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Mustangs take off for 41-6 win with playoffs in mind – Sports – New Jersey Herald

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SPARTA — With its state playoff hopes hanging in the balance, the Sussex Tech football team knows it can’t afford to take any opponent lightly during the final weeks of the season.

The Mustangs entered with a lopsided 5-0 record against Group 5 Bergen Tech since their program was reinstituted in 2008, but they could not afford to ease up with an opportunity for a power-point grab.

Instead, Sussex Tech went out and flattened the Knights, 41-6, behind its dynamic three-headed rushing attack of Brendan Hall, Bo Maroney and Austin Durham.

“You go back a couple of years ago, and the reason we even made the playoffs was a win over Bergen Tech and picking up those points,” Sussex Tech head coach Brian Stellingwerf said. “As much as we take this as a week-to-week basis, this was a real important one from a points standpoint.”

It was a much-needed result for the Mustangs, who entered the game outside the state tournament picture in 18th in the North, Group 2 United Power Rankings despite a 5-1 record.

Sussex Tech knows it can only control what’s in front of it, so it went out and took care of business in dominating fashion on Saturday. A season ago, a 6-3 record wasn’t enough to make states and the Mustangs are desperate to prove they belong this season.

“Last year we came up short in those couple of games, so this year we can make it,” Hall said. “We can get in there, and they’re a Group 5 so we get a couple of power points from beating them. We all just want to make a stand and show what we’ve been working toward the last four years.”

Now, another chance for a key win comes against Immaculate Conception (4-1) next weekend.

“It feels good because it makes the team practice harder too,” Maroney said. “We have good practices knowing that we have to get the win and there’s no excuse. Next week we’re going to focus up in practice and hope for the best.”

Behind their stout offensive line, the Mustangs rushing trio worked patiently to knife through the Bergen Tech defense early on. It took all of 14 offensive plays — all rushes — for the Mustangs to build a 28-0 cushion early in the second quarter.

Sussex Tech’s backs made light work of the Knights defense. Hall led the way with 108 yards and two scores on eight carries, Durham ran four times for 66 yards and a score and Maroney finished with 65 yards and a touchdown on four rushes.

“We have three different guys, we can spread it out and all of us do something different, but also similar,” Hall said. “Bo just runs harder, Austin’s so fast, so we’re all mixed together and it’s good for us.”

On the second play of the game, Maroney cut to his left, saw an opening and sprinted 44 yards untouched into the end zone to make it 7-0.

After three plays netted the Knights minus-8 yards, the Mustangs quickly chewed up a short field. On the fourth play, Hall stumbled through a hole but gathered his footing and stormed 33 yards into the end zone.

And on the next series, it was Durham’s turn.

A hand-off from Mustangs quarterback Aiden Smith went to Hall, but Durham came surging across from the right, grabbed the misdirection sweep and took off for a 44-yard score to make it 21-0 Sussex Tech at the 2:11 mark of the first.

Hall broke away for a 65-yard touchdown in the next series to make it 28-0.

“You definitely saw a complete effort from all three backs today,” Stellingwerf said. “You go into halftime and each of those guys are talking about blocking for each other, they’re not even talking about their bigger runs.

“It’s a different atmosphere with the way that these guys play together. Each one of them pulling for each other and it’s such a big difference you see us come out on offense.”

The Mustangs first-team defense did its job as well, coming away with three takeways, including a fumble recovery and interception by Sean Hall.

The other turnover resulted in a wild touchdown to give the Mustangs a 35-0 lead before halftime. Mustangs senior linebacker Joe Martinez leapt to intercept a wobbly pass by Evan Nicholas in front of two Bergen Tech players and pitched the ball off to Ryan Kinkead for an 80-yard sprint to the end zone.

“Our defense, we’re something special,” Maroney said. “We always move around pre-snap and we got a stud linebacker Joey Martinez. The kid is selfless as you saw, he got a pick and tossed to our buddy Ryan so he could get the touchdown. He’s just an animal.”

The Mustangs had 225 yards on 15 carries in the opening half, while Bergen Tech could only muster 23 yards on 18 rushing attempts in the opening 24 minutes.

The Knights lone touchdown did not come until there was less than a minute to play and Sussex Tech’s first-team squad was off the field.

“Our defense has been flying around all year,” Hall said. “We fly to the ball, all hats to the ball, and we just keep coming every game.”

A year removed from a postseason snub, the Mustangs have been working hard to erase that disappointment.

And since its lone loss to Morris Catholic in Week 4, Sussex Tech has driven forward, beating three opponents by a combined score of 120-20. And now the Mustangs move on to another important matchup next week.

