At 4-2 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, MSU is tied with Illinois State (a team the Bears have already beat) for third place in the league. A win at Southern Illinois this weekend would give the Bears their most league wins since 1990, which was also the last time MSU made the FCS playoffs.
It’s been a roller coaster season that began with an 0-4 start in the non-conference schedule, followed by losing two of the first three MVFC games.
But somehow, some way, the Bears are on the upswing/
MSU has finally found some offense to go with its stellar defense, and the results have been three straight convincing wins. Their game this Saturday will have long-term and short-term implications.
A win, and the Bears keep their slim hopes for the p-word (I can’t bring myself to type it and jinx it) alive. The Bears would be 5-6 overall and 5-2 in the MVFC, with a regular season finale at home the following week against last-place Northern Iowa.
You wouldn’t think a .500-level record would be good enough to get into the FCS playoffs, but the Bears have a few things working to their advantage.
For one, they play in what’s usually viewed as one of the toughest conferences in the FCS. Generally, the MVFC sends multiple teams to the playoffs. That at-large bid may be a pipe dream with a 6-6 overall record, but at least at 6-2 and alone in third place, the Bears would have chance.
In speaking with the media this week, Allen said: “If we can get this one (at Southern Illinois), then we’re coming home and might be playing for something pretty specially. So we gotta make sure they know that, but also stay in the mindset that it’s one game at a time.”
So, you mean to say MSU’s season might not be over after playing Northern Iowa on Nov. 16?
“(Players) understand that,” Allen said. “We’ve made sure of that.”
The FCS playoffs also expanded from 20 to 24 teams for the 2013 season. While it may have been bleak to get a bid two or three years ago, the Bears could land in one of those new playoff spots.
Here’s a recap of how many MVFC teams have made the playoffs in the last five years. Keep in mind, between 2010-2012, there were 10 at-large spots available. There are 13 at-large spots this year.
• 2012 – League champ: North Dakota State; At-large: Illinois State, South Dakota State
• 2011 – League champ: North Dakota State; At-large: Northern Iowa
• 2010 – League champ: Northern Iowa; At-large: North Dakota State, Western Illinois
• 2009 – League champ: Southern Illinois; At-large: South Dakota State *16-team playoff, 8 at-large spots
• 2008 – League champ: Northern Iowa; At-large: Southern Illinois *16-team playoff, 8 at-large spots
In the interest of full disclosure, the easy case against the Bears’ playoff chances would be that none of those at-large teams in the last five years had a .500-level record. That just makes the Bears’ early season struggles all the more frustrating.
If they don’t somehow pull a loss from the jaws of victory against Murray State, Central Arkansas and South Dakota, they’re at least 6-4 and a near-lock for the playoffs if they win out.
Let’s play along and say the Bears win their last two games, defy the odds, and squeak into the playoffs with one of the last at-large bids.
Suddenly, your head coach goes from the hot seat to the contract-extension seat. Allen will have given the Bears their most league victories and first playoff appearance in over 20 years. He also would go into 2014 in the final year of his contract.
You have to bring him back for 2014 and let the contract play out, but now do you reward him with an extension? Does one improbable late-season run into a playoff spot outweigh seven seasons of average-to-above average football?
It would be hard for Allen to go on the recruiting trail, coming off a breakthrough playoff appearance for the school, and try to land players while they know his contract will be up after their first season at MSU.
That contract extension depends on if the Bears can win at Southern Illinois, then return home and beat Northern Iowa (something Allen has never done at MSU.) Past history would tell us that this is the classic MSU sports scenario where we slightly get our hopes up, only to be let down.
If they lose one or both of the next two games, we could see a lot of changes with MSU football before next season. A “lame duck” situation would not be ideal for anyone.
Still, it’s a refreshing change that basketball season is about to start and the football Bears still have something to play for.
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Bobby Ryan just missed scoring the winning goal in overtime. Given another chance in the shootout, Ryan came through for the Ottawa Senators.
After the Senators rallied with two third-period goals, Ryan’s shootout tally capped a dramatic 3-2 victory over the host St. Louis Blues that snapped St. Louis’ two-game skid.
“I think we came in after the second and really weren’t down,” Ryan said. “I thought physically and emotionally we were still invested in the game. Got the ugly one to start rolling. After losing the way we did (Monday) night, this was a big one.”
