Redskins

Thompson lifts SCarolina past Michigan in Outback

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Thompson lifts SCarolina past Michigan in Outback

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Despite all South Carolina has accomplished under Steve Spurrier, the winningest coach in school history couldn't recall a finish quite like the one the Gamecocks pulled off in the Outback Bowl.

Down a point with 3:29 to go, Connor Shaw launched a game-winning drive that Dylan Thompson finished with a touchdown pass in the closing seconds to beat Michigan 33-28 and give South Carolina another 11-win season and consecutive bowl victories for the first time in over a decade.

``We haven't won one like that since I've been here, in eight years, so hopefully that will sort of tell us: `Hey, we can do that.' It's possible. Just hang in there,'' Spurrier said Tuesday.

``I keep being reminded by a lot of my buddies, `We used to leave at halftime before when it was going south on us. We don't leave anymore,'' the coach added. ``So, that's encouraging.''

Spurrier, who is well-known for benching struggling QBs, called on both of his talented passers to improve to 3-4 in bowl games with the 11th-ranked Gamecocks. No coach has led them to more postseason victories.

Shaw opened with a 56-yard touchdown pass to Damiere Byrd on the third play of the game. Thompson closed with a 32-yard TD strike to Bruce Ellington with 11 seconds remaining.

``I don't know if I've ever given two quarterbacks a game ball, but today I said: `Hey, we've got to give them to both you guys,''' the Head Ball Coach said.

``Both those young men are just so super team-oriented. There's no jealousy, nothing. ... Those guys are just really, really good teammates. Wonderful team players,'' the coach added. ``We tried to tell Connor: `It's your game.' And it was his game, but Dylan was going to play. He understood that. It worked beautifully as it turned out.''

South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney was quiet for much of the day but shifted momentum in the fourth quarter with a big hit on Vincent Smith that sent the running back's helmet rolling several yards backward and caused a fumble that the SEC defensive player of the year recovered to set up Shaw's TD pass to Sanders for a 27-22 lead.

The TD capped a three-play sequence that began with Michigan running its second fake punt of the game, gaining 4 yards to the Wolverines 41 for what was ruled a first down, despite not appearing be one when the officials called for a measurement. South Carolina challenged the spot, but the ruling on the field was upheld.

Clowney then leveled Smith just as he was taking the handoff from quarterback Devin Gardner, jarring the ball loose.

``I asked one of those other refs there. I said, `You know the ball did not touch the first-down marker,''' Spurrier said. ``He said, `I know it didn't.' I said, `Well, why did he give it to them?' and he said, `I don't know.'''

``Clowney knocked the ball out the next play, so I'm glad they gave it to them. ... We gained about 10 or 15 yards.''

Thompson replaced Shaw during the winning drive, covering the final 43 yards after Shaw began the march from his own 30 and kept it alive with a 6-yard completion to Ace Sanders on a fourth-and-3 play. Gardner's third TD pass of the game had given Michigan a 28-27 lead.

``I wasn't nervous. I knew I had great guys around me, and I trusted them and just was confident,'' Thompson said, adding that South Carolina's two-quarterback setup functioned well because he and Shaw are unselfish players.

``I think it's honestly because we have a great team. We trust each other. We pull for each other, and it's no different with the quarterback situation,'' Thompson said. ``I want Connor Shaw, every time he steps on the field, to go 25-for-25 and 400 yards and five touchdowns. Every time. I think honestly, he wants the same thing for me.''

Shaw threw for 227 yards and two touchdowns after missing the Gamecocks' regular-season finale with a left foot sprain. Thompson led the Gamecocks (11-2) to a victory at archrival Clemson, and threw for 117 yards and two TDs in the bowl.

Gardner threw for 214 yards in his fifth start for Michigan (8-5) since Denard Robinson injured his right elbow late in the season. Robinson took some snaps at quarterback and even attempted his first passes in a game since Oct. 27, but lined up mostly at running back and rushed for 100 yards on 23 carries.

``Michigan probably outplayed us overall. Gosh, they had 82 plays to our 52,'' Spurrier said. ``We had a lot of big plays. We had more yards than them in just 30 less plays. ... It was a game that they probably played a little bit better overall, but we were about to score points, score five touchdowns.''

