throw a TD pass, nor was he picked off. Still, Lockett had another outstanding day, hauling in eight balls for 103 yards. The run game totaled just 143 yards, but accounted for both of the team’s TDs. Matthew McCrane booted through three field goals for the ‘Cats.
Snyder praised his team following the triumph over Texas, specifically remarking how difficult it is to keep an opponent off the scoreboard.
“I cannot remember the last time we had a shutout. It just does not happen in this day and age. I thought it was something to be truly proud of.“
He continued, “We needed to be as good as we were. We played awfully well.“
► NFC Players of the Week
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, Minnesota Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr and Washington Redskins kicker Kai Forbath have been named the NFC Players of the Week for their Week 8 efforts.
Fitzgerald, the offensive player of the week, caught seven passes for 160 yards and one touchdown in the Cardinals’ 24-20 win over Philadelphia. His 80- yard touchdown was the longest reception of his career and his fifth catch of 70-plus yards.
The performance marked the ninth 150-yard game of his career, including the playoffs, and was his best output since Jan. 10, 2009, when he had 166 yards in a divisional playoff victory at Carolina.
Barr, the defensive player of the week, had eight tackles, a sack and scored the game-winning touchdown in the Vikings’ 19-13 overtime win at Tampa Bay. On the first play from scrimmage in overtime, Barr forced a fumble which he recovered and returned 27 yards for the game-winning score.
He became the only player in NFL history to force a fumble, recover the ball and return it for a touchdown in overtime.
Forbath, the special teams player of the week, converted both field-goal attempts, including a 40-yard game-winner in overtime, and added two PATs in the Redskins’ 20-17 win at Dallas.
It marked the second consecutive week that Forbath kicked a game-winning field goal at the end of regulation or in overtime. In Week 7, he converted a 22- yard field goal as time expired to give Washington a 19-17 win against Tennessee.
► Saints and Panthers battle for first place
Reaching .500 is usually not the recipe for first place in any sport but that’s exactly where the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers find themselves as the two NFC South rivals get ready to meet on “Thursday Night Football.“
The winner of Thursday’s contest at Bank of America Stadium will take over sole possession of the top spot in the division, a testament to just how bad the NFC South has been thus far.
A Week 8 loss to Seattle dropped the Panthers to 3-4-1, percentage points clear of New Orleans, which is 3-4 and coming off its most impressive win of the season, a 44-23 drubbing of Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. The 2-6 Falcons and 1-6 Buccaneers round out the disappointing foursome.
“If you said at the start of training camp or OTAs, ‘hey, you have a chance in Week 9 to be playing for first place, would you take it?‘ Yeah, I’d take it,“ offensive coordinator Mike Shula told the Panthers’ website. “That’s the mindset. You have to keep moving forward and forget about what’s happened.“
The Saints will arrive in the Queen City knowing they are 0-4 away from the Bayou this season and have lost seven straight regular-season games away from New Orleans dating back to 2013.
Carolina has its own concerns, most notably a 1-4-1 record over the last six games following a 2-0 start to the season.
“The truth of the matter is we had opportunities and we didn’t make them on both sides of the ball,“ said Panthers coach Ron Rivera. “You have to take advantage of opportunities in the red zone by putting the ball in the end zone. When you have third down and long, you have to be able to stop them.“
The Panthers were inside the red zone on their first two possessions last Sunday against Seattle and came away with two field goals. Later, they suffered a turnover inside the 20-yard line. As a result, all of the Carolina scoring in a 13-9 loss came from three Graham Gano field goals.
The Seahawks, who have never lost three straight games with Russell Wilson under center, were on the verge of doing exactly that in Charlotte before Wilson willed his team to a come-from-behind road victory, firing a touchdown pass to tight end Luke Willson with 47 seconds remaining to lift Seattle to the hard-fought win.
Cam Newton struggled for the second straight week for Carolina, completing just 12-of-22 passes for 171 yards and an interception. He missed both of his throws and was sacked twice on the Panthers’ final possession.
“We didn’t play our best football,“ Newton admitted. “The next opportunity awaits on Thursday and I’m anticipating that to be a great game for us.“
Rookie wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin continued to be a bright spot offensively for Carolina, recording four catches for 94 yards, including a career-long 51- yard reception in the fourth quarter to set up one of the team’s three field goals. Benjamin currently leads NFC rookies with 571 receiving yards and five touchdowns.
