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Spurrier: Lattimore will play again for Gamecocks

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Spurrier: Lattimore will play again for Gamecocks

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier led the cheers of more than 1,000 people who turned out Monday to wish injured star Marcus Lattiimore a quick recovery and a happy 21st birthday.

``This is not a memorial service,'' Spurrier said. ``This is a happy birthday to Marcus and an appreciation for everything he's done and is going to continue to do for South Carolina.''

And then Spurrier gave out a gift of hope to worried Gamecock fans.

``The message he gave me was, `I'll be back,''' Spurrier said. ``So he's coming back.''

That was the last thing on anyone's mind after watching Lattimore's devastating injury. His right knee was dislocated and sustained significant ligament damage requiring surgery and maybe needing more than a year of rehabilitation. Lattimore was released from the hospital Sunday night.

Playing again, though, wasn't what Monday's gathering was about. Fans filled the area in front of the McKissick Museum on the school's historic Horseshoe, many wearing Lattimore's No. 21. They signed large cards of support, brought birthday balloons and sang ``Happy Birthday'' to their beloved star.

``I told somebody, he might be the most popular Gamecock player ever,'' Spurrier said.

The respect for Lattimore was evident on the field Saturday when Tennessee's players came over to show support as he was carted off the field.

Georgia coach Mark Richt said he and Bulldogs prayed for Lattimore's recovery after their session Sunday. Rival Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, who heavily recruited the Lattimore before he chose the Gamecocks, said the player was everything that's right about college football.

``Regardless of what happens, he's been a great representative of the game of football and a great representative for his university,'' Swinney said.

Lattimore has gotten messages of support on Twitter from a ``Who's Who'' of sports stars and other celebrities like Miami Heat star LeBron James, New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow and Hootie and the Blowfish singer Darius Rucker.

``I've never met anyone who says they dislike Marcus Lattimore,'' Gamecocks quarterback Dylan Thompson, who's known the running back since childhood.

On Monday, the tributes continued. Gov. Nikki Haley - an unabashed Clemson fan - declared it ``Marcus Lattimore Day'' in the state.

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican, brought a bi-partisan letter from the state Congressional delegation about the wonderful influence Lattimore's had on South Carolina.

University President Harris Pastides shared words of good wishes from Vice President Joe Biden, whose personal aide is former South Carolina player Fran Person.

Lattimore was watching the ceremony on the Internet, Pastides said.

Seth Rose, a former South Carolina tennis player, brought his 16-month-old son Cole dressed in a Lattimore jersey. Rose recalled this summer running into Lattimore near the school's athletic complex and the star athlete graciously posed for a photo with the toddler.

``He really is a great person and a great role model,'' Rose said.

Lattimore electrified the university from the minute he pulled out his South Carolina cap in February 2010 to end a heated recruiting battle for the state's ``Mr. Football'' winner.

He made his mark quickly, rushing for 182 yards and two touchdowns in his first Southeastern Conference game, a 17-6 victory over Georgia. The Gamecocks haven't lost to the Bulldogs since.

Lattimore helped South Carolina to its first SEC East Division title in 2010. He tore ligaments in his left knee midway through last season and missed South Carolina's final six games.

The running back spent six months recovering from surgery to make it back to the field this year and he didn't appear to have lost a step. Lattimore had the Gamecocks in the hunt for a national title this fall at 6-0 and No. 3 in the rankings. South Carolina slid out of the top 10 with a pair of losses at LSU and Florida as Lattimore rushed for 48 yards combined.

He finished the season with 662 yards and 11 touchdowns, both team highs. Lattimore has a school record of 41 career touchdowns. If everything goes well, Spurrier believes Lattimore might add to that total.

``Can't wait until that 21 is playing out there at Williams-Brice real soon,'' Spurrier said.

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Team USA reclaims women's hockey gold from Canada in instant Olympic classic

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USA TODAY Sports Images

Team USA reclaims women's hockey gold from Canada in instant Olympic classic

GANGNEUNG, South Korea  -- The Americans' gold medal drought in women's hockey -- finally -- is over.

Even though they needed the first shootout in an Olympic women's final to do it.

Twenty long years after taking gold when the sport debuted in 1998 at Nagano, the United States snapped Canada's streak of four straight Olympic golds Thursday with a 3-2 shootout victory.

Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson scored in the sixth round of the shootout to start the Americans piling over the boards, throwing gloves in the air before huddling and hugging on the ice.

Gigi Marvin and Amanda Kessel also scored in the shootout. Monique Lamoureux-Morando tied it up with a breakaway with 6:21 left in regulation.

Hilary Knight also had a goal.

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Maddie Rooney made 29 saves for the win against their archrival. The 20-year-old goalie stopped the last two Canadian shooters in the shootout in Brianne Jenner and then Meghan Agosta on her second attempt.

It was sweet redemption for the 10 Americans who watched the Canadians snatch gold from their hands in 2014 at Sochi after tying it up with 54.6 seconds left in regulation and winning 3-2 in overtime.

Not only did the Americans snap the Canadians' stranglehold on Olympic gold, they ended a skid of five straight against their rival coming into this game, including a 2-1 loss to wrap up pool play a week ago.

Marie-Philip Poulin and Haley Irwin each scored goals for Canada. Agosta and Melodie Daoust scored in the shootout.

The Americans had been dominating in non-Olympic years, winning the last four and eight of the last 10 world championships, including a 3-2 overtime victory over Canada last spring.

Their domination on the world stage only made the lack of gold at the Olympics all the more noticeable, and Canada has been in their way since losing the inaugural gold in Nagano. Canada had won 24 straight Olympic games to go along with four consecutive gold medals. It's a streak of success in a women's team sport second only to the United States' basketball team's current streak of six straight gold.

This was the eighth time these North American rivals met in the Olympics and the fifth with gold on the line. None of the previous seven were decided by more than two goals.

U.S. coach Robb Stauber went with the 20-year-old Rooney in net for the biggest game of her career, but she was the goalie for each of the three games the Americans beat Canada last fall during their pre-Olympic exhibition tour, including Four Nations Cup title in November.

Canada had Shannon Szabados, 31, in goal for her third Olympic gold medal game, and her teammates made her job very easy by keeping the puck in front of Rooney for most of the first period by dictating play. The Americans couldn't use their speed or get organized even with two power plays until Sarah Nurse went in the box for interference late in the period.

Knight gave the U.S. a 1-0 lead with 25.4 seconds left in the first, redirecting a shot from Sidney Morin through Szabados' pads giving the Americans a jolt of energy.

That lasted only 2 minutes into the second when Irwin tipped a pass from Blayre Turnbull over Rooney's left leg for Canada. When Morin lost the puck, Melodie Daoust grabbed it and passed to Meghan Agosta who hit Poulin for the wrister into the left side of the net at 6:55 for a 2-1 lead.

 

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With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

WASHINGTON  -- The Washington Nationals say they have agreed to a one-year deal with 40-year-old reliever Joaquin Benoit.

The team announced the move Wednesday, along with placing pitcher Joe Ross on the 60-day disabled list as he recovers from Tommy John surgery in July.

The Nationals didn't release terms of the agreement, though a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press on Monday that it was for $1 million.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the deal wasn't official at the time.

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Benoit is a right-hander who first reached the big leagues in 2001. 

He has played for eight teams, finishing last year with Pittsburgh.

He has 764 career appearances, going 58-49 with a 3.83 ERA and 53 saves.

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