Pro Hockey News

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Lewis becomes one of UCF's all-time top 10 scorers in loss to Gators

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.  – The UCF women’s basketball team took the fight to Florida but the Gators were able to ride out a big third quarter to hang on for a 93-79 win in the American/SEC Challenge at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena on Wednesday night.

Meeting for the first time in five years, the Knights led at the end of the first quarter and trailed by just four points at halftime.

The Knights found themselves down by as much as 23 in the third quarter but pulled back within 10 points with 5 minutes remaining in the game. Although UCF outscored the Gators by seven in the final period, UF’s 34-17 edge in the third period proved to be the difference maker. 

UCF received monster performances from juniors Zykira Lewis and Joslyn Massey. Lewis tallied her third 20-point game of the season with a game-high 28 points and as a result, etched her name among UCF’s career top 10 scoring leaders. Massey recorded a career-high 20 points and game-high 10 rebounds.

“Proud of our fight,” UCF head coach Joi Williams said. “We came out and started the game like we talked about. When we went down, we talked about not quitting. We talked about continue to fight and that’s what they did.”

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

BOWL NOTEBOOK: Nittany Lions. Bulldogs Continue Game Preparations

Jacksonville SportsDay
Both Penn State and Georgia continued to prepare for their Saturday meeting in the TaxSlayer Bowl in Jacksonville.

Under partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the upper 70s, Georgia resumed practice Monday.

The Bulldogs worked out in jerseys, shoulder pads, helmets and shorts on the campus of the University of North Florida. Georgia interim head coach Bryan McClendon confirmed that senior fullback Quayvon Hicks would miss the TaxSlayer Bowl game due to an injury.

“Quayvon will not play in the bowl game; he has a lot to look forward to as he moves on, and you hate to see a senior not get to play in his final game because of an injury,” McClendon said.

With Hicks out, Georgia’s depth at fullback will consists of sophomore Christian Payne and redshirt sophomore Glenn Welch. Hicks had appeared in all 12 games with three starts. 

Payne has played in seven games this year with no starts while Welch has appeared in 11 games with no starts.

The Bulldogs are looking to win 10 games in a season for the 22nd time in school history. Additionally, the senior class enters the game with a 39-13 record.

“The seniors are extremely important to this program; any program you need good leadership period,” McClendon added. “Our guys have done an extremely good job this year. The opportunity to get 40 wins in a career and a 10-win season that is huge for them.”

Georgia is making its 51st appearance in a bowl game when it faces the Nittany Lions. The Bulldogs are playing in a bowl game for a school record 19th consecutive season.
Penn State held their media day on campus.

“The bowl game is a tremendous opportunity to play a storied program in the University of Georgia. I was very impressed with Coach McClendon in the time that I had to spend with him,” said Penn State head coach James Franklin.

At media day at Penn State Franklin said it was going to be great having some of their guys back.

“Obviously, we missed (defensive end) Carl Nassib at the end of the year. He really didn't play the last three games of the year, so we're excited about the opportunity to having him back,” Franklin said,  

Franklin called Georgia a talented team.

“They have the No. 1 pass defense in the country. Offensively, they are big and physical,” Franklin said at media day. “Wide receiver, Isaiah McKenzie, has been electric returner, so that's going to be a real focus for us the next week and a half, trying to contain him.”

SHERRER, ROCKER TO BE RETAINED - Georgia assistant coaches Tracy Rocker and Kevin Sherrer will be retained on the UGA football staff according to an announcement by Bulldog head coach Kirby Smart. Rocker coaches’ defensive line while Sherrer handles the outside linebackers and Star position. They both joined the Georgia staff in 2014.

MCCLENDON JOINS MUSCHAMP – New University of South Carolina head football coach Will Muschamp announced that Bryan McClendon will become co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach. A former wide receiver at UGA, McClendon held several titles during the 2015 regular season, including wide receivers coach, assistant head coach and passing game coordinator. He was named interim head coach after Mark Richt left and will serve in that capacity through Georgia’s appearance in the TaxSlayer Bowl.

MORE HONORS FOR NASSIB – Penn State defensive end Carl Nassib capped off his All-America selections with a unanimous selection to the NCAA’s consensus All-America team. Nassib leads FBS in sacks (15.5) and forced fumbles (6) and is second in FBS and first in the Big Ten in tackles for loss (19.5).

The TaxSlayer Bowl will kick off at noon on ESPN on Saturday, Jan. 2. The broadcast team will feature Allan Bestwick (play-by-play), Dan Hawkins (analyst) and Tiffany Greene (sidelines).

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

NASL: Armada FC Signs 2015 USL Defender of the Year Burke

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.  ̶  The Jacksonville Armada FC announced on Monday the signing of 2015 USL Defender of the Year Bryan Burke.
The 26-year-old fullback from Newport, Calif., arrives in Jacksonville following one season with Louisville City FC where he played a key role at both ends of the field, leading the United Soccer League with 10 assists in 2015, and contributing to a solid defensive effort that saw his team concede 35 goals in 28 regular-season games, a 1.25 GAA.
“Brian had an outstanding season last year in the USL with Louisville,” said Tony Meola, Armada FC head coach and technical director. “His work rate up and down the right side and his relentless passion to attack will be exciting to watch as he integrates himself into our group. We are excited to add his quality to our roster for the upcoming season."
The Armada will start preseason training in mid-January and play a friendly against MLS’s Philadelphia Union at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 6 in at Community First Park at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.

Monday, December 28, 2015

BOWL NOTES: Nittany Lions Remember First Meeting with Bulldogs

Penn State returns to a Florida bowl for the first time since the 2010 season when the Nittany Lions take on Southeastern Conference foe Georgia in the 71st annual TaxSlayer Bowl. The game will air on ESPN.

The Nittany Lions and the Bulldogs were selected for just their second all-time meeting and the 46th all-time bowl appearance for Penn State. 

The only other meeting between the teams came in the 1983 Sugar Bowl when the Nittany Lions claimed a 27-23 win over Georgia to claim their first National Championship. That game featured "The Catch," a 48-yard diving touchdown reception by wide receiver Gregg Garrity from Todd Blackledge to give the Lions a 27-17 lead. Garrity's son, also named Gregg, is a student-athlete on the 2015 team.

This will be Penn State's fifth appearance in the TaxSlayer Bowl, formerly the Gator Bowl, with the last time coming in 1976 when the Nittany Lions fell to Notre Dame, 20-9. Penn State was 1-2-1 all-time in the Gator Bowl. The Lions made back-to-back Gator Bowl appearances in 1961 with a win over Georgia Tech (30-15) and 1962 with a loss to Florida (17-7). Penn State also tied Florida State (17-17) in the 1967 Gator Bowl.

