Pro Hockey News

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

MBB: UNF's Road Woes Continue for Ospreys At Austin Peay

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. -- For the second consecutive game, the North Florida basketball team saw a second half lead slip away as Austin Peay rallied for a 65-60 win on Wednesday afternoon at the Dunn Center.

In eerily similar fashion to the Ospreys (7-8) hard fought loss on Monday at Tennessee Tech, UNF built a near double-digit lead midway through the second period only to see APSU (5-8) find away to chip away at the lead and escape with a last minute victory.

"These have been some tough losses for our team," said head coach Matthew Driscoll. "We continue to battle and compete against good teams on the road but can't seem to make the few late plays to earn the wins. Both of the games this week have been highly competitve and similar to road conference games. We again gave ourselves opportunities at the end of the game but unfortunately couldn't get a shot to fall. This group has been resilient and just needs to figure out a way to change the outcomes."

North Florida led 51-44 with 8:33 to play when Chris Freeman's layup sparked a 19-9 run to give Austin Peay a 63-60 lead with 34 seconds left. Freeman made five layups and three free throws during the span. The Ospreys then missed three 3-point attempts and Zavion Williams made a pair of free throws to seal it for the Governors.

Chris Davenport scored 16 points on 6-of-14 shooting and grabbed eight rebounds with four steals to lead North Florida. Jalen Nesbitt had 12 points and Beau Beechchipped in 10 for the Ospreys. UNF hit seven of 10 three-point attempts in the opening half but struggled in the final 20 minutes of play missing all 11 attempts. The Ospreys were able to make 11 of 12 free throw attempts and posted a 34-33 advantage in rebounding.

Freeman finished 10 of 15 from the field en route to a career best 23 points for the Govs. Chris Horton had 13 points, 10 rebounds and four assists, while Khalil Davis added 11 points for Austin Peay.

The two squads traded the lead early in the game before a 12-2 surge by APSU midway through the half allowed them to grab their largest lead of the game, 22-14. The Ospreys would rally with a 9-0 spurt of their own keyed by seven points from Nesbitt to retake the lead 23-22. UNF then found their touch from long distance hitting four consecutive treys to hold a 37-31 lead a the half.

An 8-2 run early in the second half allowed the Ospreys to grab their own eight-point lead, 47-39, with 12:31 left in the game.

North Florida will next ring in the New Year on Jan. 2 with a game against Alabama at 6 p.m. in Coleman Coliseum. The game also marks the end of the squad's current six-game road stretch.

COLLEGE BOWL NEWS: Ole Miss Falls to TCU in Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl

Senquez Golson returns an
 interception for the Rebels.
 (Photo by Joshua McCoy)
ATLANTA, Ga. – A dominant effort by No. 6 TCU on both sides of the ball was too much to overcome for No. 9 Ole Miss, as the Rebels (9-4) lost 42-3 in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on Wednesday afternoon in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome.

“We did not perform well today,” head coach Hugh Freeze said. “TCU did. I take credit for that. It’s my responsibility. I didn’t have our kids prepared to play and compete today. But I’m extremely proud of our kids and how they’ve turned this program, in three short years, to being relevant and competitive. I’m just sick that it wasn’t that way for them today.”

The nation’s second-leading offense, the Horned Frogs (12-1) scored early and often, and the defense suffocated the Ole Miss offense, holding the Rebels to a season-low 10 first downs and 129 yards of total offense.

“They’re a good defense,” senior quarterback Bo Wallace said. “They won some one-on-ones. And credit to them, they had a good plan against us.”

Senior cornerback Senquez Golson tied the school record with his 10th interception of the season, the 16th of his career, which is tied for third place in Ole Miss history. It also helped set up the Rebels’ lone score of the game, a 27-yard field goal by freshman kicker Gary Wunderlich.

Playing in their third straight bowl game for the first time since 1998-2000, Ole Miss had its six-game bowl winning streak snapped, which was tied with Florida State for the longest in the nation. The Rebels’ nine wins are the most since 2009, when they also finished the season with a 9-4 mark.

“We have a lot of kids returning next year, and there’s a valuable lesson to be learned from today and the way we prepared,” Freeze said. “We have to go back and look at all of that and the things that I need to do differently to make sure our kids put forth their best on a day like today.”