“When you look at what happened last year, that’s always fresh in our minds,” Stellingwerf said. “Winning out was something that was said right from that Morris Catholic loss; each week getting that win and picking up as many points as we can and staying focused on that. On Monday, these guys will come back in and we’ll get back to work.”

Sussex Tech 41, Bergen Tech 6

BT;0;0;0;6;– 6

ST;21;14;6;0;– 41

First Quarter

ST — Bo Maroney 44 run (Bo Maroney kick)

ST — Brendan Hall 33 run (Maroney kick)

ST — Austin Durham 44 run (Maroney kick)

Second Quarter

ST — Hall 65 run (Maroney kick)

ST — Ryan Kinkead 80 interception return (Maroney kick)

Third Quarter

ST — Ryan Marshall 2 run (attempt failed)

Fourth Quarter

BT — Francis Gargiulo 20 run (kick failed)

Records: Bergen Tech 3-4, Sussex Tech 6-1



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Tua Tagovailoa of Alabama Is Out for the Season

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Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was carted off the field with a right hip injury late in the second quarter against Mississippi State on Saturday and is out for the season, according to a report from The Athletic.

The Athletic reported that Tagovailoa suffered a dislocated hip and a posterior wall fracture.

“We hate it that he got injured. We hate it for him. We hate it for his family. I hate it when any player on our team gets injured,” Alabama Coach Nick Saban said. “So Godspeed to him and his entire family and our thoughts and prayers are with them and hope this is not so serious it has any long-term effect on his future as a player.”

Tagovailoa, the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy last season, was hurt after being sacked and slammed to the ground by two defenders. The training staff helped Tagovailoa off the field in Starkville, Miss., as the quarterback was unable to put any weight on his right leg. His nose also was bleeding.

ESPN reported after the game that he was airlifted to a hospital in Birmingham, Ala.

Shortly after the injury, an ESPN sideline reporter, Molly McGrath, said on the game broadcast that Tagovailoa screamed in pain as he was lifted off the cart in the training room.

Tagovailoa guided the Crimson Tide (9-1) to touchdowns on their first five drives. Alabama, ranked No. 5 in the College Football Playoff rankings, led 35-7 at the time of the injury.

Saban told McGrath as he came off the field at halftime that the coaches were preparing to replace Tagovailoa with backup Mac Jones with the game well in hand. Saban said he left him in at the end of the half to practice the two-minute offense.

“We can second-guess ourselves all we want,” Saban said. “We told Mac to warm up. We were going to go two-minute before the half, and Tua wanted to go in the game. So I don’t really make a lot of decisions about guys getting hurt.”

Saban said he did not know how severe the injury was but did not think it had any correlation to a previous right ankle injury. Tagovailoa had surgery on the ankle on Oct. 20 and returned to play in last week’s 46-41 loss to Louisiana State. Saban said earlier this week that the quarterback was a game-time decision for the game against Mississippi State.

“He was good, at least as good as he was a week ago in terms of his ability to move,” Saban said. “I don’t think anything he did affected his performance in the first half. So the guy played, and I thought he played really well.”





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Penn State holds off Indiana to set up Ohio State showdown in Big Ten

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When everything hung in the balance at the end of this sloppy, mistake-prone afternoon, No. 11 Penn State showed an impressive dose of toughness and resolve.

With all of the their problems before, who would have expected the Nittany Lions to drive 75 yards when absolutely needed, chewing nine minutes of clock in the process?

Without their best playmaker and rugged runner.

With everything to lose coming off a debilitating defeat.

Sean Clifford and his running backs did most of the heavy lifting on the fourth-quarter drive that sealed what became a desperate defeat of No. 25 Indiana on Saturday in Beaver Stadium.

The 34-27 decision was not the finely tuned recovery act desired before heading to Columbus with the Big Ten East title on the line.

Not when next week’s Ohio State Buckeyes look like the most dominating team in the nation on offense and defense.

But this will certainly do for now.

BLAME GAME: It’s not Nick Saban’s fault Tua Tagovailoa got injured

TOUGH LOSS: Alabama’s Tagovailoa carted off field with hip injury

BIG DAY: Wisconsin’s Taylor makes NCAA history against Nebraska

It was the roughest of days, though, to get to that impressive final offensive drive.

The Lions didn’t seem to play with coach James Franklin’s hopeful “urgency” with the ball for much of the day.

Their vaunted defense displayed multiple holes and weak spots yet again. Pass defense and open-field tackling was a misadventure from the beginning.

So maybe it was a good thing they were playing Indiana, after all?

