Monday, December 30, 2019

Western Kentucky's Lucky Jackson named SERVPRO First Responder Bowl MVP

Photo by
Darla S Tamulitis
La Vita Loca Photography
Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved
By Robert H Kelly
Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved

DALLAS, TEXAS (December 30, 2019) Western Kentucky wide receiver Lucky Jackson (shown right) caught 17 passes for 148 yards and one touchdown as the Hilltoppers downed the Western Michigan Broncos 23-20 at the SERVPRO First Responder Bowl at Gerald J. Ford Stadium in Dallas.

The red-shirt senior, who hails from Lexington, Kentucky, caught a five-yard pass from quarterback Ty Storey for the last touchdown of the game. As a result of his play, Jackson was named the game's Most Valuable Player. 

The First Responder Bowl was the first bowl game the Hilltoppers had played in Texas. They are now 4-2 in bowl games since joining the FBS ranks in 2009.  Western Kentucky and Western Michigan had played 15 times previously, with the Broncos coming out on top 11 times. All previous games were contested between 1923 and 1947.

The Hilltoppers finish the 2019 season with a 9-5 record



Western Michigan makes retrun to Dallas-area for SERVPRO First Responder Bowl

By Chris Price
Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved

DALLAS, TEXAS (December 30, 2019) Western Michigan will face the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers in the 2019 SERVPRO First Responder Bowl on Monday, December 30, 2019. The game is scheduled for an 11:30 a.m. CT kickoff at SMU's Gerald J. Ford Stadium in Dallas. 

They are playing in their third consecutive bowl game and 10th in program history. They are 1-8 all-time in bowl season, the lone win coming over Middle Tennessee State in 2015; a 45-31 win. Bronco junior linebacker Treshaun Hayward was named to the Sportine News All-American team,  in addition to receiving the Mid-American Conference Defensive Player of the Year with 132 tackles, fifth most in the nation. 

The Broncos (7-5, 5-3 MAC) is playing in the Dallas area for the second time since the 2016 season. They played Wisconsin in the 2017 Goodyear Cotton Bowl, played in Arlington’s AT&T Stadium, falling by the score of 24-16. 

The offense is paced by 2019 MAC Offensive Player of the Year running back LeVante Bellamy. A Doak Walker Award semifinalist, the senior leads the nation with 23 rushing touchdowns and is tenth in the country with 1,412 yards rushing. 

Senior quarterback Jon Wassink was the recipient of the Wuerffel Trophy, presented by the Chickfil-A Foundation. The award is the premier award for community service is presented annually to the FBS player best combining exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement.

Western Kentucky makes first bowl trip to Texas for SERVPRO First Responder Bowl

By Chris Price
Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved

DALLAS, TEXAS (December 30, 2019) The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers are headed to Dallas, Texas to face the Western Michigan Broncos in the 2019 SERVPRO First Responder Bowl on December 30, 2019 at SMU's Gerald J Ford Stadium.

The Hilltoppers are making their sixth bowl appearance since 2012 after it’s 2012 Little Caesars Bowl appearance ended a drought dating back to 1975, which they lost in the NCAA Division II National Championship Game. WKU is 7-4 all-time in bowl games and 3-2 in the FBS era. 

Tyson Helton, in his first season as a head coach, was named the C-USA Coach of the Year. With a win, Helton would help the program earn its ninth win of the year to equal the total of 2017 and 2018 wins combined. Helton joins his father, Kim Helton, as the only father-son duo to be named Coach of the Year in the C-USA’s 25-year history in any sport. 

Junior defensive end DeAngelo Malone was named the 2019 C-USA Defensive Player of the Year. Malone racked up 21.0 tackles for loss (11th in the nation) with 11.5 sacks. Malone averages 7.5 total tackles per game. 

Senior quarterback Ty Storey earned the 2019 C-USA Newcomer of the Year honor after tossing 12 touchdowns, 2,209 yards and just five interceptions. Topping his former squad Arkansas in November, he was 22-of-32 on the way to being named the Manning Award National Quarterback of the Week, a first in program history.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Western Kentucky, Western Michigan to meet in SERVPRO First Responder Bowl

By Robert H Kelly
Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved

DALLAS, TEXAS (December 29, 2019) On Monday, December 30, the final football game of the decade at SMU's Gerald J. Ford Stadium (shown left) will see the Hilltoppers of Western Kentucky University. (8-4, 6-2 C-USA) facing off the Broncos of Western Michigan (7-5, 5-3 MAC) in the 2019 Servpro Frist Responder Bowl. 

This the first First Responder Bowl to be played at SMU's stadium. The previous nine contests were all contested at Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas. It is not the first bowl game ever played in Ford Stadium, however. The 2010 and 2011 Armed Forces Bowl games were played at SMU while renovations to TCU’s Amon G. Carter Stadium were made. The 2018 contest, scheduled between Boston College and Boise State, was cancelled due to weather. It is believed to be the first bowl game cancelled after kickoff.