The Senators, who got third-period goals from Erik Condra and Alex Chiasson to tie it, had lost two in a row, three of four and six of eight. They were beaten 3-2 by the Blues at home on Saturday and then fell 4-3 in Detroit on Monday.
“Thought it was a very hard fought, well-played game,” Ottawa coach Paul McLean said. “We battled through 1-0, 2-0, disallowed goals, some adversity to win in a shootout to a very good team.
“It’s a big win for our group and a real momentum builder on this road trip. We found a way to win a game on the road in a tough building in a tough situation.”
Robin Lehner stopped 27 shots, including all seven he faced in the third period and all four in overtime. He thwarted all three Blues’ attempts in the shootout.
“This was a good win for our team,” Lehner said. “It was very important for our team to come back here and get two points. We played the right way, tried to get back to a structured game. It’s something we needed.”
The Blues, who lost No. 1 goalie Brian Elliott to a lower-body injury late in the second period, had won two straight and five of seven.
“Tonight is really disappointing,” St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock said. “The loss is one thing, but the way we played at times is disappointing, attention to detail and focus. Coming back, we took a day off to get re-energized.
“I thought our focus was really inconsistent, poor at times. Execution, not even close to the way we played on the road.”
Hitchcock didn’t know how long Elliott will be sidelined. Elliott, who earned the win against his former team on Saturday, stopped all 16 shots he faced on Tuesday before being replaced by Allen, who made 15 saves.
The Blues entered leading the NHL in goals-against average, with 2.0 goals allowed per game.
“The goalies have been the heart and soul of our team and the biggest reason why we’ve been winning,” Blues forward Alexander Steen said, “so it’s tough to see a guy like Moose (Elliott) go down.”
The Blues took the lead with 5:37 left in the first period on a long knuckling shot from defenseman Ian Cole that deflected off Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson and got past Lehner. It was Cole’s first goal of the season.
Steen scored during a 4-on-3 power-play with 7:55 remaining in the second period.
Elliott left the game with 6:02 left in the second period after his right leg bent backward during a scramble in the crease. The puck went in the net, but the goal was waved off after a review.
Condra scored his first of the season with 12:05 remaining in the third when he beat Allen on a redirected shot from the point from Eric Gryba to make it 2-1.
The Senators tied it with 40 seconds left in regulation with a rebound goal from Chiasson, his sixth of the season.
Ryan had the best scoring chance in overtime when he beat Allen with a wrister, but hit the right post with 2:54 left.
He found his mark in the shootout with a low wrist shot to the glove side.
“I truly just tried to feather that in,” Ryan said. “I used to shoot a lot on the same move and the same area and I didn’t get as much on it as I would have liked, but maybe that was a benefit.”
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Iowa State was supposed to be the veteran team and Maryland the wide-eyed bunch of freshmen.
It sure didn’t look that way Tuesday night.
Their composure waning down the stretch, the No. 13 Cyclones lost to the Terps in the title game of the CBE Classic. Jared Nickens and Jake Layman had 15 points apiece to lead Maryland to a 72-63 victory before a crowd full of Iowa State fans in the Sprint Center.
“They certainly played like the more poised team,” Cyclones coach Fred Hoiberg said. “It’s how you respond to adversity and this certainly, a lot hit us tonight. We didn’t respond very well.”
That was clear in the closing minutes, when Dustin Hogue missed an easy layup and then hacked the Terps’ Melo Trimble about 75 feet from the basket. Hogue took a seat on the bench with his fourth foul, and Trimble calmly made both fouls shots to give Maryland a 66-51 lead.
Moments later, Bryce Dejean-Jones cross-checked Jake Layman during a fast break – the Cyclones guard never even tried swiping at the ball – and was hit with a flagrant foul.
By that point, the Terps (5-0) had the game well in hand.
“I thought we were terrific on defense. I know Iowa State missed some shots they normally make, but I thought our defense was really dialed in,” said Terps coach Mark Turgeon, who improved to 6-0 against the Cyclones, most of those wins coming with then-Big 12 rival Texas A&M.
Dez Wells finished with 14 points for Maryland. Trimble scored 11.
Dejean-Jones had 17 points for the Cyclones (3-1), who won the Big 12 title in the same building in March. Georges Niang added 10 points, but was 4 of 14 from the floor.
