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Notable sports deaths in 2016

Ohio State band member nails 55-yard field goal try

Ohio State University’s band calls itself “The Best Damn Band in the Land,” but it also has some brass when it comes to football ability.

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After the band practiced at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center on campus Tuesday, second-year trumpet player Austin Brizee decided to try a field goal. He connected solidly on a 55-yard attempt in the indoor facility, WCMH reported.


The band tweeted a video of the field goal and asked coach Urban Meyer if he needed a kicker for Saturday’s national playoff semifinal game against No. 2 Clemson in Glendale, Arizona.

Eron Hodges, Ohio State’s assistant director of player personnel, replied to the tweet, saying that Brizee, who has never kicked competitively before but has played soccer, “definitely has a tryout invitation.”

North Texas running back gets sick feeling during bowl game

It’s understandable why North Texas quarterback Alec Morris botched a snap during the first half of Tuesday’s Heart of Dallas Bowl. After all, his running back was vomiting next to him.

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With less than a minute remaining in the first half against Army, Morris was lined up in a shotgun formation calling signals when running back Jeffrey Wilson, standing to the quarterback’s left, threw up. Morris was naturally distracted and looked away from the line of scrimmage, causing him to mishandle the snap and take a 13-yard loss back to the Army 39.

However, the Mean Green regrouped and scored two plays later, with Morris throwing a 27-yard pass to Rico Bussey Jr. That cut Army’s lead to 24-21 at the half.

Despite his troubles, Wilson rushed 20 times for 81 yards and a touchdown, and also caught six passes for 46 yards and a score. Morris, meanwhile, completed 26 of 38 passes for 304 yards and three touchdowns as North Texas rallied from a 17-point deficit to force overtime.

It was not enough, as Army (8-5) prevailed 38-31 in OT against the Mean Green (5-8).

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‘Mammaw’ will see beloved Texas A&M Aggies in person

Nina Burgess, known as “Mammaw” by her family, is finally going to see her beloved Texas A&M Aggies play a football game. And it’s a prime ticket, too — Wednesday night’s Advocare Texas Bowl, when the 8-4 Aggies play Kansas State (8-4) at Houston’s NRG Stadium.

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Burgess lives in the small Texas town of Nederland, located southeast of Beaumont. While she has never seen the Aggies play in person and never attended the school, Burgess has always been a loyal fan, watching the team on television each week during the season.

On Christmas Day, her family gave her an awesome gift, WFAA reported. Her grandson, Ryan Brauninger, made a video recording of the event. It begins with Burgess opening a box to reveal Texas A&M slippers and a Texas Bowl shirt.

But there was one more item.

“Read it,” her family tells her.

“I can’t read it,” she responds.

“You’re going to the game,” she is told.

“I can go to the game?” she says, her voice rising in disbelief.

She then jostles the man next to her and shoves him in one of those “You’ve got to be kidding” moments. Burgess then becomes teary-eyed as she realizes her dream.

Brauninger told WFAA that the video, which has gone viral and has more than 4,000 likes on Twitter, also reached organizers of the bowl game. He said that Burgess might receive another surprise on Wednesday night.

That would be gravy, but Burgess seems awfully content with the tickets to the game.

Trick play gives S.D. State short-lived lead

Here’s a play that we used to draw on the unlined football fields of our childhood. And it worked to perfection for South Dakota State.

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In Saturday’s FCS quarterfinal playoff game at the Fargodome, South Dakota State’s players lined up at North Dakota State’s 5-yard-line during the first quarter of a scoreless game.

Quarterback Taryn Christon took the snap and handed off to running back Brady Mengarelli, who was crouching low behind the offensive linemen that were standing up at the line of scrimmage. Christion and wide receiver Alex Wilde ran to the right, and while North Dakota State’s defense followed them, Mengarelli rose from his crouch and bolted around the left side, scoring to give the Jackrabbits a 7-0 lead.

South Dakota State (9-4) would take a 10-0 lead later in the period, but the top-ranked Bison (14-1), seeking their sixth straight FCS national championship, rallied for a 36-10 victory and a berth into the semifinals next Friday against James Madison (12-1).

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Here are some great trick plays in football history, at all levels:

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Internet buzzes after Trump chides quality of Army-Navy play

It seemed like an innocent enough comment by President-elect Donald Trump. But as he is fast discovering, every word he utters comes under scrutiny.

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While attending Saturday’s Army-Navy college football game in Baltimore, Trump took a mild jab at the quality of play between the Cadets and Midshipmen, who were meeting for the 117th time. The future commander-in-chief, who was loudly cheered by the military personnel in the stands when he arrived during the first quarter, was being interviewed by CBS Sports’ Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson.

Lundquist, who is retiring from broadcasting after 50 years, was in the booth for his ninth Army-Navy game. When Trump visited the announcers, Lundquist asked the one-time owner of the USFL’s New Jersey Generals, “Could you give us some idea, why did you decide to attend this particular game?”

