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    VALLETTA, Malta (AP) — A rally in Malta to honor an anti-corruption reporter killed by a car bomb is uniting many of the island nation's squabbling politicians with one notable exception: Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, one of her chief targets. The Sunday afternoon rally demands justice in the Oct. 16 slaying of investigative reporter Daphne Caruana Galizia. It will take place in Malta's capital city, Valletta. Malta's two dominant forces, the ruling Labor and opposition Nationalist parties, have announced their participation. But Muscat has told his party's radio station that he knows her family didn't want him to attend the rally. The Maltese government is offering a 1-million-euro ($1.18 million) reward and full protection to anyone whose information brings whoever killed the journalist to justice.
  • SINGAPORE (AP) — Third-seeded Karolina Pliskova cruised to a 6-2, 6-2 win over fifth-seeded Venus Williams at the WTA Finals on Sunday. The Czech player raced to a 3-0 lead in the first set, but Williams regained her composure to break back in the fifth game. Pliskova broke the Williams serve again in the sixth and eighth games to secure the first set. Williams double faulted to 30-40 and then sailed a backhand long on the final two points of the set. In the second, Pliskova saved two break points in the third game, and then broke the Williams serve in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. She broke Williams again in the final game of the match. Pliskova, making her second consecutive appearance in the WTA Finals, is now 1-0 in round-robin action in the White Group. Williams, the only player of the eight in the WTA Finals not to win a title this year, falls to 0-1 in the group.
  • Big-time aces Clayton Kershaw and Justin Verlander. Playoff boppers Jose Altuve and Justin Turner. A pair of 100-win teams for the first time in nearly a half-century. Hollywood Walk of Fame vs. Texans who wear the star. A little extra Magic, plus Nolan back in the fast lane. This is one hot World Series — the Houston Astros, fresh off a Game 7 victory over the Yankees, taking on the narrowly favored Los Angeles Dodgers, well rested after a postseason romp. Could be real steamy, too. It's supposed to be almost 100 degrees at Dodger Stadium for the opener Tuesday night, maybe the hottest temperature ever at a World Series game. 'Now we chase the ultimate prize,' Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. 'There's two teams standing. It's a race to four wins now. At the start there's a race to 11, we've got seven of them down.' At least the familiar October chill that makes players and fans shiver shouldn't be an issue outdoors in sun-baked California or under the retractable roof at Minute Maid Park. Not that young stars Cody Bellinger and Carlos Correa would mind, nor would old pros Carlos Beltran and Chase Utley, nor top starters Dallas Keuchel and Yu Darvish. Because a chance to win a ring doesn't come very often — these teams that have already played more than 700 games against each other over the years already know that. The Astros have never won the crown. They're playing for a whole region, with the Houston Strong patches on their uniforms representing an area hit hard by Hurricane Harvey. 'There's a lot of people that are really hurting right now in this city,' said Verlander, the ALCS MVP. 'And it gives the city something to rally around and gives people something to cheer for that otherwise may not have a lot to be hopeful for.' The Dodgers haven't been in the World Series since 1988, when Kirk Gibson's bat, Orel Hershiser's arm and Tommy Lasorda's moves outdid Oakland for the crown. Now with Lakers great Magic Johnson as a part-owner, this LA team that led the majors with 104 wins is hoping to bring back the glory days that began in Brooklyn. 'I just want to win a World Series,' Kershaw said after the Dodgers dethroned the Chicago Cubs in Game 5 of the NL Championship Series. 'I know more than anybody how hard it is to get there. So, I'm definitely not taking this one for granted.' Said mercurial outfielder Yasiel Puig: 'The trophy's coming soon.' The Astros, the major leagues' highest-scoring team this year, have never even won a World Series game. They only time they made it this far was 2005, when a club that included Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte got swept by the White Sox. In fact, a World Series prize is the one piece of hardware missing from the trophy case from the Lone Star State. Texas teams have won the Super Bowl and championships in the NBA, NHL, college football and men's and women's basketball, but never in baseball. Under the leadership of executive Nolan Ryan, the Texas Rangers came within one strike in 2011 before losing to St. Louis. The Ryan Express, who once pitched a no-hitter for Houston against the Dodgers, is currently an Astros exec. The Astros posted 101 wins this year — not since Baltimore (108) and Cincinnati (102) in 1970 has the World Series matched teams who reached triple-digits. These teams last met in 2015, when the Astros swept a three-game series at home. But they'd seen a lot of each other in the past. Overall, the Dodgers are 388-323 vs. the Astros. Houston debuted as the Colt .45s as a National League expansion team in 1962, beat the Dodgers in a one-game playoff for the NL West championship in 1980 and eventually moved to the AL in 2013. That first year in the AL, the young Astros got pounded and lost 111 times. But with smart drafts and player development, Houston emerged as a power. Hinch's club capped its rise by beating Boston in the AL Division Series, then stopping the Yankees 4-0 Saturday night in Game 7 of the ALCS. The Dodgers, with a major league-high $226 million payroll, won their fifth straight NL West title this year, then 7-1 in the playoffs against the Diamondbacks and Cubs under manager Dave Roberts. The result? Their first pennant since 1988 — the year Kershaw was born. ___ More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball
