Tag Archive | "lions"

Nov 11, 2012; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens punter Sam Koch (4) celebrates after scoring a touchdown on a fake field goal in the third quarter against the Oakland Raiders at M&T Bank Stadium.  Baltimore defeated Oakland 55-20.  Mandatory Credit: James Lang-US PRESSWIRE

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Ravens thoughts on Koch, safety position, Ngata

Posted on 14 July 2015 by Luke Jones

At a time of year when you pray for peace and quiet while counting down to the start of training camp, the Ravens made positive news last week by signing veteran punter Sam Koch to a long-term extension.

Despite being the second-longest tenured player on the team behind Terrell Suggs, the 32-year-old’s future had been under scrutiny the last couple offseasons due to a high salary cap figure for a punter, but general manager Ozzie Newsome showed how much the organization valued Koch by inking him to a five-year, $16.25 million extension that runs through the 2020 season. The 2006 sixth-round pick was coming off arguably the best season of his career in which he led the NFL in net punting with a 43.3 yard average.

Koch will receive good pay for however long he remains in Baltimore — the structure of the contract would make it fairly easy to cut him as early as the conclusion of the 2016 season if desired — but the deal still ranks outside the top five for punter contracts in total cash and guaranteed money. Remembering that the salary cap has increased by more than $23 million since 2011 makes Koch’s deal much easier to swallow considering his consistency.

While more attention has understandably fallen on the future of 2013 Pro Bowl kicker Justin Tucker — who is scheduled to become a free agent after the 2015 season — Koch has long been a respected member of the locker room that extends beyond his reputation for executing directional kicks as well as any punter in the league. Special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg passionately summarized Koch’s value to the Ravens after the veteran failed to make the Pro Bowl last December despite winning the fan vote:

I think the fans got it right. The fans prove to be more informed than the experts in this particular regard, in my opinion. Sam has his team as the No. 1 net punt and No. 1 gross punt team in the league if you’re looking just at numbers – which I’m assuming people did – and that’s hard to do. It’s hard to do both. And other numbers that jump out at you – he’s one of the lowest numbers in percentage of returned balls, one of the lowest numbers in percentage of yards returned, one of the highest percentage of inside-the-20 punts in the league.

Besides that, he’s probably – and I don’t have numbers to back it up – but I suspect that the numbers would back me up to say he’s probably the best holder in the history of football. He has held for three Pro Bowl kickers since he has been here. This last year, he held for three different snappers, actually four counting Haloti [Ngata]. What more does a guy have to do? I guess that’s the way I look at it. And this is meant as no disrespect for the two outstanding players that made it, but the reason we do what we do is because Sam can do it. And the season he has had has been phenomenal. He went through an offseason where he got some undeserved criticism that was thrown out there and some people swallowed it and then spit it back up. His family endured that, and all Sam did is work and take care of his family.

He’s a great husband and a father, an outstanding member of his community. This is a model for pro athletes. If anybody wants to look at a pro athlete, I say, ‘Look at Sam. Be like Sam.’ His teammates have an enormous amount of respect for him. The thing I think has happened here is, because he’s such an unassuming team man – that he doesn’t seek attention for himself – that I think he has been overlooked for a number of years. Certainly not by us, not by his teammates – he is not being overlooked. We are passionate in our support of Sam Koch, because he’s such an outstanding man and an outstanding player.

Is Rosburg partial to the only punter he’s known in Baltimore? Of course, but his words tell all you need to know as to why the Ravens felt it was important to lock up their veteran punter.

Of course, the bigger challenge will be signing Tucker, but the franchise tag is almost certain to be in play if the sides don’t strike a deal by next February.

Safety concerns

The Ravens were able to augment their depth at the cornerback position with the additions of veteran Kyle Arrington and fourth-round rookie Tray Walker this offseason, but safety remains a concern as they enter training camp later this month.

Newsome made a modest commitment to veteran newcomer Kendrick Lewis with a three-year, $5.4 million contract, but only time will tell whether he represents an upgrade from Darian Stewart, who wasn’t exactly stellar in his lone season in Baltimore last year. According to Pro Football Focus, Lewis graded out as the 27th-best safety among those playing at least 50 percent of team snaps while Stewart was 23rd, but the Ravens believe Lewis has better ability to play deep coverage — an area in which the pass defense struggled dramatically a year ago.

Strong safety Will Hill could be the wild card for the Ravens secondary if he can build on his 2014 campaign in which he graded out as the 14th-best safety in the league, per PFF. Head coach John Harbaugh challenged the 25-year-old Hill to keep himself out of trouble this offseason after he was suspended three times in his first three years in the NFL, resulting in him being jettisoned by the New York Giants last year.

