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Florida Sports

Fort Myers Mighty Mussels break strikeout record in 5-2 win over Tampa

FORT MYERS – The Mighty Mussels broke the franchise record for strikeouts in a season Wednesday, taking the opener of the series with the Tampa Tarpons 5-2 at Hammond Stadium.
Fort Myers (58-53) struck out 10 batters in the win, surpassing the single-season record of 1,188 punchouts set by the 2019 Miracle. Since the Fort Myers franchise began in 1992, only nine of the 29 teams have reached 1,000 strikeouts in what was typically a 140-game season. The 2021 Mussels will likely eclipse 1,200 strikeouts in just 116 games.
Charles Mack drove in three runs in the win, delivering a two-out, two-run triple in the first inning to put the Mussels on top.
Right-hander John Stankiewicz (1-0) turned in a quality start to notch his first career win. The New Jersey native set a career high in innings (6.0), allowing five hits and one walk while striking out six.
After Mack’s double put the Mussels on top 2-1, Fort Myers strung together four walks and two hit-by-pitches to extend the lead to 5-1 in the third inning.
The Tarpons (72-41) got a solo home run from Anthony Garcia in the ninth before loading the bases with two outs. The Mussels then called upon Matthew Swain, who got Jasson Dominguez to pop out and end the game.
Because Wednesday’s doubleheader was delayed 2.5 hours due to wet grounds, the second game was pushed to Thursday. Thursday’s doubleheader will begin at 4:30 p.m. and feature two seven-inning games. Gates open at 4 p.m. Coverage of the twin bill starts at 4:15 p.m. on the Mighty Mussels Baseball Network.

Box Score: https://atmilb.com/3tImlpa

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Florida Sports

Mistakes, penalties big factors in Florida State’s 0-2 start

By BOB FERRANTE
Associated Press
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Mike Norvell said he believes in his players and that Florida State has lost two games to start the season they should have won. But they haven’t.
Any ascent from a 3-6 season in 2020 has instead been halted by a demoralizing loss where the Seminoles took two steps back. Florida State has struggled to get started in September, dropping five straight season openers.
This September has been a wild ride — an overtime loss to No. 9 Notre Dame that seemed to indicate signs of improvement but then a stunning 20-17 loss to FCS Jacksonville State on Saturday.
“I believe in who these kids are and what they’re about,” Norvell said. “But obviously that’s not occurring and we’re not doing that for 60 minutes to the level. So, yes, the first week, we lost a game I believe we should’ve won. Same thing happened Saturday night. First week, people are happy we played hard. Well, that’s going to be the standard. We’re going to play hard.”
The Seminoles are 0-2 for the third time in five seasons and now open Atlantic Coast Conference play Saturday against Wake Forest with perhaps more questions than they had in the preseason. Florida State suffered from 11 penalties, inconsistency in the pass game and a defense that gave up touchdowns on the final two drives — including a final-play 59-yard pass in Jacksonville State’s 20-17 win.
One of the biggest concerns coming into the season was the offensive line, specifically pass protection. Florida State had injuries on Saturday to center Maurice Smith and left tackle Robert Scott, which had a domino affect on the line.
The Seminoles were forced to play the majority of the Jacksonville State game with Darius Washington sliding from right tackle to left tackle, Baveon Johnson filling in at center, Dontae Lucas at right guard and Devontay Love-Taylor moving from right guard to right tackle.
But Lucas is no longer part of the team, school spokesman Derek Satterfield confirmed on Monday, though he did not give a reason. Lucas had started 14 games for Florida State the last two years and the move further thins an offensive line group that is sorely lacking depth.
Florida State coaches have consistently said they are looking for eight dependable offensive linemen and Lucas was viewed as a backup that could fill in at one of the guard spots. Depth will remain a factor, especially if Smith and Scott are unable to play against the Demon Deacons.
What began with cautious optimism, albeit one that began with a defeat, is now a season in which the Seminoles have stumbled and are trying to find their footing. Florida State has found success establishing the ground game in rushing for 235 yards per game (25th in the FBS), but the passing attack has been plagued by interceptions and drops.
The Seminoles’ defense, which had been effective in forcing Jacksonville State to punt eight times, buckled late in the game by allowing a 97-yard drive and then the 83-yard game-winning drive on Saturday. The decisive drive included the last-play 59-yard catch and run from Zerrick Cooper to Damond Philyaw-Johnson.
“I know how much it hurts whenever you come up short,” Norvell said. ìI see it. I live it. That’s a part of these kids. They work extremely hard in this program and it’s also so disappointing and so heartbreaking when you see things that show up that are uncharacteristic in how we train or what we do. We have to learn to overcome that. I don’t care who you play. It does not matter.”
The self-inflicted wounds have been especially painful. Florida State ranks 121st among the 130 FBS teams in penalties after committing nine for 54 yards against Notre Dame and 11 for 114 yards against Jacksonville State.
“We just have to continue to improve in a lot of phases,” Norvell said. “The penalties, the things that are putting us behind chains or the things that are extending drives, those have to get fixed. Those are critical-moment plays.”
In too many critical moments, plays that are the difference between should have won and winning, the Seminoles have made mistakes or fallen short.
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Florida Sports