WKU and Western Michigan are meeting for the first time since 1947. The programs have met 15 times prior, with Western Michigan leading the all-time series 11-3-1.  Neither team has ever played in the city of Dallas prior to the bowl. Western Michigan did play in the 2017 Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. The Broncos were selected as an at-large as the highest ranked College Football Playoff (CFP) Group of Five team. Western Michigan dropped a 24-16 decision to Wisconsin in that contest.

This is the third time that Western Michigan has played a bowl game in the state of Texas. In addition to earning a trip to the 2017 Cotton Bowl, where the team lost 24-16 to Wisconsin, the Broncos also played in the Texas Bowl in Houston in 2008. WMU lost 38-14, to hometown Rice in that contest. In all, Western Michigan is 1-8 all time in bowl games

This marks WKU’s first bowl game played in the state of Texas. The Hilltoppers are 3-2 in its previous five all-time bowl appearances since joining the FBS ranks in 2009.

The WKU Hilltoppers and Western Michigan Broncos have played 15 times previously, and Western Michigan leads the series 11-3-1. The teams have not played in 72 years, however, as all 15 games were played between 1923-47. Ironically, WMU athletic teams were once known as the Hilltoppers, a reference to the school’s location on top of Prospect Hill, but changed their nickname in 1939 to the Broncos to avoid confusion with teams of other schools such as WKU.

This is the latest date that the SERVPRO First Responder game has been played since the 2013 contest was played between North Texas and UNLV on Jan. 1, 2014. All 10 games have been played between Dec. 26 and Jan. 2.

Kickoff is set for 11:30 a.m. CT and will be televised on ESPN.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Louisiana Tech overcomes Miami (Fla) 14-0 for Independence Bowl Title

Photo by
Darla Tamulitis, La Vita Loca Phtotgraphy
Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved
By Robert H Kelly
Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved

SHREVEPORT, LOUISIANA (December 26, 2019) In a game that saw a record 18 punts, the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs shut out the Miami Hurricanes by the score of 14-0 to win the 44th Walk-On's Independence Bowl. The Bulldogs scored midway through the second quarter and late in the fourth. 

The first score came at 9:34 in the second quarter, when quarterback J'Mar Smith (Meridian HS, Meridian, Mississippi) connected with running back Israel Tucker (Archbishop Rummel HS, Metairie, Louisiana) on a 26-yard pass play for the only aerial touchdown of the game. Smith, who threw for 17 touchdowns during the regular season, carried the ball the final eight yards of a 55-yard, five play drive for the second Tech TD. The 6-1, 218-pound red shirt senior completed his final season with four rushing touchdowns. Kicker Bailey Hale (Iowa Park HS, Iowa Park, Texas), shown below, added the two extra points, to push his total to 53 for the season. Red shirt junior running back Justin Henderson (Lake Wales HS, Lake Wales, Florida), shown above, who carried the ball 22 times for 95 yards, was awarded the Offensive Player of the Game.


Photo by
Darla Tamulitis, La Vita Loca Phtotgraphy
Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved

Defensively, the Bulldogs were paced by inside linebacker Conner Taylor (Davis HS, Kaysville, Utah) and outside linebacker Ezekiel Barnett (Benton HS, Benton, Louisiana). Taylor tallied nine tackles, six of them solo, along with 1.5 sacks and 1.5 tackles for a loss, sharing the stats with defensive end Milton Williams. Barnett added six total tackles (four solo) and one sack and one tackle for a loss. Defensive back Aaron Roberson (Huntington, HS, Shreveport, Louisiana) added five tackles (four solo), two pass breakups, and one game-sealing interception. Taylor, for his performance, was named the Defensive Player of the Game.

For the Hurricanes, quarterback Jarren Williams (Central Gwinnett HS, Lawrenceville, Georgia) was 9-of-20 for 94 yards while freshman Sam Brooks, Jr. (Miami Northwestern HS, Miami Gardens, Florida) posted 12 tackles.



Sapporo, Japan expresses interest to host 2030 Winter Olympic & Paralympic Games


By Chris Price

Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved

TOKYO, JAPAN (December 26, 2019)  Sapporo, Japan is set to enter the race to host the 2030 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games after expressing an interest in hosting the Games a second time. Sapporo hosted the Winter Olympic Games in 1972. Read more here.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Miami to face Louisiana Tech in 2019 Independence Bowl

SHREVEPORT. LOUISIANA (December 25, 2019) On Thursday, December 26, 2019, the 44th annual Walk-On's Independence Bowl will kick off at 3 p.m. CST at Independence Stadium in Shreveport with the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs will face the Miami Hurricanes (6-6, 4-4 ACC).

