Manuel's TD keeps Seminoles' title hopes alive


Manuel's TD keeps Seminoles' title hopes alive

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) E.J. Manuel was on the run all game trying to elude Virginia Tech's blitzing defense. And when No. 8 Florida State needed a clutch play, he was ready.

Manuel's winning touchdown pass with 40 seconds left moved the Seminoles within one win of a spot in the Atlantic Coast Conference title game.

Florida State's stirring 28-22 victory on Thursday night at Lane Stadium gave the Seminoles (9-1, 6-1) their best record after 10 games since 2000, when they played for the national championship.

It also marked the first time in Manuel's career that he threw a touchdown pass on the final drive to win a game.

``They made us do some things because of their blitzes which were different,'' Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher said after Manuel was sacked five times and hit numerous other times. ``We had to adjust on the run. E.J. took a beating back there, but he stood in there and made the plays. That's what great players do.''

Manuel was already on his team before he got into the huddle.

``'Just believe,' I told them that on the sideline,'' he said. ``Everybody stepped up.''

Especially running back James Wilder Jr. The Seminoles, who finished with minus 15 yards rushing, turned to Wilder on fourth-and-1 from their 41 on the winning drive. He gained 7 yards, carrying defenders on his back.

Then Manuel took over.

After an incomplete pass, he hit Greg Dent for 13 yards before throwing a ball away under pressure. On second-and-10 from the Hokies 39, Manuel passed to Rashad Greene on a short slant and Greene took it all the way, diving for the pilon in the right corner of the end zone to give the Seminoles the lead.

Manuel finished 25 for 42 for 326 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. The winning fourth-quarter drive was his first since he threw two final-quarter scoring passes to rally the Seminoles from a 14-0 deficit to an 18-14 victory against Notre Dame in the Champs Sports Bowl on Dec. 29, 2011.

For the Hokies (4-6, 2-4), it was the hardest blow in a season that has been full of them.

``I think it's kind of obvious how it feels,'' cornerback Antone Exum said. ``It hurts.''

Virginia Tech plays at Boston College next Saturday, and then hosts Virginia in the regular-season finale in two weeks. It needs to win both to go to a bowl game for the 20th straight season.

``After a loss like that,'' quarterback Logan Thomas said of the Hokies' fifth loss in six games, and first at home since early last season, ``the first thing you want is to get back on the field.''

The Seminoles close their ACC season at Maryland on Nov. 17, then play No. 7 Florida the following week.


Hank Kurz Jr. can be reached at

Gonzaga beats DeMatha on Hail Mary in bonkers WCAC championship game


Gonzaga beats DeMatha on Hail Mary in bonkers WCAC championship game

The Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) has a long history of football excellence, and the 2018 championship game was no exception. 

No. 2 Gonzaga College High School defeated No. 1 DeMatha Catholic High School, 46-43, in the title game at Catholic University of America on Sunday night thanks to three lead changes in the final 60 seconds and a game-winning Hail Mary. 

After allowing  DeMatha to race out to a 20-point lead, the Purple Eagles scored in the second quarter on a one-yard rushing touchdown. Dean Engram, son of Baltimore Ravens’ WR coach Bobby Engram, caught a 35-yard pass to score again for Gonzaga, closing the deficit to just six at 20-14. DeMatha rushed in another touchdown and intercepted Gonzaga’s next pass before entering the half at 26-14.

Both powerhouses scored a touchdown in the third, leaving the teams to fight until the very end of the fourth quarter in order determine the 2018 championship. That's when things got extra weird.

With 39 seconds left, Gonzaga's Sam Sweeney caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from Caleb Williams to give the Eagles a 40-36 lead. 

But on the ensuing kickoff DeMatha senior Dominic Logan-Nealy returned the kick to the end zone, giving DeMatha a 43-40 lead with just 15 seconds left.

Gonzaga would get another crack at the title, and they did not let it go to waste. Williams hurled a desperation pass to the end zone with no time remaining. Eagles' receiver John Marshall got his hands on the pass and snagged the game-winning touchdown catch to give Gonzaga the stunning 46-43 win. 

The winners immediately rushed to celebrate with their student section, but the protective fencing separating the two was ultimately torn down.

The WCAC champions end the year 9-3. Head Coach Randy Trivers emotionally addressed his troops after their battle, reminding them that Gonzaga won their first title on Catholic University of America’s field:

DeMatha ended its season 8-3.

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NFC East Update: Division race tightens as Redskins stumble, Cowboys surge

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NFC East Update: Division race tightens as Redskins stumble, Cowboys surge

When the sun came up Sunday morning, the Redskins held a two-game lead in the NFC East and looked to have a clear route to a division title. 

By the time the sun went down, a lot changed. 

Washington lost at home in a crazy game to Houston, but big picture, the more important outcome was the broken leg for Alex Smith. The Redskins now turn to backup Colt McCoy, and while the Burgundy and Gold remain in first place, their lead shrunk.

  1. Washington Redskins (6-4, 2-0) - Talk about a roller coaster game. The Redskins got down early to the Texans, trailing 10-0 in the first quarter, but fought all the way back. In the process, the team lost Smith for the season, but McCoy played well when he entered the game. A veteran in Jay Gruden's system, McCoy should be able to step in and run the offense without any hesitation. Will that be enough? What isn't being talked about in Washington: a suddenly slumping run defense. A huge game looms Thursday against Ezekiel Elliott and a surging Cowboys squad. Up next: Nov. 22 @ Dallas, 4 p.m.
  2. Dallas Cowboys (5-5, 2-1) - It seemed like the Cowboys season was over a few weeks ago after a humbling home loss on Monday Night Football to the Titans. Two weeks later, the script has flipped. Dallas won their second straight game on Sunday, holding off a late Atlanta rally and winning the game on a last-second field goal. Elliott went for 201 total yards from scrimmage and the Cowboys young defense continued to make impressive plays. Jerry Jones' team struggles on the road, but at home, the Cowboys are 3-1 this season. Up next: Nov. 22 vs Washington, 4 p.m.
  3. Philadelphia Eagles (4-6, 1-1) - Fans waiting for the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles to get it together might want to stop waiting. Philly got boat raced in New Orleans on Sunday, losing 48-7 and dropping to two games below .500. Carson Wentz threw three INTs in New Orleans and really, while the QB was bad in the Superdome, it's hard to pin the Eagles' woes on any one thing. The offense hasn't been very good, and the defense hasn't either. Sitting just two games back of the 'Skins and one behind Dallas, don't count the Eagles out yet. But don't really count them in either. Up next: Nov. 25th vs New York Giants, 1 p.m.
  4. New York Giants (3-7, 0-3) - Don't look now but the Giants might be the hottest team in the division. Or at least not the coldest team in the division. The Giants won their second game in a row on Sunday, a nail-biting 38-35 victory over Tampa. New York got out to a big lead before the Bucs crept back in it, but powered by four combined TDs between Saquon Barkley and Eli Manning, the Giants did enough. Simple arithmetic suggests the Giants are closer to a Top 5 draft pick than a playoff run, but hey, they haven't been eliminated yet. Crazy things happen in this league. Up next: Nov. 25th @ Philadelphia, 1 p.m.