Alabama A&M outlasts Southern 24-23 in overtime

Alabama A&M outlasts Southern 24-23 in overtime

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) Chance Wilson's extra point following Daunte Mason's 1-yard touchdown run in overtime propelled Alabama A&M over Southern 24-23 Saturday in Southwest Athletic Conference action.

Wilson's kick clinched the win for the Bulldogs (7-2, 6-2) after Southern's Matthew Hill missed an extra point following Dray Joseph's 8-yard TD pass to Rashaun Allen.

Alabama A&M trailed 17-10 in the fourth following Brian McCain's 1-yard TD run for Southern (3-6, 2-5) with 8:02 to play. The Bulldogs sent the game into overtime when Mason found Montaurius Smith for a 7-yard TD pass with 30 seconds left.

Mason has 13 passing TDs and nine rushing TDs in his past seven games.

The win snapped a two-game losing streak for Alabama A&M, which remains in first place in the SWAC's East division.

Southern's Slyvester Nzekwe ran for 105 yards on 16 carries, and Joseph threw for 148 yards and two TDs on 16-of-32 passing.

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Jay Gruden deserves praise for keeping Redskins 'out of the ditches'

Jay Gruden deserves praise for keeping Redskins 'out of the ditches'

On paper, Jay Gruden's tenor with the Redskins is nothing to write home about. Through five seasons he holds a 35-44-1 record, good enough for a .444 winning percentage. Looking at that, some may draw the conclusion that Gruden hasn't been what the Redskins need at the helm.

But according to Pro Football Talk's Darin Gantt, that's not exactly the case. Taking into account the variables Gruden has dealt with throughout the five years, Gantt actually sees him as a "really good" coach.

"I have always come down of the side, maybe, of guys who are doing more with less," Gantt said recently on a Redskins Talk Podcast. "I think Jay has done a pretty good job keeping things in the middle."

Doing more with less and working in the middle essentially defines Jay Gruden's career with the Redskins. Besides his opening year in 2014 in which Washington went 4-12, Gruden's teams have consistently finished right around the middle of the pack.

In the last four seasons, the Redskins have not won more than nine games, but they also haven't lost more than nine. Hovering right around .500, they've always been around league average.

Part of the reason Gantt is willing to give Gruden praise for records that some coaches would get scolded for revolves around what he's had to work with. Gruden's time as head coach has been filled with injuries and other dilemmas both on and off the field. 

In those circumstances, it wouldn't be surprising to see a team completely flounder and spiral out of control. But, that hasn't really been the case with Gruden. Dealing with what he has, the head coach has kept the team competitive for the most part. The team hasn't been a perennial playoff contender, but it also hasn't been at the bottom of the league.

For that ability to keep the Redskins out of the basement despite all the problems he's encountered, Gruden is someone Gantt respects.

"They're able to keep it out of the ditches," Gantt said about Gruden and former NFL head coach John Fox, who Gantt followed during his time in Carolina.

"I think again in the NFL there's something to be said for that," Gantt added. "When things get sideways a Jim Zorn can lose control in a hurry. I feel like Jay just got sort of a steady hand on the wheel."

Until Gruden takes Washington back to the postseason, the critiques will continue to come, as they would for almost all head coaches in similar situations. But when looking at Gruden's time in Washington with a wide view of everything that has happened, Gantt believes the head coach deserves at least a little praise for keeping things afloat.


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Nationals to debut extended protective netting on July 22

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Nationals to debut extended protective netting on July 22

The Nationals come back to D.C. for their first homestand since the All-Star break on Monday, July 22. And when they return, Nationals Park will look a little different. 

The team will debut extended protective netting down the first and third base lines that night before the Nats face the Rockies. The netting will extend beyond the dugouts, just short of the left and right field corners. 

Team owner Mark Lerner announced the Nats would be extending the netting around the stadium last month following an incident at an Astros-Cubs game when a young fan was struck by a foul ball. 

"Over the past few weeks, we have seen several fans injured by bats and balls leaving the field of play at other stadiums," Lerner wrote in a letter to fans. "I could not help but become emotional last month watching the Astros-Cubs game when a four-year-old little girl was hit by a line drive. I can’t imagine what her parents must have felt in that moment."

"Further extending the netting at Nationals Park will provide additional protection for our fans."

Several other MLB teams, including the Orioles, White Sox, Rangers, Dodgers, and Pirates have also announced plans to extend protective netting at their ballparks.