MBB: FSU Snaps Streak With Assist From UF Gators

TALLLAHASSEE, Fla. – On a night when points came sparingly for both sides, Florida State received the unlikeliest of assists to end a five-game losing streak against rival Florida with a 65-63 victory before a season-high crowd of 8,237 at the Donald L. Tucker Center.
The Seminoles prevailed when Devon Bookert’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer from the corner glanced off the rim, then off the hands of Gator reserve Jacob Kurtz and through the hoop for the decisive points.
“At the end it was one of those shots that went in that you just shake your head about,” said Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton. “I’ve been on the other end of that so many times, that I’ll take that and be very happy.”
In the process of extending their season-best winning streak to four games, the Seminoles (8-5) scored their first win over the Gators since a 57-55 triumph in 2008, which also came at home.
FSU junior Montay Brandon, who scored 12 of his team-high 17 points in the second half, could hardly believe his eyes as the deciding play unfolded.
“I thought Bookert’s shot was going in,” Brandon said. “Then when I saw Kurtz go up I thought he got the rebound, but it just slipped out of his hands, I guess…I was looking at Xavier [Rathan-Mayes] and we couldn’t believe it. That’s a crazy way to win a basketball game.”
The wild finish was set up when the Gators (7-5) erased a five-point deficit after a pair of Brandon free throws gave the Seminoles a 63-58 lead with 49.3 seconds to go.
Kasey Hill countered with a three-point play, adding a free throw after his driving layup to trim the margin to 63-61. An errant reverse layup attempt by Rathan-Mayes with 30 seconds to provided Florida with another possession for the chance to tie or take the lead. Devin Robinson misfired a 3-pointer from the corner, but Kurtz collected the offensive rebound, passed the ball to Hill, who fed Dorian Finney-Smith for the tying layup with eight seconds to play.
It was the fourth and final tie of the night in a game that saw eight lead changes.
After the Seminoles broke the Gators’ press - which had produced most of FSU’s 15 turnovers - Hamilton used a timeout with 2.6 seconds to set up the final play.
“The best option we had was for Devin to get the ball in the corner,” Hamilton said. “He’s a very good shooter. He missed it and obviously they tipped it in for us.”
“I thought it was going in at first, then I saw it go out,” said Bookert. “I saw the ball go back in and I didn’t know how. I just reacted.”
It was a well-deserved celebration at the end of a grueling night of emotional ebbs and flows.
The Seminoles led by as many as six early in the second half after a pair of Brandon baskets before the Gators countered with a 10-0 run for a 40-35 lead with 13:35 to play. Another Brandon driving layup and a three-point play by Phil Cofer pulled the Noles even at 40-40.
Hill, who led Florida with 17 points, countered with a runner for a 42-40 lead with 12:10 remaining. It would be the final lead of the night for the Gators, who endured a 4:57 scoreless drought as the Seminoles ran off nine unanswered points for a 49-42 lead on a pair of Cofer free throws.
Florida clawed back to even the score at 54-all on a 3-pointer by Michael Frazier and a Hill layup off an inbounds steal, before the Noles countered with Rathan-Mayes’ turnaround in the lane and a Bookert 3-pointer for a 59-54 lead with 1:32 to go.
Rathan-Mayes contributed 13 points to the victory, while Bookert added 12 and Boris Bojanovsky chipped in 10 for the Seminoles.
Despite converting five fewer field goals, the Seminoles prevailed in large part by outscoring the Gators 17-7 from the free throw line, converting 17 of 25 attempts.
The finishing flurry of action offset a defensive battle which unfolded from the opening tip. FSU managed one field goal in the first five minutes of play, while the Gators’ first shot didn’t pass through the rim until 12:59 remained in the first half.
“I thought this game was played with a tremendous amount of intensity by both teams,” Hamilton said. “The margin of the leads was never very wide for either team…They did such a great job in the first half creating the atmosphere that caused us to be so indecisive. We turned the ball over 12 times in the first half…We didn’t execute very well and were very fortunate to have that little spurt at the end to go into halftime ahead.”
Florida opened up the largest lead by either team – 20-13 – when Robinson converted the first of two free throw attempts with 6:37 remaining in the half.
Rathan-Mayes’ 3-pointer with 2.4 seconds remaining – FSU’s first connection on seven first half attempts - sent the Seminoles into the locker room with a 26-24 lead.
Combined, the rivals were 2-for-17 from beyond the arc, evenly splitting 24 turnovers.
Florida State will carry its four-game winning streak on to Mississippi State for Friday’s non-conference finale.
“This just gives us confidence,” Brandon said. “Our goal was to get to [win] number eight. Now we’re more confident going to Starkville to get number nine.”

(Bob Thomas is an FSU Associate Sports Information Director)

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

COLLEGE BOWL NEWS: USF's Davis and Kloss To Play In East-West Shrine Game

TAMPA, Fla., December. 30, 2014 – USF will have a pair of record-setting representatives in the 90th East-West Shrine Game as wide receiver Andre Davis of Tampa and kicker Marvin Kloss of Naples both accepted invitations to participate in the Jan. 17 game played at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.

A Bay Area native who earned his communications degree in December, Davis completed his outstanding USF career as the owner of 13 Bulls’ receiving records including career marks for receptions (153), receiving yards (2,136), receiving touchdowns (17), six career 100-yard receiving games and 38 consecutive games played with a reception. 

Despite missing four games due to a sternum injury in 2014, Davis was named USF Team MVP after posting 36 catches for 594 yards and a team-record tying seven touchdowns.

Kloss set program records with 13-straight made field goals and four field goals of 50 yards or longer and earned the nickname “Money” by becoming the Bulls’ all-time career field goal percentage leader hitting 77.5 percent (31-of-40). 

He made seven of the 15 longest field goals in school history and scored 131 career points to rank fifth among USF place kickers all-time. Kloss also became the program’s first national award finalist as he was selected a finalist for the 2013 Lou Groza Placekicker Award after leading the nation with 11 field goals of 40 or more yards.

The pair will play for the East Team coached by NFL Hall of Fame linebacker Mike Singletary, a 10-time Pro Bowl selection with the Chicago Bears.  The game, which kicks off at 4:00 p.m., will be televised live on the NFL Network. Tickets for the game are $15.

COLLEGE BOWL NEWS: Tennessee, Jacksonville to Coach 2015 Reese’s Senior Bowl

MOBILE, Ala. (Dec. 30) – The Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars have been selected to coach the 2015 Reese’s Senior Bowl next month in Mobile, Ala.
"It's always an honor and a privilege for the Reese's Senior Bowl to have our game coached by NFL staffs and 2015 will be no exception,” said Reese’s Senior Bowl Executive Director Phil Savage.

The Titans, led by their first-year head coach Ken Whisenhunt, will coach the North team, while second-year Jaguars coach Gus Bradley and his staff will guide the South.

“I have known Ken Whisenhunt since we worked together with the Baltimore Ravens back in the late 1990's,” Savage said.  “As a former NFL player himself and now head coach, he knows exactly what it takes to be successful in professional football and that knowledge should really benefit the prospects he and his staff will work with in Mobile.”

Tennessee finished the 2014 season with a record of 2-14 and owns the second pick in next year’s NFL Draft.

“We are very excited to be one of the coaching staffs at this year’s Senior Bowl,” said Whisenhunt, who coached in the Senior Bowl as an assistant with the Baltimore Ravens in 1998. “It is a great opportunity for our organization, but we also understand it is a showcase for these college players and an important week of evaluation for the entire league. I have had the good fortune to coach in this game as an assistant coach before and I really enjoyed that experience and the ability to get to know the players and work with them through the week.”

“We are looking forward to coaching the Senior Bowl in 2015,” said Bradley, whose club selected four players from last year’s game in the 2014 NFL Draft. ”Our staff really enjoyed the time we had last year in Mobile.  It’s a great opportunity to get to know the players on a personal level and watch them compete on and off the field for an entire week.  It proved to be a valuable asset in our pre-draft process last year.  The Senior Bowl staff does a great job of taking care of the players and coaches and making it a very enjoyable week.”