Penn State is tied for third nationally with Georgia and Oklahoma with 28 bowl victories and is No. 2 in bowl winning percentage with a 28-15-2 post-season record (64.4) among schools with at least 20 postseason appearances.

Head coach James Franklin guided the Nittany Lions to a 7-5 regular season record to become bowl eligible for the second consecutive season and 46th time overall. The Nittany Lions' mentor has guided all five of his teams as a head coach to a bowl appearance. Consensus first-team All-American defensive end Carl Nassib leads the nation in sacks and forced fumbles and earned numerous postseason awards, including Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and three national awards, including the Lombardi Award, Ted Hendricks Award and Lott IMPACT Award.

Penn State is 23-21-0 all-time against current SEC schools having played every SEC team except Arkansas, Mississippi and Mississippi State. The most recent meeting with an SEC team was versus Alabama in 2011 in Beaver Stadium. The Nittany Lions are 12-6 against SEC teams in bowl games.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Suns continue building front office staff

The Jacksonville Suns announced their latest front office staffing update, naming four new staff members and three returning staff in new roles. The club is preparing for the 2016 season – its debut under the new ownership of Ken Babby.

New to the Suns front office team are Merchandise Manager Brennan Earley, Promotions Manager Devin Jones, Media and Public Relations Manager Marco LaNave and Account Executive Peter Ercey. Returning in new positions are Box Office Manager Theresa Viets, Food and Beverage Manager Tina Gray-Young, and Front Office Coordinator Lorie Tipton.

“We are excited to welcome staff with broad experiences from across the country to our front office, while teaming them with talented individuals familiar with the Jacksonville market,” said Suns General Manager Harold Craw. “Their combination of diverse sports backgrounds and connections with this community will be vital to us bringing the best affordable family fun to Northeast Florida.”

Brennan Earley joins the Suns as Merchandise Manager, after he worked the past year as the Assistant Manager of Merchandising for the Double-A Jackson (Tenn.) Generals of the Southern League. A native of Jonesville, Va., he was a Baseball Operations Intern for the Johnson City (Tenn.) Cardinals of the Rookie-Level Appalachian League in 2011.

Devin Jones will be the Suns Promotions Manager after working as a Promotions and Fan Development Assistant for the Carolina Hurricanes of the NHL since September. A native of Ellenboro, W. Va., he was a Front Office Intern with the West Virginia Power (Charleston, W. Va.) of the Class-A South Atlantic League in 2014 and a Marketing and Promotions Trainee for the Gwinnett (Ga.) Braves of the Triple-A International League in 2015.

Marco LaNave joins the Suns as Media and Public Relations Manager. He had been the head of media relations for the Quad Cities River Bandits (Davenport, Iowa) of the Class-A Midwest League since the beginning of the 2012 season. A St. Cloud, Minn., native, he worked as a production assistant for Minnesota Twins radio broadcasts in 2011.

Peter Ercey, a Coconut Creek, Fla., native, and a sports management graduate from the University of North Florida, is a new Account Executive with the Suns. He worked as Promotions Coordinator for the Inland Empire 66ers (San Bernardino, Calif.) of the Class-A Advanced California League in 2015.

Three returning Suns front office members – all Jacksonville natives – have new roles with the team.

Theresa Viets remains with the Suns for a 10th season, this year as the Box Office Manager, a role she held from 2011 to 2014. Most recently, she was the Director of Community Relations during the 2015 season, and she was also the Executive Assistant and Receptionist from 2007 to 2011.

Tina Gray-Young enters her eighth season with the Suns, becoming the team’s Food and Beverage Manager. She began with the team in 2009 as a bartender, became a bar manager, and had most recently been the team’s receptionist since April.

Lorie Tipton enters her seventh season with the Suns, taking a new role as Front Office Coordinator. She has worked on the game day staff for the team since 2010.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Armada Signs Former Bundesliga and German Cup Champion

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Armada FC continued to build its 2016 roster on Monday with the addition of former Finland Men’s National Team member and Bundesliga champion Pekka Lagerblom (PEK-uh LOG-er-bloom).

Lagerblom, a versatile and experienced midfielder, brings more than 10 years of European league experience to the Armada, which includes Bundesliga and German Cup titles in 2004 with Werder Bremen.

 A native of Lahti, Finland, he was also a member of the Finland National Team from 2003-06, recording 12 caps. Lagerblom comes to Jacksonville after playing with his hometown club, FC Lahti of the top Finnish division, Viekkausliiga, in 2015.

"In Pekka we add more experience to our midfield who has played in one of the biggest leagues in the world and won a title and cup with Werder Breman,” said Armada FC head coach and technical director Tony Meola. “After flying Pekka to Jacksonville to speak face-to-face with him, it became clear that he wanted to be in an Armada jersey. We have added another leader to our team."

Lagerblom, 33, began his professional career in 2003 with FC Lahti. Following an impressive two years, where he scored 13 goals in 55 appearances with the club, he made the move to Bundesliga side Werder Bremen. 

In 2005, he made 11 appearances on loan with 1. FC Nürnberg before transferring to 1. FC Köln the following summer, where he scored one goal in 27 appearances. He also played for other German clubs, Alemannia Aachen, FSV Frankfurt, VfB Stuttgart II, and RB Leipzig between 2007 and 2012.

In 2013, he made the returned to the top flight of Finnish soccer, signing with IFK Mariehamn, where he made 21 appearances. Lagerblom then spilt the following season between Norwegian side Hamarkamratene (HamKam) and Swedish side Ånge IF before returning FC Lahti in 2015.

Monday, December 21, 2015

BOWL RECAP: USF Bulls fall to No. 25 Western Kentucky, 45-35

TAMPA -- Season offensive records were shattered as USF put on a show in a 45-35 shootout loss to No. 25 Western Kentucky at the Miami Beach Bowl on Monday afternoon.

The Bulls (8-5) exploded for 597 total yards in its impressive postseason return and nearly came back from a 17-point second-half deficit in front of a crowd of 21,712 filled with roaring Green and Gold at Marlins Park.

“The future is bright for USF football. There are a lot of guys returning next year,” said head coach Willie Taggart, who signed a three-year extension after bringing the Bulls back to their winning ways with seven victories in their final nine games this season.

Miami native Quinton Flowers put on a dazzling performance in his return home, throwing for a career-high 273 yards and a touchdown and rushing for two scores. The sophomore totaled 108 of USF’s 290 yards on the ground and set a new USF quarterback season record with 991 yards rushing, the sixth-best season mark overall, and 12 TD runs.

