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Bears Take on Rams on MNF

The Chicago Bears don't get much respect for a 5-1 team. They can only win ugly, or so the conventional wisdom goes, and their luck is supposedly going to end when they meet an elite opponent.

 

The Los Angeles Rams (4-2) looked like an elite opponent until last week, when an unsightly loss to San Francisco led to a re-evaluation of just how good this team is as well.

 

One of these teams is likely to come out of the longtime NFC rivals' meeting Monday night at SoFi Stadium with a win that will give a huge boost to having credibility as a contender.

 

And if these clubs' recent history is any guide, their matchup will be decided by defense.

 

The Bears and Rams have both thrived defensively this season, and that's not new. They've met twice in the previous two seasons, with Chicago embarrassing the Super Bowl-bound Rams in a freezing 15-6 victory in late 2018 before Los Angeles responded with a 17-7 win last year.

 

Chicago and Los Angeles are two of the seven NFL teams yielding fewer than 20 points per game this season, while both teams' quarterbacks are in need of a rebound game after similarly disappointing performances in which both threw for 198 yards. Nick Foles went 23 of 39 with an interception in the Bears' win over Carolina, while Jared Goff was 19 of 38 with a pick against the Niners.

 

After Foles replaced Mitch Trubisky, the Bears haven’t had much better luck moving the ball with Foles starting the past three games than they did with Trubisky the first three. Foles has completed 62.5% of his passes for 878 yards with six touchdowns and four interceptions since he took over.

 

The Bears aren’t getting much from their run game, either. Chicago has 126 yards rushing the past three games, compared to 414 the first three weeks, and the offensive line is down a starter with left guard James Daniels (pectoral) sidelined.

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Packers Roll Texans

Aaron Rodgers threw for 283 yards and four touchdowns to lead Green Bay to a 35-20 win in a game where the Houston Texans were thoroughly overmatched from the start.

 

Green Bay raced out to a 21-0 halftime lead and the Texans were not able to recover after.

 

Davante Adams had 13 receptions for a career-high 196 yards receiving with two touchdowns. Adams did whatever he wanted against Houston’s defense after top cornerback Bradley Roby left with a knee injury after Green Bay’s first possession.

 

Deshaun Watson threw for 309 yards and two touchdowns for his fourth straight game with at least 300 yards passing. But the Texans had trouble finishing drives early and had to punt on their first three possessions before missing a field goal on the fourth to get in the huge hole early.

 

The 25-year-old Watson is struggling to navigate this tough season after years of success at all levels. He won a state championship in high school before leading Clemson to a national title and helping the Texans to the playoffs in the past two seasons.

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Misty Rain Postpones NASCAR's Playoff Cup Race in Texas

NASCAR’s Cup playoff race in Texas was postponed Sunday night after 52 laps on a misty day that slowly deteriorated to drizzle while it never actually rained before the event was called off.

 

The delay was just over four hours, and the restart planned for Monday morning. But the forecast isn’t promising with a 90% chance of rain overnight and the forecast high temperature barely reaching 50 degrees.

 

The pandemic-reduced crowd watched Clint Bowyer emerge as the leader with Jimmie Johnson second in the last Texas race as full-time drivers for both veterans.

 

The cars kept running for eight laps after the weather caution first came out as jet dryers circled the track. The cars sat uncovered on pit road for about half and hour before the tarps came out and the drivers and crews headed for cover.

 

Martin Truex Jr. was moved to the back of the field because of an illegal spoiler, and crew chief James Small was ejected. But Truex, also fined $35,000 and docked 20 points in a blow to his championship outlook, was all the way up to fifth when the race was stopped.

 

Joey Logano is the only driver guaranteed a spot in the final four after winning the first of three qualifying races last week in Kansas. The last qualifier in the round of eight is next week at Martinsville before the championship finale in Phoenix.

 

Kevin Harvick, who has won the last three fall races in Texas and is a nine-time winner this season, is in the best shape among the other seven playoff contenders.

 

Harvick brushed the wall while leading on Lap 29 as the track conditions worsened and came away with some damage to his right side. But the No. 4 Ford was running when the 334-lap race was halted, one lap down in 36th.

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Indiana, Ohio State Move Up After Big Ten's First Week Back

Indiana jumped into The Associated Press college football poll at No. 17 on Sunday after pulling off the weekend’s most dramatic upset and Ohio State moved up to No. 3 following a dominant season debut.

 

Clemson remained a rock-solid No. 1 and Alabama was No. 2. The Tigers received 52 first-place votes and the Crimson Tide got the remaining 10.

 

Ohio State leaped two spots after easily dispatching Nebraska as the Big Ten Conference kicked off its pandemic-delayed and abbreviated season.

 

No. 4 Notre Dame and No. 5 Georgia each slipped a spot behind the Buckeyes.

 

Indiana pulled off a stunner in overtime to jump into the rankings, beating then-No. 8 Penn State to earn the program’s first victory against a team ranked in the AP top 10 since 1987. The Hoosiers snapped a 25-year absence from the poll last season but stayed there only one week.

 

Penn State slipped 10 spots to No. 18 after losing to the Hoosiers for just the second time in 24 meetings since joining the Big Ten.

 

When the Big Ten postponed its fall season, Ohio State and the rest of the conference’s teams became ineligible for inclusion in the rankings. Then the Big Ten decided to play in the fall after all and those teams became eligible again. But some voters decided they would wait until teams played before being considered for inclusion.

 

No. 24 Oklahoma is back after three weeks out. That is the longest run of polls that have not included the Sooners since 2009, when they were left out of the final six Top 25s.

 

Minnesota dropped out after getting thumped at home by Michigan.

 

 

 

The Coaches Poll voters had some reactions to the Big Ten action, moving Penn State down 10 spots to No. 17 and elevating Indiana from being unranked to No. 19. Michigan moved up three spots to inside the top 15 at No. 14 and Wisconsin also saw a three-spot improvement to No. 11 after its dominant win against Illinois on Friday night. Ohio State only moved up two spots after beating Nebraska, but in doing so jumped both Georgia and Notre Dame to take its place in the top three with Clemson and Alabama. 

 

Clemson remains No. 1 in the country in the Coaches Poll with 52 first-place votes while Alabama checks in at No. 2 with eight first place votes and Ohio State is No. 3 with two first place votes.

Notre Dame and Georgia round out the top five while Oklahoma State, Cincinnati, Texas A & M , Florida and BYU round out the top ten. 

 

Oregon and USC at No. 15 and No. 20, respectively, are the only Pac-12 teams in this week's poll. 

Virginia Tech, Minnesota and North Carolina State are out of this week's rankings while Oklahoma returns to this week's rankings checking in at No. 24. 

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Patrick Cantlay Wins Zozo Championship

Patrick Cantlay rallied from a four-shot deficit and surged into the lead with four birdies in a five-hole stretch on the back nine Sunday in the Zozo Championship at Sherwood in Thousand Oaks, California. He closed with a 7-under 65 and held on for a one-shot victory over Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas.

 

He was looking to join what had been shaping up as a duel between Rahm and Thomas, the Nos. 2 and 3 players in the world. Instead, Cantlay surged past them with three straight birdies — a 3-wood to the fringe on the par-5 13th that set up a simple two-putt, a 7-iron to 18 feet on the next hole and the most exquisite shot of his final round on the par-3 15th.

 

With a three-quarter 7-iron to a front pin over a tiny rock-lined lagoon, the ball landed next to the hole and rolled out to 10 feet for his ninth birdie of the round, and only the fifth birdie at No. 15 on Sunday.

 

Rahm took the lead with a birdie on the par-5 11th, only to drop shots on each of the next two holes, including the par-5 13th. The Spaniard had a chance to force a playoff, but narrowly missed from 15 feet on the par-3 17th and from 20 feet on the final hole. He closed with a 68.

 

Thomas, who started the round with a one-shot lead, had to scramble for par on the last two par 5s, and hit into hazards on consecutive holes down the stretch. His tee shot to the 15th plugged into thick grass, and Thomas did remarkably well to hack out to 30 feet and make bogey.

 

Cantlay, in the group ahead of Thomas and Rahm, didn’t realize he had a three-shot lead and went after another birdie with a wedge to the par-5 16th, pulling it slightly into a tree and leading to his second bogey of the round.

 

Thomas drilled a drive and was in perfect position with a 4-iron. But he sent that out to the right, trying to avoid a shot left of the green, and it bounced off a tree and into the creek.

 

Rahm needed to finish second alone to return to No. 1 in the world. Dustin Johnson, a Sherwood member who missed this week recovering from a positive coronavirus test, remains No. 1.

 

Cantlay moved back into the top 10. He has no weakness in his game except for the victory tally. Cantlay had gone more than a year since his last victory, when he rallied from three behind at Muirfield Village to win the Memorial. His other win was in Las Vegas in 2017 when he came from four shots back and won in a playoff.

 

Cantlay finished at 23-under 265. No one else was within four shots of him.

 

The other show at Sherwood was on the opposite side of the course, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson playing together in the final round with no fans. There was nothing to see, anyway.

 

Woods closed with a 74 and still beat Mickelson by four shots. Mickelson, coming off a victory last week on the PGA Tour Champions, had five 6s on his card. Both finished out of the top 70 against a 78-man field.

 

It was the third victory of his career, and first in his home state of California. All three required making up deficits of three shots or more in the final round.

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Illinois Opens Season Against Wisconsin Tonight

Illinois believes its upset of Wisconsin last year showed how far the program has come. The oddsmakers are reminding the Illini how far they still have to go.

 

Even after beating a Wisconsin team that was favored by 30 ½ points last year, Illinois heads into Madison as a 19 ½-point underdog as the two West Division rivals prepare to open the pandemic-delayed Big Ten season Friday night.

 

Illinois took a big step forward last year in coach Lovie Smith’s fourth season by earning its first bowl bid since 2014, but the Illini are still searching for their first winning season since a 7-6 finish in 2011.

Wisconsin’s offense definitely isn’t the same as it was last year.

 

The Badgers lost two-time Doak Walker Award-winning running back and Indianapolis Colts rookie Jonathan Taylor as well as All-America center Tyler Biadasz and leading receiver Quintez Cephus from last year’s team. Redshirt freshman quarterback Graham Mertz will make his first career start for Wisconsin after preseason foot surgery left returning starter Jack Coan out indefinitely.

 

Yet the Badgers still have enough talent in place to believe they can win the division for a fourth time in five seasons, whereas Illinois is still attempting to move its way up the standings.

 

Illinois stunned Wisconsin last year by showing the ball-hawking mentality that the Illini have adopted under Smith, a former NFL head coach and longtime NFL defensive assistant. Illinois had a Big Ten-leading 28 takeaways last season, including an interception against Wisconsin that led to James McCourt’s game-winning 39-yard field goal as time expired.

 

Illinois returns four starters on the offensive line. Kendrick Green, Doug Kramer, Vederian Lowe and Alex Palczewski have 125 combined starts.

 

Illinois will be counting on big contributions from plenty of transfers this season.

 

Some transfers to watch, with former schools in parentheses, include running back Chase Brown (Western Michigan), tight end Luke Ford (Georgia), wide receiver Brian Hightower (Miami), tight end Daniel Imatorbhebhe (Southern California), defensive tackle Roderick Perry (South Carolina State) and defensive back Derrick Smith (Miami).

 

Game time tonight is 7 pm and can be seen on the Big Ten Network.

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Packers Look to Bounce Back in Houston

Houston QB Deshaun Watson and Packers QB Aaron Rodgers enter Sunday's matchup in very different positions with the Packers (4-1) coming off their first loss, and the Texans (1-5) still searching for a second win in a dismal season that has already led to coach Bill O’Brien's firing.

 

After a great start to the season, Rodgers had his worst performance of the year in last week’s 38-10 loss to Tampa Bay. He threw two interceptions, including one that was returned for a touchdown, after not being picked off in the first four games. It was the first time he had more than one interception in a regular-season game since throwing three in December 2017 against Carolina.

 

While Rodgers is focused on putting one tough game behind him, Watson aims to build on perhaps his best game of the season. The 25-year-old Watson threw for 335 yards and a season-high four touchdowns last week for his third straight 300-yard passing game.

 

He led two fourth-quarter TD drives to give Houston the lead with less than two minutes to play before the porous defense allowed the Titans to rally for the 42-36 overtime victory.

 

The Packers rank third in the NFL by averaging 32.4 points a game and Houston has scored at least 30 points in its past two games after a slow start.

 

Green Bay hasn’t forced a turnover in either of its past two games and has just three takeaways all season to match Dallas and Las Vegas for last in the league. Dallas has played one more game than Green Bay or Las Vegas.

