Much-changed Barcelona held by Huesca

first_imgGoalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen was the only one to keep his place at El Alcoraz as coach Ernesto Valverde made clear his focus is on sealing progress to the Champions League semi-finals after the 1-0 first-leg win at Old Trafford in midweek.Messi was left out of the squad completely while the suspended Gerard Pique posted a picture on social media of him watching the game on television, with a bowl of paella on his lap.The draw gives Atletico Madrid the chance to reduce the gap at the top of the table to nine points if they can beat Celta Vigo at home later on Saturday but, with six games left after this weekend, the difference is likely to prove irrelevant.For Huesca, who are bottom of the table in their first-ever season in Spain’s top flight, a hard-earned point means they sit five adrift of safety, albeit having played a game more than those immediately above them. Their survival bid remains unlikely but alive.Malcom came closest to a winner, his shot hitting the post, but Huesca were good value for the draw and could even have snatched victory themselves in the second half.Messi left Manchester with a swollen nose and cheek on Wednesday after a clattering challenge from Chris Smalling but there is little concern about the Argentinian being fit for the return game at Camp Nou.– Barca focused on Europe –Barca’s huge advantage at the top of La Liga has afforded them the luxury now of prioritising success in Europe, the only issue perhaps for Valverde the small matter of maintaining momentum.Overall, they were better than Huesca but never really got out of second gear.Like Pique, Luis Suarez was also banned while Ivan Rakitic, Sergio Busquets and Clement Lenglet were among those rested.Ousmane Dembele came in after recovering from a hamstring injury and, after playing 67 minutes, his chance of a start next week would appear enhanced.Dembele came closest to a goal in the first half after a brilliant reverse pass from the talented Riqui Puig, one of a number of youngsters given a chance to impress.Another was Jean-Clair Todibo, who saw a header saved while Kevin-Prince Boateng, also handed a rare outing after his arrival in January, was unable to connect with a low Dembele cross.Huesca had their moments as Enric Gallego burst through but shot wide and then he wanted a penalty after Ter Stegen slid through the back of his legs to claim the ball.Malcom struck the post with a fizzing drive but despite Jordi Alba, Philippe Coutinho and Arthur Melo all coming on in the second half, Barca could not find a way through.last_img read more

Bad boy to model family man: Fognini ‘has everything now’

first_img“I have everything in my life. I’m healthy, I have a baby, I have a wife,” said the 31-year-old Italian whose recently discovered maturity off the court has now been mirrored on it with a maiden Masters title secured in Monte Carlo on Sunday.The player, born just over the border on the Italian Mediterranean coastline, beat Dusan Lajovic 6-3, 6-4 in the millionaires’ playground to lift his first Masters trophy.Courtside was his wife Flavia Pennetta, a former US Open champion towards whom he spent the week happily blowing kisses while shaping hearts with his hands during breaks in play.Fognini married Pennetta in 2016 and one year later they became parents to baby son Frederico.Now a model family man, Fognini is concentrating more on his tennis than his temper.“They are with me all the time,” said Fognini, who knocked out 11-time Monte Carlo champion Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals, of his family.“You feel happy because when you do your work and you do it great and win… I have to be happy.”The first Italian to lift the Monte Carlo honours since Nicola Pietrangeli in 1968 no longer strikes fear into chair umpires and line officials.The new family-friendly version of Fognini even came back onto court on Sunday nearly an hour after his win to meet with cheering ballboys and ballgirls, who engulfed him in a mass hug.It was all a far cry from his infamous US Open meltdown two years ago.After falling to countryman and qualifier Stefano Travaglio in the first round, Fognini launched a series of rages, calling Swedish umpire Louise Engzell a “troia (whore)”.He was fined $24,000 before being eventually disqualified from the Grand Slam event.Champion: Fabio Fognini celebrates . AFP/YANN COATSALIOUAt last year’s French Open, he labelled the attention on the sport’s so-called NextGen of promising youngsters as “bullshit” “There is such a fuss made about them, I don’t like it, I don’t agree.“This Next Generation thing is bullshit. Winning 10-8 in the fifth on court 27, you have to go through that — not playing against Federer on Court Philippe Chatrier.”He returned to the topic in February during the South American clay swing, saying the young stars should be scheduled on secondary match courts until they proved themselves.“I see the current generation in a different way than mine and the previous one. “Sometimes they do not say ‘hi’, they believe they are stars. I was pretty crazy as a teenager, but as the time went on I got used to the rules. “Younger tennis players are not humble.”last_img read more