  • HOUSTON (AP) — That last-second decision by Justin Verlander has turned out perfectly for the Houston Astros. An MVP indeed. Verlander and the Astros are headed to the World Series after the big right-hander beat the New York Yankees twice in the American League Championship Series. Houston won the pennant with a 4-0 victory in Game 7 on Saturday, and Verlander was selected the ALCS MVP a night after he pitched seven scoreless innings and helped extend a series in which he also threw a complete game. 'He chose to come here for games like this and beyond,' manager A.J. Hinch said. Houston might not even be at this point if Verlander hadn't given his approval for a trade from the Detroit Tigers — the team for which he had played all 13 of his major league seasons — just before the Aug. 31 deadline to be eligible for the Astros' postseason roster. Verlander has won all nine of his games since joining the Astros, including three postseason starts and his first career relief appearance in the clinching Game 4 of the AL Division Series against Boston. In Game 2 of the ALCS against the Yankees, Verlander pitched a five-hitter with 13 strikeouts. He walked off the mound in the middle of the ninth after his 124th pitch in a tie game, and the Astros won 2-1 when Jose Altuve dashed home from first base on Carlos Correa's double in the bottom half. With Houston facing elimination for the first time this postseason, Verlander struck out eight Friday night in a 7-1 victory. While the Astros are going to the World Series for only the second time, this will be Verlander's third. Both are still looking for their first rings — and their first World Series victories. Houston, then still in the National League, was swept in the 2005 World Series by the Chicago White Sox. Verlander went to the World Series as a rookie with the Tigers in 2006, and lost both of his starts as St. Louis won in five games. He also lost the opener in the 2012 when he gave up five runs in four innings against San Francisco, which swept. Before this ALCS, Verlander was recalling the whirlwind night of Aug. 31, and a phone call he got from Astros ace Dallas Keuchel when still trying to make his decision. Needing to make other calls and to talk to his family, Verlander said he 'was pretty quick off' the phone. Keuchel said he understood, but had one last thing to say. 'He goes, 'You won't regret this decision if you decide to join the Houston Astros.' And that kind of resonated with me and that stuck with me,' Verlander said. 'And he was one of the first calls I made after I made the deal and waived my no-trade clause and agreed to come here, I called him and let him know that I was coming to join the Astros and that his call meant a lot to me.' Not nearly as much as Verlander has meant to the World Series-bound Astros. Verlander has in short term already endeared himself to a town that reveres Nolan Ryan and Roger Clemens, hard-throwing Texans and former Astros pitchers. And the 34-year-old Verlander has two more seasons left in his contract. 'It's pretty amazing to me how quickly these fans have bonded to me. And vice versa. I feel it, I appreciate it, especially on the field,' Verlander said. 'A fresh face, people a lot of times in new cities, if they're not baseball fans they might not recognize me. But it seems like a lot of people here, they're involved and they want this team to win and they always come up and give me their blessing and want me to know they care, and that means a lot.' ___ More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball
  • HOUSTON (AP) — CC Sabathia doesn't sound like he wants to be finished with the New York Yankees, even though they are done this season. 'I feel like this is a young team, and we will turn this into something great,' Sabathia said. 'This is my home, and I want to see this thing through.' Their 41st American League pennant must wait after Sabathia was unable to save them again, even after Aaron Judge made another home-run robbing catch early in Game 7 of AL Championship Series. Unbeaten this season when starting after Yankees losses until Saturday night, Sabathia didn't make it out of the fourth inning in his first Game 7 start. New York couldn't avoid elimination this time, losing 4-0 to the Houston Astros. Sabathia had been 10-0 with a 1.69 ERA in 13 starts after Yankees losses this year, including the big left-hander's six scoreless innings in Game 3 of the ALCS after the Astros won the first two games. 'I feel like I wasn't as sharp. They came out very aggressive, and I felt like I couldn't get on track,' said Sabathia, who is among only three players remaining from New York's last World Series team in 2009. Joe Girardi's contract is expiring and he has not said whether he wants to return for an 11th season in the Bronx. 'I love what I do, and I've always said the first thing that I do is I always talk to my family. They come first,' the manager said. 'I'll sit down and talk to my wife, and the kids, and see where they're at and what they're thinking, and then see what the Yankees are thinking.' Sabathia can become a free agent and Japanese right-hander Mashiro Tanaka can opt out of his contract. Matt Holliday and Todd Frazier also can go free. When asked if he wanted to stay in New York, Tanaka said through his interpreter that it was 'sensitive matter' and he didn't want to comment. 'From a player's standpoint, you don't truly understand how you're perceived by other teams,' he said. 'I can't really give you a good answer for that.' While sweeping the Astros in three games at Yankee Stadium, New York scored just three runs and had 20 hits along with 48 strikeouts in the four games at Houston. The Yankees, defeated by Houston in the 2015 AL wild-card game, lost their third straight ALCS following defeats to Texas in 2010 and Detroit in 2012. But this was a group included some Baby Bombers just starting their careers. Asked what he told his team, Girardi said he was proud. 'How this hurts, I understand, I've been through it as a player. I've been through it as a manager,' Girardi said. 'And how it really needs to be the motivating factor during the winter and spring training to get better. Because I believe this club can even get better. And that was basically the message.' New York had avoided elimination four times already this postseason, winning the AL wild-card game and then overcoming a 2-0 deficit in the best-of-five AL Division Series to beat Cleveland. That included the clinching Game 5 that Sabathia started, though he got a no decision in the Yankees' only road playoff win. Sabathia got three one-pitch groundouts after giving up George Springer's leadoff single in a seven-pitch first inning in the ALCS finale. The Astros second began with Yuli Gurriel's long drive to right field, but Judge made a running, leaping catch with his left arm fully extended on a ball that appeared headed for the seats. After Sabathia escaped jams with two runners on in each the second and third innings, Evan Gattis started the Astros fourth with a homer off the left-field facade. The Yankees lefty was done three batters later after Josh Reddick's first hit of the ALCS put runners at first and second. Reliever Tommy Kahnle induced an inning-ending, double-play