Redskins

Tulsa edges UCF 33-27 on Singleton's overtime TD

Tulsa edges UCF 33-27 on Singleton's overtime TD

TULSA, Okla. (AP) Alex Singleton got up and celebrated after muscling his way in for what he thought was the touchdown that clinched the Conference USA championship for Tulsa.

Told he was going to have to try again, there was never any question what was going to happen.

Singleton ran for 100 yards and plunged over the top for a 1-yard score in overtime to lift Tulsa to a 33-27 victory over UCF on Saturday for its first Conference USA title and Liberty Bowl bid since 2005.

``My first championship ever,'' Singleton said. ``I'm still ecstatic about it. I really can't even explain it right now. It just feels so good.''

Singleton came up with the second 100-yard game of his career, breaking the school career record for touchdowns in the process.

After Cory Dorris blocked Shawn Moffitt's 38-yard field goal on Central Florida's possession to start overtime, Tulsa (10-3) kept the ball on the ground on five straight plays. Singleton was initially given a touchdown on second-and-goal, but officials ruled on replay that he was down inside the 1.

That was no problem for the burly back whose specialty is short yardage.

``We just said, `We're going to get it again and put it in for sure this time so there weren't no doubts about it,'' said Singleton, his bulging biceps popping out of his grey muscle shirt. ``So, that's what we did. They told me that they're going to submarine, take flight.''

No replay was needed for Singleton's final score, the 41st overall of his career and the 40th on the ground. In the second quarter, Singleton broke Tarrion Adams' school mark for the most touchdowns in school history with a 7-yard run.

``It's pretty obvious whenever we get seven offensive linemen in and Big Al back there that we're going to come at you and he's going to hit you in your mouth,'' quarterback Cody Green said.

``Just give the ball to Alex, and he's going to run some people over,'' said Trey Watts, who was named MVP after making the play of the game on a 54-yard punt return TD to tie it at 27 with 5:06 remaining.

Blake Bortles threw for 194 yards and a pair of 8-yard touchdown passes to Breshad Perriman and Quincy McDuffie for UCF (9-4). He also ran for 60 yards and another score.

The Knights will play in the Beef `O' Brady's Bowl.

``It's very disappointing, to come that far, have it down in overtime, miss the field goal and have them score a touchdown,'' running back Latavius Murray said. ``We didn't come here to lose and we just have to do what we have to do and make sure we win the bowl game.''

Watts tied it on an unusual play, picking up a punt that had been batted forward by UCF's Kemal Ishmael and then racing 54 yards up the Tulsa sideline for a touchdown.

Knights coach George O'Leary said players told him they thought they heard a whistle to stop the play, but that was no excuse. He said the only safe play in that situation is to pick up the ball and hand it to an official.

``The kid went up and smacked the ball, which is not real smart. If you're going to do that, grab the ball,'' O'Leary said.

Counterpart Bill Blankenship, meanwhile, heaped praise on Watts - the son of ex-Oklahoma quarterback and congressman J.C. Watts - for understanding there was nothing to lose by picking up the bouncing ball after Ishmael had leaped to swing at it.

``Once they touch the ball, there's really no harm, no foul for us. Even if he ran and fumbled, it would go back to the original touching if we wanted it to,'' Blankenship said. `` ... Trey's just a smart, smart, smart kid and a playmaker.''

After Watts' score, A.J. Bouye blocked Daniel Schwarz's extra-point attempt to preserve the tie.

Tulsa limited Murray to short gains and then forced an incomplete pass by Bortles in overtime, leading to Moffitt's field goal try.

The Golden Hurricane doused Blankenship with a cooler after what looked like the game-winning touchdown, but got to celebrate again after Singleton's ``second'' score. Offensive lineman Jared Grigg zoomed around the field to hold up a Conference USA champions sign to the crowd, and the team mobbed near midfield to accept a bid to the Liberty Bowl.

``We're excited to be going to Memphis,'' Blankenship said. ``That's big time.''

It was the third time the teams have met in the Conference USA championship game since 2005, and the last chance for it to happen before UCF departs for the Big East next season.

Tulsa won it in `05, with the Knights taking the crown in `07. The Golden Hurricane took the rubber match by winning the second meeting between the teams at H.A. Chapman Stadium in three weeks.

Watts also had 134 yards rushing. Cody Green threw for 153 yards, with just 41 after halftime as the Golden Hurricane relied on their ground game to produce 290 yards - surpassing 200 for the ninth time this season.

Murray became the first player in UCF history to rush for touchdowns in eight straight games in a single season, scoring on a 2-yard TD run to cut Tulsa's lead to 21-20. The extra point was blocked by Trent Martin, but Bortles' 28-yard scramble put the Knights up 27-21 late in the third quarter.

UCF then had back-to-back three-and-outs before Watts tied it with his return.