 

Houston has only four takeaways this season and just one interception after Bradley Roby picked off Ryan Tannehill last week. The Packers have a league-low two turnovers, after the interceptions by Rodgers last week.

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Bears Out to Prove 5-1 Start Isn't a Fluke

The Chicago Bears don't get much respect for a 5-1 team. They can only win ugly, or so the conventional wisdom goes, and their luck is supposedly going to end when they meet an elite opponent.

 

The Los Angeles Rams (4-2) looked like an elite opponent until last week, when an unsightly loss to San Francisco led to a re-evaluation of just how good this team is as well.

 

One of these teams is likely to come out of the longtime NFC rivals' meeting Monday night at SoFi Stadium with a win that will give a huge boost to having credibility as a contender.

 

And if these clubs' recent history is any guide, their matchup will be decided by defense.

 

The Bears and Rams have both thrived defensively this season, and that's not new. They've met twice in the previous two seasons, with Chicago embarrassing the Super Bowl-bound Rams in a freezing 15-6 victory in late 2018 before Los Angeles responded with a 17-7 win last year.

 

Chicago and Los Angeles are two of the seven NFL teams yielding fewer than 20 points per game this season, while both teams' quarterbacks are in need of a rebound game after similarly disappointing performances in which both threw for 198 yards. Nick Foles went 23 of 39 with an interception in the Bears' win over Carolina, while Jared Goff was 19 of 38 with a pick against the Niners.

 

After Foles replaced Mitch Trubisky, the Bears haven’t had much better luck moving the ball with Foles starting the past three games than they did with Trubisky the first three. Foles has completed 62.5% of his passes for 878 yards with six touchdowns and four interceptions since he took over.

 

The Bears aren’t getting much from their run game, either. Chicago has 126 yards rushing the past three games, compared to 414 the first three weeks, and the offensive line is down a starter with left guard James Daniels (pectoral) sidelined.

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Sebastian Munoz Day 1 Leader at ZOZO Championship

Sebastian Munoz twice holed out for eagle from a combined distance of 219 yards. He also had eight birdies. Throw in a wild tee shot for double bogey, three bogeys and only five pars and it added to an 8-under 64 and a one-shot lead.

 

For the first time in his 1,277 rounds on the PGA Tour as a pro, Tiger Woods made bogey or worse on three par 5s in a single round. That led to a 4-over 76 — by two shots his worst score in 49 rounds at Sherwood Country Club — that left him 12 shots out of the lead and in no mood to talk.

 

Munoz, the Colombian who played his college golf at North Texas, finished off his bizarre round by saving par from a narrow section of the front bunker with a 15-foot putt on the 18th hole.

 

He was one shot ahead of Tyrrell Hatton, the hottest golfer this month, and Justin Thomas, who had a hot finish. Hatton won the European Tour flagship event at Wentworth, flew to Las Vegas for the CJ Cup and tied for third. Thomas shot 29 on the back nine at Sherwood. They each had a 65.

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NHL Cancels Winter Classic, NHL All-Star Game

The NHL won’t take it outside and open 2021 with the Winter Classic in Minnesota but still hopes to get the hockey season going around the start of the new year.

 

The league on Thursday canceled the Winter Classic scheduled for Jan. 1 at Target Field in Minneapolis and All-Star Weekend that was set for late January in Sunrise, Florida. It said those moves don’t change the league and players’ target date to begin on or around Jan. 1 in the hopes of each team playing a full 82-game season.

 

No guarantee of being able to host fans led to the cancellation of the two signature events. The league hopes to bring them back to those cities in future years.

 

The Minnesota Wild were supposed to host their first Winter Classic next season at the home of Major League Baseball’s Twins against the 2019 Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues. That will have to wait until at least 2022.

 

Canceling All-Star festivities hosted by the Florida Panthers was anticipated, along with forgoing the five-day “bye” week each team had gotten in recent years on either side of that break. The schedule is expected to be condensed in order to get in as many games as possible and stage a full 16-team playoff without going too deep into the summer.

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Illinois Football Kicks Off Season Friday Night

Illinois football fans looking for solace in a lost high school football season will find comfort tomorrow night when the Illinois football team kicks off their makeshift season at Wisconsin.

 

Illini beat writer Bob Asmussen says a lot is made of the receiving core and returning the quaterback but he believes the strength of the team will start with the offensive line, who returns four of five starters from last year's bowl-eligible team.

 

 

Additionally, Asmussen points out the secondary is going to be very experienced this year and should be considered a strength of the team as well.

 

 

While the front seven will be held back from the lack of experience, Asmussen says the defensive line has guys ready to step up that have a lot of potential and believes the linebackers will be a strength as well.

 

 

Many point to the Illini offense as one of the best in recent memory. Asmussen says quarterback Brandon Peters will have no shortage of options to throw to this season. Included in that group is returning star Josh Imatorbhebhe and the debut of highly anticipated transfer Luke Ford from Georgia. 

 

 

Asmussen says the Illinois run game will hinge on the health of Mike Epstein, who has battled a rash of injuries in his time in Champaign. He believes Epstein is ready to go this season and is hearing he is as healthy as he's ever been plus will be benefited by the season starting over a month late.

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Clinton Football Coach Discusses Player Perspectives on COVID-Impacted Season

The Clinton Maroons football program has wrapped up their fall practice schedule as the COVID pandemic has pushed the season to the spring.

 

Head Coach Chris Ridgeway says he's seen a lot of different approaches from his players and their perspectives are all different. He explains a lot of kids are looking forward to the season following basketball while others are taking time to enjoy their senior year in a different way.

 

 

For the players in the program that will participate in basketball, their focus will shift to that season now and it begins in mid-November. The football team will be able to begin practicing again in mid-February.

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Pacers Tab Raptors Assistant as Head Coach

Indiana wanted its next coach to take the franchise in a new direction.

 

The Pacers were seeking someone who could communicate with today’s players, who was open to a new offensive philosophy and who could win some postseason games.

 

On Tuesday, president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard found his man in Toronto assistant Nate Bjorkgren.

 

He comes to Indiana after spending two seasons as an assistant on Nick Nurse’s staff in Toronto. There, Bjorkgren helped the Raptors capture their first NBA championship in 2018-19 and was part of a team that earned the Eastern Conference’s No. 2 seed each of the past two seasons.

 

He also won a G-League title while working for Nurse in 2010-11 with the Iowa Energy.

 

And though this will be Bjorkgren’s first head coaching job in the NBA, he went 126-74 in four seasons as a G-League head coach with the Dakota Wizards, Santa Cruz Warriors, Energy and Bakersfield Jam.

 

Despite making five straight playoff appearances, the Pacers haven’t won a series since defeating Washington 4-2 in the 2014 Eastern Conference semifinals. Since then, Indy is 8-20 in the playoffs and has endured three first-round sweeps the past four seasons — the franchise’s only four-game sweeps since joining the NBA in 1976.

 

Postseason losses aren’t the only potential obstacle facing Indiana.

 

Two-time All-Star Victor Oladipo returned in January after missing 12 months while rehabbing from a torn quad tendon in his right knee. Following the season’s stoppage and restart, Oladipo — worried about re-injuring his knee — announced he wouldn’t return to the court in Florida before changing his mind.

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Bears Sign Manti Teo

The Chicago Bears signed former Notre Dame star linebacker Manti Teo to their practice squad on Tuesday.

 

A 2012 Heisman Trophy finalist also known for his internet relationship with a person falsely posing as a woman stricken with leukemia, Teo has made 48 starts and 62 appearances over seven seasons with the then-San Diego Chargers (2013-16) and New Orleans Saints (2017-19). He has 307 tackles — 22 for loss — along with 13 pass breakups and two interceptions.

 

He takes the practice squad spot of kicker Kai Forbath, signed Tuesday to the Los Angeles Rams’ active roster.

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COVID Impacting Clinton Girls Cross Country Team's Regional Roster

Yesterday afternoon it was announced Clinton High School would be going to remote learning due to a small COVID outbreak and the number of students impacted due to contact tracing.

 

The impacts of that though are being felt beyond the classroom. The Clinton Maroons cross country team heads to Regionals this Saturday to take on Olympia. Co-head coach Rachel Anderson-Lyons indicates they will be without a couple of top runners, something they are not unfamiliar with.

 

 

According to Coach Anderson-Lyons, Clare Holland used that as motivation and credits her for training very hard on her own and keeping close tabs on her results. They will also be without a senior who will miss what could be the final race of his senior season.

 

 

Holland explains her experience practicing by herself was difficult but she says the hard work paid off for her.

 

 

The Maroons will head to Olympia for the Regional this Saturday. Because there is no state meet, Coach Anderson-Lyons indicates the IHSA tightened up the thresholds to advance to the sectional meet.

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Chase Briscoe To Drive Tony Stewart's Famed No. 14

Chase Briscoe earned job security for the first time in his career with a well-deserved promotion to the Cup Series to cap a season that has so far been storybook.

 

Briscoe on Tuesday was named the replacement for Clint Bowyer in the No. 14 Ford at Stewart-Haas Racing, the team co-owned by Briscoe’s childhood hero. Briscoe idolized fellow Indiana native Tony Stewart and dreamed of one day driving Stewart’s car.

 

Briscoe said in an interview with The Associated Press, quote - “People would ask me ‘What’s the goal?’ and I’d say ‘Man, the dream is to drive the 14. Never in a million years did I think that was possible. Getting to drive Tony’s car, and how much of a diehard Tony fan I was, it’s just crazy that I’m getting to drive that car.”

 

The 25-year-old native of Mitchell, Indiana, is a third-generation racer who watched his father compete against Stewart on Midwest dirt tracks. Now he’s a nine-race winner in the Xfinity Series, the championship points leader, and just the third driver of the No. 14 at SHR since it was created for Stewart in 2009.

 

Stewart hand-picked Bowyer to replace him in 2017, and when Bowyer accepted a television deal for next season, it freed the seat SHR desperately needed to avoid losing Briscoe.

 

Stewart said quote -“Chase has worked incredibly hard to make his mark in NASCAR and has earned this promotion.”

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'Doc' Emrick, Voice of Hockey, Retires

Mike 'Doc' Emrick called more than 3,700 games but is done adding game days to his calendar for the first time since 1970. The Hall of Fame broadcaster who made hockey sound like art as the voice of the NHL in the United States announced his retirement Monday to a chorus of tears and admiration from all corners of the sports world.

 

Thinking back over 50 years in hockey, Emrick can’t name one favorite memory or game, but one story sticks out.

 

Minutes after watching T.J. Oshie score four shootout goals to help the U.S. beat Russia at the Sochi Olympics, the camera panned to dejected fans and Emrick echoed 1980 gold medal-winning coach Herb Brooks with his call: “They paid their rubles to see the home team win. But not this game. Not tonight.”

 

The man affectionately known as “Doc” for his doctorate in communications spent the past 15 years as the voice of the NHL in the U.S. Emrick, 74, called 22 Stanley Cup Finals and six Olympics since working his way up from the minors in the 1970s and did the most recent NHL playoffs remotely from his home in Michigan with his wife, Joyce, and dogs nearby.

 

Emrick said quote - “As time passed, I became more comfortable with myself and the fact that I was flawed and there was no way I was ever going to do a perfect game and probably the mistake was to try to do it that way. I just enjoyed the fact that I was given a free seat, a good seat, and I got to work with some of the best athletes in the world and then twice a month I got something in the mail, and it was really good.”

 

Emrick worked the past 15 years as NBC Sports’ lead play-by-play voice. Called “hockey’s Vin Scully” by fellow broadcaster and likely successor Kenny Albert, Emrick was honored by the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2008 and in 2011 was the first announcer inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.

 

During the 2019 Stanley Cup Final, Emrick said he wanted to do his job from the first time he saw a hockey game. He got his first taste in Pittsburgh during the 1970-71 season as a freelance reporter for the Beaver County Times, earned a Ph.D. in broadcast communications from Bowling Green a few years later and progressed through the minors before reaching the NHL.

 

Emrick has spent the past four decades as a beloved part of the hockey community — a rapid-fire storyteller known to viewers for his countless verbs to describe the puck moving around a rink and to friends and colleagues for his warmth and personal attention to the sport and the people in it. He said he always obliges a conversation, photo or autograph request because, “I’ll miss it when it doesn’t happen.”

 

Longtime broadcast partner Ed Olczyk said quote - “We all thank you, Doc, for your passion, your love for the game, your appreciation and love for people. ... We’re all much better for having you in our lives.”

 

Life was always more valuable than hockey to Emrick, who skipped the 2002 Olympics because one of his dogs was sick. That’s why the shootout game in Sochi meant so much after a conversation with Oshie months later when he asked if it was the most significant thing to happen to him.