Jacksonville was 3-13 this season and will pick third in the draft. The Jaguars, who coached the South team to a 20-10 victory in last year’s game, jumped at the opportunity to coach again after Tampa Bay (2-14) declined

“Last year, the Jacksonville Jaguars and Gus Bradley did an outstanding job in coaching the South team,” Savage said. “Gus has an infectious enthusiasm for competition that really resonates with the players in an event like the Reese's Senior Bowl."

CFB: News and Notes from the National Football Foundation

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (December 30, 2014) - This week's news and notes from the National Football Foundation.

College Football Hall of Fame coach Barry Alvarez, now Wisconsin's athletics director, will return to the sideline to coach the Badgers in the Outback Bowl against Auburn on New Year's Day. 

Scheduling: Southern Miss and Troy have scheduled a home-and-home series for 2016 and 2019…

Bowl Games: Coach David Bailiff’s Rice Owls became the first football team in school history to play in three consecutive bowls when they played Fresno State in the Hawaii Bowl…

FCS National Championship: Three-time defending champion North Dakota State will play Illinois State in the 2014 NCAA Division I Football Championship on Jan. 10 at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas. The game is set for 1 p.m. ET and will air on ESPN2…

People: Pat Narduzzi was named the new head coach at Pittsburgh… Florida State and head football coach Jimbo Fisher have agreed to a new eight-year contract through the 2022 season…

Academics: Stanford, which will play Maryland Dec. 30 in the Foster Farms Bowl, had a graduation success rate, or GSR, of 99 percent, the best of any team headed to a bowl game. Rice (95 percent), Notre Dame (94 percent) and Air Force (93 percent) completed the top four. The annual study found that the overall GSR for bowl-bound teams is 73 percent, one percentage point higher than a year earlier…

Awards and Honors: TCU's Gary Patterson has been voted college football coach of the year by The Associated Press, joining Nick Saban as the only two-time winners… Former football player Bill Walter was elected to the Missouri State University Athletics Hall of Fame… Former football player Mitch Hoban will be inducted into the Ball State Athletics Hall of Fame the weekend of Jan. 23-24… Fordham running back Chase Edmonds received the Jerry Rice Award as the FCS freshman of the year… New Hampshire coach Sean McDonnell received the Eddie Robinson Award as the FCS coach of the year…

Media: DIRECTV will begin carrying the Longhorn Network starting this January… ESPN Radio will showcase 30 postseason college bowls, including the inaugural College Football Playoff… An impressive 221 college football teams from every FBS and FCS conference appeared on an ESPN platform in 2014...

Community Service: The Fiesta Bowl announced the organization is donating $10,000 to Amy's Army, a charity founded by Amy Van Dyken-Rouen…

Miscellaneous: The National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) announced the creation of The NACDA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) Leadership Summit presented by Learfield Sports, which will take place Jan. 11-12 in Dallas, Texas…

Obituaries: Sam Mitchell, a former football player at Auburn and assistant coach at Auburn, Georgia and South Carolina, passed away. He was 74… Former Nebraska football player Michael Wynn passed away Dec. 10. He was 67… Former UTEP football player and North Texas athletics director and assistant coach Andy Everest passed away Dec. 21. He was 90… Former Southwest Baptist (Mo.) football player Jarred Schumpert died Dec. 22. He was 28… Former Pacific football player Al Irwin passed away Dec. 22. He was 96… Mike Treps, the longtime University of Oklahoma radio voice and sports information director, passed away Dec. 23. He was 81… Belhaven (Miss.) football player Trey Rich died Dec. 24. He was 26… Former West Virginia football player Pete Wood passed away Dec. 26. He was 63…

Monday, December 29, 2014

COLLEGE BOWL NEWS: Clemson Destroys Oklahoma in Russell Athletic Bowl, 40-6

ORLANDO, Fla. - After scoring a touchdown on its first offensive play, the floodgates opened in No. 18 Clemson's 40-6 win over Oklahoma in the Russell Athletic Bowl.

In relief of the injured star freshman quarterback Deshaun Watson, senior Cole Stoudt threw for 319 yards and three touchdowns on 26-of-36 passing with no interceptions to help the Tigers (10-3) complete their fourth season in a row with at least 10 wins.

The Clemson defense dominated, forcing five turnovers and limiting the Oklahoma offense to 275 total yards.

Artavis Scott caught eight passes for 114 yards, including his 65-yard touchdown on Clemson's first play. Mike Williams added nine catches for 112 yards and a touchdown.

Samaje Perine totaled 134 yards on 23 carries, much of which came late in the game, for the Sooners (8-5). His fumble in the second quarter halted Oklahoma's first drive in Clemson territory.

Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight completed 17-of-37 passes for 103 yards and three interceptions with no touchdowns.

After a Sooners three-and-out, Clemson's offense took the field and scored immediately on Stoudt's screen pass to Scott, who got a block from Charone Peake and then made two defenders miss on his way to a 65-yard touchdown.

Oklahoma's defense bailed out Knight after one interception by blocking Clemson's field goal, but the Tigers did not need their offense the next time. Knight's second interception in as many drives was returned by Ben Boulware for a 47-yard touchdown that put Clemson up 17-0.

Down 20-0 in the second quarter, the Sooners appeared to have gotten back into the game when Charles Tapper tipped a pass in the air and then returned an interception for a touchdown, but an offsides penalty negated the score.

Just three plays later, Mike Williams caught a screen pass, made a man miss and ran for a 26-yard touchdown.

Oklahoma did not reach Clemson territory until its eighth possession, and it did not last long. Perine fumbled to give the ball back to the Tigers, who led 27-0 at the half.

While the Sooners went three-and-out on three consecutive drives to open the second half, the Clemson offense added two more touchdowns. Stoudt ran one in from the 2-yard line and threw another scoring pass to Germone Hopper in the closing minutes of the quarter.

As Oklahoma moved the ball into Clemson territory for the second time on its next drive, Keith Ford fumbled to return the ball to the Tigers.

The Sooners got on the board in the fourth quarter on Alex Ross' 11-yard touchdown run. The extra point was blocked, and Knight was picked off again on the next Sooners possession.