Iran tension ‘not an issue’, says comeback kid Koepka

first_imgWorld number one Brooks Koepka admits he was unsure about playing the $7 million Abu Dhabi Championship this week, but not because of heightened political tensions in the Middle East.The 29-year-old American was more unsettled by the injury to his left knee that required stem cell treatment and has kept him out of competitive golf for over three months.Asked ahead of Thursday’s start whether his appearance in Abu Dhabi was in doubt following the killing of Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani in a US drone attack, Koepka said: “It was not an issue. It was fine and I am happy to be here.”However, the rehabilitation process of his damaged knee was different.“I’ve been worried about my knee,” he said.“Just honestly, thinking about trying to play, trying to get over here for this. I don’t want to say this, but it was kind of up in the air.He said he started hitting balls just before Christmas and “everything felt good”.“From that moment on, after a couple days of hitting balls and not feeling pain, I knew I could get back here and do this and finally play.”It was a second long lay-off for the four-time major champion in the past couple of years.In early 2018, he took a 17-week break after a wrist injury. He came back in stunning fashion, finishing second in the Fort Worth Invitational in his third start and winning the US Open after six weeks back.Asked if he had more motivation and expected similar results in his latest comeback, Koepka said: “I don’t know if it gives me more motivation. I don’t think it does.“I think when you have something you love and it’s taken away from you, it makes you appreciate it more and really enjoy being out here.“But I’m excited. I’m just excited to hit balls. There is an enthusiasm to get out there and play.”Koepka, who finished tied ninth in the tournament last year, headlines a stellar field for the first Rolex Series event of the European Tour season.Also in the field are his US compatriots, world number six Patrick Cantlay and 16th-ranked Bryson DeChambeau.The reigning British Open champion Shane Lowry is the defending champion and comes off a good week in Hong Kong, where he finished second.Koepka has been paired with two-time Abu Dhabi champion and world number 10 Tommy Fleetwood and Lowry for the first two rounds.For more sport your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.last_img read more

Bulls, Montpellier secure Bok signatures

first_imgIt has been a busy week for some of South Africa’s top rugby players, with movement at home and abroad as teams start preparing for a return to play.Springbok wing Cornal Hendricks signed a new deal to stay at Loftus, the Bulls confirmed on Friday, ending speculation that the 32-year-old player could leave Pretoria.“Cornal offers the full package and is the epitome of what a world class wing should be,” said Bulls director of rugby Jake White.“He has an amazing work rate and is one of the best finishers in the country. His approach and attitude to the game, his team and life in general is an example for anybody.“We are proud to have him pledge the next part of his rugby journey with us.”Hendricks spent more than three years in the rugby wilderness between 2016 and 2019.After leaving the Cheetahs to join the Stormers, he never played a single game for the Western Cape side, and a heart condition drove plenty other potential suitors away.“We are proud to have him pledge the next part of his rugby journey with us,” White said.Meanwhile, the Bulls also revealed that Springbok loose forward Nizaam Carr would join the union.Carr, who previously played for the Stormers and English side Wasps, would link up with the Bulls squad as soon as the Covid-19 pandemic travel restrictions were relaxed.“Nizaam needs little introduction and I’m happy that he has decided to continue his career with the Vodacom Bulls,” White said.“His ability to perform under pressure will only benefit the franchise while his experience will be used to mentor the younger loose forwards in the squad as well. He has done well in England and it is great to have his talent back on South African soil again.”Elsewhere, French club Montpellier confirmed the signing of Springbok scrumhalf Cobus Reinach .Reinach joined the side from English outfit Northampton Saints on a three-year deal. At Montpellier, the 30-year-old former Sharks player was set to join fellow South Africans Handre Pollard, Bismarck du Plessis, Paul Willemse, Jan Serfontein, Johan Goosen and Jacques du Plessis.For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.last_img read more