Baltimore will knock on wood hoping no news is good news with Hill as his continued emergence would mean less reliance on the disappointing Matt Elam or the rehabbing Terrence Brooks to begin the 2015 season. Scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent next offseason, Hill would not only solidify his standing in the starting defense with a strong season, but he’d put himself in line for a nice payday despite the tumultuous beginning to his professional career.

Ngata story

The winner of this year’s Ravens-related topic that isn’t remotely a story might have been the recent comments made by Haloti Ngata about his new defense in Detroit.

Apparently, the five-time Pro Bowl selection saying he had “never been a part of a defense like this” meant he was trashing his former team as if he’s supposed to walk on eggshells in describing his new surroundings. Many of those stirring up controversy failed to mention that Ngata will be playing in a base 4-3 front for the first time in his NFL career and — wait for it — will have different teammates than the ones with whom he played in Baltimore, very much making it a defense he’s “never been a part of” before.

If you need further evidence to dismiss the notion that Ngata was out of line in expressing admiration for a non-Baltimore defense, Detroit finished ahead of the Ravens in total defense and points allowed in 2014.

While I wouldn’t describe the separation between Ngata and the Ravens as harmonious after contract talks broke down this winter, each side ultimately made a business decision the other respected. The veteran spent nearly a decade in Baltimore, rarely ever used the media to draw attention to himself, and has expressed nothing but respect for his former organization since the March trade, making last week’s created controversy absurd.

Yes, it’s a slow news time in the NFL, but there was nothing to see there at all.

 

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Detroit squashes tampering speculation from Bisciotti comments

Posted on 02 April 2015 by Luke Jones

Less than a day after Steve Bisciotti made seemingly harmless comments about the future of former Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, his new team squashed any possibility of tampering charges being filed.

Addressing season-ticket holders in a conference call on Wednesday, Bisciotti said he wouldn’t rule out the possibility of the five-time Pro Bowl selection re-signing with the Ravens next offseason after he was traded to the Detroit Lions last month. This raised a few eyebrows as some suggested the comments could qualify as tampering, especially in light of the ongoing saga between the New York Jets and the New England Patriots over All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis.

“He could be a free agent a year from now, and we may be watching the second coming of Haloti Ngata,” said Bisciotti, pointing to the 2006 first-round pick only being under current through the 2015 season. “Who knows? I’d never give up hope that we couldn’t get him back.”

Reflected in a statement released by the Lions on Thursday afternoon, the Ravens reached out to Detroit to clarify comments Bisciotti was making to fans about a player who had just spent nine years in Baltimore. It appears Detroit understands Bisciotti was simply stating the obvious in answering a fan’s question and sharing that the sides had no hard feelings.

Of course, it helps that the teams share a good relationship with former Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell serving as Lions head coach and former secondary coach Teryl Austin now Detroit’s defensive coordinator. Had the words been about a former player playing for Pittsburgh or New England, the response might have been different.

“We appreciate both the Ravens’ professionalism and the context in which Mr. Bisciotti’s statements were made,” the statement read. “We consider the matter to be a non-issue.”

With much debate about tampering in the current climate of NFL free agency and with the Patriots-Jets spat, it’s nice to see common sense prevail as an owner’s words to fans about one of the greatest players in franchise history shouldn’t be viewed in the same light as illegal negotiating through back channels, which is what the rule is really in place to prevent.

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Pasadena native Gaia (Gilman) gets Penn State football honor

Posted on 13 April 2014 by WNST Staff

Penn State Blue Squad Topples White, 37-0 in 
Front of 72,000

Chiappialle runs for 63 yards, two scores as Blue defeats White on 70 degree day in Beaver Stadium

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; April, 12, 2014 – Spring arrived in Happy Valley in full force for the annual Penn State Blue-White Game presented by AAA, as an estimated 72,000 fans watched the Blue squad defeat the White squad, 37-0, inside a sun-drenched Beaver Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The crowd of 72,000 was third-largest in Blue-White Game history, trailing only 76,500 in 2009 and 73,000 in 2008. The temperature hit 70 degrees as the huge crowd took in Coach James Franklin’s first Blue-White Game.

After the return of the players’  pre-game autograph session opened the day, the team took to the field and made what Franklin called “great progress” in the locker room after the contest. The first-year Nittany Lion mentor expressed that he was pleased with the strides the squad made during the 15-practice spring session, but made a point that there was still ample of work to do before the team opens fall camp in August to begin on-field preparations for the Aug. 30 opener vs. UCF in the Croke Park Classic.

After Sam Ficken’s (Valparaiso, Ind.) 26-yard field goal opened the scoring for the Blue team with 9:26 left in the first quarter, sophomore running back Cole Chiappialle (Beaver Falls) piled up some points late in the second quarter. 



Chiappialle carried the ball five times for 32 yards and two scores over the final three minutes of the half. After a punt, Chiappialle covered the final nine yards to paydirt to push the Blue team ahead, 10-0, and following Ryan Keiser’s (Selinsgrove) interception of D.J. Crook (West Barnstable, Mass.), he jolted 23 yards over the left side to make it 17-0 heading to the locker room.