Sophomore Marlon Mack (Sarasota) also rushed for 108 yards – his record ninth 100-yard game of the year - and set a new USF season rushing record with 1,381 yards. 

Junior Rodney Adams (St. Petersburg) posted 130 receiving yards and a touchdown while breaking the program’s season receiving records with 822 yards and nine TD on the year. Adams added a 34-yard touchdown run that helped give USF a 14-0 lead in the second quarter.

USF set a new season record with 5,741 yards of total offense and fell 14 points shy of matching the program’s scoring record of 451 points set in 2007.

Conference USA champion WKU (12-2) took control of the game with 28 points in the third quarter and totaled 612 yards. Game MVP Brandon Doughty threw for 461 yards and three touchdowns, while Anthony Wales rushed for 105 yards and two touchdowns.

Back in a bowl game for the first time since 2010, USF seized the momentum early with 14 straight points and took a 14-10 lead into halftime.

USF started the scoring with a 12-yard touchdown run by Flowers with 5:21 remaining in the opening quarter. Flowers set a new USF season quarterback record for rushing TD passing Matt Grothe (10, 2007).

USF was back in business early in the second quarter following a 23-yard return on Nigel Harris’ first-career interception. The Bulls celebrated in the end zone five plays later after a career-long 34-yard touchdown run by Adams with 12:18 to go before halftime.

WKU followed with 10 unanswered points, but fell well short of its first-half season scoring averaging of 28.3 points.

USF has fooled opponents with trick plays all season and used another one to get right back in it in the third quarter. D’Ernest Johnson hooked up with Tyre McCants on a 34-yard halfback touchdown pass as USF cut its deficit to 24-21 with 4:55 remaining in the third quarter.

Down 38-21, USF roared back on a 14-0 run with most of the fourth quarter to go.

“I believed when we were 17 points down, I never lost faith,” Mack said. “Always keep fighting to the last minute.”

After grabbing USF’s season receiving record, Adams helped cut the Bulls’ deficit to 38-28 with a 53-yard touchdown catch with 14:53 to play. Flowers kept the comeback going with an 8-yard touchdown run with 11 minutes remaining.

Lee got the ball back for USF by intercepting a deflected pass on the ensuing drive and returned it to the 50-yard line. USF got as far as the WKU 36 and Nadelman’s game-tying 54-yard field goal attempt was long enough but sailed wide left with 5:58 to play.

WKU gained the distance it needed with a 42-yard touchdown run by Wales that helped put the Hilltoppers ahead, 45-35, with 5:09 to play.

Despite the loss, USF has shown the nation it’s back to being a major player on the college football scene with an incredible turnaround season.

“I’m very proud of this football team. I’m very proud of the seniors,” Taggart said. “I was excited they got a chance to be in a bowl game and disappointed that we didn’t get a win for them. The future is bright for USF Football. We have a lot of guys returning and we’ll get back to work.”

Sunday, December 20, 2015

NFL GAMEDAY: Falcons kick Jaguars 23-17

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (FSW) -- Shayne Graham kicked three field goals as the Atlanta Falcons held on for a 23-17 win over Jacksonville Sunday at EverBank Field.

Graham kicked a 34-yard field goal as time expired in the first half. The score was set up by a Blake Bortles' interception ran back 84 yards by Kemal Ishmeal. Graham added two in the final quarter.

The Falcons, reeling from a 38-0 loss last week to NFC South rival Carolina, had a 17-3 advantage at the half.

Bortles scored his second rushing touchdown in as many weeks to cut the visitors lead on the opening drive of the second half. Following a Matt Ryan interception by Paul Posluszny, Allen Robinson caught a 10-yard score from Bortles to tie the game.

Posluszny now has three interceptions this season tying Davon House for the club lead.

Atlanta's Devonta Freeman scored on a 5-yard run, is 12th touchdown of the season. Ryan threw an 11-yard TD pass to Julio Jones.

Jason Myers got the Jaguars in the scoreboard with a 42-yard field goal in the opening minute of the first quarter. 

RED FLAGS - Head coach Gus Bradley made two challenges in the game. He won both. Bortles was flagged for throwing a pass beyond the line of scrimmage. It was overturned And a crucial spot on a drive following Ryan's interception was also reversed.

ATLANTA GAME NOTES - Allen Robinson caught his 13th TD pass of the season...The Falcons lost starting defensive end Ra'Shede Hagemen and defensive tackle Grady Jarrett with shoulder injuries... Jacksonville lost defensive lineman Dan Skuda to a hamstring and safety Josh Evans with a knee injury in the second half...both the Falcons (6-7) and the Jaguars (5-8) are still in the playoff hunt...the Jaguars were 0-8 on third downs...attendance was announced as 64,016...the Jaguars fumbled three times, twice on the same drive inside their own 10. They recovered all three...Jaguars punter Brian Anger kicked a sixty yarder out of his own end zone.

UP NEXT - The Jaguars close out the regular season on the road at New Orleans and Houston.

BOWL RECAP: Spartans Rally Past Georgia State 27-16 in Inaugural Cure Bowl

ORLANDO, Fla. – Senior Tyler Ervin rushed for 132 yards and returned a punt for a touchdown as San Jose State rallied to defeat Georgia State 27-16 Saturday in the inaugural AutoNation Cure Bowl presented by Florida Hospital.

“We wanted to send our seniors off victoriously in their final game,” San Jose State Head Coach Ron Caragher said. “And it’s so fun to be part of a bowl with a philanthropic type of approach to the game, and giving to such a good cause, really is a blessing. It’s an honor and a privilege to be in this game.”

While Ervin did the heavy lifting, it was junior quarterback Kenny Potter who delivered in the clutch for the Spartans (6-7) to earn MVP honors. Just moments after Georgia State (6-7) had taken its only lead of the night, Potter ran for a 42-yard touchdown to put the Spartans back in front for good.

Potter then capped the win with a 1-yard TD pass to Josh Oliver with 2:40 left to play for the final margin in front of 18,536 fans at the Orlando Citrus Bowl Stadium.

“It was a team effort, completely, with the defense playing so well,” Potter said. “At the end, it was just an offense that we just stuck together and kept fighting. We kind of willed ourselves to the win, and that’s with our coaches trusting in us and it’s awesome. It was an awesome way to win, and it wasn’t the ideal way to win, but it was fantastic.”

The game featured a bounty of big plays on special teams, which was only appropriate on a night dedicated to raising money for a special cause.

During the game a spotlight was shined on the fight against breast cancer with survivors of the disease and family members included in pregame and halftime ceremonies.