Saquon Barkley injury update: Giants running back (ankle) ruled out of Week 5 vs. Vikings

first_img Sam Darnold update: Jets QB (mono) ruled out for Week 5 vs. Eagles Shurmur said last week that the plan for Barkley is to “rehab him and get him ready to go,” and he will not be placed on injured reserve. After the injury, Barkley got a second opinion from specialist Dr. Robert Anderson in Green Bay, who reportedly told the running back that he won’t need surgery, according to NFL Network.  Giants running back Saquon Barkley looked pretty good during limited practice work this week, but the team isn’t ready to put him on the field as he’s been ruled out of New York’s Week 5 game against the Vikings.Coach Pat Shurmur told reporters earlier this week that Barkley “felt good” in his recovery from an ankle sprain as he worked with New York’s training staff. He held off on ruling him out for Sunday but made the decision Friday. Jarvis Landry injury update: Browns receiver (concussion) clears protocol, expected to play vs. 49erscenter_img The running back reportedly told people he can beat his initial four- to eight-week timetable for recovery, according to NFL Network, which cited unidentified sources. The Giants staff, however, is taking a cautious approach in easing Barkley back into practice.Barkley injured his ankle in the second quarter of the Giants’ Week 3 win over the Buccaneers and had to be helped to the locker room. He came back to the sideline using crutches and wearing a walking boot. Related News Barkley, selected with the second overall pick in the 2018 draft, had rushed for team-high 227 yards, second in the NFL, and had one rushing touchdown in two games entering Week 3. He had eight carries for 10 yards and four receptions for 27 yards before leaving the game.Last season, he led the league with 2,028 yards from scrimmage and scored 15 total touchdowns to earn Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.The Giants (2-2) will host the Vikings (2-2) Sunday with kickoff set for 1 p.m. ET.last_img read more