Game Notes: The all-time series between these teams is tied at two... Clemson improved to 19-18 in bowl games while Oklahoma fell to 28-19-1 ,,, Watson had surgery to repair a torn knee ligament earlier in December ... Williams' 112 yards put him over 1,000 for the season ... The Tigers have won 38 in a row when leading after three quarters.

WBB: UNF's Smith, KSU's Frye Secure ASun Weekly Honors

MACON, Ga. - North Florida's Destinee Smith and Kennesaw State's Karly Frye were selected as this week's Atlantic Sun Women's Basketball Weekly honorees, announced by the league office on Monday.
Senior Destinee Smith collects her first career Atlantic Sun Player of the Week honor after she scored a career-high 27 points against the Florida Gators of the SEC. 

The 27 points scored is tied for second-most ever in the Ospreys Division I history. Smith extended her team-best streak of 11 double-digit performances, averaging over 16 points per game during that span. She shot 72.7 percent from the field, while also draining 5-6 from behind the arc in the contest. 

She went a perfect 6-6 from the foul line while adding two rebounds, one steal and one assist in the Ospreys lone game of the week.  

Karly Frye picks up her first career Atlantic Sun Newcomer of the Week award, the fourth for Kennesaw State this season. 

The junior transfer played a major part in the Owls' seventh consecutive win this past week. Frye scored a team-high 12 points, including going 3-4 from the three-point line to help the Owls defeat Xavier 61-60. 

Frye's three three-pointers ties a season-high for the junior, while her 12-point performance was just one shy of her season best. She grabbed four rebounds and added one assist, while playing all 40 minutes in the victory. 

Her performance helped Kennesaw State to its 10th win on the season. 

WBB: Dolphins Hold Their Own Against Florida State on the Road

TALLAHASSE, Fla. – All season, women's basketball head coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin has harped on her team playing the JU way – tough, up-tempo, defense-oriented basketball. Despite the final result, the squad held its own and withstood a rugged Florida State team in the 73-46 defeat. 

"We had a lot of stuff we can build on from this game," said McCuin. "The JU way is about being tough and for the most part we did that. It was closer than the score depicted. Florida State is a great team and they gave us one more really tough challenge before we head into conference."

The Dolphins stood firmly alongside the Seminoles, evenly paced through the midpoint of the opening frame. For JU, Florida State's name, conference, and home court advantage were all irrelevant as the Fins held a 7-6 advantage three minutes into the half. 

It would be the Dolphins' final lead but their resilience kept it a two-possession contest until a three-pointer provided the Noles with a nine-point cushion, 25-16, with 9:06 on the clock. Florida State captured its first double-figure lead at the six minute mark and maintained the gap through intermission.

Briona Brown crowned the frame with back-to-back baskets and she and the Fins entered the break trailing, 40-26.

Continuing to show signs of their determination, an 8-0 run pulled the Dolphins within 10 early in the second half. Shaleighya Sulton, who finished the game with a career-high six points, cut the gap to 44-34 with a 2-for-2 trip at the free throw line.

Working an 8-0 run of their own, the Noles stretched their advantage back to 18 at the 12:05 mark and maintained momentum from there.

JU's hot shooting hand fizzled in the second frame as it combined for 6-of-34 (17.6 percent) from the floor. However, a positive sign for the Fins was shown in their defensive performance of holding their counterpart to just 33 points.

Brown directed the Dolphins' scoring effort with 12 points while Sherranda Reddick posted 10. Grabbing a game-high 11 rebounds, Kayla Gordon tied her career-high and also recorded eight points.

Jacksonville, nearing the conclusion of its non-conference schedule, returns to action on New Year's Day. Thomas University (Ga.) visits Swisher Gymnasium on Jan. 1 at 2 p.m.

MBB: JU's Babineaux Honored as A-Sun Newcomer of the Week.

MACON, Ga. - Jacksonville's Kori Babineaux received Atlantic Sun Men's Basketball weekly honors on Monday becoming the second Dolphin honored this year. He's averaged 18.5 PPG, 2.5 APG & 3.0 SPG in two games.

The junior guard from Folsom, Calif. led Jacksonville to a 14-point home victory against Jacksonville State as he tallied 26 points with two rebounds and two assists. 

He shot 9-of-13 on field goals to give JU its fifth win of the season. Against Mississippi State, Babineaux produced 11 points, three assists and five steals.

It's his first career Atlantic Sun Newcomer of the Week honor. He played in all but two minutes during the week for the Dolphins.

BOWLS: Butkus Award Winner Kendricks Headed to Reese’s Senior Bowl


MOBILE, Ala. (Dec. 29) – UCLA linebacker Eric Kendricks, the Butkus Award winner (best linebacker) and Lott IMPACT Trophy winner (defensive player who made most impact on his team), has accepted an invitation to the 2015 Reese’s Senior Bowl.

“Eric showed up big all year for the Bruins,” said Reese’s Senior Bowl Executive Director Phil Savage. “He is a run-and-hit linebacker that can play all three downs and help on special teams, too.”

Kendricks is joined by a handful of talented prospects in the latest group of top seniors to accept invites to the nation’s premier all-star game, headlined by All-American tackle Cedric Ogbuehi of Texas A&M.

“Cedric is the latest in the recent line of Texas A&M tackles with legit NFL potential,” Savage said.  “He can solidify his status as one of the best in this draft by practicing and playing well here in Mobile.”

Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty, Baylor wide receiver Antwan Goodley and Arizona State tackle Jamil Douglas will also be in Mobile in late January.

“I met Bryce at the Manning Academy this summer and he said, ‘I hope I play well enough to be invited to the Senior Bowl’,” Savage said. “Well, he did that and more in leading Baylor to an 11-1 record and throwing for 26 touchdowns against only six interceptions.”

The five additions to the 2015 game roster push the total number of players who have accepted invitations to 103.

The Reese’s Senior Bowl invited 110 players to fill the rosters of the North and South squads for this year’s game. Practices are scheduled to begin on Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015. The game is set to kickoff at 3 p.m. CT on Saturday, Jan. 24 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile.

CFB: Miami's Johnson, Flowers Declare for NFL Draft


CORAL GABLES, Fla. – University of Miami running back Duke Johnson announced Sunday his plans to forego his final year of college eligibility and declare for the 2015 NFL Draft.