In addition, AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson and his wife Alice, who is a breast cancer survivor, presented a check for $1 million to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF). 

The Orlando Sports Foundation, led by executive director Alan Gooch and president Megan Dowdy, also presented a check to the Myra Bibblowit, CEO of the BCRF and Dr. Annette Khaled of the UCF College of Medicine, for $150,000. That was the largest single donation ever made by a bowl game to a charitable cause.

The game got off to a slow start as the two teams spent the first quarter feeling each other out. It was mid-way through the second quarter, with San Jose State holding a 3-0 lead, when Ervin got the fireworks started with an 85-yard punt return for a touchdown.

It was the second punt return score of Ervin’s career and was a surprise momentum boost for the Spartans, who had just 14 yards on punt returns all season.

Once the lamp was lit, the fireworks kept coming. Georgia State senior quarterback Nick Arbuckle, who was the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year, completed three-of-four passes for 87 yards, the finial 38 on a touchdown strike to Donovan Harden for his 27th TD pass of the year.

The Georgia State scoring drive was highlighted by a pair of pass plays – one for 20 yards and another for 29 – to third string freshman tight end Ari Werts. Coming into the game, Werts had just two receptions on the season.

The Spartans took the 10-7 lead into halftime, but narrowly missed out on a touchdown on the final play of the half. Potter, who had just 89 passing yards in the game on 10-of-19 passes, threw up a “Hail Mary” on what would have been the final play of the half.

The pass was hauled in by junior Tim Crawley for an apparent touchdown, but the play was nullified by a penalty for an illegal block. 

The third quarter turned out to be much like the first, with only a 19-yard Austin Lopez field goal for SJSU with two seconds remaining in the quarter. The Georgia State defense forced the field goal, much like it had earlier in the game, with a tremendous goal-line stand.

After the Panthers were unable to move the ball early in the fourth quarter, it was time for the GSU special teams to come up big. Panthers punter Will Lutz delivered a perfect rugby-style punt that rolled dead at the San Jose State two.

Three plays failed to get the Spartans out of the shadow of their own end zone and a high snap on fourth down forced San Jose State punter Michael Carrizosa, who was a Ray Guy Award finalist, out of the end zone for a safety.

Georgia State kept the momentum from the big play of the Panthers’ defense. A 24-yard return by Harden on the free kick set GSU up at the Spartans’ 36. Four plays later, Arbuckle connected with Todd Boyd for a 19-yard touchdown to give Georgia State the lead 16-13 with 10:46 to play.

“I’m going to remember a bunch of guys that pulled together to take a team that’s been playing FBS football for three years and got themselves from 2-6 to a bowl game,” said Georgia State Head Coach Trent Miles. “That showed a team that would never quit, never gave up on each other, believed in what was going on.”

From there, Potter’s heroics took over. The junior led a three-play scoring drive by sprinting through the Panthers’ defense for a 42-yard touchdown to put the Spartans back on top.

After Georgia State tried, and failed, to convert on fourth down near midfield with just less than eight minutes to play, Potter took his team on another scoring drive, eating more than five minutes off the clock over 11 plays before passing for the clinching score.

San Jose State dominated time of possession in the game to win its fourth-consecutive bowl appearance, which is tied for the longest win streak in all FBS football. The Spartans ran 73 offensive plays, to just 49 for GSU, and held the ball for more than 38 minutes of game time.

Arbuckle closed his collegiate career by throwing for 208 yards and two scores, but he was sacked four times by the San Jose State defense and had an interception. He finished the season with 4,368 yards passing with 28 touchdowns, giving him career totals of 7,651 yards and 51 touchdowns.

Ervin, who was a first team All-Mountain West selection for the Spartans, closed out his senior season with 1,601 yards rushing and 2,637 all-purpose yards, both among the best in the nation.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

TAXSLAYER BOWL: Georgia Football Continues Bowl Prep

The Georgia football team continued preparations for the TaxSlayer Bowl against Penn State with a two-hour workout in full pads Friday at the Woodruff Practice Fields.

This was the third practice in as many days for the Bulldogs, who will workout in Athens four additional times before reconvening in Jacksonville.

“The last three days have been very good,” said interim head coach Bryan McClendon. “There has been a lot of energy, and competition has been going well. The guys are working hard at getting better fundamentally, and they all understand the importance of preparation each day."

Earlier in the day, 13 current or former Bulldogs earned their degrees at Georgia’s fall commencement held at Stegeman Coliseum. 

The football student-athletes who received their degrees were Patrick Beless, Devin Bowman, Kennar Daniels-Johnson, Cameron Faulkner, Merritt Hall, Hunter Long, Keith Marshall, Chris Mayes, Malcolm Mitchell, Jay Rome, Justin Scott-Wesley, Ben Souther and Rantavious Wooten.

Georgia (9-3) is looking to win 10 games in a season for the 22nd time in school history. The seniors enter the bowl with 39 wins over the last four years, and the Bulldogs will be making their 51st appearance in a bowl game when they take on Penn State (7-5). Georgia is also playing in a bowl for a school-record 19th consecutive season.

The TaxSlayer Bowl will kick off at noon on ESPN on Saturday, Jan. 2. The broadcast team includes Allan Bestwick (play-by-play), Dan Hawkins (analyst) and Tiffany Greene (sidelines).


Friday, December 18, 2015

NASL: Armada FC Strengthens Backline With Addition of Navarro

The Jacksonville Armada FC announced the signing of defender Beto Navarro.

Navarro’s addition to the 2016 roster adds yet another level of experience and continues to showcase head coach and technical director Tony Meola’s commitment to strengthening the backline.

"Beto brings us experience in the back,” Meola said. “He is a player who has proven over the last three years that he knows how to win. He comes with a high soccer IQ and lives to play the game. I would describe Beto as a steady and solid professional that fans will appreciate watching in an Armada jersey."

A defender with Southern California roots, Navarro comes to Jacksonville after helping lead USL side Orange County Blues to the 2015 Western Conference regular season title. He started 22 matches and logged 1,926 minutes of action. 

In 2012, Navarro played with amateur club Cal FC, coached by U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame player Eric Wynalda, and helped lead the team through an improbable run in the U.S. Open Cup, which included wins over the USL’s Wilmington Hammerheads and MLS’ Portland Timbers before falling to MLS’ Seattle Sounders FC in the fourth round.

Earlier this week the Armada signed of forward Alex Dixon.

Dixon, who hails from Humble, Texas, played three seasons in Major League Soccer with the Houston Dynamo and also trained in the U.S. National Team U-17 residency program.

