Saturday, December 22, 2018

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Real Madrid: 2018 FIFA Club World Cup Champions



Real Madrid capped off another memorable year by claiming a third successive FIFA Club World Cup title, defeating host team Al Ain 4-1 at Abu Dhabi's Zayed Sports City Stadium.

The Best FIFA Men's Player 2018 Luka Modric opened the scoring on 14 minutes for the UEFA Champions League winners, before Marcos Llorente doubled the advantage on the hour-mark.

Skipper Sergio Ramos then made it three on 79 minutes as Los Blancos secured their fourth Club World Cup crown, with an own goal - after strong work from Vinicius Jr. - reaffirming Real's three-goal lead after a superb header from Tsukasa Shiotani.

Los Blancos applied early pressure but they nearly went a goal down when Hussein Elshahat latched onto the end of Marcelo's misplaced header and cut into the area before getting his shot off - only to be denied by a stunning block from skipper Sergio Ramos.

Just one minute later, though, the holders were in front when Karim Benzema played the ball back to Luka Modric on the edge of the 'D' and the Croatia star curled the ball into the bottom corner. Moments after Real were celebrating their opener, Al Ain had the ball in the back of the net but Caio's effort was flagged for offside.

Santiago Solari's side doubled their lead on the hour mark when the ball fell to Marcos Llorente after a corner, and goalkeeper Khalid Eisa was powerless to stop the midfielder's stunning strike from finding the bottom corner.

Sergio Ramos recorded Real's third, powering a header past Eisa after a corner, before Shiotani headed a consolation goal for the host team after Caio's free-kick. Yahia Nader then turned Vinicius Jr's effort into his own net in injury-time, rounding off a superb win.

The result means Real add to their 2014, 2016 and 2017 Club World Cup titles, while manager Solari claimed his first trophy as Los Blancos boss.

Alibaba Cloud Match Award​ winner: Marcos Llorente (Real Madrid) 

Troy; 2018 Dollar General Bowl Champions



MOBILE, Ala. -- Troy's offense limped through November with a handful of injuries, and a subpar game against Appalachian State in the regular-season finale cost the Trojans a shot at winning the Sun Belt Conference title.

After a few weeks of rest, the Trojans were healthy for the Dollar General Bowl. It made all the difference.

Sawyer Smith threw for 320 yards and four touchdowns, B.J. Smith and Sidney Davis ran for touchdowns and Troy beat Buffalo 42-32 on Saturday night. Troy coach Neal Brown said the victory was gratifying, even if the win was slightly bittersweet.

"Being at full strength, I think it kind of gave you a glimpse at what we might have been," Brown said.

Troy (10-3) secured the hard-fought win on Davis' 20-yard touchdown run with 3:09 remaining, a play after Buffalo's Tyree Jackson fumbled to give the Trojans possession. It was the Bulls' third lost fumble.

The entertaining game had several big swings in momentum, especially during a strange third quarter that featured Buffalo scoring seven points despite not running an offensive play.

Troy took a 21-17 lead on Smith's 2-yard touchdown run with 9:47 left in the third and then immediately recovered an onside kick. The Trojans were driving for another score before a B.J. Smith fumble bounced into the hands of Buffalo's Tyrone Hill, who ran 93 yards for a touchdown to give the Bulls a 24-21 lead.

Troy jumped ahead 35-24 after two quick touchdowns in the fourth quarter and held off Buffalo's final rally. Sawyer Smith's favorite target was Damion Willis, who caught 13 passes for 101 yards and two touchdowns. The quarterback said even though the Trojans made a few mistakes in the second half, he could feel momentum building.

"I knew how the offense was playing and how good we could be in the second half," Smith said. "I really had no doubt."

Buffalo's Jackson threw for 274 yards with a touchdown and an interception. The quarterback said the Bulls made some uncharacteristic mistakes that caused a sour end to the season.

"As an offense, we pride ourselves on playing good football," Jackson said. "We've played good football all year, no penalties and winning the turnover battle. Today we struggled with that and put our defense in a tough situation."

Buffalo (10-4) took the early 7-0 lead on Jaret Patterson's 11-yard touchdown run less than two minutes into the game. The drive was helped by a spectacular 51-yard pass completion that bounced off K.J. Osborn's hands and pinballed between a few defenders before being caught by Antonio Nunn.

Troy bounced back quickly with its own huge gain through the air -- a 60-yard touchdown from Sawyer Smith to Tray Eafford.

