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Archive for September, 2013

Mizzou moves to 4-0 for first time since 2010

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) – James Franklinorchestrated two lengthy touchdown drives and added another score on the ground in the second half to help Missouri break open a 41-19 win over Arkansas State in wet conditions Saturday night.

Missouri scored 21 points in the final quarter to finish their nonconference schedule with a 4-0 record.

Franklin led drives of 94 and 87 yards after his team trailed 16-14 with 11:31 remaining in the third quarter. The Tigers failed to convert any of their first four third-down opportunities and only possessed the ball for 9:12 in the first half.

Bryan Davis kicked a 33-yard field goal with 7:31 left in the game to pull his team within 27-19 but it couldn’t get closer. He also converted from 41, 21 and 44 yards and has made all seven of his attempts this season.

Missouri only ran 25 plays in the opening 30 minutes Saturday, but Franklin got things going in the third quarter with a 13-yard pass toL’Damian Washington on a third down at Missouri’s 36-yard-line to keep the team on the field. After Franklin ran for 18 yards to the Arkansas State’s 17-yard-line, he found Washington in the corner of the end zone from five yards out for a 20-16 lead.

Missouri held the Red Wolves to a 3-and-out on their subsequent possession before Franklin flipped the ball to Henry Josey for a 1-yard touchdown run with 13:25 remaining for a 27-16 advantage.

Franklin then scampered for a 9-yard score andMarcus Murphy added a 3-yard run after an E.J. Gaines interception to finish the scoring. The Tigers finished with 495 yards of offense, including 239 rushing yards and 256 through the air.

Missouri played most of the game without senior cornerback Randy Ponder, who became the second Tiger this season to be ejected for targeting with 5:50 remaining in the first quarter. Ponder led with his helmet in a tackle on McKissic, resulting in a 15-yard penalty that gave the Red Wolves the ball at the Missouri 39-yard-line and set up a 21-yard field goal by Davis for a 6-0 lead.

Arkansas State looked like it would take the halftime lead when it drove 95 yards to the Missouri 2-yard-line within the final minute. But the Tigers stuffed David Oku twice, setting up a 3rd-and-1 situation. With no timeouts and 14 seconds remaining, Kennedy threw to Oku well behind the line of scrimmage for a 22-yard loss after being pressured by Markus Golden. Time elapsed, and Missouri escaped with a 14-13 lead.

Bears Hold Redbirds to 214 Yards of Total Offense, 11 First Downs to Claim First Win in MVFC Opener

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - Missouri State forced five second-half turnovers and limited No. 24 Illinois State to 214 yards of total offense to post a 37-10 victory in the Missouri Valley Football Conference opener for both squads in a steady rainfall Saturday afternoon at Plaster Field. The Bears (1-4, 1-0 MVFC) rolled up 272 rushing yards and outscored the Redbirds 23-0 in the second half to notch their first win of the season.

The Bears reeled off 30 unanswered points, capitalizing on three fumbles and a pair of interceptions by the Redbirds (1-3, 0-1 MVFC) after the break to seize control of the contest. ISU mustered just 18 rushing yards and four first downs in the second half, while five different Bears found the end zone in MSU’s second win in as many years against a ranked Redbird squad.

Trailing 10-7 late in the second quarter, junior quarterback Kierra Harris foundDorian Buford open over the middle, and the senior receiver made an acrobatic grab before racing the final 46 yards untouched into the end zone for a career-long 73-yard touchdown that put MSU on top for good.

ISU struggled to hang on to the football in the third quarter, as a dropped punt and a pair of fumbles set up MSU for two more scoring chances. The Bears got a three-yard run by Harris and a 23-yard field goal by Marcelo Bonani to up the advantage to 24-10.

Phoenix Johnson and Cedric Miller cashed in with the first touchdowns of their respective MSU careers in the fourth to put the game out of reach.

Caleb Schaffitzel led Missouri State’s defensive effort with a game-high 11 tackles to go along with his first interception of the season and the sixth of his MSU career. Junior linebacker Andrew Beisel added eight stops, and senior defensive end Anthony Grady posted a sack, a fumble recovery and a blocked kick for the Bears.

Mikael Cooper-Falls posted his best rushing effort in nearly four years with a game-high 95 yards on 16 carries to pace the MSU ground attack. Johnson added a career-best 54 yards, while Harris and Miller chipped in with 51 and 37 yards, respectively.The comfortable win for MSU snapped a string of eight-straight losses in MVFC openers for the Bears, as well as a 14-game September losing streak dating back to the 2010 season.

