No. 13 USC overcomes Utah with second half comeback, defensive stand

first_imgThe air in the Coliseum hummed with energy as both teams jogged onto the field in the final seconds of the fourth quarter.Despite taking a 28-21 lead late in the game, the Trojans had allowed the Utes to storm back for a touchdown drive to tie the game with less than a minute to play. Now, Utah had decided the risk wasn’t worth it — the team was going for the two-point conversion.But redshirt senior safety Chris Hawkins was ready. “Once they came out of that formation, we kind of had an idea what they were going to run,” he said.Ajene Harris tackles Utah’s Troy Williams to seal the game for USC – Brian Chin | Daily TrojanThe center snapped the ball, and quarterback Troy Williams rolled right. Hawkins jumped his receiver, and Williams was forced to run. There was a moment of silence as the crowd held its breath, watching the foot race between the Utah quarterback and redshirt junior Ajene Harris to the right corner of the end zone. Then Harris dove into a tackle, and the crowd exploded in roars as the pair fell to the ground just short of the goal line. The Trojans had escaped once again.In a game that highlighted all of the Trojans’ strengths and weaknesses, the Trojans held off Utah at home with a 28-27 victory.“Players win games,” head coach Clay Helton said. “Our players made the decision to define our football team in the second half. Our kids found a way to win a critical game for us. Great quarterbacks find a way to produce wins and …. it was a total team victory.”The first half consisted of a handful of solid plays mixed in with a healthy serving of fumbles, missed tackles and botched plays. Time and time again, redshirt sophomore quarterback Sam Darnold and the offense marched the ball down the field into scoring position, only to cough the ball up for a turnover.The offense notched 262 yards in the first half, but mistakes in Utah territory piled up. Darnold and junior running back Ronald Jones muffed a hand off for a fumble, and Darnold dropped the ball while scrambling for another turnover. In the second quarter, he attempted a backwards pass that smacked Jones straight in the facemask and resulted in a turnover.“I didn’t really get in rhythm in the first half,” Darnold said. “That’s just me making mistakes. You’re not supposed to win football games when you turn the ball … but I think if I can just control the ball then we’ll be able to match up with any team in the country.”Although the offense shone in spurts, it put together only one complete drive in the first half. Darnold threw to junior wide receiver Deontay Burnett for 21 yards to give the Trojans position on the half line. He followed with a short pass up the gut to junior tight end Tyler Petite, who hustled his way untouched into the end zone, tying the game 7-7.Tyler Petite rushes for a touchdown against Utah – Katie Chin | Daily TrojanThe offense, however, wasn’t able to convert the scoring drive into momentum. And unlike in past games, the defense wasn’t able to take a stalwart stand to make up for offensive errors.Junior linebacker Cam Smith opened the game by smacking down an interception to avoid a touchdown deep into Trojan territory, but the team struggled to stop the run game and showed vulnerabilities to deep balls. Junior cornerback Iman Marshall earned a pair of critical pass interference calls, and Utah capitalized on breakout drives. The Utes closed down the half with a 21-7 lead, and the Trojans were greeted by boos as they jogged slowly into the locker room.In the locker room, however, the team didn’t focus on the struggles of the first half. Head coach Clay Helton told the team to approach the second half the same as always — as if the first half didn’t exist and the score was 0-0. Then, Hawkins turned up music — “Knuck If You Buck” by Crime Mob, he said — and told his teammates to find their energy.“The message was to go out there and have fun,” Smith, a fellow captain, said. “It’s football. We started out pretty flat on both sides of the ball and that’s not how football should be played. We need that spark.”The Trojans took the dismay of the first half and built from it. As the second half began, the team saw steady improvement on both sides of the ball. Despite allowing 21 points in the first, the defense locked down and refused to allow another point. And after a shaky start, Darnold lit up the offense, beginning with a touchdown drive in the midst of the third quarter.The pocket collapsed almost immediately, and pash rushers converged from either side. Darnold dodged two tackles, ducking under arms and side stepping bodies to toss a pass into double coverage directly into the hands of Petite. The crowd roared, almost surprised — it had been awhile since Trojan fans had seen this side of Darnold, cool and collected under this amount of pressure.Darnold showed similar composure in the fourth quarter’s tying drive. On third-and-10 at midfield, he threw a first down pass that Burnett hauled in despite getting trucked in mid-air. He followed with a scrambling 20-yard pass to Steven Mitchell, then rolled right from the one-yard line to float an easy pass to Josh Falo to bring the score to 21-21.“The balance of the run game finally came together,” Helton said. “You feel just the start of wearing down the defensive line. All of a sudden they started to pop.”Running back Ronald Jones II does a front flip into the end zone to give USC the lead in the fourth quarter – Katie Chin | Daily TrojanAfter trailing by double digits for almost two quarters, the Trojans surged ahead with less than five minutes in the final quarter. With the run game back in rhythm, Jones and redshirt freshman running back Vavae Malepeai ripped off long runs to push the Trojans down into the red zone. Jones dashed five yards up the gut of the defense, flipping across the goal line to pull the Trojans ahead, 28-21. Jones leapt to his feet, howling at the student section and beating his chest as the scoreboard lit up to give the Trojans a six-point lead.last_img read more