“I can’t remember the last time we shot this bad,” Niang said. “I can put a lot of this load on my shoulders, being here three years and knowing how Coach wants us to play.”
Maryland carried a 37-34 lead into the break, but that advantage swelled in the second half. The cold-shooting Cyclones missed their first eight field-goal attempts, struggled to get clean looks in the paint and clanked a series of jumpers and 3-pointers off the iron.
By the time Wells scored with 14:37 to go, the Terps had stretched their lead to 43-34.
“Our spacing was just brutal,” Hoiberg said. “We weren’t getting to the corners on the break – we just weren’t playing for each other tonight.”
Niang finally scored Iowa State’s first points of the second half when he got a basket with 14:28 left, but Dion Wiley answered with a 3-pointer at the other end.
Every time the partisan crowd that had made the trek south on Interstate 35 from Ames tried to get Iowa State energized, the Terps were there to quiet them. Wells kept cutting to the rim for easy lay-ins, and Trimble showed once again why he’s one of the top freshmen in the country.
After pouring in 31 points in the Terrapins’ semifinal win over Arizona State, the athletic point guard was 4 of 8 from the floor while doing a better job of getting teammates involved.
“I started both games poised,” Trimble said. “This weekend was really good to us.”
The Cyclones have earned a reputation as a bunch of sharpshooters since Hoiberg took over the program, but they struggled from the arc Tuesday night. Naz Long was 1 for 7 and Niang was 1 for 6 from 3-point range, and Iowa State finished 6 of 27 as a team.
Turgeon grew up in Topeka, Kansas, and starred for the Jayhawks before making his first big splash as a coach at Wichita State. He has plenty of fond memories of Kansas City, highlighted by the 1988 title that Kansas won at Kemper Arena. “It’s fun to come home,” he said. “Just another great day in my life in Kansas City.”
Maryland: Trimble was voted the tournament MVP after his stellar all-around performance. He also had three assists and three rebounds in the title game.
Iowa State: Monte’ Morris, who had 12 assists without a turnover in the semifinals against Alabama, had two assists and one turnover against the Terrapins.
(West Plains)- If your child is between the ages of 5-14 and you feel that they could benefit from a sport that will teach them self discipline, patience, and leadership; while at the same time getting some exercise and having a little fun, you may consider signing them up for the West Plains Wrestling Club.
Ozark Radio News spoke with Coach Jeff Gall who shared some of the specifics behind their Wrestling Club:
Gall continued by saying that the club is looking for new members no matter their size, as long as they are 14 and under and not in High School:
Gall also shared how their wrestling tournaments work:
Gall did add that the club is sill currently looking for sponsor’s, individual or corporate. For more information on the West Plains Wrestling Club you can call Gall at 417-256-1660.
The voice of the Grizzlies Brian Ingalls has your Grizzly Scoreboard Update:
Once again the final score for the night was 93-77, with the Grizzlies defeating the Cowley College Tigers.
(Vancouver) (AP) – Pat Quinn, a former defenseman and longtime NHL coach and executive who brought a gruff and passionate presence to hockey across the decades, has died at 71.
He died Sunday night in Vancouver after a long illness, the Hockey Hall of Fame and the Western Hockey League’s Vancouver Giants said Monday. Quinn was co-owner of the team.
Quinn played parts of nine seasons in the NHL and went on to coach the Philadelphia Flyers, Los Angeles Kings, Vancouver Canucks and Toronto Maple Leafs. Quinn guided Canada to the championship at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, the country’s first gold medal in men’s hockey in 50 years. He was behind the bench when Canada won the World Cup of Hockey in 2004.
“Pat Quinn was a giant of the hockey world, on the ice and off,” Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Twitter.
Quinn coached Vancouver to the 1994 Stanley Cup final, the Canadian world junior team to gold in 2009 and helped the Maple Leafs reach the Eastern Conference finals two times.
“Whether he was playing for a team, coaching a team or building one, Pat Quinn was thoughtful, passionate and committed to success,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement.
“Pat’s contributions to hockey, at every level, reflected the skills he possessed and the great respect with which he treated the sport.”
Broadcaster and executive John Davidson described Quinn as “a guy that loves the game so much that when he walks in, you know hockey’s in the room.”
