Nationals

Oklahoma St rolls Purdue in Heart of Dallas Bowl

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Oklahoma St rolls Purdue in Heart of Dallas Bowl

DALLAS (AP) Oklahoma State didn't lack motivation after a tough Big 12 finish landed the Cowboys in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. Quite the opposite.

They had something to prove.

Clint Chelf threw three of his team's five touchdown passes and Oklahoma State rolled up 524 yards of offense and forced five Purdue turnovers in a dominating 58-14 victory Tuesday.

``We were fired up because we felt like we deserved better, basically,'' said receiver Josh Stewart, whose 64-yard punt return set up the Cowboys' first touchdown. ``Coming into the game we knew we had to make a statement. And I think we did a good job of doing that.''

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy didn't hide the disappointment of sliding down the bowl priority list with an overtime loss to Oklahoma when the rival Sooners scored in the final seconds of regulation, followed by another narrow defeat at Baylor to finish the regular season.

The Cowboys (8-5), a year removed from finishing the best season in school history with a win in the Fiesta Bowl, responded with the school's most lopsided bowl win since Gundy was the quarterback in a 62-14 rout of Wyoming in the 1988 Holiday Bowl.

``Some of the seniors, those guys, would like to have been in a better bowl,'' said Chelf, who was 17 of 22 for 197 yards with no interceptions. ``We're a highly motivated group. I think everybody wanted to go out there and prove people wrong, show them we could win a game like this.''

With former Purdue quarterbacks Drew Brees and Kyle Orton watching, Robert Marve didn't get to 100 yards passing until Oklahoma State led 45-0 as the Boilermakers (6-7) fell to 0-4 on New Year's Day.

The Boilermakers gave the Cowboys short fields on their first two scores after Stewart's long punt return and the first of Marve's two interceptions. Various mistakes with the game still close in the first half - a missed field goal, a drop with a receiver behind the defense, and failing to hold on to an easy interception - ended any hope for Purdue.

``When you turn the ball over five times, you don't take advantage of your opportunities, the game can turn out like this,'' said interim Purdue coach Patrick Higgins, who had fired coach Danny Hope visit the team in the locker room. New coach Darrell Hazell, hired from Kent State, also attended the game.

Leading 28-0 at halftime, Oklahoma State erased any lingering doubt three plays into the second half when Justin Gilbert stripped Purdue receiver O.J. Ross on a short completion. The loose ball shot straight to Daytawion Lowe, who ran 37 yards down the sideline in front of the Purdue bench for a 35-0 lead.

Lowe's score was the third fumble return for a touchdown at historic Cotton Bowl Stadium dating to the namesake bowl game that started in 1937 and moved to Cowboys Stadium in 2009.

Oklahoma State's 58 points were the most in a bowl game at the Fair Park venue, topping the 55 scored by Keyshawn Johnson and Southern California against Texas Tech in 1995.

The Cowboys pushed the lead to 45-0 on Chelf's third touchdown pass, a leaping 37-yard grab in the end zone by Isaiah Anderson, who had 78 yards receiving.

Higgins might have unintentionally awakened the Cowboys soon after the late-morning kickoff on a cold, overcast day when he called for a fake punt from Purdue's 13 on its first possession.

The Boilermakers got a first down when punter Cody Webster ran 16 yards, but he ended up punting anyway five plays later, and Stewart's return to the Purdue 19 set up Chelf's 4-yard scoring pass to Charlie Moore. Marve threw his first interception on the next possession, and a 26-yard drive ended with Chelf's 7-yard TD to Blake Jackson.

``When they faked that punt on their own 13, they certainly got our attention they'd be willing to do anything,'' Gundy said.

J.W. Walsh had two touchdown passes for Oklahoma State after replacing Chelf in the third quarter, and freshman Wes Lunt, who won the quarterback job in summer workouts before getting hurt during the season, played the last half of the fourth.

Purdue finally scored late in the third quarter when Marve found a wide open Brandon Cottom for a 32-yard touchdown. Marve finished 21 of 34 for 212 yards and two touchdowns and two interceptions, but was just 11 of 20 for 80 yards before the first scoring drive.

Down 14-0, the Boilermakers had their best chance to score in the first quarter when Akeem Shavers, who had 93 yards rushing, ran 24 yards to the Oklahoma State 23. Shamiel Gary, who earlier intercepted Marve on a tipped pass, made a strong tackle in the open field on third down, and Sam McCartney missed a 34-yard field goal.

