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San Jose State tops Bowling Green in Military Bowl

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San Jose State tops Bowling Green in Military Bowl

WASHINGTON (AP) Among the accomplishments this season for San Jose State: It's no longer a school anyone would want to schedule for homecoming.

The No. 24 Spartans have their first 11-win season since 1940, capping a comeback year with a 29-20 win over Bowling Green in the Military Bowl. In the national rankings for the first time since 1975, San Jose State (11-2) finished with a seven-game winning streak and put aside the distractions surrounding the recent departure of coach Mike MacIntyre.

``I don't think we've ever been respected like we should have been,'' defensive end Travis Johnson said. ``They've looked at San Jose State on the schedule and been like, `OK, you know that's a beatable game.' And that's something we all wanted to change. No one ever wants to be looked at as someone who's easy to beat.''

The Spartans were 1-12 just two years ago and were rebuilt by MacIntyre, who left this month for a better payday at Colorado. Defensive coordinator Kent Baer coached the bowl game but was passed over for the full-time job in favor of San Diego's Ron Caragher. Baer plans to follow MacIntyre to the Buffalos.

``I didn't cry, but I wanted to,'' said Baer, asked about his postgame speech to the team. ``I stood tall, took a couple of deep breaths. It's been a little emotional the last few days.''

The only quibble is whether the 2012 Spartans should have bragging rights as the best team in school history ahead of the 1938 and 1940 teams, which both went 11-1.

``A couple of them have contested it, but that's all right,'' Baer said with a laugh. ``We'll play `em.''

Bowling Green (8-5) had a similar turnaround, improving from 2-10 in 2010 under coach Dave Clawson to get back in the postseason. The Falcons, like the Spartans, shouldn't be mistaken for a soft spot on the schedule any time soon.

``A year ago we made a nice step that we went from being awful to average,'' Clawson said. ``I felt this was a team that could make that next step, and we won three more games. ... We found a way to get from five to eight. Now we have to find a way to get from eight to 11.''

Coaching aside, the difference Thursday was that San Jose State had the better quarterback, David Fales, who led the nation in completion percentage in the regular season. The dart-throwing transfer started strong and finished stronger in the wind and cold at RFK Stadium, completing 33 of 43 passes for 395 yards and two touchdowns.

Fales led the drive that set up Austin Lopez's 27-yard field goal with 4:43 remaining, and De'Leon Eskridge's 1-yard run with 2:34 left provided the insurance. Fales was an unknown when he arrived on campus in the spring, but he quickly became the offensive leader the Spartans needed.

``He was like that puzzle piece that was able to make everything come together,'' Johnson said.

Fales went over the 4,000-yard passing mark for the season, hitting Kyle Nunn for a 33-yard score to give the Spartans a first-quarter lead and finding the stutter-stepping Chandler Jones for an 18-yard reception that put San Jose State back in front, 19-13, in the third quarter.

Bowling Green retook the lead in the fourth quarter with a 68-yard drive, finished off by John Pettigrew's 1-yard run with 10:26 remaining.

But Fales went 7 for 10 on a 68-yard march that got well within range for Lopez, who had a perfect season - making all 17 of his field goal attempts. The Spartans then forced a turnover that led to Eskridge's clinching touchdown.

``We didn't generate enough yards, didn't generate enough points,'' Clawson said. ``At some point you have to score points to win games. We struggled with that all year. When we played the better teams on our schedule, that's where we came up short.''

The Military Bowl was set to pit Army against an ACC team, but Army wasn't bowl-eligible and the ACC had a short supply of bowl-eligible schools. As a result, there was little excitement for the game in the nation's capital. The upper deck of RFK was virtually empty during the second half of the MAC-WAC matchup, and the attendance was announced as 17,835.

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Follow Joseph White on Twitter:http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP

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New free agent Doug Martin unlikely fix to Redskins' woeful run game

New free agent Doug Martin unlikely fix to Redskins' woeful run game

News broke that the Tampa Bay Bucaneers released former Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin, and while the name certainly triggers value, his play of the last two seasons should calm the excitement. 

Since a 2015 season where Martin rushed for 1,400 yards and averaged nearly 5 yards-per-carry in 16 games, Martin has been suspended, undergone substance abuse rehab and missed games due to injury.

In the last two seasons, Martin has played in 16 of 32 games, rushed for 827 yards and averaged less than 3 yards-per-carry.

Over his six year NFL career with the Bucs, Martin has only played two full seasons. Those two seasons were great, in 2012 and 2015, but the other four have been largely disappointing. 

RELATED: WHAT SHOULD THE REDSKINS DO AT RUNNING BACK?

The Redskins averaged just 3.6 yards-per-carry last season, and could definitely use a boost in the run game. It's entirely possible Washington might look to upgrade their offensive backfield this offseason, either in free agency or in the 2018 NFL Draft, but Martin does not look like the player to help. 

Early in the 2017 season, it appeared the Redskins run game might be a strength for the offense. After a disappointing effort on the ground to open the year in a loss to the Eagles, the Redskins rushed for at least 111 yards in their next three contests, including nearly 230 yards on the ground in a Week 2 win over the Rams. 

Injuries undid the run game, as Rob Kelley got hurt and the offensive line lost players too. Over the course of the season, rookie Samaje Perine sustained minor injuries and Chris Thompson was lost for the year with a broken leg. 

Going into 2018, Kelley, Perine, Thompson and Kapri Bibbs are all on the roster and expected for now to stay with the team. Yet another reason why the Redskins are likely to stay away from Doug Martin.

RELATED: 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 5.0

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Michal Kempny excited to move from last place Chicago to first place Caps

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USA TODAY Sports

Michal Kempny excited to move from last place Chicago to first place Caps

On Sunday, Michal Kempny was a defenseman struggling for a spot in the lineup for a team poised to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2008. On Monday, he became potentially an important piece on the roster of the first place Capitals.

The last few days have been quite the whirlwind for Kempny who tallied an assist for Chicago on Saturday in a 7-1 blowout against what is now his current team. While the Blackhawks may have gotten the better of Washington that night, Kempny is excited about the postseason opportunity that now lies in front of him.

"Nobody knows what's happening in Chicago, but I'm really happy and I'm really glad that I can be here," Kempny told reporters on Tuesday after his first skate with the team. "There is option of play a playoff and I'm very happy for it."

RELATED: WHERE MICHAL KEMKPNY FITS IN THE CAPS' LINEUP

The 27-year-old Czech defenseman played only 31 games for the Blackhawks this season, but considering Washington's need to shore up its defense before the trade deadline and the team's willingness to give up a third-round pick to acquire him, it is likely he will have a much more significant role with the Caps.

"I thought that I [was] going to get more space on the ice and more ice time, but I didn't play more than half games," Kempny said of his decision to originally sign with Chicago. "But now I'm here and I'm really glad that I'm here. Washington is amazing city and great organization and I hope I will get a chance to access myself on the ice more than in Chicago."

Kempny will not play in Tuesday's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but did say he expects to play Thursday when the team visits the Florida Panthers.

When he does get into the lineup, it is unclear just how big a role he will play initially or how the team foresees utilizing him going forward. He is a left-shot defenseman and did tell reporters he prefers to play on that side. It seems unlikely the team would acquire him just to put him on his offside.

As of now, however, everything regarding his role in Washington is up on the air.

"I need everything settle down a little bit," he said. "New teammates, new people around here."

MORE CAPITALS: MEET MICHAL KEMPNY