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Caragher introduced as Spartans coach

Caragher introduced as Spartans coach

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) Bay Area native Ron Caragher is back home.

Caragher, who was introduced as the new football coach at San Jose State on Monday, still has family in nearby Morgan Hill and plans to be in the area before boarding a plane to watch the Spartans play at the Military Bowl in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 27 two days later.

``This is a homecoming for me,'' Caragher said. ``I used to attend Spartan camps in the summer and as a high school player I watched games and played in games at Spartan Stadium.''

Caragher, who spent the past six years at San Diego, replaces Mike MacIntyre to become the 28th coach at the school. He signed a five-year contract a week after MacIntyre left to take the head job at Colorado. The No. 24 Spartans finished the regular season 10-2.

After the 1-12 season two years ago featuring a heavy schedule of ranked teams, the Spartans went 5-7 in MacIntyre's second season last year before this season's rise to become a nationally respected program.

``Things were up in the air when we didn't know much,'' Spartans quarterback David Fales said. ``We finally have a coach again and we can get back to work.''

Caragher replaced Jim Harbaugh, who is coaching the San Francisco 49ers, at San Diego, where he compiled a 44-22 record with three conference championships. He's also been an assistant coach at UCLA, Kentucky.

Harbaugh learned Monday afternoon that San Jose State had hired Caragher, and called him a ``wonderful, wonderful, wonderful guy and coach.''

``I would stop back down there when I was in San Diego. Talked on the phone many times and just through players who were still there at USD,'' Harbaugh said. ``Like I said when I'd be recruiting in San Diego I'd always stop by the trailer and see if anybody was there. Ron's been up here recruiting in the Bay Area when I was over at Stanford. We'd run into each other. Great guy. Great guy, great family. My son will be disappointed. He's friends with Ron's son. They go to the same high school. But that's great. Great hire by San Jose State.''

``He talked to us a team,'' Fales said of Caragher. ``From everything I've heard he's a down-to-earth person who really cares about his players.''

Caragher attended Bellarmine Prep in San Jose before going on to UCLA, where he spent four years as a backup quarterback.

``Being at San Diego, we would recruit the Bay Area,'' Caragher said. ``I've always come up every December and I had a trip planned this year. Northern California has been very good to us and I hope it can continue to be good.''

San Jose State athletic director Gene Bleymaier said Caragher was always an option as a potential candidate.

``I have followed Coach Caragher's career for some time,'' said Bleymaier, who came to San Jose State from Boise State. ``I've always hoped I would have the opportunity to hire him here at some point. Little did I know it would be so soon.''

Bleymaier said the selection committee vetted about 10 candidates and brought in five for formal interviews.

``What impressed me about Ron was everything,'' Bleymaier said. ``From his reputation, his background, his local roots, it was a total package.''

Caragher has been nominated for the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year, which recognizes the top coach in the Football Championship Subdivision.

When San Jose State wide receiver Jabari Carr was introduced to Caragher, the coach quickly asked him to assume his stance and took a minute for a quick lesson.

``I'm impressed with how far this team came,'' Caragher said. ``That took commitment. I'm excited for this challenge and this opportunity.''

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AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley contributed to this report from San Francisco.

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4 reasons the Caps beat the Blue Jackets in Game 4

4 reasons the Caps beat the Blue Jackets in Game 4

The Caps put together their best performance of the series Thursday in a 4-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 4 of their 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs first-round series.

he win pulled Washington even with Columbus in the series 2-2.

Here's how the Caps got the big win.

4 Reasons why the Capitals beat the Blue Jackets in Game 4

1. Tom Wilson factors in the offense

Wilson’s hands are good for more than just punching.

He proved that again on Thursday as he scored the first goal for the second consecutive game. Chandler Stephenson and John Carlson provided the pressure on Sergei Bobrovsky. With Bobrovsky scrambling in the crease, Evgeny Kuznetsov passed the puck back to Wilson who fired the one-timer past the Columbus netminder.

In the first two games of the series, Wilson had no points and no shots. In the last two games, he has two goals and 13 shots on goal.

2. A great keep-in by John Carlson

We saw how dangerous it was when penalty killers fail to clear the puck in Game 1 when the Caps failed to clear in the third period leading to the game-tying power play goal.

In Game 4, the roles were reversed. Trying to kill off an Artemi Panarin penalty, Cam Atkinson attempted to clear the puck with the backhand. Carlson skillfully corralled the puck out of the air at the blue line to keep it in the zone.

The power play was able to reset and T.J. Oshie scored the rebound goal soon after.

3. Braden Holtby closes the door to finish the second period

After the Caps took the 2-0 lead, the Blue Jackets made a late push to try to pull one back.

In the last 10 minutes of the second period, Columbus had 13 shot attempts, five of which were not net. Several of those shots were high-quality opportunities, but Holtby came up with the big saves that the team was not getting earlier in the series.

His play ensured the Caps took the 2-0 lead to the locker room.

4. Alex Ovechkin extends the lead to three

Washington entered the third period up 2-0. In each of the first three games, the Caps held a two-goal lead and allowed the Blue Jackets to battle back and tie the score. Even with a two-goal lead, it still felt at the start of the third that the next goal would decide the game. If Columbus pulled within one and got the crowd back on their side, we have seen what that momentum can do for them.

This time, however, Ovechkin struck first. After a board battle behind the net, the puck trickled out to the faceoff circle. Ovechkin grabbed it and quickly snapped the puck past Bobrovsky before anyone could react.

The goal gave Washington their first three-goal lead of the series and shut the Blue Jackets’ comeback down before it could begin.

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Tarik's 3 stars: Ovechkin said Caps would even the series, on Thursday, he helped them do it

Tarik's 3 stars: Ovechkin said Caps would even the series, on Thursday, he helped them do it

COLUMBUS — Alex Ovechkin confidently predicted earlier this week that the Caps were going to win twice at Nationwide Arena and take their first round series back to Washington knotted, two games apiece.

And, on Thursday night, that’s exactly what Ovechkin made sure his team did.

No. 8, who was playing in his franchise-record 101st playoff game, scored his third goal of the playoffs early in the final frame and the Caps beat the Blue Jackets 4-1 in Game 4.

Tarik’s Three Stars of Capitals-Blue Jackets Game 4

1. Tom Wilson, Capitals

After a slow (and penalty-plagued) start to this series, Wilson has become a force. Yes, he took another minor, but the good is far outweighing the bad these days. Big Willy recorded a goal, an assist and a team-high seven shots. 

2. Braden Holtby, Capitals

Holtby had his best game in, well, a long time. He stopped 23 shots, including all eight he saw in a contentious second period.

The goal he surrendered was a nearly unstoppable tip-in by Boone Jenner.

3. T.J. Oshie, Capitals

Osh just plays the game so dang hard.

So it should come as no surprise that he delivered in his team’s biggest game of the season to this point. Oshie, of course, scored the game-winning goal on the power play midway through the second period.

It was No. 77’s second tally of the series. He also directed six shots at the Columbus net and made a couple of hits...all from a player who's been fighting through injury the past few weeks.

Agree? Disagree?

Let us know what you think in the comments.