grounder on his first pitch, so Sabathia allowed only one run in 3 1/3 innings. But the 37-year-old left-hander allowed five hits and three walks without any strikeouts. Not even Judge was tall enough to take a homer away from Jose Altuve when he hit a ball into the right-field seats in the fifth. After consecutive singles put two more Astros on base, former Yankees catcher Brian McCann hit a two-run double into the right-field corner for a four-run lead. Judge, the rookie slugger who led the AL with 52 homers, hit four in the postseason — three in the ALCS. But he also set a major league playoff record with 27 strikeouts in 48 at-bats in the playoffs. The closest the Yankees came to scoring in Game 7 was in the fifth when Greg Bird had a leadoff double but was later thrown out at the plate for the second time in the ALCS — the fifth time New York had a runner thrown out on the bases. Bird had gone to third on Charlie Morton's wild pitch and ran home when Todd Frazier hit a weak grounder. Third baseman Alex Bregman charged forward, scooped up the ball and made a perfect throw to McCann's mitt, and Bird slid into the tag. ___ More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball
  • HOUSTON (AP) — Jose Altuve embraced Justin Verlander as confetti rained down. An improbable thought just a few years ago, the Houston Astros are headed to the World Series. Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers Jr. combined on a three-hitter, Altuve and Evan Gattis homered and the Astros reached the World Series for only the second time by blanking the New York Yankees 4-0 Saturday night in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series. Next up for the Astros: Game 1 against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night. Los Angeles opened as a narrow favorite, but Verlander, the ALCS MVP , and fellow Houston ace Dallas Keuchel will have plenty of rest before the World Series begins at sweltering Dodger Stadium. 'I love our personality,' Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. 'We have the right amount of fun, the right amount of seriousness, the right amount of perspective when we need it. This is a very, very unique group. To win 100 games and still be hungry is pretty remarkable.' The Astros will try for their first World Series title, thanks in large part to Altuve , the diminutive second baseman who swings a potent bat, and Verlander, who switched teams for the first time in his career to chase a ring. Four years removed from their third straight 100-loss season in 2013, the Astros shut down the Yankees on consecutive nights after dropping three in a row in the Bronx. The only previous time the Astros made it this far, they were a National League team when they were swept by the Chicago White Sox in 2005. Hinch's club has a chance to win that elusive first crown, while trying to boost a region still recovering from Hurricane Harvey. 'This city, they deserve this,' McCullers said. Clutch defensive plays by third baseman Alex Bregman and center fielder George Springer helped Houston improve to 6-0 at Minute Maid Park in these playoffs and become the fifth team in major league history to capture a seven-game postseason series by winning all four of its home games. Morton bounced back from a loss in Game 3 to allow two hits over five scoreless innings. Starter-turned-postseason reliever McCullers limited the Yankees to just one hit while fanning six over the next four. A noted curveballer, McCullers finished up with 24 straight breaking pitches to earn his first major league save. Combined, they throttled the wild-card Yankees one last time in Houston. Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and their New York teammates totaled just three runs in the four road games. 'I know people are going to talk about how we didn't win many games on the road. There were some other teams that haven't won many games on the road, either. We just happened to run into a very good team that just beat us,' Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. The Astros also eliminated New York in the 2015 postseason, with Keuchel winning the AL wild-card game at Yankee Stadium. CC Sabathia entered 10-0 with a 1.69 ERA in 13 starts this season after a Yankees loss. But he struggled with command and was gone with one out in the fourth inning. Houston was up 2-0 in fifth when former Yankees star Brian McCann came through for the second straight game by hitting a two-run double. He snapped an 0-for-20 skid with an RBI double to give Houston its first run on Friday night in a 7-1 win. The Yankees, trying to reach the World Series for the first time since 2009, lost an elimination game for the first time this season after winning their first four in these playoffs. New York went 1-6 on the road this postseason. After going 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position through the first three innings, the Astros got on the board with no outs in the fourth with the 405-foot shot by Gattis. Altuve launched a ball off Tommy Kahnle into the seats in right field with one out in the fifth for his fifth homer this postseason. It took a while for him to see that it was going to get out, and held onto his bat until he was halfway to first base before flipping it and trotting around the bases as chants of 'MVP' rained down on him. Altuve finished 8 for 25 with two homers and four RBIs in the ALCS after hitting .533 with three homers and four RBIs in the ALDS against Boston. Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel hit consecutive singles before Kahnle struck out Gattis. McCann's two-strike double, which rolled into the corner of right field, cleared the bases to push the lead to 4-0. Gurriel slid to avoid the tag and remained on his belly in a swimming pose at the plate for a few seconds after he was called safe. It was just the second Game 7 in franchise history for the Astros, who lost to the Cardinals in the 2004 NLCS exactly 13 years earlier. Sabathia allowed five hits and one run while walking three in 3 1/3 innings. He wasn't nearly as sharp as he was in a Game 3 win and just 36 of the 65 pitches he threw were strikes. Morton got into trouble in the fifth, and the Yankees had runners at the corners with one out. Bregman fielded a grounder hit by Todd Frazier and made a perfect throw home to allow McCann to tag Greg Bird and preserve Houston's lead. McCann held onto the ball despite Bird's cleat banging into his forearm. Chase Headley grounded out after that to end the inning. A night after Springer kept Frazier from extra-bases with a leaping catch, Judge returned the favor on a ball hit by Yuli Gurriel. Judge sprinted, jumped and reached into the stands to grab his long fly ball before crashing into the wall and falling to the ground for the first out of the second inning. Springer had another nifty catch in this one, jumping in front of Marwin Gonzalez at the wall in left-center to grab a ball hit by Bird for the first out of the seventh. With McCullers in charge, the Astros soon closed it out. 'It's not easy to get here. And I don't take any of this for granted. And this is what we play for,' Verlander said. 'These are the experiences that you remember at the end of your career when you look back, winning these games, just playing the World Series. Hopefully winning the World Series.' ___ More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball
  • ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia Tech quarterback TaQuon Marshall ran for two long touchdowns, including a 70-yarder with 1:57 remaining that clinched a 38-24 victory over Wake Forest on Saturday night. The Yellow Jackets (4-2, 3-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) ran their triple-option offense to perfection, piling up 427 yards rushing against a team that had an off week to prepare. Marshall finished with 163 yards on 23 carries, also scoring on a 49-yard run. KirVonte Benson added 136 yards and a touchdown. Qua Searcy broke loose for a 42-yard scoring run against the Demon Deacons (4-3, 1-3), who lost their third straight. Benson's 11-yard TD gave the Yellow Jackets a 31-24 lead with 11:55 remaining. The extra point was blocked, leaving the door open for Wake Forest to force overtime. The Demon Deacons later drove to the Georgia Tech 24, where they faced fourth-and-1. Cade Carney was stuffed for no gain, turning the ball over the Yellow Jackets. Three plays later, Marshall got loose on a third-and-4 from the 30, picked up several good blocks downfield and rambled into the end zone to finish off the Demon Deacons. John Wolford returned to the lineup after missing Wake Forest's previous game with a shoulder injury. He completed 17 of 30 pass for 252 yards, including a pair of touchdowns, and scored his team's other TD on a 1-yard run. It wasn't enough. Georgia Tech rallied from a 21-10 deficit in the first half. The Yellow Jackets caught a huge break just before halftime when Jaboree Williams dragged down Marshall after he was already out of bounds. The personal foul penalty pushed Georgia Tech into field goal range, and they converted with Brenton King's 42-yard field goal as the half expired. That momentum carried into the second half. Wake Forest got the ball first, but a penalty and a botched snap forced the Demon Deacons to punt from deep in their own territory. Taking possession at the Wake 49, Marshall needed just one play to reach the end zone. With the defense leaning toward the left, the quarterback ran to his right, got a good block from left tackle Jahaziel Lee that allowed him to get around the edge, and shook off a would-be tackler at the 10 to finish off his first touchdown run. Georgia Tech failed to convert the tying 2-point attempt, but went ahead for good on Searcy's TD late in the third quarter. TAKEAWAYS Wake Forest's faint hopes in the ACC race essentially ended with another conference defeat. The Demon Deacons have played respectably in their last three games but showed they aren't ready to compete with the league's top teams. Georgia Tech again showed its resilience by bouncing back from a tough loss. Coming off their second one-point defeat of the season, a 25-24 setback at Miami, the Yellow Jackets kept alive their hopes in the ACC race by grinding out a victory over the Demon Deacons. UP NEXT Wake Forest: Wraps up a brutal stretch of five straight games against 2016 bowl teams, hosting Louisville (5-3, 2-3) and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson next Saturday. Georgia Tech: Travels to Clemson to take on the No. 7 Tigers (6-1, 4-1), who were off this week. The Yellow Jackets have lost four straight at Death Valley, their last victory coming in 2008. ___ Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963 . His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/paul%20newberry ___ For more AP college football coverage: www.collegefootball.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_Top25
  • STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — The whiteout at Penn State is one of the most mesmerizing scenes in college football. With more than 100,000 fans dressed in white, Beaver Stadium virtually glows as night falls in Happy Valley. Penn State coach James Franklin tells his players to drink in the spectacle when they take the field. 'Run out of that tunnel. Look around for 30 seconds and then don't ever look again and then get back to focusing on the game and controlling what we can control,' Franklin said. What No. 2 Penn State controlled on Saturday night was Michigan. The Nittany Lions turned their whiteout into a knockout of the 19th-ranked Wolverines. Saquon Barkley and Trace McSorley cut through one of the nation's stingiest defenses, each scoring three touchdowns, as Penn State emphatically avenged its last regular-season loss with a 42-13 victory. Barkley set the tone the first time he touched the ball. He took a direct snap on the second play of the game and blazed 69 yards for a touchdown. He finished with 161 yards from scrimmage, a nice addition to his Heisman Trophy bid. 'Obviously we knew they were very aggressive. They're a great defense, got a great defensive coordinator,' Barkley said. 'Sometimes it seems like a heavyweight fight. They're going to get some and we're going to get ours. When you got your opportunity, you got to score.' McSorley ran for a career-high three touchdowns for Penn State (7-0, 4-0 Big Ten), including a darting 13-yarder in the third quarter that made it 28-13 and led the record-breaking crowd of 110,823 to sing along to 'Sweet Caroline.' Early in the fourth quarter, McSorley and Barkley combined for the shot that put Michigan away. Barkley burned linebacker Mike McCray and made a juggling over-shoulder catch for a 42-yard TD that made it 35-13. Michigan came in allowing 223 yards per game and 3.68 yards per play. Nittany Lions went for 506 yards and 8.3 per play, adding a few new looks to its offense, like the wildcat formation Barkley broke for the first touchdown. 'Instead of lining up and sending the quarterback out wide we shifted to it at the last minute so they couldn't go to a wildcat check,' Franklin said. 