Chiappialle finished with nine carries for a game-high 63 rushing yards and added two catches for 17 yards.

The defense was on point for the Blue team, as well, recording four of the five turnovers in the game (3 INT, 1 Fumble). Keiser, Trevor Williams (Baltimore, Md.) and Matthew Baney (State College) all grabbed interceptions, while Keiser forced a fumble that Jesse Della Valle (Pittsburgh, Pa.) recovered. Adam Cole (Belle Vernon) recovered a fumble to account for the only turnover forced for the White squad.

Baney’s interception opened the scoring in the second half, as the junior rumbled for 28 yards to cross the goal line and push the Blue team ahead, 23-0.

A bit of trickery caught the White squad’s defense off guard late in the third quarter when wideout Eugene Lewis (Wilkes-Barre) found Matt Zanellato (Burke, Va.) down the right side line for a 56-yard touchdown pass. Lewis came in motion and freshman quarterback Michael O’Connor (Ottawa, Ontario) pitched the ball to the speedy receiver. After a few steps, Lewis stopped and connected with Zanellato, who was wide open behind the defense for a 56-yard scoring strike. Akeel Lynch (Toronto, Ontario) capped the scoring with a three-yard touchdown run with 25 seconds late in the game to account for the 37-0 final score.

All four quarterbacks on the roster completed passes in the game, led by O’Connor’s 81 yards on 11-of-16 passing for the Blue team. Crook completed 10-of-17 passes for 68 yards for the White team.

Eight different receivers caught passes for the Blue Team and 10 White squad receivers grabbed catches. Kyle Carter (Bear, Del.) led the Blue side with four grabs and DeShawn Baker (Philadelphia) grabbed a pair of catches for eight yards to pace the White contingent. Zanellato’s 68 yards on two catches led all receivers.

On defense, the Blue’s C.J. Olaniyan (Warren, Mich.) led all players with five tackles, including 2.5 sacks and three tackles for loss. Keiser forced a fumble, intercepted a pass and came away with three stops, as well. Cornberbacks Da’Quan Davis (Baltimore, Md.) and Devin Pryor (San Bernardino, Calif.) each had four stops to lead the White, with Davis recording four solo stops.

Four Nittany Lions were recognized for their spring practice efforts at halftime. Junior defensive tackle Anthony Zettel (West Branch, Mich.) was presented the Jim O’Hora Award, as the redshirt junior switched from defensive end to defensive tackle during the spring. Redshirt sophomore Brian Gaia (Pasadena, Md.) transitioned from defensive line to offensive guard and earned the Red Worrell Award. Junior defensive end Deion Barnes (Philadelphia) was selected by the coaching staff as the recipient of the Frank Patrick Memorial Award.

Franklin and his staff added a fourth award, Coaches Special Team Award, which was presented to Ficken.

The Worrell Award is presented to the offensive player whose spring contribution is most worthy of special tribute. The prize was first presented in 1958 and is named in the honor of the late Red Worrell, a high school All-American from Centerville HS who was tragically electrocuted in an accident after an exceptional season on the 1957 Nittany Lion freshman team. Past Worrell Award winners include former offensive coordinator Fran Ganter, Lydell Mitchell, Mickey Shuler, Steve Smith, Kyle Brady, Bryant Johnson, Rodney Kinlaw, Graham Zug, Matt Stankiewitch and Ty Howle, the 2013 recipient.

The defensive award is named in honor of Jim O’Hora, a long-time Penn State assistant coach who was a member of the coaching staff for 31 years. Loyalty and attitude especially characterized Jim O’Hora and has typified many of the previous winners, including Walker Lee Ashley, Andre Collins, Michael Haynes, Anthony Adams, Tim Shaw, Michael Mauti, Jordan Hill and Stephon Morris, along with Jordan Lucas and C.J. Olaniyan in 2013. The O’Hora Award was first presented in 1977.

The Frank Patrick Memorial “Total Commitment” Award goes to junior class squad members who consistently follow through with their responsibilities in all facets of the football program and do so in exemplary manner. This includes academic pursuits, off-season preparation, in-season commitment, demeanor and community service. Jeff Hartings, Wally Richardson, Justin Kurpeikis, Bryan Scott, Robbie Gould, Josh Hull, John Urschel and the 2013 duo of Miles Dieffenbach and Mike Hull are among the previous recipients. Patrick was a member of the Lions’ coaching staff from 1949-73.

Urschel, who won the James E. Sullivan Award Friday night in Orlando as the nation’s top amateur athlete, presented the Patrick Award to Barnes.