Louisiana Tech (9-3, 6-2 C-USA) makes its fifth appearance in Independence Bowl history, tying Ole Miss for the most appearances in Independence Bowl history. The Bulldogs have a 2-1-1 record in their previous four appearances. La Tech’s last trip came in 2008 vs. Northern Illinois (17-10 La Tech). 

They are making their sixth-consecutive bowl appearance under head coach Skip Holtz. Tech enters the 2019 bowl season as one of only two FBS programs with five consecutive bowl wins (Wisconsin). The Bulldogs are playing in their 12th bowl game in program history, with a record of 7-3-1 in their first 11 bowls. 

The Bulldogs played in the lone tie game in Independence Bowl history, tying Maryland 34-34 in the 1990 Independence Bowl. Miami is making its second-ever appearance in the Independence Bowl, with its last trip being in 2014 versus South Carolina, with South Carolina winning 24-21. 

The 2019 Walk-On’s Independence Bowl is Miami’s seventh-consecutive bowl appearance and 43rd bowl appearance in school history (20-22 record). Their last bowl win came in the 2016 Russell Athletic Bowl over West Virginia, 31-14. 

Miami head coach Manny Diaz was the Louisiana Tech defensive coordinator in 2014 under La Tech head coach Skip Holtz. Miami defensive coordinator Blake Baker took over as the Bulldogs’ defensive coordinator following Diaz’s departure to Mississippi State. Baker served as La Tech’s DC from 2015-2018. 

This is the fifth-ever matchup between Louisiana Tech and Miami (Miami is 4-0). Their last game against each other came in 2004, and they previously played in Independence Stadium in a regular season tilt in 2003, with Miami winning 48-9. 

The ACC sports a 6-5-1 record in 12 Independence Bowl appearances and have won each of the last four Independence Bowl’s dating back to Virginia Tech in 2015. 

C-USA holds a record of 0-1 in the I-Bowl. Southern Miss fell to FSU 42-13 in 2017.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

2019 Independence Bowl: Miamai (Fla) pre-game press conferennce


SHREVEPORT, LOUISIANA (December 24, 2019) Pre-game press conference with Miami (Fla) head coach Manny Diaz, running back K.J. Osborn and linebacker Shaquille Quarterman for the Walk-On's Independence Bowl. Click here for the video.


2019 Independence Bowl: Louisiana Tech pre-game press conferennce

SHREVEPORT, LOUISIANA (December 24, 2019) Pre-game press conference with Louisiana Tech head coach Skip Holtz, quarterback J'Mar Smith and safety Darryl Lewis for the Walk-On's Independence Bowl. Click here for the video.


Friday, December 20, 2019

North Central Cardinals dominates Wisconsin-Whitewater for NCAA D3 title

Photo by
Darla S Tamulitis
La Vita Loca Photography
Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved
By Robert H Kelly
Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved

(SHENANDOAH, TEXAS (Decemebr 20, 2019) It only took the North Central Cardinals two minutes, 33 seconds to put the first points of the game on the scoreboard in route to a 41-14 win over Wisconsin-Whitewater Warhawks in the 47th Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl. With the win, the Warhawks captured their first NCAA Division III Football Championship.


Running back Ethan Greenfield (Lakes HS, Lindenhurst Illinois) (shown right) carried the ball the final five yards of a seven-play, 45-yard driv for the score. The Cardinal possession began when Terrance Hill (Effington HS, Effington, Illinois) returned the Warhark kickoff 49 yards to begin the game.

With thrity-five seconds remaining in the first quarter North Central added to their lead when quarterback Broc Rutter (Neuqua HS, Naperville, Illinois) with wide receiver Blake Williams (Metea Valley HS, Aurora, Illinois) on a 31-yard pass for their second touchdown of the game. Freshman Mangus Meyer (Nesbru, Norway) add the extra point to give the Cardinals a 13-0 lead going into the second quarter.


Early in the second quarter, the Warhawks were moving the ball well, until Cardinal cornerback Julian Bell intercepted a Wisconsin pass; returning it to the Cardinals' 46-yard line. Eight plays later, Rutter carried the ball the final  yard to put six more points on the board. Meyer again split the uprights to push the Warhawks' lead to 20-0 wth 10:12 left in the half.


The Cardinals were not done in the first half as they added seven more points to their total with the 1:49 mark of the first half. Greenfield capped a 13-play, 7-yard drive with a two-yard run for score, with Magnus adding the extra point to post a 27-0 lead after 30 minutes of play. In the fourth quarter, they added seven more points 

The second half was a mirror image of the first, with the Cardidals picking up where they left off, scoring halfway into the third quarter. Greenfield again carried the ball 38 yards for his thord TD of the night, with Magnus addign the extra point.