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Kyle Larson Reinstated By NASCAR For 2021 Season

Kyle Larson can return to NASCAR competition next season following a long suspension for using a racial slur while playing a video game.

 

He was suspended in April after he used the n-word while playing an online racing game in which viewers could follow along. He was dropped by his sponsors and fired by Chip Ganassi Racing.

 

Larson, who is half-Japanese, spent the last six months immersed in diversity programs that helped him gain an understanding of racial injustice. He did not apply for reinstatement until last week and the clearance came Monday.

 

Larson said quote - “The work I’ve done over the last six months has had a major impact on me. I will make the most of this opportunity and look forward to the future."

 

Larson also has spent the time away from NASCAR racing sprint cars, his passion, with a phenomenal success rate. He’s won 41 times so far this year and rebuilt a devout fanbase along the way.

 

The time at the dirt tracks made for a blissful summer for Larson and his family, which accompanied him nearly every weekend. His two children were victory lane fixtures and his wife ran his souvenir challenge.

 

Despite the enjoyable family time, Larson insisted he wanted to return to NASCAR.

 

He was considered the top free agent prospect before his firing, which ended eight seasons with Chip Ganassi Racing. Larson has long been considered a future star for NASCAR and presumably had his pick of cars for 2021.

 

Instead, he’s hoping sponsors will agree to back him for a return to NASCAR. Larson is thought to be getting an open seat at Hendrick Motorsports, although the car number and sponsor affiliations are not clear.

 

Among the hurdles Larson must clear is that Hendrick is tied to Chevrolet, one of the brands that cut ties with Larson in April. The current opening at Hendrick is also an entry that relied on heavy sponsorship from Chevy related partners and products.”

 

Larson has spent significant time with retired soccer star Tony Sanneh, whose foundation works on youth development and empowerment in the Minneapolis area. Larson also met with former Olympian Jackie Joyner-Kersee and visited her foundation in East St. Louis, and also spoke with Max Siegel, the CEO of USA Track & Field who also runs a NASCAR-sanctioned team that is part of the stock car series’ diversity program.

 

Larson continued work he’d already been doing with the Urban Youth Racing School in Philadelphia. The nonprofit helps minorities advance in motorsports and Jysir Fisher, one of its students, had celebrated with Larson in victory lane following a win in Delaware last October.

 

He put the work in unpublicized in an effort to prove his motives were sincere.

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Bears Knock Off Panthers

Nick Foles threw for one touchdown and ran for another, Chicago’s defense forced three turnovers and sacked Teddy Bridgewater four times and the Bears held on to beat the Carolina Panthers 23-16 on Sunday.

 

Once again, the Bears’ 27th-ranked offense was just good enough to win.

 

Foles finished with 198 yards passing and a touchdown and David Montgomery added 58 yards on the ground as the Bears (5-1) opened the season 3-0 on the road for the first time since 2006, when they reached the Super Bowl.

 

It wasn’t pretty, for sure, but Chicago improved to 2-1 with Foles as the starter. The 2018 Super Bowl MVP also rallied the Bears past the Falcons when Nagy benched Mitchell Trubisky in Week 3.

 

Chicago limited Carolina to 303 yards and the Panthers were 3 of 13 on third down conversions. Bridgewater was held to a season-low 216 yards passing and was intercepted twice. He was forced to scramble out of the pocket eight times while trying to avoid pressure.

 

On a fourth-and-2 from the Bears 36, D.J. Moore couldn’t haul in a one-handed catch on a pass that was slightly overthrown. Carolina’s defense came up with a stop, but safety DeAndre Houston-Carson intercepted Bridgewater on Carolina’s next possession to seal the win.

 

The Panthers’ struggles started from the opening kickoff, where they were flagged for an illegal block.

 

Mike Davis then lost a yard on the first carry, Bridgewater was sacked at the Carolina 1 and then intercepted by Tashaun Gipson on third down. That set up a 9-yard touchdown pass from Foles to rookie tight end Cole Kmet to give the Bears a 7-0 lead.

 

The Bears improved to 3-0 against the NFC South this season with wins against the Falcons, Bucs and Panthers. They look for the sweep on Nov. 1 when they host the Saints.

The Bears travel to face the Rams on Monday, Oct. 26.

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Brady, Bucs Rout Rodgers, Packers

Tom Brady outplayed Rodgers, however a young Bucs secondary was equally impressive in setting the tone for a 38-10 rout of the previously unbeaten Packers, who unraveled after taking a 10-0 lead and limiting Tampa Bay to just five offensive plays in the first quarter.

 

Aaron Rodgers threw two interceptions — Green Bay’s first turnovers of the season — within a three-pass span of the second quarter to turn the 10-point lead into a 14-10 deficit.

 

Cornerback Jamel Dean returned the first pick 32 yards for a touchdown. Safety Mike Edwards ran the other back 38 yards to the Packers 2 to set up another TD.

 

It was the 43-year-old Brady’s first signature victory since signing with the Bucs (4-2) after a historic 20-year run with the New England Patriots, which included nine NFL title game appearances and six championships.

 

He got his favorite target from his days with the Patriots into the mix, throwing a 12-yard touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski for a 28-10 halftime lead. It was Gronkowski’s first TD since December 2018 and the 79th for the quarterback/tight end tandem — tied for fourth on the all-time list with Miami’s Dan Marino and Mark Clayton.

 

Brady also threw a 7-yard TD pass to rookie Tyler Johnson and Ronald Jones rushed for 113 yards and a pair of TDs for Tampa Bay, which didn’t turn the ball over, allow a sack or commit a single penalty after being flagged 11 times in a one-point loss to Chicago in its previous game.

 

Both of Rodgers’ interceptions — his first with multiple picks since throwing three in a loss to Carolina on Dec. 17, 2017 — came on throws intended for Davante Adams, who had a team-leading six catches for 61 yards in his return from a hamstring injury that sidelined him two games.

 

Rodgers finished 16 of 35 for 160 yards and no touchdowns after completing 70.5 percent of his passes and throwing for 13 TDs and no interceptions in Green Bay’s first four games.

 

Brady, meanwhile, was 17 of 27 for 166 yards and two TDs without an interception. Gronkowski led the Bucs with five receptions for 78 yards — his best game since ending a one-year retirement to join Brady in Tampa Bay.

 

The Bucs had two of their four sacks by halftime.

 

Packers LT David Bakhtiari left in the third quarter with a chest injury, leaving Green Bay to play the remainder of the game without its best offensive lineman. S Darnell Savage (quad) missed a portion of the second half. CB Kevin King (quadriceps) and RB Tyler Ervin (wrist) were inactive.

 

The Packers are at Houston next Sunday.

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Logano Takes Checkered Flag in Kansas

Using every bit of the track Sunday to hold off the winningest driver this season, Joey Logano took the checkered flag on a cold, blustery Sunday to secure a spot in the championship round of the playoffs. Kevin Harvick was followed across by Alex Bowman and Brad Keselowski as postseason contenders swept the top four spots in the opener of the round of eight.

 

Harvick, who already has won nine times this season, kept pulling up to Logano’s bumper after the final restart for a caution brought out by Tyler Reddick. But he simply couldn’t make a pass stick as Logano moved all over the track to block him while taking advantage of lapped traffic that kept Harvick from making a clear run.

 

Just none of them worked to get around Logano, who picked up his third win of the season and first since the COVID-19 pandemic, which reduced the capacity to about 10,000 fans for Sunday’s race at Kansas Speedway.

 

Kyle Busch was fifth and Chase Elliott, who won the opening stage, wound up sixth after dealing with radio problems that at one point caused him to mistakenly pit. Elliott tried using a backup radio and even resorted to hand signs with his team on pit road to convey what he wanted done with the car.

 

Ryan Blaney, William Byron, playoff driver Martin Truex Jr. and Christopher Bell rounded out the top 10. Kansas native Clint Bowyer, who is retiring after the season and taking a spot in the Fox Sports commentary booth, was competitive early but wound up finishing 26th in what could be his final race at his home track.

 

Harvick’s second-place run was good for his own championship hopes. He now has a 41-point cushion over the cut line with two races left before the championship, while Denny Hamlin is 20 points above it after a mistake caused him to brush the wall and he wound up 15th. Keselowski is eight points above Elliott, the first driver below the cut line.

 

Bowman is 27 points below, Truex is 31 points behind and Kurt Busch is 73 points back after blowing his engine Sunday.

 

Truex’s team failed inspection twice before finally making it through, but that sent his No. 19 Toyota to the back of the field for the start. He quickly worked his way into the top 10, where he spent much of the rest of the afternoon.

 

Kurt Busch had to serve a penalty for speeding on pit road that hurt him in the opening stage. Then, midway through the final stage, he began to notice a problem in his car. His engine finally gave out with a belch of smoke heading into Turn 1 with 68 laps left, leaving him in a win-or-else situation at Texas and Martinsville.

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Kokrak Gets First PGA Tour Victory At Relocated AJ Cup

Holding his nerve to the end and delivering all the key shots, Jason Kokrak matched the low score of the week with an 8-under 64 to overcome a three-shot deficit at the start and win by two shots to finally be able to call himself a PGA Tour winner Sunday in the CJ Cup at Shadow Creek.

 

Playing for the 233rd time in his 10th season on the PGA Tour without ever having won, he didn’t need any reminders that anything would come easily.

 

He watched Xander Schauffele stuff a wedge to 5 feet for birdie and roll in a 45-foot birdie putt from the thick collar of the 13th green on the next hole to tie for the lead.

 

Kokrak never flinched.

 

The CJ Cup moved from South Korea this year to Shadow Creek because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Kokrak is an ambassador for MGM Resorts, which owns the prestigious Tom Fazio design, and he has played the course some two dozen times.

 

Kokrak began to pull away with four straight birdies on the front nine, and birdie putts from 20 feet and 18 feet to start the back nine that stretched his lead to two shots.

 

Schauffele answered with three straight birdies, the last one a 45-footer that made it feel as though he was going to claim another PGA Tour victory by coming from behind.

 

It all turned on the par-5 16th, when both missed the fairway to the left. Schauffele saw a wood chip behind his ball that he didn’t want to touch in case it caused the ball to move. He advanced it some 85 yards into more rough.

 

Swinging with all his might, his third shot peeled off to the right into more rough well below the green, and he made his only bogey in his round of 66. Kokrak also was in the left rough, hacked out to the right rough and put his third shot in the bunker. But he splashed it out to just inside 4 feet and made par for a one-shot lead.

 

That proved to the deciding shot as Schauffele couldn’t catch up and closed with a 66.

 

Kokrak, a 35-year-old from Ohio, all but clinched it when he drilled his drive into the fairway on the par-5 18th, leaving only a short iron to 25 feet. He two-putted for his final birdie of a round he won’t soon forget.

 

Russell Henley, who began the final round with a three-shot lead, never got anything going early and fell behind when he bogeyed the par-5 seventh and Kokrak was on his early run of birdies.

 

Henley’s hopes ended on the reachable par-4 11th when he drove over the green into thick rough and, facing a downhill chip, left it in the rough short of the green and made bogey on the second-easiest scoring hole at Shadow Creek. That put him four shots behind, and a late push of birdies was never going to be enough.

He closed with a 70 and tied for third with Tyrrell Hatton, who was coming off a victory last w

eek in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. Hatton closed with a 65.

 

Kokrak played bogey-free on a course where trouble was never too far away. Justin Thomas, within five shots of the lead, has two straight bogeys on the front nine and three more in a four-hole stretch on the back for a 74. Rory McIlroy was at least headed for a good finish until he had a pair of bogeys and two double bogeys over the last five holes for a 74.

 

Making it even tougher on Kokrak and Schauffele was Jason Day, the third in their group, withdrew with a neck injury on the second hole. That meant a twosome amidst a course filled with threesomes, and a lot of waiting. They still played at the highest level, with Kokrak delivering all the key putts.

 

Kokrak earned a spot in the Masters next month from reaching the Tour Championship a year ago in August. Now he can plan on two trips to Augusta National, qualifying for the 2021 tournament by winning.

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Mickelson Wins Second Tournament in Champion's Tour

Bombing drives like he will have to do against the younger set on the PGA Tour, Mickelson shot a 7-under 65 and became the third player — and second this year — to win his first two starts on the tour for players 50 and older. He slammed the door on Mike Weir with a back-nine surge Sunday in the Dominion Energy Charity Classic at The Country Club of Virginia.

 

He finished at 17-under 199, one off the event record set by Miguel Angel Jimenez last year.

 

Mickelson beat fellow left-hander and second-round leader Weir by three strokes. The fellow rookie closed with a 71 and said he would have contended had he putted better.