LeBron James faces Twitter backlash after comments on NBA-China controversy

first_imgLeBron James shared his thoughts on the NBA-China controversy — and his comments didn’t go over well on Twitter.The Lakers star was asked by the media on Monday about Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s controversial tweet sent (and later deleted) on Oct. 4 that voiced his support for pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. Morey’s tweet angered Chinese officials and caused a backlash in that country against the Rockets and the NBA, which has financial interests in China worth billions of dollars. Lakers’ LeBron James on NBA’s China controversy: “I don’t want to get into a … feud with Daryl Morey but I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation at hand and he spoke.”— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) October 15, 2019While James declined to share his opinion on the Hong Kong protests, he suggested Morey hadn’t considered the ramifications of his words.”We all talk about freedom of speech — yes, we do have freedom of speech,” James said. “But at times, there are ramifications for the negative that can happen when you’re not thinking about others and you’re only thinking about yourself. I don’t believe — I don’t want to get into a feud with Daryl Morey, but I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation at hand. And he spoke. And so many people could have been harmed, not only financially, but physically, emotionally, and spiritually. “So just be careful with what we tweet and what we say and what we do, even though, yes, we do have freedom of speech. But there can be a lot of negative that comes with that, too.”Here is LeBron on his belief that Daryl Morey “wasn’t informed” on the situation in China, and his thoughts on the consequences that come with free speech— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) October 15, 2019MORE: How a tweet created a costly rift between the NBA and China James’ remarks stirred up a lot of controversy on Twitter, drawing reactions from politicians, journalists and disappointed NBA fans..@KingJames — you’re parroting communist propaganda. China is running torture camps and you know it. #GoogleUyghurs— Senator Ben Sasse (@SenSasse) October 15, 2019Having just been in Hong Kong – on the streets & with the protestors – this kind of garbage is hard to take. LeBron, are YOU educated on “the situation”? Why don’t you go to Hong Kong? Why don’t you meet the people there risking their lives for their most basic liberties— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) October 15, 2019Immensely disappointing to see. Certainly doesn’t undercut the great work he’s done in the United States but hard not to be really disappointed in his stance here.— Jeff Siegel (@jgsiegel) October 15,— Bosco1327 (@blukngt) October 15, 2019If you thought LeBron James was going to risk securing a Chinese release for Space Jam 2, you were wrong.— Dave Schilling (@dave_schilling) October 15, 2019I’m sincerely ashamed of LeBron James today.— TJesus (@TJCarpenterShow) October 15, 2019I admire LeBron very much but this is precisely what China wants — a chilling effect on American speech.— Eric Adelson (@eric_adelson) October 15, 2019″When you’re not thinking about others, and are only thinking about yourself.”Ironic. Morey’s tweet wasn’t about himself. It was about people in Hong Kong, who LeBron didn’t even mention.Someone is definitely thinking solely about himself in this situation, that’s for sure.— Ben DuBose (@BenDuBose) October 15, 2019All loyalties to the swoosh on his chest.— Busted Coverage (@bustedcoverage) October 15, 2019It should be no surprise that LeBron Jame$ sides with China over Hong Kong, but it’s disappointing all the same.— Josh Jordan (@NumbersMuncher) October 15, 2019This is….quite a shocking statement from LeBron— Keith Nelson Jr (@JusAire) October 15, 2019Daryl Morey: Freedom is good.LeBron James: Daryl Morey is wrong.— Binyamin Appelbaum (@BCAppelbaum) October 15, 2019Following the backlash, James took to Twitter on Monday night to try and clarify his comments.Let me clear up the confusion. I do not believe there was any consideration for the consequences and ramifications of the tweet. I’m not discussing the substance. Others can talk About that.— LeBron James (@KingJames) October 15, 2019My team and this league just went through a difficult week. I think people need to understand what a tweet or statement can do to others. And I believe nobody stopped and considered what would happen. Could have waited a week to send it.— LeBron James (@KingJames) October 15, 2019Those tweets appeared to add more fuel to the fire. You think you guys had a difficult week?Try talking to some of the protestors in Hong Kong facing violence just for seeking freedom. Or the millions of religious minorities who spent this week in camps in China.You never considered them when you made your statement…— (((AG))) (@AG_Conservative) October 15, 2019Understand what? Selling your team’s soul/@NBA’s soul 4 $500 million a year at the expense of every American’s 1st Amendment rights. Shame on your team/the NBA 4 kowtowing 2 your🇨🇳CCP masters/Yuan by bringing authoritarian censorship 2🇺🇸-the land of the free & home of the brave.— Solomon Yue (@SolomonYue) October 15, 2019Thank you for speaking out on behalf of all the oppressed millionaires who were slightly inconvenienced by those selfish jerks demonstrating for their basic human freedoms.— Guy Endore-Kaiser (@GuyEndoreKaiser) October 15, 2019You know who *actually* had a difficult week, @KingJames?The Uyghurs in Chinese “re-education” campsJust like every other week, for themStop bowing to China, LeBron.— Will Chamberlain (@willchamberlain) October 15, 2019last_img read more

