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No. 16 Florida State runs wild over Florida for 45-38 win

Source image: https://apnews.com/article/college-football-sports-florida-gators-anthony-richardson-jordan-travis-d7e5965752b15a9a59635bc346d71f1b

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — A rout and a nail-biter. Florida State has knocked off its two state rivals for the first time since 2016, setting off a raucous celebration.

Trey Benson had a 17-yard touchdown run with 4:06 left to give No. 16 Florida State a 45-38 win over Florida on Friday.

Benson had 111 yards rushing and three touchdowns, and Jordan Travis ran for 83 yards and two touchdowns. The Seminoles ran for 228 yards — the seventh straight time they surpassed the 200-yard rushing mark.

Florida drove the field in the final minutes but Anthony Richardson’s fourth-down pass over the middle fell incomplete with 39 seconds to go.

It was the highest scoring game in the Florida State-Florida rivalry, which dates to 1958.

Travis also completed 13 of 30 passes for 270 yards as Florida State (9-3) completed a sweep of its state rivals for the first time under Mike Norvell. The Seminoles drilled Miami 45-3 on Nov. 5.

“To be able to finish tonight 2-0 in the state, that’s big,” said Norvell, who is in his third year at FSU. “Those two games, you know how important it is. We don’t sell it short. It’s critical for us to go and play well in these games and to go win these games. To be able to finish up as the state champs, I’m so proud of our guys.”

A redshirt junior, Travis used his ability to escape and elude to his advantage. He initially broke out of the pocket to avoid sacks but then, once in the open field, made cuts and off-balance runs to get into the end zone or set up FSU’s touchdowns.

Travis finished with a season-high 15 carries and his 83 rushing yards were the second most he accumulated this season, only to a 108-yard output in the loss at NC State on Oct. 8. But on Friday night, Travis’ legs were the difference.

“The quarterback is a challenge,” Florida coach Billy Napier said. “His legs were the difference in the game. He gave us fits all night.”

Florida State trailed 24-21 at the half but opened the second half with scores on the next three drives (field goal, touchdown, touchdown) to jump in front 38-24. The Gators (6-6) answered back with a pair of touchdowns, one each by Montrell Johnson and Trevor Etienne, to tie the game with 7:41 left.

Benson now has 965 yards, just 35 short of becoming FSU’s first 1,000-yard rusher since Cam Akers in 2019.

Richardson completed just 5 of 17 passes but three were for touchdowns. Ricky Pearsall had a career-best 148 receiving yards, including touchdowns of 52 and 43 yards in the first half.

Trevor Etienne had a season-best 129 yards on 17 carries, and Montrell Johnson Jr. had 85 yards on 17 carries.

This is the eighth time this season FSU has surpassed 35 points in a game.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Florida State has a chance to move up after winning its second game against the SEC, which followed a September win over LSU.

SENIOR DAY

Florida State honored 18 players on Senior Day, including a number of redshirt juniors who could opt to return in 2023. Among those who were recognized include preseason AP All-American Jammie Robinson and defensive tackle Fabien Lovett, both of whom have announced Senior Bowl invitations on Twitter. Among those not honored were redshirt junior quarterback Jordan Travis.

SHORTHANDED

Florida played without a few of its top players. Justin Shorter, who had a team-leading 577 receiving yards, did not play. Safety Rashad Torrence II, the leading tackler with 76, was also out.

TAKEAWAYS

Florida: The Gators ran for 262 yards, averaging 5.7 yards per carry, but he had 11 straight incompletions in the second half.

Florida State: The Seminoles gave up a season-high 38 points, but made a stop on the final drive to secure their best regular season since 2016.

UP NEXT

Florida: Awaits bowl selection announcement.

Florida State: Awaits bowl selection announcement.

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Source: https://apnews.com/article/college-football-sports-florida-gators-anthony-richardson-jordan-travis-d7e5965752b15a9a59635bc346d71f1b

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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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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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