 

The winner in late August at Ozarks National in Missouri in his first start on the tour, Mickelson joined Bruce Fleischer and Jim Furyk as the only players to win in their first two senior events. Fleischer accomplished the feat in 1999 and Furyk did it this year with victories at The Ally Challenge and Pure Insurance Championship.

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Clemson Overwhelming No. 1 in Latest Rankings

Clemson easily held off Alabama on Sunday to retain the No. 1 spot in The Associated Press college football poll, extending its longest run atop the poll to seven weeks.

 

The Crimson Tide ran away from Georgia on Saturday night to make the case to be No. 1, but it wasn’t enough to topple the Tigers.

 

Clemson defended its turf with a historic blowout against Georgia Tech. The 66-point rout was the largest ever in an Atlantic Coast Conference football game. Clemson received 54 first-place votes out of 62 from the panel of sports writers and broadcasters.

 

The Crimson Tide got the remaining eight first-place votes. Notre Dame moved up to a season-high No. 3, No. 4 Georgia dropped one spot and Ohio State moved up to No. 5 a week before the Big Ten starts playing.

 

Clemson has been No. 1 since the preseason. The Tigers have been top-ranked 23 times in school history but never more than five times in a season before this year.

 

North Carolina took a big fall, dropping nine spots to No. 14 after losing at Florida State.

 

Oklahoma State is No. 6, with Texas A&M, Penn State, Cincinnati and Florida rounding out the top 10.

 

No. 22 Marshall moved back into the rankings. The unbeaten Thundering Herd were ranked in September, got bumped by the return of Big Ten and Pac-12 teams but have played their way back in.

 

No. 23 North Carolina State is ranked for the first time since 2018.

 

 

 

Notre Dame only scored 12 points in its bizarre 12-7 win over Louisville on Saturday. But, hey, a win is a win, and that was enough for college football coaches to put the Fighting Irish at No. 3 in this week's Coaches Poll, released Sunday. That's one spot above Georgia, which lost to Alabama 41-24 and fell from No. 3 last week to No. 4 this week.

 

Notre Dame is 4-0 and will look to make a run at No. 1 Clemson during its only year in the ACC as a full-time member. The Tigers, off a 73-7 shellacking of Georgia Tech stayed atop the coaches poll while Alabama garnered eight first-place votes at No. 2. Ohio State, which will start its season in Week 8, rounds out the top five. 

 

North Carolina fell seven spots to No. 13 after its comeback against Florida State fell short while there were some new faces towards the bottom of the rankings. Coastal Carolina, Marshall each entered the newest rankings. Auburn, Tennessee, and Louisiana all dropped out after losses this week. 

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Monticello Schools Athletic Director Says IHSA Court Decision A Misunderstood Win for High School Athletes

The final days of September, the IHSA was in court over its decision to move high school football to the spring, being challenged they did not have the authority to make such a decision.

 

The court ruled in favor of the IHSA and so a shift of a small number of fall sports being moved to the fall will stand. Monticello Athletic Director Dan Sheehan was able to participate and sit-in on those hearings and called the proceedings a misunderstanding. He explains what the hearings were about.....

 

 

According to Sheehan, a decision to reverse the IHSA decision would have meant a much shorter football, volleyball, and soccer season, if they were able to pull off a season so late in the sports calendar - almost eliminating any chance of giving high school kids a chance to play football at all this year.

 

 

For Sheehan, a lot of people misunderstood what was going on in that case and points out "medium risk sports" cannot be played right now. He says the focus needs to be on the Illinois Department of Public Health and getting guidance on what it will take to get those medium risk sports unlocked to play.

 

Winter sports practices are scheduled to begin on November 19 and Sheehan indicates they are going to allow basketball and non-contact wrestling practices to begin at that time. 

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Packers Take on Tom Brady, Buccaneers

Future Hall of Famers collide on Sunday when Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Bucaneers host Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.

 

Rodgers is off to a red-hot start, scoring at least 30 points in each of their first four games without turning over the ball in getting off to their fastest start since 2015, when they won their first six games before finishing 10-6 and losing to Arizona in the NFC divisional playoffs..

 

The only team with a longer streak of consecutive games with 30-plus points and no turnovers is the 2010 New England Patriots, who did that in seven straight games and had current Buccaneers QB Tom Brady.

 

Green Bay leads the NFL in yards per play (6.83) and time of possession (34:20). 

 

Brady has thrown 10 TD passes vs. three interceptions in five career starts against Green Bay.

 

Tampa Bay has outscored opponents 48-14 in the first quarter through five games. 

 

TE Rob Gronkowski has yet to score his first touchdown for the Bucs. He and Brady teamed on 78 regular-season TDs with New England — one shy of matching Dan Marino and Mark Clayton for fourth most for a quarterback/receiver tandem in NFL history. WR Mike Evans is tied for the league lead with six TD receptions. 

 

Tampa Bay’s defense is ranked No. 1 against the run, No. 2 overall. The unit has held opponents to less than 50 yards rushing the past three weeks.

 

Tampa Bay’s receiving corps is banged-up, though Chris Godwin (hamstring) returned to practice on a limited basis this week. Scotty Miller (hip/groin) was also limited early in the week after not being targeted at all during last week’s loss to the Bears.

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Bears in Carolina Sunday

Chicago Bears RB David Montgomery is coming off a career-high seven receptions and 59 yards from scrimmage against Tampa Bay, WR Allen Robinson tied a career high with 10 receptions for 90 yards last week.

 

The Bears will turn their attention to the 3-2 Carolina Panthers, who are expected to be without All-Pro RB Christian McCaffrey.

 

Bears QB Nick Foles has thrown for two or more TD passes in three of his past four road games, one of those with Chicago.

 

Bears LB Khalil Mack had a sack, forced fumble, fumble return and touchdown in his only career game against Carolina when he played for the Raiders. 

 

The Panthers have won three straight games after losing 10 in a row. QB Teddy Bridgewater has completed 75 of 102 passes (73.5%) for 824 yards with five TDs and one INT during the team's three-game win streak. 

 

Carolina's offensive line has not allowed a sack in its last two games. RB Mike Davis has totaled 351 yards from scrimmage and scored three TDs in three starts filling in for McCaffrey, who is expected to miss this week as well.

 

Game time Sunday is noon on FOX.

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Riverton Native Allgaier Looks to Keep Pace in XFinity Series Playoff Race

Justin Allgaier is 27 points back in NASCAR's XFinity Series, looking for a strong showing this weekend in Kansas to keep pace in the playoffs.

 

Among the eight drivers who have advanced this far — Allgaier, Chase Briscoe, Austin Cindric, Noah Gragson, Justin Haley, Ross Chastain and Ryan Sieg — the 1.5-mile tracks have predominantly been the highlights of their season work. Seven of those drivers have earned top-10 finishes in at least six of the 10 races at 1.5-milers. In addition to Cindric and Chastain, who have nine top 10s, Briscoe has eight and Allgaier and Haley have seven each.

 

With back-to-back 1.5-mile playoff venues – Kansas and then Texas Motor Speedway next week – this is the bread-and-butter of these drivers’ championship hopes. And the statistics indicate there should be some tightly-contested races — in particular at these venues — to decide which four drivers will ultimately advance to earn a shot at the Championship 4 in the Nov. 7 season finale at Phoenix Raceway.

 

With their work on the 1.5-mile tracks, Briscoe and Cindric have to be considered the heavy favorites coming into the weekend. Briscoe has already collected a playoff win (at the Las Vegas playoff opener) but didn’t score a top 10 in the two races afterward at Talladega, Ala., and the Charlotte Roval. His best finish in three Kansas starts is third in last year’s playoff race.

 

Gragson’s veteran JR Motorsports teammate Allgaier — who sits third in the championship, 27 points behind Briscoe — boasts seven top-10 finishes in 10 Kansas starts, including three career-best fifth-place finishes at the track. He has 10 top-10 finishes in 20 Texas starts with a career-best of third there in July.

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NASCAR Playoffs Headed to Kansas

Chase Elliott came from far back in the field to win on the Roval in Charlotte, his second consecutive win there and fourth in a row on a road course in the Cup Series, qualifying him to the next round of the NASCAR Cup playoffs, with the series headed to the Kansas Speedway this week for a 1:30 pm start time on Sunday.

 

Elliott qualified for the round of eight in the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year, but has never made it to the final race still in contention. Defending series champion Kyle Busch was among four drivers eliminated from the playoffs. He has just four races left to extend his streak to 16 consecutive seasons with at least one victory. 

 

The other drivers eliminated were Austin Dillon and Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Clint Bowyer and Aric Almirola. 

 

Kevin Harvick will take a 13-point lead over Hamlin and a 32-point edge over Brad Keselowski into the weekend. Elliott is fourth, 40 points back.

 

Last year, Denny Hamlin won after starting 23rd, the third-deepest spot for a driver on the starting grid to get to victory lane last season.

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Hatton Tops Loaded Leaderboard at CJ Cup

Tyrrell Hatton shot 5 under through the opening five holes of the CJ Cup at Shadow Creek and tied the course record of 7-under 65 for a one-shot lead.

 

Dustin Johnson, not playing this week because of a positive test result for the coronavirus, had a 65 during a casual round in 2015.

 

Xander Schauffele birdied the par-5 18th for a 66 and was one shot behind, along with Russell Henley. Jon Rahm and Tyler Duncan were another shot behind.

 

Rory McIlroy bogeyed his last three holes, a streak that began with him missing a 3-foot par putt, for a 73.

 

Brooks Koepka, in his first tournament since taking two months off to heal an ailing left hip, showed plenty of signs of rust. He closed with a short iron into the water on the par-5 18th for a bogey and a 74.

 

Hatton was among six players outside London last week for the BMW PGA Championship, which the Englishman won on the course where he watched as a young lad and was inspired to play golf. So there was emotion, and then a 20-hour trip door-to-door to Las Vegas for a tournament that moved this year from South Korea because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

No one had a tougher day than U.S. Open runner-up Matthew Wolff, who didn’t make a birdie in his round of 80.

 

Jordan Spieth salvaged what could have been a rough day. He was so wild off the tee at times that he hit provisional tee shots on three consecutive holes. He didn’t have to use any of them, birdied three straight round the turn to get to 1 under only to hit a fourth provisional — this one he needed — in making a triple bogey on the 14th. He shot a 74.

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Monticello Football Focused on Finishing Fall Strong

With no games, social distanced practices and very limited time on the field, Monticello football coach Cully Welter is focused on his team finishing the fall makeshift season strong. 

 

In the final practices leading up to the end of the fall sports season, Coach Welter says they will continue to focus on the playbook and then hope the kids retain everything as they await a spring football season.

 

 

According to Coach Welter, because of the lack of contact, most of their kids are staying healthy this fall. 

 

 

Despite losing out on competitions and a chance at making a run in the postseason this year, Coach Welter says the kids are doing very well. He credits the internal competitive atmosphere created.

 

 

Next Friday's night's weekly Monticello sports broadcast on 95.9 FM WEZC will originate from the planned 7-on-7 starting at 7 pm. Hear it at dewittdailynews.com as well. 

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White Sox Receive Clearance to Interview LaRussa

The Los Angeles Angels granted the Chicago White Sox permission to interview Hall of Famer Tony La Russa for their managing job, a person familiar with the situation said Wednesday.

 

The person, confirming a USA Today report, spoke on the condition of anonymity because the Angels typically do not comment on personnel matters.

 

A three-time World Series-winning manager, the 76-year-old La Russa joined the Angels prior to this season as senior advisor of baseball operations.

 

The White Sox agreed to split with Rick Renteria after a disappointing finish to a breakthrough season in which Chicago made the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

 

La Russa, who started his managing career with the White Sox during the 1979 season, hasn’t managed since 2011, when he led St. Louis past Texas in the World Series. He also won championships with Oakland in 1989 and the Cardinals in 2006.

 

If hired, he would be the oldest manager in the major leagues by five years. Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker is 71.

 

La Russa is 2,728-2,365 with six pennants over 33 seasons with Chicago, Oakland and St. Louis and was enshrined in Cooperstown in 2014. Only Hall of Famers Connie Mack (3,731) and John McGraw (2,763) have more victories.

 

LaRussa managed the White Sox to a 522-510 record over parts of eight seasons. He led the 1983 team to 99 wins and the AL West championship. But he was fired in 1986 by then-general manager Ken Harrelson after the White Sox got off to a 26-38 start.

 

Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf has long regretted that move and remains close with La Russa. If La Russa gets the job, he will inherit a team that appears poised for long-term success.

 

The White Sox have never made back-to-back playoff appearances. But after ending a string of seven losing seasons, they are in position to change that.