The Bears registered the only points in the opening period with a Harris to Matt Swan three-yard touchdown pass that finished off a 12-play, 80-yard drive. MSU held the early 7-0 lead despite a Harris interception deep in Bears’ territory and an Illinois State offense that maintained possession of the football for over nine minutes in the first quarter.

After Tevin Allen picked off Harris’s first pass attempt of the day on the Bears’ opening possession of the afternoon, the MSU defense kept the nation’s top red zone scoring unit off the scoreboard by coming up with a stop on 3rd and goal from the MSU 6. Grady then blocked Nick Aussieker’s 22-yard field goal attempt to keep the game scoreless.

Cooper-Falls performed the heavy lifting on the Bears’ first scoring drive, busting out with a 33-yard run – MSU’s longest rush of the season – and carrying for 46 yards on six carries overall. But it would be Harris’s toss to a wide-open Swan on a 3rd-and-goal play-action call from the three that put the Bears on the board with 4:36 left in the first quarter.

But ISU went to work on the first play of the second period, as quarterback Blake Winkler hooked up with Milton Colbert for a 36-yard completion to the MSU 7 to set up the Redbirds’ first score of the afternoon. The Bears’ defense held strong again, however, limiting ISU to an Aussieker 22-yard field goal that made it a 7-3 game with 13:03 to play in the half.

The Redbirds would strike again just over a minute later after Allen came up with his second takeaway of the game, returning a Vernon Scott fumble 22 yards to the MSU 4 yard line. Two plays later, Collin Keoshian took it in from four yards out to put ISU on top, 10-7.

MSU would answer with a season-long 97-yard scoring drive to reclaim the upper hand with 2:23 to play in the half when Harris found Buford open over the middle for the momentum-swinging touchdown.

Missouri State begins a two-game road swing next Saturday (Oct. 5) with a 2 p.m. MVFC contest against South Dakota in Vermillion, S.D.

MIAMI — With the bases loaded, two outs and the score 0-0 in the bottom of the ninth, Henderson Alvarez stood in the Miami Marlins’ on-deck circle, bat in hand, hoping to complete his no-hitter.

Alvarez had blanked the Detroit Tigers for nine innings — and briefly, mistakenly thought he had pitched a no-hitter. But the Marlins needed a run for him to achieve the feat.

“I was nervous and anxious,” he said through a translator. “I started praying, ‘Please give us a run.’ I was hoping for a wild pitch.”

That’s exactly how Miami scored. Giancarlo Stanton crossed the plate standing up when a breaking ball skipped to the backstop, and Alvarez had his no-hitter, beating the Tigers on the final day of the regular season Sunday, 1-0.

Alvarez — who had been due to hit next — took off his batting helmet and began to celebrate with teammates in the on-deck circle while still wearing his batting gloves. When the happy hopping scrum finally broke up, pitcher Jose Fernandez came away holding Alvarez’s uniform top.

“They were pulling on my jersey and choking me, so I took it off,” Alvarez explained.

Later, the 23-year-old Venezuelan went into the stands to hug his pregnant wife and kiss her belly.

Of the 282 no-hitters in history, it was the only one to end on a wild pitch, STATS said. And it was the first walk-off complete-game no-hitter since Virgil Trucks of the Tigers threw one on May 15, 1952 against Washington.

“That’s the beauty of baseball,” Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. “You never know what you’re going to see. On the last day of the season, what a treat.”

Alvarez needed the run for his no-hitter to be official, because a Major League Baseball ruling in 1991 said only complete games of nine or more innings with no hits count as no-hitters.

Alvarez got it when Luke Putkonen’s first pitch to pinch-hitter Greg Dobbs was low and inside, eluding catcher Brayan Pena.

Alvarez (5-6) struck out four, walked one and hit a batter against a patchwork Tigers lineup on the last day of the season. When he closed out the top of the ninth, he pumped one fist and then both, thinking the game was over.

He remained confused until he got to the dugout and a teammate explained the situation to him.

“With the emotion and nerves, I didn’t realize we hadn’t scored a run yet,” a sheepish Alvarez said. “At the time I thought the game was 1-0. I threw my hands up and thought the game was over.”

Redmond said he would have sent Alvarez out to pitch the 10th inning, but that wasn’t necessary.