Quinn led the Philadelphia Flyers to a 35-game unbeaten streak in the 1979-80 season that almost certainly will never be broken since ties have been taken out of the game. In 15 full seasons as an NHL coach, Quinn’s teams missed the playoffs only three times. That success came over the span of decades, as a coach and executive.
“He’s not unlike a Scotty Bowman in that they’re really bright guys,” said former Washington Capitals GM George McPhee, who worked under him in Vancouver and made his son Graham’s middle name Quinn in tribute.
“They were really intelligent and they could see the trends, they could see the fads, the things that were going to come and go and the things that would stay. Very perceptive and he adjusted and advanced.”
Quinn was admired by those close to him for having a heart to match his 6-foot-3, 200-plus-pound frame.
“He’s a real guy’s guy. He’s a man’s man,” Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon said. “He’s just a straight shooter and called it like it is.”
Quinn was born in Hamilton, Ontario, on Jan. 29, 1943. He bounced around the minors before making his NHL debut with the Leafs in 1968. In the 1969 playoffs, his blindside hit on Bobby Orr knocked out the legendary defenseman.
Quinn also played for the Canucks and Atlanta Flames before retiring in 1977 with an ankle injury. Almost immediately, he went into coaching and was an assistant on Fred Shero’s staff in Philadelphia. During the 1978-79 season, he replaced Bob McCammon as the Flyers’ coach.
“Pat brought a complete change to the game that we had made so successful under Shero,” said Bobby Clarke, a Hall of Fame player for the Flyers, later their GM and now the team’s senior vice president. “You trusted what he was trying to implement with our team.”
Quinn became the coach of the Los Angeles Kings after his dismissal in Philadelphia. He left Los Angeles to take the job of president and GM in Vancouver.
He returned to coaching during the 1990-91 season and won his second coach of the year title with the Canucks the next season when they went 42-26-12.
Perhaps his most memorable accomplishment came when the Canucks, seeded seventh in the Western Conference, beat Calgary, Dallas and Toronto to reach the Stanley Cup final in the 1993-94 season.
The Canucks made it to Game 7 before losing to the New York Rangers.
Quinn went back to the front office in Vancouver, where he remained until he was fired by new ownership in 1997. Quinn returned to coaching in 1998 when he was hired by the Maple Leafs. Toronto went to the Eastern Conference final in his first season in 1998-99 and again in 2002. During the 2002 East final, Quinn missed two games with heart problems.
“He allowed himself to get overweight, he smoked the cigars and loved to socialize,” Clarke said.
The Leafs made the playoffs in Quinn’s first five seasons, which included a stint as president and GM.
He “had a presence in the dressing room that demanded respect and had a way of talking and getting the guys ready for each game that really got the best out of the teams that he coached,” longtime Leafs captain Mats Sundin said.
Quinn was fired after the Leafs missed the playoffs in the first season after the 2004-05 lockout and the first one in the NHL played under a salary cap. After three years away, he coached the Edmonton Oilers for one season in 2009-10.
Quinn most recently spent time as chairman of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
“He was obviously very, very competitive when he coached and when he played and when he managed,” said Davidson, president of the Columbus Blue Jackets and chairman of the Hall of Fame’s selection committee. “But he’s a guy that obviously wants to be around the game.”
McPhee spoke of the impact Quinn left on people.
“Pat was one of the most phenomenal human beings I’ve ever known,” he said. “A lot of us feel really, really lucky that we got to work for him.”
(Wilburton) – Missed opportunities cost the Missouri State University-West Plains Grizzly Basketball team its second loss of the season.
The Grizzlies, 7-2, fell to the Eastern Oklahoma State College Mountaineers 100-96 Saturday, Nov. 22, in Wilburton in overtime after overcoming an 18-point deficit in the second half to send it to the extra period.
“This was our largest deficit of the season, and we showed strong resilience to come back and force overtime,” Grizzly Basketball Head Coach Yancey Walker said. “We just let several opportunities to close the game out slip away.”
The Grizzlies also had to battle back a 13-point deficit in the first half to go into halftime only down 48-42. In the second half, after letting the Mountaineers go up 70-52, the Grizzlies began their charge back, outscoring the home team 47-41 in the second half to send the game into overtime.