The game stayed tight throughout the first half and Buffalo took a 17-14 lead late in the second quarter on Adam Mitcheson's 41-yard field goal. The Bulls had the halftime lead despite three turnovers, including two fumbles.

THE TAKEAWAY

Buffalo: It's a disappointing loss for the Bulls, who are still looking for their first bowl win in program history. Buffalo dominated at times, but the four turnovers proved to be tough to overcome.

Troy: The Trojans secured their third straight 10-win season, which is the longest such streak in program history. Sawyer Smith was excellent and Troy finally got its run game going in the second half. The Trojans were also able to capitalize on Buffalo's turnovers.

UP NEXT

The Bulls should return most of their offense next season, but must replace eight defensive starters. Buffalo opens at home against Robert Morris next season.

Troy has a few holes to fill, but should return another very good team next season. Troy opens at home against Campbell next season.

"We've got a chance to put another run together," Brown said. "We really do."

Army: 2018 Armed Forces Bowl Champions



FORT WORTH, Texas -- Army quarterback Kelvin Hopkins Jr. initially ran right before cutting back the other way and eluding a tackler. He sent two other defenders sliding to the ground when he switched directions again and took off toward the end zone.

That nifty 77-yard run was one of his Armed Forces Bowl-record five rushing touchdowns as the No. 22 Black Knights overwhelmed Houston 70-14 on Saturday to reach 11 wins for the first time in program history.

"Just trying to get back to the line of scrimmage," Hopkins said. "There was this huge convoy of guys right there when I was running in. ... I just felt like people were on me. I thought it was Houston, and I realized it was gray jerseys. It was a really good team win."

The Black Knights' (11-2) 56-point win tied the FBS record for largest margin of victory in a bowl game, set by Tulsa in its 63-7 win over Bowling Green in the 2008 GMAC Bowl.

Army scored 70 points in a game for the first time since 1955, when it scored 81 against Furman, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The win was its ninth straight since an overtime loss at playoff team Oklahoma exactly three months earlier.

"Great, great finish to a terrific season," coach Jeff Monken said.

Houston (8-5) lost for the fourth time in five games since starting 7-1 and getting into the AP Top 25 poll for one week in late October. The injury-plagued Cougars suffered their most-lopsided loss in their 27 bowl games, and their biggest loss overall since a 66-10 loss at UCLA during the 1997 regular season.

"That's the hardest part to swallow, you're 7-1," second-year coach Major Applewhite said. "I'm proud of the way our kids fought. I'm not proud of losing the games at the end of the season the way we lost them."

Hopkins ran 11 times for 170 yards before coming out of the game midway through the third quarter when it was 49-7. He also completed the first 1,000-yard passing season for Army since 2007. He was 3-of-3 passing for 70 yards, including a 54-yarder that set up one of his three 1-yard TD plunges. He also had a 2-yard TD run.

Army got 507 of its 592 total yards on the ground in its highest-scoring game this season -- and the most points in the program's nine bowl appearances. The Black Knights won a bowl for the third consecutive year, including last year's Armed Force Bowl over San Diego State.

On the first play of the second quarter, on Houston's first snap after Hopkins' long TD run, Cameron Jones had a 23-yard fumble return for a score after James Nachtigal forced the turnover when he sacked Clayton Tune.

While Hopkins had his left arm in a sling after the game, he said he was "a little banged up" and that it was just a precaution. The junior quarterback's 77-yarder on the last play of the first quarter made it 14-0.

"He did a really good job of finding an initial opening because it was almost a busted play," Monken said. "It was not designed to go back that direction and he kind of skipped out of the way of a guy."

Tune, the true freshman filling in for injured playmaker D'Eriq King, was 21-of-32 passing for 230 yards and was sacked 10 times. He was responsible for both Houston TDs, a 3-yard pass to Romello Brooker in the second quarter and a 6-yard run with 6 1/2 minutes left.

THE TAKEAWAY

Houston: The Cougars didn't have King or NFL-bound defensive tackle Ed Oliver. King, who will be back next season, was responsible for 50 touchdowns in 11 games before knee surgery. Oliver missed four games because of a bruised right knee, then skipped the bowl game to focus on preparing for the NFL draft.

"I love Ed to death, but there were more issues than missing Ed," Applewhite said. "Give credit to Army."

Army: After a 10-loss season as freshmen, the Black Knights senior class won 29 games the past three seasons. They finished with back-to-back seasons of at least 10 wins. Army is an AP Top 25 team for the first time since 1996, the academy's only other 10-win season.