Franklin and nine other head coaches will be participating in the 17-stop Penn State Coaches Caravan, starting May 1 at the Pegula Ice Arena on the University Park campus and ending May 22 in Erie. Franklin is scheduled to appear at all 17 events. More than 4,500 Penn State alumni and fans have registered during the initial three weeks. For all the Coaches Caravan event dates and locations, go to alumni.psu.edu/events/coachescaravan. 

Penn State returns 41 letterwinners and 15 starters (7 offense, 7 defense, 1 specialist) and will host Rose Bowl Champion Michigan State (Nov. 29), Ohio State (Oct. 25), Northwestern (Sept. 27-Homecoming) and Maryland (Nov. 1) during its 2014 Big Ten home schedule. The Nittany Lions will play a trio of 2013 Top 10 teams this fall.

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Towson musters almost no offense in loss to Penn State

Posted on 13 April 2014 by WNST Staff

TOWSON, Md. – Freshman Mike Lynch scored the Tigers’ (8-4, 2-2 Colonial Athletic Association (CAA)) only goal as No. 19 Towson fell, 8-1, to Penn State (5-6, 1-2 CAA) Saturday evening at Unitas Stadium.

Turnovers plagued the Tigers in the first half, as Towson had only two possessions that did not end in a turnover. The Nittany Lions’ wings controlled the ground balls off the face-offs, and PSU was able to extend its possessions through careful passing and judicious shot selection.

Lynch’s goal at 54.7 seconds left saved the Tigers from their first shutout since March 26, 1970. Mike Sutton(2g) and TJ Sanders (2g) led PSU in scoring.

“Congratulations to Penn State,” said Head Coach Shawn Nadelen. “They came out and played a terrific game. They brought their best to the field, and we didn’t.”

Penn State held a 5-0 lead at the half after Sutton tallied a pair of goals – the only two goals scored in the second quarter. Sutton’s second goal was extra-man, snapping the Tigers’ 169:16 streak of holding opponents scoreless on man-up chances.

Towson struggled in the second half against Penn State’s press, committing eight total turnovers in the final two quarters. Penn State committed just eight turnovers for the game. Both Towson’s Tyler White and PSU’s Austin Kaut finished the game with 11 saves each.

Towson returns to action on Saturday, April 19 at 7 p.m. when the Tigers host Drexel. Towson’s senior class will be honored before the game in a brief ceremony. Fans are encouraged to wear black to “black out” Unitas Stadium.

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Towson welcomes Penn State for key CAA tilt Saturday night

Posted on 11 April 2014 by WNST Staff

Opening Face-Off
The Tigers come into this 2013 CAA title game rematch off a thrilling 6-5 win over then-No. 11 UMass on Saturday, April 5. Penn State is coming off a heart-breaking 13-12 triple-overtime loss at Drexel the same day.

Updating the Tigers
Sophomore goalkeeper Tyler White backstopped the Tigers to a tight win at UMass. The Tigers led most of the way but went cold offensively, going scoreless the final 19:59 of the game. The Tigers held UMass to 0-4 on EMO and continue to excell in clearing the ball (.903) and taking care of it (11.73 turnovers per game).

Scouting the Nittany Lions
Penn State slipped to 4-5 overall after Drexel snatched a triple OT win after scoring the game-winner with 46 seconds left in the third extra frame. Goalkeeper Austin Kaut made 17 saves and freshman Mike Sutton scored a career-best five goals in the loss. For his efforts, Sutton earned CAA Rookie of the Week accolades. The Nittany Lions are ninth in the nation in face-off percentage (.615) and 20th in caused turnovers per game (7.90).

Towson-PSU Series History
The series with Penn State is a relatively recent one, beginning in 1981 with a 14-6 PSU win in Towson. After another victory for the Nittany Lions in 1982, the Tigers reeled off 11 wins in 12 games in the series. Lately it has been more evenly matched; though the last four games have been played in Happy Valley, PSU holds only a narrow 4-3 lead in the last seven contests.

Last Time Out vs. Penn State
May 3, 2013 (Towson 11, No. 9 PSU 10)
The Tigers claimed the 2013 CAA championship – their first since 2005 – with the 11-10 win over Penn State at the PSU Lacrosse Field. The Nittany Lions out-scored Towson 4-3 in the fourth quarter to try to rally from an 8-6 deficit. The game was tightly contested until late in the second quarter and into the third when the Tigers broke it open with a five-goal run. Greg Cuccinello’s second hat trick of the season led the Tigers. He also had one assist. Thomas DeNapoli added two goals and two assists, while Matt Hughes scored his fourth and fifth goals in four games. TJ Sanders’s three goals led the Nittany Lions. Jack Forster and Shane Sturgis each posted two goals. Goalie Austin Kaut made six saves.

Next Up
Towson plays its final regular season CAA home game, hosting Drexel at 7 p.m. at Unitas Stadium. It will be Senior Night for Towson and fans are encouraged to wear black to “black out” the stadium.