Brandon Berry, Syracuse pass-catchers up in this week’s stock watch

first_imgWith Saturday’s 41-3 win over FCS opponent Holy Cross, Syracuse (3-2, 0-1 Atlantic Coast) won back-to-back games for the first time this season.SU’s offense carried over its success from last week’s victory over Western Michigan, scoring 17 points in the first quarter alone. Meanwhile, Syracuse held the Crusaders to just 18 total yards rushing on 32 attempts and forced a fumble on a punt return, extending its turnover streak to 19 games. Syracuse was able to substitute in many of its backups throughout the game, including true freshmen playmakers Jawhar Jordan and Courtney Jackson, who recorded their first career stats. All-ACC punter Sterling Hofrichter even earned an attempt at his first field goal since 2017, which he drilled from 52 yards out.Here’s whose stock is up or down after the Orange’s dominating win over the Crusaders.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAlso a true freshman, Benson broke off the Orange’s longest play from scrimmage of the season thus far, a 70-yard catch and run touchdown in the fourth quarter. Benson, who had to be brought up to speed quicker than usual this summer thanks to SU’s thin depth at the tight end position, had just two catches entering the game, both against Clemson. The former 100-meter dash champion in high school caught a pass over the middle from Tommy DeVito and outran the entire Holy Cross defense, notching Syracuse’s fifth and final touchdown of the game. With starting tight end Aaron Hackett’s two touchdowns last week plus another versus the Crusaders, Benson’s score continued SU’s recent trend of getting tight ends involved in the passing game. After disappearing a few weeks ago against Clemson and struggling during SU’s win over Western Michigan, Harris broke out for his best game ever at Syracuse on Saturday. His 107 yards receiving were both a game-high and a career-high, and he caught his first touchdown of the season with a 47-yard snag in the third quarter. After setting program records for freshmen in catches and receiving yards last season, Harris had taken a backseat in the passing game to Trishton Jackson through the first four games this year. Despite his bumpy start to the season, Harris is now second on the team in catches (17) and yards (270), trailing Jackson in both categories. Berry arguably benefited from the extended playing time SU’s backups received the most. The senior recorded five tackles, 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble in his career-best game in Orange. The Griffin, Georgia native played all 12 games and started six during his sophomore year in 2017, accounting for 28 tackles, but failing to record a sack. Last season was even less productive for the defensive lineman, as he made just four total tackles in 12 games. In his first four appearances this year, he amassed five tackles, including three against No. 1 Clemson, but had failed to make any significant impact prior to his big day against the Crusaders.Not one, but two Syracuse players were ejected from the game on Saturday after being penalized for targeting. First was backup defensive lineman Tyrell Richards, who was disqualified in the second quarter after drilling Holy Cross quarterback Connor Degenhardt in the shoulder with his helmet. Syracuse fans around the Carrier Dome booed in disagreement, while SU head coach Dino Babers appeared upset with the call as well. Then true freshman defensive lineman Drew Tuazama was ejected on a similar play, blowing up Crusaders’ backup quarterback Emmett Clifford with less than a minute left in the game. Neither play had any effect on the outcome of the game, but both left a bad taste in the mouth of Babers, who said after the win that he’s seen hits like the two penalties during Thanksgiving Day football games in the backyard.Graphics by Kevin Camelo | Co-Digital Editor Comments Published on September 30, 2019 at 10:07 pm Contact Eric: | @esblack34 Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

Alexander: Julio Urías’ suspension reignites debate over MLB’s domestic violence policy