Junior offensive tackle Ereck Flowers also announced today that he has decided to enter the 2015 NFL Draft.
Johnson, the all-time leading rusher in Miami’s storied history at the position, totaled 1,652 rushing yards in his final season with the Hurricanes. The Miami Norland High School alum ends his college career with 3,519 rushing yards, 26 rushing touchdowns, and 5,523 all-purpose yards in just 33 games.

A 2014 All-ACC first-team selection by both the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association (ACSMA) and ACC coaches, Johnson set a personal best with 2,070 all-purpose yards this season. 

Johnson ended his career with a 132-yard performance against South Carolina in the Duck Commander Independence Bowl – marking his 14th career 100-yard rushing game, tying him with Miami greats Edgerrin James and Clinton Portis for the most all-time.

“I think looking at the list and the guys I’ve passed is an accomplishment in and of itself,” Johnson said.  “I’m very grateful to have [had] an opportunity to return kicks, catch the ball out of the backfield and run the ball where I can get up above all these great UM players who came before me.

“The biggest thing with me is leaving something with my young guys, leaving something with my running backs – Joseph Yearby, Gus Edwards, Trayone Gray and Walter Tucker - to where they can see what it takes and what needs to be done to be great.”

Johnson dominated in his final season with the Hurricanes, posting a stretch of six straight 100-yard games in the middle of the campaign. After missing the final five games of 2013 to a year-ending ankle injury, Johnson rebounded with one of the most dominant seasons by a running back in Miami history.

Johnson averaged 6.8 yards per carry on his 242 attempts in 2014, finishing with 10 rushing touchdowns. His 90-yard TD run against North Carolina tied the longest play from scrimmage in program history, his 249-yard performance against Virginia Tech tied him for the third-best single-game mark, while his 89 yards against Pittsburgh moved him past Ottis Anderson into first place in all-time rushing yards.

Flowers saw action in 12 games this past season and made 11 starts as he established himself as one of the team’s toughest and most reliable offensive linemen this past year.

The 6-6, 330-pound, Miami native played a key role for the Hurricanes’ in 2014 as he paved the way for Miami’s offensive unit as it averaged 430.3 yards per game and just under 30 point per game.

Miami had three players selected in the 2014 NFL Draft: offensive guard Brandon Linder (Jacksonville Jaguars, third round), punter Pat O’Donnell (Chicago Bears, sixth round) and offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson (Buffalo Bills, seventh round).

Sunday, December 28, 2014

WBB: Florida Topples UNF, 63-51, in Non-Conference Finale

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Freshman Haley Lorenzen scored a team-high 14 points and a career-high tying eight rebounds, as she led the Florida women's basketball team (8-5) over the University of North Florida (7-6), 63-49, in UF's non-conference finale.

Lorenzen led a balanced Florida offensive attack that featured four Gators scoring in double-figures, including redshirt junior Cassie Peoples (12), freshman Brooke Copeland (11) and sophomore Ronni Williams (10).

Florida opened the scoring at the 19:49 mark of the first half on a Lorenzen turnaround jumper, but UNF responded quickly, as the first four-plus minutes of the game featured two ties and four lead changes.

The Ospreys grabbed a one-point lead (10-9) on a pair of Paulina Zaveckaite free throws with 16:33 left in the first half. The Gators answered emphatically with an 11-3 run capped off with a Copeland layup at the 12:07 mark.

The remainder of the half was back-and-forth and the Gators carried a 34-30 advantage into the locker room at intermission.

UF opened the second period on an 11-2 run capped off by a Dyandria Anderson free throw at the 12:37 mark. During that span, the Gators held the Ospreys to just 16.7% shooting from the field (1-of-6).

UNF was able to cut the Florida advantage to eight points (45-37) following a Brittany Wright jumper with 10:53 remaining in the contest, but that was as close as the Ospreys could get.

Florida grabbed 24 offensive rebounds and scored 25 second chance points off of those boards, which proved to be the defining factor in the contest.

The Gators launch their 2014 SEC slate playing host to LSU on Friday, January 2 at the O'Connell Center beginning at 7 p.m.

Friday, December 26, 2014

MBB: Quick Start by Mississippi State Dooms Dolphins

 STARKVILLE, Miss. -A 9-0 start over the opening five minutes of the game by Mississippi State proved to be more than Jacksonville was able to handle as the Dolphins dropped a 70-47 decision to end their two game win streak.

Andris Misters led Jacksonville (4-10) with 13 points while Kori Babineaux added 11 points.

"It's unfortunate because I thought we had made some progress over the last couple of weeks with our team," said Head Coach Tony Jasick whose team had shot ov
er 58 percent in the second half of the last two games. "I'm not sure why, but this was the first time all year that I thought we came out a little intimidated. We have some guys who can compete, but we were completely taken aback right from the tip."

Mississippi State (6-5) jumped out to its 9-0 lead in the opening five and a half minutes as the Dolphins missed their first nine shots from the field.

"We did not come out and play the way we wanted to," Jasick said. "We wanted to play a half-court game and make it hard for them score around the rim. They got the ball right to the rim and were able to kick and out and got into a rhythm from the perimeter. "

Jacksonville would hang tough however after the cold start playing the remainder of the half even as the team finished the half hitting 11 of their final 13 field goals attempted (84.6 percent). The efficient offense allowed the Dolphins to close within seven (34-27) in the final minute of the period before an offensive put back just before the buzzer put the Bulldogs up 36-27 at the break.

Mississippi State had the lead at 13 eight minutes into the second half. Jacksonville quickly moved back to within nine by capitalizing on a technical foul. First with two Misters' free throws, then a heads up inbounds play by Babineaux who bounced the ball off an unexpected defender back to himself for an easy lay-in.

The Dolphins were not able to keep the momentum going however as the Bulldogs responded with one of their eight three-pointers on the night to stay in control.

"They have good players and when they get in a rhythm and start feeling good this is what happens," said Jasick.

Jacksonville forced a season high 21 turnovers, including four straight at one point later in the second half.

"Our guys played hard enough in that segment to maybe make a dent in it and we did take advantage of our opportunities and that let the game get away from us down the stretch."