He arrives in Jacksonville after spending 2014 and 2015 with the USL’s Rochester Rhinos. In 2015, he helped lead the club to one of the best seasons in USL history.


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

USF NOTEBOOK: Bulls Look to Down JU Dolphins in Sun Dome

TAMPA  – USF will go for its fifth straight win in its series with Jacksonville Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Sun Dome.

The two programs will meet for the 47th time, the third-most played series for the Bulls behind UAB (58) and Charlotte (53). USF leads the all-time series, 25-21, with a 13-7 advantage in Tampa, including last year’s 79-65 win on Nov. 29.

USF (2-8) is looking to break a three-game losing skid and also is trying for win No. 600 in program history. The Bulls are 599-693 in 45 years of basketball.

Jacksonville (4-6) is coming off an 81-74 loss at South Carolina State on Saturday and will be looking for its second road win of the season.

Freshman Jahmal McMurray continues to lead the Bulls in scoring. The Topeka, Kan., native is averaging 12.3 points per game, which ranks 16th in the American Athletic Conference, the second-best among freshmen. He is coming off a game-high 13 points in USF’s latest game, a 65-46 loss to NC State. McMurray has scored in double-figures in eight of USF’s 10 games played.

Just as McMurray has led the USF backcourt, Jaleel Cousins has led the Bulls’ frontcourt with 9.5 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game. The senior center is averaging 10.5 points and 10.5 rebounds over the last four games.

SCHEDULE STRENGTH - USF's strength of schedule is ranked No. 35 according to the NCAA. The Bulls have played three teams ranked in the top 50 RPI; No. 9 George Washington, No. 12 Kentucky and No. 26 South Carolina.

USF QUICK NOTES - Roddy Peters is out indefinitely after suffering a fractured left foot against NC State on Sunday. USF ranks second in the conference with 6.40 blocks per game. Over the last four games, USF has averaged 20.6 points in the first half and 38.8 points in the second half. Three of USF’s top five scorers are newcomers: Jahmal McMurray, 12.2, Roddy Peters, 9.8, Angel Nunez, 8.1.

JU QUICK NOTES - Jacksonville has won two of its last three games, including its lone road win, 86-82 at Jacksonville State. Darius Dawkins is shooting 51.3 percent (36-76) from 3-point range, which ranks third in the Atlantic Sun Conference. Kori Babineaux (17.3, 2nd), Marcel White (17.0, 4th) and Darius Dawkins (15.2, 9th) rank among the top 10 in the Atlantic Sun Conference in scoring.

COLLEGE HOOPS: Ospreys Stay Unbeaten in UNF Arena with 94-72 Win over FIU

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The North Florida basketball team remained undefeated at home this season following a dominating performance in a 94-72 victory over FIU Monday night in UNF Arena.

The Ospreys, who are 5-0 at home this year and extended their current home win streak to 12 games, improved to 8-4 on the season behind a strong second half showing on both ends of the court. UNF shot 51 percent from the floor while holding the Panthers (4-6) to just 39 percent including a 1-for-11 showing from long range in the closing half.

UNF had five players reach double digits led by a pair of 20-point scorers. Dallas Moore led the way with 21 points followed by Demarcus Daniels with 20, marking the senior's second straight 20-plus outing. Beau Beech finished with 17 highlighted by four three-pointers in the second half while Trent Mackey hit four treys en route to 13 points and Chris Davenport added 12.

North Florida ended the game with 19 assists on 33 baskets and five different players had multi-assist totals. Mackey topped the team with five while Davenport added four. Daniels swatted a season-high five shots to move within 11 of the UNF career record of 145 held by Matt Sauey.

"I was really impressed with the mentality of the guys tonight," said head coach Matthew Driscoll, who was celebrating his 51st birthday. "We did a great job of not letting missed shots affect our focus on the defensive end. I thought we did a great job of getting stop after stop despite missing some shots we normally make. The team continues to be so unselfish and that sharing the ball makes a tough guard for anybody. We continue to work and get better and find ways to improve defensively and on the glass."

The Panthers grabbed the early momentum behind the play of senior Adrian Diaz, the younger brother of former UNF standout Andy Diaz. The FIU center made his presence felt around the basket picking up several second chance points on offensive rebounds while altering UNF shots in the lane.

Trailing 29-28 with just over six minutes left in the opening period, the Ospreys used an 8-0 run to take a lead they would never relinquish. Daniels got the spurt started with an old-fashioned three-point play followed by a Beech triple and a pair of free throws. UNF would close the stanza with another surge and carried a 45-36 lead into the half.

Minutes into the second half UNF had pushed its lead to double digits and FIU would only get as close as 10 points once, 70-60, over the final 15 minutes of play. The Ospreys would lead by as many as 25 points down the stretch.

North Florida continues its current four-game home stand Wednesday against Austin Peay at 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

NFL: Second half surge helps Jaguars throttle Colts, 51-16

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Playing the Andrew Luck-less Colts, Jacksonville routed AFC South rival Indianapolis 51-16 at EverBank Field Sunday. The win set a club regular season record for most points scored.

The Jaguars kept their playoff hopes alive with Rashad Greene's 73-yard punt return that competed a 10-point swing and gave Jacksonville a lead they never relinquished.

Luck, the Colts' starting QB, is out with abdominal injuries suffered in a victory over Denver. That left it up to veteran backup Matt Hasselbeck who led the Colts to a 16-13 OT win over the Jaguars in October.

Trailing 16-13 entering the second half, Jaguars' QB Blake Bortles threw an 80-yard TD pass to Allen Hurns. Later he would add a four yard score to Allen Robinson. 

Bortles had a record setting day with threeTD passes including tight end Julius Thomas' fifth of the season and scored on a one-yard run.. 

Adam Vinatiera's 32-yard field goal was the most points the Colts could muster in the third quarter. 

The end of the first half was highlighted by two miscues. 

The Colts' Robert Mathis recovered a bad snap in the Jaguars' end zone to give the visitors a 13-3 lead. But Andre Branch stripped Hasselbeck on the next possession and returned the ball 49 yards to cut the lead at the half.

Indianapolis (6-7) already led Jacksonville (5-8) on Vinatiera's second field goal of the game, a 21-yarder with 13:47 to play in the second quarter. 

Earlier the Colts tied the contest on a 25-yard field goal by Vinatieri with 7:47 to play in the opening quarter. Hasselbeck's 57-yard pass to T.Y. Hilton set up the score. Hilton caught three passes for 112 yards in the first half.

Jacksonville jumped out to a 3-0 lead. Jason Myers' kicked a 46-yard field goal with 11:17 to play in the first quarter. T.J. Yeldon ran for 28 yards and Bortles completed a 17-yard pass to Clay Harbor for the longest gain of the drive.