 

They have a core of young players on team-friendly deals, starting with shortstop Tim Anderson. Veteran José Abreu put himself in the running for AL MVP by driving in 60 runs. Ace Lucas Giolito pitched his first no-hitter.

 

Eloy Jiménez hit .296 with 14 homers and 41 RBIs. Luis Robert, who agreed to a $50 million, six-year contract in January, showed star potential in a roller-coaster rookie year. He got off to a great start and hit a massive homer in the playoff series against Oakland. But he also slumped in September.

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NFL Cancels Pro Bowl

The NFL has canceled next January’s Pro Bowl scheduled for Las Vegas.

 

During an owners meeting held virtually on Wednesday, the league opted to call off the all-star game, hoping to replace it with a variety of virtual activities. The NFL needs flexibility in January in case it needs to move regular-season games to that month because of the coronavirus pandemic.

 

The Pro Bowl, set for Jan. 31, a week before the Super Bowl, has lost much of its attractiveness in recent years. Many of the chosen players decided not to participate, and, naturally, players from the two Super Bowl teams don’t go.

 

If there is a Pro Bowl in 2022, the 32 owners voted to return it to the new Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

 

A fan vote for Pro Bowl rosters still will be held, beginning Nov. 17. The rosters will be announced in December. Players, coaches and fans vote for the Pro Bowl.

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NFL Has No Plans to Move to Bubble

The NFL has no plans to move into a bubble as it takes several new steps to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

 

The league will begin PCR testing for COVID-19 on game days starting this week, use of masks in walkthroughs are now mandatory and only play-callers will be permitted to wear face shields in lieu of masks or gaiters on the sideline.

 

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday following virtual meetings with team owners, quote - “We cannot grow complacent, not the players, not the coaches, not the rest of our personnel. Ninety percent is not good enough in this environment. We have to be incredibly diligent and disciplined.”

 

The updated protocols sent to teams Monday night also require anyone identified as a “high risk” close contact to be isolated and not permitted to return to the team’s facility for at least five days.

Goodell, citing rising numbers in communities, said quote - “We expected positive COVID cases as long as the pandemic is prevalent in our society.Our protocols are designed to identify through testing, isolate and then prevent the spread of the virus in our team environments, and our medical experts are encouraged by the fact that with few exceptions, we have not seen transmission of the virus.”

 

Goodell spoke a few hours before the Tennessee Titans were scheduled to host Buffalo in their first game since an outbreak shut down team facilities and forced the schedule to be rearranged.

 

The Titans had eight people test positive Sept. 29 and the total reached 24 players and personnel. It doesn’t appear the league will discipline the Titans for any violation of protocols following a review of the team’s actions.

 

Goodell said the league will maintain flexibility in order to complete the season with the Super Bowl. However, it doesn’t appear one of those options will be moving the playoffs into a bubble like Major League Baseball did. The NBA and NHL finished their regular season and postseason in bubbles.

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Clinton Football Coach Wraps Up Fall Practices During Pandemic

The fall high school football practice season is over for the Clinton Maroons football team as they took advantage of the flexibility offered by the IHSA for the competition-absent fall season.

 

Coach Chris Ridgeway says they took advantage of all the practices available to them and while things weren't perfect, he was glad they were still able to get on the field and get both physical and mental repetitions.

 

 

According to Coach Ridgeway, getting the players introduced to his new offense was one of the most beneficial components of their practices this year. He says allowing the players to see how things are going to look was probably the most beneficial.

 

 

One of the positives out of the last few months of limited practices were the new faces to the program this year. According to Coach Ridgeway, they also saw players willing to take on new roles and try new things and he felt that also was positive.

 

 

According to Coach Ridgeway, he saw a lot of positives from players that will be a part of the program next year and beyond, which he hopes they continue to build on their progress.

 

Coach Ridgeway and the Maroons will now await the spring football season and for the winter sports athletes, preparations in hopes of a sports season will get underway in the next few weeks.

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4th Down Tries on Record Pace in 2020 NFL Season

Teams have been going for it, and converting, on fourth down at an unprecedented rate this season in the NFL.

 

There have been few games where fourth-down decisions had as big an impact as last Sunday night in Seattle, when the Seahawks used two fourth-down conversions after stopping Minnesota on fourth-and-1 to beat the Vikings 27-26.

 

In all, teams have gone for it on fourth down 188 times this season with 108 conversions, the most through five weeks since at least 1991. The 57.4% conversion rate is second highest in that span to the 58.7% in 2012.

 

The increase is a sign of greater influence from analytics, which show teams should go for it on fourth down at a much higher rate than they do.

 

The numbers pointed in favor of the Vikings’ decision to bypass a short field goal that would have put them up by eight points in favor of trying to convert and run out the clock. According to EdjSports, the decision increased Minnesota’s chances of winning by 2.1 percentage points.

 

The move backfired, especially when Russell Wilson converted two fourth downs on the game-winning drive for the Seahawks. Seattle became the second team in the past four seasons to convert two fourth downs on a game-winning drive that overcame a deficit in the final five minutes of a game, joining the Bengals, who did it against Atlanta in 2018.

 

While going for it when behind late in the fourth quarter is typical, some of the other decisions haven’t been. Tampa Bay became the second team to go for it from inside its own 20 in the first half of a game.

 

In all, teams have gone for it 56 times on fourth down in the first half this season, converting 35 of them for a 62.5% clip.

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White Sox, Renteria Agree to Part Ways

Rick Renteria fostered a culture that allowed young players to develop into stars. And just like the last time, he lost his job after helping start a turnaround.

 

The Chicago White Sox and their manager agreed to split following a disappointing finish to a breakout season in which they made the playoffs for the first time in 12 years.

 

Chicago announced Monday that Renteria won’t return after he led the White Sox to a 35-25 record in his pandemic-shortened fourth season. They ended a string of seven consecutive losing seasons with their first playoff appearance since 2008.

 

Don Cooper, who had been pitching coach since July 2002, also was let go. He had spent more than three decades with the organization.

 

Chicago lead the AL Central by three games before losing seven of its final eight and finishing tied for second with Cleveland at 35-25, one game behind Minnesota. Chicago got knocked out by Oakland in three games in their first-round series.

 

Hahn said Renteria’s replacement probably will come from outside the White Sox. He said would like someone who has worked for a championship organization, though major league managing experience is not necessarily a requirement.

 

Renteria became the franchise’s 40th manager when he was promoted from bench coach to replace Robin Ventura in October 2016. He led the White Sox to a 236-309 record and helped establish a winning culture that fostered the development of the team’s young players.

 

Renteria also managed the crosstown Cubs in 2014 and drew praise for his work with young players. The North Siders planned to bring him back, only to let him go once Joe Maddon split with Tampa Bay.

 

Two World Series-winning managers who could be candidates are AJ Hinch and Alex Cora. Hinch led Houston to the title with Cora as his bench coach in 2017, and Cora won it all with Boston the following year.

 

Both were suspended by Major League Baseball for the 2020 season for their roles in the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal, and both lost their manager jobs. Their suspensions end on the day after the World Series.

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CFB Top 25 Craziness: Illini Sports Beat Writer Discusses Crazy Season so Far

The defending college football playoff champs have two losses, the Big XII favorite has two losses, and the Big Ten's Ohio State, a contender for the national championship has yet to play a game.

 

It's created a lot of craziness in determining a top-25 order for the sports media across the country and Illini beat writer Bob Asmussen says the chaos started when the Big Ten and the PAC-12 were not going to be playing and so they were ineligible from top-25 consideration.

 

 

According to Asmussen, the college football playoff is going to be very interesting to watch how the committee selects its teams. Because some teams might have more games played than others, the standard barometers of win-percentage or strength of schedule will not he equal. He says it may become an 'eye test'.

 

 

Over the weekend, top-ranked Clemson thumped seventh-ranked Miami 42-17. Tennessee returned to the top-25 this year but the 14-ranked Vols were shutout in the second half by third-ranked Georgia and were pummelled 44-21. 21-st ranked Texas A&M beat fourth-ranked Florida on a last-second field goal 41-38. Eighth-ranked North Carolina outlasted 19-ranked Virginia Tech 56-45.

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LSU Out of AP Poll

LSU is out of The Associated Press college football poll for the first time since 2017 and is the first defending national champion to drop from the rankings in nine years.

 

No. 1 Clemson, No. 2 Alabama and No. 3 Georgia held steady at the top of the rankings Sunday, setting up a top-three matchup Saturday when the Crimson Tide hosts the Bulldogs.

 

Clemson received 59 first-place votes. Alabama got two and Georgia one. Notre Dame moved up to No. 4 and North Carolina is No. 5.

 

LSU dropped out from No. 17 after falling to 1-2 with a 45-41 loss at previously winless Missouri. The Tigers had been ranked in 43 straight polls, dating to Nov. 5, 2017. That was the seventh-longest active streak in the nation.

 

The last defending national champion to be unranked was Auburn in 2011. Following Cam Newton’s departure the Tigers spent much of the ’11 season outside the Top 25, finishing 8-5 and unranked.

 

No. 22 Kansas State is ranked for the first time this season. The Wildcats made a few brief appearances in the Top 25 last year.

 

 

 

No. 25 Southern California is the latest of the teams still waiting to start their seasons to re-enter the Top 25. 

 

No. 11 Texas A&M jumped 10 spots after beating No. 10 Florida in a thriller at College Station. The Gators slipped six spots.

 

The Big Ten is two weeks away from playing and there are still 10 voters who are waiting for No. 6 Ohio State and other still ramping up teams to start playing before ranking them.

 

No. 3 Georgia at No. 2 Alabama. First regular-season meeting since 2015 and first time in Tuscaloosa since 2007.

 

The Coaches Poll top 25 saw a lot of movement on Sunday after a hectic weekend in college football, but no team saw a more significant bump than Texas A&M. The Aggies moved up nine spots from No. 20 to No. 11 after upsetting Florida 41-38 at Kyle Field on Saturday. That probably won't be enough of a climb in many Aggies fans' minds, however, considering Florida is still ranked two spots ahead of A&M at No. 9. Florida fell six spots from No. 3 last week.

 

Elsewhere in the top 10, the only team to drop out entirely was Miami following a 42-17 loss to Clemson, which remained at No. 1. North Carolina and Oklahoma State both saw a slight boost, as each climbed three spots to No. 6 and No. 7, respectively.

 

Aside from Florida and Miami, the other big droppers this week were Tennessee, which fell five spots from No. 12 to No. 17 after a 44-21 loss to No. 3 Georgia, and Virginia Tech falling from No. 18 to No. 23 after a 56-45 loss to North Carolina.

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Martin Laird Wins in Vegas

Matrin Laird ended seven years without a victory Sunday when he made bogey from the fairway on the final hole at the TPC Summerlin at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas, and then redeemed himself with a birdie putt from just outside 20 feet on the second extra hole to beat Matthew Wolff and Austin Cook.

 

Laird looked like a winner with an improbable par save on the 71st hole over the cart path, under the trees, between a pair of bunkers and an 18-foot putt.

 

He had to return to the par-3 17th in a three-man playoff to finish the job with a birdie.

 

It was the third time Laird has been in a playoff in Las Vegas, all of them involving three players. He won in 2009 for his first PGA Tour victory. He lost the following year on the 17th when Jonathan Byrd made a hole-in-one in darkness.

 

He was No. 351 in the world, the third winner in the last four regular PGA Tour events to be ranked outside the top 300.

 

Laird needed a pair of top-10 finishes in opposite-field events at the end of the 2019 season just to keep his card. Now the 37-year-old Scot is exempt through the 2023 season, and he’s headed back to the Masters in April.

 

The bogey on the 18th hole in regulation gave Laird a 68 to fall into a playoff at 23-under 261 with Wolff and Cook, who each closed with a 66.

 

Laird appeared to have everything going his way when he caught a buried lie near the lip of a bunker while facing a front pin on the par-5 ninth. He blasted away, turned his head and looked back to see the superb shot trickle into the cup for eagle. He played the hole in 7 under for the week.

 

Wolff was never far away and arrived in a powerful burst with a two-putt birdie on the reachable par-4 15th, blasting a 375-yard drive on the par-5 16th and stuffing wedge to 10 feet for eagle.

 

Laird wobbled a bit down the stretch, but he delivered the winner at the end.

 

Patrick Cantlay, who shared the 54-hole lead with Laird, was the biggest surprise of the day. Cantlay won the tournament in 2017 and was runner-up each of the last two years. Fourteen of his 15 rounds at the TPC Summerlin were under par. He opened with four bogeys in six holes and didn’t make birdie until the 13th, closing with a 73.

 

U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau closed with a 66, and that was the worst he could have done. With a helping wind, he played the par 5s on the back nine in 1 over. He also bogeyed the last from a bunker.