"I knew we had something special going on in our program," Monken said.

UP NEXT

Houston plays its 2019 season opener Aug. 31 at Oklahoma.

Army opens the 2019 season at home against Rice on Aug. 30.

Wake Forest: 2018 Birmingham Bowl Champions



BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Jamie Newman's season started on a sour note and finished on a sweet one.

Newman ran for a 1-yard touchdown with 34 seconds left to cap a big performance and Wake Forest's comeback in a 37-34 victory over Memphis in the Birmingham Bowl on Saturday. The quarterback who lost the competition for the starting job in fall camp, then replaced an injured Sam Hartman, delivered big play after big play in a storybook ending to the season.

"When Sam got hurt and Jamie became the starter, it wasn't like, `Woe is us,' and `we're in trouble," Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said. "Jamie and Sam were going back and forth all of camp and then Jamie got hurt (bruised quad) in the last scrimmage."

Even after that go-ahead score, the Demon Deacons (7-6) had to wait to celebrate until Riley Patterson's 43-yard field goal attempt went wide right as time expired.

Both teams scored touchdowns over the final 1:15. Memphis (8-6) lost a big lead for the second straight game after jumping ahead by 18 points in the first half.

Voted the game MVP, Newman ran for three touchdowns and passed for a fourth to lead Wake Forest, throwing for 328 yards and rushing 23 times for 91 more.

He led the Demon Deacons on a 75-yard drive starting at the 1:15 mark, covering most of it with completions of 49 and 20 yards to Alex Bachman.

"Alex Bachman made some great plays down there, a lot of one-on-one balls, 50-50 balls, and he won," Newman said.

He rebounded from an early sack on that last scoring drive, and from a pick-six in the first half, too.

"We practice this every Wednesday throughout the week," Newman said of the two-minute drill. "This was just another day at the office out there."

Bachman's second catch was reviewed and the spot was upheld at the 1-yard line after his right arm hit the pylon. Newman kept the ball for the go-ahead score.

Bachman finished with seven catches for 171 yards.

Memphis swiftly moved into position to at least tie the game. Brady White found an open Joey Magnifico on the right sideline for a 44-yard gain, with the tight end battling for extra yards down to the 17.

"I fully expected us to win that game," Tigers coach Mike Norvell said.

The Tigers went backward after that, though, including a false start penalty after Patterson lined up to attempt a game-tying kick.

Wake Forest safety Cameron Glenn said it felt "kind of like an out-of-body experience" when the kick went right.

"I felt like my soul just lifted out of my body or something," Glenn said. "It's crazy."

In the Tigers' last outing, they had led by 17 points against No. 7 UCF in the American Athletic Conference championship game, only to lose 58-41.

Subbing for All-America running back Darrell Henderson, Patrick Taylor Jr. had given Memphis the lead with a 9-yard touchdown to cap a 14-play, 88-yard drive. Before that, the Tigers had come up empty on nine consecutive drives.

"We just kept talking to our guys on the sideline, `just continue to play," Norvell said. "We were struggling there at times in the third and fourth quarter getting things going offensively. I thought our guys responded."

Tony Pollard scored on a 97-yard kickoff return to tie the NCAA career mark with seven. Memphis also scored on a 37-yard interception return by Chris Claybrooks.

THE TAKEAWAY

Memphis: Lost its fourth straight bowl game and second straight big lead. Ran for 207 yards without Henderson, who skipped the game to prepare for the NFL draft.

Wake Forest: Outgained Memphis 529-378 in total yards. Last five bowl wins have all come after early deficits, including four double-digit holes.

RETURN RECORD

Pollard matched the career mark shared by Clemson's C.J. Spiller, Houston's Tyron Carrier and San Diego State's Rashaad Penny. Memphis fans responded with chants of "Tony!" at Legion Field.

It was Pollard's first kick return for a score this season, with teams kicking to him only 21 times before the bowl game. He returned four the distance in 2017 and did it twice as a redshirt freshman in 2016.

"All week coach did a good job drawing it up how they would come down and how the blocks would work out and it happened just the way we drew it up," Pollard said.

UP NEXT

Wake Forest returns both Newman and the freshman Hartman, the starting quarterback until a season-ending leg injury. Dortch is a third-year sophomore, but three offensive line starters are seniors. The defense is poised to only lose three starters.

Memphis gets back both Taylor and Pollard, along with White, but the defense loses six starters for a team seeking its sixth straight bowl bid.

FULL REPLAY - DRAW for FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019™

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