Overall, the Grizzlies hit 26 of 62 attempts from the field for 41.9 percent, six of 20 shots from 3-point range for 30 percent, and 38 of 53 attempts from the free throw line for 71.7 percent. They also recorded 42 rebounds (16 offensive), 12 assists, 19 turnovers, one block and six steals.
Leading scorers were sophomore guard Jameel Moore with 26 points, freshman forward Terrel Martin-Garcia 16 points, and sophomore guard Craig Eubanks and freshman guard Dazhonetae Bennett each with 15 points. Garcia recorded a double-double by adding 13 rebounds to the stat sheet.
The Mountaineers hit 34 of 76 shots from the field for 44.7 percent, 14 of 31 3-point shots for 45.2 percent and 18 of 30 free throw attempts for 60 percent. They also had 40 rebounds (17 offensive), 13 assists, 16 turnovers, two blocks and nine steals.
Leading scorers were Thomas Alexander 24 points; Vic Alston and Jeremy Jones, each with 17; and Keith Barron and Charles Shaw, both with 11.
The Grizzlies will return to the road Tuesday, Nov. 25, for a 7 p.m. contest against Cowley College in Arkansas City, Kansas, before hosting the Grizzly Thanksgiving Classic Friday and Saturday, Nov. 28 and 29, in Joe Paul Evans Arena in the West Plains Civic Center.
(Casper) – The Missouri State University-West Plains Grizzly Volleyball team ended its 2014 season on a high note Saturday, Nov. 22, by winning the seventh place match at the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division I Women’s National Volleyball Championship Tournament in Casper, Wyoming. In addition, freshman middle attacker Penny Liu was named to the all-tournament team.
The Grizzlies (27-14), seeded 11th in the three-day event, defeated fourth seeded Tyler Junior College (36-7), Tyler, Texas, 25-22, 22-25, 25-22, 23-25, 15-12 in a hard-fought, five-set thriller at the Casper Events Center. They reached the seventh place match after falling to 10th seeded Arizona Western College (21-6) of Yuma 18-25, 25-19, 23-25, 23-25, Friday evening in the consolation semifinals.
The Grizzlies and the Tyler Apaches met at the beginning of the season, and that five-set thrill ride was just a precursor to today’s match, as both teams took opportunities to battle back from large deficits to win a set. In the first, it was the Grizzlies, who came back from 6 points down. In the second, the Apaches erased an 8-point deficit. The teams continued to fight tooth and nail until the last points of the match.
When the Grizzlies took the court Friday against Arizona Western, the Grizzlies were still feeling the effects of their five-set battle against College of Southern Idaho, Twin Falls, the previous night, and it showed, especially in the first set. “We had not mentally or physically recovered from our match with CSI. We took that loss very hard. It was a long, grueling, physical match that took its toll,” Head Coach Paula Wiedemann explained, pointing out the Matadors were more rested after losing to defending national champion Blinn College, Brenham, Texas, Thursday evening in three straight sets.
But after losing to the Matadors, Wiedemann said she could see her team returning to their old selves, talking with each other and getting on the same page with each other. “Going into the match today, I felt really good,” Wiedemann said.
Liu led the Grizzly attack against Tyler, recording 23 kills on 41 attempts with three errors for an attacking percentage of .488. Freshman outside attacker Gabby Edmondson added 17 kills to the stat sheet, and freshman outside hitter Pulotu Manoa recorded 12. Freshman setter Susannah Kelley led the team in assists.
Defensively, Liu led the charge at the net with three blocks, followed closely behind by Manoa and redshirt freshman middle attacker Ashley Bishton with 2.5 blocks each. Both Bishton and Manoa were credited with two solo blocks. Sophomore libero Alyssa Aldag led the team in digs with 16, followed closely by Edmondson with 15 and Kelly 11. Liu, sophomore outside hitter/defensive specialist Kaili Simmons and sophomore setter/outside attacker Brianna Zebert each recorded a service ace, and Liu led the team in most points earned with 26.
Tournament No. 2 seed Blinn College took home its third championship in four years, defeating fifth seeded Miami Dade College, Miami, Florida, for the title. Third place went to third seeded CSI, which defeated ninth seeded Northwest College, Powell, Wyoming, and fifth place went to first seeded Iowa Western Community College, Council Bluffs, which defeated Arizona Western. Ninth place went to sixth seed Salt Lake Community College, Salt Lake City, Utah, which beat 12th seed Polk State College, Winter Have, Florida. All matches took place Saturday.