For the Saints, Drew Brees tossed three touchdown passes in Week 8 as New Orleans pulled away in the second half during the triumph over Green Bay.
The game was deadlocked at 16 at halftime, but the Saints intercepted the red- hot Rodgers twice over an 11-attempt span in the final 30 minutes, quite the accomplishment because the veteran QB hadn’t tallied a pick in his previous 213 throws.
Brees, meanwhile, completed all 11 of his passes in the second half and finished 27-of-32 overall for 311 yards.
Mark Ingram carried the ball 24 times for 172 yards and a touchdown and Brandin Cooks caught six passes for 94 yards and a score and added a 4-yard TD run for the Saints, who squandered a fourth-quarter lead for the third time this year in the prior week’s 24-23 loss at Detroit.
Jimmy Graham hauled in all five of his receptions for 59 yards and a touchdown in the second half in the triumph.
“I think the tempo was better today and I think that’s something we’ll continue to emphasize,“ Brees said.
Division foes since Carolina’s inaugural NFL season in 1995—first in the NFC West from 1995-2001 and now the NFC South beginning in 2002—the Panthers and Saints will be meeting for the 39th time with Carolina holding a slim 20-18 advantage in the all-time series.
The two clubs will meet again in Week 14 in New Orleans.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Brees generally excels at night. Since joining New Orleans in 2006, the star signal caller has led the Saints to an impressive 22-10 mark in primetime games, the third-best record of any team during that span.
And despite their pedestrian record the Saints have been as explosive as ever offensively and are tops in the NFC, averaging 445.4 yards per game, far ahead of Carolina (332.5 YPG).
Brees in second in the conference with 2,227 passing yards but the issue has been ball security and New Orleans has a minus-six turnover ratio coming in, a stark contrast to the Panthers’ positive plus-four mark.
“Certainly there’s all sorts of goals and there’s big picture, small picture and I think what we’ve tried to do is really focus on the smallest picture - and that’s our own team getting better,“ Saints coach Sean Payton said.
New Orleans cleaned up things against the Pack and were plus-two in that game so it’s possible the worm has turned or at least the impact of Ingram’s game against the dismal Green Bay run defense created more balance and enabled Brees to stop forcing the issue.
If that’s the case, the recipe could be there for a sequel because the Carolina D is a far cry from the unit that dominated in 2013 and is surrendering 378.5 YPG, slightly better than the often-maligned NOLA stop unit which is giving up about 12 yards more per contest.
The Panthers gave up at least 37 points-or-more in four of their previous games until righting the ship a bit against the Seahawks. The main struggle has been to stop the run, as Carolina has surrendered 135.2 YPG on the ground, 28th best in a 32-team league.
Offensively the Panthers hope to solve their red-zone woes and turn those Gano 3s into 7s. Carolina’s 46.2 percent TD efficiency inside the 20 is also 28th in football.
“It’s tough when you don’t score touchdowns and miss opportunities,“ Rivera said. “You have to make hay down in the red zone.“
The offense could be in line for a boost with the potential return of running back DeAngelo Williams, who has missed the previous four games with a balky ankle.
“It’ll be a nice boost,“ said Rivera. “When he and Jonathan (Stewart) get rolling and doing the things they do that’s a huge thing for us. That could be a nice shot in the arm.“
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me five times? Let’s just say it’s tough to pick the Saints away from the Superdome but this is the team trending in the right direction and no one is happy about the way Carolina is looking.
Furthermore, despite that lack of road success, New Orleans has been very close to getting over the hump, leading into the fourth quarter in three of their four road setbacks this season and losing those games by a total of just six points.
So, let’s be a glutton for punishment one more time here and figure on Payton and Co. finally figuring out a way to finally win one outdoors.
“There’s no more important game than this quick turnaround, the Thursday night game at Carolina,“ said Brees. “This was the team that won the division last year. We are going to need our best performance to beat them.“
Predicted outcome: Saints 23, Panthers 20
► Patriots sign Alan Branch
The New England Patriots signed defensive lineman Alan Branch and released linebacker Deontae Skinner on Wednesday.