 

He tied for eighth in his first appearance since becoming a major champion at Winged Foot, and he now goes back to the lab — or the gym, in his case — for the next month before resurfacing at the Masters.

 

Abraham Ancer birdied the last two holes for a 67 to finish alone in fourth. Will Zalatoris closed with a 69 for a three-way tie for fifth, leaving him just short of enough FedEx Cup points to earn special temporary membership on the PGA Tour. His next chance is in three weeks in Bermuda.

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Chase Elliot Wins at the Roval

Chase Elliott won on the hybrid road course-oval at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where Busch and three others were trimmed from title contention. It was Elliott’s fourth straight road course victory dating to last season.

 

Elliott is in the round of eight for the fourth consecutive year and still seeking his first appearance in the championship final four.

 

Kyle Busch, leading a race he had to win, not once believed he was driving toward a season-saving victory. He doesn’t even think he can get to victory lane this year.

 

NASCAR will crown a new champion this year and the worst season of Busch’s career extended to mark the earliest the reigning Cup champion has been eliminated since the format debuted in 2014.

 

Busch won’t be in the title-deciding finale for the first time in six years. He needed his first win of the season to advance, a tall ask in this bumpy year. He seemed good as done when a flat tire at the end of the second stage should have ended his chances.

 

He seemed resigned when he keyed his mic and said, “Good job this year, guys,” to his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing crew. He still somehow recovered and was third when he gambled on not pitting to take over the lead.

 

Busch led just one lap after the restart before both teammates Erik Jones and Elliott passed him and then his Toyota began to fade. Busch finished 30th. There are only four races remaining for him to extend his streak to 16 consecutive seasons with at least one victory.

 

Austin Dillon in a Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing, and Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Clint Bowyer and Aric Almirola in Fords also were eliminated. Bowyer, who this week said he’s retiring at the end of the season and will move to the television booth, was treated for exhaustion after driving the second half of the race without power steering.

 

Elliott, meanwhile, won for the second consecutive year at “The Roval” and third time this season. It’s his second win this season at Charlotte — he won on the oval in May when NASCAR resumed racing during the pandemic.

 

Elliott will try to take that momentum into the round of eight, which he advanced to for the fourth-straight year. Elliott has never made it to the championship finale.

 

Elliott advanced along with Denny Hamlin and Kurt Busch, who won the first two races of the second round, along with Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano and Alex Bowman.

 

Logano finished second in a Ford and was followed by Erik Jones, who is not in the playoffs, in a Toyota. Kurt Busch was fourth in a Chevrolet.

 

The playoff race at hometown Charlotte was the first time this season the speedway could allow spectators and the allotted 7,000 seats were sold out for two rain-soaked days. 

 

Drivers stressed over the potential conditions, particularly as heavy rains soaked the speedway in the hours leading into the race. Conditions that certainly would have qualified as dangerous ultimately lifted, the rain stopped and held off until after Elliott’s victory celebration when a tornado warning was called for the next county over.

 

NASCAR did insist all teams start the race on rain tires, the first time they were used in official Cup competition in at least 60 years. Although the track was puddled in some places, damp in others, the conditions didn’t come close to Saturday’s blinding storm.

 

Charlotte brought it additional lights because it was too dark through the infield during the Xfinity race but they were not needed despite all the consternation.

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Monticello Athletic Director Sounds Off on Lack of Communication from IDPH, Governor

Pulling off some sort of fall sports season for football, soccer and volleyball athletes would almost be impossible at this point for Illinois high school administrators so now the attention turns to the winter sports season and if kids will get to participate in basketball, wrestling and many other sports.

 

Monticello athletic Director Dan Sheehan says the 'All Sports' policy handed down from Governor JB Pritzker does now allow for "medium risk sports", which includes basketball. While everyone focuses on the Governor and IDPH, Sheehan says the Illinois State Board of Education is going to have to get involved. 

 

 

According to Sheehan, he is frustrated by the lack of guidance and communication. He says there are no answers coming from Gov. Pritzker or IDPH about what thresholds schools and the state need to achieve to be able to play medium-risk sports this winter.

 

 

While many still remain critical of the IHSA, Sheehan says the IHSA could put a policy in place that allows sports to return and spurn the Governor's guidance but he questions how many schools would sign up to participate in such a plan because of their reliance on state dollars. 

 

 

Lack of communication is what frustrates Sheehan the most about the situation. He says there is not guidance on what needs to be done for sports to be played. There are no thresholds of testing or positivity rates.

 

 

Sheehan believes the focus for sports now needs to be working between now and Nov. 16, the start of the winter sports season, to find out what needs to be done to allow students to play sports. He says school administrators, players and parents are willing to do what it takes to play sports this winter. 

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Bears Top Bucs With Walk-Off Field Goal

Tom Brady fell to Nick Foles again, appeared to lose count of downs on his final play with seconds remaining, and the Chicago Bears beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20-19 on Thursday night after Cairo Santos kicked a 38-yard field goal with 1:17 remaining.

 

DeAndre Houston-Carson broke up Brady's fourth-down pass with 33 seconds left after Santos kicked the go-ahead field goal. Brady put up four fingers, as if he had one more down. Instead, Chicago took possession and came away with a narrow victory.

 

Brady never lost to Chicago in five meetings as a member of the Patriots. But facing Foles for the first time since New England lost to Philadelphia in Super Bowl 52, the six-time champion once again came up short.

 

Brady threw for 253 yards and one touchdown. But the Buccaneers (3-2) had their three-game win streak snapped.

 

Khalil Mack had two sacks, and the Bears (4-1) bounced back from a lackluster loss to Indianapolis.

Foles, the Super Bowl 52 MVP, completed 30 of 42 passes for 243 yards and a touchdown in his second start after replacing Mitchell Trubisky.

 

Allen Robinson had 90 yards receiving. Jimmy Graham caught a touchdown pass and David Montgomery ran for a score.

 

Brady was 25 of 41.

 

Mike Evans had a touchdown reception.

 

Ryan Succop kicked four field goals, including a 25-yarder to give Tampa Bay a 19-17 lead with 4:49 remaining.

 

The Buccaneers also committed 11 penalties for 109 yards in losing for the first time since the opener at New Orleans.

 

The Buccaneers looked as if they might blow this one open, jumping out to a 13-0 lead. But the Bears turned it around in a flash, with two touchdowns in the final 1:48 of the half.

 

Montgomery plowed in from the 3. Kyle Fuller then put a big hit on Ke'Shawn Vaughn as he caught a short pass, and Robert Quinn recovered the fumble, giving the Bears possession on the Tampa Bay 27. A leaping Graham made a one-handed grab in the end zone with Jamel Dean on him to haul in Foles' 12-yard pass.

 

The Bears visit Carolina on Oct. 18.

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DeChambeau Continues Dominance With Day 1 Low Score at Shriner's Hospitals For Children Open

Bryson DeChambeau shot a 62 to lead by one stroke over five golfers, including Patrick Cantlay at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open on Thursday. The 62 is the lowest first round of his PGA Tour career.

 

He got into a spot of trouble on the second hole on the course (his 11th on the day) when he had to hit a provisional off the tee, but he was able to save par and keep his bogey-free round going. Two birdies in his last three holes touched off another special day for somebody who has become the biggest story in the sport over the last few months.

 

DeChambeau, playing alongside two mega-long drivers in Cameron Champ and Matthew Wolff, averaged 352 yards off the tee.

 

Patrick Cantlay, a winner and twice the runner-up in his last three appearances in Las Vegas, did his best to catch him. Cantlay made a 12-foot birdie putt on the 18th for a 63. His only blemish was a long three-putt bogey on the 14th.

 

Harold Varner III, Scott Harrington, Nate Lashley and Austin Cook also were at 63. Six players were at 64. With no wind and warm air, the course played nearly 3 shots under par.

 

Sergio Garcia, coming off a victory last week in Mississippi, opened with a 66. Former British Open champion Francesco Molinari shot 70 in his first competiti

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Monticello Football Coach Hoping for Second 7-on-7 Football Scrimmage Later in October

Last Friday night, the Monticello football team was able to participate in a 7-on-7 football scrimmage that was reduced to the players participating in various drills due to social distancing guidelines.

 

Football coach Cully Welter called it a good night overall. He says they started with their freshman athletes and then went all the way to varsity and after the event, the football parents prepared a take-home meal for the players.

 

 

Coach Welter says because of the way they have broken up their practices allowed by the IHSA they are considering hosting another 7-on-7 later in the month.

 

 

The 7-on-7 was beneficial for Coach Welter because it finally allowed him to get some film of the kids and begin to give them something to watch and begin to work on. 

 

 

In practice, players are going helmets-only this fall because of the limitations on contact in practices. 

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Illinois Football Adds Former LB As Student Assistant

Former Illinois football captain Dele Harding has joined the Illini as a student assistant for 2020. Harding is finishing his degree in Kinesiology from the University of Illinois this fall. 

 

Harding played in 39 games for Illinois from 2016-19, totaling 235 tackles, 21 TFLs, and three interceptions. He was an All-Big Ten first team selection by the media in 2019 after leading the Big Ten and ranking second in the nation in tackles per game (11.8). 

 

Harding was a special teams captain in 2018 and a defensive captain in 2019, as voted by his teammates. 

 

In his senior season, Harding led the Big Ten and ranked second in the nation in tackles per game (11.8), behind only Cal's Evan Weaver (14.0)

 

The Illini open their pandemic altered season Oct. 24 at Wisconsin. 

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World's Top Golfers Starting to Return With This Weekend's Shriners Hospital for Children Open

The 2020 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open this week at TPC Summerlin signals the beginning of a three-week stretch out on the west coast, two of which will be played in Las Vegas. In addition to this week's tournament, next week's CJ Cup at Shadow Creek will precede the Zozo Championship late in October (where Tiger Woods will defend his win from a year ago). Tiger -- who got his first win in Vegas -- will not play this week's event but it still has a star-studded field, including the most recent major championship winner. 

 

Bryson DeChambeau is making his first appearance since winning the U.S. Open at Winged Foot in September.

 

The top players in the world are starting to return to action in preparation for the pandemic-altered November Masters. While it does not include some of the biggest dogs, it does include nearly half of the top 30 players in the world and big names like Rickie Fowler, Sergio Garcia, Hideki Matsuyama, Collin Morikawa, Matthew Wolff and -- the biggest name of all -- DeChambeau.

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Bears Host Bucs on Thursday Night Football

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed Tom Brady in the offseason hoping the six-time Super Bowl champion quarterback could help them end a 12-year playoff drought and capture the biggest prize of all.

 

They're off to a good start.

 

The Buccaneers come into their matchup against the Chicago Bears on Thursday night eyeing their fourth straight win and looking down at the rest of the NFC South.

 

The 43-year-old Brady is delivering after his production dipped in his 20th and final season in New England. Signed to a two-year, fully guaranteed $50 million contract, he's tied with Patrick Mahomes for fourth in the league with 11 TD passes behind Russell Wilson (16), Aaron Rodgers (13) and Josh Allen (12).

 

Brady threw for 369 yards and five touchdowns and helped Tampa Bay overcome a 17-point deficit to beat the Los Angeles Chargers 38-31 last week. In doing that, he became the NFL’s all-time regular-season victories leader (222), regardless of position.

 

Now, Brady is about to face a team that's never beaten him. He is 5-0 with 1,595 yards, 14 touchdowns and four interceptions against Chicago.

 

The Bears (3-1), meanwhile, hope to bounce back from a 19-11 loss to Indianapolis. Nick Foles will try to get the offense going after struggling last week in his first start after replacing Mitchell Trubisky as Chicago's No. 1 quarterback.

Foles and Brady will go against each other for the first time since Super Bowl 52.

 

Foles was the MVP of that game, throwing for 373 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Philadelphia Eagles to a 41-33 victory over the New England Patriots in Minneapolis and their first Super Bowl title.

 

The Bucs would just as soon forget the previous time they visited Soldier Field, when Trubisky threw for six TDs to lead Chicago to a 48-10 victory in September 2018.

 

The Bears committed eight penalties for 103 yards against the Colts, with special teams getting flagged four times. On top of that, they had a punt blocked on the game's opening possession. And that helped set up a touchdown for Indianapolis.

 

The Bears ran for just 28 yards last week, after the ground game carried them in the first three games. Getting it back in gear won't be easy this week, considering Tampa Bay ranks second against the run.

 

Gametime tonight is 7:20 pm central time.

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Brooks Koepka Eyeing Return for CJ Cup

For the first time in two months, Brooks Koepka will play a PGA Tour event as he makes his return following rehab on his left knee at the CJ Cup at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas next week. Koepka missed the 2020 U.S. Open at Winged Foot Golf Club and has not played on the PGA Tour since missing the cut at the Wyndham Championship in August.

