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NCAA Roundup: NIU rallies to beat Kansas

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NCAA Roundup: NIU rallies to beat Kansas

DEKALB -- Northern Illinois rallied from a 23-13 fourth quarter deficit to defeat Kansas 30-23 Saturday afternoon. The Huskies (3-1) victory moved its home field winning streak to 17 games, while the Jayhawks (1-3) lost their 16th straight road contest.

Northern Illinois running back Leighton Settle scored on a 2-yard run with 4:33 left to cap a 53-yard drive and the Huskies 17-point fourth quarter. The short field was set up when Huskies defensive back Joe Windsor sacked Kansas quarterback Dayne Crist.

Kansas defensive back Tyler Patmon intercepted Huskies quarterback Jordan Lynch and returned it 54-yards for a touchdown 27 seconds into the fourth quarter. The score gave Kansas a 23-13 lead before Ron Doherty missed the extra point.

On the ensuing possession for the Huskies, Lynch threw a 9-yard jump pass to Martel Moore over the middle, who ran untouched for a 65-yard score with 14:23 left to make it 23-20.

Huskies kicker Mathew Sims then tied the score at 23-23, when he kicked a 44-yard field goal with 7:58 left in the game.

Lynch had 134 yards on 22 carries, his third 100-plus rushing game of the season. Lynch also completed 23 of 35 passes for 235 yards as the Northern Illinois offense amassed 455 total yards.

For Kansas, James Sims rushed 18 times, totaling 91 yards and two touchdowns.

The teams traded scores in the first half, with Northern Illinois holding a 13-10 lead at intermission. Kansas opened the scoring in the first quarter on a 26-yard field goal by Doherty. The Huskies took the ensuing kickoff and reached the end zone on a 4-yard pass from Lynch to wide receiver Tommylee Lewis. But the point after touchdown was wide by Mathew Sims, as the Huskies led 6-3 late in the first quarter.

Kansas grabbed the lead back early in the second quarter when James Sims scored on a 26-yard run up the middle, capping an 86-yard drive. Northern Illinois concluded the first half scoring, as running back Akeem Daniels scored on a 3-yard run with 1:38 remaining.

Kansas took the second half kickoff 71 yards in 14 plays with James Sims scoring his second touchdown of the game on a on a 1-yard run on fourth and goal.

The Jayhawks entered the contest with a two game losing streak, while Northern Illinois had won its previous two contests.

Full Recap Box Score

Southern Illinois 14, Missouri State 6

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Southern Illinois got big first-quarter plays from Emmanuel Souarin and Mulku Kalokoh to beat Missouri State 14-6 Saturday in a defensive game that featured 20 punts for 738 yards.In the Missouri Valley Conference opener for both teams, the Salukis (2-2) prevailed despite going 0 for 13 on third-down conversions and managing just 198 yards of offense.

Souarin returned an interception 44 yards for a score in the opening quarter. On Southern Illinois' next possession, Kalokoh broke off a 36-yard run that set up his 12-yard touchdown reception from Kory Faulkner.

The Bears (0-4) managed 362 yards of offense but got only two Austin Witmer field goals in the first half to show for it.

Ryan Heaston rushed for 126 yards for Missouri State, which was hampered by nine penalties for 100 yards. Ashton Glaser completed 20 of 35 passes for 180 yards and two interceptions.

Full Recap Box Score

Illinois State 23, Western Illinois 3
MACOMB -- Darrelynn Dunn carried the load for FCS power Illinois State in Saturday's 23-3 victory over Western Illinois, rushing 29 times for 123 yards and two touchdowns in the victory.The 15th ranked Redbirds (4-0) stayed perfect on the road this season at 2-0 and it is the first time since 1967 Illinois State has started a season with four straight wins.

Dunn gave Illinois State its first score of the afternoon with a 2-yard touchdown run at the 4:02 mark in the first quarter. It was the third 100-plus yards rushing effort in a game this season by Dunn.

Illinois State totaled 373 yards of offense against Western Illinois (2-2), which managed only 137 yards and a field goal themselves. A 21-yard field goal by Pat Smith with five minutes to go in the third quarter was the only drive ending in a score for the Leathernecks.

Full Recap Box Score

Eastern Illinois 50, Murray State 49 in OT

CHARLESTON -- Eastern Illinois coach Dino Babers had seen enough, calling for a two-point conversion play in the first overtime Saturday night which gave his Panthers a thrilling 50-49 overtime victory over Murray State.

Having been on the receiving end all night, Eastern Illinois (2-2) receiver Erik Lora had his number called in the huddle once again, but this time to throw, not catch. He found Von Wise in the end zone on the two-point play for the victory.

Down 49-42, Jimmy Garoppolo found Chavar Watkins on a 9-yard touchdown throw to make it 49-48 before Lora's heroics.

Lora had 21 catches for 269 yards and three touchdowns Saturday. The 21 receptions were an Eastern Illinois and Ohio Valley Conference record.

Both teams recorded 1,142 yards of total offense, with Murray State (1-3) claiming 574 of it.

Casey Brockman was 43 of 64 for 423 yards and two touchdowns for the Racers.