The Dolphins are back in action at home inside Veterans Memorial Arena on Saturday against Jacksonville State. For ticket information contact the JU Ticket office at 904-256-7863.

"We'll get back to work and keep trying to grind as we head down the stretch with the remaining non-league games before we get ready for the start of A-Sun play vs North Florida on Jan. 10."

SEC: Nussmeier Hired as Gators’ Offensive Coordinator

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Doug Nussmeier has been named the Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach for the 2015 Florida football team, head coach Jim McElwain announced Wednesday. Nussmeier spent the 2014 season in the same role at Michigan following two years as the offensive coordinator at Alabama, where he won the 2012 BCS National Championship with the Crimson Tide.

Nussmeier and McElwain worked together at Michigan State (2003-05) under head coach John L. Smith, with Nussmeier serving as the Quarterbacks Coach and McElwain as the Assistant Head Coach/Wide Receivers Coach. 

When McElwain left Fresno State in 2007, Nussmeier replaced him as Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach. The same thing happened at Alabama after the 2011 season, with Nussmeier taking the same position with the Crimson Tide after McElwain was named the head coach at Colorado State.

“Doug and I have worked together on the same staff and I’ve known him for years,” McElwain said. “We are like thinkers in that he will adapt to the players we have in the program and develop them as we continue to evolve.”

Nussmeier has a track record of producing strong quarterback play throughout his coaching career, mentoring Alabama's AJ McCarron, Washington's Jake Locker and Keith Price, Michigan State's Drew Stanton and Jeff Smoker and the St. Louis Rams' Marc Bulger. 

In 12 seasons coaching college quarterbacks, Nussmeier has tutored four 3,000-yard passers. He also helped Bulger have the best year of his NFL career in 2006, when he threw for 4,301 yards and 24 touchdowns.

“I’m excited to reunite with Coach Mac -- we obviously have a long history and share similar philosophies,” Nussmeier said. “I’m honored to join The Gator Nation and work for one of the most storied programs in all of college football.”

In addition to his success working with quarterbacks, in Nussmeier’s seven seasons as a coordinator, his offenses have produced six 1,000-yard seasons by his backs – Alabama’s T.J. Y ldon (twice) and Eddie Lacy and Washington’s Chris Polk (three times)

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

AFL: Sharks Sign Wilson to One-Year Deal

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Sharks announced Tuesday that wide receiver Jomo Wilson has returned to the team, as the veteran has been assigned to the Jacksonville roster on a one-year contract.

The 31-year-old Wilson (6’0”, 205) will enter his fourth season with the Sharks and sixth overall campaign in the Arena Football League. Most recently, Wilson rejoined the Sharks via a trade with the San Antonio Talons in the early part of the 2014 season. 

Starting each of the Sharks’ final 14 games of the year, Wilson led the team with 92 receptions for 1,104 yards and 24 touchdowns. He also notched a rushing touchdown and recovered a fumble for a score. Counting his four games with the Talons, Wilson racked up 103 catches, 1,251 yards and 29 touchdowns in 2014. 

Wilson spent two-plus seasons with the Talons, playing in San Antonio in 2012, 2013 and the beginning of 2014. In 2012, Wilson racked up 83 receptions for team-leading totals of 1,284 yards and 36 touchdowns despite playing in just 13 of the Talons’ 18 games. Las season, Wilson led San Antonio in every major receiving category, recording 1,206 yards and 24 touchdowns on his 98 receptions.

Prior to his time in San Antonio, Wilson began his AFL career with the Sharks, spending the 2010 and 2011 seasons in Jacksonville. Wilson enjoyed a career year in 2011 as a key cog in Jacksonville’s ArenaBowl-winning squad, racking up team-high totals of 131 catches for 1,737 yards and 44 touchdowns. 

Wilson still holds the single-season franchise records in the latter two categories. During Jacksonville’s three-game run to the ArenaBowl title, Wilson led the Sharks with 22 receptions for 278 yards.

As a rookie in 2010, Wilson quickly became an integral part of Jacksonville’s receiving corps during the franchise’s inaugural season. As a rookie, Wilson finished as the Sharks’ second leading receiver, totaling 81 receptions for 964 yards and 19 touchdowns.

A native of Stockton, California, Wilson finished his collegiate career at Eastern Oregon.


Friday, December 19, 2014

AFL: League Releases Schedule

CHICAGO – The 28th Arena Football League season is set to kick off on Friday, March 27, as the 2015 AFL schedule was officially released today.

The league will feature 12 teams in 2015, with each team playing 18 games and receiving two byes during the 20-week regular season. Week 15 will be a universal bye week in observation of Independence Day weekend.

Following the 2015 regular season, the 2015 AFL Playoffs are set to begin on August 14, 2015, with the Conference Championships slated for the weekend of August 21. ArenaBowl XXVIII will take place on August 29 and will be televised live on ESPN.

All 12 AFL teams will be in action on opening weekend. Week 1 will officially kickoff at 7:30 p.m. ET on Friday with the Tampa Bay Storm welcoming in the defending American Conference champion Cleveland Gladiators at the newly renamed Amalie Arena in Tampa. 

The Portland Thunder and LA KISS will also rekindle their rivalry later that night at 10:00 p.m. ET from the Moda Center in Portland. The New Orleans VooDoo are set to take on the Jacksonville Sharks in 

“The Graveyard” at 8:00 p.m. ET the following night, while reigning AFL MVP Nick Davila and the Arizona Rattlers – winners of three straight ArenaBowl championships – will host the Spokane Shock at 9:00 p.m. ET. 

The Orlando Predators are poised to make their return to the Amway Center on Sunday, March 29 to host the Philadelphia Soul at 2:00 p.m. ET and Week 1 will culminate at 10:30 p.m. ET on Monday, March 30 when the Las Vegas Outlaws make their AFL debut at home against the San Jose SaberCats

Perhaps the most notable matchup of the year is slated for Week 3, when the Cleveland Gladiators will host the Arizona Rattlers in a rematch of ArenaBowl XXVII. The Rattlers defeated the Gladiators, 72-32, in August to claim their third consecutive AFL championship.