Florida’s Mullen ignoring QB calls for Richardson over Jones

By MARK LONG
AP Sports Writer
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Florida backup quarterback Anthony Richardson, one of college football’s more dynamic players through two games, is expected to practice this week while recovering from a strained right hamstring.
How much or how early he plays against top-ranked Alabama on Saturday remains to be determined.
Coach Dan Mullen offered little insight Monday into his decisions at the all-important position leading into what could be a program-defining game for the No. 11 Gators (2-0), who have lost seven in a row to the defending national champion Crimson Tide (2-0).
This much is certain: Mullen plans to ignore outside calls for Richardson to play over inconsistent starter Emory Jones.
“I’ll be honest with you; I don’t listen to many suggestions,” Mullen said Monday. “If you’re in our staff meeting, I’m going to listen to your suggestion. I don’t run down to Shands Hospital and say, ‘Boy, I think you should really do that procedure this way.’ I think those guys probably got that under control, you know? So, they’re the people, they’re the experts who are doing it.”
Richardson has been impressive off the bench, raising questions about him supplanting Jones in the lineup. The redshirt freshman from Gainesville had a 73-yard touchdown run in the opener and was even better in a 42-20 win at South Florida last Saturday.
He connected on TD passes of 75 and 40 yards to Jacob Copeland and scampered for an 80-yard score.
He had fans screaming one second and gasping the next when he grabbed his hamstring at the end of that last run. He sat out the rest of the game, leaving Florida faithful wondering about his health and, more importantly, his availability against Alabama.
Mullen might prefer to keep the Tide guessing, too.
“I don’t think you prepare differently,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said Monday. “Both guys have the ability to make plays passing and they run the same sort of quarterback runs with both guys and both guys are really talented in both areas.
“When the quarterback can run and they run quarterback runs, it’s almost like playing against ‘wildcat.’ They’ve got an extra blocker, but they also have the ability to make big plays in the passing game.”
Richardson has 275 yards rushing and two touchdowns on just 11 carries. He has completed 6 of 11 passes for 192 yards and two scores.
Jones, meanwhile, has 264 yards passing, with two touchdowns and four interceptions. He has 155 yards on the ground and a score.
“I feel like everything Ant brings to the table, Emory can do the same thing,” Copeland said. “A lot of people question, ‘Is Emory this and that?’ At the end of the day, I feel like they’re both the same player, and they both can do the same things.”
Mullen has been steadfast that Jones gives the Gators a better chance to run their entire offense.
He pointed to a play in the opener against Florida Atlantic in which Richardson missed a pre-snap protection check, missed a hot throw against the blitz, missed the primary receiver and then scrambled for a big gain.
“Everybody thinks, ‘What a spectacular play!'” Mullen said.
Despite all the attention Florida’s seemingly unsettled QB situation has received, Mullen credited both players for not allowing it to become a distraction. He said they’ve supported and congratulated each other at every turn – publicly and privately.
“You have two young guys that are both trying to get better, both trying to learn,” Mullen said. “They learn and help each other. They appreciate each other and they help each other and they’re good friends.
“You want to see people succeed that way.”
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AP Sports Writer John Zenor in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, contributed to this report.
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Florida Sports

