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Foreman leads Panthers past rival Falcons in rain, 25-15

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — D’Onta Foreman admitted he was tired — at times completely gassed.

But the Carolina Panthers running back said there wasn’t a chance he was going to tap on his helmet and ask to take a breather. He’s waited too long in his injury-plagued career for this opportunity.

“When the game is on the line there is no coming out,” Foreman said.

Foreman carried 31 times for 130 yards and a touchdown, Laviska Shenault added a 41-yard burst to the end zone and the Panthers beat the Atlanta Falcons 25-15 on a rainy Thursday night.

Foreman’s 31 carries were the most by a Carolina running back since Nick Goings’ 36 in 2004. The Panthers (3-7) piled up a season-high 232 yards on the ground, and Eddy Pineiro kicked four field goals after he missed two critical kicks in a 37-34 overtime loss to the Falcons 11 days earlier.

“You have to continue to grind, continue to pound it,” said Foreman, who has three 100-yard running games since Christian McCaffrey was traded to San Francisco. “That’s what I wanted to do. I wanted the ball in my hands.”

The Falcons’ Marcus Mariota finished 19 of 30 for 186 yards and two touchdowns, but was sacked five times and intercepted once.

Atlanta fell to 4-6, leaving Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-5) alone atop the NFC South. The Bucs play Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks in Germany.

Carolina improved to 2-3 since coach Matt Rhule was fired and replaced on an interim basis by Steve Wilks. Four days earlier, the Panthers were blown out 42-21 at Cincinnati after falling behind 35-0 at halftime.

“I’m extremely proud of the men in this locker room and how we bounced back,” Wilks said.

Foreman, who ran for 118 yards and three TDs in the last meeting on Oct. 30 in Atlanta, capped off a crucial seven-play, 84-yard drive with a 12-yard touchdown run off right tackle to give Carolina a 19-9 lead with 1:51 left in the third quarter.

The Falcons cut Carolina’s lead to 22-15 when Mariota found a wide-open KhaDarel Hodge for a 25-yard touchdown with 3:01 left in the game after the Panthers botched a coverage assignment. Younghoe Koo, who had made 71 straight extra points, missed his second PAT of the game to keep the margin at seven points.

The Falcons got one last shot to tie the game, taking over at their own 34 with 2 1/2 minutes to play. But Carolina’s Marquis Haynes sacked Mariota twice and the Falcons turned the ball over on downs at their 15.

“It starts with me,” Mariota said. “I’ve got to do a better job getting us into better plays. When you’re not consistently creating good first- and second-down plays, it’s tough on third down. And then when you’re not converting third downs, you’re not sustaining drives and you’re not scoring points.”

Carolina’s defense, which allowed Cincinnati’s Joe Mixon to run for 153 yards and four touchdowns — and the Bengals to amass 241 rushing yards as a team — on Sunday, held the league’s fourth-best rushing attack to 138 yards.

Atlanta came in averaging 162.9 yards on the ground.

“It wasn’t pretty. They won both lines of scrimmage,” Falcons coach Arthur Smith said.

The Panthers often stacked the box and sold out against the run, daring Mariota to beat them.

Shenault gave Carolina a 10-0 lead in the second quarter when he caught a swing pass from P.J. Walker after circling the backfield in motion and raced down the left sideline past five Falcons defenders — two of whom collided and took each other out of the play. The touchdown was ruled a rush because Walker’s toss was not a forward pass.

PINIERO’S REVENGE

Pineiro, who missed a winning extra point at the end of regulation and a field goal in overtime in the previous meeting with the Falcons, connected on field goals of 46, 49, 40 and 37 yards for Carolina on a wet field. He missed one extra point.

“I thought Eddy did a great job in practice bouncing back,” Wilks said. “We created different (game) scenarios for him in those situations. It says a lot about him as a person. You have to hit that reset button and understand that it happens some times. The way he came back tonight, I’m just so proud of him.”

INJURIES

Panthers: CB Donte Jackson injured an Achilles tendon in the fourth quarter and did not return. … FB Gio Ricci suffered a neck injury in the second half and also did not return.

UP NEXT

Falcons: Host Chicago on Nov. 20.

Panthers: At Baltimore on Nov. 20.

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

Source: https://apnews.com/article/atlanta-falcons-carolina-panthers-tampa-bay-buccaneers-joe-mixon-nfl-db6927ec479768e5490355222e7b1f05

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Report: NWSL to expand in Boston, Utah and California

The National Women’s Soccer League is close to expanding by three teams, which will be in Boston, Utah and the San Francisco area, according to a Friday report in the Wall Street Journal.

The women’s pro league previously indicated it would add at least two teams by 2024. The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources, reported that the franchises in northern California and Utah are set to start play next year, with Boston to join at a later date.

The NWSL did not confirm the report in a statement Saturday to The Associated Press, saying: “We remain engaged in our expansion process and are excited about our prospects. When we have news to share, we will do so.”

The NWSL has 12 teams, after Angel City in Los Angeles and the San Diego Wave joined the league last year.

The Wall Street Journal also reported that the Boston and Bay Area groups will pay about $50 million in franchise fees. The Utah team will pay a reduced fee because of a previous agreement struck when the Utah Royals folded in the 2020 season.

Before the NWSL draft earlier this month, league commissioner Jessica Berman said it would be “somewhere between days and months, more like weeks, when we’ll be in a position to share information” about an expansion.

“What I can say is that I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunities we have in front of us,” she added.

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

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Former MVP Candace Parker to sign with champion Aces

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Former two-time MVP Candace Parker announced on social media Saturday that she would sign with the defending champion Las Vegas Aces.

