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Finley leads N.C. State past No. 18 UNC in 2OT in 1st start

Source image: https://apnews.com/article/college-football-sports-coastal-carolina-chanticleers-devin-carter-north-state-wolfpack-63b8f2bc710b13326b184cef12076b0f

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — Devin Carter and two teammates took a North Carolina State flag and planted it at rival North Carolina’s midfield logo amid a wild celebration.

The Wolfpack spiked weeks of frustration with a signature road win to end the regular season.

“It was just spur of the moment,” Carter said. “It was amazing to go out there like that. It’s joy.”

Ben Finley threw for 271 yards and two touchdowns in his first career start, and N.C. State beat Drake Maye and No. 18 North Carolina 30-27 on Friday when Noah Burnette duck-hooked a 35-yard field goal try in the second overtime.

Maye connected with Antoine Green from 4 yards out on the final play of regulation to tie the game at 24-all, but N.C. State (8-4, 4-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) kept the ACC Coastal Division champion Tar Heels (9-3, 6-2) out of the end zone in the first overtime.

Burnette — who also missed from 27 yards in the fourth quarter — made a 26-yarder in the first OT and the Wolfpack tied it on Christopher Dunn’s 31-yarder. Dunn was good from 21 yards in the second overtime and N.C. State, which never trailed in regulation, handed North Carolina its second straight loss.

“I was running around trying to hug everyone,” Finley said.

Finley’s older brother, former N.C. State QB Ryan Finley, orchestrated two wins in North Carolina’s Kenan Stadium.

“It’s nice to keep the Finleys undefeated here,” coach Dave Doeren said.

Carter had six receptions for 130 yards and a touchdown for the Wolfpack, who snapped a two-game skid and pulled out a thrilling victory over their in-state rival for the second straight year.

“I loved the way our kids played. They fought their guts out,” North Carolina coach Mack Brown said. “They didn’t play great in the first half, but they were really good on defense, maybe the best defense we’ve had this year.”

Carter caught Finley’s back-shoulder pass just outside the end zone and backed in for a 26-yard touchdown with 3:54 remaining in regulation for the Wolfpack’s first points of the second half. Finley was so far down the depth chart that he estimated he hadn’t thrown a pass to Carter in a year and a half.

As a fourth stringer, Finley didn’t imagine ending up in this situation.

“Just kind of messing around on the scout team and still getting better,” he said.

Finley became N.C. State’s fourth starting quarterback in a seven-game span. He completed 27 of 40 passes.

The Tar Heels and freshman sensation Maye closed the regular season with dispiriting one-score losses to Georgia Tech and the Wolfpack ahead of the ACC title game clash with No. 8 Clemson next Saturday.

Maye finished 29 of 49 for 233 yards, one interception and the tying TD toss on fourth-and-goal to Green, which followed an apparent touchdown catch by John Copenhaver that was overturned on a replay review.

“They missed one field goal, and we missed two and that’s what the game came down to,” Brown said. “I thought about going for it on the fourth-and-3 at the end (in the second overtime), but we were playing really good on defense.”

Maye’s 14-yard, third-down scramble with 7:53 to play allowed the Tar Heels to pull even for the first time since early in the first quarter.

N.C. State got off to a strong start. After forcing a North Carolina punt, the Wolfpack needed three plays to score on Jack Chambers’ 2-yard quarterback keeper.

Finley hooked up with a diving Terrell Timmons Jr. in the end zone from 28 yards out, giving Timmons his first career touchdown early in the second quarter.

Elijah Green’s 9-yard run gave the Tar Heels a boost with 5:03 left in the half. Dunn’s 29-yard field goal on the last play of the half pushed N.C. State’s edge to 17-10.

RECORD DAY

Dunn broke the ACC scoring record in the first half with his second extra point. In the second half, his 43-yard field goal attempt was wide left, his first miss in 23 chances this season.

SECONDARY ISSUES

North Carolina was without starting cornerback Tony Grimes because of an injury. The Tar Heels lost starting safety Cam’Ron Kelly in the first half and starting cornerback Storm Duck in the second half to game-ending injuries.

STATE STUFF

N.C. State beat in-state foes East Carolina, Wake Forest and North Carolina by a combined 13 points. “It’s awesome to have that,” Doeren said.

The Wolfpack and Tar Heels had split two previous overtime games.

THE TAKEAWAY

N.C. State: The Wolfpack relied on defense to contain one of the country’s most explosive offenses. The win was a nice consolation prize for a team that started 5-1 and looked like a contender in the Atlantic Division.

North Carolina: The Tar Heels weren’t crisp for most of the game and still nearly pulled off a comeback for the ages. This will sting, particularly given the failure to score a touchdown in OT.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

North Carolina could drop out of the AP Top 25 with consecutive home losses, though losing in two overtimes might temper the damage.

UP NEXT

N.C. State: Awaits a bowl invitation.