No. 24 Miami loses RB Don Chaney for season with knee injury

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — No. 24 Miami has lost running back Don Chaney Jr. for the remainder of the season with a knee injury, and starting linebacker
Keontra Smith will miss several weeks with a leg injury.
Both were injured in the Hurricanes’ 25-23 win over Appalachian State this past Saturday. Chaney had a touchdown run in that game, then left shortly afterward with the injury to his right knee.
Chaney, who was listed as the backup to starter Cam’Ron Harris, finishes the season with 44 yards on 11 carries. Smith was part of nine tackles in Miami’s first two games.
Redshirt junior Waynmon Steed has been listed as Smith’s backup at the weakside linebacker position. Smith will likely remain out until mid-October, following Miami’s bye week, coach Manny Diaz said.
Miami (1-1) plays host to Michigan State (2-0) on Saturday.
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Mussels take five of six from Cards with 7-6 Sunday win

 

FORT MYERS – All nine Mighty Mussels recorded hits Sunday, as Fort Myers defeated Palm Beach 7-6 to win the series five games to one at Hammond Stadium.
The Mighty Mussels (57-53) scored all seven runs in the first two innings, getting just enough pitching to hold on to the win.
With Fort Myers trailing 2-1 entering the bottom of the second, Kyler Fedko and Kole McKinnon both singled to start the inning. The next batter was Alerick Soularie, who ripped a double into the left field corner to tie the game 2-2. Misael Urbina then grounded a ball past Cardinals’ (34-77) shortstop Darlyn Del Villar, scoring two runs to give the Mussels a 4-2 lead. After Urbina stole second, Will Holland dropped a single into right center to move Urbina to third.
Jake Rucker then drove a sacrifice fly to right to extend the lead to 5-2. After a pitching change, Patrick Winkel pulled a double down the right field line to score Holland and make it 6-2. The next batter was Mikey Perez, who singled to right to cap the inning at 7-2 Fort Myers.
The Mighty Mussels’ bullpen did the rest, allowing just two earned runs over the final seven innings. Juan Pichardo allowed one hit over two scoreless innings. A.J. Labas retired all six batters he faced, fanning two.
Matthew Swain allowed a solo home run to LJ Jones in the ninth, but notched his third save of the season.
This week’s 5-1 series win matches the best week of the season for Fort Myers. The Mussels took five of six against St. Lucie June 1-6 at Hammond Stadium.
The Mussels welcome the Tampa Tarpons to town beginning at 7 p.m. on Tuesday. Coverage begins at 6:45 p.m. on the Mighty Mussels Baseball Network.