More than anything, the pass-happy Hoosiers were more giving than expected. And the Lions were more than pleased to take advantage. 

After an abysmal opening series on offense, the Lions punted away the ball — only to have Indiana’s top player, Whop Philyor, inexplicably let the bouncing ball hit him before backing away.

The Lions recovered and scored five plays later.

Even worse, the Hoosiers badly bungled and fourth-and-1 situation in the third quarter. They called a timeout, then attempted a fake punt run that was doomed from the start.

The Lions scored two plays after that.

Even more painful? When Indiana got the ball back again it drove deep, only to have receiver Donavan Hale drop the ball in the end zone. The Hoosiers settled for a field goal.

Certainly, Penn State ran the ball more effectively for a second straight week behind Journey Brown and Clifford (combined 155 yards).

But the thin pass game took a huge hit when star receiver and returner KJ Hamler was lost for the game in the first quarter after landing awkwardly on a kickoff return, possibly suffering a concussion.

Meanwhile, promising tailback Noah Cain did not play yet again with an apparent ankle injury, even though Franklin had said he was “90 percent” last week.

It got to the point where Clifford and the offense were trying to hold on in the fourth quarter with runs from Brown and hopeful passes … to someone. Even heralded tight end Pat Freiermuth could not find space or any type of groove (one catch).

Clifford was not prolific by any means but, once again, played smart and gutsy, running when the opportunity arose, eluding pass rushers to find receivers downfield and throwing the ball away when necessary. 

He took some hard hits and got up each time.

The defense played to hold on at the end, too.

Indiana came into the game known as possibly the most improved passing team in the Big Ten and beyond. Penn State planned for this and still struggled to stop it.

Peyton Ramsey completed 31-of-41 passes for 371 yards, spreading the ball among nine receivers. He produced all three touchdowns (one passing, two running) and kept the Lions scrambling and lunging all afternoon.

The Lions answered last, though. Clifford took the final snap on fourth down of that drive and barreled in for the clinching score with less than two minutes to play.



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Yu Darvish, Christian Yelich Spar on Social Media as Controversy Swirls Over Sign Stealing

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Major League Baseball may be in its offseason, but Chicago Cubs pitcher Yu Darvish and Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich took to social media to discuss one of the league’s hot button issues.

In a recent report, The Athletic alleged that the Houston Astros were using technology to steal signs during the 2017 season, during which the team won the World Series.

The story has generated shockwaves throughout the sport and has sparked an investigation by the league, and one of the players most affected by the alleged sign-stealing happens to be Darvish.

At the time of the incident, Darvish was pitching for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and was shelled during two World Series starts against the Astros, giving up eight earned runs in just three innings of work in the series.

Darvish, in a video posted to his YouTube page earlier this week, didn’t blame the alleged “sign-stealing” for his struggles, but said he was never satisfied with the Astros’ explanation that he was tipping his pitches.

“I feel that if I absolve myself and say it was the Astros’ fault I was bad in Game 7, in the World Series, I can’t develop as a person,” he said in the video. “Because I had that experience, I was able to work hard these last two years and become the person I am now.”

After the Astros’ story broke, the spotlight turned toward other potential instances of sign stealing. The popular Cubs blog Bleacher Nation published a tweet showing Darvish step off of the mound while Yelich was batting during a game at Milwaukee’s Miller Park, and while some alleged that it was evidence that Darvish suspected that the Brewers’ slugger was stealing signs, Darvish wasn’t as sure:

“I’m not sure what he is trying to do,” he said. “But to be clear his eyes move first. That’s why I stepped off.”

As some fans pointed out in replies to the tweet, the bullpen at Miller Park is in left-center field, the same direction that Yelich appeared to look in the video. In a follow-up tweet, Darvish said that he did not mean to say that the Brewers were conclusively stealing signs, but Yelich did not take too kindly to the inference, saying that “nobody needs help facing you” and calling on Darvish to “be better:”

Darvish replied to Yelich’s tweet:

“Easy man,” he said. “I’m not saying you are stealing signs.”

The sign-stealing discussion will likely last through the remainder of the offseason and into the regular season, but Atlanta Braves slugger Josh Donaldson tried to inject some levity into the situation by replying to Yelich’s tweet:

After Donaldson asked Yelich for help in facing Darvish, the Cubs pitcher responded, saying that he didn’t think Donaldson “needed help” in the batter’s box.

With the sign-stealing story seemingly generating new headlines every day, this likely won’t be the last time that a team has to face questions about its practices, but the Brewers have not been formally scrutinized. 





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