North Carolina: Prepares to face Clemson for the ACC title in Charlotte.

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AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://twitter.com/ap_top25. Sign up for the AP’s college football newsletter: https://tinyurl.com/mrxhe6f2

Source: https://apnews.com/article/college-football-sports-coastal-carolina-chanticleers-devin-carter-north-state-wolfpack-63b8f2bc710b13326b184cef12076b0f

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49ers head into offseason with more questions at quarterback

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — The San Francisco 49ers head into another offseason with major questions at quarterback after a season filled with injuries to the most important position ended without any of them physically able to throw the the ball downfield.

Trey Lance, who began the season as starter, is getting close to being fully cleared following two operations on his broken right ankle.

Brock Purdy, who went from third-string rookie to the starter that helped lead the Niners into the NFC title game before getting hurt himself, is figuring out how to treat his injured throwing elbow.

Jimmy Garoppolo, the starter in between those two before breaking his foot, is set to become an unrestricted free agent in six weeks.

And rumors are sure to swirl about whether the best answer for coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch will be adding a veteran like Tom Brady to help a franchise that has gone to the NFC title game or further in three of the last four seasons get over the hump and win its first Super Bowl in nearly three decades.

The first big question at the position will be about Purdy’s health after he tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow on the first drive of a 31-7 loss in the NFC title game to Philadelphia on Sunday.

Purdy was forced back into the game in the second half when Josh Johnson left with a concussion but was unable to throw the ball more than a few yards because of the injury.

“The minute I started throwing literally like I knew something was wrong. I couldn’t throw,” he said. “So obviously the adrenaline and stuff I think helps in terms of allowing me to go back in the game and hand the ball off — even that was pretty painful. But just overall it sucked that I wasn’t able to throw.”

An MRI revealed the tear and Purdy said he will undergo more tests and speak to more doctors to figure out whether recovery, repair or full reconstruction is the best option.

The injury is much more common in baseball pitchers, who often undergo reconstructive “Tommy John surgery” that sidelines them up to a year. But Purdy is hoping to avoid that; a simpler repair would keep him out for six months but allow him to return to practice around the start of training camp in July.

“The way a quarterback throws compared to a pitcher, two different things. It’s similar but more violent as a baseball player,” Purdy said. “So they’re saying the recovery process could be a little bit faster as a quarterback. I’ve looked at guys who have gone through this kind of thing. I’m just trying to find what’s right. Everyone’s situation is different and I’m trying to find out which one is right for myself.”

Purdy showed a lot in his first season in the NFL, going from the last pick of the draft to starter in the conference title game. He won all seven of his starts before the loss on Sunday and threw for 1,374 yards with 13 touchdowns and only four interceptions in the regular season.

That performance could make him the favorite to begin next season as starter if he’s healthy.

“For me to claim or say anything in terms of what’s going to happen moving forward, that’s out of my control,” he said. “I’m going to do what I can to get back healthy and be ready to compete come fall.”

Lance was supposed to be in that role after San Francisco traded three first-round picks to draft him third overall in 2021. But he started only two games as a rookie when Garoppolo got hurt and then went down with a season-ending injury early in Week 2 this season.

Lance needed a second operation in late December but said he expects to be fully cleared in a few weeks and to be 100% for the start of the offseason program.

But after he started only five games combined in the last three years in college and the NFL, there are questions about whether Lance can be the long-term answer for San Francisco.

“I’m excited to go out and show what I can do,” he said. “Same situation that it’s been for me the last two years and really my whole life. Nothing has really changed and I still have the same mindset. … I just worry about what these guys think in this locker room, what the coaches think, what people in this organization think. Anything outside of that is totally out of my control. So I don’t let that have any effect on me.”

NOTES: All-Pro DE Nick Bosa said he wants to sign a long-term contract to stay in San Francisco but will be patient and leave that up to his agent.

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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Banchero headlines field for All-Star Rising Stars event

Paolo Banchero’s rookie season will include a trip to NBA All-Star weekend.

The Orlando Magic forward and No. 1 pick in last year’s draft was announced Tuesday as a participant in this year’s Rising Stars Game, to be held in Salt Lake City on Feb. 17, two nights before the All-Star Game.

Banchero — who leads all rookies with a 20.7 points-per-game average — may still be selected as an All-Star reserve. Those players will be revealed Thursday.

“Anytime you can get a chance to be a part of All-Star weekend, you can’t say no,” Banchero said. “Especially me, being a rookie, first year, never experienced it before, it’s always been the dream to just be a part of that whether it was Rising Stars or as a reserve. I’m definitely excited to get there and just see what it’s like.”

Banchero is on pace to be the first rookie to average 20 points per game since Luka Doncic in 2018-19. He also is fourth among rookies in rebounds per game entering Tuesday and third among them in steals per game.

Magic coach Jamahl Mosley said the All-Star experience — whether just for Rising Stars or not — will have an impact on Banchero.

