Washington Football

Marian wins NAIA title, beating Morningside in OT

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Marian wins NAIA title, beating Morningside in OT

ROME, Ga. (AP) Michael Josifovski gave Marian the NAIA championship in only its sixth year of football with two more pressure field goals.

Josifovski made a 35-yarder on the final play of regulation to force overtime and hit a 26-yarder in the extra session to lift the Indianapolis school past Morningside (Iowa), 30-27 on Thursday night.

In the semifinals, Josifovski made a 51-yard field goal on the final play to give Marian (12-1) a 20-17 victory over Missouri Valley College.

``He's got a great leg. We call him `Megafoot,''' said Marian coach Ted Karras Jr., who had Josifovski kick the winner on third down.

Teammates call Josifovski - the offensive player of the game - that and more.

``He's clutch,'' said linebacker Robert Palmer, the defensive player of the game. ``We knew he wouldn't miss. He never does when the game is on the line.''

Josifovski made three field goals in the title game after connected on four in the semifinals.

``It's an incredible feeling,'' the senior said. ``You can't write this stuff. I couldn't have ever imagined it would end like this. Growing up you hope that you have a chance to play in a game like this.''

Adam Wiese was 25 of 39 for 233 yards and a touchdown for the Knights, and Tevin Lake rushed for 104 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries.

Joel Nixon was 22 of 39 for 228 yards and two touchdowns for Morningside (13-1), and Fred Jones ran for 118 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries. Nixon also threw two interceptions and lost a fumble.

Morningside passed up a field-goal chance on the first possession in overtime, and Marian's Danny Rojas broke up Nixon's fourth-and-3 pass to Joel McCabe.

``I'm disappointed,'' Morningside coach Steve Ryan said. ``A great game. We made some plays down the end to give ourselves a chance to win. I thought we were going to do it. It just didn't happen.

``The turnovers made a difference, the kicking game made a difference.''

Nixon threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Schuck with 1:04 left to put the Mustangs back on top at 27-24, but Marian marched back down the field to set up Josifovski for the tying 35-yard field goal that forced for the first overtime in the history of the championship.

``We have guys that don't quit,'' Karras said. ``We're true believers and we're pioneers We started six years ago. We recruit guys that are hungry to play with a never-say-die attitude. They're quality guys, they take care of business. Last week we did it like this, this week we did it like this. A lot of people probably counted us out with that minute left but we came right back down and tied it up. Couldn't be more proud of our guys.''

Marian rallied to take a 24-20 lead on Wiese's 61-yard touchdown pass to Nathan Jones with 2:46 remaining.

Ryan Harnett's interception in the end zone for Marian killed what might have been a clinching TD drive for Morningside in the fourth quarter. The Knights then drove 73 yards to cut Morningside's lead to three on Lake's 4-yard run with 7:33 remaining.

Morningside drove 78 yards in 13 plays to open the second half, with Jones scoring from a yard out. But David Galloway missed the extra point - and that proved to be significant.

Morningside led 14-10 at halftime despite two turnovers that turned into points for Marian. Nixon's fumble deep in his own territory after a scramble set up touchdown for the Knights and they added a field goal after an interception near midfield.

After Jones scored from 9 yards out to cap a 70-yard drive on Morningside's first possession, Marian got the TD back when Palmer forced a fumble as Nixon tried to avoid a sack and Billy Baker recovered at the 6. Lake ran it in on the next play.

A wild scramble by Nixon paid off for Morningside late in the first quarter when he was able to find McCabe at the back of the end zone on a fourth-down play from the 6 to cap another 70-yard march. Nixon went right, then all the way back across the field to the left before spotting his receiver.

Marian cut into the lead after Nixon's pass was picked off by Palmer at the Knights 43 midway in the second quarter. Josifovski, who had missed from 54 yards early in the quarter, connected on a 36-yarder with 3:55 left before halftime.

``We have faith in ourselves,'' Josifovski said. ``We had that momentum swing where we were down ten points and came back. It was something special. At that point, we knew we were not losing that game.''

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With the way Alex Smith has looked so far, Ron Rivera 'can envision' him being in the quarterback mix

With the way Alex Smith has looked so far, Ron Rivera 'can envision' him being in the quarterback mix

Positive reports about Alex Smith's early training camp performance came out over the weekend, and on a Tuesday morning Zoom call with the media, Ron Rivera echoed those reviews.

"He's looked good, he really has," the head coach said. "I'll be honest, I was pleasantly surprised to see how far along he is. It's been exciting to watch his progression."

According to Rivera, Smith has been working off to the side with Washington Football Team trainers at the Ashburn facility and is mirroring what Dwayne Haskins and Kyle Allen are doing, too. Coordinator Scott Turner and QBs coach Ken Zampese are apparently involving Smith as much as they can, and Smith is looking "very fluid" so far.