Other notable games:
·         The “War on I-4” will see another three-game series in 2015. The Orlando Predators will host the Tampa Bay Storm in Week 8 and Week 20, while the Preds will head to Tampa in Week 16.
·         The Cleveland Gladiators and Philadelphia Soul will square off three more times in 2015. Philadelphia will host the Gladiators in Week 4 and Week 16, while the Soul will travel to Quicken Loans Arena to close out the regular season in Week 20. The two squads combined for three of the most dramatic finishes in AFL history in 2014, as the Gladiators came away with wins on the final play of the game in all three contests.
·         The “Rockstar Rivalry” will see its first game in Week 3, as the LA KISS host the Las Vegas Outlaws in the first home game of the year for LA. The KISS are owned by Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley of KISS fame, while Motley Crue lead singer Vince Neil is co-owner of the Outlaws.
·         The Arizona Rattlers and San Jose SaberCats will rekindle their storied rivalry twice in the 2015 regular season. Arizona will host San Jose in Week 6, while the Rattlers will travel to California in Week 19.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

SEC: Collins Joining Gators’ Staff as Defensive Coordinator

GAINESVILLE, Fla.—Geoff Collins has been named defensive coordinator for the 2015 University of Florida football team, head coach Jim McElwain announced on Tuesday. Collins will join the Gators’ staff after spending the past four seasons at Mississippi State as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach.

Along with a background in the Southeastern Conference, Collins has strong ties in the state of Florida, with coaching stops at Florida International (2010, Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers) and UCF (2008-09, Linebackers/Recruiting Coordinator).

“I got to know Geoff personally during my time at Alabama and have stayed in touch with him since and his defenses have been successful everywhere he has been,” said McElwain. “It was important to maintain some of the same philosophies and concepts that have made the defenses around here successful with this hire and our players will continue to progress under his direction.

“Coach Durkin will continue to coach the team through the Bowl game,” said McElwain. “I have the utmost respect for his professionalism and have full confidence in his abilities to lead and coach the team.”

Collins was hired at Mississippi State as Co-Defensive Coordinator in 2011 and took over sole duties prior to the 2013 season. In 2014, the Bulldogs’ defense has been at its best when it matters most – in the red zone and on third downs. 

MSU’s red zone defense ranks first in the nation in both score percentage (60.0) and touchdown percentage (37.5). Mississippi State ranks 10th nationally in scoring defense, allowing just 19.4 points per game.

Monday, December 15, 2014

NFL: Jaguars' Bortles Dealing with Foot Sprain

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Jacksonville Jaguars starting quarterback Blake Bortles' status for Thursday's game with the Tennessee Titans is uncertain due to a sprained right foot the rookie sustained on Sunday.

Bortles played through the entirety of the Jaguars' 20-12 loss at Baltimore, though he was sacked eight times and will be facing a short turnaround with Jacksonville playing on Thursday.

Chad Henne will draw the start under center if Bortles is ruled out.
Henne started the Jaguars' first three games before being replaced by Bortles, the third overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft. 

The veteran threw for three touchdowns with just one interception over that stretch, but completed only 53.8 percent of his throws for 492 yards.

SEC: Ole Miss Releases Vaught-Hemingway Expansion Plans

OXFORD, Miss. – With the excitement surrounding the team’s third straight bowl appearance in three seasons under the direction of head coach Hugh Freeze, today is a milestone day in the Forward Together campaign, as Ole Miss moves one step closer to making the master plan for Vaught-Hemingway Stadium a reality.

Launched in the fall of 2011, the Forward Together Campaign has now reached $125 million in total cash and pledges, and between the ongoing construction of The Pavilion at Ole Miss and the parking garage, the front door for Ole Miss is beginning to take shape.

“When the Forward Together Campaign was launched in the fall of 2011, the goals for Vaught-Hemingway Stadium were to expand the overall stadium capacity and fan experience amenities, upgrade exterior elements around the stadium that provide more consistency with university architecture, and to expand premium seating offerings in order to provide necessary funding,” Director of Athletics Ross Bjork said. “We are confident and believe this master plan accomplishes those objectives while adding in new elements along the way.”

As part of this front door, scheduled for completion by the start of the 2016 football season, there will be construction of two new entry points. One will be a new plaza between The Pavilion and Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, and the other will be a new green space that extends the Walk of Champions through a new north stadium plaza and bell tower. 

The plans also include the construction of an M-Club letterwinners’ wall honoring every letterwinner from every sport at Ole Miss.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Canada's Brad Fritsch increases lead to six at Tour Qualifying Tournament

Canadian Brad Fritsch posted a second-consecutive 65 to take a six-shot lead after four of six rounds at the Tour Qualifying Tournament at PGA National Sunday. The 28-year-old from Ottawa recorded seven birdies, with the final two coming on Nos. 17 and 18, and one bogey on the Champion course. He sits at 20-under par.

In second position is Rick Cochran III of Paducah, Ky., who enjoyed a steady round of 68 to get him to 14 under. The 2009 Middle Tennessee State graduate was the second-round leader and in second position after both the first and third rounds.

Another shot back at 13 under is former PGA TOUR winner (2005 EDS Byron Nelson Championship) Ted Purdy of Phoenix, Ariz.

“My caddie and I set a goal and we're already there so we have to readjust the goal because I know there are a bunch of good players behind me,” Fritsch said. “I’m going to keep my head down and keep going.”

Fritsch faced a dilemma of sorts this week but in the end result realized he had no choice but to skip his brother’s wedding, which took place in their hometown of Ottawa yesterday.

“This is my job for next year on the line, so I knew I had to be here and my brother understood completely. I called him to congratulate him yesterday morning and apologized for not being there.” Younger brother Stephen is a forming touring professional himself and serves as Brad’s agent.

The low round of the tournament was turned in Sunday by Mark Silvers of Savannah, Ga. He reeled off 10 birdies in his first 14 holes to shot 10-under 62 on the Fazio course. The round allowed him to improve 68 places from T81 to T13.

Every player in the field has earned, at a minimum, conditional status on the Tour in 2015 by virtue of getting to the Qualifying Tournament Finals. Approximately 1,200 golfers entered Q-School this fall, with some having to succeed in up to three previous stages of qualifying. At stake at PGA National is player positioning in the all-important priority ranking, which is used to determine Tour fields each week. The higher one finishes at Q-School, the more events he will get to play next year.