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Former Raven Ihedigbo inks two year deal with Lions

Posted on 25 March 2014 by WNST Staff

Nearly two full weeks into the new league year, one of the Baltimore Ravens’ top free agents has finally found a new home.

Safety James Ihedigbo, a notable contributor to the Super Bowl XLVII championship team made the announcement about his future Tuesday night via Twitter.

Ihedigbo inked a two year deal in Detroit according to multiple reports. The safety had visited Motown early in the free agent process and the team hosted two other free agent safeties before a deal was reached.

The former UMass standout joins former Ravens secondary coach Teryl Austin in Detroit, Austin was named Defensive Coordinator in January after former Ravens Offensive Coordinator Jim Caldwell replaced Jim Schwartz (Mt. St. Joseph) as the team’s head coach.

Ihedigbo was a very pleasant surprise during his tenure in Charm City, signing just before the start of the 2012 season after being released by the New England Patriots. He immediately made an impact on Special Teams and later on the defensive side of the ball en route to playing in his second straight Super Bowl.

The former undrafted free agent was extremely valuable for the Ravens’ secondary in 2013, starting all 16 games at strong safety after the team’s acquisition of former Oakland Raiders S Michael Huff proved fruitless. Ihedigbo tallied 101 tackles, his first three career interceptions and forced two fumbles.

After the 2013 season, Ihedigbo told WNST.net he played for the league minimum in Baltimore and felt he had “outplayed his contract”. Both he and the Ravens admitted rookie Matt Elam likely played out of position last year at free safety, making it logical for Ihedigbo to end up finding work elsewhere and the 2013 first round pick to shift to the strong safety position.

The Ravens have thus far failed to find a new starting free safety although they did add depth to the position by signing former St. Louis Ram Darian Stewart last week. Other safeties on the roster include younger players who have mostly been special teams contributors like Brynden Trawick, Jeromy Miles, Omar Brown and Anthony Levine.

New Ravens secondary coach Steve Spagnuolo has also lost cornerback Corey Graham to Buffalo via free agency.

The only unrestricted Ravens free agents remaining on the market are TE Ed Dickson, DL Terrence Cody, RB Bernard Scott and TE Dallas Clark. WR Brandon Stokley announced his intention to retire at the end of the 2013 season. Of the group, only Dickson has reportedly been offered a deal to return to Baltimore.

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Pontrello tallies winner as Loyola tops Penn State in OT

Posted on 15 February 2014 by WNST Staff

Pontrello Scores OT Winner, Men’s Lacrosse Tops No. 9 Penn State

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Nikko Pontrello scored the game-winning goal 19 seconds into overtime, and No. 12 Loyola University Maryland edged No. 9 Penn State University, 12-11, on the road in Holuba Hall on Saturday.

Penn State (1-1 overall) tallied the final four goals of regulation to for an 11-11 tie and send the game to overtime, but Graham Savio won the faceoff for the Greyhounds (1-1) to start the extra frame, and Pontrello ended it 19 seconds in.

Pontrello, Tyler Albrecht and Jeff Chase all had three goals for Loyola, and Justin Ward dished out four assists.

Jack Runkel outdueled preseason All-American Austin Kaut in goal, finishing with 12 saves for the Greyhounds. Five of Runkel’s saves came in the fourth quarter, while Kaut finished with six total.

Pontrello’s second goal of the game came with 12:10 to go in regulation. Kaut saved Pontrello’s intitial offering, but Pontrello was there to pick up the ground ball and score, giving Loyola an 11-7 advantage.

The Nittany Lions got a pair of goals back off extra-man opportunities, as T.J. Sanders scored one at 9:48, and Erik Myers added another with 3:55 to play, closing the gap to 11-9.

Shane Sturgis, who assisted on both of the man-up goals, then tallied a transition goal off a Steven Bogert assist at 1:42, and Loyola’s lead was down to one.

Myers tied the game at 11-11, marking the fourth time the game had been knotted, as he cut to the crease and took a Kyle VanThof pass to score with 63 ticks left on the fourth-quarter clock.

Brendan Donovan came up with a faceoff win, picking up the ground ball himself, for Loyola after Myers’ goal, and the Greyhounds called timeout with 27 seconds remaining to set up a final sequence in regulation.

Ward had a shot attempt from the crease off a Pontrello pass with less than four seconds left, but it went wide, and the teams headed for extra time.

Loyola’s four-goal lead early in the fourth quarter was not indicative of the way the game’s closeness throughout, as it was tied four times. Runkel and the Greyhounds’ defense, however, did not allow the Nittany Lions to lead at any point in the game’s 61-plus minutes.

The Greyhounds went up 3-1 on a Chase extra-man goal with 17 seconds left in the first quarter, thanks to a Matt Sawyer assist, but Sturgis scored the first two goals of the second, tying the game at 3-3 with 10:51 to go before halftime.