The Warhawks finally found the endzone at the 4;32 mark of the quarter when Max Meylor (Mt. Horeb HS, Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin) connected with Jared Zausch (Ozaukee HS, Saulville, Wisconsin) for six points, with Wojciech Gasienica (Ridgewood HS, Norridge, Illinois) adding the extra point. In the fourth quater they added seven more points on a Alex Peete (Johnstown HS, Ringwood, Illinois) one-yard run and Gasienica's extra point.

The Cardinals added an insurance touchdown and extra point with 1:58 remaining in the game with a Andrew Kamienski (South Elgin HS, Pingree Grove, Illinois) run and Meyer's extra point.

For his efforts, Greenfield was selected as the Most Outstanding Player of the game.





Sunday, December 15, 2019

Texan Virgina Fuchs wins U.S. Olympic Boxing Trials in 112-pound division

Virginia Fuchs speaks with
ring announcer Jeremiah Gallegos
after her victory.
Photo by
Darla Tamulitis, La Vita Loca Photography
Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved

By Robert H Kelly
Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved

LAKE CHARLES, LOUISIANA (December 15, 2019) After four years of waiting, Texan Virginia Fuchs is one step closer to her Olympic dream in winning the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Boxing. Facing off against Christina Cruz (New York, New York) in the finals, the native of Kemah, Texas took the unanimous decision in the 112-pound weight class. 

Earlier in the week, Fuchs downed Stephanie Chavez (Orange, California) on Monday, December 9 and Heaven Garcia (El Monte, California) on Friday, December 13 in unanimos decisions. Between these two bouts, she squared off against Cruz on Wednesday, December 11, and also took a unanimous decision.

Both Fuchs and Cruz will advance to the final stage of the selection process, which will take place January 2-26, 2020 at the U.S Olympic and Paralymic Training Center (USOPC) in Colorado Springs, Colorado and at the Strandja Tournament in Sofia, Bulgaria. USA Boxing will annoucement the final 13 boxers that will represent Team USA at the International Qualification Tournaments following the conclusion of these events. The first opportunity for the 13 American boxers to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo will take place in Buenos Aires, Argentina in April, with the second and final opportunity taking place in Paris, France in May.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Final Boxers Set for Finale of 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Boxing

Photo by Darla S Tamulitis, La Vita Loca Photography
Copyright 2019, All Rights Reserved
From USA Boxing Press Release

LAKE CHARLES, LOUISIANA (December 14, 2019) Stakes were high Saturday as the boxers faced elimination in the last round of the challenger’s bracket. The winners advanced to the finals while the losers will have to try again in the next Olympic trials. Here’s who confirmed their place in the finals.

In the women’s 165 lbs. division, Morelle McCane (Cleveland, Ohio) used a patient approach to get a 4-1 decision win over Alexis Gomez (South San Francisco, Calif.) and advance to the finals. She waited for Gomez to make a mistake and struck when the opportunity was best. With the win, she earns another shot at Naomi Graham (Fayetteville, N.C.). The two were scheduled to fight yesterday but McCane missed the bout because of a scheduling mix-up.

“I fought my fight,” McCane said. “I took control of the ring. I’m fired up and ready to go. Boxing is adding to yourself every day. I’m just building. No let up.”  

Photo by Darla S Tamulitis, La Vita Loca Photography
Copyright 2019, All Rights Reserved
Lupe Gutierrez (Sacramento, Calif.) proved to be too much for Isamary Aquino (Universal City, Texas) as she handed her both of her losses in the women’s 125 lbs. division of these trials. Gutierrez won the rematch by 4-1 decision. She advances to the finals for another rematch, this time against Andrea Medina (San Diego, Calif.). Medina beat Gutierrez last night in a close 3-2 decision. Gutierrez will need to beat Medina twice to secure a spot in the Olympics.

“I’m feeling great,” Gutierrez said. “I know I took that loss but I’m ready to get the win back. I’m ready for it."

Photo by Darla S Tamulitis, La Vita Loca Photography
Copyright 2019, All Rights Reserved
It’s unusual to have unanimous decisions in high-stakes bouts like these, but that’s exactly how Joseph Hicks (Grand Rapids, Mic.) beat Troy Isley (Alexandra, Va.) to advance to the finals. This sets up a rematch with Javier Martinez (Milwaukee, Wisc.), who beat Hicks by unanimous decision in the second round.

“Today was the best I’ve felt in a long, long time,” Hicks said. “Troy is a really good kid and a really great fighter. As for Javier, I figured some things out about him. He’s another great fighter, but I have some things figured out.”

Jeremiah Milton (Tulsa, Okla.) of the men’s 201+ lbs. division followed the trend Hicks set by defeating Luis Alvarado (Kenosha, Wisc.) by unanimous decision. It was a rematch of the second round, a 4-1 decision win by Milton. Milton will have to take this strong performance into tomorrow’s bout with Antonio Mireles (Des Moines, Iowa), who’s dominated this tournament and won every bout by unanimous decision.