Box Score: https://atmilb.com/3lgySfY

Mussels complete comeback to stun Palm Beach 6-5 Saturday
FORT MYERS – The Mighty Mussels scored in their final three offensive innings Saturday, erasing a four-run deficit to beat Palm Beach 6-5 at Hammond Stadium.
Fort Myers (56-53) trailed 4-0 entering the bottom of the sixth before Alerick Soularie walked and stole second. After an infield single moved him to third, Soularie raced home on a groundout to make it 4-1.
However, Cardinals (34-76) outfielder Mike Antico parked a solo home run in the top of the seventh to stretch the lead to 5-1.
Trailing by four in the bottom of the seventh, Will Holland was hit by a pitch before Jake Rucker lined a single to right. The next batter was Mikey Perez, who pulled a base hit into left to score Holland and make it 5-2. After a fielder’s choice put men at the corners, a walk loaded the bases. Cardinals reliever Roy Garcia then uncorked a wild pitch, allowing Rucker to score and make it 5-3.
With two on and two out, Christian Encarnacion-Strand grounded a ball between second and third. The Cardinals’ infielders miscommunicated and hesitated to field the ball. Shortstop Mack Chambers then quickly barehanded the ball and fired a wild throw to the fence behind first. Both runners scored to tie the game at 5-5.
With the margin the same in the bottom of the eighth, Holland dumped a single into left before advancing to second on a balk. The next pitch ended up in the dirt, and Holland bolted for third – reaching the bag safely with only one out. Rucker promptly lifted a sacrifice fly to deep right to give Fort Myers the lead.
Right-hander Ramon Pineda (1-1) went two strong innings to get the win, while Matt Mullenbach worked a scoreless ninth to notch his first save as a member of the Twins organization.

Box Score: https://atmilb.com/3npGiQD

Povich deals in 2-0 loss to Palm Beach Friday
FORT MYERS – Cade Povich struck out five over three outstanding innings in his Hammond Stadium debut Friday, but the Mighty Mussels left 12 men on base in a 2-0 loss to the Palm Beach Cardinals.
Povich allowed just one hit over his three frames. The Twins’ third round pick has allowed just one run over his first eight pro innings, fanning 14.
Mikey Perez and Alerick Soularie each notched multiple hits in the defeat. Perez is now 6-for-10 to begin his Mussels (55-53) tenure.
In a scoreless game in the top of the fourth, Ryan Holgate cranked a solo home run out to deep right to give Palm Beach a 1-0 lead.
Still leading by that margin in the top of the eighth, Mike Antico singled before Patrick Romeri reached on a fielding error. With two men on, Holgate lined a single to center to stretch the lead to 2-0.
With Kyler Fedko at first and two outs in the eighth, Perez ripped a double into the left field corner. Fedko appeared to beat the Cardinals’ (34-75) relay to the plate, but Fedko was called out. The Mussels got the tying run to the plate in the ninth, but were unable to deliver.

Box Score: https://atmilb.com/3lg9wyM

— Recaps provided by JOHN VITTAS

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Florida Sports

Jaguars select 7 captains, including rookie Trevor Lawrence

By MARK LONG
AP Pro Football Writer
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Rookie quarterback and No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence was voted one of Jacksonville’s seven team captains for the season.
Coach Urban Meyer unveiled the list during a team meeting Wednesday by showing a 3-minute video featuring friends and family members breaking the news to the newly crowned captains. Meyer then presented each player with a teal jersey that had a C sewn on the front.
“It was great,” Lawrence said. “It’s a really cool feeling, especially as a younger guy just having that support from my teammates. Being named a starter and now a captain, nothing changes. Same expectation and now it’s time to go out there and win some games.
“But I’m really excited. It’s definitely an honor. It’s a cool moment for me to be named a captain with those other guys, just a bunch of great guys in the locker room. We had a ton of guys that got votes but definitely really cool.”
The Jaguars open the season at Houston on Sunday.
Linebacker Myles Jack, pass rusher Josh Allen, cornerback Shaquill Griffin, safety Rayshawn Jenkins, receiver Marvin Jones and center Brandon Linder are the team’s other captains. Linder became the franchise’s first five-time captain.
Jack was the top vote-getter, Meyer said, adding that Lawrence was third.
“I was impressed he was up there, I want to say third in vote gets,” Meyer said. “That’s a credit to him.”
Lawrence is the third rookie quarterback in the past two years to be named a captain, joining Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow and Zach Wilson of the New York Jets. Burrow was the No. 1 pick in 2020, and Wilson was drafted second behind Lawrence in April.
Lawrence was voted a captain despite spending four months in a supposed quarterback competition with two-year starter Gardner Minshew. Minshew was traded to Philadelphia three days after Lawrence was named the starter.
“I guess it brings clarity to everything, but at the same time, there’s a ton of guys on our team that won’t have that C (on their jerseys) that are just as much a leader as me or anyone else,î Lawrence said. ìThat does mean something, but also there’s a lot of other guys that help lead this thing.
“We’re all in it together. No one person has to carry it all. But definitely an honor and proud four sure.”
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Florida Sports