Branch, 29, is a veteran of seven NFL seasons with the Arizona Cardinals (2007-10), Seattle Seahawks (2011-12) and Buffalo Bills (2013). The 6-foot-6, 325-pounder went to training camp with Buffalo this past summer but was released in August.
A second-round pick by Arizona in 2007, Branch has started in 47 of 94 NFL games and has recorded 170 total tackles with eight sacks. Last season with Buffalo, he played in all 16 games and finished with 39 total tackles.
Skinner, 24, was originally signed by the Patriots as a rookie free agent out of Mississippi State. He was signed to the 53-man roster from the practice squad on Sept. 13 and played in seven games with one start, accumulating 10 total tackles and three special teams tackles.
► Big Ben, Delmas, Davis named AFC’s best for Week 8
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, Miami Dolphins safety Louis Delmas and Kansas City Chiefs returner Knile Davis were selected as the AFC’s top players for Week 8 of the NFL season.
Roethlisberger was named the top offensive player after setting franchise records with 522 passing yards and six touchdowns during the Steelers’ 51-34 win over Indianapolis. He connected on 40-of-49 passes to become the first player in league history to complete more than 80 percent of his throws in a 500-yard effort.
It’s the 10th weekly award for Roethlisberger, who tied for the fourth-most passing yards in a single game and is now the only player with two 500-yard games.
Delmas picked up the defensive award thanks to an 81-yard interception return for a touchdown and a fumble recovery in Miami’s 27-13 win over Jacksonville. He is the first NFL player to recover a fumble and return a pick for a score in the same game since Dallas’ Roy Williams in 2002.
Davis earned the special teams honor with a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in Kansas City’s 34-7 win over St. Louis. His return opened the second half and provided the Chiefs with a 17-7 lead. He also ran for 49 yards with a fourth-quarter touchdown.
Other offensive candidates included New England quarterback Tom Brady, who would have won the award most weeks after completing 30-of-35 passes for 354 yards with five touchdowns in a 51-23 win over Chicago; Houston running back Arian Foster, who scored three touchdowns and rushed for 151 yards on just 20 carries in a 30-16 win over Tennessee; and Denver receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who caught nine passes for 120 yards and three touchdowns in a 35-21 win over San Diego.
Defensive consideration went to Buffalo linebacker Preston Brown, who had nine tackles and an interception in a 43-23 win over the New York Jets; and Miami cornerback Brent Grimes, who also returned an interception for a touchdown.
Dolphins defensive end Olivier Vernon was also nominated for the special teams award after a blocking a field goal in the win over the Jaguars.
► Romo day-to-day, Durant placed on IR
Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said quarterback Tony Romo will be day-to-day for practice this week because of his injured back.
The Cowboys also placed linebacker Justin Durant on injured reserve because of a torn biceps.
Romo suffered a back contusion during the third quarter of Monday’s loss to Washington and sat out most of the fourth quarter before returning to the contest. He underwent a CT scan earlier this week.
“It’s a day-by-day thing with Tony,“ said Garrett on Wednesday. “We’ll see how he handles the pain and we’ll see how functional he is as the week goes on.“
Romo normally doesn’t practice on Wednesday as part of his recovery from back surgery last year. He appeared somewhat limited during the final possession of regulation and overtime of Monday’s 20-17 setback to the Redskins.
Durant was hurt in the second half on Monday. He was leading the team with 49 total tackles despite missing two games.
The Cowboys signed linebacker Tim Dobbins to fill the roster spot. Dobbins last played in the NFL during the 2013 season with Houston. He has also played for San Diego and Miami in an eight-year career, and has 253 total tackles.
► Bengals’ Burfict sidelined after knee surgery
Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict will miss at least Sunday’s game against Jacksonville after undergoing knee surgery on Wednesday.
Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said Burfict had an arthroscopic procedure performed to have loose cartilage removed. The 2013 Pro Bowl selection was hurt during this past Sunday’s game against Baltimore, but played through the injury.
Lewis also said Burfict will most likely miss Cincinnati’s Week 10 game against Cleveland since it takes place next Thursday and will likely return for the Nov. 16 game against New Orleans.