“What I noticed about this tournament is that you have to hit more gears,” Milton said. “Every day you have to bring another gear. It’s Olympic trials. Everyone is trying to get to that spot. You have to make those adjustments on the fly. I knew I’d get here because I dedicated myself.”  

Photo by Darla S Tamulitis, La Vita Loca Photography
Copyright 2019, All Rights Reserved
In the women’s 132 lbs. division, Amelia Moore (Alexandria, Va.) avenged a 3-2 second-round loss to Kimberly Carlson (Chicago, Ill.) with a 4-1 decision victory to advance to the finals. There, she’ll have to get past top-seed Rashida Ellis (Lynn, Mass.).

“I had a clear mind,” Moore said. “That’s been pretty much the mantra over the last few days since Wednesday. I listened to my corner with a clear mind and was calm. We made the adjustments we needed to make and came back and got the ‘W’ back. That was really important to me.”

It’s been a light tournament so far for Anthony Herrera (Los Angeles, Calif.). He won two of his fights by walkover and had his first fight only yesterday. That extra rest might have been the difference in a tight 3-2 decision win over Roscoe Hill (Spring, Texas) to advance to the final. There, he’ll meet Abraham Perez (Albuquerque, N.M.) for a rematch. On Friday, Perez won in a 3-2 decision. Tomorrow should be another close one.

“As compared to yesterday, I think I shook off a little bit of ring rust,” Herrera said. “I had two walkovers, which was a shocker because that doesn’t usually happen in tournaments like these. I’m feeling better today, I’m feeling strong. I stuck to the game plan and tomorrow, I’ll be ready.”

Photo by Darla S Tamulitis, La Vita Loca Photography
Copyright 2019, All Rights Reserved
Christina Cruz (Hell’s Kitchen, N.Y.) earned herself another shot at the top seed in the women’s 112 lbs. division, Virginia Fuchs (Houston, Texas), with a 4-1 decision victory over Heaven Garcia (Los Angeles, Calif.). Cruz and Fuchs met back in the second round, a unanimous decision in favor of Fuchs. Cruz is looking forward to another shot at a familiar foe.

“Very excited,” Cruz said. “I get to button up what I didn’t do in the last fight so I’m very excited to fix those little things and hopefully get the win.”

Regardless of who won in the men’s 178 lbs. division, there was sure to be a tough road to the championship. Awaiting in the finals is Rahim Gonzales (Las Vegas, Nev.), who had defeated both competitors in Saturday’s bout by unanimous decision. In the end, it was Atif Oberlton (Philadelphia, Pa.) who defeated Orville Crooks (Brooklyn, N.Y.) by a 3-2 decision to confirm the rematch.

“I’m working hard and listening to my corner,” Oberlton said. “I don’t second guess them. When they tell me to do something, I do it. It’s all about staying smart and being myself.”

In the men’s 125 lbs. division, David Navarro (Los Angeles, Calif.) completed his comeback from a surprising first-round loss by defeating Rashiem Jefferson (Philadelphia, Pa.) by a 4-1 decision to advance to the final. Waiting for Navarro is Bruce Carrington (Brooklyn, N.Y.), the eight-seed that has stormed through the trials.

“My first loss really opened my eyes,” Navarro said. “I just wasn’t ready for it. Now, I’m getting ready and I’m ready for the next round. I’ve been dreaming of this ever since I was a kid and it’s happening.”  

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Copyright 2019, All Rights Reserved

Jamar Talley (Camden, N.J.) got himself back into the winner’s bracket with a 3-1 decision win over Brandon Moore (Lakeland, Fla.) in the men’s 201 lbs. division. This sets up a rematch with Darius Fulghum (Rosharon, Texas). Yesterday, Fulghum got the best of Talley in a close 3-2 decision. Talley thinks he know what it will take to get the win tomorrow.

“To get it done, I gotta do what I did yesterday, but a hundred times more because yesterday wasn’t as good as it was supposed to be where I would have won,” Talley said.

The men’s 152 lbs. division top seed Freudis Rojas (Las Vegas, Nev.) took another step in his journey back to the top after a first-round loss with close a 3-2 decision win over Kelvin Davis (Norfolk, Va.). The win sets up a powerhouse matchup with Delante “Tiger” Johnson (Cleveland, Ohio) in the finals. Johnson has dominated the weight class thus far in the tournament but has yet to face the top-seeded Rojas.

“My battle isn’t over,” Rojas said. “I’m here to show that, even though I lost on the first day, I’m still in this tournament. I’m going to make the biggest comeback. I have a game plan, I’ll come out with the win that day.