 

Koepka joins a slew of huge names participating in this year's CJ Cup, which moved from South Korea to Las Vegas because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy will play alongside Koepka. Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler and Tommy Fleetwood are expected to be in the field as well.

 

Coincidentally, Koepka actually reinjured his knee at last year's CJ Cup when he slipped on wet concrete. The knee has been a nuisance for nearly two years now -- dating back to the start of 2019 -- and has caused Koepka, who has nearly slipped out of the top 10 in the world, to miss a significant number of events.

 

It's unclear whether there are long-term concerns here for Koepka, but the original explanation around his knee injury -- around this time last year -- was that it required stem-cell treatment.

Though he played well in the 2018-19 season (and won three times), he said it bothered him for most of the second half of the season (he did not get treatment until after the season). He clearly hasn't been right since the season-ending Tour Championship and has struggled with a game that just has not clicked in over a year. 

 

Since last year's Tour Championship in August, Koepka has 15 starts worldwide and just two top 10s. His only major championship start -- at the 2020 PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park -- resulted in a T29 finish. 

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Cross Country Season Winding Down

The high school cross country season is beginning to wind down for the pandemic impacted 2020 season.

 

Co-head coach Leann Sosamon indicates the team is coming off a weekend meet in Urbana, a meet Friday night followed by the Central Illinois Conference meet and then it is off to the postseason.

 

 

According to Coach Sosamon, runner Ethan Black is having a terrific season chasing some Clinton records and even set a lifetime best in Urbana.

 

 

At a meet just a few weeks earlier at course set up for a night run, Black indicates he set a personal best in Clinton and discussed the impacts of finishing the race on the track and hearing the loud music and the crowd carrying him to the finish.

 

 

The night race at the Clinton Schools complex was very unique. Coach Sosamon says she hasn't been a part of anything like that before and credits Athletic Director Matt Koeppel for making it happen and hopes it could be something that is an annual event in Clinton. Co-head coach Rachel Anderson-Lyons called it a complete community effort. 

 

 

The IHSA recently expanded the postseason for cross country and golf so now instead of just having a regional competition be the conclusion of the season, teams will be able to compete in a sectional competition to conclude the year.

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Illinois To Host Round Robin Basketball Tournament

Three games in three days with teams from the region will be the Thanksgiving college basketball appetizer in Illinois.

 

Over the weekend, college basketball insider Jon Rothstein broke news Illinois would be hosting a round-robin format basketball event leading up to Thanksgiving. Illinois beat writer Bob Asmussen says details about the event are scarce at this time but he anticipates a few teams from Illinois and perhaps a more regional team being a part of the tournament.

 

 

Illinois was scheduled to play at the Emerald Coast Classic tournament in Florida but the event in the last week was canceled. Additionally, the back end of a home-and-home matchup with Arizona was pushed to next year. That game was scheduled for December 12 at the State Farm Center. 

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Clinton Football Hoping to End Final Week of Practices on Good Note

It's the final week of football practice for Clinton High School athletes and their head coach is very complimentary of the things happening right now. 

 

Head coach Chris Ridgeway says they'll have one final practice, allow the winter sports athletes to begin to shift their focus and begin to look ahead to a spring football season.

 

 

Coach Ridgeway says his seniors this year have shown a quote - "massive amount of growth". He is very complimentary of the strides they've made and believes the work they've put in is going to pay off when they can return to the field.

 

 

According to Coach Ridgeway, he is seeing this senior group taking on more of a leadership role and is very pleased to see that take place.

 

 

While Coach Ridgeway was an assistant for this senior group's freshman year, he has a great feeling watching them grow over those four years and buy into the program's plan and vision. 

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Packers Roll Falcons, Improve to 4-0

Tight end Robert Tonyan caught three of Aaron Rodgers' four touchdown passes, Za'Darius Smith recorded three sacks and the Packers remained unbeaten with a 30-16 victory over the winless Atlanta Falcons on Monday night.

 

The Packers (4-0) have opened a season by scoring at least 30 points in four straight games for the first time in franchise history.

 

Green Bay star receiver Davante Adams sat out a second straight game with a hamstring injury and Allen Lazard is on injured reserve with a core problem. A knee injury sidelined veteran tight end Marcedes Lewis.

 

Tonyan had touchdown receptions of 19 and 8 yards to cap the Packers' final two first-half possessions. He added a 21-yard touchdown reception midway through the third quarter.

 

Rodgers went 27 of 33 for 327 yards. He has thrown 13 touchdown passes without an interception this season.

 

Julio Jones had four catches for 32 yards and broke the Falcons' record for career receptions despite sitting out the second half with a hamstring injury. Jones entered the night tied with Roddy White, who caught 808 passes for the Falcons from 2005-13.

 

Rodgers became the 11th player in NFL history to have at least 4,000 completions. One of the other players to reach that mark is Ryan, who went 28 of 39 for 285 yards with no touchdown passes or interceptions Monday.

 

The Packers have an off week before visiting Tampa Bay on Oct. 18.

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IHSA Discusses Benchmarks for Winter Sports

What benchmarks need to be accomplished in order for the IHSA to conduct further sports offerings? 

 

That’s a key question for the Illinois Department of Public Health and state leadership says IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson.

 

 

The winter sports season—basketball and wrestling; is scheduled to begin Nov. 16.

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Colts Hold Off Bears

Philip Rivers threw a touchdown pass on Indianapolis' first possession, and the Colts shut down Nick Foles and the Chicago Bears in a 19-11 victory Sunday.

 

After Rivers connected with Mo Alie-Cox on a 13-yard score, the NFL's top-ranked defense did its job.

 

Indianapolis upgraded the defense in the offseason by bringing in 2018 Pro Bowl defensive tackle DeForest Buckner and 2017 All-Pro cornerback Xavier Rhodes. And the payoff is performances like this.

 

The Colts (3-1) kept the Bears (3-1) out of the end zone until Allen Robinson caught a 16-yard pass with 1:35 remaining. Indianapolis recovered the onside kick and came away with its third straight win, the Colts' best streak since beating Kansas City, Houston and Denver last October.

 

As for the Bears, their offense didn't look much better with Foles starting instead of Mitchell Trubisky. There was no big comeback this time by the team that became the first, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, with two wins in the same season after trailing by 16 or more in the fourth quarter.

 

The Bears managed just 269 yards - only 28 on the ground. Penalties were an issue, too. They got flagged eight times for 103 yards.

 

Foles, who led Chicago back from 16 down at Atlanta last week after Trubisky got pulled, never found a rhythm. The Super Bowl 52 MVP was 26 of 42 for 249 yards with an interception to go with the late TD in his first start since the Bears acquired him in the offseason from Jacksonville.

 

The Colts didn't exactly light up Chicago on offense. But they did play turnover-free ball.

 

Rivers was 16 of 29 for 190 yards and a TD. He needs four completions to join Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Brett Favre and Peyton Manning with 5,000.

 

The Colts played the second half without All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard, who left with a groin injury. But Indianapolis still had plenty to get by.

 

Rookie Julian Blackmon had his first interception when he picked off Foles at the Indianapolis 7 early in the fourth quarter with the Colts leading by 13. And Rodrigo Blankenship kicked four field goals.

 

The opening kickoff got pushed back a few hours in order to fill the slot left open when the Kansas City-New England game got postponed because of positive COVID-19 tests on both teams. Once it started, the Colts wasted little time grabbing the lead.

 

Jordan Glasgow blocked a punt by Pat O'Donnell on the opening drive, and Rivers capitalized with his TD toss to Alie-Cox.

 

Chicago's Cairo Santos kicked a 27-yard field goal early in the second quarter. Indianapolis had chances to break it open, only to settle for two field goals by Blankenship in the final 3:47 of the half after drives inside the 10 stalled. His 30-yarder made it 13-3 with 6 seconds remaining.

 

Blankenship added a 44-yarder in the closing minute of the third.

 

The Bears host Tom Brady and the the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday.

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Packers Place LB Kirksey, WR Lazard on Injured Reserve

Green Bay Packers linebacker Christian Kirksey and wide receiver Allen Lazard have gone on injured reserve after both players got hurt in a victory over the New Orleans Saints.

 

Kirksey left the 37-30 triumph in the first half with a pectoral injury Lazard played throughout the game and had a career-best performance with six catches for 146 yards and a touchdown.

 

But the 2018 undrafted free agent from Iowa State showed up on the injury report this week.

Packers coach Matt LaFleur said this week that Lazard hurt his core at some point during the game.

The injured reserve designation means that Kirksey and Lazard must sit out at least three weeks.

 

The Packers (3-0) host the Atlanta Falcons (0-3) on Monday night and then have an off week.

 

Going on injured reserve represents the latest misfortune for Kirksey, the main offseason addition to Green Bay’s defense.

 

Kirksey played all 16 games each of his first four seasons with the Cleveland Browns, but a hamstring injury limited him to seven games in 2018 and a torn pectoral muscle caused him to play just two games last year.

 

Inside linebacker is one area where the Packers don’t have much depth. With Kirksey hurt Sunday, the Packers inside linebacker who played the most snaps was Ty Summers, whose only previous NFL regular-season experience had come on special teams.

 

Lazard’s absence could leave the Packers without their top two receivers for the Falcons game. Davante Adams missed the Saints game with a hamstring injury and is listed as questionable for Monday, though he has practiced on a limited basis all week.

 

Cornerback Jaire Alexander (hand/knee), defensive tackle Kenny Clark (groin), tight end Josiah Deguara (ankle), running back Tyler Ervin (wrist), outside linebackers Rashan Gary (ankle) and Za’Darius Smith (ankle), center Corey Linsley (groin) and punter JK Scott (illness) also are listed as questionable. Tight end Marcedes Lewis (knee) is doubtful.

 

Ervin was a full participant in Saturday’s practice. Clark, Deguara and Smith practiced on a limited basis. Gary, Linsley, Scott and Lewis didn’t practice.

 

Linsley and Scott hadn’t appeared on the Packers’ injury report before Saturday.

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Packers Take On Falcons on Monday Night Football Twin Bill

Matt Ryan and the winless Falcons (0-3) head to Lambeau Field to take on Aaron Rodgers and the undefeated Packers (3-0) for Monday Night Football.

 

Atlanta is trying to avoid its first 0-4 start since 1999. The Falcons are also hoping to end a troubling trend: They're the first team to lose twice in a season after leading by at least 15 points in the fourth quarter — doing so in each of their last two games. 

 

Meanwhile, Rodgers and the Packers have been rolling along. They're the first team in NFL history to have at least 35 points and no turnovers in each of their first three games.

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Hamlin Outlasts Field for Win at Talladega

Denny Hamlin put himself in position to finally win in the playoffs by hanging at the back to avoid the carnage of the messiest and longest race in Talladega Superspeedway history.

 

His sweeping three-wide pass in triple overtime Sunday brought an end to the sloppiest race of the season. The Daytona 500 winner surged to the win coming out of the final turn — it was the 58th lead change of a race that went nearly 32 miles, or 12 laps, longer than scheduled.

 

Talladega was pocked with 13 cautions, two more than the record, and nearly every title contender had some sort of damage. Only six of the 12 made it to the finish.

 

Hamlin insisted lagging the No. 11 Toyota at the back of the field all day, waiting to pounce at the end, was his strategy all along. Either that, or he was simply the last driver standing when given the chance to snap a skid that started with the playoffs one month ago.

 

Fitting for this particular wreck-fest was that Hamlin’s win needed official review. He had gone below the yellow out-of-bounds line during the third overtime, but NASCAR ruled the move was legal.

 

The brutality of the day was punctuated by Kyle Busch, who was at last given a merciful exit when he was collected in an accident during the second overtime.

 

The reigning Cup champion is still winless this season and on the verge of playoff elimination. He was involved in a dizzying number of incidents at Talladega, including a 13-car accident in which older brother, Kurt, went airborne over Cole Custer. That accident brought out the first of two red-flag stoppages.

 

Hamlin raced to his 44th Cup victory, tying him with childhood hero Bill Elliott on the career list. He also earned the automatic berth into the next round of the playoffs, joining Kurt Busch, winner last week at home track Las Vegas but one of six playoff drivers that failed to reach the finish at Talladega.

 

An hour after the finish, NASCAR rescinded a penalty on Chase Elliott, which moved him up to fifth in the final running order — the highest of the playoff drivers behind Hamlin. Austin Dillon was the next highest-finishing playoff driver at 12th.

 

Four of 12 drivers will be eliminated next week at The Roval at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The bottom four in the standings are Kyle Busch, Clint Bowyer, Aric Almirola and Dillon.