Auburn vs. LSU odds, prediction, betting trends for ‘SEC on CBS’ game of the week

first_imgNo. 9 Auburn travels to Tiger Stadium to face No. 2 LSU on Saturday (3:30 p.m., CBS) in the third top-10 showdown between SEC teams this season.Auburn (6-1) lost its other top-10 matchup against Florida earlier this season, but it has an opportunity to stake a claim in the SEC West race on the road. Auburn’s defense, which ranks 16th in the FBS at 17.1 points per game, has a challenge on its hands against LSU. Stat that matters: 79.4That is Burrow’s FBS-leading completion percentage, and that number bumps up to 81.4 with 15 touchdowns and just two interceptions at Tiger Stadium. He shredded SEC competition with a 221.6 quarterback rating, and this is his chance to beat a third top-10 opponent. Auburn must find a way to make Burrow uncomfortable, and that won’t be easy knowing they have just three interceptions this season.Auburn vs. LSU predictionAuburn gets a few stops early, but LSU capitalizes on an early Nix turnover to take a lead. Burrow warms up in the second quarter — where LSU has outscored opponents 116-48 this season — and LSU leads by 10 points at halftime. The defense holds off a late Auburn rally to set up a Game of the Century against Alabama on Nov. 9.LSU 34, Auburn 24 MORE: Get the latest NCAA odds & betting advice at Sportsbook ReviewLSU (7-0) ranks second in the FBS at 50.1 points per game, and quarterback Joe Burrow is at the front of the Heisman Trophy conversation. LSU beat Florida in its last top-10 showdown, and this one sets the table for the big one against No. 1 Alabama on Nov. 9.Neither team can look ahead to the Crimson Tide, however.With that in mind, here’s everything you need for Saturday’s matchup between Tigers:Auburn vs. LSU oddsSpread: LSU 10.5Point total: 58.5Moneyline: Auburn -110, LSU -110LSU is a 10.5-point favorite, according to odds at Sportsbook Review, and 51 percent of the wagering has come in favor of LSU at this point.Auburn vs. LSU all-time seriesLSU leads the all-time series 30-22-1 and won the last meeting 22-21 on Sept. 15, 2018. The teams are knotted at 2-2 when both are ranked in the top 10.Three trends to know— The last three meetings between LSU and Auburn have been decided by a combined total of 10 points. Both teams have scored exactly 62 points in those three meetings.— Auburn is 6-7 against the spread as a road underdog since Gus Malzhan took over as head coach in 2013. Auburn is 6-1 against the spread this season, however, including a straight up win as an underdog at Texas A&M.— LSU is 9-4 against the spread against ranked teams under Ed Orgeron since 2017. LSU is 5-2 against the spread this spread, including a 4-2 against the spread when the line is more than 10 points.WEEK 9 PICKS: Straight up | Against the spreadThree things to watchLSU’s scheduleAuburn leads the SEC with 7.7 tackles for loss per game and ranks third in the conference against the run (94.3 ypg). Defensive lineman Marlon Davidson leads that group with 7.5 this season. Can that unit get LSU — which converts on third down 51.3 percent of the time — off schedule and into third-and-longs? That will help slow down LSU’s offense.Auburn’s run gameCan Auburn generate a running game on the road? It couldn’t against Florida, and that led to turnovers for freshman quarterback Bo Nix. LSU (93.3 ypg) ranks second in the SEC against the run. D.J. Williams and Kam Martin must pick that up in the absence of JaTarvious Whitlow.Bo Nix breakout game?It’s been an up-and-down season for the freshman quarterback, but he led the Tigers to victory against ranked opponents Oregon and Texas A&M. This will be the toughest environment yet, and Nix has a 54.7 completion percentage on the road. For Auburn to win this game, Nix has to operate at max efficiency.WEEK 9 PROJECTIONS: Bowls | Playofflast_img read more