Briana Che (Madison, Wisc.), the eight seed in the women’s 152 lbs. division, kept her winning streak alive with a 4-1 decision victory over Danyelle Wolf (San Diego, Calif.). The win sets up a rematch with Oshae Jones (Toledo, Ohio). Back in the first round, Jones beat Che by unanimous decision.

“I always say that sometimes you have to get knocked down and fall forward,” Che said. “That’s my motto. I picked myself up and reevaluated. I can only beat myself. My toughest opponent is myself. I just have to make the right decisions.”

In the men’s 138 lbs. division, Ernesto Mercado (Pomona, Calif.) earned a trip to the finals with a 4-1 victory over Charlie Sheehy (Brisbane, Calif.). Mercado is on a four-bout winning streak after losing in the first round. He’ll hope to carry that momentum into a matchup with top seeded Keyshawn Davis (Norfolk, Va.).

“The first day, I fell short,” Mercado said. “I learned from it. We’ve been picking it up day by day. I feel like tomorrow’s going to be a way better day for me.

Tomorrow’s finals will take place at the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino at 3 p.m. CST. Sunday isn’t the absolute end of the trials, however. If a boxer experiences their first loss in the finals, there would be a rematch the following day at noon.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

No. 9 Atascocita downs No. 19 Katy Tompkins, 42-24 in UIL football playoff action.

Story and photo by Robert H Kelly
Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved

HOUSTON, TEXAS (November 30, 2019) In a battle of 11-1 teams, the No. 9 Atascocita Eagles defeated the No. 10 Katy Tompkins Falcons by the score of 42-24 at NRG Stadium on Saturday. The win set up a UIL Region 3 final, pitting the Eagles against the No 3 North Shore Mustangs.

Atascocita got on the scoreboard first, at the 6:41 mark of the first quarter, with a Brice Matthews to Keith Wheeler four-yard pass to complete a 15-play, 70-yard drive. On the following drive, Tompkins marched the ball 60 yards in 13 plays, but could only manage a 32-yard field goal by Hunter Huckaby. The first quarter ended with the Eagles leading the Falcons 7-3.

With 6:19 remaining in the first half, Matthews again connected with Wheeler with a 14-yard pass to give the Eagles a 14-3 lead. They followed that TD up four minutes later when T.J. Thomas carried the ball the final five yards for Atascocita's third touchdown of the game. After the Eagles intercepted a Tompkins pass in the final minutes of the first half, Matthews carried the ball into the end zone to post a 28-3 with 2:27 to go in the half. However, the Eagles were not done as Matthews again connected, this time with Landen King for another six points. With the extra point, the Eagles head to the locker room after 24 minutes of play with a 35-3 lead.


Tompkins finally found some offense when they came onto the field for the third quarter. After driving down the field, Jalen Milroe found Marquis Shoulders open and flicked him a three-yard pass for the score at the 6:35 mark of the quarter Huckaby added the kicking conversion to cut Atascocita's lead to 35-10.


Early in the fourth quarter, with 11:32 remaining in the game, the Eagles added seven more points on a TJ Thomas four-yard run and a Sean Nesemeier kicking conversion. the junior kicked also converted the previous five extra points to add to Atascocita' total. Thirty-seven seconds later, Tompkins added seven points to their total on a Jalen Milroe to Marquis Shoulders 77-yard pass and another Huckaby extra point. After Atascocita fumbles on their own seven-yard-line, the Eagles pull a halfback pass oout of the playbook. Gabe Atkin hits Milroe with a seven-yard pass for the TD. Huckaby added the extra point to put the score at 42-24 with 10:48 to play. After a great deal of give-and-take for the reamined of the game, Alascocita pulled out the win and are headed to a Region 3 match-up against the No. 5 North Shore Mustangs on Saturday, December 7, 2019 with a 2 p.m. kickoff at Sheldon ISD Stadium in Houston.


Wednesday, November 27, 2019

McNeese falls to Rice 81-50 in women's basketball

Story and photo by Robert H Kelly
Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved

LAKE CHARLES, LOUISIANA (November 27, 2019) The McNeese State Cowgirls jumped out to a 19-12 lead after the first quarter, but could not contain the Rice Owls' comeback in the final three periods as the dropped a 81-50 non-conference match up to the Owls at the H&HP Complex in Lake Charles. McNeese took control of the game in the first period, with 10 of the points coming in the paint. It was a different matter in the second quarter with Rice outscoring McNeese 21-8, lead to the Owls' 33-27 lead at the half. Rice increased their lead in the third quarter, 25-7 in route to their third win of the season. The Cowgirls shot 53.3% (8-of-15) from the field in the first quarter, but could only manage 34.7% by the end of the game. They scored a scant eight points in the second quarter and seven in the third, as opposed to 21 and 25 for the Owls, respectively. They picked up their scoring with 16 points in the fourth quarter.

