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BYU LB Van Noy scores 2 TDs in Poinsettia Bowl win

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BYU LB Van Noy scores 2 TDs in Poinsettia Bowl win

SAN DIEGO (AP) The Poinsettia Bowl was ponderous, even boring, until Brigham Young linebacker Kyle Van Noy took over.

Van Noy scored on a fumble recovery in the end zone and then on an interception return to lead Brigham Young to a 23-6 victory over San Diego State on Thursday night.

``Turnovers were huge for us,'' said Van Noy, who had two of BYU's five takeaways. ``I think that when we got that first turnover, I think that changed the momentum of the game.''

With San Diego State pinned on its 3 thanks to terrific punt coverage by BYU, Adam Dingwell dropped back to pass in the end zone.

Van Noy broke free from the outside and knocked the ball out of Dingwell's hand and jumped on the fumble for the game's first TD.

The play was upheld after video review.

``I wouldn't make those plays if all 11 guys weren't doing what they were doing,'' Van Noy said. ``The ball just happened to land in my lap.''

Dingwell fumbled the snap on SDSU's next play from scrimmage and it was recovered by Jordan Johnson at the 14. Jamaal Williams scored on a run up the middle on the next play, BYU's second TD in 17 seconds.

With 6:09 left, Van Noy intercepted Dingwell's pass and weaved 17 yards through traffic and into the end zone. Van Noy was selected the game's defensive MVP.

``He's a fantastic football player,'' BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said. ``He changed the game for us and was the reason we won.''

The Cougars (8-5) won for the sixth straight time against SDSU, a former rival from the Western Athletic and Mountain West conferences. BYU went independent after the 2010 season, when it beat SDSU thanks to a controversial fumble. BYU was making its 12th bowl appearance in San Diego. The first 11 were in the Holiday Bowl, big brother to the Poinsettia Bowl.

San Diego State (9-4), playing in the hometown bowl for the second time in three years, missed the chance for its first 10-win season since 1977 and had its seven-game winning streak snapped.

Dingwell finished with five turnovers, including three interceptions. Four of his turnovers were in the fourth quarter.

As big as the defensive plays were for the Cougars, their punt unit came up huge in pinning down the Aztecs four times in the second half. They downed two punts by senior Riley Stephenson at the 1, one at the 2 and another at the 3. They were among the six punts inside the 20.

Stephenson ``changed the game,'' Mendenhall said. ``And he could have easily been the MVP.''

SDSU coach Rocky Long agreed.

``I don't know who got the Most Valuable Player, but I'll tell you who I thought the Most Valuable Player was, their punter,'' Long said. ``Field position made it tough on the offense.''

Stephenson said the Cougars practice pooch punts all the time.

``I get more excited when I launch one 60 yards or so,'' he said. ``But with a defense like we've got, we're going to smash any team we go against.

``A lot of times when you're inside the 50 you can't get ahold of it, you just have to drop it down in the corner and hopefully it stays inside the 10,'' he said. ``It's not much of a kick, but look what it did tonight.''

Until Van Noy and Williams scored, the game was a field position struggle.

San Diego State led 6-3 at halftime thanks to Chance Marden's field goals of 27 and 23 yards. Justin Sorensen kicked a 23-yarder for BYU.

San Diego State's Eric Pinkins intercepted Riley Nelson's pass and returned it 39 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter but the score was negated by a penalty for blocking below the waist. SDSU ended up punting from the BYU 36.

``I thought blocking below the waist on an interception for a touchdown was the key to the game,'' Long said. ``I really believe if we had scored that touchdown, the momentum would have been in our favor the rest of the night.''

James Lark, who started at quarterback for BYU, completed 23 of 42 passes for 244 yards and was intercepted twice.

BYU's Cody Hoffman caught 10 passes for 114 yards and was named offensive MVP.

Dingwell completed 12 of 29 for 144 yards. Adam Muema ran 26 times for 103 yards.

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Wizards' NBA Bubble Awards: Thomas Bryant was the clear MVP

Wizards' NBA Bubble Awards: Thomas Bryant was the clear MVP

The Wizards closed out their 2019-20 regular season on Thursday with a much-needed win, as they finished the year 25-47 and their time in the NBA's restart bubble 1-7. 