The right-hander capped a dismal season for the Marlins, who had the worst record in the NL at 62-100. He pitched the third no-hitter this year, joining Homer Bailey of Cincinnati and Tim Lincecum of San Francisco.

It was the fourth season-ending no-hitter ever, and first since Mike Witt of the Angels threw a perfect game at Texas in 1984. In 1975, Vida Blue and three Oakland relievers combined to no-hit the Angels and in 1892, Bumpus Jones of Cincinnati did it against Pittsburgh, STATS said.

With the Tigers’ playoff slot settled, they rested four starters and had pulled three others by the seventh inning. Miguel Cabrera, who won his third consecutive batting title, never stepped to the plate.

CHICAGO (AP) — Bruce Chen pitched four-hit ball into the seventh inning and Kansas City beat the ChicagoWhite Sox 4-1 on Sunday in the finale of the Royals’ best season in 24 years.

Kansas City won three of four in Chicago and went 17-10 in September for its most successful month of the season. The Royals’ 86-76 record was their best mark since they went 92-70 in 1989.

Chen’s sharp outing put a damper on what might have been the last major league game for White Sox captain Paul Konerko, who is eligible for free agency and isn’t sure if he will play again next year. The veteran first baseman is second in franchise history with 427 homers and 1,361 RBIs, and third with 2,249 hits.

 JAY COHEN, AP Sports Writer

By DOUG TUCKER (Associated Press)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Eric Berry credits Kansas City’s 4-0 start to the ”family feeling” that held everyone together during the hapless 2-14 season of 2012.

Maybe so. But after the Chiefs (4-0) pounded the winless New York Giants 31-7 on Sunday, it’s obvious that importing a cool, savvy quarterback from San Francisco and bringing in a smart, no-nonsense coach from Philadelphia also had a lot to do with a rags-to-riches transformation.

Even in a league known for quick turnarounds and breathtaking free-falls, this seems preposterous.

Alex Smith, who lost his job last year in San Francisco, threw three touchdown passes, and Dexter McCluster returned a punt 89 yards for another score as the Chiefs joined the 1980 Detroit Lions as the only teams in modern league history to win two or fewer games one season, then rocket to a 4-0 start the next.

”To be honest, all we talked about all offseason was being 1-0,” said Smith. ”Just get the first one.”

Did he ever dream of being 4-0?

”No, to answer your question.”

The Giants, proud Super Bowl champions of 2007 and 2011 season, are 0-4 for the first time since 1987, a mass of injury and disarray.

”It is disappointing,” said quarterback Eli Manning, who’s been operating all year behind a patchwork offensive line. ”The defense got us some turnovers and we weren’t able to do anything with it. We are just not playing very well offensively.”

The injury-ravaged Giants trailed only 17-7 after three quarters. They managed a 69-yard catch-and-run TD from Eli Manning to Victor Cruz.

”This is a situation we’ve got to fix,” said Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks. ”We know what we’re capable of doing.”

Smith hit touchdown passes of 4, 2 and 35 yards and was 24 for 41 for 288 yards. He was intercepted twice and the Chiefs also lost a fumble, Kansas City’s first turnovers in what may be turning into a magical season under first-year head coach Andy Reid.

”I know they’ll battle,” said first-year coach Andy Reid, who spent the previous 14 seasons coaching the Eagles. ”That’s what I know. There are a lot of things I don’t know but I do know this: We’re a tough bunch.”

Manning was 18 for 37 for 217 yards and the one TD. He was sacked three times and intercepted once, but harried and hurried much of the bright, sunny afternoon.

All of a sudden, the misery of 2012 that cost coach Romeo Crennel and general manager Scott Pioli their jobs seems a distant memory.

”We just kept working, kept sticking together,” said Berry. ”We know things don’t always go your way. But you’ve got to be able to stick together through tough times, in life, period. We kept leaning on each other. Nobody pointed a finger at anybody at any time. We just stuck together and I feel like that was the foundation that was built for us to do what we’re doing now. But we’ve still got a lot of work to do.”

Late in the first quarter, Smith hit Sean McGrath, Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe for gains of 12, 17 and 14 yards on successive plays. McGrath, the heavily bearded tight end and Seattle Seahawks castoff, got free in the end zone to catch Smith’s 5-yard TD pass to cap the 11-play, 98-yard drive.

The drive took 5 minutes, 38 seconds. To answer, Manning needed only 54 seconds.