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Shakeup in Latest College Football Polls

Oklahoma dropped out of The Associated Press college football poll for the first time since September 2016 and No. 24 Iowa State jumped back into the Top 25 after a day of upsets.

 

There largely was stability at the top of the rankings Sunday after No. 1 Clemson, No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Georgia and No. 4 Florida all won big, though the Bulldogs and Gators switched spots.

Clemson received 52 first-place votes and Alabama got eight from the panel of sports writers and broadcasters.

 

Notre Dame was idle and held at No. 5, while No. 6 Ohio State received two first-place votes despite no Big Ten Conference games scheduled until late October.

 

Overall, though, five teams dropped out of the Top 25 after eight ranked teams lost Saturday, six to unranked opponents.

 

The Sooners were involved in one of those upsets, losing at Iowa State for the first time since 1960. Oklahoma’s first two-game, regular-season losing streak in 21 years snapped its string of 64 straight poll appearances.

 

The 22nd-ranked Longhorns managed to hold on to a spot in the rankings, falling 13 spots after losing at home to TCU.

 

Losses up and down the top 25 have provided the setting for one of the most significant shakeups in the college football rankings to date. When the new Coaches Poll top 25 was released on Sunday, four teams had fallen out of the rankings and five teams saw jumps up of five spots or more. 

 

A total of eight ranked teams lost in Week 5, with six of those losses coming to unranked opponents. No. 13 Auburn and No. 20 Texas A&M weren't punished as much for their losses to No. 3 Georgia and No. 2 Alabama, while the falls for the other six teams dropped them right out of the rankings.

 

Oklahoma State was one of the biggest risers this week, up nine spots to No. 10 after beating Kansas to improve to 3-0. 

 

The most notable drop was for Oklahoma, which now sits at 1-2 after its loss to Iowa State. The Sooners are unranked for the first time since 2014. It's also the first 0-2 start in Big 12 play for the Sooners since 1998. 

 

While the shifts were dramatic further down the rankings, it's also notable to see the coaches start to put some more support behind Georgia, which is up one spot and now in a tie for No. 3 with its SEC East rival Florida. 

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Clinton Football Coach Disagrees With Notion Football Creates Educational Buy-In From Student Athletes

The #letthemplay movement has emphasized the benefits of playing sports for some kids, like creating opportunities to go on to college or remaining eligible so they can compete.

 

Clinton football coach Chris Ridgeway says he doesn't necessarily believe that. He explains he has coached kids that buy-in to the program and their school and has coached kids that have a careless attitude to all the things they are involved in.

 

 

Coach Ridgeway does point out, this school year is going to be interesting because the high school football season is now in the spring and players will have to keep their grades up the whole semester to be eligible for the spring season.

 

 

As the fall practice season goes on, Coach Ridgeway says numbers are tailing off just slighlty as more sports pick up. He says they are seeing consistency from the kids and is encouraged at the fact they continue to see good participation despite not have games. 
 

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Pinder delivers timely hit, A's advance in playoffs at last

Oakland finally ended 14 years of postseason futility, riding Chad Pinder's go-ahead, two-run single in the fifth inning and repeated costly walks by Chicago's relievers to rally past the White Sox 6-4 on Thursday and win the decisive third game of their AL wild-card round series.

 

Sean Murphy hit a two-run homer in the fourth against Codi Heuer as A's wives and families cheered from suites high above the diamond.

 

Lou Trivino allowed the first two batters to reach in the seventh, hitting James McCann with a pitch. First baseman Matt Olson ran 98 feet to make a magnificent catch in foul territory for the second out, then Jake Diekman relieved and loaded the bases with a walk to Nomar Mazara before getting Adam Engel's groundout.

 

Opening day starter in July, Frankie Montas, pitched two innings for the win. Liam Hendriks gave up McCann's leadoff single in the ninth and closed out the game, a day after failing to do so.

 

Hendriks retired Mazara on a called third strike to end it. 

 

Two relievers after Murphy's homer, Matt Foster walked Mark Canha with the bases-loaded to tie it, then Matt Olson's walk forced in another run that gave Oakland a 4-3 lead. Mazara hit a tying single in the fifth.

 

Led by top MVP candidate Jose Abreu, the White Sox ended a string of seven consecutive losing seasons to reach the postseason for the first time since 2008. They won the AL Central that year before losing 3-1 to Tampa Bay in the Division Series.

 

Loser Evan Marshall walked the bases loaded with a second straight free pass with two outs in the fifth to Marcus Semien before Pinder singled.

 

Melvin insisted Pinder's bat would help the A's in the playoffs, even after the infielder spent a stint on the injured list down the stretch with a strained right hamstring.

 

Melvin also turned to right-hander Mike Fiers to take the ball over lefty starter Sean Manaea. 

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Tatis, Myers homer twice, Padres stay alive with 11-9 win

Fernando Tatis Jr. hit two home runs and drove in five to boost the San Diego Padres to an electrifying 11-9 victory against the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday night that forced a deciding Game 3 in their NL wild-card series.

 

Wil Myers also homered twice and Manny Machado connected, but Tatis was the one who carried the party at empty Petco Park.

 

Four batters after Myers opened the seventh with a solo shot for a 7-6 lead, Tatis was more dramatic after his a two-run drive into the home run deck in right.

 

San Diego's powerful offense finally burst to life after slumbering through a 7-4 loss in Game 1 and a listless first five innings Thursday night.

 

After striking out with the bases loaded in the fourth, Tatis homered in consecutive innings.

Myers added a two-run homer in the eighth.

 

Cardinals reliever Genesis Cabrera opened the sixth by walking Austin Nola and rookie Jake Cronenworth before striking out Trent Grisham and making way for Giovanny Gallegos. Tatis lined a 2-2 pitch into the left-field seats to pull the Padres to 6-5. Machado followed by lining a 3-2 pitch to left-center to tie it.

 

Emilio Pagan got the win and former Cardinals pitcher Trevor Rosenthal pitched the ninth for the save.

 

Kolten Wong homered and drove in four runs for the Cardinals, who led 6-2 in the sixth.

 

Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright allowed two runs and six hits before being chased after 3 1/3 innings. He struck out three and walked two.

 

Wong gave the Cardinals a 4-0 lead with a no-doubt, two-run shot to deep right field off Zach Davies with one out in the second. Harrison Bader was aboard on a single that scored Matt Carpenter after his leadoff double.

 

Yadier Molina hit an RBI single in the first and added his 100th career postseason hit in the ninth before being lifted for a pinch-runner.

 

The Cardinals closed the gap with two unearned runs in the eight, both on sacrifice flies, after Tatis committed a throwing error at shortstop. Paul Goldschmidt homered in the ninth, his second this series.

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DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department Director Weighs In On No Football, Volleyball, Soccer in Illinois

The fight for high school football, volleyball, and soccer is headed to the courtroom, but it is unlikely to have any impact on bringing those sports back for the fall season, meaning those sports will be headed for a spring season in 2021 under direction from Illinois Governor JB Pritzker due to the COVID pandemic.

 

DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department Director Dave Remmert is also the cross country coach at Monticello High School and says from the kids' perspectives, there is very little reason high school kids should not be competing. He recognizes comparing COVID to H1N1 often draws criticism but he points out, that was a disease much more deadly to school-age children. 

 

 

Many say kids who would be playing sports risk contracting the virus and taking it home to an at-risk adult in their life but Remmert says that just isn't likely. He says data suggests kids are actually more likely to contract it from an adult, household contact than the inverse.

 

 

Remmert says every other state has adapted as more data has become available. He recognizes while this is a novel virus and caution early was warranted, he says it continues to not impact youth. 

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Goldschmidt, Cardinals win 7-4 in Padres' return to playoffs

Paul Goldschmidt hit a two-run home run during a four-run first inning, St. Louis' bullpen held strong after starter Kwang Hyun Kim stumbled in his playoff debut and the Cardinals ruined the Padres' long-awaited return to the playoffs with a 7-4 victory Wednesday in the opener of their NL wild-card series.

 

Right-hander Chris Paddack (0-1) failed to give the Padres the boost they desperately needed after Mike Clevinger and Dinelson Lamet were left off the wild-card roster due to injuries suffered in their final regular-season starts.

 

Paddack lasted only 2 1/3 innings and gave up six runs.

 

After retiring leadoff batter Kolten Wong, Paddack allowed the next five batters to reach. San Diego native Tommy Edman singled and Goldschmidt homered to left. Dylan Carlson doubled, 38-year-old Yadier Molina hit an RBI single and Paul DeJong doubled before Matt Carpenter hit a sacrifice fly.

Paddack allowed three straight hits to open the third, including DeJong's RBI single, before being replaced by Matt Strahm. Carpenter added an RBI single for a 6-2 lead.

 

Paddack allowed eight hits, struck out one, and walked none.

 

Giovanny Gallegos (1-0) pitched 1 1/3 innings for the win and Alex Reyes got the last four outs for the save. Five relievers combined for 5 1/3 innings, allowing three hits and an unearned run.

Kim, a 32-year-old rookie, allowed three runs and five hits in 3 2/3 innings, struck out two, and walked two.

 

Kim allowed Eric Hosmer's sac fly in the first, Aaron Nola's sac fly in the second, and Tommy Pham's RBI single in the third.

 

Nola hit another sac fly in the sixth. Fernando Tatis Jr., who had reached twice, scored twice and hit a ball to the warning track in right, struck out with runners on first and second to end the inning.

 

Tatis came up with two on and two out in the eighth and grounded out. Rookie Jake Cronenworth had a baserunning blunder in both the sixth and eighth.

 

Dexter Fowler hit an RBI single in the ninth off Trevor Rosenthal, who started his big league career with the Cardinals.

 

St. Louis' Harrison Bader struck out five times. The center fielder did make a nice catch up against the fence of Wil Myers' fly ball to end the game.

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Dickerson homers as Marlins beat Cubs 5-1 in playoff opener

Corey Dickerson hit a three-run homer off a fading Kyle Hendricks in the seventh inning, and Miami beat the Chicago Cubs 5-1 on Wednesday in Game 1 of their NL wild-card series.

 

Jesus Aguilar also homered and Sandy Alcantara pitched three-hit ball into the seventh.

 

Miami was 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position before Dickerson drove Hendricks' 106th pitch just over the wall in left-center for his first career playoff homer, erasing the Cubs' 1-0 lead on a cool, blustery afternoon.

 

After Hendricks was pulled by first-year manager David Ross, Marte singled and Aguilar hit a drive to right off Jeremy Jeffress for his third playoff homer.

 

Hendricks (0-1) matched a season-high with 106 pitches in his first start in a week. Known for his pinpoint control, the right-hander issued a season-high three walks and hit a batter. He had permitted just two hits before the Marlins chased him with three in a row in the seventh, culminating in Dickerson's one-out homer.

 

Alcantara (1-0) struck out four and walked three in 6 2/3 innings in his first career playoff start.

Chicago got its only run on Ian Happ's two-out drive in the fifth for his first postseason homer. Happ had two of the Cubs' four hits.

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A's hold off Abreu, White Sox 5-3, force series to Game 3

Marcus Semien and Khris Davis connected early and Oakland's bullpen barely held off Jose Abreu and the Chicago White Sox late for a 5-3 win Wednesday that sent the AL playoff series to a deciding Game 3.

 

A's reliever Jake Diekman walked home a run in the ninth, then retired the big-hitting Abreu on a sharp grounder to end it and even the best-of-three wild-card matchup at 1-all.

 

The White Sox went 14-0 in the regular season against left-handed starters and beat southpaw Jesus Luzardo in the playoff opener.

 

Bassitt allowed one run on six hits in seven-plus innings during an impressive postseason debut as the AL West champion A's snapped a six-game postseason losing streak dating to 2013.

 

The right-hander, drafted by the White Sox before being traded to Oakland in December 2014, came in on a nice roll with an 0.34 ERA in September.

 

Things got interesting when Bassitt gave way to Liam Hendriks after a leadoff single to Tim Anderson in the eighth with a 5-0 lead. Yasmani Grandal hit a two-run homer one out later.

 

Hendriks surrendered a pair of two-out singles in the ninth and walked Yoan Moncada to load the bases. Diekman relieved and walked Grandal to bring home a run.

 

Abreu, a leading candidate for AL MVP, hit a hard grounder to second base as Diekman earned a tough save.

 

Oakland hit three consecutive one-out singles in the first against Dallas Keuchel, and rookie second baseman Nick Madrigal's fielding error allowed two runs to score.

 

Keuchel exited after 3 1/3 innings having allowed five runs - three earned - and six hits.

 

He couldn't hold down the slugging A's as Lucas Giolito did a day earlier taking a perfect game into the seventh inning of Chicago's 4-1 Game 1 victory.

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