Brian Schultz, however, put Loyola back in front with a goal at 7:41, and Albrecht followed with his second of the game at 2:56, making the halftime lead 5-3 for Loyola.

Pontrello used a Schultz feed 50 seconds into the second half, but Penn State had a three-goal run of its own to tie the game at 6-6 with goals by Sanders, Gavin Ahern and Kyle Baier. The Nittany Lion goals came in a flurry of scoring that covered just one-minute, 45 seconds with Baier’s knotting the game at 11:03 in the third.

Albrecht was on both the defensive and offensive ends of Loyola’s next goal. He doubled Penn State’s Pat Manley and caused a turnover with just over eight minutes left in the quarter. After a Loyola clear – the Greyhounds were successful on all 16 of their clear attempts Saturday – Albrecht scored his first career hat trick with a goal at 8:03 to push Loyola back up one, 7-6.

The lead would not hold for long, however, as VanThof scored for Penn State 56 seconds later.

Donovan got the faceoff out to Brian Sherlock who picked up the ground ball, and Kevin Ryan fed Chase for a goal at 6:25, just 42 seconds after VanThof tied the score.

Both teams killed off extra-man opportunities in the next few minutes of action before Chase recorded his first career hat trick with a goal at 1:43, staking the Greyhounds to a 9-7 advantage.

Loyola got the ball back on a Penn State faceoff violation, and Sherlock took a Ward pass to score with 44 seconds left in the fourth, putting the Greyhounds on top, 10-7, heading to the fourth quarter.

In addition to the three goals apiece for Pontrello, Chase and Albrecht, Shultz and Ryan each had one goal and one assist, and Matt Sawyer added an assist.

Joe Fletcher had a team-high two caused turnovers defensively, and the preseason All-American picked up three ground balls to match Savio for team-high honors in that category.

Sturgis led all players with five points, scoring three goals and assisting on two, while VanThof added two goals and two assists for the Nittany Lions.

Loyola makes its home debut at Ridley Athletic Complex on Wednesday, February 19, at 3 p.m. when it hosts Towson University. The game against the Tigers can be seen live on the Patriot League Network at PatriotLeague.tv.

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Loyola looks for first win Saturday at Penn State

Posted on 14 February 2014 by WNST Staff

Loyola Greyhounds at Penn State Nittany Lions

Saturday, February 15, 2014  |  1:00 p.m.

University Park, Pa. | Holuba Hall

 

Quick Hits About The ’Hounds

Loyola University Maryland renews a rivalry that is the third most-played in program history when it takes on Penn State University at 1 p.m. in University Park, Pa., on Saturday, February 15.

The game has been moved inside to Holuba Hall.

In the Greyhounds’ first game against No. 7 Virginia, five Greyhounds scored two goals,and five had three points. Of those players, three had their first multi-goal games, and two had their first multi-point outings.

Loyola returns five starters (attackers Nikko Pontrello and Justin Ward, defenders Joe Fletcher and Pat Frazier and goalkeeper Jack Runkel), as well as two of the top four players on the rope unit (short-stick midfielders Pat Laconi and Kyle Duffy) from last year’s team that finished with an 11-5 record.

This year’s three co-captains were all named to the Preseason All-American teams: Fletcher (1st), Ward (2nd), Laconi (HM).

Loyola, which is in its first year as a member of the Patriot League, was picked to win the conference. Fletcher and Ward were named to the Preseason All-Patriot League Team.

 

 

Last Time Out

Loyola opened its 2013 season on Thursday, February 6, at the University of Virginia. The teams were tied, 4-4, after the first quarter, but the seventh-ranked Cavaliers held Loyola scoreless for the next two frames, and Virginia went into the fourth quarter with a 12-4 advantage.

The Greyhounds scored nine-straight goals in the fourth quarter to take a 13-12 lead on a Tyler Albrecht goal with 17.2 seconds remaining in regulation.

Virginia won the ensuing faceoff, and Ryan Tucker converted on a 10-plus yard shot that officials ruled crossed the goal line with one-tenth of a second remaining, forcing overtime.

Virginia then earned the win on a James Pannell goal midway through the extra period.

Five Loyola players – Tyler Albrecht, Romar Dennis, Nikko Pontrello, Matt Sawyer and Brian Schultz – all scored two goals. Another five players – Pontrello, Sawyer, Schultz, Brian Sherlock and Justin Ward – had five goals.

Of the eight Loyola players (the aforementioned and Kyle Duffy) who scored goals in the game, six of them entered with four or fewer career goals.

 

 

Follow The Action

No livestream will be available of the game, but live stats will be available on LoyolaGreyhounds.com.

 

In The Polls

Loyola opened the 2014 season ranked 12th in the USILA Coaches Poll and 16th in the Warrior/Inside Lacrosse Media Rankings.