Cruz went streaking down the right sideline – turf normally patrolled by injured cornerback Brandon Flowers – caught Manning’s pass in stride and raced into the end zone. Trailing far behind was Dunta Robinson, a backup cornerback.

The Chiefs led only 10-7 when McCluster fielded the ball and set sail on the first TD punt return the Chiefs have had since Sept. 13, 2010, when McCluster took one back a team-record 94 yards against San Diego during a rain storm. He juked one tackler, put a dizzying 360-degree spin move on another and then broke clear up the middle.

Ryan Succop kicked a 51-yard field goal in the second quarter.

In the fourth quarter, Smith fired a 2-yard TD pass to Charles and a 35-yarder to Bowe, who twisted free of a couple of tacklers.

NOTES: Like many fans, referee Terry McAulay is used to Reid being with the Eagles. After Reid successfully challenged a spot in the third quarter, McAulay announced, ”Philadelphia will not be charged a timeout.”… Gary Barbaro, a Pro Bowl safety in the early ’80s, was inducted into the Chiefs’ Hall of Fame at halftime. … The 1987 Giants team which started 0-5 and missed the playoffs after winning the Super Bowl the year before, came in a strike-interrupted season. … In their last 16 games against the NFC, the Chiefs are 13-3.

Kelly locks up home-field advantage with 5 1/3 frames of scoreless relief

By Jenifer Langosch

ST. LOUIS — On a day when manager Mike Matheny scripted send-offs and recognized personal accomplishments, the Cardinals nevertheless achieved a team objective that could pay dividends in October.

With a 4-0 win over the Cubs in Sunday’s regular-season finale, the Cardinals closed their season at 97-65. No team in the Majors had a better record, which sets the Cardinals up with home-field advantage through the National League Championship Series. The Cardinals will draw the winner of Tuesday’s Wild Card Game between the Pirates and Reds in the NL Division Series beginning Thursday.

“It’s going to be a tough series for whoever wins that game,” said Joe Kelly, Sunday’s winning pitcher. “We know what they’ve got, and they know what we’ve got. It’s going to come down to who performs better.”

The Cardinals finished the season on a six-game winning streak, having swept home series against the Nationals and Cubs in this final week. Sunday’s victory, which came in front of a sellout crowd of 44,808, was the team’s 53rd at home this season. That’s a Busch Stadium III single-season record, as well as an indicator of how valuable home-field advantage could be in the playoffs.

St. Louis won 20 of its final 23 home games, dating back to Aug. 11. The team finished the season on a 17-5 run.

“We came home after the road trip [earlier this month] and played great baseball [in September],”Matt Adams said. “All facets on the game are clicking right now for us. We’re just ready to get the postseason underway.”

Once the Cardinals had the division title wrapped up on Friday, Matheny was clear that this weekend would be partially about rest and recognition. He sat David Freese for both games and leftMatt Holliday on the bench with his .300 average. Yadier Molina went behind the plate to start Sunday’s game, only to be pulled before first pitch. He tipped his hat as he walked off to a standing ovation — the first of three on the afternoon.

Fans acknowledged Carlos Beltran when he was pulled in the fifth. After dealing 5 1/3 scoreless innings, Joe Kelly got his moment, too, as Matheny made a mid-inning pitching change.

“There was a whole lot today that could have gone wrong,” Matheny said. “We never want to put it out there that we’re not going about it the best that we can, but we stuck to our plan and our plan to try and get everybody ready and right. … You know, I think it goes back to a pretty consistent saying — the right thing isn’t always the easy thing. Today, we were real proud to be able to do some things to honor some guys.”

Even the Cardinals’ desire to send Jake Westbrook off with one last outing — albeit a brief one — worked out well. Westbrook worked around a two-out double to pitch a scoreless first inning. That would be his only inning on Sunday, and likely the last of his 3 1/2-year Cardinals career.

Aware that he’ll likely be left off the postseason roster and his 2014 option won’t be exercised, Westbrook pocketed the ball from his final out. If this was indeed it for Westbrook, his ERA as a Cardinal closes at 4.32.

“It was pretty emotional, just for the fact that I don’t really know where my future is, as far as baseball goes,” Westbrook said. “It was good to be a part of [the final game], and I’m glad I was able to put up a zero.”

Westbrook, who turned 36 on Sunday, said that while he would like to continue playing, family considerations and offseason offers will play a role in his eventual decision. He would welcome a return to St. Louis under a reworked contract, but also realizes that “with all these young guys that we have, it’s kind of tough” to expect mutual interest.

