Nationals

Manziel leads A&M to Cotton Bowl rout of Sooners

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Manziel leads A&M to Cotton Bowl rout of Sooners

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) At one point early in the Cotton Bowl, with ``Johnny B. Goode'' blaring through the stadium speakers, Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel peeked up at the accompanying highlights on the huge video board hanging over the field.

Texas A&M's exciting dual-threat quarterback known as Johnny Football sure puts on a show worth watching.

``Best player I've ever played. He does so many good things. He's got magic,'' Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. ``He'll have a chance to win four (Heismans) if he stays healthy.''

Manziel tiptoed down the sideline for a 23-yard TD on the game's opening drive and went on to an FBS bowl record for quarterbacks with 229 yards rushing on 17 carries. He also set a Cotton Bowl record with 516 total yards as the 10th-ranked Aggies beat No. 12 Oklahoma 41-13 on Friday night to wrap up their first SEC season.

With first-year coach Kevin Sumlin and their young star quarterback after leaving the Big 12 for the SEC, the Aggies (11-2) overwhelming won the only bowl game matching teams from those two power conferences. They won 11 games for the first time since 1998, their only Big 12 title season.

The Aggies never trailed while winning their last six games and became the first SEC team with more than 7,000 total yards - 7,261 after gaining 633 in the Cotton Bowl.

``It's huge for this program, and for me especially, with the kind of woes A&M has had over the past decade or however long it's been since they had 11 wins,'' Manziel said. ``For us to get up tonight and watch them battle back, it's good when we strike first. That's what we like to do. It was good to do that and not really look back.''

Texas A&M led by only a point at halftime, but scored on its first three drives of the second half - on drives of 91 and 89 yards before Manziel threw a short pass to Ryan Swope on fourth-and-5 that turned into a 33-yard TD and a 34-13 lead.

Oklahoma (10-3), which like the Aggies entered the game with a five-game winning streak, went three-and-out on its first three drives after halftime in what was quarterback Landry Jones' 50th and final career start.

``Feel just disappointed that he's going out this way, getting beat like that,'' Sooners center Gabe Ikard said.

Jones completed 35 of 48 passes for 278 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He won 39 games and three bowls for the Sooners, in a career that started on the same field in the 2009 season opener when he replaced injured Heisman winner Sam Bradford in the first college game at Cowboys Stadium.

But Jones missed out becoming only the third NCAA quarterback to go 4-0 as a starter in bowl games.

``It was obvious tonight that we didn't play the way we should have played,'' said Jones, whose frustration was evident when he yelled at a teammate after a failed fourth-down play. ``We couldn't run it. We couldn't throw it. It happens, you know.''

SEC teams have won the last five Cotton Bowls, all against Big 12 teams, and nine out of 10. That included Texas A&M's loss to LSU only two years ago.

It had been six weeks since the Aggies played their last game, and four weeks since Manziel became the first freshman to win college football's highest individual award.

Manziel got it started with an electrifying 24-yard run on third down on the opening drive. Then on a third-and-10, Manziel rolled to his left and took off, juked around a defender and got near the sideline. He tiptoed to stay in bounds and punctuated his 23-yard score with a high-step over the pylon for a quick lead.

Officials reviewed the play to make sure he did stay in bounds, and the replays showed clearly that he did.

``There is too much talk about how you perform after the Heisman and about the layoff and all of that,'' said Manziel, who set an SEC record with 4,600 total yards in the regular season. ``There wasn't anything holding us back. No rust, there was no nothing. We played as a unit.''

The chants of ``S-E-C! S-E-C!'' began after Swope's TD catch with 4 minutes left in the third quarter. They got louder and longer after that, and Manziel spread both his arms out and ran off the field like he was flying.

Oklahoma was in the Cotton Bowl for only the second time. It was the first bowl matchup between the former Big 12 rivals, but the 17th consecutive season they have played each other.

The Sooners had won 11 of 13 in the series since Bob Stoops became their coach. That included a 77-0 Oklahoma win in 2003 that was the most-lopsided loss in Texas A&M history.

Sumlin was the A&M offensive coordinator in 2002 when the Aggies upset the top-ranked Sooners. The next year, Sumlin was hired by Stoops as an assistant, and he stayed there five seasons before going to Houston as head coach and now the Aggies.