Penn State, which won its season opener against the University of Michigan, was slotted ninth in the coaches’ poll and seventh in the media version.

 

Series History

Loyola and Penn State will meet for the 51st time, but 2009, when the teams take the field Saturday. The Nittany Lions, who are third only to Towson (54) and Johns Hopkins (51) in games played against the Greyhounds, lead the series, 26-23-1. Loyola won the last four meetings when the teams were ECAC Lacrosse League foes.

 

New Year, New League

Loyola officially became a member of the 10-school Patriot League on July 1, 2013, less than a year after announcing it would join the conference in August 2012. The Greyhounds joined the League along with Boston University, increasing the full-time membership to 10.

The Greyhounds will compete in men’s lacrosse with Boston University, Bucknell University, Colgate University, College of the Holy Cross, Lafayette College, Lehigh University, the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Naval Academy. American University is also a full member of the League, but the school does not sponsor men’s lacrosse.

 

On The Tube

Loyola men’s lacrosse will make a minimum of four appearances on national television this year as part of the Patriot League’s agreement with CBS Sports Network.

The Greyhounds will host Duke University on Sunday, March 9, in a match-up of the last two NCAA Champions, and CBS will then feature the Greyhounds’ Thursday, April 17, game against Bucknell University, the top two teams in the Preseason Patriot League poll. The network will also feature two long-time rivals when Loyola hosts Johns Hopkins University, onSaturday, May 3.

Additionally, the Loyola-Georgetown game on Wednesday, March 19, in Washington, D.C., was added to the CBS Sports Network slate.

Both semifinal games in the Patriot League Championships will be broadcast on Friday, April 25, and the Patriot League Championship Game will also air live on Sunday, April 27.

 

Preseason Prognostications

As a first-year member of the Patriot League, Loyola was picked to win the conference title in a poll of the League’s coaches and sports information contacts. The Greyhounds drew 13 of the possible 16 first-place votes (schools are not allowed to vote for themselves) and edged Bucknell for first.

Loyola and Bucknell were followed (in order) by Lehigh, Army, Colgate, Navy, Holy Cross, Lafayette and Boston U.

Joe Fletcher was named the Preseason Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year, and he earned a spot with teammate Justin Ward on the Preseason All-Patriot League Team.

 

Fletch, White And Blue

Senior defender Joe Fletcher was the long current collegiate player selected as part of one of 52 players who made up the United States Men’s National Team training roster this fall, and the day before Loyola’s season-opener, he found out he is one of 30 players who made the cut for the team that will compete at the 2014 World Cup in Denver.

Fletcher trained with Team USA throughout the fall, playing in two training weekends, the Play For Parkinson’s event in October and the Champion Challenge last month. He was one of seven defenders to make the 30-man roster.

 

Dennis Grabs Patriot League Honor

Romar Dennis was named the Patriot League Rookie of the Week on Monday after scoring a pair of goals in his first collegiate game at Virginia. Dennis tallied one in the first quarter and one in the fourth that tied the game at 12-12.

 

Fresh Faces

Three Loyola players scored their first collegiate goals in the first quarter of the Greyhounds’ game at Virginia. Brian Sherlock, Tyler Albrecht and Romar Dennis all tallied the first of their careers as Loyola worked to a 4-4 tie after 15 minutes.

Of the eight players who scored for Loyola, six of them entered the game with four or fewer career goals. Justin Ward and Nikko Pontrello were the only two with more than four.

In addition to Albrecht and Dennis, Jack Carrigan (defense), Ryan Fournier (rope unit) and Graham Savio (face-off) all made their Loyola and collegiate debuts.

Four players – Albrecht, David Manning (defense), Brian Schultz (attack) and Sherlock – all made their first career starts.

 

Three Garner Preseason All-America Nods

In addition to being the three Greyhounds selected by Major League Lacrosse teams in the Collegiate Entry Draft, senior co-captains Joe Fletcher, Pat Laconi and Justin Ward were named Preseason All-Americans by Face-Off Yearbook, an Inside Lacrosse publication.

Fletcher was picked to repeat as a First Team All-American, while Ward drew a Second Team nod and Laconi was tabbed as an Honorable Mention All-American.

 

Quarterbacking The Offense

Justin Ward returns for his third year as a starter on attack for the Greyhounds and will once again serve as Loyola’s quarterback from ‘X’.

Last season, Ward earned USILA All-America Honorable Mention after finishing tops on the team in points (62) and assists (35) and second in goals (27). His 62 points ranked tied for fifth in school single-season Division I history, and his 35 assists check in at third on that list.

Ward is 22nd in school Division I history with 109 career points, two shy of tying Gavin Prout for 21st. He is seventh in career assists with 69, one away from creating a three-way tie for sixth with Kevin Beach and Tim O’Shea.

