Feb 09, 2020 7:54 AM

New XFL kicks off with entertaining debut in DC

Posted Feb 09, 2020 7:54 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The debut of the new XFL had a punt blocked for a touchdown, a juiced-up crowd roaring for big plays and a player swearing during an in-game television interview.

The actual football was hit and miss. College national championship-winning former Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones was the biggest star on the field and took the microphone to address fans before the start of a brand-new football league.

“This is for the love of football,” Jones said. “Enjoy.”

Jones’ D.C. Defenders beat the Seattle Dragons 31-19 Saturday afternoon in the opener of the new XFL that provided plenty of entertainment in person and on TV. It’s far too early to tell if the XFL can take a foothold where its previous incarnation and the recently unsuccessful Alliance of American Football failed, but executives are willing to wait and see.

“For us, if the fans who attend and watch at home feel as though it was a good football game and they had a fun time either watching or being in this awesome venue with us, that’s success,” XFL chief operating officer Jeffrey Pollack said. “We’re taking a long term view in this. Success ultimately will not be measured in the first game or the first weekend or the first season.”

The first weekend is a chance for football fans to catch a glimpse of some of the few players they might recognize. There’s former Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones with Dallas, former NFL QB Josh Johnson with San Diego and ex-Navy standout Keenan Reynolds playing for Seattle.

It’s not the star power of the NFL, but billionaire Vince McMahon’s latest venture is an attempt to capture the attention of hardcore football fans in the aftermath of the Super Bowl.

“Our expectation for this first season is for football fans to simply give us a look, give us a chance, sample us,” Pollack said. “We understand that fandom is earned. It’s not given. ... We think that if you love football, you’re going to love the XFL.”

In the league opener, a crowd of 17,163 almost filled up Audi Field, home of Major League Soccer’s D.C. United. There was a buzz around the stadium in the hours before the XFL’s debut, with cars lining up to enter parking lots and fans checking out a league-sponsored tailgate. Fans were already sporting Dragons and Defenders gear and queued up in long concession lines at halftime.

“I didn’t have real expectations going into the game as far as what the experience was going to be like,” Cardale Jones said. “If I did ... they would’ve been blown away.”

The location of the first game made sense in the neighborhood of the NFL’s Washington Redskins, who haven’t won the Super Bowl since 1992 and have just one playoff victory in the past 20 seasons. Fan-made signs mocking the “Hail to the Redskins” slogan and asking Redskins owner Dan Snyder to sell the team were draped from a balcony at the 50-yard line.

The broadcast included in-game interviews with a kicker seconds after he missed a field goal attempt and a defender involved in a scrum that led to a penalty. Seattle’s Dillon Day dropped an F-bomb that made it to the airwaves and went viral.

On the field, the play was a mix of traditional college and pro style with some different twists.

There was no coin toss, and when Reynolds fielded the opening kickoff, he did so with everyone else on the field standing still as part of a rule implemented for safety. The clock ran for all but the time inside each two minute warning, and some other tweaks were different for players.

“It was definitely an adjustment for some of the stuff,” said Seattle’s Austin Proehl, son of former NFL receiver Ricky Proehl, who caught the first touchdown pass in the new version of the league. “It’s something we’ve got to get used to.”

With no extra point kicks, teams had the option of trying one-, two- or three-point conversions, but each coach in the first XFL game only opted for one-point attempts.

“The only difference for I think a coach calling plays is deciding to go for one, two or three,” Seattle coach Jim Zorn said. “That was surprising to me was that rule change, being able to go to one, two or three with your extra point try, there’s a lot of strategy in that.”

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Feb 09, 2020 7:54 AM
Sunday Sports Headlines

Here is the latest Mid-America sports news from The Associated Press

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Roope Hintz scored the game-winner at 2:19 of overtime and finished with two goals, leading the Dallas Stars to a 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues. Hintz flipped in a wrist shot from the right faceoff circle for the winner and his 17th goal of the season. Jamie Benn also scored for Dallas. Anton Khudobin made 23 saves. Colton Parayko scored two first-period goals for the Blues. 

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Joe Wieskamp scored a career-high 30 points and Luka Garza added 22 to help No. 17 Iowa bounce back from its worst loss of the season with a 96-72 win over Nebraska on Saturday. Garza and Wieskamp came into the game averaging a combined 38 points per game, the sixth-best scoring duo in NCAA Division I play. Wieskamp's previous career high was 26 in the 67-49 win over Maryland on Jan. 10. Iowa (17-7, 8-5 Big Ten) was coming off a 104-68 loss at Purdue on Wednesday, and guard CJ Fredrick said during Friday's media availability that the Hawkeyes were "embarrassed" after that defeat. They took it out on the Huskers (7-16, 2-10).

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — No. 3 Kansas has another 20-win season and coach Bill Self has his 700th career victory. Udoka Azubuike had 20 points and 15 rebounds as the Jayhawks beat TCU 60-46. It is their 31st consecutive 20-win season, matching North Carolina's record. Azubuike had his 10th double-double this season and had five dunks in a 13-3 run early that put Kansas ahead to stay. Devon Dotson added 18 points and 11 assists for the Jayhawks. Desmond Bane had 20 points for TCU, which lost its fifth game in a row. 

