Army coach Jeff Monken has the Black Knights purring again, and all of a sudden the momentum built in two lopsided wins to start the season has been halted by the coronavirus.
After beating Louisiana-Monroe 37-7 on Saturday, the Black Knights were alerted that this Saturday’s home game against No. 21 BYU had been postponed. That’s a tough pill to swallow, especially for seniors in their last hurrah.
”With the way things are going right now, some games being canceled, it’s Week 3 and we’ve already had a game canceled.,” Monken said Tuesday. ”I anticipate that this won’t be the last time this happens during the season, so if it happens again you start counting on your hand how many opportunities you have.
”We don’t want to lose opportunities. We’ve got a healthy football team right now. I hope we’ll stay healthy through the whole year. That’s hard to do. While we were healthy we were just hoping to play. It’s disappointing not to play. Our guys want to play.”
And why not.
Army averaged 388 yards rushing in outscoring Middle Tennessee State and Louisiana-Monro e 79-7 and dominating both sides of the ball. The triple option led by junior quarterback Christian Anderson has scored touchdowns on all six tries inside the red zone while holding the ball just over 36 minutes a game, thanks to an array of running backs led by senior tri-captain Sandon McCoy (4 TDs) and sophomore Jakobi Buchanan (139 yards rushing, 2 TDs). And then there’s the defense, which has forced six turnovers (three fumble recoveries, three interceptions), and special teams have made an impact, too – a fake punt on fourth-and-10 succeeded and tilted a tight game Army’s way against ULM.
One of the secrets to that success? The West Point bubble the team has lived in since arriving in June.
”It was very important,” said senior linebacker Amadeo West, another captain who was limited by injuries to 13 games his first three seasons. ”We’re very thankful we had our leadership here make arrangements and decisions that allowed us to be in this bubble and ultimately allowed us to stay healthy and stay away from the outside world. Ultimately, it was a blessing because we built our culture and we got to know each other and just build on the relationships we have on this team.”
”I think it’s real important,” McCoy added. ”We don’t have a choice. We cannot leave (campus). No one can leave. It just limits our point of contact to get COVID.”
And helps build team chemistry.
”We’re used to having a little more freedom and being able to leave and stuff,” West said. ”But, obviously, we’re living in difficult times, so we understood that difficult times require difficult measures and we have to make personal sacrifices in order to gain the bigger achievement, and that’s to win as a team.
”We knew we were facing really good opponents going into both games. Coach Monken just emphasized focusing on us and fundamentals. Nothing extraordinary – just play team ball, and that’s what we did.”
The success on the field has the Black Knights ranked No. 22 this week in the AP Top 25.
”I honestly didn’t know we were ranked until today, to be honest,” West said with a laugh Tuesday night after practice. ”It just goes to show that’s not necessarily a priority in this program. We just want to focus on us, the relationships we have on this team, and focus on the opponent.”
Unfortunately, there is no opponent this week, but it’s not for lack of trying. Army started calling schools immediately after learning of BYU’s decision before the opening kickoff against ULM. But with a limited number of FBC and FCS teams available, Army contacted just over 20 schools and came up empty, even though the Black Knights were willing to travel to play.
”We never were close to making a deal,” associate athletic director Bob Beretta said.
If nothing arises, the Black Knights will have extra time to get their rooms spotless for the tough Saturday morning inspection and then prepare for a road game a week from Saturday against No. 13 Cincinnati.
As for still playing BYU, it remains anybody’s guess.
”There’s certainly a lot of unknowns and a lot of possibilities,” Monken said. ”As we get into the weeks to come and look at the other games … and the effects of what may happen with this virus and what we need to do with each open weekend that we have, I think we’ve kind of got to consider that.
”We would love to play that game (BYU). They’re a great team. It would be just a great opportunity for our program. If we can do it, then we’ll try to do it. But right now we’ve got our schedule set.”
More AP college football: https://apnews.com/tag/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25
Pennsylvania Republicans Put Election Nightmare Scenario In Motion
Pennsylvania Republican legislators took the first step on Wednesday toward enacting a nightmare scenario in which they could challenge the outcome of the state’s presidential election if President Donald Trump loses.
Republicans in the state House of Representatives passed a resolution out of the chamber’s government committee on a 15-10 party-line vote to create a special “election integrity committee” of three Republicans and two Democrats to investigate the 2020 election. It could possibly certify its own slate of electors for Trump based on phony charges of voter fraud.