Those final eight games, though, were about much more than wins and losses. The team was evaluating their young players as they look ahead to next season when the expectations will be raised significantly.

Just looking at those eight games, here are some awards and superlatives for what we saw...

Most valuable: Thomas Bryant

This is a very easy call, it was a unanimous vote. Though Bryant wasn't the only young player who looked good in Orlando, he was by far their best player overall.

Bryant leaves the bubble with eight-game averages of 18.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.0 blocks and 1.4 steals per game. Those are big-time numbers, even if they were compiled on a team that went 1-7. Bryant took on a larger role in the offense and increased his volume while remaining efficient. He shot 53.2 percent overall and 40.5 percent from three.

Bryant took a big step forward. He was healthy after dealing with a foot problem earlier this season, and delivered. The Wizards have a legitimate starting center they can pencil in for next season, hopefully with the green light to take more threes.

RELATED: WIZARDS FINALLY WIN IN BUBBLE

Most improved: Jerome Robinson

This was one of the more unexpected, yet pleasantly surprising developments for the Wizards in the bubble. Robinson, who had spent his entire career to this point backing up really good players, finally got a chance to spread his wings. And, boy, did he.

Robinson found a newfound level of consistency, averaging 14.8 points while shooting a solid 36.7 percent from three. He reached double figures in scoring in seven of the eight games after only doing that four times in his previous 88 NBA appearances. 

Given the small sample size, and the stakes, it probably isn't enough to truly guarantee him a role going into next season. But he has absolutely earned a chance to compete for the back-up role behind Bradley Beal.

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Most intriguing: Troy Brown Jr.

Brown had a tremendous start in the bubble, but slowed down late as he was thrown into the fire as the starting point guard. Though he struggled in that role, it was an invaluable experience that he can take a lot of lessons from.

Overall, though, Brown made clear improvements in his game. He thrived with a greater share of the play-making duties and was able to showcase his skills as a passer and ball-handler.

It was enough to warrant some focus by the Wizards' coaching staff next season. Though they will have John Wall and Beal coming back, they have to find a way to incorporate Brown's strengths. That may come in a bench role as the primary ball-handler in the second unit.

Needs most improvement: Admiral Schofield

Not all of the Wizards' young players displayed growth in the bubble games and included in that group is Schofield, the team's 2019 second round pick. Unfortunately for him, it was all juxtaposed with the breakout performance of Bol Bol, whom the Wizards passed on to select Schofield out of the University of Tennessee.

Schofield averaged only 2.7 points in 12.6 minutes while shooting 29.4 percent from the field. He looked uncertain on the floor and continues to sort of float between roles with no defined path towards stability in the rotation.

Keep in mind, though, Schofield is just starting out his NBA career. He was a second round pick and those guys take time. He has the physical tools, the work ethic and the smarts to make it in this league. But there is no question this will be an important offseason for the guy.

Best moment: Moe Wagner vs. Giannis Antetokounmpo

The most memorable image from the Wizards' time in Orlando was definitely the ejection of the league's reigning MVP in their penultimate game. Antetokounmpo has since been suspended by the league for it.

He lost his cool and headbutted Wagner, who now has another notch on his belt in his neverending quest to get under the skin of his opponents. He is a pest and an effective one at that.

Stay connected to the Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

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Nationals did it first: Dugout dance parties sweep MLB

Nationals did it first: Dugout dance parties sweep MLB

The dancing revolution is underway. After the Nationals hosted dugout dance parties to celebrate home runs on their way to winning the World Series last season, other MLB teams have begun to host dance parties of their own while avoiding high fives and fist bumps.

Though Bryce Harper and the Phillies’ form could still use some work, the trend is starting to spread as the Mets only added the dancing to their home run celebrations this week. It’s no surprise that the Padres, one of the youngest teams in the majors, joined in as well.

Of course, the Nationals have kept dancing into 2020 as well.

As long as baseball is being played, the party will keep on rolling.

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