The Grizzlies will return to West Plains Monday.
WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) — Ryan Reaves and Alex Steen ignited a happy homecoming party in enemy territory on Sunday.
The Winnipeg-born players helped the St. Louis Blues defeat the Jets 4-2 in front of plenty of family and friends at MTS Center.
Reaves, who estimated he had 50 to 60 supporters in the crowd, scored the winner and Steen had two assists for St. Louis.
“My mom invited all her family and I’ve got a bunch of friends here so I’m sure it’s going to be packed in there,” said Reaves, referring to a room set aside for visiting players’ guests.
Reaves scored 2:25 into the third period when he grabbed a loose puck near the side of Winnipeg’s net, spun around and sent a low shot by goalie Ondrej Pavelec for the 3-2 lead.
“It just kind of laid in perfectly for me,” said Reaves. “I was going to go to the backhand, but the momentum of the puck kind of took me on the spin-o-rama so I kind of went with it.”
Reaves has played about five or six games in Winnipeg with either NHL or AHL clubs.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had a point here so it was fun,” he said.
Jaden Schwartz and David Backes each scored on the power play for St. Louis (13-6-1) and Paul Stastny added an empty-netter. Alex Pietrangelo also had a pair of assists.
The Jets (10-9-3) have allowed five power-play goals in their past four games and have one win in their last five games. They were 0 for 1 with the man advantage while St. Louis was 2 for 5.
Bryan Little scored his sixth of the season and Jim Slater got Winnipeg’s fourth line its first goal of the year.
“Two power-play goals, that stung a little bit because we take a lot of pride in our PK,” Slater said of the penalty kill. “But that’s the way it goes some games.
“They’re a four-line team and they roll them pretty good. And we knew we’d have to deal with that, get in there and play.”
St. Louis backup goalie Jake Allen made 28 saves in the victory. Pavelec turned aside 25 shots.
The Blues were without defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, who suffered a lower-body injury in St. Louis’s 3-2 win over Ottawa Saturday afternoon. The absence ended Bouwmeester’s “iron man” streak at 737 consecutive NHL games, the longest active streak in the league. His first game was March 6, 2004. The league record is Doug Jarvis with 964 straight games.
It was the first of five games between the Central Division rivals. The victory put the Blues atop the division.
“It was a war out there,” Allen said. “You just saw a lot of guys getting clipped in the face, a lot of big hits and potential fights so it’s definitely going to be fun.”
The Blues didn’t get a shot on goal until almost seven minutes into the first period, when Pavelec’s stop made the shots-on-goal 7-1 in favor of the Jets.
Little scored at 9:04 when he poked the rebound of Andrew Ladd’s shot between Allen’s pads. The goal ended Little’s 13-game scoring drought.
Schwartz deflected a Steen point shot for his eighth goal of the season at 5:14 of the second period while Jets forward Adam Lowry was in the penalty box for delay of game.
Winnipeg regained the lead at 9:53 on Slater’s high shot from the slot, but penalty trouble soon cost the Jets again.
With Evander Kane in the box for roughing, Steen sent a long pass from near his goal out to Backes, who went high over Pavelec’s glove with 2:03 left for the 2-2 tie.
“It’s a tied game going into the third with a team that’s at the top of our division and a team we can beat,” said Jets defenseman Mark Stuart. “Today was a good example of that. It was just going to come down to one goal, whoever scores first in the third period and, unfortunately, it was them.”
Winnipeg pulled Pavelec for the extra attacker with 2:02 left and Stastny scored his third goal of the season with 40 seconds remaining.
“I thought we played good team-wise,” Steen said. “Got down, but stayed with it and Jakie made some big saves. Our goalies have been huge for us this year.”
By BERNIE WILSON
AP Sports Writer
SAN DIEGO (AP) — In a game full of crazy twists and turns, Marcus Gilchrist had the capper.
The strong safety intercepted journeyman Shaun Hill at the goal line with 56 seconds left to preserve the San Diego Chargers’ 27-24 victory against the St. Louis Rams on Sunday that helped tighten the AFC West race.
Gilchrist jumped the route as Hill tried to force a pass to Kenny Britt, who also was covered by Shareece Wright, on second-and-goal from the 4.