first_imgThe woman said she fell and was not pushed, though witnesses said they saw a shove. TMZ reported that there was video of the incident, but there were also reports that MLB investigators had been denied access to that video.Related Articles Subsequently, the Los Angeles city attorney’s office deferred prosecution, on the conditions that Urías attend a hearing, commit no further acts of violence and participate in a 52-week domestic violence counseling program.Urías has chosen not to appeal the MLB suspension, and his statement Saturday released by the Players Association included a reference to his own “inappropriate conduct,” and the “proactive steps to help me grow as a person on and off the field, including attending counseling sessions.”There are some important distinctions here, which were of course occasionally lost in the nuance-free, instant-opinion environment of social media Saturday afternoon. Some Urías defenders claimed charges had been dropped. They weren’t. They were deferred. That verifies that something did happen, but only those who were there know the severity. By accepting the terms of deferral, and more recently by accepting the suspension, Urías acknowledges as much.But his own statement, presumably carefully crafted with the help of lawyers and/or PR people, sounded like something less than a full apology, although he likely was referring to the choice of accepting the penalty rather than appealing when he said, according to the statement: “It is important to me not to create uncertainty for my teammates as we approach the playoffs. Accepting the suspension is the best path to achieve that goal.” Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Is it wise to assume that when Urías makes his next appearance at Dodger Stadium – as he will, since the club seems to have no inclination to cut ties with him – that the reception will not be universally kind?When writing about this situation in May, after the initial arrest, I had a conversation with Melodie Kruspodin, prevention and policy director at Peace Over Violence, an L.A. volunteer organization committed to intervention, prevention education and emergency services for abuse and violence victims.She talked at the time about the importance of public conversations about domestic violence, and about how those “can make it easier for others to say, ‘Wow, I’m not alone. I’m not the only person that this is happening to.’ We’ve been making some progress in the types of conversations that we have, even with young people and teenagers, about what it means to be in a healthy relationship, what it means to treat your partner with respect, and that’s really been helping us to make some shifts as a community or as a society.”Is zero tolerance automatically the best approach? Kruspodin talked of how “as long as (individuals) can take accountability, recognize the mistakes that they make and really work to try and change their behavior, you know, then we need to be willing or open to perhaps looking at forgiveness.”That’s fair. But that forgiveness should go with (a) a full, public display of accountability, not just lip service, and (b) a public commitment to support victims and survivors of domestic violence and the agencies that serve them, as well as public service announcements – by the individual and the organization – to educate others.Those next steps are up to Urías and the Dodgers. We await their response. One response to that, from @erinscafe on Twitter: “Here’s the deal. It wasn’t nothing. And no matter what happened here, the message he’s sending is that the right choice is not to allow domestic violence allegations to become a distraction. He’s sorry he messed up the baseball.” How Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling topped the baseball podcast empire Dodgers hit seven home runs, sweep Colorado Rockies Cody Bellinger homer gives Dodgers their first walkoff win of season She is, by the way, a Dodger fan according to her timeline. Another commenter with the handle @abaseballchick added: “MLB sent a message and that message is they don’t take domestic abuse seriously enough.” As recently as Friday night, when Julio Urías pitched three innings of relief to secure a Dodgers victory in their series opener in Atlanta, any conversation involving the left-hander involved his possible role in the postseason. Would he be a key piece of the bullpen, or might he be used as a starter?Saturday afternoon, when the commissioner’s office announced that Urías had “accepted” a 20-game suspension resulting from a violation of the sport’s Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy, that changed. A hot button was pushed – re-pushed, actually – and who knows where this conversation will eventually end up?As a reminder: This goes back to an incident in May, when Urías was arrested on suspicion of shoving a woman (possibly his girlfriend) to the ground during an argument in a parking structure at the Beverly Center.He was booked, released on $20,000 bond and subsequently placed on administrative leave by MLB (the five games he missed at that time will be considered part of the suspension already served). These are baseball fans expressing dismay, or at least discomfort. Not all are female, either. Someone with the handle @TheDodgerRon pointed out: “The amount of young men on here defending Julio Urias is disappointing to say the least. When your SO (significant other) wants to leave you don’t impede their path, don’t grab their arm and you don’t shove them to the ground. Perhaps a little counseling will do you some good as well.” Fire danger is on Dave Roberts’ mind as Dodgers head to San Francisco Dodgers’ Max Muncy trying to work his way out of slow start last_img read more

Melvin Gordon staying ready, says he’s ‘just waiting on the call’

first_img“He’s an excellent player,” Telesco said. “He’s tough. Great work ethic. Represents the organization extremely well. But he’s not here. I understand his thoughts and opinions on what he’s going through. I always look at the player’s side. I can see it. Doesn’t mean I agree with it, but I can kind of see what his thought process is.”The Chargers have two preseason games remaining before they host the Colts in Week 1 action Sept. 8. Chargers QB Philip Rivers ‘pulling for’ Melvin Gordon to get his deal Melvin Gordon, who is nearly five weeks into a holdout, told ESPN he is training rigorously in Calif. and staying ready to play football. He wants to play but continues to wait for a resolution, doesn’t want to discuss the contract. “Just waiting on the call,” he said.— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) August 19, 2019The Chargers originally selected Gordon out of Wisconsin with the No. 15 pick in the 2015 draft. He has rushed for 3,628 yards and scored 38 total touchdowns during his four-year career.“Look, we drafted Melvin in the first round for a reason,” Chargers general manager Tom Telesco told reporters at the start of training camp, via the Southern California News Group. “Traded up to take him. Obviously, we value him and the position to do that and we would like to sign him to an extension.“Do I condone holding out? No, I don’t condone (it). But I think he’s been pretty professional with his comments from what I’ve seen.”Gordon has one year remaining on his rookie contract, which will pay him about $5.6 million, according to Spotrac. Gordon, however, recently told ESPN he is staying ready to play by working out “rigorously” in California. “Just waiting on the call,” said Gordon, who is reportedly prepared to sit out the entire season if a resolution isn’t reached.  Related News Melvin Gordon’s holdout continues. The 26-year-old running back is seeking a new contract or a trade away from the Chargers and has stayed away from the team’s facility for the entire preseason.  Philip Rivers: Tom Brady, other elite QBs can’t be judged solely by Super Bowl wins Derwin James injury update: Chargers’ star safety (broken foot) to miss 3-4 months, report sayslast_img read more