Sanders caught TD passes of 4 yards from Thompson and 31 yards from Shaw, who completed 18 of 26 passes before aggravating his foot injury and limping off during the final drive. The speedy receiver had nine catches for 92 yards and also scored on a 63-yard punt return - one of four plays over 50 yards yielded by Michigan.

Gardner was 18 of 36, including TD passes of 5 yards to Drew Dileo and 10 and 17 yards to Jeremy Gallon, who gave Michigan its late lead and finished with career bests of nine receptions and 145 yards. Robinson set the NCAA record for career yards rushing by a quarterback, hiking his four-year total to 4,495 - 15 more than West Virginia's Pat White ran for from 2005-08.

``I'd rather win the game,'' said Robinson, who attempted two passes in the third quarter, both incompletions, and also ran twice on plays in which he took the snap as the quarterback - a role he embraced after being injured during a loss to Nebraska.

``It was just what I thought it was going to be,'' Robinson said. ``I tried to make the most of it.''

South Carolina ended on a five-game winning streak that followed consecutive losses to LSU and Florida. The Gamecocks also won 11 games last season.

``It's the first Outback Bowl I've ever won. Sort of personally greedy, I wanted to win one,'' Spurrier said. ``I've been lucky to win most of these in Florida, but this is the first one of these Outback Bowls.''

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Joe Gibbs told Ron Rivera that Dan Snyder was never 'an interference' while he coached the Redskins

Joe Gibbs told Ron Rivera that Dan Snyder was never 'an interference' while he coached the Redskins

New Redskins head coach Ron Rivera did plenty of research before accepting the job earlier this month.

Rivera spent 30-35 hours with Redskins owner Dan Snyder before agreeing to be the ninth head coach of the owner's tenure. Additionally, he reached out to legendary Redskins head coach Joe Gibbs, and ended up spending several hours talking with him prior to accepting the job. The two originally spoke on the phone, before the three-time Super Bowl-winning head coach invited Rivera over to his home in Charlotte last month to discuss even further.

On Tuesday, Gibbs spoke on the Carol Maloney show, where he revealed some of the topics he spoke with Rivera about. One of those included the involvement of Snyder, who Gibbs spoke glowingly about.

"Where I felt like I could help the most was telling [Rivera] what it was like working with Dan," Gibbs said. "When I was there, Dan did every single thing he could do to help us win and was never, in any way, an interference. He was always trying to help in every single way he could."

Additionally, Gibbs raved about the Redskins fanbase. He explained to Rivera that fans in D.C. understand football, have been following the team forever, and are some of the most passionate in the sport.

"The other thing I could do, I felt like, was tell him about what it's like coaching in the greatest city in the world with the greatest fans in the world," Gibbs said. "I did tell him I thought it was the greatest job in the NFL."

Gibbs told Maloney that he hates making predictions, but had a strong one about the future of the Redskins fanbase.

"I think our fan base will come roaring back," Gibbs said. "I think [FedEx Field] will be full of Burgundy and Gold. They're going to be cheering their guts out."

When asked if he believed Rivera was the right man to lead the Redskins, Gibbs explained he was thrilled by the hire.

"He was certainly a great choice," Gibbs said. "[He was] Coach of the Year twice, put a team into the Super Bowl. And I think he's kind of a man's man. I think he can talk to the players. And I think he's proven that he can get the job done."

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Gerardo Parra promises the Nationals will return to the postseason

Gerardo Parra promises the Nationals will return to the postseason

Gerardo Parra will be in Japan for the 2020 baseball season, but that hasn't stopped him from promising big things from his former team. 

In an exclusive interview with the Nationals Talk podcast Parra promised that the Nationals will make a playoff run this season.

"I promise you these guys go to the playoffs this year too because these guys have a great heart. I know Rendon is not there but this is baseball and this is a great team."

His message for his former teammates is simple, "don’t lose the emotion, don’t lose the goofy we have right now in the clubhouse… we worked a lot to do that."

Want more Nationals interviews? Listen to the full podcast here:

Parra told Nationals Talk that he is so grateful for his time with the team and in the city. 

As the interview wrapped up, he asked if he could have a moment to say something directly to fans. 

He thanked D.C. and everyone who supported the team during this unforgettable season. He hopes fans do not forget how a children's song brought a whole city together, sports fan or not.  
 
 "Enjoy the moment," said Parra. "And baby shark never forget." 

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