 “I just love the armed forces, love the folks. The spirit is so incredible,” Trump said. “I mean, I don’t know if it’s necessarily the best football, but it’s very good.

“But boy do they have spirit. More than anybody, it’s beautiful.”

Not exactly Cosellian in nature, and the trio joked about Trump appointing Lundquist to the ambassadorship of Sweden. But when Donald speaks, the internet reacts. And Twitter was abuzz. Here are two comments, pro and con:

“Trump just said the Army/Navy game isn't ‘the best football.’ Oh you silly little man how you've missed the point,” Josh Carter tweeted.

“Losers upset Trump said Army Navy ‘isn't the best football’ ... have you watched this game? Turnovers and triple option,” tweeted Jacob Crowell.

According to ESPN, Trump spent the first half of the game in the box of David Urban, a West Point graduate and one of his Republican advisers in battleground Pennsylvania, and the second half in the box of retired Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North, a graduate of Annapolis.

The game ended on a high note for Army (7-5) which ended a 14-year drought against its biggest military service academy rival. The Cadets earned a 21-17 victory against Navy (9-4).

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College bowl teams, schedule announced

The official 2016-17 bowl schedule and matchups were announced Sunday, a slate of games that will include the College Football Playoffs and some big matchups on New Year’s weekend.

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 Traditionally the major bowl games — Orange, Rose, Cotton and Sugar — are played on New Year’s Day. But because Jan. 1 falls on a Sunday, there is a full slate of NFL games scheduled. So the major bowl games will be played on Dec. 31 and Jan. 2.

The bowl schedule begins with six games on Dec. 16 and will end on Jan. 9 with the CFP national championship game in Tampa, Florida.

One of the more attractive matchups will be played Dec. 30 in Miami, when sixth-ranked Michigan faces No. 11 Florida State in the Orange Bowl. In another big game, Big Ten champion Penn State, ranked No. 5, will face ninth-ranked USC in the Rose Bowl on Jan 2.

College football playoff teams announced

The four teams that earned spots in the College Football Playoff were named Sunday, and there really were no surprises. Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Washington will face off in the semifinals, which will be held Dec. 31. The semifinal winners will meet in the championship game on Jan. 9 in Tampa, Florida.

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On Dec. 31, top-ranked Alabama (13-0) will face No. 4 Washington (12-1) in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl at 3 p.m. in Atlanta, while second-ranked Clemson (12-1) will meet No. 3 Ohio State (12-1) in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl at 7 p.m. in Glendale, Arizona, the CFP selection committee announced.

Alabama cruised into the playoffs for the third straight year with a 54-16 victory against Florida in Saturday’s Southeastern Conference championship game. Clemson held on to win the Atlantic Coast Conference championship by beating Virginia Tech, 42-35. Ohio State, which lost the Big Ten East tiebreaker to Penn State and was idle this weekend, became the first team to reach the playoff in its three-year history without winning its conference. Washington whipped Colorado 41-10 in the Pac-12 title game Friday night. 

Big Ten champion Penn State missed the playoff despite its 38-31 victory against Wisconsin on Saturday and a victory against Ohio State earlier in the season. The Nittany Lions, winners of nine straight games, wound up fifth in the rankings, while Michigan was No. 6. 

Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer watched the announcement from a maternity ward in Columbus, Ohio, as his oldest daughter gave birth to his first grandchild, ESPN reported. 

“It's been incredible,” Meyer told ESPN. “And everybody is good.”

At the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, Alabama opened as a 14-point favorite over Washington. Ohio State was a three-point favorite over Clemson.

Michigan’s Harbaugh, Peppers go viral after loss to Ohio State – for the wrong reasons

Fresh off losing a possible shot at the National Championship and a Big Ten title, University of Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh expressed rage over the officiating during his team's 30-27 2 OT loss to Ohio State University Saturday.

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Harbaugh repeatedly said he was "bitter" over the officiating in the game.

He pointed to a personal foul penalty that was assessed against him, a pass interference call and the spot on Ohio State's final drive on a fourth-down play that set up the Buckeye's game-winning touchdown.

Michigan's Jabrill Peppers, considered by many to be the best defensive player in the country, shoved a fan after he backed into Peppers as the stands emptied onto the field. 

Football player hurt after pregnant girlfriend pours boiling water on him, police say

Jonnu Smith, a standout tight end at Florida International University, is done for the season after suffering severe burns from his pregnant girlfriend pouring boiling water on him, according to the Miami Herald.

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An arrest affadavit from FIU police obtained by the Herald noted Smith and Mary Gaspar were arguing throughout the day on Halloween. Gaspar, five months pregnant with their child, boiled a pot of water, walked over and poured it on the 6-foot-3, 232-pound Smith.

Gaspar told police when Smith didn't react enough, she began hitting him with her hands.

Smith suffered burns on his head, neck, back, one shoulder and an arm. Gaspar has been charged with aggravated battery.

Smith, a four-year starter, has been a possible late-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, according to early projections. He ends his college career among FIU's all-time top five in catches, receiving yards and touchdown catches.

Read more at the Miami Herald.

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