 

Running The Rope Unit

Senior short-stick defensive midfielder Pat Laconi is back for his fourth year as a “starter” on the Greyhounds rope unit. Laconi has been one of the Greyhounds’ top two defensive midfielders since his freshman year between the lines.

Laconi has been lauded by Loyola and opposing coaches as one of the best one-on-one short-stick in the nation, finished last year second on the Greyhounds in caused turnovers with 20. He also picked up 24 ground balls and showed his offensive ability in transition, logging 10 points on four goals and six assists. Over his four years as a Greyhound, Laconi has caused 42 turnovers and picked up 59 ground balls.

 

Fletch Lives

Senior defender Joe Fletcher has been one of the top close defenders in the game since his first year as a starter in 2012, his sophomore year. That year, he earned All-Tournament honors after Loyola won the NCAA Championship, and he continued his outstanding play as a junior.

Last year, Fletcher caused 17 turnovers and picked up 64 ground balls for the Greyhounds, a season after finishing with 26 and 41.

Against Virginia, Fletcher had the first slashing penalty of his collegiate career, a span of 49 games and 37 starts. It was just the fourth penalty of his All-American career. (Thanks @D1scourse for the research)

Fletcher was the third overall selection of the 2014 Major League Lacrosse Collegiate Entry Draft by the New York Lizards, and he was one of 52 players competing with the United States Men’s Lacrosse National Team for a spot on this summer’s World Cup roster.

In addition to his exploits on the field, Fletcher was an ECAC All-Academic Team honoree, and he was picked as one of 14 students campus-wide to be named to the school’s Green & Grey Society, a group of student leaders that serve as liaisons to Loyola’s president, board of trustees and administration.

 

Up Next

Loyola will open its home schedule on Wednesday, February 19, when it hosts Towson University at 3 p.m. The game will air live on the Patriot League Network.

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Ravens reportedly interview Linehan for offensive coordinator job

Posted on 20 January 2014 by Luke Jones

The Ravens continued their search for their next offensive coordinator by interviewing a new candidate for the job on Monday.

According to The Sun, former Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan was the latest to meet with the Ravens about the vacancy created last week when Jim Caldwell departed to become the head coach of the Lions. Baltimore had already interviewed former Washington Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and other candidates, but details of the search have largely remained unknown over the last week.

Linehan served as Detroit’s offensive coordinator for the last five seasons and was fired along with head coach Jim Schwartz following a 7-9 campaign that saw the Lions miss the postseason. Detroit ranked sixth or better in total offense in each of the last three years with an offense that featured quarterback Matthew Stafford and All-Pro wide receiver Calvin Johnson.

The 50-year-old also served as the head coach of St. Louis from 2006 to 2008. Under Linehan, the Rams went 11-25 before he was fired four games into the 2008 season.

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Ravens secondary coach Austin hired as Lions defensive coordinator

Posted on 16 January 2014 by Luke Jones

In a move not unexpected following the hiring of Jim Caldwell as their new head coach, the Detroit Lions have come to an agreement with Ravens secondary coach Teryl Austin to become their new defensive coordinator.

The team officially announced the hiring on Friday.

Austin’s departure is a blow to the defensive coaching staff after he did an impressive job with the development of several young defensive backs including Lardarius Webb, Jimmy Smith, and former Raven Cary Williams. The 48-year-old Austin took over as the Baltimore secondary coach in 2011 when Chuck Pagano was promoted to defensive coordinator.

His roots with Caldwell extend beyond their two years with the Ravens as the pair coached together at Penn State and Wake Forest in the early 1990s.

Head coach John Harbaugh could have an in-house candidate to take Austin’s place in senior defensive assistant Steve Spagnuolo, who spent three years as the defensive backs coach in Philadelphia from 2001 through 2003. Formerly the head coach of the St. Louis Rams who also spent time as a defensive coordinator for both the New York Giants and the New Orleans Saints, Spagnuolo would have to decide whether the secondary coach role would be the right fit for his career path.

The last two secondary coaches under Harbaugh eventually became defensive coordinators with Pagano even advancing a step further to become the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts. Such a track record under Harbaugh might entice Spagnuolo to take the position if offered, even if he desires to once again be a coordinator and head coach in the future.

Harbaugh credited the 54-year-old Spagnuolo as a helpful sounding board on game days as well as an asset to defensive coordinator Dean Pees during the 2013 season.

“I think Dean would tell you something along the lines that he was a big help to Dean as far as — not so much building the package — but studying the opponents and creating a few ideas and some insights that were a little bit different than what we’ve had here in the past and contributed in that way,” Harbaugh said. “I think Dean really came to appreciate Steve’s role in the defensive room there a little bit. The thing about Steve is he’s never really threatening to anybody. He respects all the other coaches. He just tried to help out where he could.”

In addition to continuing the search for their next offensive coordinator, the Ravens must now fill their secondary coach, running backs coach, and — if they choose — quarterbacks coach positions.

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