Redskins

No. 20 Rutgers stays unbeaten with 23-15 win

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No. 20 Rutgers stays unbeaten with 23-15 win

PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) Duron Harmon scooped up a blocked field goal attempt and ran 75 yard for a tie-breaking touchdown early in the third quarter and No. 20 Rutgers rode its defense and special teams to a 23-15 victory over Syracuse on Saturday.

Big East Conference defensive player of the year Khaseem Greene forced three fumbles and intercepted a pass as Rutgers (6-0, 3-0) became bowl eligible for the seventh time in eight seasons.

Jawan Jamison scored on a 1-yard touchdown run, Gary Nova threw a 12-yard touchdown to Tyler Kroft and walk-on placekicker Nick Borgese had a 25-yard field goal filling in for the injured Kyle Federico as the Scarlet Knights went 6-0 for only the third time since 1976.

Adonis Ameen-Moore scored on a 3-yard run and Ryan Nassib threw a late 40-yard touchdown pass to Christopher Clark and a 2-point conversion pass to Marcus Sales pass for Syracuse (2-4, 1-1).

The Orange had the blocked field goal when they were poised to take the lead, four turnovers, untimely penalties and failures in Rutgers' territory.

With Syracuse headed to the ACC next season, this was the final conference game between the schools, and it was one the Orange were in position to win. They tied the score just before halftime with an 80-yard drive and had another drive going after taking the second-half kickoff and moving to Rutgers 15.

Ross Krautman, who kicked a game-winning field goal here two years ago and came into the game as the conference's active leader in field goal percentage, lined up for a 32-yard attempt. Linebacker Jamal Merrell broke through and got a hand on the kick, which rolled toward the Syracuse bench. Harmon collected it, got a convoy of blockers, and scored for a 14-7 lead.

The blocked kick was the 27th for Rutgers since 2009, best in the nation among major schools.

The lead grew to 10 points after Greene and Scott Vallone sacked Nassib and forced a fumble that Ka'Lial Glaud recovered at the Rutgers 47.

Jamison, who had his streak of six straight 100-yard games rushing snapped at six with 64 yards on 28 carries, ran seven times on the ensuing drive and Nova hit Brandon Coleman for 16 yards to set up Borgese's kick. He played because Federico was hurt last week against Connecticut.

Greene, who had 14 tackles in the game, forced Steve Rene to fumble on a punt return on the first play of the fourth quarter and Kevin Snyder recovered. Nova hit Kroft on third down for a touchdown. Borgese missed the extra points and it almost hurt the Scarlet Knights.

Nassib (25-of 42 for 356 yards) got the Orange within eight points with less than five minutes to play and Syracuse got the ball back with 2:45 to play. However, Brandon Jones intercepted Nassib on first down and Rutgers ran out the clock.

Jamison gave Rutgers a 7-0 lead with his short touchdown run, which capped a season-long 93-yard drive. Nova (14 of 23 for 152) set up the score with a 43-yard pass to Coleman to the 1-yard line.

Syracuse converted three third-down plays in its 80-yard drive that ended with Ameen-Moore powering into the end zone against the nation's No. 2 ranked run defense.

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The Kerrigans are having a baby and, WOW, this is all so very exciting

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@kerrigan91

The Kerrigans are having a baby and, WOW, this is all so very exciting

The Kerrigan family is about to make a big-time addition to its roster.

Ryan and his wife, Jessica, already have two very, VERY, very, very cute bulldogs in their household. 

But on Tuesday, the two announced in separate Instagram posts that Jessica is 18 weeks pregnant and that a third human Kerrigan will arrive in 2019.

"Can I eat dis sign aftur da picturr iz over?" George the bulldog said when reached for comment on the news.

"How did dey gett such a smawl jerzey for da baby alreddy?" Franklin the other bulldog added.

This is all very wonderful.

Come next March, the world is about to get a little precious-er.

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The Caps are a bad faceoff team, here’s what they’re doing about it

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USA Today Sports

The Caps are a bad faceoff team, here’s what they’re doing about it

Tuesday’s practice was a lot like every other for the Caps until the end. After working on the power play, the team gathered at one end of the ice and began working on faceoffs. It was not just the centers, but wingers and defensemen alike got into the action with every win celebrated by loud cheers from teammates.

It should could as no surprise to see faceoffs as a point of emphasis for Washington considering just how much the team has struggled with them in the early season. The Caps rank 30th in the league in faceoff win percentage at only 43.8-percent.

“Yeah, there's little details that can help our game,” Lars Eller told reporters after practice. “The more you have the puck, easier the game is gonna be for you. We have a little more time in between games than usual during the season here, so we have the time to work on something like that, which can be little things that makes the difference.”

The team as a whole watched video on faceoffs prior to practice and then worked as a five-man unit during the drill. The main point of emphasis head coach Todd Reirden wanted to drill into his players was that faceoffs are not simply the responsibility of the centers alone.

“The days of it just being center vs. center and a clean draw being won back are a rarity now so it's important to have all five guys helping, something we watched video on earlier today,” Reirden said.

“You ask any centerman if they have a good group of wingers that can help them out on draws, that makes a huge difference,” Nic Dowd said. “I've been lucky, I have [Devante Smith-Pelly] on my right and I'm a righty so I win all my draws my backhand side so a lot of pucks go his way and he wins a lot of draws for me. That's huge. You have a guy that's sitting over there that's sleeping, you could go easily from five wins to five losses and then that's your night. It makes a big difference.”

Faceoffs were always going to be more of a struggle for the Caps this season with the departure of Jay Beagle who was, by far, the team’s best faceoff man for several years. Whenever the team needed a big draw, Beagle was the player relied upon to win it. With him gone, it is no surprise to see the team struggle.

But the Caps don’t like the idea of keeping possession off a draw just 43.8-percent of the time.

“It's essentially like the ref is creating a 50-50 puck and you snap it back, you get possession, now you're forechecking and it makes a huge difference,” Dowd said. “You play against those top lines, they want to be in the O-zone. Well, if you lose the draw, now you're playing D-zone, you win the draw now you're playing O-zone. So effectively, you've shut down their shift.”

There is a school of thought suggesting that perhaps the importance of winning faceoffs is overrated and a team’s faceoff win percentage is not overly important. Eller himself admitted as much to reporters.

What no one can argue, however, is that while some faceoffs may not matter all that much, there are some that are hugely important in a game. The Caps recognize that. For them, being a strong faceoff team is not necessarily about improving the team’s win percentage, but more about being able to win those critical draws.

“It's something that for the most part the players understand and a neutral zone faceoff with 14 minutes to go in the first period is not nearly as important as one that's 5-on-6 at the end of the game,” Reirden said. “We all know that. It's important to put the right people on those situations and give them the best chance to have success.”

“A center ice draw, I could see where guys could make the argument, well you lose it you still will play hockey and stuff could still happen,” Dowd said. “But I think the game is such a possession game now that any opportunity you can win a 50-50 puck whether that's a faceoff or a board battle, it makes a huge difference.”

 

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