Hill had beaten Gilchrist on a 7-yard TD pass to Stedman Bailey with 2:04 left that pulled the Rams within three points.
“My man didn’t really do too much, so I just looked back at the quarterback and I saw a crossing route coming up ad I was able to go at it,” Gilchrist said.
His immediate reaction?
“Thank you Lord,” Gilchrist said. “It’s one of those plays that as a kid you dream of. In basketball you want to make the game-winning shot, and in football you want to make the game-winning play, somehow.”
The Chargers (7-4) won their second straight game after a three-game losing streak. They pulled into a second-place tie in the AFC West with Kansas City, which lost at Oakland on Thursday night. Denver rallied to beat Miami and leads the division at 8-3.
“They had good coverage on my primary, and Kenny just kind of flashed and I pulled,” Hill said. “It was just a reaction.
“The coaches put the ball in my hands with a chance to win the game, and I appreciate that,” Hill said. “I let them down. There’s no way you can sit there and second-guess the play calling. If you’re going to second-guess anything, second-guess the guy who didn’t execute the play, and that’s me.”
The Rams had two touchdown passes nullified by penalties, although they ended up scoring on one of those drives, and had a field goal attempt blocked.
“The plan was not to go down there and settle for a field goal. We were trying to win the game,” coach Jeff Fisher said. “It’s not Shaun’s fault. He got us there. He made some big throws earlier that kept us in the game.”
St. Louis got the ball back at the Chargers 40 after a long punt return by Tavon Austin and a 27-yard pass from Hill to Britt gave the Rams the ball at the 6. Benny Cunningham gained 2 yards before Hill was intercepted.
The Rams (4-7) were trying for consecutive wins for the first time this season, having upset Denver a week earlier.
Ryan Mathews had a 32-yard touchdown run and linebacker Andrew Gachkar scored on a 13-yard fumble recovery 21 seconds later for the Chargers.
Philip Rivers shook off a 99-yard interception return for a touchdown by Janoris Jenkins and threw a 29-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to Keenan Allen, who earlier had two turnovers. Rivers, playing with sore ribs, completed 29 of 35 passes for 291 yards.
The Chargers’ third-quarter outburst started when Mathews took a delayed handoff and picked his way up the middle to cap their first possession of the second half for a 13-10 lead. It was his first touchdown since opening night. Mathews sprained his right knee in Week 2 and missed the next seven games.
On the second play of the ensuing Rams drive, Chargers end Corey Liuget hit Hill as he was trying to pass, knocking the ball loose. Gachkar alertly swooped in, picked up the ball and scored for a 20-10 lead.
Gachkar seemed to be the only player who realized it was a fumble.
“It was pretty lucky,” Gachkar said. “I basically blacked out once I picked the ball up because I hadn’t scored since high school. I had no energy after it because my entire team basically hit me celebrating. It was pretty cool.”
The Rams benefited from a fumbled punt when Chargers returners Allen and Chris Davis collided after Allen called for a fair catch, with Alex Bayer recovering. Austin scored on a 6-yard score on an end-around to pull the Rams to 20-17.
Allen then fumbled after a reception and long run, with St. Louis’ Rodney McLeod recovering.
Allen caught a screen pass from Rivers and picked his way through the defense to give San Diego a 27-17 lead with 8:09 to play.
The Chargers had a third-and-goal from the Rams 8 early in the second quarter when Jenkins outmuscled Allen for the ball and outraced everyone down the field to give the Rams a 10-3 lead.
HONOLULU (AP) — Reshanda Gray scored 28 points and led four players in double figure scoring as No. 14 California held off Missouri, 82-70 in the Rainbow Wahine Classic Sunday night.
The game was delayed when members of the Missouri team were stuck on a hotel elevator for close to 90 minutes.
California (4-0) trailed by two at the half, 38-36, but took control quickly in the second. Brittany Boyd, Courtney Range and Gray scored on a 6-0 run that gave the Golden Bears the lead, 42-40. The teams traded shots until Gray converted back-to-back three-point plays to make it 52-47 and California never trailed again.
Gray was 9 of 10 from the field and 10 of 14 from the line. Boyd had 16 points and Mikayla Cowling 15.
Sierra Michaelis scored 17 points off the bench to lead Missouri (3-1).