Burfict, who signed a new four-year contract this summer after leading the team in tackles each of his first two seasons, missed two games earlier this year because of concussions and also hurt his neck two weeks ago against Indianapolis.
► Jaguars place Ball on IR
Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Alan Ball will miss the remainder of the season because of a biceps injury.
Ball was hurt in a Week 7 game against Cleveland before sitting out this past Sunday’s contest against Miami. He started the first seven games and finished the season with an interception and 22 tackles.
The 29-year-old Illinois product joined the Jaguars in 2013 after also playing for Dallas and Houston in his first six years. He started 15 games last season and notched a pair of interceptions.
Jacksonville filled the roster spot by signing cornerback Tommie Campbell, who spent three seasons with Tennessee before being waived by the Titans in August.
► Giants win Game 7 for 3rd title in 5 years
Madison Bumgarner watched as Pablo Sandoval worked his way under the ball.
Moments later, the San Francisco Giants ace was swarmed by teammates near the mound after punctuating one of the great postseason performances in any sport.
Some of them stopped first to congratulate Sandoval, who was on his back after catching the last out.
And on the edge of the celebration, Buster Posey dropped to his knees, a smile on the catcher’s face that showed both happiness and relief.
This is some dynasty, and it almost unraveled on an error.
Bumgarner pitched five scoreless innings out of the bullpen and the Giants held on to beat the Kansas City Royals 3-2 in Game 7 on Wednesday night, capturing their third World Series title in five years.
With two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, after Bumgarner had retired 14 batters in a row, Alex Gordon sliced a hit into left-center field that bounced past Gregor Blanco and went to the wall, suddenly giving the Royals a sliver of hope.
Left fielder Juan Perez bobbled the ball on the warning track and Gordon made it all the way to third on a two-base error.
“I’m not sure what happened. I didn’t see it,“ Bumgarner said. “But I was starting to get a little nervous. He was digging around a little bit and it’s a big outfield.
“It was a little nerve-wracking.“
But Bumgarner threw six fastballs to Salvador Perez, who popped up into foul territory near third base, where Sandoval squeezed it before falling onto his back with his arms in the air.
“Relief,“ said Bruce Bochy, who has managed each of these three championship teams. “Because anything can happen—a bloop, a wild pitch. There’s a man on third base there and (Bumgarner) just made some great pitches.“
Bumgarner pitched on two days’ rest after throwing a four-hit shutout in Game 5 on Sunday for his second win of the series. He was named World Series MVP, to no one’s surprise, after throwing 21 innings and giving just up one run, nine hits and one walk.
Sandoval, due to be a free agent, reached base four times in Game 7 and scored twice, including the go-ahead run on Michael Morse’s single back in the fourth inning. Sandoval had three hits, giving him an MLB-record 26 this postseason.
The Royals, trying to win a title for the first time in 29 years, came up a win short. They forced Game 7 with Tuesday’s 10-0 blowout, extending their magical season for another day, but scored their only runs Wednesday in the second inning.
“You work all year to climb to the top of the mountain and then ‘Boom!‘ You fall back down and have to restart next season,“ Kansas City manager Ned Yost said.
The wild-card Giants, an 88-win team that finished six games behind the rival Dodgers in the NL West, rode a Bumgarner shutout to an 8-0 win in Pittsburgh on Oct. 1 and finished their title run two days shy of Halloween.
Bumgarner’s wins in Games 1 and 5, and his five-inning save in the clincher, cemented his role at the age of 25 as a postseason star on a Giants team that has carved an odd dynasty into recent baseball history.
The Giants have made the postseason only three times in the last 11 years—winning the World Series each time. Wednesday’s celebration followed titles in 2010 over Texas and 2012 over Detroit.
They snapped a nine-game losing streak by road teams in World Series Game 7s, becoming the first team to win that way since the 1979 “We Are Family” Pirates, who clinched in Baltimore.
Hunter Pence and Brandon Belt had two hits apiece in Game 7, including back- to-back singles in the second inning after Kansas City starter Jeremy Guthrie grazed Sandoval with a pitch leading off. Morse and Brandon Crawford followed with sacrifice flies for the Giants’ first two runs.
Hours later, the Giants celebrated in customary fashion by spraying champagne in the locker room.