Parker spent the past two seasons playing for her hometown Sky, leading Chicago to the WNBA championship in 2021. She also won the 2016 title playing for the Los Angeles Sparks.

She posted on Instagram that Chicago would always be her home, but “my family’s home is on the west coast.

“To play for a championship close to home is the perfect situation for us. I’m looking forward to continuing the journey this summer in Las Vegas.”

The free-agent signing period begins Wednesday, and the Aces can’t comment until then.

Parker, a 6-foot-4 forward/center, adds to an already loaded lineup that includes reigning MVP A’ja Wilson, who also won the league’s top award in 2020. Wilson also was last season’s Defensive Player of the Year.

Chelsea Gray was MVP of the WNBA Finals and Kelsey Plum MVP of the All-Star Game. Wilson, Plum and Jackie Young were All-Star starters.

Parker and Gray were teammates on Los Angeles’ 2016 title team.

The Aces traded one of their key pieces, two-time Sixth Woman of the Year Dearica Hamby, to the Sparks on Jan. 21, creating speculation Las Vegas was creating salary cap room to sign a big-name player.

Parker, the 2020 Defensive Player of the Year and the 2016 Finals MVP, certainly fits that bill. Even at 36 last season, she averaged 13.2 points, 8.6 rebounds and 4.5 assists for the Sky.

“Candace has done so much for our franchise in her time here,” Chicago coach and general manager James Wade said in a statement. “I understand her reasons for wanting to be closer with her immediate family. We wish her nothing but the best. She will always be a part of the Sky family. We will celebrate her time here as she deserves.”

Losing her is a big blow to the Sky, who made the semifinals in last season’s playoffs before losing in five games to the Connecticut Sun. Kahleah Copper is the only starter under contract for next season, so the Sky could head into a rebuild.

“I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to win a championship in my hometown and parade down the same streets I watched the Bulls parade down as a young girl first falling in love with the game of basketball,” Parker posted.

Parker joins the Aces at a time the Women’s National Basketball Players Association said it wanted that organization investigated regarding allegations that Hamby made after being traded. She posted on Instagram she was “lied to, bullied, manipulated, and discriminated against” because she is pregnant with her second child.

The Aces still have not commented on Hamby’s allegations.

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

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Estrada, Hofstra end No. 18 Charleston’s 20-game win streak

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — This season, Hofstra has been a one-man show. This time, Aaron Estrada had some help as the Pride ended the nation’s longest winning streak.

Estrada scored 25 points, but just two in the second half, while Darlinestone Dubar added 18 as Hofstra had four players in double figures to knock off No. 18 College of Charleston 85-81 on Saturday — ending the Cougars’ 20-game win streak.

“That’s a really big for our program,” Hofstra coach Speedy Claxton said. “To beat a nationally ranked team on their home court when they’ve got it rolling like they do speaks volumes about our kids.”

Claxton saw a team effort to take down the hottest team in the country.

“It wasn’t just Aaron,” Claxton said. “He had a great first half, but we had other guys step up and make baskets or get rebounds when we really needed them.”

The loss ended Charleston’s spotless run that began after losing to then-top-ranked North Carolina on Nov. 11.

Hofstra, the CAA’s leader in field-goal shooting, used that to move past Charleston in the second half as it made 18 of 32 attempts. The Pride led 76-69 with 6:10 to play before the Cougars cut it to two points on Ryan Larson’s foul shots with 2:02 to play.

But Charleston managed just two free throws after that and missed all four 3-pointers they tried.

This is the second straight season the Pride have beaten a Top 25 team. A year ago, Hofstra defeated then No. 24 Arkansas 89-81. The Pride’s only other victory against a Top 25 team came against Southern Illinois in 1976.

Hofstra (15-8, 8-2 Colonial Athletic Association) beat the Cougars (21-2, 9-1) at their own game — 3-point shooting. The Pride were 11 of 22 from 3-point range and overall shot 56 percent from the floor in the second half.

Estrada, who had 23 points in the opening half, shredded the Cougars defense at will. Estrada was 5 of 9 from 3-point range.

“Estrada is a great player, hit a bunch of tough shots, especially in the first half,” Charleston coach Pat Kelsey said. “Hofstra is a very, very talented team. It’s not just Estrada. They were better than us tonight.”

Then Estrada took over. The CAA’s leading scorer at 21.1 points a game scored 16 of the next 24 points for the Pride, including four 3-pointers.

Ante Brzovic’s dunk at the buzzer gave the Cougars a 46-44 advantage at halftime.

Tyler Thomas had 17 points and eight rebounds for Hofstra.

Brzovic finished with 18 points to lead the Cougars.

BIG PICTURE

Hofstra: The Pride are on a roll in 2023. winning seven of their past eight games, including three in a row.

College of Charleston: The Cougars chances of receiving an NCAA Tournament at-large bid took a major blow with the loss to the Pride. Despite having the nation’s longest win streak for three months, Charleston will most likely have to win the CAA Tournament in March to advance to the NCAAs.

NO PLACE LIKE HOME

The Cougars’ 20-game win streak wasn’t the only streak to end on Saturday. College of Charleston played 14 of its first 23 games at TD Arena to start the season and were a perfect 13-0 at home before facing the Pride. Charleston’s 13-game home win streak included three wins in the Charleston Classic. The Cougars became the first mid-major program to win the ESPN event, beating Virginia Tech 77-75 in the championship game. Charleston will finish the season playing four of their final eight games on the road.

POLL POSITION

Charleston’s first loss in nearly three months might drop the Cougars from the national rankings. They have been part of the last four rankings, entering at No. 23 before reaching No. 18 this past week.

UP NEXT

Hofstra returns home to play Towson on Thursday night.

College of Charleston starts a two-game road trip at Drexel on Thursday night.

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AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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