Florida’s Carter scrambling for tickets to Tampa homecoming

By MARK LONG
AP Sports Writer
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Zach Carter might have an easier time replicating his season-opening performance than filling ticket requests for No. 13 Florida’s next game.
The fifth-year senior and Tampa native is pleading with teammates to help him land enough passes for his homecoming against South Florida (0-1) on Saturday. Carter is trying to satisfy two lists: one from his mom and another for his friends.
“Teammates think I’m crazy asking for so many tickets,” Carter said. “If I can get 40, I’ll take it.”
The 6-foot-4, 285-pound defensive end certainly is a bigger draw after notching a career-high three sacks and a forced fumble in a 35-14 victory over Florida Atlantic on Saturday night. His performance earned him Southeastern Conference’s co-defensive lineman of the week honors.
Although it may have been an eye-opener for some, it was about what Carter envisioned when he decided to stay in school another year, finish his degree and improve his NFL draft stock.
Carter had considered turning pro at times last season and likely would have been a second-day pick. But after ending the year with a three-game losing streak, which culminated with a humbling, 55-20 loss to eighth-ranked Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl, Carter was longing for more.
So he changed his eating habits to get leaner and faster. He hit the weight room to get stronger. He spent countless hours working with offensive linemen to create more explosion at the snap. And he developed third and fourth moves that can make good pass rushers great.
“Personally, when I looked back on last season, I had a solid year, but I just knew there were a lot of plays I left out there on the field, a lot of sacks I left out there,” he said. “I just knew I had to put in that work this offseason to go out there in Week 1 and execute like that.”
Carter got to FAU quarterback N’Kosi Perry three times, once in each of the first three quarters before sitting out the fourth. Carter had a sack/fumble in the first, forced an intentional grounding penalty in the second and then capped his career night with one more takedown on the penultimate play of the third.
“Any time you can get three sacks in a game, you’re going to be raising your stock,” Gators defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. “I don’t care who you play.”
Carter set the edge, was stout against the run and made negative plays just about every time the Owls tried to block him one on one, Grantham said.
“Not only did he make plays and production, but he was a good teammate to other guys with his energy, his leadership, coaching guys,” Grantham added. “There was really no reason to play him (late), but he was working the game and helping some of the guys we’re going to need from a depth standpoint get the coaching they needed.”
The Gators (1-0) expect to benefit all season from Carter’s unexpected return. Heís clearly one of the team leaders and an anchor for a revamped D-line that includes three graduate transfers: Antonio Valentino (Penn State), Daquan Newkirk (Auburn) and Tyrone Truesdell (Auburn).
Carter now has 12 1/2 career sacks and 20 1/2 tackles for loss.
Those numbers pale in comparison to how many tickets he needs for family and friends to see him face the Bulls and play at Raymond James Stadium for the first time.
“Man, I’ve been waiting for this game, honestly,” he said. “I haven’t played a game back home in like five years, so I”m excited to get out there, front of the home crowd. Got a lot of people trying to come support me, so I’m just excited to get out there.”
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Florida Sports

