Nationals

Scuffling West Virginia faces Iowa State

Scuffling West Virginia faces Iowa State

AMES, Iowa (AP) Iowa State never wanted to reach the point where it had to beat West Virginia on the day after Thanksgiving to become bowl eligible.

The Cyclones took care of that by winning their sixth game last weekend.

But it's not as if the Mountaineers are nearly as scary as they looked to be in early October, either.

West Virginia (5-5, 2-5 in the Big 12) has fallen from the top 10 to the Big 12 basement in five long weeks. Now it's the Mountaineers who need to beat Iowa State (6-5, 3-5) just to reach a bowl game - not the other way around.

``You get to a level where a bowl game is much more than a reward - we are not at that stage right now. We are at the stage where we are playing for the betterment of the program,'' West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said. ``If we win a couple of games and get to a good bowl game, we get to practice for another month. That will help us out for the program.''

The Cyclones have themselves yet another quarterback controversy. But coach Paul Rhoads might have an uprising in the stands at Jack Trice Stadium if he doesn't start redshirt freshman Sam Richardson.

Richardson became the third Iowa State quarterback responsible for a victory last week when he came off the bench to lead Iowa State to a 51-23 win at Kansas.

Richardson looked so good in his debut that he spurred hope that the Cyclones have found their quarterback of the future. He completed 23 of 27 passes for 250 yards and four touchdowns after relieving senior Steele Jantz.

Rhoads wouldn't commit to starting Richardson against the Mountaineers, but he did say the freshman had the edge over Jantz after his dazzling performance in Lawrence.

``You have to always be ready for an opportunity, and when it comes you have to seize it,'' Richardson said. ``Still working practice with the same mentality that I'll have an opportunity to be out on the field.''

West Virginia's main problem isn't hard to spot. The Mountaineers' defense has yet to prove it can stop anyone in the Big 12.

West Virginia was ranked fifth in the nation and quarterback Geon Smith was the presumptive Heisman Trophy favorite when Texas Tech dropped 49 points on the Mountaineers on Oct. 13.

Sadly for West Virginia, it wasn't a fluke.

After giving up 63 and 48 points in wins over Baylor and Texas, the Mountaineers have allowed 49, 55, 39, 55 and 50 in consecutive defeats.

Last week, West Virginia suffered a gut-wrenching 50-49 loss to Oklahoma when Landry Jones threw his sixth TD pass of the evening with 24 seconds left.

Nationally, only Colorado has given up more than the 42.3 points West Virginia has allowed per game - and the Buffs are 1-10.

``We are strong willed around here. We have the right leadership in place, and we have the right amount of effort. We all want to win very badly. Guys are not going to hang their heads,'' Smith said. ``We understand that we are in a rough stretch, but we know the only way to pull out of it is to win games.''

Though Iowa State and West Virginia have never met, Rhoads is a familiar name in Morgantown.

Rhoads was the defensive coordinator for rival Pittsburgh in 2007 when the Panthers shut down star quarterback Pat Smith and stunned West Virginia 13-9, denying the Mountaineers a spot in the national title game.

But Rhoads said this week that he knows his offense - no matter if it's led by Richardson or Jantz - must put up points to keep up with a West Virginia team that is as prolific now as it was in October.

``They're not any less dangerous. What happened to them was the Big 12. This is a great, great football league and they're a very good football team,'' Rhoads said. ``They are a very dangerous football team.''

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Follow Luke Meredith on Twitter:http://www.twitter.com/LukeMeredithAP

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Soto makes debut in Nationals loss to Dodgers

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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

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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.

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