``I think tonight was really indicative of this season,'' Sumlin said. ``It's one of the teams I thought in the country that truly got better every week.''

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3 things to watch as the Nationals try to even the series with Colorado

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3 things to watch as the Nationals try to even the series with Colorado

Here are three things to watch for as the Nationals try to even the series in Colorado: 

1. Brian Dozier's slow start to 2019 seems to be in the rearview mirror. The second baseman hit his third long-ball in four games Monday night inside Coors Field. 

2. How long will Anthony Rendon be held out of the lineup? The third baseman is nursing his left elbow after being hit by a Jose Urena pitch Saturday in Miami. 

3. One of the MLB's best closers remains unsigned 20+ games into the season. Craig Kimbrel could very well help solve an NL East division-wide problem

Coming Up:

Tuesday, 4/23: Nationals @ Rockies, 8:40 p.m. ET, Coors Field

Wednesday, 4/24: Nationals @ Rockies, 3:10 p.m. ET, Coors Field

Friday, 4/26: Padres @ Nationals, 7:05 p.m. ET, Nationals Park

Download the MyTeams app for even more Nationals content, and check out the latest episode of the Racing Presidents podcast below.

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A frustrating Game 6 loss, but Caps can't dwell on the negative

A frustrating Game 6 loss, but Caps can't dwell on the negative

RALEIGH — By the end of the night the frustration was evident. Three times the Capitals have played at PNC Arena during this Stanley Cup playoffs first-round series and three times they have left the ice stick-smashingly angry. 

Capitals coach Todd Reirden screamed at the officials. Alex Ovechkin earned a game misconduct after a mock wave following a late penalty call. By then the Carolina Hurricanes had already assured there would be one final game in this closer-than-expected series with a 5-2 win. Now both teams face elimination with Game 7 looming Wednesday at Capital One Arena. 

Washington’s anger was understandable. Alex Ovechkin apparently poked home the game-tying goal with 9:26 remaining. But while the Capitals celebrated, referee Kyle Rehman blew his whistle. In his view, Ovechkin had shoved Carolina goalie Petr Mrazek’s pads to force the puck into the net. 

The NHL Situation Room in Toronto upheld that call on the ice after the Capitals tied it. Just 1:24 later, ex-Capitals forward Justin Williams stuck a dagger in the heart of his old team with a deflected goal to give the Hurricanes a 4-2 lead.

"I don't think anyone expected it to be easy,” defenseman Brooks Orpik said. “They played well all series. We were up 2-0 and we were probably fortunate to be up 2-0 and we've been good on home ice and now we have a Game 7 and it is probably good that we have home ice."

There were other issues on Monday. Dmitry Orlov was whistled for embellishment in the second period that denied Washington a power play. Carolina tied the game 2-2 at 1:56 of the second period when referees – in the Capitals’ view – missed an obvious slash by Sebastian Aho on defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler behind the net. His attempted clear was flubbed and Aho found Teuvo Teravainen alone in front for an easy goal.

None of it matters now. The Capitals didn’t play well enough to win anyway, especially in a ragged second period that ominously looked like the 5-0 Hurricanes win in Game 3. Reirden himself admitted that Carolina earned the breaks it got. Goalie Braden Holtby was especially critical of his team for not building on a dominant 6-0 win at home in Game 5 on Saturday. 

“I don’t know. I thought we played pretty well to come out and we just faded,” Holtby said. “I’m not sure why. At this point it doesn’t matter. It’s over with and it’s down to one game.”

The challenge will be leaving all of that negativity in the PNC Arena locker room. One player walked away and said to no one in particular “No goal….what a call.” The sarcasm dripped. But it can’t follow the Capitals back home to Washington. This group of players has plenty of experience putting bad playoff losses behind them. 

If anything carries over into Game 7, however, they could be in trouble. Those days are thought to be long over after last spring’s Cup. And maybe they are. But the Capitals will have to forget about what happened in Raleigh. They have one last chance. It can't be clouded by what happened here.  

"It's over. Again, right now nothing you can do,” Ovechkin said. “After fight, you can't do anything. It was a good battle. Good for them, they win Game 6, and you know, Game 7 is going to be much interesting. We know how to play that. Pressure on both teams, but it's a good chance for us to beat them at home." 

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