``We didn't make plays when we needed to, both on offense and defense,'' Murray said. ``It came down to one more stop or us putting the ball in the end zone one more time.''

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One thing doesn't make sense about Washington's dismissal of Alex Santos and Richard Mann II: The timing

One thing doesn't make sense about Washington's dismissal of Alex Santos and Richard Mann II: The timing

In a move that seemingly came out of left field, Washington fired two longtime front office members on Sunday -- Alex Santos and Richard Mann II -- just 16 days before training camp begins.

Sure, the team had its reasons for these moves. Only the people inside the doors of Redskins Park can explain. But what is a bit odd is the timing. Why now? Why in mid-July with training camp right around the corner?

Since last December, the Burgundy and Gold have made several organizational changes. The team's current staff has few holdovers from 2019.

Longtime team president Bruce Allen was fired on Dec. 30, and head coach Ron Rivera was hired two days later. Head athletic trainer Larry Hess, who had been with the organization for 17 years, was let go, too.

Washington has yet to announce a formal replacement for Allen, but Senior VP of Player Personnel, Kyle Smith, has served as the de facto acting general manager. Smith, along with Rivera, spearheaded Washington's 2020 draft, and the head coach had plenty of praise for Smith following the three-day April event.

Eric Schaffer, the team's VP of football operations, who spent 17 years with the franchise as the organization's respected salary-cap guru and general counsel, was let go in January as well. Rivera brought in Rob Rogers from Carolina to replace him. 

Doug Williams, one of the Burgundy and Gold's iconic players, was even reassigned from the pro personnel department to the player development department this offseason. 

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All of these moves had one thing in common that these recent dismissal doesn't: the timing makes sense. 

Allen's firing in December was, by all accounts, overdue. He had spent 10 years with the organization, and during that span, Washington made the playoffs just twice with no postseason victories. Rivera's hiring in January was customary for when teams replace head coaches. Schaffer's dismissal came a few weeks after Rivera was hired in January, as the head coach was working through the process of which staff members he wanted to hold over.

But for Santos and Mann? The timing, on the surface level, just doesn't make sense. The team had months to make changes at their respective roles.

Should they have been let go in January, that would have made sense. Rivera would still have been in his first few weeks as head coach, figuring out how he wants to build his staff. Or maybe after free agency? That's when their jobs at the pro level would have been complete. 

Should this move have occurred in early May following the draft, that would have also made sense. Many front office staffers are let go across the NFL following the draft, as teams don't want to waste a year of their work by dismissing them prior to the draft itself. There are still priority undrafted free agents to sign and work to do. But, especially in 2020 when the ongoing coronavirus pandemic wiped out rookie minicamp, OTAs and veterans' minicamp. there was an easy gap to make changes. 

But once again, why now? July is usually a dead period in the NFL, as teams have one final break before gearing up for training camp and the upcoming season. Major personnel moves are rarely made in July, if ever.

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Last year, the New York Jets got plenty of scrutiny for firing then-GM Mike Maccagnan in May, just a few weeks after the draft. That was in May, and the organization received major backlash.

Washington didn't get rid of a general manager on Sunday - Rivera is firmly in control there with Smith assuming more power - but it did dismiss two important members of its front office with training camp arriving soon. Those roles will have to be filled and it's not an ideal time to find candidates. Most prospects would have employment by now. Maybe there are internal hires the organization likes? 

With training camp just over two weeks away, the timing of Santos and Mann's dismissal is just plain odd. And with the team's potential name change still at the forefront, these moves will only add to what will likely be another crazy week in Ashburn.

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Capitals release 34-player roster for Phase 3 training camp

Capitals release 34-player roster for Phase 3 training camp

The Capitals released a 34-player training camp roster on Sunday for Phase 3 of the NHL's return to play plan. Training camp begins on Monday. The roster consists of 20 forwards, 10 defensemen and four goalies.

No notable names appear to be missing from the roster so presumably, no one has informed the team if they intend to opt-out of the postseason. The deadline to do so is 5 p.m. on Monday.

In addition to the regular NHL players, this roster includes a number of notable black aces: Forwards Shane Gersich, Philippe Maillet, Beck Malenstyn, Connor McMichael, Brian Pinho, Daniel Sprong, defensemen Alex Alexeyev, Martin Fehervary, Tyler Lewington and goalies Pheonix Copley and Vitek Vanecek.

RELATED: 7 THINGS TO WATCH THAT'LL TELL US IF THE CAPS ARE CUP CONTENDERS

For Phase 3, teams are limited to 30 skaters and an unlimited number of goalies. That number will have to be trimmed down to 28 skaters and 31 total players when the team departs for the hub city of Toronto.

The team has been divided into two squads for training camp with the first practice starting at 10:50 a.m. on Monday. All practices are closed to the public.

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