COLTS GAME NOTES: Denard Robinson scored his first TD of the season on a one-yard run...Jacksonville running back T.J. Yeldon left the game with a knee injury....the Jaguars were 0-6 on third downs in the first half...Blake Bortles had two fumbles in the first half.... Jason Myers missed the extra point on Branch's TD...Hurns TD catch was the longest play from scrimmage for the Jaguars this season and a career high for Bortles and Hurns....announced crowd was 62,372...Colts' third string QB Charlie Whitehurst came in for an injured (rib) Hasselbeck in the fourth quarter.

UP NEXT: The Jaguars close out the home regular season against Atlanta Sunday at 1 p.m. The Falcons (6-7) were shutout by Carolina 38-0 in their last game. Jacksonville's final two games are on the road.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

AFL: Sharks Announce 2016 Schedule

JACKSONVILLE – The Arena Football League’s 2015 American Conference Champions Jacksonville Sharks announced the team’s 2016 schedule on Thursday. 

This year marks the 29th season of the AFL and the 7th season for the Sharks since they joined the league in 2010. The 2016 schedule fits an April to August window allowing fans to experience football year-round with a new post season format that will result in 4 teams hosting an additional home game. 

The Sharks will begin the 2016 season on the road against the Los Angeles KISS Saturday, April 2nd, with the Sharks’ home opener set for Friday, April 15th against in-state rival, the Orlando Predators. The Sharks last appearance against Orlando ended with the Sharks defeating the Predators 55-33 to advance to the American Conference Championship.

The season opener against Los Angeles is part of a two-game road trip that will also involve the Philadelphia Soul before the Sharks reach the highly anticipated home match-up against Orlando. Along with traveling to Los Angeles and Philadelphia the Sharks will also face road games against the Tampa Bay Storm, Cleveland Gladiators, Orlando Predators, Arizona Rattlers, and Portland Thunder. In addition to the road games for the Sharks this season, Jacksonville will face Orlando twice at home, the first for the home opener and the second game will occur June 18th at Sea Best Field.

The new schedule will allow the Sharks to play each AFL team twice in the season with a unique three game matchup with Orlando and two bye weeks during the regular season. Jacksonville looks to benefit from its early season road schedule as the Sharks will play their last two regular season games with back-to-back home games facing Los Angeles July 23rd and capping off the regular season against Tampa Bay July 30th.  Three of Jacksonville’s last five regular season games will be played at Sea Best Field. The Sharks heavy season ending home schedule will play a major role in the Sharks pursuit of their 6th post-season in seven years.

The AFL will continue its national broadcast partnerships with ESPN and CBS Sports Network, with the national broadcast schedule to be released as early as next week.

The Jacksonville Sharks look continue their success in the AFL as the league plans on significant team expansions with overall league growth on the horizon. Jacksonville’s full 2016 schedule is listed below, though dates and times are subject to change. All times listed are Eastern.

Jacksonville Sharks 2016 Schedule

Week 1: at Los Angeles (Saturday, April 2nd 10:00 p.m.)

Week 2: at Philadelphia (Monday, April 11th 7:00 p.m.)

Week 3: Orlando (Friday, April 15th 8:00 p.m.)

Week 4: Arizona (Saturday, April 23rd 7:00 p.m.)

Week 5: at Tampa Bay (Sunday, May 1st 2:00 p.m.)

Week 6: at Cleveland (Friday, May 6th 7:00 p.m.)

Week 7: Bye Week

Week 8: Portland (Saturday, May 21st 7:00 p.m.)

Week 9: at Orlando (Saturday, May 28th 7:30 p.m.)

Week 10: Philadelphia (Saturday, June 4th 7:00 p.m.)

Week 11: at Tampa Bay (Saturday, June 11th 5:00 p.m.)

Week 12: Orlando (Saturday, June 18th 7:00 p.m.)

Week 13: Cleveland (Saturday, June 25th 7:00 p.m.)

Week 14: Bye Week

Week 15: at Arizona (Saturday, July 9th 9:00 p.m.)

Week 16: at Portland (Saturday, July 16th 10:00 p.m.)

Week 17: Los Angeles (Saturday, July 23rd 7:00 p.m.)

Week 18: Tampa Bay (Saturday, July 30th 7:00 p.m.)

Friday, December 11, 2015

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Four Game Home Stand Tips Off Saturday for Ospreys

JACKSONVILLE -- The North Florida basketball team opens up a season-long four game home stand Saturday as the Ospreys welcome Coastal Georgia to UNF Arena at 7 p.m.

The Ospreys return to the hardwood following a week off from competition for fall semester exams. UNF enters the game at 6-4 and looking to snap a two-game losing skid after dropping games at LSU and Dayton last week. North Florida is carrying a 10-game win streak at home into the contest.

Junior Dallas Moore leads a group of five players in double digits averaging an Atlantic Sun leading 20.8 points per game this season. Senior Beau Beech averages 16.4 points per game and is coming off a week where he averaged making 5.7 three-pointers per game. Other double-digit scorers for UNF include seniors Trent Mackey (12.7), and Demarcus Daniels (11.4) along with junior Chris Davenport (11.3).

Coastal Georgia enters the contest at 4-7 after losing their last five games including an 89-87 loss to Edward Waters in their last outing on Dec. 1. The Mariners are led by Dominic Early, who averages 23.7 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.

Prior to tip-off on Saturday, the UNF Athletic Department will observe a moment of silence in memory of Kent Bell, the longtime scoreboard operator at UNF. In addition, Moore will be presented a ball commemorating his 1,000th career point.

After hosting Coastal Georgia, North Florida continues its stretch of four games in eight days on Monday against in-state foe FIU. The Ospreys will also host Austin Peay (Dec. 16) and Florida A&M (Dec. 19).

COLLEGE BOWL NEWS: Taggart To Cover Miami Beach Bowl Ticket Price

Willie Taggart
TAMPA, Fla. – The USF student section was a big part of the Bulls posting a 5-1 home record, equaling their best in 13 years, and Head Coach Willie Taggart wants to bring that energy to the Miami Beach Bowl.

The third-year head coach of the Bulls will cover the ticket costs for 500 USF students to attend the Bulls’ first bowl game in five seasons on Monday, Dec. 21 at Marlins Park in Miami. 

The first 500 USF students to purchase a bowl game ticket, including those already purchased, will have the $20 cost of that ticket reimbursed after attending the bowl game by Taggart. 

