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Clemson edges LSU 25-24 on last-second FG

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Clemson edges LSU 25-24 on last-second FG

ATLANTA (AP) Chandler Catanzaro was not about to let a blocked extra point earlier in the game get in the way of his last-second, game-winning field goal.

Catanzaro kicked a 37-yard field goal as time expired to give No. 14 Clemson a wild 25-24 victory over No. 9 Louisiana State in the Chick-fil-A Bowl on Monday night.

``I was ready when the opportunity came to me,'' Catanzaro said. ``It was next-kick mentality. I was so thankful for the opportunity.''

Catanzaro, a former walk-on from Greenville, S.C., made 16 of 17 field goals in the regular season.

``I didn't have any doubt,'' Swinney said of the junior kicker. ``He's just a clutch player all the way.''

The kick gave Clemson its first 11-win season since its 1981 national championship team.

And Tigers coach Dabo Swinney thinks this is only the beginning.

Trailing 24-22, Clemson (11-2) took possession on its 20 with 1:39 remaining. Tajh Boyd passed to DeAndre Hopkins for 26 yards on a fourth-and-16 play during the decisive 10-play drive.

Clemson reached 11 wins for only the fourth time in school history and the first time since the 12-0 1981 team.

``You can't win 12 until you win 11,'' Swinney said. ``You can't win a national championship until you learn how to win games like this.

``This was a landmark win.''

Boyd completed 36 of 50 passes for 346 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. He set career highs for attempts and completions while winning the game MVP award.

``Tajh Boyd was phenomenal,'' LSU coach Les Miles said. ``I did not expect the heroic, if you will, efforts that he had.''

Hopkins had 13 catches for 191 yards and two touchdowns. After the big fourth-down catch, he added receptions for 7 and 13 yards in the final drive. LSU safety Greg Reid was flagged for pass interference while defending Hopkins.

Jeremy Hill ran for 124 yards and two touchdowns for LSU (10-3), which carried a 24-13 lead into the final quarter.

After Hopkins' second TD catch, LSU got the ball with 2:43 remaining and threw three straight passes. Only one was complete in the three-and-out series that took only about 1 minute off the clock, leaving Clemson with enough time for its winning drive against LSU's exhausted defense.

Hill did not have a carry in the fourth quarter.

``We had to throw the football,'' Miles said. ``We were not running the football. They were in a position where they outnumbered us in the run.''

LSU's three passes allowed Swinney to save his timeouts.

``I had three timeouts,'' Swinney said. ``If he runs it three times, I can call timeout, timeout, timeout.

``I think (Miles) was trying to win the game. I think he felt confident in the plays. I know he knew he needed to get a first down, because if he gets a first down I have to start burning timeouts.''

Boyd said having 1:39 to stage the final drive ``is like having 10, 15 minutes for us.''

``When I saw that clock and that we had three timeouts I said `Let's get it.'''

LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger was sacked six times and completed 14 of 23 passes for 120 yards. He also threw for a touchdown and an interception.

``It's a tough thing to figure our pass protection was as poor as it was,'' Miles said. ``That's the piece that needs fixing and frankly we've got some young players here we'll address and improve and make some strides going forward.''

LSU scored 10 points off Clemson's two lost fumbles, including one by Sammy Watkins on the second play of the game that set up Hill's first touchdown.

Hopkins scored on an 11-yard reception in the second quarter and a 12-yard grab in the fourth. LSU's Bennie Logan blocked Catanzaro's extra point attempt following Hopkins' first touchdown.

Clemson had a chance to tie it after Hopkins' second TD, but Boyd's pass for the 2-point conversion was incomplete.

Michael Ford had a 43-yard kickoff return for LSU to open the second half. On first down, Hill broke through the line for a 57-yard touchdown run. His 12th rushing touchdown broke Dalton Hilliard's LSU record for a freshman set in 1982.

Clemson lost Watkins to a right ankle injury on his early fumble. X-rays were negative.

Clemson already was without backup receiver Martavis Bryant, who was suspended for the game for failing to meet academic requirements.

Clemson's second costly fumble came midway through the third quarter. Andre Ellington ran for 8 yards but lost the ball on a hit by defensive end Sam Montgomery. Reid recovered the fumble at the Clemson 29, setting up Drew Alleman's 20-yard field goal.

The injury to Watkins left the spotlight on Hopkins, Clemson's leading receiver. He had catches of 17 and 12 yards as Clemson pulled even with an 11-play drive capped by Boyd's 11-yard touchdown run.

After LSU regained the lead on Mettenberger's 6-yard touchdown pass to Jarvis Landry, Hopkins had a 31-yard catch to set up his 11-yard score late in the second quarter.

Hopkins' sliding grab gave him TD receptions in 10 straight games to set an Atlantic Coast Conference record. Virginia's Herman Moore had touchdown catches in nine straight games in 1990.

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Pelicans' Zion Williamson leaves NBA bubble to attend to 'urgent' family matter

Pelicans' Zion Williamson leaves NBA bubble to attend to 'urgent' family matter

In an unfortunate turn of events, Pelicans star Zion Williamson has left the NBA bubble in Orlando due to an urgent family medical matter, according to the team

Williamson plans to return to the bubble at a later date, though it has not yet been determined. 

"We fully support Zion's decision to leave the NBA campus to be with his family," New Orleans VP of Basketball Operations David Griffin said in a statement. "Out of respect for the Williamson family, we will have no further comment at this time."

This is a completely understandable decision by Williamson to be with his family at an important time. Now, the Pelicans must adjust and move forward possibly in the meantime without arguably their best player. 

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New Orleans currently sits 3 1/2  games behind the Grizzlies for the eighth seed in the Western Conference and needs to stay within four games of Memphis to force a play-in scenario. It's unclear how much time Williamson will miss,  but it will be a challenge for the Pelicans to stay in playoff contention without him. In the 19 games Williamson played this season, the team went 10-9. 

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Locally, the Wizards may benefit from Williamson's absence if it exceeds August 7. Washington plays the Pelicans in their fifth game in the bubble, and if they still have playoff aspirations with Bradley Beal and Davis Bertans out, they're going to need every win they can get. 

Williamson will need to quarantine for four days if he tests negative for COVID-19 seven days prior to his return. If not, he will face a 10-day quarantine upon his arrival.

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Wizards, Mystics to wear jersey patch to honor Wes Unseld for rest of season

Wizards, Mystics to wear jersey patch to honor Wes Unseld for rest of season

The Washington Wizards will honor Wes Unseld, the greatest player in their franchise history, with a special jersey patch for the rest of the season, the team announced on Thursday.

The jersey patch is the No. 41 in the colors Unseld wore with the Washington Bullets; red, white and blue. It is located just below the right shoulder.

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The Mystics will also wear a patch as they play their 22-game season in the WNBA. The Mystics are joined with the Wizards through Monumental Basketball. Their patch is a black band on the left shoulder.

Unseld passed away on June 2 and the age of 74. He is an NBA Hall of Famer and the only league MVP and Finals MVP in Wizards/Bullets history. Unseld also served as an executive and coach for the franchise. 

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The Wizards will play their first game in these uniforms on July 22 when they face the Nuggets in an exhibition. They have three exhibition games before beginning their regular season on July 31 against the Phoenix Suns. 

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

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