In Smith’s case, size doesn’t matter

first_imgWhen Kyle Whittingham visited Ryan Smith on a recruiting trip to his home in Diamond Bar, Calif., two years ago, he knew right away he wanted the 18-year old to be part of Utah’s defense.”He had speed, quickness and toughness,” said Whittingham, who was the Utes’ defensive coordinator at the time. “He had it all except for size.”Smith told Whittingham his weight, but when the coach put him on a scale he discovered a different number.”He was 10 pounds off what he said,” Whittingham said with a laugh.But it didn’t matter to Whittingham, who got a commitment from Smith before a few Pac-10 teams could make offers. In fact, one thing Smith has proved in his short time at Utah is that size doesn’t matter.”Size has nothing to do with it,” Smith says. “I’ve been small all my life. This is what God gave me and I’m here to work with it. Size has never really mattered to me.”Smith quickly became a mainstay for the Ute defense a year ago as a true freshman, starting at cornerback for the 12-0 Fiesta Bowl team at approximately 155 pounds. That was up from the 145 he played in high school.This year Smith will be playing at 165 pounds, up 10 from a year ago, but he’s still the third-smallest player on the Utes’ 110-player roster.”It was a little heavy at first, but I’m learning how to run with it,” Smith said of his increased weight.Defensive coordinator Gary Andersen praises Smith for his “unbelievable feet” and “very good speed.” Smith is the second fastest on the team with a 4.42 40 time and the quickest player over 10 yards (1.58 seconds). But Andersen believes Smith’s lack of size is what drives him.”The biggest thing is he’s got that chip on his shoulder that people think he is too small,” Andersen said. “He carries that 160 pounds, and he’s going to come and get you and prove to you that he can play like he’s 190. He’s a hitter, a physical kid who’s very competitive. He came to prove everybody wrong and he’s doing that.”Smith disagrees about the chip on the shoulder bit.”I wouldn’t say I have a chip on my shoulder. But a lot of people have doubted me and that does drive me. It drives me to prove them wrong.””He’s tough, has great courage. He won’t back down from anyone,” says Whittingham. “In our scheme, you’ve got to be able to play man coverage first. With his speed and quickness, he’s a great cover guy.”Cornerback coach Jay Hill talks about Smith being “very athletic” and refers to his “amazing knack to get his foot on the ground and to burst toward the ball.” But he also appreciates Smith as a person.”The first thing about Ryan is he comes from a great family,” he said. “He gets good grades and has proper values, and you don’t ever have to worry about him off the field. He’s a good kid.”Last year Smith earned a starting spot during fall drills and made an immediate impact for the defense. In just his fourth game, he earned Mountain West Conference player of the week honors after making 10 tackles and intercepting a pass against Air Force.He finished the season as the seventh leading tackler on the team with 44 and led the team with seven pass breakups, a fumble recovery, two sacks and an interception.Hill is hoping Smith can increase his interception total this season.”The thing he needs to improve on now is his playmaking ability,” he said. “When a quarterback makes a mistake, he needs to make the quarterback pay for it.”At 5-foot-10, Smith is as tall as other college cornerbacks, and his weight is not a concern for Whittingham, just like it wasn’t when he recruited Smith.”He’s just a sophomore,” Whittingham said. “By the time he’s done here, he’ll be 175 and that’s plenty.”Even if he doesn’t gain another pound, it won’t bother Smith, who has already proved he can play with his small size. “In my mind, I’m 6-4, 200 pounds, so I’m fine,” he said. E-mail: sor@desnews.comlast_img read more

