Nationals

ACC suspends UNC's Rashad, officials in 2 games

ACC suspends UNC's Rashad, officials in 2 games

GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) The Atlantic Coast Conference has issued one-game suspensions to North Carolina freshman linebacker Shakeel Rashad for colliding with a Duke player during a substitution, and three officials from the Duke-UNC and Florida State-Miami games.

In the Duke-UNC game, Rashad knocked down receiver Conner Vernon - who was already lined up - from behind while running in at the last moment from the sideline. Vernon returned to the game on the next play.

The league also suspended head linesman Tyrone Davis and side judge Angie Bartis ``for failure to adhere to correct mechanics of the game and rules related to player safety.''

During his weekly news conference Monday, North Carolina coach Larry Fedora said Rashad had ``no malice at all'' when he collided with Vernon, the Blue Devils' top receiver.

``There was no intention whatsoever on his part, I assure you, to actually run into the guy,'' Fedora said. ``If he would've been more athletic, he probably could've missed him. But I also don't know exactly what he was looking at as he was running out there. I know this: He was in panic mode because he was supposed to be on the field and he wasn't out there and they were fixing to snap the ball.''

In a statement, North Carolina athletic director Bubba Cunningham said he was disappointed with the suspension and didn't understand ``how the conference can suspend a player who was involved in such an unusual play without speaking to him.''

Rashad also apologized to Vernon in a statement Monday evening.

``I was in a hurry to get on the field and focused on where I was going,'' he said. ``I have been playing football for most of my life and I have never been involved in that type of incident. I did not mean to run into him and I'm glad he was not hurt. He's a great receiver and I wish him the best.''

The FSU-Miami officiating crew will receive letters of reprimand, while crew chief and referee David Epperley was suspended ``for failure to properly administer the 10-second runoff rule'' at the end of the first half of a nationally televised game.

Originally, after a Florida State false-start penalty, officials ruled the half over because the runoff would have erased the remaining time, so Miami left the field. But Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher used his last timeout to nullify the runoff with 9 seconds left, giving Dustin Hopkins a chance to kick the 46-yard field goal that gave FSU a 13-10 halftime lead on the way to the 33-20 victory.

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St. Louis therapy dog makes good on NLCS wager, reps Nationals gear

St. Louis therapy dog makes good on NLCS wager, reps Nationals gear

Friendly wagers are one of the best parts of sports. They're even more fun when they involve two very good boys. 

Thor, a black lab therapy dog from Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri, challenged Tabby, a German Shepherd therapy dog at Children's National Hospital in Washington, D.C., to a friendly bet on the Nats-Cardinals NLCS best of seven series. The bet was settled not too long after it began.

Since the Nationals swept the Cardinals, Thor had to wear a Nationals' bandana to work, courtesy of Tabby.

Thor does not look very amused, but at least he was a very good sport.

Hopefully, Thor will decide to cheer on the Nationals in their first-ever World Series against the Astros!

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The Redskins' inability to execute one of football's simplest plays is maddening and costly

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The Redskins' inability to execute one of football's simplest plays is maddening and costly

On the list of factors why the Redskins lost to the 49ers on Sunday, it's not as high up as Adrian Peterson's unfortunate second half fumble, Dustin Hopkins' early missed field goal or the passing game's immense struggles in some disgusting weather.

But Washington not being able to pick up a fourth-and-1 in the second quarter against San Francisco hurt quite a bit. Unfortunately, the Burgundy and Gold are seemingly incapable of executing one of the simplest plays in football, which prevented that 10-play drive from continuing and possibly prevented the game's end result from being different.

In recent seasons, when teams use a QB sneak on third- or fourth-and-1, they convert almost 90-percent of the time. When they opt to hand it off for an inside or outside zone run, meanwhile, they convert a little less than 70-percent of the time.

Yet against the Niners on that second quarter possession, Bill Callahan and Kevin O'Connell called for a Peterson run up the middle. Peterson was stuffed at San Fran's 29-yard line, ending what was one of their better chances at putting up points on a day where they'd ultimately be shut out.

Could that decision have been influenced by something that happened back in Week 3? It's possible.

In their Monday night matchup with the Bears, Case Keenum and the offense were trying to generate a late comeback and found themselves facing a fourth-and-1 at Chicago's 16. They were down 13 points and had seven minutes left. It was a long shot, yes, but they had a shot.

In that spot, thankfully, Jay Gruden and Co. chose to sneak it. However, Keenum tried to go over the top — which is basically an unheard of maneuver anywhere except the goal line — and he was stripped. It was a disastrous disaster.

Maybe that turnover affected the non-sneak versus the 49ers. Maybe it didn't. Either way, the Redskins botched a sneak once this year then went away from it in another key situation. It has now cost them twice already in seven contests. 

In case you forgot, here's a reminder: QB sneaks are successful almost 90-percent of the time when one yard is needed to move the chains. For some reason, Washington can't take advantage of those odds.

It's not exciting. It's not complex. But the QB sneak is as close to automatic as it gets in the NFL. The only thing more automatic these days, apparently, is the Redskins making the incorrect call when it matters most.

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