So used to their backs being against the wall during their three title runs, the Giants got their eighth straight win in an elimination game—including six on the road.
After beating Pittsburgh in the NL wild-card game, they never sniffed another elimination test until the World Series. They closed out Washington in four games in the NL division series and needed just five games to beat St. Louis.
They won the pennant on Travis Ishikawa’s dramatic ninth-inning homer on Oct. 16 at AT&T Park in a game that saw them snap a streak of 242 consecutive plate appearances without a homer.
Big moments came from all over the lineup, of course, but the Giants produced little in the way of big blows over the past week, winning Games 4 and 5 with 28 hits, including 24 singles. They scored 15 straight runs before Kansas City’s seven-run rally in the second inning of Game 6 on Tuesday, when the Giants were shut out over seven innings by rookie Yordano Ventura.
They had eight more hits in Game 7—all but one of them a single.
It was the eighth World Series title in franchise history.
“That was a phenomenal series,“ said Yost. “They played great baseball. And Madison Bumgarner, man. What can you say about him?“
The Royals, perennial down-and-outers in the AL Central, snatched a wild-card spot to reach the playoffs for the first time since winning the World Series in 1985. Building a brand as an underdog favorite, they won their first eight playoff games against the Athletics, Angels and Orioles before running into Bumgarner in Game 1 last week.
Their 10-0 win in Game 6—a party from nearly start to finish for the 40,000 fans in attendance—was the most lopsided World Series shutout since Kansas City’s 11-0 win over St. Louis in Game 7 in 1985.
“It hurts to come as close as we came,“ said Yost. “As magical as our run has been, to end up losing the ballgame by 90 feet is tough.“
That magic which produced extra-inning wins in the Royals’ first three playoff games—and four of their first five—wasn’t reproduced against the Giants. Their three wins in the series came by 16 runs. That includes Friday’s 3-2 victory in Game 3, when the Royals took a 2-1 lead in the series on the backs of bullpen stars Kelvin Herrera, Brandon Finnegan, Wade Davis and Greg Holland, who combined to throw four no-hit innings in the game.
All three pitched on Wednesday after Guthrie (1-1) went 3 1/3 innings. The Royals got to 39-year-old Tim Hudson, scoring two runs in the second inning on Gordon’s double and Omar Infante’s sacrifice fly.
Hudson, the oldest pitcher ever to start Game 7, got just five outs and Jeremy Affeldt (1-0) threw 2 1/3 innings to pick up the win, running his streak to 22 consecutive appearances in the postseason without allowing a run, one shy of the record held by Yankees great Mariano Rivera.
Bumgarner finished with 270 innings pitched in the regular and postseason and ran his career World Series record to 4-0.
Sandoval broke the old postseason hits record of 25 shared by Marquis Grissom (1995), Darin Erstad (2002) and David Freese (2011) ... Hudson, who is MLB’s active wins leader with 214, also pitched Game 3 on Friday. He is without a postseason win since Game 2 of the 2001 ALDS, when he pitched Oakland past the Yankees ... Royals great and 1985 World Series MVP Bret Saberhagen threw out the first pitch ... Home teams are now 18-19 in World Series Game 7s.
► Giants ride one-man wrecking crew to a title
The San Francisco Giants got a combined nine outs from their starting pitchers in Games 6 and 7. Yet here they are celebrating a third World Series title in five years.
How is that even possible?
Well, had I not seen it with my own eyes, I would not have believed it.
San Francisco lefty Madison Bumgarner put forth a postseason performance we may never see again.
The Giants left-hander went seven innings to win Game 1, then pitched a four- hit shutout in Game 5. But what he did in Game 7, though, is something people will be talking about for years.
On just two-days rest and his team leading, 3-2, Bumgarner entered the game in the fifth inning and tossed five more scoreless innings to lower his overall World Series ERA to an amazing 0.25, while earning the save in the decisive seventh game.
Bumgarner got a little scare in the ninth, as Alex Gordon ripped a single back up the middle that center fielder Gregor Blanco compounded with a two-base error. But with Gordon on third, Bumgarner got Salvador Perez to pop out in foul territory to third baseman Pablo Sandoval to put a bow on one of the most impressive postseason runs in baseball history.