'We had some wrinkles in there.' Penn State has not lost in the regular season since getting trounced 49-10 by Michigan (5-2, 2-2) last season. That seems like a lifetime ago. One day short of the last whiteout, a season-changing upset of Ohio State, the defending Big Ten champion Nittany Lions look even better than last year. THE TAKEAWAY Michigan: The Wolverines don't have the offensive playmakers to keep up with a team like Penn State, which gets chunks of yardage from Barkley, DaeSean Hamilton and Mike Gesicki. John O'Korn was 16 for 28 for 166 yards. He was sacked seven times and had a second-half fumble. If the Wolverines can't win with a grinding running game and defense, they can't win. 'We're going to refit, retool, and get back to work,' Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said. 'There are more opportunities ahead of us.' Penn State: The matchup between Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead and Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown — two of the best in the country — went to Moorhead. Penn State was successful attacking the edges of Michigan's D and consistently got the one-on-matchups in the passing game that worked in its favor. 'The quarterback was really hot and the receivers made plays down the field,' Harbaugh said. The last time Michigan allowed as many points in a game was in 2015 against Ohio State. POLL IMPLICATIONS Michigan: The Wolverines are in danger of falling out of the rankings. Penn State: There was some question about whether Penn State or Georgia should be No. 2. The Nittany Lions likely won over some doubters. FAST STARTS Penn State has outscored opponents 90-0 in the first quarter, making it the only FBS team that has not allowed a first-quarter point. 'When you have an explosive offense like we do and you're playing really good first quarter defense and you can get a lead, it changes how people have to play,' Franklin said. 'So we play with an aggressive mindset and an aggressive mentality in all three phases and it's working out pretty good for us right now.' NEXT Michigan: The Wolverines have Rutgers coming to the Big House and the Scarlet Knights have won two straight. Penn State: The second game of a three-week stretch against ranked teams figures to be the toughest for the Nittany Lions, who travel to No. 6 Ohio State next weekend. ___ Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP ___ More AP college football: www.collegefootball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25
  • ATLANTA (AP) — After two excruciating losses, Georgia Tech finally showed a finishing punch. Quarterback TaQuon Marshall ran for two long touchdowns, including a 70-yarder with 1:57 remaining that clinched a 38-24 victory over Wake Forest on Saturday night. The Yellow Jackets rallied from an 11-point deficit in the first half, dominating the final two quarters to put a bit of a salve on a pair of one-point losses to Tennessee and Miami . In both defeats, Georgia Tech squandered double-digit leads in the second half, becoming the first Atlantic Coast Conference team since 2006 to lose two games in a season by the narrowest of margins. 'You're not always going to be in the lead,' said Marshall, who finished with 163 yards on 23 carries, also scoring on a 49-yard run. 'It's good to go through some adversity to see how guys react.' The Yellow Jackets (4-2, 3-1) ran their triple-option offense to perfection, piling up 427 yards rushing against a team that had an off week to prepare. KirVonte Benson bounced back from a hamstring injury to run for 136 yards and a touchdown. Qua Searcy broke loose for a 42-yard scoring run against the Demon Deacons (4-3, 1-3), who lost their third straight. Marshall turned in his fourth 100-yard game of the season, his first as Georgia Tech's starting quarterback. 'The guys opened up some holes for me,' he said. 'I was just trying to make the play.' Benson's 11-yard TD gave the Yellow Jackets a 31-24 lead with 11:55 remaining. The extra point was blocked, leaving the door open for Wake Forest to force overtime. The Demon Deacons drove to the Georgia Tech 24, where they faced fourth-and-1. Cade Carney was stuffed for no gain and Marshall finished off the Demon Deacons three plays later. John Wolford returned to the lineup after missing Wake Forest's previous game with a shoulder injury. He completed 17 of 30 pass for 252 yards, including a pair of touchdowns, and scored his team's other TD on a 1-yard run. Duke Ejiofor had a huge game on defense, sacking Marshall three times . It wasn't enough, even after the Demon Deacons built a 21-10 lead. 'We just didn't close,' Wolford said. 'I'm sick right now.' The Yellow Jackets caught a huge break just before halftime when Jaboree Williams dragged down Marshall after he was already out of bounds. The personal foul penalty pushed Georgia Tech into field goal range, and they converted with Brenton King's 42-yard field goal as the half expired. That momentum carried into the second half. Wake Forest got the ball first, but a penalty and a botched snap forced the Demon Deacons to punt from deep in their own territory. Taking possession at the Wake 49, Marshall needed just one play to reach the end zone. With the defense leaning toward the left, the quarterback ran to his right, got a good block from left tackle Jahaziel Lee that allowed him to scoot around the edge, and shook off a would-be tackler at the 10 for his first TD. Georgia Tech failed to convert a tying 2-point attempt, but went ahead for good on Searcy's TD late in the third quarter. 'We weren't disciplined,' Wake Forest safety Jessie Bates III said. 'When you play against good teams, you have to be disciplined. That cost us the game.' JEUNE BLOCKS Georgia Tech receiver Ricky Jeune caught three passes for 44 yards and also ran for 30 yards on a reverse. His best work came as a blocker, however. On both of Marshall's long runs, Jeune helped clear a path downfield. 'When I hear the crowd yelling and stuff, I'm like, 'OK, the kid's behind me. I've got to put some pressure on the cornerback,'' Jeune said with a smile. TAKEAWAYS Wake Forest's faint hopes in the ACC race essentially ended with another conference defeat. The Demon Deacons have played respectably in their last three games but showed they aren't ready to compete with the league's top teams . Georgia Tech displayed plenty of resilience by bouncing back from a 25-24 setback at Miami and a lackluster first half. The defense really came through in the second half, stopping the Demon Deacons three times on fourth down. UP NEXT Wake Forest: Wraps up a brutal stretch of five straight games against 2016 bowl teams, hosting Louisville (5-3, 2-3) and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson next Saturday. Georgia Tech: Travels to Clemson to take on the No. 7 Tigers (6-1, 4-1), who were off this week. The Yellow Jackets have lost four straight at Death Valley, their last victory coming in 2008. ___ Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963 . His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/paul%20newberry ___ For more AP college football coverage: www.collegefootball.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_Top25
  • SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Coach Brian Kelly expected 13th-ranked Notre Dame to win big against No. 11 Southern California. He even wrote it down on a piece of paper in the locker room before the game. 'I said if we didn't win really big, I would be disappointed,' he said. He wasn't disappointed, and neither were his players who doused their coach with water following a dominating 49-14 victory over the rival Trojans on Saturday night. Brandon Wimbush passed for two touchdowns and ran for two more, Josh Adams added three touchdown runs and the Irish took advantage of three USC turnovers in what was a surprisingly easy win in the storied series that dates to 1926. It gave the Irish (6-1) their first victory against USC (6-2) when the Trojans were ranked since 1995. Wimbush credited the Irish defense with getting the offense going. 'When they take away the ball, you just get so excited, and (offensive coordinator Chip) Long wants to be aggressive and call a play, usually,' said Wimbush, who was coming back after missing a game with a right foot injury. The turnovers came on a fumble and interception by Sam Darnold and a dropped punt by Jack Jones. 'We helped them by mistakes,' USC coach Clay Helton said. Adams had an 84-yard touchdown run and finished with 191 yards on 19 carries. Wimbush ran for 106 yards on 14 carries as the Irish amassed 377 yards on the ground. Notre Dame led 28-0 at the half. 'The turnovers were key for us in the first half and being opportunistic, which really we've been all year offensively,' Kelly said. Kelly was asked about Adams possibly not getting the attention he deserves nationally. 'He's one of the best players in the country,' Kelly said. 'I'll let others make that decision. Here's what I know. We're going to play some really good football teams the rest of the year. Maybe everyone should just wait until the end of the year and vote for the Heisman.' It was the fifth 100-yard rushing game of the season for Adams, quickest to 2,000 rushing yards in Notre Dame history at 316 carries. It took George Gipp 323 carries to set the mark. It was the third 100-yard rushing game for Wimbush, coming back from missing a game with an injured right foot. Wimbush still wasn't sharp passing, completing 9 of 19 passes for 120 yards. But he came up with key passes when needed. Linebacker Te'Von Coney, starting because Greer Martini injured his knee during the bye week, got the Irish going on a strip-sack of Darnold on USC's first play from scrimmage after Darnold bobbled the snap. Wimbush threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Equanimeous St. Brown three plays later. Darnold completed 20 of 29 passes, but could not overcome the turnovers or USC being held to 76 yards rushing, including minus-4 in the first half. He threw two touchdown passes, the first cutting Notre Dame's lead to 28-7. Kelly said beating rival USC and recapturing the Jeweled Shillelagh trophy were big, but said he expects the Irish to keep playing at this level. 'We want to be unique. Unique means this is not the crown jewel for us. We want more,' he said. THE TAKEAWAY USC: The Trojans continue to shoot themselves in the foot with turnovers, with 19 on the season. Darnold is responsible for all but three. USC can still win the Pac-12 title, but a playoff berth appears nearly impossible. 'Got a sad football team in there right now. We'll live and learn from this,' Helton said. Notre Dame: The Irish, just a season removed from an embarrassing 4-8 season, showed they deserve to be back in the national discussion and kept alive their hopes of ending a 29-year title drought. POLL IMPLICATIONS USC: A second straight loss will drop the Trojans, the question is whether the blowout loss will drop them all the way out. Notre Dame: The Irish, whose only loss was by a point to No. 3 Georgia, have a chance to move into the top 10. IRISH DEFENSE The Irish have held their opponent to 20 points or less in every game this season as USC running back Ronald Jones II's streak of 13 straight games with a touchdown came to an end. UP NEXT USC: The Trojans play at Arizona State. Notre Dame: The Irish face another ranked opponent in No. 16 North Carolina State. __ More AP college football: www.collegefootball.ap.org

Latest Bulldog News

  • Carla Williams, a former Georgia women’s basketball player and considered by many the heir apparent to be Georgia’s next athletic director, is instead set to be the new A.D. at Virginia. Williams, currently UGA’s deputy director of athletics, will be hired by UVA, the Charlottesville Daily Progress reported on Saturday night. There was no immediate confirmation from UGA. The news could have far-reaching consequences in UGA athletics, as Williams has handled a number of responsibilities as the top aide to athletics director Greg McGarity. McGarity’s contract runs out the summer of 2019. The next-highest ranking member of the athletics department is Josh Brooks, the executive associate athletics director. At Georgia, Williams has been a constant but quiet presence, responsible officially for almost everything involved in athletics. (Her bio on the web site lists her duties including supervision of  academic support, business operations, compliance, event management, external operations, facilities, human resources, sports medicine, strength and conditioning, student services and ticketing.) A native of LaGrange, Williams played basketball under Andy Landers from 1985-89. She went into sports administration, including in UGA’s compliance department, also going on to work at Florida State and Vanderbilt. She returned to Athens in 2004, gradually rising to become the top deputy in the athletics department. Williams will replace Craig Littlepage, who has been Virginia’s athletics director since 2001. The post Georgia deptuty A.D. Carla Williams set to take over at Virginia appeared first on DawgNation.
