No. 19 La. Tech hosts Utah St. in key WAC tilt

No. 19 La. Tech hosts Utah St. in key WAC tilt

RUSTON, La. (AP) Louisiana Tech has relied on its high-scoring offense to reach the brink of a second straight Western Athletic Conference crown.

Coach Sonny Dykes' big concern this week is whether that formula will work for the No. 19 Bulldogs (9-1, 4-0 WAC) again Saturday when defensive-minded Utah State (8-2, 4-0) visits with first place in the league on the line.

``You are living on borrowed time because a lot of times if you come up against a really good defense it is going to be difficult, and it will be for us on Saturday,'' Dykes said. ``We know that. Our players know that, so we are going to have to play better team football on Saturday than we played over the last couple of weeks.''

No one questions that Louisiana Tech has one of the best offenses in the nation. The Bulldogs have scored 50 points or more in eight of their 10 games. Colby Cameron has thrown for 3,283 yards, 27 touchdowns and zero interceptions, setting an NCAA record with a streak of 419 pass attempts without being picked off.

Freshman running back Kenneth Dixon has 1,052 yards on the ground and leads the nation with 24 touchdowns rushing.

And it's not like Tech has been doing all this against weak competition.

The Bulldogs have won two road games against teams from BCS automatic-qualifying conferences, defeating Illinois of the Big Ten 52-24 and Virginia of the ACC 44-38. Tech's only loss this season came against No. 9 Texas A&M - the only team to beat previous No. 1 Alabama - and the Bulldogs went touchdown for touchdown with A&M in that 59-57 thriller in Shreveport last month.

To beat the Bulldogs, Utah State coach Gary Andersen said, ``You better score and move the ball. ... It's arena football.''

Utah State's only losses came against BYU and Wisconsin, and both were close.

The Aggies' defense is rated 12th nationally, allowing only 13.5 points per game.

``The way our defense plays allows us to take more chances on the offensive side of the ball,'' Utah State running back Kerwynn Williams said. ``It's a good thing for us, knowing that our defense has our back if something were to go wrong. They make big plays and I think they'll continue that this game.''

Unlike Tech, Utah State has often looked strong on both sides of the ball, resulting in some rather lopsided victories. The Aggies have won their past four games by an average margin of nearly 30 points.

``You go and watch the film and you look up midway through the second quarter and they are usually ahead 28-0 or 24-0 or 31-0,'' Dykes said of the Aggies. ``It seems like they have gotten off to a great start with people and have really been able to hold them off.''

Sophomore Chuckie Keeton has completed more than 68 percent of his passes this season for 2,671 yards and 23 touchdowns against seven interceptions. His ability to distribute the ball to a variety of players makes him less predictable; five different receivers have caught at least 23 passes. He has also shown an ability to scramble for first downs and appears to be less prone to the types of costly mistakes that sometimes plagued him as a freshman.

``He was a little reckless at times last year with the ball,'' Dykes said. ``He does not do that this year.''

Last year, Tech pulled out a 24-17 victory at Utah State, and it was a defensive play - an interception return for a score - that made the difference for the Bulldogs. The Aggies have been looking forward to the rematch ever since.

``We always had them kind of marked on our schedule coming from the offseason just because we knew it was one of the games we should have won last year,'' Keeton said. ``To have it be on this magnitude where a WAC championship is kind of on the line is a great feeling.''

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Soto makes debut in Nationals loss to Dodgers


Soto makes debut in Nationals loss to Dodgers

WASHINGTON  -- Kike Hernandez and Yasiel Puig each hit two-run homers, and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Washington Nationals 7-2 on Sunday to complete a three-game sweep.

Hernandez's blast off Stephen Strasburg in the fifth inning put the Dodgers up 3-2. Yasmani Grandal also homered off Strasburg (5-4), who allowed three runs and five hits over 6 2/3 innings with seven strikeouts.

Alex Wood (1-4) pitched six innings, allowing just three hits and two earned runs. Wood came out to start the seventh, but returned to the clubhouse after showing some discomfort during his warm-up tosses.