“This is an unprecedented attack on non-partisan election administrators at a time when we should all be doing everything we can to instill confidence in our elections,” Gov. Tom Wolf (D) said in a statement.
The push to create this new election committee came “out of nowhere,” according to Pennsylvania House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody.
“We heard the president say last night, ‘Bad things happen in Philadelphia,’” State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta said, referencing Tuesday night’s presidential debate between Trump and his Democratic opponent Joe Biden, at the hearing on the resolution. “The reality is, bad things are happening in this committee. This is a bad bill that never should have been brought up.”
Republicans, led by Trump, have been laying the groundwork for this type of move for weeks through lawsuits to limit ballot-counting, claims of potential mass fraud, and more. The Atlantic reported that Pennsylvania Republicans discussed a plan with Trump’s campaign whereby the Republican-controlled legislature would use accusations of voter fraud in order to discard the popular vote as too tainted to count. They could then, theoretically, certify Trump’s slate of electors and send them to Congress for the official Electoral College count on Jan. 6.
Since Wolf would likely certify electors for Biden if he wins the popular vote that the legislature discards, Congress would then be forced to vote on which slate to adopt.
“I’ve mentioned it to [the Trump campaign], and I hope they’re thinking about it too,” Lawrence Tabas, the Pennsylvania Republican Party’s chairman, said about the plan to certify Trump electors.
If the Electoral College vote is close, this scheme could help Trump “win” a second term.
“We wake up and they have this resolution,” Dermody said. “It came out of nowhere. My guess is they wanted to have a companion operation going along with their plan to try and fix the Electoral College.”
“I’ve got to believe that they are serious about trying to seat another full set of electors, which is a coup,” Dermody added.
State legislative Republicans dismissed Democratic colleagues’ concerns as “dangerous left wing conspiracy theories,” saying the Republican House simply wants to assert oversight over the election. (Trump claims that he can only lose the election if it is “rigged,” and said he would only leave office peacefully if the country were to “Get rid of the ballots.”)
The move is also a response to a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision that extended the state’s absentee ballot receipt deadline to three days after Election Day for ballots postmarked by Election Day. Pennsylvania Republicans are currently challenging that ruling at the U.S. Supreme Court.
Republican state Rep. Garth Everett, the lead sponsor of the resolution, claimed during the hearing on the resolution that the special election committee would only look back at the election to “see what was good, what was bad, what we can do better.”
“It doesn’t have the power to do anything,” Everett said of the proposed committee.
The new committee would, however, launch before the election with full subpoena power for “witnesses, documents and other materials,” according to the language of the bill. Efforts by Democrats to change the bill to launch the committee after the election were rebuffed on Wednesday.
The new committee could also pursue its own investigation after the election to cast doubt on the results by misinterpreting errors or making otherwise misleading accusations, as other Republican politicians have done after losing elections.
“It gives them subpoena and investigatory power that they could use to find ‘“facts’” as a predicate for claiming the election was not fairly run and they can choose electors directly,” said Rick Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California, Irvine.
The Department of Justice has already manufactured a phony incident of purported voter fraud by sending out a press release claiming that nine discarded military ballots in Pennsylvania constituted evidence of fraud. It turned out that a new worker, confused by the ballots’ failure to arrive in their necessary secrecy envelopes, accidentally threw them out. The top state elections official said what happened was “not intentional fraud.”
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.
Mookie Betts leads off; Edwin Ríos at DH
Unlike in recent years, the Dodgers will trot out lineups without many moving parts this postseason. Their lineup for Game 1 against the Milwaukee Brewers is an example.
The first six hitters, led off by Mookie Betts, are a group the team expects to start and bat in that order every game. The three final spots went to AJ Pollock, Edwin Ríos and Chris Taylor.
Ríos will be the first designated hitter in a National League playoff game in Dodgers history. Taylor will start at second base. Pollock will play left field.
Taylor is expected to get the majority of the starts at second base in the playoffs, but he could bounce around when necessary. Pollock will get all the starts against left-handed pitchers — left-hander Brent Suter will start Wednesday for Milwaukee. He may find himself in the lineup against righties, especially if the Dodgers don’t turn to Joc Pederson on those days.