Kelly relieved Westbrook in the second and shined in his final outing. He scattered three hits — all doubles — while lowering his ERA to 2.69.

“That was one of his best outings,” Matheny said. “Just all-around stuff — you look at the break on his breaking ball, the life on his fastball. I was real impressed.”

The Cardinals have not announced whether Kelly will be a part of the postseason rotation, but without him the team would never have closed with baseball’s best record. Kelly was the stopper in a rotation that scuffled throughout July and August. In September, he allowed only eight runs in six starts.

Though Kelly did not pick up his first win until July 12, he finished with 10. Four Cardinals pitchers finished with double-digit wins.

Despite finishing the game with only three everyday players – Matt Carpenter, Jon Jay and Adams — in the lineup, the Cardinals received a lift from their supporting cast.

A team that finishes the year hitting .330 with runners in scoring position — the best such mark in the Majors in at least 40 years — scored all four of its runs on such hits on Sunday. All came with two outs.

Kelly doubled and scored on Jay’s third-inning single. Two more scored in the fourth on an RBI double by Daniel Descalso and an RBI single by Shane Robinson. Tony Cruz’s eighth-inning double padded the lead.

“That’s been our trademark all season,” said Carpenter, whose 0-for-4 day left him one hit short in his pursuit of 200. “It’s been something that we did an amazing job all year with. Hopefully, we’ll keep that going this postseason.”

The Cubs, who watched three NL teams clinch playoff spots over the past week, finished 7-12 against St. Louis.

“How do you count these guys out?” Cubs losing starter Jeff Samardzija said. “Look at the last inning — you’ve got [second baseman Kolten] Wong laying out for a two-out ball in a four-run game. What else do you need to say about a team? They play the right way and do everything right. They have to be your pick coming in.”

 

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It’s Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Missouri Teams had a great weekend, as every major team won their game.  In some instances setting records and making history. The following is a short recap of the weekend;

The St. Louis Cardinals clinched home-field advantage throughout the National League playoffs when they beat the Chicago Cubs 4-0 yesterday. The NL Central champions will host the wild-card winner in Game 1 of a NL division series on Thursday. The Cubs finished last in the Central at 66-96.

Kansas City Royals beat the Chicago White Sox 4-1 yesterday in the finale of the Royals’ best season in 24 years. Kansas City won three of four in Chicago and went 17-10 in September for its most successful month of the season. The Royals’ 86-76 record was their best mark since they went 92-70 in 1989.

The unbeaten Kansas City Chiefs plunged the New York Giants to 0-4 with a 31-7 victory yesterday. The Giants are 0-4 for the first time since 1987. Eli Manning connected with Victor Cruz on a 69-yard scoring play for New York’s only score. The Kansas City defense sacked Manning three times.

James Franklin orchestrated two lengthy touchdown drives and added another score on the ground in the second half to help the Mizzou Tigers break open a 41-19 win over Arkansas State in wet conditions Saturday night. Missouri scored 21 points in the final quarter to finish their nonconference schedule with a 4-0 record.

Missouri State Bears forced five second-half turnovers and limited No. 24 Illinois State to 214 yards of total offense to post a 37-10 victory in the Missouri Valley Football Conference opener for both squads in a steady rainfall Saturday afternoon at Plaster Field. The Bears (1-4, 1-0 MVFC) rolled up 272 rushing yards and outscored the Redbirds 23-0 in the second half to notch their first win of the season.

Congratulations to all of our teams for a phenomenal weekend.

Photo gallery here.

Photo gallery here.

The West Plains Zizzers hosted the Joplin Eagles and with a tough start and then opened it wide in the second half, but the Eagles scored claose to the end of the 4th Quarter resulting in overtime. The Zizzers took the game 34-31.

Lee Matthews has your Friday Night Football Follow-Up:

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Once again the score for the night was West Plains 34, Joplin 31. This game takes the season record for the Zizzers to 3-2.

The Liberty Eagles welcomed the Willow Springs Bears to the Nest on Friday night for the Eagles Homecoming game. Willow Springs was in for a long night. The Eagles overpowered the Bears with a 70-0 victory.

The voice of the Eagles Dave Quinn has your Friday Night Football Follow-Up:

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This victory improves Liberty’s record to 5-0 as they prepare to travel to Mountain Grove for an SCA Showdown against the Panthers. Once again the score for the night was Liberty:70, Willow Springs:0 which leaves the Bears with a 2-3 record for the season.