“Just being around other young players that have found themselves in that position, it does so much because it’s your peers,” Mosley said. “You’re around a group of young men who are the elite of the league in that class. I think it says something to the work that you’ve put in, the work that he’s put in. It’s going to do wonders for how he continues to believe in himself, what we’re doing as a team and his continued growth.”

Also picked for the game from this year’s rookie class: Detroit’s Jalen Duren and Jaden Ivey, Atlanta’s A.J. Griffin, Utah’s Walker Kessler, Indiana’s Bennedict Mathurin and Andrew Nembhard, Sacramento’s Keegan Murray, Houston’s Jabari Smith Jr., San Antonio’s Jeremy Sochan and Oklahoma City’s Jalen Williams.

The second-year players selected were New Orleans’ Jose Alvarado and Trey Murphy III, Toronto’s Scottie Barnes, Oklahoma City’s Josh Giddey, Houston’s Jalen Green and Alperen Sengun, New York’s Quentin Grimes, Denver’s Bones Hyland, Cleveland’s Evan Mobley and Orlando’s Franz Wagner.

There also will be a team of G League players in the Rising Stars event, composed of Sidy Cissoko, Mojave King, Scoot Henderson, Kenneth Lofton Jr., Mac McClung, Leonard Miller and Scotty Pippen Jr.

The 21 NBA players will be drafted into three seven-player teams. Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah and Deron Williams will serve as coaches for those teams, while Jason Terry will coach the G League team.

All four teams will play a semifinal game with a target score of 40, and the two winners will then play the championship game with a target score of 25.

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AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Griner’s return, free agency raises charter flight concerns

Brittney Griner’s return to the WNBA this summer after being traded in a dramatic prisoner swap in December with Russia has collided with free agency, creating potential travel complications for the league out of safety concerns for her.

If Griner, who is a free agent but has said she’ll return to Phoenix, needs special travel accommodations — such as chartered flights — the league will have to come up with a plan for the 6-foot-9 star. Griner’s safety when traveling will be a top priority for the team and the league.

“We are very cognizant of BG’s unique situation,” WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert told The Associated Press. “We’ve been planning and we’ve been thinking it through with security experts. BG’s side, our side. We’ll find the right time to comment on it when she signs with a team.”

That could come Wednesday, when free agents can officially sign.

While the Griner situation is unique, other marquee players raised the issue of charter flights, which teams have deemed too costly.

The current collective bargaining agreement requires that all teams fly commercial and doesn’t allow teams to charter flights. Any change in that would have to be approved by both the union and the league.

“No one wants to make this work more than me,” Engelbert said. “That’s why we’re working so hard to transform the economic business model. We’ve had positive changes over the last couple years, but we’re not going to jeopardize the financial viability of the league. We are on the cusp of something big here.”

HOW MUCH WOULD IT COST THE WNBA TO CHARTER FLIGHTS?

Engelbert says it would cost the league about $25 million each season for each of its 12 teams to charter flights to every game. That number has increased about $5 million from previous estimates by the commissioner due the new 40-game WNBA schedule this season, fuel costs and other factors.

The estimated cost per franchise to charter flights would be approximately $2 million. Air travel expenses currently for each team is about $150,000, according to two people familiar with the costs. The people spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to publicly address the issue.

“We did it last year for the Finals and we have experience on how much it costs for routes we need to fly,” Engelbert said. “We are monitoring and updating our analysis. We are going to try and get an economic model to fund this as soon as we can.”

WHAT HAPPENS IF A TEAM CHARTERS FLIGHTS?

If teams violate the current CBA they could be fined.

The New York Liberty were fined a WNBA record $500,000 in 2021 for chartering flights to away games during the second half of that season.

HAS THE WNBA CONSIDERED SUBSIDIZING FLIGHTS?

Coveted free agent Breanna Stewart, who has narrowed her choices to a few teams including New York, started a social media campaign to try to help get chartered flights for the league. She tweeted, “I would love to be part of a deal that helps subsidize charter travel for the entire WNBA. I would contribute my NIL, posts + production hrs to ensure we all travel in a way that prioritizes player health + safety, which ultimately results in a better product. Who’s with me?”

Many current and former WNBA and NBA players offered their support. Though any change to travel restrictions would have to be voted on by the union and the league.

“We would need a commitment to it in perpetuity,” Engelbert said. “That’s 250-300 million dollars. Look at the gate and media deal and sponsorship dollars. We’re not close to being able to afford $250 million over the next decade.”

DO WOMEN’S COLLEGE TEAMS CHARTER FLIGHTS?

WNBA players are used to flying charter flights. That’s how they traveled in college.

Title IX legislation requires universities to have equal opportunities for their men’s and women’s athletic programs. The NCAA flies both the men’s and women’s teams on charter flights for the tournament if they are more than 400 miles from the site of their game.

That legislation doesn’t apply to the pros so NBA teams chartering between cities has no effect on what WNBA teams do.

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