Offense piles up yards, not points

first_imgE-mail: E-mail: Dirk Facer and Linda Hamilton contributed to this report It’s not often a team can run 34 more plays than its opponent, gain 200 more yards, get 13 more first downs and still lose a game.That’s what Utah managed to do Saturday night.The Utes piled up a season-high 592 yards, their biggest total since the North Carolina game a year ago, but still lost by nine points.”Offensively we moved the ball well, but that’s irrelevant,” said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. “All that matters is how many points we scored.”Whittingham says his team is moving the ball but not converting when it counts.”We need to find a way to get the ball into the end zone,” he said. “Our drives are stalling and we aren’t converting in the red zone.”But Whittingham isn’t putting all the blame on the offense. “The offense can’t go 80 yards every time,” he said. “They need help from the defense to give them a short field.” HERNANDEZ SHINES: Utah’s loss overshadowed a great game by junior receiver Brian Hernandez.Coming off a 3-catch, 112-yard game at Colorado State the week before, Hernandez was the Utes’ top receiver with seven catches for 148 yards.”It’s real tough because we came to win tonight,” said Hernandez. “The last two games were probably my best, but we’ve lost them both.” “Brian Hernandez is a gritty receiver and a positive part of our team,” said coach Kyle Whittingham. WILSON ON THE BALL: Freshman receiver Marquis Wilson, who came out of his redshirt season last week against Colorado State, touched the ball a few times Saturday night.The former Juan Diego star took a handoff from Brian Johnson and ran around the left end for a 7-yard gain. Later he caught a pass over the middle from Johnson for a 5-yard pickup.Wilson’s first touch came on a play in the second quarter that most of the Rice-Eccles Stadium crowd thought was a touchdown. He leaped high to snag a pass from Johnson, came down and tumbled out of the end zone where the ball came loose. It was ruled no catch, but the replay seemed to indicate that he had possession for a couple of steps before it the ball came loose. However the officials disagreed as did the replay official who looked at the catch. FULL BROADCAST: Former Ute running back Jamal Anderson finally got to broadcast an entire Utah game for ABC. A year ago in Wyoming, a power outage knocked the network’s coverage off the air until midway through the third quarter. And by then, Anderson joked, it only went to three houses in Laramie.Anderson passed the time by hanging out and providing live telephone remotes to ESPNews.”It’s exciting to come back,” Anderson said of returning to his alma mater, where the power never flickered. “It’s exciting that Kyle (Whittingham) is here. They’ve had some tough games this year, but I definitely think they’re still a good team. They could easily be 5-1 (prior to Saturday’s game).” While noting Utah’s 3-0 record at Rice-Eccles Stadium, Anderson remarked: “It’s good to be home.” NO CUTTING CORNERS: Utah’s cornerbacks have taken some heat for not being big enough or playing well enough, but San Diego State receiver Jeff Webb, who caught nine passes for 142 yards and two touchdowns against them, called them very good. And he didn’t mean good for his own game.”Those cornerbacks are just trmendous athletes. We knew they were going to go cover-two and cover-two-man,” said Webb, thanking his fellow receivers for stepping up when he was double-teamed. “Utah is a great team, and we knew we had to run up the score on those guys,” Webb added. EXTRA POINTS: Safeties Steve Tate and Kawika Casco were listed on the two-deep chart as back-ups to rover linebacker Spencer Toone . . . Though no bowl representatives attended the game, three NFL scouts (Falcons, 49ers and Seahawks) did . . . Defensive end Kite Afeaki did not play because of a dislocated shoulder . . . Wide receiver Derrek Richards made his first career start in place of Travis LaTendresse, who is nursing an ankle injury . . . Dan Beardall kicked two field goals, from 24 yards and 47 yards, giving him at least one in every game this year. He is now 10 of 11 on the season. His 47-yarder is his career longest . . . Brian Johnson elclipsed his career high totals for completions, attempts and yards, finishing with 31 of 47 for 417 yards . . . . . . John Madsen had his third game with 8 or more receptions this year, catching 8 passes for 71 yards . . . Spencer Toone led the Utes with 8 tackles, while Joe Jiannoni had 7 for the Utes. last_img read more