"It's a tribute to who he is, it's a tribute to his trainers and his doctors who have helped him get where he is today," Rivera said.

That all, of course, is wildly encouraging. The fact that the 36-year-old is in a place where he can check off those boxes and do those activities is astounding. That can't be pointed out enough, either.

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Yet it's also fair to note just how different mimicking a starting signal caller and actually serving as the starting signal caller are. So, is there any real chance of Smith transitioning from that first phase to the second before the season? 

With what he's seen from the veteran so far, Rivera certainly believes there is.

"I can envision it," he said. "The big thing is if he can do the things that we need him to do, that he needs to do to help himself on the football field, he'll be part of the conversation most definitely. He did some really good things last week. He went through all four workout days, had no residual effect the next morning, which is always important because the next day usually tells.

"We'll see how he is this week and we'll go from there."

As Smith continues to rehab and try to make his way off PUP, the challenges are solely physical. Rivera is not worried at all about the veteran having to adjust to a new scheme or dealing with any other mental task; instead, the primary concern is ensuring that Smith can handle the contact that'll come if he makes it back into live action.

"I believe he already knows probably 75-percent of our playbook," Rivera said. "So for him, it's really just a matter of can he do the movements he needs to do? Can he protect himself when he's on the field?"

It feels like every time Smith is brought up, he's taken another step. The next one, however — going from the PUP list to the huddle — is particularly daunting.

But at this point, it's gotten pretty difficult to imagine anything being particularly daunting for Alex Smith. So don't be that floored if he makes it happen. Rivera clearly won't be. 

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Making a case for Red Tails as Washington Football Team's new name

Making a case for Red Tails as Washington Football Team's new name

It's been several weeks since the Washington Football Team announced it was retiring its former name and logo after more than 80 years. Ever since FedEx became the first known sponsor to formally ask Washington to change its name, fans have taken to social media to voice some of their favorites among potential replacements. I spoke with several marketing experts about a few of the fan-generated names, and will use their responses to make a case for some of the most popular suggestions. This is the case for Red Tails.

Case for: Washington Red Tails

“Red Tails” might’ve been the favorite among fans and others on social media before the “Red Wolves” hype train started gaining traction.

The origin of the name comes from the Tuskegee Airmen, the first Black pilots in the United States military. A group of Tuskegee Airmen known as the Red Tails -- because of the paint on the tails of their planes -- made up the 332nd Fighter Group during World War II. The Red Tails had one of the lowest loss records of all escort fighter groups.

CONCEPTS: TOP 5 NEW FAN-GENERATED WASHINGTON REDTAILS UNIFORM, HELMET DESIGNS

Brad Nierenberg, CEO of RedPeg Marketing, an Alexandria, Virginia-based marketing agency, thinks the history of the Red Tails provides an opportunity for Washington to attach itself to a powerful story, particularly in a time where conversations about social justice have been amplified.

“The Red Tails is an incredible opportunity for [Washington]," Nierenberg said. "I don’t know of it as a major team name. I think that it allows them at this time to take a leadership role in this time of changing of understanding of social justice. And I think that their recognition of the Red Tails could be a dramatic, great first step for them as a brand that I think is overcoming… there’s a great story behind it. They can run with that story that already exists.

"And at the time to actually capitalize on this, you can get a lot of wind beneath your wings on that one. I think there’s a lot of energy there with society. I think this town would wrap their arms around it. As a company and as a team, as an ownership group, recognizing this incredible story could be powerful forever. And it’s a fighter group, it’s a fighter, it’s an overcoming odds -- there’s a tremendous story there, and I think that with today’s society doing what it is, I think it could be an incredible time for them to take advantage of this groundswell of energy. And it’s not going backwards, it’s only going forward, so I think they could be in a very positive position.”

RELATED: WASHINGTON'S NEW NAME MAY BE MORE FOR FUTURE FANS THAN CURRENT ONES

Additionally, the Red Tails name allows the team to maintain its "warrior" ethos, according to Matt White, president of the marketing and ad agency WHITE64. White also likes that the name provides the opportunity for Washington to stick with its traditional burgundy and gold color scheme. 

"Graphically, the [old] logo on the helmet had the feathers. So you could certainly see how that could be very consistent," White said. "And certainly with the colors of the uniform."

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Most marketing experts have stressed the advantages of a team's name drawing a connection to the city it plays in. While Red Tails doesn't immediately evoke thoughts of Washington, Tim Derdenger, assoicate professor of marketing and strategy at Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business, thinks there's a strong enough connection for it to work.

"It’s a strong choice for multiple reasons. One being that it relates to D.C. and the military," Derdenger said. "It keeps the team colors. If you keep 'red' in [the name], it has to be the right name. And I think Red Tails is one of those right names. It has a strong connection to the city, to the military, the colors, it still can pay homage to the team, the players of the past with keeping the 'red' name in there. It should be a strong candidate.”

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