“I just want to say thank you to all the USF students that made Ray Jay rock this season and I can’t wait to see them all in Miami and turn Marlins Park into Ray Jay South,” Taggart said. “The students are a huge part of our success and we want them to come down and get No. 9 with us. 

The Bulls (8-4) will take on Taggart’s alma mater and No. 25-ranked Western Kentucky (11-2), winners of the Conference USA Championship Game, in a 2:30 p.m. kickoff live on ESPN. 

The game will pit two of the most exciting offenses in college football against each other with both teams averaging better than 51 points and 500 yards per game in their last three outings. Memphis defeated BYU 55-48 in double overtime in the inaugural Miami Beach bowl last year.

General public Miami Beach Bowl tickets are $68.75 (fees included) and may be reserved by visiting or calling 1-800-GoBulls. Further information on USF’s bowl schedule and activities surrounding the bowl can be found at

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Campbell helps lead Saints past Eagles, 60-48

DAYTONA BEACH – DeAsha Campbell’s career-high 21 points helped Flagler College rally past Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, 60-48, in a non-conference women’s basketball game Friday morning on “Education Day” at the ICI Center.

Flagler extended its winning streak to three games and improved to 4-1 overall. Embry-Riddle, who is reclassifying to NCAA Division II, suffered its third consecutive loss and fell to 3-5.

The Saints out-scored the Eagles 13-3 in the third quarter to pull away from a tie score at the half (28-28). Flagler held Embry-Riddle to one field goal (1-13) in the quarter and the Eagles missed all five free throw attempts. 

Embry-Riddle held a 17-13 lead at the end of the first quarter. 

Flagler forced 24 Embry-Riddle turnovers in the entire game and converted those into 20 points.

Campbell tallied 14 of her 21 points in the first and fourth quarters (seven points in each). Campbell sank 10-of-12 free throws. Tiffany Hodge added nine points and grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds. Alex Alford scored a season-high 13 points. Allie Mano contributed nine points, four rebounds and four steals. 

Flagler cashed in at the free throw line as the Saints made 22-of-32 attempts. 

Sabrina Whiting led the Eagles with 14 points before fouling out of the game. Laniere Coleman added 10 points, five rebounds and four blocked shots. Mercedes Judge and Kalah Martin each grabbed eight rebounds. 

Flagler hosts Florida Tech on Tuesday (Dec. 15) at 2 p.m

Thursday, December 10, 2015

USF Basketball to Celebrate Hispanic Community Sunday

In a celebration of the Bay Area and USF Hispanic community, USF’s men’s and women’s basketball teams will wear special uniforms for the doubleheader on Sunday at the Sun Dome.

White uniforms with the words “Los Toros” written in green will be worn by the women’s team in their noon game against Chattanooga and by the men’s team in their 4 p.m. game against NC State.

The theme for the doubleheader is Uniendo Los Toros, which in English reads, Uniting The Bulls, a play on USF’s theme Bulls Unite. It will be a celebration and recognition of community and campus members that have had a significant impact in the Hispanic community. 

Among the recognitions will be the Status of Latinos Committee on campus and the Mayor’s Hispanic Advisory Council in Tampa.

USF is the only NCAA Division I school with a Hispanic-American leading both its men’s and women’s basketball program. 

Orlando Antigua, born in the Dominican Republic, is one of only three Hispanic head coaches in NCAA Division I men’s basketball. Jose Fernandez, born in Cuba, is believed to be the only Hispanic head coach in NCAA Division I women’s basketball.

COLLEGE BOWL NEWS: Georgia, Penn State to meet in TaxSlayer Bowl

Heather Duncan, chairwoman of the TaxSlayer Bowl, announced Sunday that Penn State will play Georgia in the 2016 edition on Jan. 2.

The Nittany Lions and the Bulldogs were selected for just their second all-time meeting. The only other meeting between the teams came in the 1983 Sugar Bowl when the Nittany Lions claimed a 27-23 win over Georgia to claim their first National Championship.

That game featured "The Catch," a 48-yard diving touchdown reception by wide receiver Gregg Garrity from Todd Blackledge to give the Lions a 27-17 lead.

"This is an exciting opportunity for our team and especially our seniors in a great facility and warm weather city," said Georgia interim head coach Bryan McClendon. "It will be a chance to record another ten-win season and we're looking forward to playing Penn State which is one of the iconic brands in college football. They are very rich in tradition and have had a successful season."

McClendon took over for Mark Richt who left the program at the end of the season. He is now head coach at Miami.

Georgia is 9-3 overall with a 5-3 mark in SEC play. The Bulldogs have SEC wins over Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Missouri, Kentucky and Auburn. They finished the regular season with a 13-7 win over in-state rival Georgia Tech.

"We are excited to be heading to the TaxSlayer Bowl," Penn State head coach James Franklin said. "We are looking forward to this opportunity to keep our family together for another month and spend more time with this fantastic group of seniors. Jacksonville is a great destination for our fans and we would love to see Nittany Nation in full force."

Franklin guided the Nittany Lions to a 7-5 regular season record to become bowl eligible for the second consecutive season and 46th time overall. The Nittany Lions' coach has guided all five of his teams as a head coach to a bowl appearance.

 “Both Penn State and Georgia have storied football programs with fantastic fan bases,” Duncan noted.  “We are thrilled to host these two top-notch teams and their players, coaches and fans in Jacksonville for a great day of football.”

BEEN THERE, DONE THAT - The Bulldogs have made four previous trips to the Gator Bowl. Georgia and Maryland tied, 20-20, Jan. 1, 1948, the `Dogs defeated North Carolina, 7-3, Dec. 31, 1971, Georgia defeated Michigan State, 34-27, Jan. 1, 1989, and the Bulldogs suffered a 24-19 loss to Nebraska in the 2014 TaxSlayer Bowl game. This will be Penn State's fifth appearance in the former the Gator Bowl, with the last time coming in 1976 when the Nittany Lions fell to Notre Dame, 20-9. Penn State is 1-2-1 all-time in the Gator Bowl. The Lions made back-to-back Gator Bowl appearances in 1961 with a win over Georgia Tech (30-15) and in 1962 with a loss to Florida (17-7). Penn State also tied Florida State (17-17) in the 1967 Gator Bowl.