Mussels and Cardinals suspended in fourth inning Wednesday

FORT MYERS – The Mighty Mussels and Palm Beach Cardinals were suspended due to unplayable field conditions and impending weather at Hammond Stadium with the Mussels leading 3-2 in the fourth inning.
The game will be resumed at 5 p.m. today with Fort Myers batting with two outs and the bases loaded.
All tickets to Wednesday’s suspended game can be used for today’s doubleheader.
With the game tied 2-2 entering the bottom of the fourth, Willie Joe Garry Jr. sliced a triple to deep left center to start the inning. After a strikeout, Mikey Perez shot a single into center to give the Mussels a 3-2 lead. After two walks and a strikeout loaded the bases with two outs, the umpires called for the tarp due to heavy rain.
Mussels starter John Stankiewicz went four innings, allowing two runs on five hits while striking out four.
In a scoreless game in the bottom of the first, the Mighty Mussels strung together three straight singles before Kyler Fedko claimed the lead with a walk.
After Palm Beach tied the contest in the top of the second, Fort Myers took advantage of two throwing errors to take a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the inning.
The Cardinals got even in the top of the fourth on a Mack Chambers sacrifice fly.
Coverage of today’s modified doubleheader will begin at 4:45 p.m. on the Mighty Mussels Baseball Network.

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Florida Sports

A trade for Watson? Dolphins coach says Tua is his QB

By ALAIN POUPART
Associated Press
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores publicly expressed his support for quarterback Tua Tagovailoa on Wednesday, which may or may not tamp down speculation about the team’s interest in Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Tagovailoa will be the Week 1 starter against the New England Patriots on Sept. 12, Flores said.
“Yes. I don’t know if I can be more clear,” Flores said. “I don’t know how many times I’ll say it. I don’t know how much more clear I can be here. Tua is the starter. I mean, if I need to say it again, I will.”
Tagovailoa naturally was happy to hear Flores’ comments.
“I think it means a lot, with it coming from the head coach,” he said. “The support that I have from him, from the team, it means a lot. For me, I’m just focused literally on trying to get our guys ready for next week.”
The Dolphins have declined to confirm or deny reports they have engaged in trade talks to acquire Watson, who has been accused of sexual assault and harassment in lawsuits filed by 22 women. He has denied the allegations.
“You know what’s funny? I heard (DT John Jenkins) just say he doesn’t have cable. I’m one of those guys that don’t have cable, too. So I’m not able to turn on my TV and watch what’s going on, to see the news and whatnot.
“Now, obviously I know social media’s a big deal but really, I only hear about those things from my agents or if it comes from (Miami communications executive) Anne Noland or if coach wants to sit down and talk to me about things like that. That’s kind of how I find out a lot of the talk that’s going on.”
Speculation regarding a possible trade has raised questions about Miami’s commitment to Tagovailoa, a top-five draft pick last year.
“Tua is our quarterback,” Flores said. “I think he has had a good training camp. I think he has made a lot of progress. I think he has made a lot of improvement. We’re pleased with where he is.”
Tagovailoa had a 6-3 record as a starter as a rookie after replacing Ryan Fitzpatrick as the starting quarterback after six games. He passed for 1,814 yards with 11 touchdowns and five interceptions, and was pulled in favor of Fitzpatrick in games against the Denver Broncos and Las Vegas Raiders.
No charges have been filed against Watson, who has made the Pro Bowl the past three seasons. His availability this season is unclear, and Houston police and the NFL are investigating the allegations against him.
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Jaguars claim WR Johnson off waivers from Chargers, add 13 to practice squad

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Jacksonville claimed receiver Tyron Johnson off waivers from the Los Angeles Chargers on Wednesday, the only move the Jaguars made despite having first dibs on every player waived in final roster cuts.
Johnson spent time with Houston, Buffalo, Carolina and the Chargers during his rookie year in 2019. He played in 12 games for the Chargers last season and had 20 receptions for 398 yards and three touchdowns. The New Orleans native played collegiately at Oklahoma State.
The Jaguars also signed 13 players to their practice squad, including receivers Jeff Cotton, Phillip Dorsett, Josh Hammond and Laquon Treadwell.
Coach Urban Meyer called the position his biggest concern following final cuts.
The team also waived defensive tackle Daniel Ekuale to make room for Johnson on the 53-man roster and released safety Josh Jones from injured reserve via an injury settlement.
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