The Cowboys then went 80 yards the other way, sparked by a 26-yard completion to Jackson. Oklahoma State scored on fourth-and-1 when Walsh, the short-yardage specialist, replaced Chelf and threw a 16-yard scoring pass to Jeremy Seaton.

Trailing 21-0, the Boilermakers were in scoring range again when Marve threw high on fourth-and-2 to an open Kurt Freytag, who got a hand on the ball but couldn't make a juggling catch.

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Can Nationals’ key six make it through three more wins?

Can Nationals’ key six make it through three more wins?

HOUSTON -- Going 1-0 is taxing.

Ask the Nationals pitchers. Just make sure to talk with the select few being used. 

Washington is trying to finish a World Series win behind six pitchers. Maybe six-and-a-half, at most seven, if Tanner Rainey and Fernando Rodney are included. No matchup guys. No bullpen depth. Just a formula of tying the yoke to one of four starters that day, then Daniel Hudson and Sean Doolittle when necessary.

The question is if those six people can make it through three more wins.

A few things have made this approach viable. One is the starting rotation being populated with guys accustomed to a lot of innings. Washington finished with two of the top five in innings pitched this year (Stephen Strasburg at No. 2 and Patrick Corbin at No. 5), in addition to Max Scherzer, who routinely leads the league in innings pitched. Another is a willingness to accept varied roles and workload in the bullpen. The idea of a “closer” has been tossed outside. A person to obtain key outs is inserted into the game at the most crucial -- and beneficial -- time. 

“I think it’s Huddy,” Sean Doolittle said when asked why the bullpen has worked this way. “I think when you have an anchor like that at the back of the bullpen, it kind of lets guys slide into certain spots in front of him. And when he can go multiple innings and come in early in the game with runners on base -- that’s tough. Not a lot of guys who pitch in that closer’s role are comfortable doing that. But he has experience pitching in so many different roles, he brings that versatility to our group.”

Corbin has helped. He came out of the bullpen again Tuesday to wipe three more outs away and help the Nationals earn a 1-0 series lead. He appears likely to start Game 4 in Nationals Park after pitching his “bullpen session” in Game 1 of the World Series. Among the questions for Corbin, and Davey Martinez, is if Corbin is available for one out Wednesday night in Game 2. Picture left-handed Michael Brantley up with two runners on base and two out in the seventh inning. Brantley’s career OPS against left-handed pitchers is 125 points lower than it is against right-handed pitchers. Martinez said he would speak to Corbin late Monday to see what’s next.

Doolittle was already prognosticating after Game 1. Tomorrow may always be just a day away, but it might as well not exist in this current formula.

“Regardless of the score, the situation, I think we all expected to be in there in some capacity,” Doolittle said. “And I think guys are willing to go multiple innings -- we’ll figure tomorrow out tomorrow. Stras is going to give us a good start and we feel good about having him out there, and he’s going to go as long as he can. We’ll piece it together after that. I think that’s how we’ve thought about it here for a while.”

And, is there enough juice for the six pitchers to handle the current day, eventually turning “tomorrow” into a parade?

“Oh my gosh,” Doolittle said. “Are you kidding me? YES. Yes. We just had a few days off. Us old guys got to put our feet up and rest a little bit. Then we had a couple really good workouts before we came down here. But, at this point in the season, you’re feeding off adrenaline so much. We’re all a little bit tired, sure. Not a lot of guys have been here before. This is the latest they’ve ever played. But when you’re out there, there’s so much adrenaline, there’s so much energy you’re just feeding off that so much. I think we are absolutely in a good spot physically and mentally for the rest of the series.”

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Legendary gymnast Simone Biles to throw the first pitch for Game 2 of the World Series

Legendary gymnast Simone Biles to throw the first pitch for Game 2 of the World Series

Gymnastics legend Simon Biles is scheduled to throw the first pitch for Game 2 of the World Series in Houston, Major League Baseball announced.

Biles, a Houston native, won four gold medals and one bronze medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. She won the most gold medals as a female gymnast at a single Olympics in American history and became the fifth-ever quadruple gold medalist in women's gymnastics at a single Olympics.

This isn't Biles's first time at Minute Maid Park. She threw out an awesome first pitch for the Astros in 2016.

The Houston Astros brought in Brian McCann and Evan Gattis for Game 1's first pitch, both former Astros catchers and members of Houston's 2017 championship team. Between Biles, McCann and Gattis, it looks like Houston is hoping their first pitch participants can rub off championship energy.

McCann and Gattis did not bring enough good luck for Game 1, however, as the Nationals came out on top in a thrilling 5-4 victory to take a 1-0 series lead.

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