The Cowgirls were led by starting guard Regan Bolton (St. Thomas Aquinas HS, Hammond, Louisiana) with 11 points and Damilota Balogun (Bossier Parish CC, Lagos, Nigeria) with nine rebounds. Rive had four players in double-figures; Erica Ogwumike (Cypress Woods HS, Cypress, Texas) and Haylee Swayze (Purcell HS, Purcell, Oklahoma)with 12 points and Lauren Schwartz (Larry A. Ryle HS, Union, Kentucky) and India Bellamy (Eagles Landing Christian Academy, McDonough, Georgia)  with 10 reach.

Last season, the Owls downed McNeese 93-65 at Tudor Fieldhouse in Houston on November 11. Rice holds a 8-4 all-time series record against the Cowgirls. The last time McNeese downed Rice was a 61-53 victory an Lake Charles on November 25, 2015.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Iowa Wild fall to hot-sticks of Texas Stars, 7-3

Story and photo by Robert H Kelly
Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved

CEDAR PARK, TEXAS (November 26, 2019) In a game that saw a great deal of offense and not much defense, the Texas Stars (5-13-0-2) got their second win in a row, and fifth of the season as they downed the Iowa Wild by the score of 7-3 at the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park on Tuesday evening.

The Stars got off to a good start, scoring two goals in the first 3:36 of play. Left wing Michael Mersch scored at the 2:04 mark with fellow left wing Anthony Louis finding the net with 92 seconds later. The Wild cut the Stars lead to one when right wing Gerald Mayhew final got Iowa on the scoreboard. Centers Rhett Gardner and Joel L'Esperance added to more for the home team, pushing score to 4-1 in favor of the Stars. Mayhew added a second goal for the Wild with 6:32 remaining in the first period to take the score to 4-2 after 20 minutes of play. In the first period, Robinson served two minutes in the penalty box for high-sticking while Mayhew sat out for two minutes for hooking.

In the second period, the Stars increased their lead to 5-2 on a goal by left wing Joel Kiviranta. They also added penalty minutes when right wing Nick Caamano was given two minutes for goaltender interference and a minor bench penalty for too many players on the ice. Robinson served the two-minute penalty for Texas.

One-minute, four seconds into the third period, Wild forward Brandon Duhaime cut the Stars' lead to two with a goal, taking the score to 5-3. Texas responded 18 seconds late when Caamano scored his second goal of the game. He got the hat-trick five minutes later on a break-a-way for his fifth goal of the season, to close out the game. In the final period, L'Esperance served two minutes in the box for for holding. In addition, Wild left wing Mike Liambas, with 8:05 remaining in the game, was assessed two minutes for charging (major) and 10 minutes for game misconduct as related to the charging call/

Monday, November 25, 2019

Texas State rallies to down Abilene Christian 61-56

Photo by
Darla Tamulitis
La Vita Loca Photography
Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved
By Robert H Kelly
Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved

SAN MARCOS, TEXAS (November 25, 2019) The Abilene Christian Wildcats jumped out to a 34-30 lead at the half, but Texas State rallied in the second half to give the Bobcats a 61-56 win at the Strahan Center in San Marcos. The Wildcats dropped to 2-4 on the season while Texas State raised their record to 5-2. 

Abilene Christian, who were the 2019 Southland Conference tournament champions, have faced a very tough schedule to begin the 2019-2020 season. They began the season with a  90-39 win over Arlington Baptist at home, followed by a 86-83 loss on the road to Drexel in Philadelphia. They then came up on a losing side of a 73-69 decision against a strong Pepperdine team in Abilene. Next on the schedule was a 72-58 loss to UNLV on the road along with a 90-59 win versus Champion Christian College at home.

Againt the Bobcats, Payton Ricks tallied 13 points, followed by Koltom Kohl with 11. Ricks pulled down eight rebounds with Kohl adding seven. For the Bobcats, Nijal Pearson led the way with 16 points.

Photos from the Monday evening game, by Darla S Tamulitis of La Vita Loca Photography, can be viewed by clicking here.


Sunday, November 24, 2019

Incarnate Word falls to Eastern Illinois 72-63

Story and photo by Robert H Kelly
Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS (November 24, 2019) The Incarnate Word Cardinals held a 33-30 lead at the half, but a 42-30 surge in the second half powered Eastern Illinois to a 72-63 win in the final game of the UIW Basketball Tournament at the McDermott Center in San Marcos.


Cardinals' head coach Dr. Carson Cunningham stated after the game,

"We played well for a good 36 minutes. We need to keep plugging and working on closing games. The fellas are working hard. Eastern Illinois found a way and they deserve credit. We're going to keep battling. We're grateful to have hosted this event and for the teams that came."
 
Drew Lutz (Penn HS, Granger, IL) tallied a career-high 20 points, hitting four three-pointers and all four of his free-throw attempts with five assists and a steal. 