Full Recap Box Score

It might have been just another dinger in homer-happy All-Star Game, but Willson Contreras will remember it forever

It might have been just another dinger in homer-happy All-Star Game, but Willson Contreras will remember it forever

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Willson Contreras’ third-inning home run might not have ended up standing out too much in an All-Star Game featuring a jaw-dropping and record-shattering 10 dingers.

But, obviously, it will always stand out to the guy who hit it.

“I enjoyed every single second that I spent out there.”

Remarkably, Contreras repeated his feat from two seasons ago, when he hit his first big league homer on the first big league pitch he ever saw. Ditto on Tuesday night at Nationals Park, when he launched the first pitch he saw as an All Star out over the wall in left field.

“When I hit the ball and thought it was gone, I went back to 2016, playing in Chicago. It was the same thing, first pitch for a homer,” Contreras, all smiles, said following the American League’s 8-6 victory. “I’m really blessed with these kinds of situations. Those moments, they’re going to be history and they’re going to be in my mind and my heart.”

Contreras’ long ball was the highlight of the evening for fans watching back home in Chicago. Javy Baez got a hit in his first All-Star at-bat but was outdone by his teammate. White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu was hitless in his two trips to the plate.

And while it will be a highlight on this night for Cubs fans, it will be a highlight forever for Contreras, who enjoyed the heck out of his first All-Star experience.

“‘I did it, I did it,’” he said when asked what was going through his head. “I knew it was something special. And I wasn’t trying to do too much because these guys are nasty, throwing 98 in the first inning. I just tried to get the hit out.”

The nasty guy he went deep against was Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Blake Snell, whose 2.27 ERA on the season made him a very worthy inclusion on the AL roster. But Contreras was more impressed with the guy who started the game for the National League, raving about Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer after the game.

“He was great, man. Great stuff, he gets so into the game,” Contreras said. “I would like to have him one day on my team or play with him for a few years. That guy is amazing.”

That’s not the current Nationals star Cubs fans are dreaming about, Willy, but point taken.

But it wasn’t Snell or Scherzer or even Baez or Jon Lester, also in the NL dugout, who Contreras was thinking about the most during his home run trot. Instead, Contreras was thinking about his grandfather, Ernesto, who passed away a few years ago.

“My grandpa, he died in 2015,” Contreras said. “I grew up with him.

“He didn’t play ball. But I feel like every time I go out there and step into the box, he’s at my back. It just feels amazing when you hit a homer or do something special, look at the sky and you know that he’s there smiling somewhere.”

It all made for a pretty incredible night for Contreras, who has officially and loudly taken his place among baseball’s best on the game’s biggest stage.

The only thing that was missing? The ball.

Yeah, Contreras didn’t get the ball, not that he really expected to. But if you’ve got it, he wants it.

“I don’t think they’re giving it back,” he said with a grin.

We’ll see. Social media’s a powerful tool. So reach out.

Manny Machado as a Dodger creates a formidable foe out west for the Cubs

Manny Machado as a Dodger creates a formidable foe out west for the Cubs

Well, it's finally happening, or at least it's going to happen. The Athletics' Ken Rosenthal reported during the MLB All-Star game that the Baltimore Orioles had agreed to officially move their franchise player Manny Machado. Neither team has confirmed anything at this time, but the deal has reportedly been as close to a done deal for the last day or so, and it would seem Machado is destined for finish his 2018 campaign in Hollywood. 

Of course, with this addition, the reigning National League champions look primed for another deep postseason run. Though, the club is clinging to a half-game lead in the NL West, with Machado in tow the Dodgers are right with the Cubs and Brewers as the elite squads in the National League. It could be argued the Dodgers didn't necessarily 'need' Machado, with an offense that was already in the top 10 in runs scored, but Machado might be the perfect addition for the Dodgers. 

After losing their young star shortstop Corey Seager for the season with an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery, the Dodgers were in need of a more permanent solution at shortstop. And despite Machado's defensive metrics showing a steep decline in his glove at shortstop, the Dodgers will welcome his robust slash line of .315/.387/.575 while ignoring any shortcomings on defense. 

But what this means for the Cubs, who are only two games off the 2016 World Series club pace, is the path to another championship will likely require another run-in with the Dodgers. The club's biggest threat has been at this point the Brewers, but it's not hard to envision the Dodgers distancing themselves as the clear favorites in the National League with Machado in the heart of the order.

The good news for the Chicago is at least Machado didn't end up in Milwaukee, but that also could mean the Brewers make a more concerted effort to acquire pitching before the July 30th deadline. The Cubs will also see the return of Yu Darvish, who despite only managing to win one game this season in a Cubs uniform, will be a massive upgrade over the scuffling Tyler Chatwood. If the Cubs pitching can start producing like many expected them to before the start of 2018, and guys like Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant start to hit alongside All-Stars Javier Baez and Willson Contreras, it's not hard to imagine the Cubs separating themselves from the pack in the 2nd half of season. 

The Dodgers are no strangers to blockbuster deadline deals, acquiring Yu Darvish in a similar three-month rental situation, but the Cubs getting a bat like Rizzo right and an arm like Darvish healthy would be better than any deal Theo Epstein could make to improve this team. And if it's not enough, the Cubs have a solid track record of grabbing former Dodger rentals in the off-season. The push for the playoffs starts Thursday for the north-siders.