Ríos is a left-handed hitter, but he had five hits, including three home runs, and two walks in 19 plate appearances against lefties this season.
On the other side, Christian Yelich, whose production plummeted during the regular season after two MVP-caliber seasons, will lead off for the Brewers against right-hander Walker Buehler.
Mookie Betts RF
Corey Seager SS
Justin Turner 3B
Max Muncy 1B
Will Smith C
Cody Bellinger CF
AJ Pollock LF
Edwin Ríos DH
Chris Taylor 2B
Walker Buehler RHP
Christian Yelich LFF
Ryan Braun RFF
Jedd Gyorko 1B
Daniel Vogelbach DH
Avisail Garcia CF
Orlando Arcia SS
Keston Hiura 2B
Omar Narváez C
Brent Suter LHP
Man City, Man Utd ease into League Cup quarter-finals
Pep Guardiola admitted it was vital to keep a clean-sheet as League Cup holders Manchester City got back on track with a 3-0 win against Burnley, while Manchester United joined their rivals in the quarter-finals after beating Brighton 3-0 on Wednesday.
Guardiola’s side suffered their heaviest home Premier League loss under the Spaniard on Sunday when Leicester handed them a humiliating 5-2 defeat.
A brace from Raheem Sterling at Turf Moor ensured they washed away some of that bitter taste from that defeat and Spanish forward Ferran Torres, a close-season signing from Valencia, added City’s third goal with his first for the club.
“It was important we didn’t concede and the team was good in general,” Guardiola said.
“When you lose a game the most important thing is the next one. Firstly, because if you lose in this competition, you’re out.
“We are still far away from our best because we’re not training much. We have a lot of players out, six because of Covid and four injuries.
“But step by step when we have all the squad we will get better. We are in the quarter-finals of this competition again so it’s good.”
City have won the League Cup four times in the last five seasons and they remain on course to retain the trophy.
Guardiola’s men would have won by an even bigger scoreline but for a fine display from Burnley keeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell.
Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne both started in a strong City side that also included Riyad Mahrez and a debut for 18-year-old midfielder Cole Palmer.
Sterling made the breakthrough 10 minutes before the interval with a powerful strike from Benjamin Mendy’s cross.
The City forward doubled his tally on 49 minutes, finishing off a good move involving De Bruyne and Torres.
City put the result beyond doubt in the 65th minute when Sterling failed to control a Mahrez pass and the ball ran through for the 20-year-old Torres to slam past Peacock-Farrell.
– ‘Never surprised’ –
At the Amex Stadium, Manchester United inflicted more misery on Brighton four days after beating them 3-2 in a dramatic Premier League game.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side needed a 100th minute Bruno Fernandes penalty to see off Albion on that occasion and conceding an equaliser moments early.
There was less drama this time as United made 10 changes and Brighton nine, with Solskjaer’s stand-ins proving far superior.
United, who last won the League Cup in 2017, took the lead in the 44th minute when Scott McTominay headed home from Juan Mata’s free-kick.
United doubled their advantage in the 73rd minute, with Donny Van De Beek finding Spanish midfielder Mata, who showed slotted home his 50th goal for the club.
Paul Pogba came off the bench to score seven minutes later when his free-kick curled in via a deflection off Brighton’s Joel Veltman.
“A great performance by Juan Mata. He was the one who got on the ball and calmed us down. He was composed. He more or less creates the first goal himself. I am never surprised when he plays like this,” Solskjaer said.
“We needed the first 20-25 minutes to get our confidence and get on the ball. We have worked on set pieces. You keep a clean sheet and this is important for a back four.”
Dominic Calvert-Lewin hit a hat-trick as Everton thrashed West Ham 4-1, but the win was overshadowed by injuries to the Toffees’ Brazilian stars Richarlison and Allan.
Calvert-Lewin put Everton ahead with his sixth goal of the season after 11 minutes after Goodison Park.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side, who have won six consecutive matches in all competitions this season, were pegged back by Robert Snodgrass’s 46th minute equaliser.
Richarlison restored Everton’s lead 10 minutes later before Calvert-Lewin bagged his second treble already this season with goals in the 78th and 84th minute.
Newcastle survived a scare from fourth tier Newport before reaching the last eight with a 5-4 penalty shoot-out win after their 1-1 draw.
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