The game will air on ESPN. The 71st Annual TaxSlayer Bowl will be played on Jan. 2, 2016 at noon at EverBank Field. Tickets and Bowl information are available online at

STATE SCHOOLS BOWL SCHEDULE - Monday, Dec. 21, Miami Beach Bowl (2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN): South Florida vs. Western Kentucky; Saturday, Dec. 26, Hyndai Sun Bowl (2 p.m. ET, CBS): Miami vs. Washington State; Thursday, Dec. 31, Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl (noon ET, ESPN): No. 18 Houston vs. No. 9 Florida State; Friday, Jan. 1, Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl (1 p.m. ET, ESPN2): No. 19 Florida vs. No. 14 Michigan.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: McElwain Named 2015 SEC Coach of the Year

Jim McElwain
University of Florida head football coach Jim McElwain has been named the 2015 SEC Coach of the year, the league announced on Wednesday afternoon.

In earning his first SEC Coach of the Year honor, McElwain has guided the Florida Gators to a 10-3 record and their first SEC East Division Title since 2009. McElwain is only the third first-year coach in SEC history to reach the SEC Championship game, joining LSU's Les Miles (2005) and Auburn's Gus Malzhan (2013).

The former head coach at Colorado State took over the program in January after the Gators had finished 11-13 the past two years and led the Gators back into the national spotlight behind a superb defensive unit. 

McElwain is the first UF coach to earn the honor since Will Muschamp in 2012. The Gator football program has had six coaches win the award in its history.

McElwain and the Florida Gators continue their season at the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl on Jan. 1. The Gators will face the Michigan Wolverines at 1 p.m. on ABC.

UF SEC Coach of the Year Award Winners
1960-Ray Graves
1980-Charley Pell
1984-Galen Hall
1990-Steve Spurrier (First season as Florida head coach)
1991-Steve Spurrier
1994-Steve Spurrier
1995-Steve Spurrier
1996-Steve Spurrier
2012-Will Muschamp
2015-Jim McElwain (First season as Florida head coach)

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Ian Shields named JU football coach

-Former Lenoir-Rhyne head football coach Ian Shields has been named new head coach at JU.

At Lenoir-Rhyne he compiled a 17-6 record, won a conference championship, was named the South Atlantic Conference Coach of the Year, and twice had his offense lead the nation in rushing.

This past season, the Bears finished 6-5 (5-5), had six players named All-Conference, and saw All-American offensive lineman Joe Ray named a finalist for the Gene Upshaw Trophy as the top lineman in Division II. Ray also won the Jacobs Trophy as the top lineman in the South Atlantic Conference.

In his first year, the Bears finished with an 11-1 record and were 7-0 in conference play. The Bears also won a fourth straight league title, earned the top seed in Super Region No. 2 for the second straight season and garnered a No. 8 final national ranking in the AFCA NCAA Division II Coaches Poll. During the season, the Bears were ranked as high as third in the country.

Shields joined  Lenoir-Rhyne after spending five seasons as the associate head coach and offensive coordinator at Army from 2009-13.

A 1994 graduate of Oregon State University and former quarterback for the Beavers, Shields began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Oregon State working with the Beavers' linebackers, tight ends, quarterbacks and running backs, while assisting with OSU's special teams during that three-season stay.

Monday, December 7, 2015

COLLEGE BOWL NEWS: Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl Approaches Sellout

Just over 24 hours after announcing its 2016 matchup, the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl is nearing a sellout.

At the time of this release, only single tickets remain available. To accommodate the additional demand, Florida Citrus Sports is adding additional seating on the Plaza Deck of the north end zone of the Orlando Citrus Bowl Stadium. Ticket sales for this area will go on sale tomorrow morning (Tuesday), by 9:00 a.m. through Ticketmaster.

Once sold, this will mark the second-fastest sellout in bowl history and the first for a college football game in the new stadium.

In addition to its success selling Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl tickets, Florida Citrus Sports’ other bowl game – the Russell Athletic Bowl – is selling at a brisk pace, having already sold over 2,000 tickets more than last year’s game. Fans can still purchase tickets to the game between Baylor and North Carolina by calling Ticketmaster or ordering online ( Groups of 10 or more may call the Florida Citrus Sports offices at 407.423.2476.

The Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl takes place on January 1, 2016 at 1:00 p.m. and is televised on ABC.  The Russell Athletic Bowl is held on December 29, 2015 at 5:30 p.m. and airs nationally on ESPN.

COLLEGE BOWL NEWS: Tennessee Headed Back To Outback Bowl

The University of Tennessee football team is headed to the 30th annual Outback Bowl in Tampa, Florida as the Vols accepted an invitation to play the Northwestern Wildcats on Friday, Jan. 1, 2016. The game will kickoff at 12 Noon ET and air on ESPN2 live from Raymond James Stadium. 
“We are extremely excited about the opportunity to be selected to play in the Outback Bowl on New Year’s Day,” said Vice Chancellor/Director of Athletics Dave Hart. "I hope our fans are energized and as excited about this announcement as our team is.  We have the most loyal fan base in the country and there’s no doubt we will have plenty of Tennessee orange in Tampa.   The Outback Bowl has a long, storied history of exciting games and Jim McVay and the Tampa Bay Bowl Association do a great job hosting the event each year.  
“Butch Jones has our football program moving in the right direction, and playing in back-to-back New Year’s bowl games in Florida is further verification of the progress that is being made.   This team has shown steady improvement throughout the season and we are looking forward to the challenge of playing another team ranked in the Top 15 in Northwestern.”
The Vols are making their 51st all-time bowl appearance, tying for fourth all-time in college football history. Butch Jones has led the Vols to consecutive bowl appearances following last season’s 45-28 dominating victory over Iowa in the TaxSlayer Bowl on Jan. 2, 2015. 
“We are very excited and looking forward to representing the University of Tennessee, the state of Tennessee and all of Vol Nation in the 30th Annual Outback Bowl,” said head coach Butch Jones. “This will be a great opportunity and challenge for our football program as we will be facing the 12th-ranked football team in the country in Northwestern."
Tennessee rides a five-game winning streak into the bowl after posting an 8-4 regular-season record. The win streak and the regular-season win totals are the most since the 2007 season when the Vols also appeared in the Outback Bowl. Tennessee heads into the bowl ranked #23 in the College Football Playoff poll. 
The Vols and Wildcats have played once before with Tennessee posting a 48-28 win in the 1997 Florida Citrus Bowl led by Peyton Manning’s 408 passing yards and four touchdown passes. 
This is the Vols' fourth all-time appearance in the Outback  Bowl (previously known as the Hall of Fame Bowl). The Vols are 2-1 all-time in those games, winning their last appearance in the bowl, 21-17, over Wisconsin on Jan. 1, 2008. Tennessee also beat Boston College in the 1993 Hall of Fame Bowl, 38-23. The Vols lost the 2007 bowl to Penn State, 20-10. 
In playing on New Year’s Day, Tennessee is playing in its 33rd January Bowl game and second in a row.