Stone sweats out victory with 18th-hole heroics

first_imgSARATOGA SPRINGS — After losing the four-shot lead he’d held all day in a matter of four holes and facing a 195-yard uphill shot at the 18th hole following a poor drive, Pete Stone wasn’t exactly in great position to win the Siegfried & Jensen Utah Open Sunday afternoon at TalonsCove Golf Course.Zach Johnson owned all the momentum after tying for the lead and was about 75 yards in front of Stone. At that point, Stone could have been excused if he was merely hoping for a playoff. However, Stone’s father/caddie Brad, who was a wreck by this time watching his son’s four-shot lead slip away, had one last piece of advice after handing him a 7-iron.”Go win it,” Dad said.The 24-year-old Bountiful pro did exactly what his dad told him to do.He lofted his approach shot onto the green right on line with the flag and saw it roll within 5 feet and stop. Well, actually, he didn’t see it because of a knoll in the way, but when he heard the reaction of the crowd by the 18th green, he knew it was pretty darn good.After Johnson missed his 15-foot birdie try, Stone rolled his 5-footer into the middle of the cup and threw his fist in the air in celebration. He was the Utah Open champ.”Hopefully, I gave you a story,” Stone told a group of reporters afterward. “I feel really good, especially getting that exemption and being able to thank my grandfather.”Stone’s grandfather, Pierre Hualde was the long-time pro at Davis Park Golf Course before Brad took over and he was on hand to see his grandson win Utah’s biggest professional tournament.The exemption Stone mentioned is to the Nationwide Tour Utah EnergySolutions Championship next month at Willow Creek CC. Stone was almost more excited about that than the $15,000 first-place check he received.”Hopefully, this helps me get to the next level,” said Stone, who has aspirations to play professionally for a living. “This gives me a little more belief in myself.”The 23-year-old Johnson, who grew up in Holladay, is also trying to make a living as a professional after turning pro earlier this summer and playing on the Butch Harmon Tour in Las Vegas. He thought he might be on the brink of his biggest win ever until his friend Stone snatched it away.”I was happy with the way I played, but he hit the big shot when it was needed,” Johnson said. “There’s not much you can do when a guy hits it 5 feet from 200 yards on the 18th hole.”Stone finished with a 71 and a three-round total of 201, while Johnson shot a final-round 67.Four golfers, former champion Kim Thompson, Ryan Rhees, Oscar Alvarez and Barry Schenk, tied for third at 206. Five golfers, first-round leader Todd Tanner, Adrian Wady, Luke Swilor, Tyler Aldridge and Troy Watkins were another stroke back at 208.Stone had begun the day with a four-shot lead over Johnson and maintained it through 11 holes as both players matched each other’s scores exactly.Then at 12, Johnson made a birdie from 3 feet and birdied the par-5 13th with a two-putt birdie. The margin was down to two.At the par-5 15th, Stone hit his drive nearly 350 yards and was in perfect position in the middle of the fairway. However, he hit his 4-iron approach to about the worst possible place, in the back of a bunker left of the green with a downhill lie to a tight pin.”In hindsight, I should have bailed out to the right,” Stone said.He left his long shot in the bunker and then hit past the pin and ended up with a bogey. When Johnson got up and down for birdie, it was all tied with three holes left.At that point, Stone took a moment to compose himself as he waited on the 16th tee.”I just made it a three-hole tournament,”‘ Stone said. “I said, ‘We’re tied and I like my chances.'”Both players parred the 16th and 17th, setting up the dramatic 18th.Here’s how Stone described his winning shot.”I made a good swing and hit it flush. I looked up and it was right on line. When I heard the clapping, I knew it was pretty good.”It’s a shot he’ll never forget.OPEN NOTES: After the tournament it was announced that next year’s Utah Open will be played at Oakridge Country Club … The tournament’s charity, Special Olympics of Utah, received a check for $20,000 … Clay Ogden won the trophy for low amateur by beating Nic Van Vuuren in a two-hole playoff after both golfers finished at 4-under-par 212 … Jeremy CC pro Tom Costello, who is as old as Stone and Johnson combined, played in the final group with his two young competitors and finished with a 73 for a 209 total … For Schenk, a former Weber State golfer, the $4,125 check came in his first tournament as a pro.last_img read more