  • What’s with all the comparisons? The comparisons between Georgia and Alabama are being tossed around left and right these days. What with both teams undefeated, holding court in the top four and commanding the SEC, there is more to compare than just Kirby Smart and Nick Saban. But now eight weeks into the season and there is only one common opponent the two share: Vanderbilt. And just what did Vandy head coach Derek Mason have to say in regards to which of the two, Georgia or Alabama, is the better team? Well, Mason went with the Tide. “Having played both teams, Alabama’s the better team, just in my mind,” Mason said during Wednesday’s SEC coaches teleconference. “I think where the difference is in Alabama’s secondary… Alabama’s just a purely dominant defense right now.” via GIPHY Interesting. So, let’s rewind shall we? Alabama played Vanderbilt on Sept. 29 in Nashville. Not even going to lie, ‘twas ugly. A 59-0 shutout for the Tide and sure enough what Mason said was true, Alabama completely dominated on defense. Vanderbilt was held to 38 passing yards (yes, only 38) and 40 yards on the ground (yes, only 40). Fast forward to when Georgia played Vanderbilt on Oct. 7 and the Bulldogs took a crack at the Commodores. Georgia won handily 45-14 and while the numbers defensively were still solid all around, it wasn’t what Vanderbilt saw against Alabama. This is by no means taking away Georgia’s performance against Vandy, it’s just a snapshot of the reasoning which could have possibly led Mason to his conclusion of choosing Alabama over Georgia when presented with the question. Vanderbilt put together a 172-yard passing day against Georgia and the Bulldogs held the Commodores to just 64 rushing yards. And while there is no mistaking these numbers, there is also no ignoring the Alabama defense and what it was able to do in Nashville. Only 78 yards of total offense for Vanderbilt when the Tide rolled into town, no wonder Mason chose Alabama. But (and there is a very big but) Alabama and Tennessee are set to kickoff this weekend. Georgia recorded a shut out of its own against Tennessee not too long ago, playing some of its best defense all year, and dare I say, the best defense of recent years. So, once this weekend is said and done, will Butch Jones side with Mason on who has the edge, Georgia or Alabama? Or will he say something different? Honestly, regardless of what happens in Tennessee this weekend, we really won’t know who “has the edge” until the two meet on the field, and maybe, just maybe, we will see that happen. And maybe, we will put the comparisons to rest. I mean, hey, even Mason is doing it too so don’t feel too bad. “Georgia is being built like Alabama,” Mason said. “It looks very, very similar.” Georgia is rackin’ up You’ve already heard about inside linebacker Roquan Smith being named to the Associated Press midseason All-American first team. And Sports Illustrated’s midseason All-American team.. and ESPN’s.. and Sporting News’. But it isn’t just Smith getting a little recognition now that we are all halfway through the 2017 season. It was announced yesterday that Kirby Smart was to be added to the list of 20 coaches on the watch list for the Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year award. Former Georgia head coach Mark Richt is also one of the 20 coaches being recognized during the midway point along with Nick Saban. Richt and Saban are both currently leading Miami and Alabama to an undefeated seasons as well. It might come as little surprise to DawgNation seeing as Smart is currently reigning over the No. 3 team in the country as one of only eight teams that remain undefeated. However, its not just Smart being recognized. Sports Illustrated ranked defensive coordinator Mel Tucker as the second-best coordinator in its midseason awards published on Tuesday. Tucker follows Don Brown at Michigan for the top spot. Smart was also mentioned as the number three pick in the same standing for “Best Coaching Job”. Bruce Feldman wrote next to Smart’s name “his defense is nasty,” another nod to Tucker. Mark Schlabach of ESPN also chose Smart as “Coach of the Year”, bringing emphasis to the fact that Georgia is batting a thousand in the red zone, putting points on the board in all 23 of its red zone appearances. But don’t expect to hear anything from Smart on these midseason honors. When asked about the hype surrounding Georgia’s season, Smart is always quick to say that no one remembers who was winning at 50 meters in a 100-meter race, you remember the one who wins at the end. I would expect the same response if asked about his midseason accomplishments too. It isn’t just football While the spotlight is very much on Georgia football at the moment, I think it’s OK to take a break and talk about a couple other Georgia sports getting some preseason love. Basketball update In Georgia basketball news, Yante Maten was named as the co-SEC Preseason Player of the Year on Wednesday morning at this year’s SEC Basketball Media Days. Maten shares the honor with Robert Williams from Texas A&M and Michael Porter Jr. from Missouri. Late in the season last year, Maten went down with a knee injury. However, even with missing four games in his junior year, Maten was still fourth in the SEC in scoring, averaging around 18 points a game. He was also ninth in the conference in rebounds, averaging nearly nine rebounds a game. This announcement comes after an off-season where fans were not really sure if Maten would return to Georgia for his senior year. Maten worked out with at least two NBA teams before finally announcing his plan to remain at Georgia for his final year. OK, it isn’t just basketball, either It has been a busy, and productive, fall season for Georgia men’s tennis coming off a Final Four appearance back in May at the NCAA Tennis Tournament. The team returns its entire starting roster from the 2016-2017 season for the current season, and recently the men’s team has been flexing its experienced strength. On Monday, Walker Duncan took home the singles championship at the 2017 Intercollegiate Tennis Association Southeast Regional. On Tuesday, the No. 2 doubles team in the country, according to the Oracle/ITA preseason rankings, of Jan Zielinski and Robert Loeb brought in the doubles championship in the same tournament. The duo of Loeb and Zielinski defeated Florida’s team of Andy Andrade and McClain Kessler in the semifinal match before facing, and defeating, fellow Florida tandem of Oliver Crawford and Chase Perez-Blanco. And because of their performances at the ITA Southeast Regional tournament Duncan, Loeb and Zielinski all receive an automatic entry at the 2017 Oracle/ITA Fall National Championship to be held in Palm Desert, Calif. at the beginning of November. Dawgs on social Face full of shoulder pad. #ATD pic.twitter.com/G2t4MZ4OaH — Georgia Football (@FootballUGA) October 19, 2017 More importantly: All-American Teammate @RoquanSmith1 https://t.co/HZpeMxb4UQ — Cameron Nizialek (@CamNizguy) October 18, 2017 The post Comparisons between Georgia and Alabama don’t really stack up appeared first on DawgNation.
