Capitals

Ground game pivotal in Bulldogs, Gamecocks matchup

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Ground game pivotal in Bulldogs, Gamecocks matchup

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier knows firsthand that freshmen running backs can make a huge impact.

He saw it two years ago with Gamecocks star Marcus Lattimore and hopes things don't repeat themselves Saturday with Georgia freshmen Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall.

``As we all know, freshmen running backs can certainly play and can play well, just like Marcus came in here two years ago,'' Spurrier said. ``That's a position you don't have to have been there for two years and learn the offense and all that kind of stuff.''

All you have to do is run. Expect to see plenty of handoffs and pitches to the tailback when the fifth-ranked Bulldogs (5-0, 3-0 Southeastern Conference) take on the sixth-ranked Gamecocks (5-0, 3-0) at Williams-Brice Stadium.

South Carolina's Lattimore and Georgia's freshmen of Gurley and Marshall - who some fans have dubbed ``Gurshall'' - are all coming off big performances heading into the SEC Eastern Division showdown.

Lattimore ran for 120 yards and two touchdowns as South Carolina rallied past Kentucky, 38-17.

Gurley and Marshall combined for 294 yards and five TDs rushing in Georgia's 51-44 shootout against Tennessee. Gurley, the SEC's leading rusher, gained 130 yards against the Vols, his fourth 100-yard rushing game this season. Marshall rushed for 164 yards on 10 carries, including touchdown runs of 75 and 72 yards.

``It's very fun, especially when the offense is rolling like it has been rolling,'' Marshall said. ``Everyone's been making plays and it's very exciting.''

Gurley and Marshall have shown the explosiveness of famed Georgia star and 1982 Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker. Lattimore's powerhouse play is similar to that of South Carolina's own Heisman Trophy winner, George Rogers, in 1980.

Spurrier, who's coached standouts like Fred Taylor and Errict Rhett at Florida, couldn't believe what he saw from Lattimore against Georgia two years ago.

In his first SEC game, Lattimore shredded Georgia's highly regarded defense for 182 yards and two touchdowns in a dominating 17-6 victory, a game that jumpstarted South Carolina's run to the SEC East crown.

Spurrier said Lattimore broke about 40 tackles in the game, a powerful showing that even surprised the Gamecocks staff. ``It was one of the most amazing days I've ever seen a running back have,'' Spurrier said.

Lattimore stung the Bulldogs again last year at Athens with 176 yards and a touchdown in a 45-42 South Carolina victory. He missed the final six games after tearing a knee ligament and has played strongly in his return.

Lattimore's importance to the offense was crystal clear last Saturday. He had just five carries for 12 yards as the Gamecocks trailed Kentucky 17-7 at halftime. Lattimore rushed 18 times for 108 yards in the second half to help South Carolina outscore the Wildcats 31-0 the final two quarters.

``If we win'' against Georgia, Spurrier said, ``he will have probably had another big day.''

Lattimore's rushed for 440 yards this season, third in the SEC behind Gurley and Tennessee's Rajion Neal. The junior understands he'll have to step up his game once again for South Carolina to gain its third straight win over Georgia.

``My body feels great right now and I'm only going to continue to get better as the season goes on,'' Lattimore said. ``I've just got to stay patient.''

South Carolina running backs coach Everette Sands said Lattimore and the Gameoccks other runners are aware of the big numbers Gurley and Marshall have put up. Sands thinks his backs are ready for the matchup after last week's slow start.

``We came back and our guys realized, `Hey, on any given Saturday, anybody can beat us,'' Sands said.

Gurley and Marshall are making Georgia pretty hard to beat this season. The two say they don't fight for playing time, eager to watch the other excel in the Bulldogs' undefeated start.

``Any time he scores I'm jumping up and down just ready for him to get to the sideline to give him words of encouragement,'' Gurley said of his freshman teammate.

They'll get their toughest test of the year against South Carolina. While Gurley and Marshall have combined for 964 yards and nine touchdowns this fall, the Gamecocks have given up just 388 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.

The pair will be counted on even more this week since Georgia's leading receiver, Michael Bennett, tore a knee ligament in practice this week and is lost for the season.

Georgia receiver Tavarres King expects the two freshmen to embrace the challenge as they have all year.

``They are doing a phenomenal job, especially being as young as they are and not knowing what they are getting into,'' King said. ``They have handled it well.''

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Capitals re-sign forward Carl Hagelin to a four-year, $11 million contract

Capitals re-sign forward Carl Hagelin to a four-year, $11 million contract

WASHINGTON — The Capitals bolstered their forward depth and its penalty kill by re-signing two-time Stanley Cup champion Carl Hagelin before he hit unrestricted free agency next month. 

Washington has officially re-signed forward Carl Hagelin to a four-year, $11 million contract extension, a move that goes a long way toward re-establishing a third line that had some openings entering the offseason. 

Hagelin, 30, was a pending unrestricted free agent. Washington acquired him from the Los Angeles Kings on Feb. 21 just four days before the NHL trade deadline. Hagelin played primarily on the third line – although injuries in the Stanley Cup playoffs pushed him onto the second line. 

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Hagelin had three goals and 11 assists in 20 regular-season games with the Capitals and became an instant staple on the penalty kill. His 47 minutes, six seconds on the PK in those 20 games were enough to rank sixth among all forwards on the team.

Traded twice last season, Hagelin had a total of five goals and 14 assists with the Capitals, Kings and Pittsburgh Penguins in 58 games. He had a sprained knee (medial collateral ligament) with Los Angeles that kept him out for 20 games.  

"[Hagelin] was a good fit,” Washington general manager Brian MacLellan said on April 26. “I thought he fit seamlessly from day one. Really liked him on the third line, the way we used him, we bumped him up obviously with the [T.J.] Oshie injury. Our PK got a lot better. Fits in well with his teammates. It's a really good fit for us, yes." 

The Penguins traded Hagelin to the Kings on Nov. 14. He was a key part of Pittsburgh’s back-to-back Stanley Cup winners in 2016 and 2017, which came at the expense of Washington in the playoffs each time. 

This was the last year of a four-year, $16 million deal that Hagelin signed with the Anaheim Ducks in 2015. He was always viewed as a likely trade chip for Los Angeles, which finished in last place in the Pacific Division and eventually flipped him to the Capitals. 

Even after the disappointing first-round Stanley Cup playoff loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, Hagelin said he was open to re-signing with the Capitals before he hit unrestricted free agency on July 1. His signing follows the trade of defenseman Matt Niskanen on Friday. The NHL Draft is this coming weekend in Vancouver with more moves expected.   

“I liked the fact that I got a good look from the coaches,” Hagelin said on April 26 of his time with the Capitals. “I got to play with good players, I got to play in key situations. I felt comfortable here.”

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Orioles welcome home military service member with surprise first pitch

Orioles welcome home military service member with surprise first pitch

The Orioles helped make one family's Father's Day a day that they will never forget. 

Specialist Addam Bostwick from Fort George G. Meade United States Army installation surprised his father, former Marine Stephen Bostwick, with a special ceremonial first pitch Sunday afternoon at Camden Yards.

Stephen, who is a four-year veteran of the US Marine Corps, was expecting an Orioles player to catch the first pitch, was shocked to see Addam, who had been deployed in Afghanistan for four months, surprised his father.

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