Monday, January 16, 2017

Packers Nip Cowboys, Steelers Hold On In KC Plus... Local Goodies

CROSBY STILLS COWBOYS SUPER BOWL HOPES
 
Mason Crosby nailed a 51-yard field goal as time expired to send Green Bay past Dallas and into the NFC Championship next Sunday in Atlanta. The Packers 34-31 win was made possible by outstanding play from Aaron Rodgers from the opening drive until his final pass that ended the Cowboys magical season.

Dak Prescott became the first rookie starting quarterback in the Super Bowl era to throw three touchdown passes in a playoff game. The Haughton native got started by connecting with Dez Bryant in the 2nd quarter on a 40-yard play to cut the lead to 21-10.  Prescott and Jason Witten combined on a six-yard scoring toss to make it 28-20 with 11:39 remaining in the 4th quarter. The touchdown catch was Witten's first in a playoff game. Prescott's third touchdown pass went to Dez Bryant with 4:09 to play to make it 28-26. Prescott added a two-point conversion on a quarterback draw to knot the game.  

Green Bay moved downfield, aided by a pass interference penalty on Anthony Brown that nullified what would have been Jeff Heath's second interception of the game.  When the Packers drive stalled at the Dallas 38-yard line, Crosby cashed in a three-pointer from 56 yards out with 1:33 remaining in the fourth quarter to give the Packers a 31-28 lead. 

Taking over at their 25-yard line, the Cowboys quickly reached midfield on a first-down Prescott to Terrence Williams combo that covered 24 yards. Prescott and Witten connected for an 11-yard pick-up on the next play to move to the Packers 40 yard line. With :50 seconds to play and only one timeout remaining, head coach Jason Garrett called for Prescott to spike the ball to stop the clock.  Prescott found Cole Beasley in the flat for a 7-yard gain but his third down pass was batted down at the line of scrimmage.  Dan Bailey trotted onto the field and calmly nailed a game-tying 52-yard field goal with :35 seconds to play.

On the final possession of the game, Rodgers was sacked by Heath for a ten-yard loss with :18 second to play, moving Green Bay back to their own 32-yard line.  After an incomplete pass, Rodgers made the play of the game, converting 3rd and 20 by rolling to his left and firing a strike to a sliding Jared Cook, who made the catch just inches from the sideline at the Dallas 32 yard line with :03 seconds to play.  

Garrett iced Crosby on his first attempt, calling a timeout just a hair before the Packers kicker booted the ball through the uprights.  On the second opportunity-the one that counted-Crosby's kick started to drift left but knuckled back to the right, easily covering the 51 yards while nestling inside the right upright for the game winner.

Prescott finished 24-38-302 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. The turnover midway through the 3rd quarter at the Green Bay 19 yard line when Micah Hyde stepped in front of a pass intended for Beasley.  Ezekiel Elliot added 125 yards rushing on 22 attempts.  Dez Brynt finished with 9-catches for 132 yards and the two scores.

Rodgers threw for 356 yards and two touchdowns, completing 28-of-43 passes. 

This was the first playoff game in NFL history to feature three 50+ yard field goals in the final two minutes of the 4th quarter. 

Green Bay will play Atlanta in the Georgia Dome next Sunday for the NFC  Championship. 

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BOSWELL BOOTS PITTSBURGH INTO AFC CHAMPIONSHIP

After home teams won the first six NFL playoff games, road teams made their presence felt Sunday. In addition to Green Bay's win in Arlington, the Pittsburgh Steelers stormed into Kansas City and toppled the Chiefs in an AFC Divisional round playoff game, 18-16.

Chris Boswell booted a playoff record six field goals and the Steelers defense made it hold up, setting up a showdown of AFC heavyweights next Sunday in Foxboro between Pittsburgh and New England. Since 2001, the two teams have combined for nine conference crowns. 

The Chiefs grabbed a 7-3 lead midway through the opening quarter on a five-yard touchdown pass from Alex Smith to Albert Wilson. The end zones remained untouched until late in the fourth quarter when the Chiefs reached pay-dirt on a Spencer Ware 1-yard touchdown to slice the Steelers lead to 18-16.  Kansas City succeeded on the two point conversion to tie the game but former first overall pick, Eric Fisher was called for holding, moving the Chiefs back to the 12-yard line for the conversion attempt, which failed the second go-round. 

Kansas City coach, Andy  Reid chose to kick off deep rather than attempt an onside kick and it nearly paid a dividend when the Steelers muffed the kick and had to start at their own five yard line. Pittsburgh needed one first down to run out the clock and Ben Roethlisberger hit Antonio Brown for seven yards on 3rd and 3 from the 12 to ice the game. 

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LEVERMANN EARNS NATIONAL RECOGNITION

Byrd girls soccer coach, Lisa Levermann picked up her National Soccer Coaches Association of America 2016 Regional Coach of the Year award in Los Angeles this weekend according to the Shreveport Times. 

Levermann guided the Lady Jackets to a 29-2-1 record and state runner-up finish to Mt. Carmel last season. This year, Byrd is ranked third in Division One with an 11-2 record.
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NORTHEASTERN STATE CONTINUES HAULING IN LOCALS

Northeastern State University, a Division II school in Tahlequah added their third local football commit over the weekend.  Parkway's Johnathan Jones and Nick So'oto were committed prior to Airline's D'Kameron White's commitment Sunday. North DeSoto's Tim Howard, who just finished his freshman season, is the only other local player on the roster.

Also over the weekend, Delmonte Hall, the Friday Football Frenzy Offenssive Player of the Year, and all-area performer from North DeSoto, announced his commitment to Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond. 
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DEMONS PICK UP LSU TRANSFER

Northwestern State's wide receiver corp received a boost Sunday. Former LSU Tiger, Jazz Ferguson announced on twitter that he is transferring to the Natchitoches school.  Ferguson was suspended by LSU this past season after playing in seven games.  

The former 4-star recruit out of West Feliciana High School will be eligible immediately at NSU.
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