Trea Turner homered for Washington, which swept Arizona last weekend and then went five days without playing a full game because of rain before getting swept by the Dodgers.

Los Angeles, after losing six consecutive games, has now won four straight overall and five of six over Washington this season.

Washington's Juan Soto, at 19 the youngest active player in the majors, made his debut in the eighth as a pinch-hitter and struck out against Erik Goeddel.

The Dodgers added two runs in the ninth. Josh Fields recorded the final four outs for his second save of the season.


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George McPhee's Vegas Golden Knights advance to Stanley Cup Final


George McPhee's Vegas Golden Knights advance to Stanley Cup Final

WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- Ryan Reaves scored the winning goal, Marc-Andre Fleury made 31 saves and the Vegas Golden Knights pushed their remarkable expansion season into the Stanley Cup Final, beating the Winnipeg Jets 2-1 on Sunday in Game 5 of the Western Conference final.

Alex Tuch also scored for the Knights. They lost Game 1 in Winnipeg before winning four straight to become the first expansion team since the 1968 St. Louis Blues -- when the six initial expansion teams were put alone in the West -- to get to the final.

Vegas will meet the Tampa Bay Lightning or the Washington Capitals in the final. Tampa Bay leads the Eastern Conference final 3-2, with Game 6 set for Monday night in Washington.

Josh Morrissey scored for the Jets, and Connor Hellebuyck made 30 saves.

Reaves, the bruising Winnipeg native acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins before to the trade deadline in February, snapped a 1-1 tie with 6:39 left in the second period when he tipped Luca Sbisa's point shot past Hellebuyck for his first goal of the playoffs.

Winnipeg got a power play early in the third, but couldn't muster much of anything. The Knights smothered much of the Jets' attack for the next 10 minutes, with Hellebuyck having to come up with big stops on William Karlsson and Eric Haula to keep his team within one.

The Jets pressed with under 4 minutes to go, with Fleury stopping captain Blake Wheeler on the doorstep, but it wasn't nearly enough as the Knights closed out their third straight series on the road.

The Jets beat the Knights 4-2 in Game 1, but Vegas snatched home ice with a 3-1 victory in Game 2 before picking up 4-2 and 3-2 wins at T-Mobile Arena.

The Knights, whose jaw-dropping inaugural 109-point campaign included a Pacific Division crown, swept the Los Angeles Kings in the first round, and knocked out the San Jose Sharks in six games.

The Jets had the NHL's second-best record with 114 points in the regular season. They advanced to the first conference final in city's history with a five-game victory over the Minnesota Wild in the opening round before topping the Presidents' Trophy-winning Nashville Predators in Game 7 on the road.

The usual raucous, white-clad crowd at Bell MTS Place -- not to mention the thousands of fans outside the arena attending a street party on a sun-drenched spring afternoon -- were silenced just 5:11 into Game 5 when Tuch jumped on Morrissey's turnover and fired his sixth past Hellebuyck.

The Jets were tentative to start and it got worse after the opener as Vegas dominated the next couple of shifts, forcing some good saves from Hellebuyck before Winnipeg got its feet moving.

After being outshot 7-1 in the first 7 minutes, the Jets finally pushed back and turned the tide with the next nine attempts on goal, culminating with Morrissey making amends for his early gaffe with 2:46 left in the period.

Bryan Little won a faceoff in the offensive zone straight back to second-year defenseman, who blasted his first career playoff goal past Fleury's glove.

One of Winnipeg's downfalls in the series through four games was an inability to maintain momentum. The Knights scored within 1:28 of a Jets' goal in each of the first four games -- a crushing 12 seconds after Winnipeg tied Game 3, and an equally gut-wrenching 43 seconds after the Jets knotted Game 4 -- but they managed to take the game to the locker rooms tied 1-1.

Both teams had chances in the second period before Reaves made it 2-1, with Jets center Mathieu Perrault just missing on a pass from Little that had too much speed.

Right after Reaves scored the second playoff goal of his career -- and first since 2015 with St. Louis -- Winnipeg's Nikolaj Ehlers rang a shot off the post on Fleury.