Keaston Willis (Sulpher Springs HS, Sulpher Springs, TX) finished with 13 points, tying his season-high for three-pointers made with four. He also pulled down a career-high five rebounds.


In addition, freshman forward Vincent Miszkiewicz (South Elgin HS, South Elgin, IL) had another well-rounded game, scoring eight points with nine rebounds and two blocks. Also, forward Bryce Davis (Deer Valley HS, Glendale, AZ) added eight points, four rebounds, three assists and one steal.







Bethune-Cookman downs St. Francis-Illinois 74-70 in San Antonio

Photo by
Darla Tamulitis
La Vita Loca Photography
Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved
By Robert H Kelly
Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS (November 24, 2019) Bethune-Cookman came from behind to down St. Francis-Illinois by the score of 74-70 in the first game of the third day of the University of Incarnate Word Basketball Tournament, sponsored by Denny's.

Earlier in the tournament, the Wildcats downed Incarnate Word 83-58 on Friday, November 22 and Eastern Illinois 66-63 on Saturday, November 23. to finish the tournament with a 3-0 record. The Fighting Saints dropped both their Friday and Saturday games. On Friday, they lost to Eastern Illinois 87-47. Saturday, they fell to Incarnate Word by the score of 68-44.


Saturday, November 23, 2019

HBU falls to SHSU in final game of season

Photo by
Darla S Tamulitis
La Vita Loca Photography
Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved
By Robert H Kelly
Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved

HOUSTON, TEXAS (November 23, 2019) Wide receiver Ben Ratzlaff (shown right) scored two touchdowns but it was not enough to overcome an early 27-0 of the Sam Houston State Bearkats, as the HBU Huskies dropped a 37-14 decision in the final game of the 2019 season for both teams.

The Bearkats jumped out to a 20-0 lead in the first quarter and extended their lead in the second quarter before Ratzlaff (Westview HS, San Diego, CA) could get the Huskies on the scoreboard. At the 6:39 mark, he covered the final 17 yards of a 78-yard drive when Bailey Zappe (Victoria East HS, Victoria, Texas) connected with the junior wide receiver for his first touchdown. The Huskies added their second TD with the Zappe-Ratzlaff connection scoring on a 25-yard pass to complete a nine-play, 87-yard drive.

Zappe, who completed 29-of-64 passes for 367 yards, had trouble with the Bearkat defense; throwing two interceptions while being sacked three times. Ratzlaff caught 13 passes for 178 yards while Ean Beek (Taylor HS, Katy, Texas) carried the ball eight times for 33 yards. Defensively, Tra Fluellen (Gilmer HS, Gilmer, Texas) recorded 14 tackles with Philip Ossai (Oak Ridge HS, Conroe, Texas) and Cotton Manning (Allen HS, Allen, TX) accounting for eight.

The Huskies finished the season with a 5-7 record, with a 2-6 record in Southland Conference action. They will kickoff the 2020 season on September 5 against North Texas in Denton.





Saturday, November 16, 2019

Monterrey outlasts Club America 2-1 in Tour Aguila

Story and photo by Robert H Kelly
Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved

HOUSTON, TEXAS (November 16, 2019) Scoring two goals in the first half,  C.F. Monterrey held on for a 2-1 win against Club America in an exhibition friendly game as a part Tour Aguila at BBVA Stadium in Houston, Texas. America took an early 1-0 lead in the 7th minute off a penalty kick by defender Emanuel Aguilera.


Monterrey responded with a goal from Daniel Parra, with an assist credited to Alfonso Gonzalez, in the 16th minute. They score the game-winner five minutes later on a Vincent Janessen goal. Dorian Paboni provided the assist.

Tour Aguila is the official United States tour of Club America dating back to July 3, 2016.

Friday, November 01, 2019

North Shore football continues to roll.

By Robert H Kelly
Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved

HOUSTON, TEXAS (November 1, 2019) The No. 5 North Shore Mustangs did not start out as strong as they have in past games, but why should they? Bringing a 5-0 district record into their Friday evening game against Beaumont United, the Mustangs jumped out to a 28-0 lead at the half in route to a 42-14 over the Timberwolves at Galena Park ISD Stadium. The Mustangs seemed to cruise to the win, in so much as not breaking a sweat in the unseasonable cooler weather on the nippy Friday evening.

The Mustangs are going to the UIL playoffs, just as they have, time and time again, in previous season. Making the playoffs in football is like getting up in the morning for the players of North Shore Senior High School. Their only loss of the season, a 24-21 defeat at the hands of the Katy Tigers. In the nationally televised game, the two Texas powerhouses battled in front of a sellout crowd at Galena Park ISD Stadium. It was the only defeat for the Mustangs up to their match up against United, and with one game to go in the regular season, they are just getting the engine revved up. The final game of the regular season is against the Channelview Falcons at Maddry Stadium in Channelview.