  • (Note: This is part of a series of stories on legendary Georgia Bulldogs.) DULUTH, Ga. – It’s one of the smallest pictures you’ll find on the walls of D.J. Shockley’s basement. And there are a LOT of pictures in his basement. Some are big, some small, some in fancy frames, others just frameless posters. There’s even a life-size banner of Shockley that a friend snagged from the side of Sanford Stadium back in the day. But this one picture, the little one in the nondescript black frame, is his favorite. It features a beaming Shockley in the middle, his mouth agape in what must’ve been a full-guttural laugh. To his left in the picture, arm-and-arm in an embrace, is Georgia head coach Mark Richt sporting a giddy smile himself. Teammate Kedric Golston and SEC Commissioner Mike Slive are also in the shot, but they’re in the periphery, both literally and figuratively. D.J. Shockley enjoys life these days – especially when he’s at his Duluth home. (Nate Gettleman/DawgNation) No, this picture is all about those two central figures, Shockley and Richt. It was taken after the Bulldogs’ stunning victory over LSU in the 2005 SEC Championship Game. Shockley, a senior, earned MVP honors. The scene is succinctly summarized with the hand-written inscription from Richt across the bottom. “I told you you’d leave here with a smile on your face,” Richt wrote. He signed the pic and sent it to Shockley in the mail shortly after that season ended. Never, Shockley said, has one sentence better summed up a career. “That tells it all right there,” Shockley said, admiring the pic a thousandth time. A lot of people know Shockley’s story at Georgia. Or at least they think they know. They know he came to Georgia as the No. 2-rated dual-threat quarterback in America. They know they he came there at a time when David Greene was already running the offensive show for the Bulldogs. They know Shockley competed with and shared time with “Greenie,” and actually had some good moments here and there. But they also know that he could never unseat the quarterback who would leave UGA as the winningest quarterback in NCAA history. So everybody understands when Shockley explains how he almost left Georgia. Shockley went into Richt’s office after the 2002 season with that expressed intention. But that’s when they had the conversation that Shockley said changed his life. That’s when Richt first uttered those words that are now permanently preserved in black Sharpie on the bottom of a 5-by-7 glossy in the basement of his home. Mark Richt closes the deal “I really believe when you leave here, you’ll leave here with a smile on your face,” is the exact way Richt first put it. But as one might expect, those were simply the last words in a long and heartfelt conversation that started with Shockley saying, “Coach, I’m thinking about leaving.” Shockley recounts it here: “And he says, ‘Shock, first off I’m going to tell you, we love you. You’re gonna get a great education here. I can’t sit here and say, you’re going to play this many series. I can’t sit here and say I’m going to let you start two or three games. I’m not going to do that to you. I’m going to be honest. I’m going to be straightforward. We want you here, we love you here. And I think you will still have a great career here. And I really believe when you leave here, you’ll leave here with a smile on your face.” D.J. Shockey helped UGA and Mark Richt win an SEC title in 2005. (AJC File) Shockley wasn’t sure if he believed that at the time. He entered Richt’s office that day with his mind pretty much made up that he was going to leave if he wasn’t given certain assurances. Like any other athlete of his ilk, Shockley knew he could play. He’d performed well enough not only in practices but also in games to know that. And he knew “Greenie” could, too, and he didn’t hold that against him. But unless Shockley could get himself into a situation where he could truly showcase his talents, he knew his NFL dreams would wither away. Meanwhile, there were plenty of other opportunities to be had. His father, North Clayton High School coach Donald Shockley, had been fielding calls right and left. And they weren’t coming in from lower-division or second-tier schools. Maryland’s Ralph Friedgen and Florida State’s Bobby Bowden were telling his dad Shockley “could walk in right now and play.” “My dad’s like, ‘Hey, you ready to go?’” Shockley recalled with a laugh. But he wasn’t. “At that moment, I knew I had to make the decision for me,” he said. “I had to make a decision that I would live with for the rest of my life. Nobody else would live with this decision. I had to look at myself in the mirror every single day.” Shockley didn’t give Richt his decision right then and there. The plan was to take same time to think about it. But he didn’t really need it. “As I left Coach Richt’s office, I knew this was the guy I wanted to play for,” Shockley said. “No matter where I went, if I went somewhere else, who knows what the situation may be? Who knows what the coach would have been like? But I knew exactly where Coach Richt stood and I knew that he cared about me as a person first, and he knew my abilities. Obviously, he cared about me, and was honest enough with me to tell me the truth. That went a long way for me. And obviously, knowing I would get my degree from University of Georgia, being a guy that will live here, born and raised in Atlanta, Ga., that was another part of it.” Imagine that, Richt kept Shockley at Georgia by telling him exactly what he didn’t want to hear. D.J. Shockley and Mark Richt celebrate the 2005 win in the SEC Championship. (Getty Images) True to his word, there wasn’t a drastic change in the way Richt utilized the Bulldogs’ quarterbacks the next season. Shockley played mainly as a backup to Greene. Eventually they’d establish a rotation; for a while it was every third series. But, generally, Richt went with his gut, changing quarterbacks only when the compulsion or the game dictated it. Shockley was playing though. He appeared in 26 games for the Bulldogs those first three seasons. He had 24 TD passes and 5 interceptions in that span. But it was his senior year before Shockley finally started. And he started with a bang. In the 2005 season opener against Boise State, Shockley established a school record for touchdowns accounted for. He had six – five passes and a run – and the Bulldogs rolled over Boise State 48-13 in a game many of the national pundits had labeled as an upset special. That game served notice to the college football world that Georgia wasn’t going to fall off the map just because all those All-Americans had left. All smiles in the end “Coming into that year, we had a bunch of guys who had been backups for the previous two or three years,” Shockley said. “Greenie left, (David) Pollack left, Thomas Davis. So coming into that season everybody was saying it was rebuilding time for Georgia.” Thanks to Shockley, it was merely a reload year. The Bulldogs were 6-0 and ranked No. 4 in the country when they rolled into Jacksonville to face Florida. But Shockley had sprained a knee the previous week and couldn’t play. Shockley led UGA to a 10-3 record in 2005. He went 10-2 as a starter that year. (UGA) “I didn’t dress out,” Shockley said. “I’m walking around before the game and I notice everywhere I go Charlie Strong (Florida’s defensive coordinator) is following me. He’s literally about 5 yards behind me. He’s watching my gait, seeing if I was going to play.” Shockley didn’t, and Georgia lost 14-10 with Joe Tereshinski III filling in at quarterback. “I remember seeing Urban Myer about 10 years later,” Shockley said. “I introduced myself, and he said, ‘Oh, yeah. I know you are. I remember ’05, we were scared to death you were gonna play. I told Charlie Strong, if this Shockley kid plays, we got no chance!’ It was fun to hear that story.” Georgia dropped a heartbreaker to Auburn in the final seconds the next week, too. But the Bulldogs made it back to the SEC Championship Game, where they were big underdogs to No. 3-ranked LSU. That served as great motivation for Shockley and the Bulldogs. “Nobody was talking about Georgia. ‘Georgia doesn’t belong here. They shouldn’t be here. They’re going to lose by 20.’ It’s the same thing that we heard all year long,” Shockley said. “I still remember to this day, Coach Richt stood in front of the team before we went out and said, ‘You make sure everybody watching this game, and especially those guys with the yellow helmets on, they know the guys with the G are here to play! We took it to heart.” The post Georgia Greats: D.J. Shockley left Bulldogs with smile and an SEC title appeared first on DawgNation.