CFB: Seminoles Back at Practice, Focused on Ducks

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – No. 2 Florida State began preparation for Oregon on Sunday at the Albert J. Dunlap Athletic Training Facility, holding its first practice since winning its third straight ACC Championship last weekend.

The Seminoles face the Ducks on Jan. 1 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. in a National Semifinal matchup as part of the inaugural College Football Playoff.

FSU will practice in Tallahassee until Dec. 22 and will have a three days off before departing for California on Dec. 26.

Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher said the team had a great practice after having last week off for final exams.  

“Great to be back out here, it was good to give the guys a week off mentally and physically,” Fisher said. “They needed it after a long season. It will take us a couple of days to get back into that groove because that’s too many days off, and we knew that. The guys came out and did a nice job today, ran well, conditioned pretty good and proud of practice, we got a lot done. Big fundamental practice for the first three [days], we’ll just go back to basics and camp-type practices and get fundamentally sound and start on our game plan stuff as we go forward. Good day today, proud of them.”

Fisher said that several players will be held out of practice over the next couple of days as a precaution, but contributors like defensive tackle Eddie Goldman, cornerback Ronald Darby, safety Tyler Hunter and safety Trey Marshall could play if there was a game this week.

Goldman and Darby missed significant time in the 37-35 victory over Georgia Tech in the ACC Championship Game on Dec. 6.

With the season wrapping to a close and a second straight national championship up for grabs over the next month, Fisher said he sees a sense of urgency from players during practice.

“They understand what’s at stake and where they’re at and what they’ve put themselves in position to do,” Fisher said. “I felt that in the practice for Georgia Tech. I really felt it there, too. Hopefully we’ll continue to have a great practice.”

Friday, December 12, 2014

COLLEGE BOWL NEWS: Wisconsin Junior Takes Home Top Running Back Award


LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- If the numbers he has put up all season weren’t proof enough, the trophy he hoisted Thursday confirmed Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon’s status as the nation’s best running back.

The Outback Bowl bound junior was named winner of the Doak Walker Award as college football’s most outstanding running back during The Home Depot College Football Awards on the Boardwalk at Walt Disney World.

In addition, Gordon was named to the Walter Camp All-America Team, where he joined Indiana’s Tevin Coleman as a first-team running back.

Gordon became the third Wisconsin back to win the Doak Walker, joining Ron Dayne in 1999 and Montee Ball in 2012. For the first time in its 25-year history, the award’s three finalists all hailed from the same conference, with Gordon, Coleman and Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah making the trip to Orlando. A Big Ten running back has now won the Doak Walker seven times.

On Saturday, Gordon and Mariota will join Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper in New York City for the presentation of the 80th Heisman Trophy.

In a tremendous season for running backs nationwide, Gordon is the headliner. His 2,336 rushing yards this year represent the fourth-highest total in NCAA history, and he needs one touchdown to join Oklahoma State’s Barry Sanders and UCF’s Kevin Smith as the only players to rush for 2,000 yards and score 30 TDs in a season.

Gordon became the fastest player to reach 2,000 yards in a season by hitting the threshold on his 241st carry of the season. During the Big Ten season, he ran for a conference-record 1,648 yards and set another league mark with his average of 193.6 yards per game.

For his efforts, Gordon was named both the Graham-George Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and the Ameche-Dayne Big Ten Running Back of the Year. On Thursday, he was announced as the winner of the Chicago Tribune Silver Football, which is presented annually to the Big Ten MVP in a vote of league coaches.

Gordon will be honored again when the Doak Walker Award holds its formal trophy presentation on Feb. 27 in Dallas.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Tain Lee shoots 65 to grab opening-round lead at Tour Qualifying Tournament

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla.  – Former Division III Jack Nicklaus Award winner Tain Lee reeled off seven birdies in a row on the back nine and eight in all today en route to a 65 and the Web.comTour Qualifying Tournament lead after the first of six rounds.

The San Juan Capistrano, Calif. resident leads Rick Cochran of Paducah, Ky. and Kyle Scott of Johannesburg, South Africa by one stroke. Cochran and Scott posted identical rounds of 35-31-66.

All three leaders played the Fazio Course at host PGA National Resort & Spa and will venture over to the Champion Course, site of the PGA TOUR’s Honda Classic, Friday.

Lee did not have great expectations prior to his morning tee time.

“I did not play well in my practice sessions early in the week and today’s warm-up was horrible,” Lee said.

The four-time Division III All-American out of Claremont McKenna College in California realizes he and the other 149 players in the field have a long way to go.

“It’s clearly a marathon and not a sprint, as everyone keeps saying.”

Lee, 24, is seeking to become a member of the Tour for the first time. He spent a good bit of 2014 competing on the European Tour and Challenge Tour after qualifying for the former tour last year but not enjoying particularly good status.

Cochran was in one of the first groups off the tee at PGA National Resort & Spa at 8:00 a.m. when temperatures hovered around 45 degrees. After a steady start of one birdie and one bogey over his first eight holes, he enjoyed a run of six birdies over his final 10 holes.
Cochran, whose uncle, Russ, is a winner on both the PGA TOUR and Champions Tour, secured his spot in Q-School with a sixth-place finish on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Order of Merit at the conclusion of last week’s 2014 season.

The 28-year-old who graduated from Middle Tennessee State in 2009 had several brushes with victory this year on that tour, recording four runners-up, with two coming in playoffs.

With his American wife Laura as his caddie, Scott ran off five birdies in a row to open his back nine and added another at No. 17, only to miss a short putt at the 18th to finish 5 under. The 2011 Georgia Tech grad, who remained in Atlanta after college, is a self-professed serious fan of countryman Ernie Els. “If Ernie’s having a bad week, so I am,” he said. 

Cochran and Scott, both 28, are separated by just 34 days in age.

Every player in the field has earned, at a minimum, conditional status on the Tour in 2015 by virtue of getting to the Qualifying Tournament Finals. Approximately 1,000 golfers entered Q-School this fall, with some having to succeed in up to three previous stages of qualifying. At stake at PGA National is player positioning in the all-important priority ranking, which is used to determine Tour fields each week. The higher one finishes at Q-School, the more events he will get to play next year.