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McCaffrey’s TD, stout D lead 49ers past Chargers 22-16

Source image: https://apnews.com/article/los-angeles-chargers-san-francisco-49ers-nfl-sports-6626cf3e79403be349991658b20d044c

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — For all the talk of how dynamic San Francisco’s offense could look with Christian McCaffrey and Deebo Samuel, it was the 49ers defense that once again led the way.

McCaffrey ran for the go-ahead touchdown with 7:54 to play, and the Niners pitched a second-half shutout to beat the Los Angeles Chargers 22-16 Sunday night in their first game back from a bye week.

“I was proud of our team today,” coach Kyle Shanahan said. “I want to play better. I want to blow people out. I want to score every time we go. … Those guys are tough to get in the end zone against and they did that to us today. But we still found a way to win.”

The Niners (5-4) returned from the midseason break as healthy as they’ve been all season on offense and with hopes of making a second-half run. Their performance against the short-handed Chargers (5-4) was a slog at times but proved to be just enough to come out on top.

San Francisco fell behind by 10 points in the second quarter before rallying. Jimmy Garoppolo scored on a 1-yard sneak in the second quarter and then made the biggest play when he hit Brandon Aiyuk on a 24-yard pass on third-and-10 from the Chargers 26 midway through the fourth quarter.

McCaffrey ran it in on the next play and has now accounted for four touchdowns in three games since arriving from Carolina in a midseason trade.

Garoppolo went 19 for 28 for 240 yards while San Francisco relied heavily on the ground game, rushing 41 times for 157 yards, and defense.

“There’s different ways to win this league,” Garoppolo said. “We definitely made it hard on ourselves, that’s for sure. But a lot of resilient guys, a lot of mature guys. … It wasn’t pretty early on and they were doing some things that gave us trouble, but we stuck with it.”

Justin Herbert went 21 for 35 for 196 yards with a touchdown pass for the Chargers, who were playing without both starting tackles and receivers.

After scoring a touchdown on their opening possession, the Chargers managed just three field goals — two on drives that started in Niners territory — the rest of the way against a stout San Francisco defense.

“They did a good job against the run in the second half,” coach Brandon Staley said. “We couldn’t get anything going in the run game, and in the passing game it was tight. The rush was coming, and there wasn’t a lot of air in the second and third level to take advantage of.”

The Chargers failed on two late chances, They took over at their 1 with 2:03 to play but turned it over on downs when Herbert’s pass on fourth-and-3 from his own 8 went off Joshua Palmer’s hands for an incompletion.

After holding San Francisco to a field goal, Herbert got another chance with 53 seconds to go but was intercepted by Talanoa Hufanga on the first play to seal the game.

“It didn’t go our way today,” Herbert said. “Unfortunately we fell short.”

San Francisco held the opposition scoreless in the second half for the second straight game after allowing 44 points to Kansas City in Week 8.

“We know that we’re we’re one of the best defenses in the league,” linebacker Fred Warner said. “We’ve shown that throughout the season. One bad game doesn’t define you.”

FAST START

The Chargers flipped the script from their recent games, when they became the first team since 1988 to trail by at least 10 points following the first quarter in four straight outings. Herbert completed all four passes on the opening drive, capped by a 32-yard TD strike to DeAndre Carter.

Los Angeles then held the Niners to a field goal after a drive inside the 10 and led 7-3 after one.

EJECTED

Niners linebacker Dre Greenlaw was ejected late in the second quarter when he delivered a helmet-to-helmet hit on Herbert. Herbert was forced to leave the game to be checked for a concussion.

“It blew my mind,” Shanahan said of the ejection.

Chase Daniel came in for the final three plays of the half. The Chargers’ drive stalled and they settled for a field goal that made it 16-10. Herbert was cleared and returned at the start of the second half.

INJURIES

Chargers: DL Otito Ogbonnia (knee) and TE Gerald Everett (groin) left in the first half and didn’t return. … DL Christian Covington (pectoral) left in the fourth quarter.

49ers: WR Danny Gray rolled his ankle in warmups and didn’t play.

UP NEXT

Chargers: Host Kansas City next Sunday night.

49ers: Play Arizona in Mexico City on Monday, Nov. 21.

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

Source: https://apnews.com/article/los-angeles-chargers-san-francisco-49ers-nfl-sports-6626cf3e79403be349991658b20d044c

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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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