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Marcus Zegarowski scored 23 points to lead six Creighton players in double figures and the 21st-ranked Bluejays beat St. John's 94-82. Creighton shot a season-best 60% from the field and matched its season high with 13 3-pointers but couldn't separate from the Red Storm until the middle of the second half. Marcellus Earlington scored a career-high 25 points for the Red Storm. The sophomore was 3 for 4 on 3s after coming in 3 for 21 for the season.

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — Obi Toppin scored 17 points and Jalen Crutcher led a second-half rally that swept No. 6 Dayton to a 71-65 victory over Saint Louis. Dayton has won 12 straight, vaulting to its highest ranking in 53 years. The Flyers are unbeaten in the Atlantic 10 Conference but the Billikens have given them their two closest calls. Crutcher's last-second 3-pointer in overtime rallied the Flyers to a 78-76 victory on Jan. 17 on the Billikens' court. He scored 14 of his 17 points in the second half as Dayton broke open a tight game Saturday. Jordan Goodwin led Saint Louis with 22 points.

UNDATED (AP) — Baylor, Kansas, Gonzaga and San Diego State are the top seeds in the NCAA's preliminary rankings. The Bears are the No. 1 overall seed in rankings released by the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Committee. The preliminary rankings are based on games through Friday. They are designed to be a sneak peek at the selection process before the official seeds are revealed on Selection Sunday, which is March 15. The Final Four is March 27-29 in Atlanta.

AMES, Iowa (AP) — Solomon Young scored 20 points, Terrence Lewis added 12 points off the bench, and Iowa State held off Kansas State for a 73-63 win. The Cyclones led by as many as 21 points and played the final 13 minutes, 46 seconds without star guard Tyrese Haliburton — who sustained an injury seconds before halftime. Cartier Diarra scored 24 points to lead the Wildcats, who used a 13-3 run to pull within four points with 7:54 remaining but could get no closer.

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Xavier Pinson scored a career-high 24 points to lead Missouri to an 83-79 overtime victory over Arkansas on Saturday. Pinson, a sophomore guard, went 12 of 13 from the free throw line in a foul-plagued game in which the teams combined to shoot 83 free throws. Javon Pickett scored 14 points and Reed Nikko finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds for the Tigers (11-12, 3-7 Southeastern Conference). Mason Jones and Jimmy Whitt Jr. scored 17 points each for the Razorbacks (16-7, 4-6). Reggie Chaney added 15 points and 11 rebounds.

AP-Scorecard

Here are the scores from yesterday's sports events:

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NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION

Final Milwaukee 111 Orlando 95

Final Dallas 116 Charlotte 100

Final New York 95 Detroit 92

Final Toronto 119 Brooklyn 118

Final New Orleans 124 Indiana 117

Final Minnesota 142 L.A. Clippers 115

Final L.A. Lakers 125 Golden State 120

Final Denver 117 Phoenix 108

Final Sacramento 122 San Antonio 102

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NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE

Final Winnipeg 5 Ottawa 2

Final Boston 4 Arizona 2

Final New Jersey 3 Los Angeles 0

Final Colorado 2 Columbus 1

Final Tampa Bay 3 N-Y Islanders 1

Final OT Montreal 2 Toronto 1

Final Philadelphia 7 Washington 2

Final Edmonton 3 Nashville 2

Final Pittsburgh 3 Florida 2

Final OT Dallas 3 St. Louis 2

Final Calgary 6 Vancouver 2

Final SO Carolina 6 Vegas 5

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TOP-25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL

Final (1)Baylor 78 Oklahoma St. 70

Final (2)Gonzaga 90 Saint Mary's (Cal) 60

Final (3)Kansas 60 TCU 46

Final (4)San Diego St. 89 Air Force 74

Final (5)Louisville 80 Virginia 73

Final (6)Dayton 71 Saint Louis 65

Final OT (7)Duke 98 North Carolina 96

Final (8)Florida St. 99 Miami 81

Final (12)Seton Hall 70 (10)Villanova 64

Final OT (11)Auburn 91 (18)LSU 90

Final Oklahoma 69 (13)West Virginia 59

Final Oregon St. 63 (14)Oregon 53

Final (15)Kentucky 77 Tennessee 64

Final Michigan 77 (16)Michigan St. 68

Final (17)Iowa 96 Nebraska 72

Final (21)Creighton 94 St. John's 82

Final (22)Penn St. 83 Minnesota 77

Final UCLA 65 (23)Arizona 52

Final (24)Colorado 81 Stanford 74

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TODAY'S SPORTS SCHEDULE

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NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION

Boston at Oklahoma City 3:30 p.m.

Chicago at Philadelphia 6 p.m.

Memphis at Washington 6 p.m.

New York at Atlanta 6 p.m.

Utah at Houston 7 p.m.

L.A. Clippers at Cleveland 7:30 p.m.

Miami at Portland 9 p.m.

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NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE

Boston at Detroit 12:30 p.m.

Anaheim at Buffalo 3 p.m.

Los Angeles at N-Y Rangers 6 p.m.

Chicago at Winnipeg 7 p.m.

Colorado at Minnesota 7:30 p.m.

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TOP-25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL

(19)Butler at Marquette 12 p.m.

Wichita St. at (25)Houston 3 p.m.

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