Twenty-one innings in this World Series and he allowed just one run.
He threw 68 pitches on Wednesday after throwing 117 on Sunday and looked as if he could have thrown 100 more.
Two wins and a save. Never has an MVP choice been easier.
You want more numbers?
Bumgarner pitched 52 2/3 innings this postseason, which was the most ever in a single playoffs, eclipsing Arizona’s Curt Schilling (48 1/3 in 2001). He gave up just six earned runs in the postseason and his 1.03 is the third best in a single playoff run.
His 0.43 ERA against the Royals was also the lowest in a single World Series among pitchers with at least 15 innings since Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax compiled a 0.38 ERA for the 1965 Dodgers.
We all knew Bumgarner would be there in some fashion on Wednesday. Personally, I figured he’d be able to give the Giants two innings, maybe three if everything broke right.
But five? And those five? Are you kidding me?
Bumgarner is not going to win an NL Cy Young Award this season. In fact he probably won’t even get a first-place vote. But what he has earned here this past month means a whole lot more.
He very well could be the best World Series pitcher of all-time.
As incredible as Bumgarner was the Giants don’t win Game 7 without the double play started by second baseman Joe Panik in the third inning.
With Lorenzo Cain on first base after a leadoff single, Eric Hosmer ripped a sharp grounder headed towards right-center field. Panik dove, snared the ball as it came up on a big hop, and flipped the ball with his glove to shortstop Brandon Crawford.
Crawford fired to first, and Hosmer slid into first base, ahead of the throw and was called safe.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy challenged the call and after 2 minutes, 47 seconds, Hosmer was called out, delaying one of the finest World Series double plays you’ll ever see.
Not to mention killing whatever momentum the Royals may have had. The Giants scored the go-ahead run in the next inning and Bumgarner entered the game the inning after that.
Goodnight, the lights.
You can debate whether or not the Giants are a dynasty all you want. Yes they haven’t won back-to-back titles, but they are just the third team in almost 70 years to win three championships in five years. And they have done it in the free agent era.
That’s good enough for me.
One thing that is not up for debate, though, is just how good Madison Bumgarner was this October.
|THURSDAY, OCTOBER 30, 2014|
|National Football League|
|New Orleans at Carolina, 8:25 PM - NFL Network|
|National Basketball Association|
|Washington at Orlando, 7:00 PM - CSN-DC, FS-Florida, DSS|
|Detroit at Minnesota, 8:00 PM - FS-Detroit, North, DSS|
|New York at Cleveland, 8:00 PM - TNT|
|Utah at Dallas, 8:30 PM - ROOT-Northwest, FS-Southwest, DSS|
|Oklahoma City at LA Clippers, 10:30 PM - TNT|
|National Hockey League|
|Winnipeg at New Jersey, 7:00 PM - TSN3, MSG, DSS|
|Los Angeles at Pittsburgh, 7:00 PM - FS-West, ROOT-Pittsburgh, NHL Net, DSS|
|Boston at Buffalo, 7:00 PM - NESN, MSG-Buffalo, DSS|
|Arizona at Florida, 7:30 PM - FS-Arizona, Florida, DSS|
|Philadelphia at Tampa Bay, 7:30 PM - CSN-Philadelphia, SunSports, DSS|
|Chicago at Ottawa, 7:30 PM - CSN-Chicago, RDS, TSN5, DSS|
|San Jose at Minnesota, 8:00 PM - CSN-California, FS-North+, DSS|
|Anaheim at St. Louis, 8:00 PM - FS-Prime Ticket, Midwest, DSS|
|NY Islanders at Colorado, 9:00 PM - MSG+, Altitude, DSS|
|Montreal at Vancouver, 10:00 PM - RDS, SNET360, DSS|
|Troy at Georgia Southern, 7:30 PM - ESPN U|
|Florida State at Louisville, 7:30 PM - ESPN|
|Major League Soccer - Playoffs|
|Kansas City at New York, 8:00 PM - ESPN 2, TSN2|
|Hellas Verona FC vs. SS Lazio, 3:40 PM - beIN Sport|
|CHAMPIONS - Charles Schwab Cup Championship, 4:30 PM - Golf Channel|
|PGA - CIMB Classic, 11:00 PM - Golf Channel|